Your Bag of Randomness for Friday, June 28, 2024

  • So, this is what it feels like to be in a late-stage empire.
  • That was tough to watch last night, especially if you lean left. Like I said yesterday, the incumbent president always performs poorly in the first debate. I think that will always hold true.
  • I like to pretend I’m a campaign advisor. I guess you can say I’m an armchair political consultant. But I’m not sure what I’d say to the Biden campaign. I don’t question his mental acuity, but I do have some concerns. Performance-wise, his speech impediment makes things look much worse than they really are. If there’s one thing I’d advise, I would encourage him not to repeat his answers. He likes to do that for emphasis, and it’s a crutch for his speech impediment, but it doesn’t make that elderly man appear sharp-minded. There’s also no hiding his voice, which doesn’t have the vigor it once had and sounds soft. I bet he’s advised to save his voice and not speak much before the debate. That should be changed; it takes his voice a little bit to warm up. In a nationally televised debate, you must come out full throttle and with your vocals thoroughly warmed up. Heck, I learned that in my high school drama class. His words no longer come out sharp and crisp, and he has to clear his throat a lot. I don’t know how to compensate for that. As for Trump, you got everything you expected. It doesn’t matter what he says or how wrong or right he is; he believes what he says and does it confidently. It was his debate to lose, and he even kept his temperament.
  • If the Democrats want to keep Biden at the top of the ticket, I’d put a whole, a whole lot more of attention on the VP.
  • And here’s a macabre hypothetical: what would things look like if both candidates died of natural causes next week?
  • So, this is Biden after the debate. Why didn’t this version show up for the debate? Is this an AI trick?

  • Newsome/Whitmer 2028. But keep a close eye on Maryland’s Wes Moore.
  • It’s one of those things you’ve thought about but never really thought about – The difference between potting soil and garden soil
    • Potting soil, also called potting mix, is a blend of materials like sphagnum moss, bark, perlite, vermiculite, compost or coir that’s intended for growing plants in containers. Guess what it doesn’t have? Soil. That’s because soil can carry fungus and other plant pathogens that can infect your plants. Potting mix is sterile, so it’s fungus-free and safer for potted plants.
  • “Don’t ask how people are doing; ask how they are sleeping. You’ll learn a lot more.”
  • Oklahoma state superintendent announces all schools must incorporate the Bible and the Ten Commandments in curriculums
  • Some bars and eateries are banning 20-somethings. Can it become a widespread practice?
  • This is a great way to honor Alex Trebek.
  • All of these transfer portal memes cracked me up.

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Your Bag of Randomness for Thursday, June 27, 2024

  • Today is the big day for our two presidential candidates. I read one book on presidential history that mentioned that historically, the sitting president usually performs very poorly in the first debate and then listed a sleuth of examples. So, historically speaking, Biden should do poorly tonight. Part of the reason is the “protected bubble” they live in and having experienced deference in the Oval Office; It’s also because, after four years in office, they are playing defense and don’t focus on comparing and contrasting themself with their opponent. Because of a sitting record, it becomes a disadvantage. The trick is to make the viewer see it as a choice instead of a referendum. Maybe it’s because of his age, but Biden’s team appears overly prepared. Trump is not your typical opponent. It shall be interesting, especially with the cut-off mics. For the first time since 1976, the presidential debate was not organized by and conducted pursuant to the Commission on Presidential Debates’ rules which means the debate will not occur in front of a live audience.
  • This isn’t a prediction, but one if I was managing Trump’s campaign and he had a poor debate performance, I’d immediately release the name of the VP to draw away attention.
  • Today is the 26th anniversary of my father’s death. It happened at just about 8:00 PM. I remember telling God that the last thing I want to happen is to be alone with him when he passes, and that’s precisely what happened.
  • It’s funny how the Aggies had nothing but praise for their head baseball coach, Jim Schlossnagle, last week and boasted about the man of integrity and character he is, especially after that incident in which two adult fans got kicked out. Don’t get me wrong; the coach is garbage for going off on a reporter asking him about his job status and leaving to go to their arch-rival less than 24 hours later. But this is college sports today; it’s all about business. Student-athletes are now literally being paid to play, and college coaches (especially football, see Tommy Tuberville and Lincoln Riley) have been shafting their players for years. But this is just further evidence that College Station isn’t home to the top Texas university and Aggies are insecure about it. Heck, they have a fight song about desecrating the other school’s mascot and can only refer to the school in lowercase letters and out of order.
  • I’d like to know what Scholssnagle would have done if his Aggies had won the baseball national championship. Also, I’ve always been confused as to who the University of Texas’s arch-rival is. Is it Oklahoma, or is it that school in College Station? It’s never been clear to me, and you can only have one arch-rival.
  • Something I felt under-reported was Northwestern University performing a kidney transplant with the patient awake, and because the recovery time is quicker, this looks like the future of medicine.
  • I was watching a WWII special last night on the Battle of Berlin. It stated the Soviets lost 81,000 soldiers and the Germans lost around 92,000. That’s a lot of people who die at the end of a war. That made me think about the possibility of invading Japan if they didn’t surrender and the number of deaths that would bring.
  • The German army used around three million horses throughout WWII.
  • I learned the Yemen Houthi rebels have tried to spread a rumor that they have heavily damaged and even sunk the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier. One way the captain raises morale is to call random sailors to sit in the captain’s chair and have a cookie and post it to Twitter/X.
  • I was surprised to learn that most self-checkout registers allow you to flip the coin slot up so you can pour in handfuls of coins. The registers will determine if you put in too much and give you change back in dollar bills. Here’s a TikTok of what I’m talking about.

