Category Archives: mood

Irma

My family, living in Saint Martin (French West Indies) was hit by the Hurricane Irma on September 5th, 2017.

Today, after ten days without communications (but news here and there), I was finally able to talk with them, and it’s quite a relief to learn that they are safe now.

Sunset over Saint Martin after the storm (unknow credit)

Sunset over Saint Martin after the storm (unknow credit)

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Energy Dominance

To say the least, the mood is not at its peak at the lab…

We have a new Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry (R), former governor of Texas –  who doesn’t seem to care much about science (e.g. he believe it’s fine to question climate change; at least there’s someone to tell him no, it’s not) and who is now on a crusade to ensure #energydominance, a concept that I try to comprehend, but really can’t.

Now see his incredible op-ed in Washington Times (the black mirror of the New York Post, I guess:), Paving the path to U.S. energy dominance:

Mr. Trump wants America to utilize our abundant domestic energy resources and technological innovations for good, both at home and abroad. […] An energy-dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and influence. Becoming energy dominant means that we are getting government out of the way so that we can share our energy wealth with developing nations. For years, Washington stood in the way of our energy dominance. That changes now.

Holy cow! That is a genius strategy!
Oh wait… what strategy? Selling coal and gas that will be worthless in three years?

Here’s what previous Secretary Moniz has to say:

Moniz: […] With some colleagues, we’re starting up a small non-profit in the energy space and this was also a question that we intended to look at.

However, a review of this type also needs to look at the emerging technologies. For example, the utility in Tucson recently announced a long-term, a 20-year purchase-power agreement for solar energy plus storage at a pretty attractive—stunning, actually in my view—price. They quoted less than 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, including the storage.

Madrigal: Wow. [In Arizona, the average cost of electricity in March 2017 was 9.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity prices vary around the nation, but the U.S. average was 10.3 cents per kilowatt-hour in March 2017.]

Meanwhile, the office of science at the White House is now empty. zero. nicht. kaput.

It is quite incredible to hear that, while a mere six most ago it was populated by the finest people I know, like my (extended) friend Maya Shankar

imfine

Oh boy, the second half of the year starts even better than the first half.

Millenial problems – take 2

Oh silly millenial, root of all problems, look at how your parents raised you!
Well, I’m on the later end of what is called millenial (I was underage by year 2000), and all I see around me is extremely educated, extremely smart people, making giant salaries, working for the most touted companies around, and… they can barely make it. Seriously.
544189_572034149484267_855688921_n

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I’ve got millenial problems but you ain’t one

“Millenials”…

 “We’re the future. And you don’t belong in it. Because we’re beyond you, and naturally, that makes you feel kind of bad. You have this deep-down feeling that you don’t matter anymore. You should be glad, though…  Do you want your kids’ world to be a step above yours? Isn’t that what we’re all doing? So, doesn’t it follow that if you’re a good parent, and your kids evolve, and are smarter than you, they’re gonna make you feel kind of dumb? So if you feel stupid around young people, things are going good.”


(Louie CK, video via Vulture (broken)view on facebook)

against “old guard”:

There needs to be a ‘maximum wage’ vs minimum wage ; instead of paying young kids with no family obligations $200,000.00 + a year to sit at Philz Coffee all day and play the latest Candy Crush’ mind chewing gum  game with their Lucy Liu wanna be’s, at beck’n call . (SFWeekly, comments added to print)

puzzled by generational drives:

I dropped out of college when I was 18. To move to Los Angeles. To become a rock star. It’s true. […] And lo, it was glorious.

Why share all this silliness? Because there appears to be a strange parallel afoot. Because I recently found myself entranced by Nellie Bowles’ terrific profile over in California Sunday magazine, a tale of the new hordes of “lost boys” of San Francisco, all these naïve, clean-cut, mostly white teenaged computer whizzes from affluent families who are dropping out of college (and, increasingly, high school) to move to San Francisco.

They’re here to code, of course. To found companies. To singe their brains with a million lame logos. Which is to say, not for the fame, or the girls, or the fun drugs, or the free love (different era, but still).

