Monthly Archives: February 2011

Guest Commentator–Mason Baveux

I’ve been too busy with other projects to write, so I have enlisted our esteemed pinch-hitter Mason Baveux to fill in this week.  May God have Mercy, he’s going to talk about Revolution.

Thanks there lad for callin’ me up outa the Blue.  I’da preferred youda called me up out a the Molson’s, but ‘tis what she be.  I missed doin the bloggery since you don’t live in Toronto no more and don’t drop by the center since she’s a five hour haul away by car, sixteen hours if you fly and a week and a half by train.  Friggin Via.

I’se wanted to talk about these here revoltings in the Arab world.  Seems that all the countries along the top of Africa what are Arab are startin to get all exercised about ‘overthrowin the dictatorships’ and getting freedomed up. 

Tunisia, which I think is where they invented Tunisia salad, kicked her off with their Jasmine Revolution.  They right shitcanned some dictator called Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who ran the show for thirty years, doin the usual dicktater nonsense of featherbedding his nest, printin his own money and then buggerin off to Parts Unknown with about $30 zillion dollars in gold.

A week and a bit later:  Egypt does’er up a treat.  Hoseme Mubarak, who what was running a hell of a Pyramid Scheme for another nearly 40 years, gets the message to “Eff Off” from the population, what called up CNN and said, just like the Price is Right, “Come on down!”  Hoseme, (who really shoulda changed his name to Howard or Hank, ‘cept it would have sounded Jewish-like) got the message too and he pissed off to some Egyptian resort called Shirrif El Sheik, which sounds like it was named for pie filling mix and prophylactics, but she’s on the sea.

Then there’s this crazy bastard Mo Quadaffy.  He’s been messed up in the head for years.  Back when Dutch Regan ran the US, Mo decided to piss on Ronnies leg and say it was rainin’ out.  But Ronnie warn’t that dumb and sent over the Air Force to bomb the snot out of Libya.  I guess the idea was to bomb’er back to the Stone Age, but the problem was Libya warn’t too far outta the Stone Age, so nobody could tell.  About all Dutch Regan did was get a rep for being tough. Then he showed Grenada what for too.

But Mo Quadaffy’s still around.  I’se saw him on the news and he looked like he’s the kinda guy what would be an Arab Michael Jackson what didn’t sing nor dance, dressed like a loon and about as crazy as as trunk full of shithouse rats.  Mo has said he’ll burn the effin joint to the ground and then sic the Army on what’s left over, if the protesters don’t all go back home.  The Libyan Army’s been busy callin in airstrikes on folks armed with sticks and rocks, but apparently outside the big city, the Army has just buggered off for a tea and ain’t come back.

What was really tellin me a lot was our government, with that shitforbrains Harper, sent over two planes to get our fellow Canadians out of Libya and both times the planes come back empty. 

Seems nobody figured out that maybe if we call up the couple of hundred Canadians living there and tell them when the plane is going to show up, they might somehow magically make their way to the friggin airport and get the hell out of Dodge.  But No, that would make friggin sense. 

What the hell kind of retard school do these people have to go to, to be that friggin dumb and still be allowed off of the ward?  Oh, that’s right, it’s our Foreign Affairs Minister, Larry, “Boom-Boom” Cannon who couldn’t organize a two-car funeral.  He’s in Cabinet dont’cha know.  Jeeze Louise, he’s got his head so far up Harper’s arse, he can almost see Peter MacKay’s shoes.

We’re waitin on Mo Quadaffy to step aside shortly.  Where we’re havin fun here at the Center is bettin on what joint is going to get revolting next.  I’se put down a loonie on it being Israel, as the Israelis don’t like being left out of nothing.  Mark the K says Kuwait is next, while Billy be callin for Algeria and Johnny Rock says it’s going to be England.  I think Johnny Rock is way out in left field;  he’s not been right since he fell off the Zamboni and got his concussion like Sid the Kid.

That’s all she wrote from here ‘cept to quote an old joke:

Sire, the peasants are revolting!

Now that’s not nice Mister Prime Minister, they’re just homely is all.







Refried History

The clever RoadDave readers will notice some subtle changes over the next few weeks.  The original RoadDave was a Microsoft Website that we updated regularly, with writings from the road.  There was no ‘blogging’ back then, or even tools to blog with.  One cold afternoon, Mothership informed us that we were being ported to something called Live Spaces, which was before this iteration of RoadDave on 

What happened in the intervening years was a lot of the 2002 to 2006 postings on RoadDave disappeared, as the first version was mothballed then 404’d.  Through a happy coincidence, a site called Multiply sent me a link to the old RoadDave where many of the old posts and some of the old photos still live.  Kismet.

As time moves along, we’re taking the old postings, with their original date of publication and moving them to the WordPress blog.  The old photos will come too, aided by their assistance dog.  You’ll see posts going back to August 2002 and if you are inclined to read them, just scroll down the left hand side of the page for each months’ entries. 

We’re not correcting them beyond the obvious spelling errors, as the old postings are what they are.  I wrote differently then, but I also write differently now and a rewrite seems unfair, perhaps even vaguely unethical.  RoadDave was never meant to be a documentary record of pristine historical importance.  With any luck, it never will be either.     

“We’re Screwed” for $200 Alex

Two of the large brains on that iconic game show “Jeopardy” played against Watson the IBM computer this week in a battle of the smarts.  Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are the two humans going head to head with a rack of electronics, under the watchful gaze of Alex Trebek as host.  To quote Trebek on Monday, “You are about to witness what may prove to be an historic competition.”

Computers playing tic-tac-toe have been around for decades, as the programming is not that difficult.  The strategies are simple and the rules are not complex for tic-tac-toe. 