    #lpt #lifeprotip #target #coinstar #sparechange #lifehack #moneysavingtip

    ♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) – 山口夕依

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Your BagOfNothing for Tuesday, June 25, 2024

  • I’ve mentioned incorporating AI in my life, and I thought using several AI models to plan a road trip would be a good experiment. It would give me an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast them. The usual suspects were involved, except for one: Google’s Gemini, Microsoft’s Copilot, OpenAi’s ChatGPT, Perplexity, and AI travel planner Ask Layla. I entered the same thing into each AI model:
    • I want to take a roadtrip with my son. I’d like to leave Tuesday June 18 no later than 6PM and drive and sleep in Little Rock, Arkansas. I want to visit the Clinton Presidential Library. I then want to drive to Memphis and visit Graceland and the Civil Rights museum. I then want to drive to St. Louis and visit and plan activities at the World Chess Hall of Fame for my 12 year old son who loves to play chess. Instead of driving back, I want a fly back to Dallas Love Field or DFW Airport nonstop. I plan on paying for the rental car, hotel stay, and flight using credit card reward points from USAA, either in full or partially. I want to return at the latest Saturday June 22 by 1:00 PM, but don’t mind returning a day earlier. Help me plan this. I’m not sure if I want to, but I think it would be neat to stay at a Graceland or Elvis themed hotel in Memphis.
  • This is what Google’s Gemini planned. I liked how it planned each day, giving me approximate travel, viewing or visiting time, and operating hours. I hoped it would combine the Clinton Library and Graceland into one day, but it didn’t. However, it provided me with links to buy tickets at both places and links to their website or Wikipedia pages. As I expected, it suggested I use Google Flights to book a flight for the final day. It also provided a few general travel tips, like keeping the weather in mind.
  • ChatGPT doesn’t provide a link like Gemini, so I cut and pasted the results in a Google Doc. No biggie. But I was surprised it didn’t provide links to buy tickets at any of the venues. It gave me a few more tips, such as booking, logistics, and potential costs, but less detail overall. Unlike Gemini, it broke each day into morning, afternoon, and evening activities. It wasn’t all that much different, but I’d say the information was more streamlined. I would give it bonus points for telling me to look for special exhibits or events, but I’d be more impressed if it did it for me.
  • Here’s what Perplexity provided. It was similar to ChatGPT, but provided sources. Unlike ChatGPT, it did provide a list of special events and even suggested a teacher workshop. The other two AI models understood I live in the DFW area, but I don’t think Perplixity did as it suggested places to visit in Dallas. I had high hopes for Perplexity, but I’m starting to lose interest in it daily.
  • I wish Microsoft’s Copilot provided a link because it provided a lot of good detail, made it more personalized, and provided embedded maps. So, I had to resort to cutting and pasting the results into a GoogleDoc, which really doesn’t do it justice. Overall, it seemed well cited or sourced. Unlike the others, Copilot provided the cost of tickets to all of the venues.
  • Somehow, I ran across an AI travel planner called Ask Layla. At first, I was highly impressed. I liked how it laid out all the travel information, and it suggested a scavenger hunt tour in Little Rock and an astronomy tour with an expert astronomer. It suggested similar activities in the other cities as well. But, I wanted to streamline the agenda, so I asked it not to include the scavenger hunt tour in Little Rock. The interface told me no problem and provided another agenda, but still suggested the scavenger hunt tour. When I told it that it suggested it even though I told it not to, it told me to read over the results again because it didn’t include the scavenger hunt, even though it clearly did. So, again and again, I tried to modify my traveling agenda, but it would always include the scavenger hunt. I researched the astronomy tour and found out the company is no longer in business. Despite telling Layla the company was no longer in business, it continued to suggest both it and the scavenger hunt. After a while, it became really frustrating, and I felt like I was arguing with an actual human. I’m so disappointed in the tool that is obviously trying to upsell me on experiences I’m not even going to provide a link.
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Your BagOfNothing for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

  • BoyGeeding and I took a road trip last week. I’ll try to write more about it throughout the week. I’m sure I’ve written about my love for road trips before. They offer a great bonding opportunity and I find the practice of driving helps to clear the mind. When practical, I prefer it over flying. Of course, it eliminates having to go through airport security and the burden of boarding and deboarding, but I like the sense of control it brings over relying on an airline.
  • Why the heck doesn’t OpenAI have a ChatGPT version of Alexa? It wouldn’t even need to do any smart home stuff or automation. All they need to do is have a home speaker with ChatGPT simply to answer questions or have a conversation.
  • I didn’t realize filming Chipotle employees making your burrito was a thing, but I feel for the employees – People Are Filming Chipotle Workers In A Quest For Bigger Portions, And Staff Have Had It
  • I’m not sure how I feel about this. It would be neat to debate or “think through” with my friends. On one hand, you have to protect national security; on the other, you have regular folks just trying to live their life. If you don’t intervene, you’ll have a similar issue Arizona and California have with the Colorado River and Saudi Arabia.
    • Florida property ban has Chinese citizens fuming
      • After his employer implemented a return-to-office policy last year, Jin Bian decided to cut down his one-hour commute time by purchasing a house closer to the office in Tampa, Florida. Then, he was told the purchase might get him prison time. “That was really shocking to me. It’s just purchasing property,” Bian, who is originally form Nanjing, China, said. “Once I learned that, I didn’t even bother to look anymore.”
  • One of my trivia friends lives in a house once owned by a former Dallas Cowboy who played from 1992-1999. He was an integral part of the defense but never made the Pro Bowl, so he’s not one you’d remember off the top of your head. Occasionally, my friend receives mail addressed to the retired player asking for an autograph. He communicated with the player years ago about what to do with these requests, and he said to ignore them, that these are professional collectors attempting to put together team sets and other things, and they don’t really care about him.
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