Useless information thread


BY: BRYAN QUOC LE
The History of Mint

The ancient Greeks have a legend about mint. Mint, or Minthe, was once a beautiful nymph from the underworld river of Cocytus. She was said to be of nobler form and more beautiful than Persephone, queen of the underworld herself. Hades, the god of the underworld and husband to Persephone, became infatuated by the young river maid after she made an attempt to seduce him. The wife of Hades was enraged by the nymph, and intervened by trampling the girl under her heel into nothing more than dust. Sorrowful for the loss of the young girl, Hades brought her back to life with his power as a fragrant mint plant.




The association between mint and the underworld came about from ancient burial traditions that used mint to cover up the smell of the dead. The aromatic leaves have also been used historically to mask the odors of households and alleyways due to inadequate sanitation. On top of that, mint was greatly admired for its ability to freshen the breath and clear body odors in a time when bathing wasn’t widely practiced. The mint plant was so highly regarded for its power to cleanse that mint was commonly used as a form of currency in Egypt during Biblical times.





Mint Production
Mint plants are incredibly fast-growing herbaceous perennials, and are actually known to be rather invasive plants, which makes commercial cultivation relatively easy. Commercial production of mint began in England during the 1750s. Mint was quickly transplanted to New York after the revolution, and was readily grown in the United States. The cooling ability of mint leaves were especially important for Southern cuisine because of the high heat and humidity of the Southern states. Four varieties of mint are commonly cultivated today: peppermint, native spearmint, Scotch spearmint, and cornmint. A more recent variety, apple mint, has been introduced into commercial cultivation in Europe for its unique hint of apple flavor. The major producer of fresh mint is the United States, with a total output of 75% of the global supply, with Indiana, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon being important mint producing states [3]. While mints grow rapidly in the presence of cool pools of water, production output is easily affected by droughts. Seasonal high heat also reduces the mint oil output of cultivated crops.

Mint Flavor Chemistry
The major chemical constituents of mint oils are menthol a
nd its oxidized relative, menthone, with minor components that impart unique flavors to the different varieties of mint oils [4]. German chemist and physician Hieronymus David Gaubius isolated menthol from mint leaves in 1771 to identify the compound responsible for the cooling effect of mints. Only the enantiomer (-)-menthol is capable of triggering the cooling sensation commonly associated with mint flavor, and mint essential oils are highly prized in the chemical and food industry for their (-)-menthol content. Menthol can uniquely trigger the TRPM8 receptors in skin to induce the cooling experience when applied to the body or taken orally, in a similar mode of action as capsaicin, the compound responsible for the hotness of chilis. TRPM8 is an ion channel that allows the passage of sodium and calcium ions, which induces action potentials that lead to cold sensations through low temperatures and application of menthol [5].

Mint is used mostly in food and nutraceutical applications where there is a desire to impart a sense of cleanliness. For example, mint is widely used in gum, breath fresheners, mouthwash, antacids, and toothpaste. Of course, mint is also incorporated in foods to add that distinct minty fresh flavor as a secondary sensation, especially in chocolates, ice creams, confections, and beverages. Mint is the third most popular flavoring ingredient in the world, behind vanilla and citrus flavors, and continues to be one of the fastest growing flavor segment in the market driven by consumer demand for clean, fresh flavors. Other applications for mint are in cooling balms, essential oils, perfumes, pest control, and antimicrobial agents.
http://sciencemeetsfood.org/cool-flavors-mint/


Mint quality GOLD to juxtapose the ballet of the pachyderm with the cheesecake of Marloes!
 
I'm not dead... Yet. And thank goodness for that.

My work tour of Scandinavia has brought me to the Arctic circle for some reason and thank heavens that staff prices exist.

95 Norwegian kroner for a pint of Brooklyn is quite stupid. Loving the place and the weather but not the prices.
 


New York Today: Our Past in Pizza

By Alexandra S. Levine


  • Sept. 14, 2017
Buongiorno on this glum Thursday.
Say cheese.
The Feast of San Gennaro returns to Little Italy today, leaving Mulberry Street dazzling in red, white and green for nearly two weeks.