They’re here for the money.
Attention teen dropouts racing to SF: The tech bubble is lying to you
– Mark Morford

or working for funny companies :

The Greylock partners hear a lot of pitches from companies with cute one-word names and bright logos (Meerkat, Sprig, Nextdoor, Vessel, Operator) that aim at “disrupting” some existing set of economic arrangements. At least in conversation, nobody is safe: education, health-care delivery, media, national currencies. – The Network Man (The New Yorker)

Great America

As a French national, my favorite US landmark has always been the Statue of Liberty. Its beacon is now waning.

I always thought these words would reverberate forever in the Husdon bay :

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

But it seems someone in his golden tower got bored and decided otherwise.

small fingers but giant mushroom clouds

small fingers but giant mushroom clouds

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Ubris

Living in the Bay Area has a lots of perks, notably the climate and the people who live here– some are driven, and some maybe too much.

The Silicon Valley became fertile and successful when entrepreneurs started bringing hardcore scientific advances to the masses, with companies such as Fairchild Semiconductors, or innovative technologies, with companies such as Xerox and its Palo Alto Research Center.

Nowadays, the silicon in the valley is mostly gone (I often joke that among my friends living in the Silicon Valley, I am the only one actually working on silicon… yet I don’t live in the valley:), and tech companies that have nothing to do with actual τέχνη. Yet the dreams of technology to save us all are still pretty alive. But it seems that it all has to do with hubris, or PR at best, and it is hurting actual science and those who make it.

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Bertrand Russell, on Free Will

Happy New year !

The notion of free will is a very interesting one, and as we are living in a time where people are talking of robot intelligence and where people are still adamant about religion and what they call or perceive as “freedom”, I think it’s only fair to remind this brilliant excerpt from “Religion and Science” by the late Bertrand Russell, that among all the great things he wrote struck me with its clarity and depth.

russell_color(yeah, I’m bootstrapping on Maria Popova’s Brainpickings !)

Psychology and physiology, in so far as they bear upon the question of free will, tend to make it improbable. Work on internal secretions, increased knowledge of function of different part of the brain, Pavlov’s investigations of conditioned reflexes, and the psycho-analytic study of the effects of repressed memories and desires, have all contributed to the discovery of causal laws governing mental phenomena. None of them, of course, have disproved the possibility of free will, but the have made it highly probable that, if uncaused volitions do ever occur, they are very rare.

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Gamification of terror ?

note : please do not take this post as an offense against facebook, the social network. I have great respect for their work, and I have many good friends working there. But sometimes, things get a little out of control due to emotion, and I want to make sure my non-French friends can visualize these things we’re being bombarded of, since facebook has territory bubbles.

Friday the 13th couldn’t be more nightmarish.

Synchronized attacks on locations of high cultural significance of Paris (one near France’s biggest stadium, while two national teams were playing- think of the playoffs, for soccer, at the scale of Europe- and another at very popular indie music venue) hit France really hard, for a third time this year, though now hitting citizens at random.

Promptly, my big brother Mark activated the “security check” feature of facebook :

Facebook telling me my friends have "checked in"

Facebook telling me my friends have “checked in”

It’s the same kind of feature that was deployed during the last Nepal earthquake. But let me explain why things are *subtly* different in the context.

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When the rubber hits the fan

Things are starting to look stark

when empty promises
Hot Startup Theranos Has Struggled With Its Blood-Test Technology – WSJ

meet empty markets
Techpocalypse is coming. Two questions remain: When and who? – Pando

perfectly_swell

There is no greater importance in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you. – Norman Mailer

There should be an app for that

Some days, it is hard to make a sense of the current times…

adverstisement tech startup muni facebook

All these people trying to sell me things that I don’t need…

A million guys walk into a Silicon Valley bar.
No one buys anything.
Bar declared massive success.
– Paul Stamatiou

skype                       twilio         wash.io
gyft         spotify        arduino        wise.io
lyft         appify         vimeo
Shyp                        venmo
swyft     

uber         paypal         box            youtube
tumblr       drupal         dropbox        roku    
flickr                      virtualbox     heroku
grindr       yo                            akamai
tinder       what's app     quora             
happn        wechat         pandora        pando
             snapchat                      mongo

tilt         vmware         airbnb         misterbnb
affirm       yesware        wevorce        homobile
stripe       xendit         spoonrocket    readability
square       squarespace    braintree      salesforce
slack        lifesum        meerkat        splunk
Wag          taskrabbit     periscope