Monday, June 10, 2019

June 10th Links

  • Most of us move through our daily lives merely "looking", that is, using our eyes simply for the practical task of completing our daily routines without too much drama. We rarely really take the time to SEE the many miracles and hidden universes that are constantly presented to us. In this sense, photography has been a gift of "sight" in that it has helped me to slow down and to engage my senses on a much deeper level than ever before. As Burke Uzzle said, "Photography is a love affair with life." And so it is with me. Living between Barcelona, Spain and Boulder, Colorado has led me to make pictures of two apparently very contrary subjects: wild scapes (nature) and human scapes (urban scenes, street, the human condition). [link]
  • A motivation for dropout comes from a theory of the role of sex in evolution. Sexual reproduction involves taking half the genes of one parent and half of the other, adding a very small amount of random mutation, and combining them to produce an offspring. The asexual alternative is to create an offspring with a slightly mutated copy of the parent's genes. It seems plausible that asexual reproduction should be a better way to optimize individual fitness because a good set of genes that have come to work well together can be passed on directly to the offspring. On the other hand, sexual reproduction is likely to break up these co-adapted sets of genes, especially if these sets are large and, intuitively, this should decrease the fitness of organisms that have already evolved complicated co-adaptations. However, sexual reproduction is the way most advanced organisms evolved. One possible explanation for the superiority of sexual reproduction is that, over the long term, the criterion for natural selection may not be individual fitness but rather mix-ability of genes. The ability of a set of genes to be able to work well with another random set of genes makes them more robust. Since a gene cannot rely on a large set of partners to be present at all times, it must learn to do something useful on its own or in collaboration with a small number of other genes. According to this theory, the role of sexual reproduction is not just to allow useful new genes to spread throughout the population, but also to facilitate this process by reducing complex co-adaptations that would reduce the chance of a new gene improving the fitness of an individual. Similarly, each hidden unit in a neural network trained with dropout must learn to work with a randomly chosen sample of other units. This should make each hidden unit more robust and drive it towards creating useful features on its own without relying on other hidden units to correct its mistakes. However, the hidden units within a layer will still learn to do different things from each other. One might imagine that the net would become robust against dropout by making many copies of each hidden unit, but this is a poor solution for exactly the same reason as replica codes are a poor way to deal with a noisy channel. [link]
  • I reject, as a matter of law, Facebook's implicit suggestion that I must adjudicate the merits of Plaintiffs' Caremark claim before allowing an otherwise proper demand for inspection to stand. This is not the time for a merits assessment of Plaintiffs' potential claims against Facebook's fiduciaries. The "credible basis" standard applicable in this Section 220 action imposes the lowest burden of proof known in our law and asks a fundamentally different question than would be asked at a trial on the merits: has the stockholder presented "some evidence" to support an inference of wrongdoing that would justify allowing the stockholder to inspect Facebook's books and records? While this court consistently reminds stockholders that a Caremark claim "is possibly the most difficult theory upon which a plaintiff might hope to win a judgment," that admonition does not license this court to alter the minimum burden of proof governing a stockholder's qualified right to inspect books and records. [Delaware Chancery]
  • As unbelievable as it sounds, a Chicago-based firm called Helferich Patent Licensing LLC owns that patent, which its founder Richard Helferich filed for in 1997. So far nearly 100 companies have settled with HPL for the $750,000 licensing fee, meaning a patent that you'd think would be ludicrous has earned its owner at least $75 million, if not more. [link]
  • A continuation is essentially a copy of the non-provisional application, that claims the benefit of the provisional and prior non-provisional applications. The continuation also contains new patent Claims. The continuation allows an inventor to continue to claim other inventions in the disclosure with the filing date of the original provisional application. For example, if an inventor files a provisional in 2019 and maintains continuity by always filing a continuation before the issuance of a patent application, in 2029 the inventor can file another patent application with the original 2019 filing date, and draft the claims of the application based on what your competitors are doing (so long as the information was disclosed in the original provisional / non-provisional application). This can be incredibly powerful—it's almost like having a time machine that enables you to write claims based on your specification after looking into the future to see how the patent will be infringed. [JDBIP]
  • TPL's almost "autopilot" policy of self-repurchasing has proven to be a great capital allocation strategy, avoiding the all-too-common resource producer patterns of buying overpriced land (often at cyclical commodity peaks) just to grow production, or boondoggles from straying afield (something that Pardee investors are currently grappling with). [Oddball Stocks]
  • The proxy statement is well worth reading. The negotiations with the eventual buyer lasted from March 2018 until April 2019. One thing that is a little ominous is that the buyer wanted the fruit business but not the plastics and especially not the real estate. Apparently the buyer was emphatic that they did not want "to be in the 'chain of ownership' for the Company's real estate property"! The way that this was resolved is that Paradise is doing an asset sale of just the fruit business; not a merger or sale of the whole company. [Oddball Stocks]
  • Suspension problems have plagued Tesla's cars for years. On the internet an incident like Mena's is known as the "whompy wheel," and it has become something like Tesla-lore. The National Highway Safety Transportation Association (NHTSA) website is littered with anonymous complaints about broken suspensions, and there are websites dedicated to spotting whompy wheels in the wild. For its part, Tesla has issued multiple technical service bulletins (TSBs) warning mechanics of suspension issues with its Model S and X cars. But Tesla has never issued a recall for this problem. [Business Insider]
  • Don't completely write off the idea of using a film camera. Film–and even instant Polaroid–seems to be making a comeback lately. You can pick up film cameras on eBay and Craig's List for a sweet song, even larger format cameras. If you go this route, you might eventually want to develop your own negatives and do your own printing. This will involve a darkroom and a whole huge new world of information, learning, and experimentation. As an alternative, many film enthusiasts (including me, when I shoot film), have a local shop develop the film and provide both the negatives and scanned digital files of those negatives. This allows you to shoot with film but do your post-processing at your computer, cookies and milk by your side. Maybe something to consider? [link]
  • All four long-term readers of BLDGBLOG will know that I am obsessed with the San Andreas Fault, teaching an entire class about it at Columbia and visiting it whenever possible as a hiking destination. The San Andreas is often a naturally stunning landscape—particularly in places like Wallace Creek, Tomales Bay, or even the area near Devil's Punchbowl—but the fault's symbolism, as the grinding edge of two vast tectonic plates, where worlds slide past one another toward an unimaginable planetary future, adds a somewhat mystical element to each visit. It's like hiking along a gap through which a new version of the world will emerge. [Geoff Manaugh]
  • Many biologists have sought specific external causes for the five biggest mass extinctions apparent in the fossil record. These events stand out to the eye just like the big avalanches in the rice pile; their sheer size makes them look different and exceptional. Yet a number of simple models of out of equilibrium ecosystems of interacting species have shown that random extinctions of single species—analogous to the dropping of a single rice grain—may trigger avalanches of species extinctions that would produce a distribution of extinctions by size fitting the fossil data9, 10. The big and small mass extinctions may just be identical avalanches of extinctions, only some have gone on much longer than others. [link]
  • Others in AV space had stuffed the cars with LIDARS, which although expensive, solve the majority of what Tesla tries to solve with AI (such as obstacle avoidance and traversability), full blown gaming GPUs offering way more compute power than even the latest Tesla hardware and yet according to the data we have it is clear that nobody is even close to full autonomy. [link]

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