And smelling mouth-wateringly wonderful.
Now that we (hopefully) have you daydreaming about pizza — perhaps before you’ve even had breakfast — allow us to further whet your appetite with a lesson on our city’s signature food.
“New York pizza is all relatively thin crust without being crackery,” according to the pizza historian Scott Wiener. “It has a risen edge a little bit of a handlebar, not a thin, flat edge — baked at about 550 degrees in a deck oven.”

Mr. Wiener, who leads pizza tours of New York restaurants and wrote the book “Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box,” labeled our city a “slice town,” distinct from places that put more emphasis on an entire pie.
“In the first half of the 20th century, New York pizza was thin and made in coal-fired ovens at a three-to-five minute bake,” he said. “Crispy with sauce in the center. Very lightly topped.”
(And those early pizzas were typically not sold by the slice, he added; they were sold as whole pies.)
That changed in the 1940s with the introduction of the gas-fueled deck oven — still used at local spots like Di Fara Pizza, Joe’s and Pizza Suprema — and again in the past decade, as wood-fired ovens have made a comeback, according to Mr. Wiener, at neighborhood joints like Roberta’s, Kesté, Emily and Sottocasa. And just like that, full pies-on-a-plate are regaining popularity.



 
Might as well repost this [useless piece of info] here lest the Noam Chomsky thread gets deleted for good/no good reason at all.

The linguist Noam Chomsky enjoyed manipulating with grammatical processes so much so to the fruition of his esteemed theory [''deep structure'', thereby the birth of ''surface structure''] by which a sentence's basal structure is transformed by a dictum that advances a phrase into a new position.
 
Might as well repost this [useless piece of info] here lest the Noam Chomsky thread gets deleted for good/no good reason at all.

The linguist Noam Chomsky enjoyed manipulating with grammatical processes so much so to the fruition of his esteemed theory [''deep structure'', thereby the birth of ''surface structure''] by which a sentence's basal structure is transformed by a dictum that advances a phrase into a new position.
The most interesting threads transpire while the mods are away, happily enjoying the S.L.O. weekend, blissfully unaware of the threads growing and mutating here, full of sex, politics, religion and personal attacks. Then Monday comes around, and all the weekend fun vanishes into the deleted thread ether.
 
Very interesting stuff! You have made me curious about human tails, so......


From Wikipedia:
The coccyx, or tailbone, is the remnant of a lost tail.[16] All mammals have a tail at some point in their development; in humans, it is present for a period of 4 weeks, during stages 14 to 22 of human embryogenesis.[17] This tail is most prominent in human embryos 31–35 days old.[18] The tailbone, located at the end of the spine, has lost its original function in assisting balance and mobility, though it still serves some secondary functions, such as being an attachment point for muscles, which explains why it has not degraded further. The coccyx serves as an attachment site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It also functions as an insertion point of some of the muscles of the pelvic floor. In rare cases, congenital defect results in a short tail-like structure being present at birth. Twenty-three cases of human babies born with such a structure have been reported in the medical literature since 1884.[19][20] In rare cases such as these, the spine and skull were determined to be entirely normal. The only abnormality was that of a tail approximately twelve centimeters long. These tails were able to be surgically removed, and the individuals have resumed normal lives.[21]
 
...
“New York pizza is all relatively thin crust without being crackery,” according to the pizza historian Scott Wiener. “It has a risen edge a little bit of a handlebar, not a thin, flat edge — baked at about 550 degrees in a deck oven.”
Mr. Wiener, who leads pizza tours of New York restaurants and wrote the book “Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box,” labeled our city a “slice town,” distinct from places that put more emphasis on an entire pie.
“In the first half of the 20th century, New York pizza was thin and made in coal-fired ovens at a three-to-five minute bake,” he said. “Crispy with sauce in the center. Very lightly topped.”
...
I've been on a Scott's Pizza Tour. He really knows his Pizza. If you want him as the guide I think he only does the bus tours at this point. And I noticed he's raised his prices a bit. Maybe after he landed his Amazon pizza show:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FNYL1NX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_AqFvBbC6V95NB
 
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Tracy Austin and one of Tennis Channel's non-tennis commentators (forget his name) are currently doing live commentary on tennis matches. Checking the schedule, I see that the broadcast began at four in the morning in their L.A. studio! Tracy lives in Orange County, I believe. You would think she is in a place in life where she doesn't need to get up in the middle of the night and drive to work. The other commentator probably needs the work.
 