Chess is exponentially several thousand times more complex than tic-tac-toe, but again, there is a limit to the moves possible under the rules.  Deep Blue was IBM’s best player, defeating Garry Kasparov in a contentious series of games in 1997.  Now Watson steps up, playing a well known general knowledge game, in that most difficult of languages:  English.

Since I speak English rather well, I take it for granted.  But I also have enough smarts to know that for someone who is not a native speaker, English is one of the hardest languages to learn with any sort of facility.  In ‘proper’ English, the words whey, weigh and way, all pronounced the same, mean at least three different things.  Context is everything in proper English.  Add the layers of slang, common usage or regionalisms on top of it and English becomes all but impenetrable unless you are immersed in the context of the language.  Watson got around the sound of words by using text as the input, the spelling of the words being different enough to give some clues as to the usage.

To use a simple, declarative sentence:  “You are my female domestic dog” communicated to a computer, makes no sense.  The computer can translate the words, but not the context. 

To a human “You’re my bitch!” means you’re getting a mouth full of knuckles, unless you’re saying that in the proper context or either prison or the House of Commons during Question Period.

Where IBM’s Watson was showing a weakness is in context and in reacting to the other players incorrect answers.  This doesn’t mean Watson is stupid, it merely shows a logic gap playing Jeopardy that can be addressed.

Did Watson kick ass and take names?  Most certainly it did and showed that with some heavy computing power and very clever programming, a computer can git’er done.  Could Watson understand the Larry The Cable Guy cultural reference in the previous sentence and apply the appropriate irony to it?  Not quite, at least in our estimation.  Those who watched the matches closely noticed that Watson’s top three potential answers were either derivations of the correct answer, or so far out in left-field to be in the 907 area code.

More entertaining was one of Watson’s answers that put Toronto in the US.  Again, just a knowledge gap that can be addressed.  You could see Watson going through the history of what squares held the Daily Double, trying to find the spaces.  Jeopardy players most often start at the top of a category and work their way down the list.  Watson bounced around the board, hunting for the Daily Double as quickly as possible to game the Daily Double. 

The second game saw some changes in Watson:  Something was adjusted.  Watson was able to press the buzzer within milliseconds of being allowed to ring in and in the first game, beat Rutter and Jennings like red headed step-children.  The second game, Watson got beat more than a few times with fast fingered humans who didn’t have the answer completely formed, but knew the data and were able to beat a solenoid connected to some sharp programming.  That would be the difference between a human brain ‘knowing’ the answer and a computer working through the math to score the most likely answer, then punching the button.   

Does this mean we must embrace our new computer overlords?  Not quite yet.        

Self-Evident Truths

Occasionally emails forwarded from locations unknown that contain pearls of wisdom amongst the dross.  One of which was the “Adult Truths” from a correspondent.  We’ve rewritten it, sort of.

1:  When you die, the first duty of your best friend should be to clear your computer history.

2:  There is great need for a sarcasm font, especially in email to government departments.

3:  Were the years spent learning cursive writing really necessary?

4:  MapQuest can start their directions on #5.  I know how to get out of my neighbourhood. 

5:  Could we all please just agree to ignore whatever comes along after Blu-Ray?  I’m fed up with having to start my video collection…again.

6: Kay Jewellers is wrong:  Not every kiss begins with Kay.  Pick any Friday or Saturday night, and I’ll wager many start with a silo of MGD, or a fourth round of tequila shooters.

7:  To all the Nigerian/Togoan/Maldivian lawyers out there:  I don’t have wealthy relatives that suddenly died leaving me a fortune. No, you can’t help. 

9:  Can we have a sign in our cars that says:  Your $45,000 Lexus has a broken turn signal, or you’re an asshat.  Pick one.

10:  How are kids going to learn what clockwise is? 

11:  For that matter, how will kids ever know what REgent 5-1212 was?

12: 12:00…12:00…12:00  Is my technology mocking me?

13:  If the various national security agencies who are reading all our emails and texts would get together, I wouldn’t have to wade through mountainous piles of spam.  Just forward the important stuff please.  Oh, and send me a reminder of my anniversary as well.  Thanks.

14:  Note to parents:  Your kid will never make it to the NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL/Olympics.  Relax.

15:  How many times can one network run “Weekend At Bernie’s” without incurring the wrath of consumers? Or is this just a trick by televisions manufacturers to have us throw large objects at our TV’s, necessitating the purchase of a new one?

16:  There are some things that should never be shot in HD. 

18:  Mashups should die now.  Preferably in the same fatal crash that takes Autotune and ProTools.  Learn how to sing then learn how to edit and mix.  For the video monkeys, there’s nothing wrong with a cut; use a dissolve if you have to. 

19:  Ice Fishing.  Why fish for it, when you have a perfectly good freezer at home?  Make your own.

20:  There’s no such thing as “Authentic” any cuisine.  It’s always changing.  Beware of any joint that strives to serve authentic fusion cuisine when the place is named Ulmanis & Tomokiro and serves Latvian-Japanese fusion cuisine. 

21:  Why cut when you can untie?  Sorry, now that everything is in impervious plastic security blister-pack clamshell, you have to reach for the plasma cutter to get at the tube of wood filler.

22:  A little honesty from the liquor companies please.  The objective isn’t to relive that great time when we ran out of milk and loaded the coffee with Bailey’s.  The objective is to relive the Christmas party when Gretchen from Accounting got shitfaced and took her top off while dancing on the break room counter.

23:  Thong underwear is wrong, regardless of gender.

24:  Ads for prescription medicine should include a complete list of  all the side effects.  This will result in prescription medicine ads that are four minutes long or cover five pages of your magazine.  We need to know that your miracle cure has only been tested on four employees, two of whom spontaneously combusted when exposed to daylight.

25:  Lists like this.  It must be mid-winter.