The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Today's Daily Parker

Field trip to Noethling Park (a.k.a. Wiggly Field) today, with a ball and a Chuck-It:

Everyone had a blast until Sadie, a beagle, got tired of waiting for Parker to give her his ball. After some snarling and snapping, both humans decided the dogs were done with the park for the day. Here's Parker saying "nyah nyah" to both Sadie and me:

Smarter than a cat

IBM has created a supercomputer with more cerebral capacity (as measured by neurons and synapses) than a housecat:

The simulator, which runs on the Dawn Blue Gene /P supercomputer with 147,456 CPUs and 144TB of main memory, simulates the activity of 1.617 billion neurons connected in a network of 8.87 trillion synapses. The model doesn't yet run at real time, but it does simulate a number of aspects of real-world neuronal interactions, and the neurons are organized with the same kinds of groupings and specializations as a mammalian cortex. In other words, this is a virtual mammalian brain (or at least part of one) inside a computer, and the simulation is good enough that the team is already starting to bump up against some of the philosophical issues raised about such models by cognitive scientists over the past decades.

...[B]uilding a highly accurate simulation of a complex, nondeterministic system doesn't mean that you'll immediately understand how that system works—it just means that instead of having one thing you don't understand (at whatever level of abstraction), you now have two things you don't understand: the real system, and a simulation of the system that has all of the complexities of the original plus an additional layer of complexity associated with the models implementation in hardware and software.

On the other hand, I've met a number of cats in my day, and as cute as I think they your really need that much computing power to outsmart one? I've seen gerbils do it.

Brain thaw (or, More gratuitous puppy video)

After two hours of classes this morning, both of which reminded me I need to study more, what better way to recover than with another Parker puppy video?

The bed, by the way, lasted about four days. He shredded the thing like a Cuisinart.

Germany tells Emirates to raise prices

From the Economist's Gulliver blog:

The Germans said in a letter to the Dubai-based carrier that under European law it was not allowed “to engage in price leadership” on routes from Germany to non-EU locations. Emirates, which condemned the decision as “commercially nonsensical”, responded by raising prices by 20% on some routes.

Andrew Parker of Emirates told the Financial Times, "We are adamant this is selective and clearly an attempt by Lufthansa [Germany's national carrier] to pursue Emirates versus a legitimate policy."

Yes, but on the other hand, it would not surprise me to learn that Emirates had priced the seats as a loss-leader to undercut its competitors, including Lufthansa. Regardless, this seems a good example of the African proverb, "When elephants wrestle, the grass suffers."

At this writing, a 7-day advance, Saturday-to-Thursday (discount) business class ticket from Frankfurt to Dubai was €2,245 on Emirates and €2,954 on Lufthansa. I can see why Lufthansa (and the German goverment) might suspect anti-competitive behavior...but still, raising prices for everyone doesn't seem sporting.

Passage to India

Silly me for forgetting that U.S. citizens need visas to visit India. (I'm usually more up on those things.) So yesterday I got mine, for the CCMBA Delhi residency.

Color me impressed. Travisa, the company that the Indian government employs to handle their visa processing, had me in and out in 15 minutes to drop off my application, then sent me a text the same afternoon letting me know my passport had come back, then had me in and out in 90 seconds in the afternoon. Total time spent getting the visa, including filling out the application: about 2½ hours, of which almost 2 hours was spent on buses getting to and from the Travisa office.

I sincerely hope (without much confidence) that China and Russia make it similarly easy.