THE AMERICAN MacGUFFIN



In his 1962 interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock explains:

The main thing I've learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I'm convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others. My best MacGuffin, and by that I mean the emptiest, the most nonexistent, and the most absurd, is the one we used in North by Northwest. The picture is about espionage, and the only question that's raised in the story is to find out what the spies are after. Well, during the scene at the Chicago airport, the Central Intelligence man explains the whole situation to Cary Grant, and Grant, referring to the James Mason character, asks, "What does he do?" The counterintelligence man replies, "Let's just say that he's an importer and exporter." "But what does he sell?" "Oh, just government secrets!" is the answer. Here, you see, the MacGuffin has been boiled down to its purest expression: nothing at all!
http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/...-the-plot-device-he-called-the-macguffin.html
 
THE AMERICAN MacGUFFIN



In his 1962 interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock explains:

The main thing I've learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I'm convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others. My best MacGuffin, and by that I mean the emptiest, the most nonexistent, and the most absurd, is the one we used in North by Northwest. The picture is about espionage, and the only question that's raised in the story is to find out what the spies are after. Well, during the scene at the Chicago airport, the Central Intelligence man explains the whole situation to Cary Grant, and Grant, referring to the James Mason character, asks, "What does he do?" The counterintelligence man replies, "Let's just say that he's an importer and exporter." "But what does he sell?" "Oh, just government secrets!" is the answer. Here, you see, the MacGuffin has been boiled down to its purest expression: nothing at all!
http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/...-the-plot-device-he-called-the-macguffin.html
Seinfeld is the ultimate television Macguffin experience, no?
 
New AI fake text generator may be too dangerous to release, say creators
The Elon Musk-backed nonprofit company OpenAI declines to release research publicly for fear of misuse

Alex Hern
@alexhern
Thu 14 Feb 2019 12.00 ESTLast modified on Thu 14 Feb 2019 16.49 EST

The AI wrote a new passage of fiction set in China after being fed the opening line of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (pictured). Photograph: Mondadori/Getty Images

The creators of a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction – dubbed “deepfakes for text” – have taken the unusual step of not releasing their research publicly, for fear of potential misuse.
OpenAI, an nonprofit research company backed by Elon Musk, says its new AI model, called GPT2 is so good and the risk of malicious use so high that it is breaking from its normal practice of releasing the full research to the public in order to allow more time to discuss the ramifications of the technological breakthrough.

At its core, GPT2 is a text generator. The AI system is fed text, anything from a few words to a whole page, and asked to write the next few sentences based on its predictions of what should come next. The system is pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible, both in terms of the quality of the output, and the wide variety of potential uses.

Can a computer be creative? Chips with Everything podcast

When used to simply generate new text, GPT2 is capable of writing plausible passages that match what it is given in both style and subject. It rarely shows any of the quirks that mark out previous AI systems, such as forgetting what it is writing about midway through a paragraph, or mangling the syntax of long sentences.

Feed it the opening line of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four – “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” – and the system recognises the vaguely futuristic tone and the novelistic style, and continues with:

“I was in my car on my way to a new job in Seattle. I put the gas in, put the key in, and then I let it run. I just imagined what the day would be like. A hundred years from now. In 2045, I was a teacher in some school in a poor part of rural China. I started with Chinese history and history of science.”

Feed it the first few paragraphs of a Guardian story about Brexit, and its output is plausible newspaper prose, replete with “quotes” from Jeremy Corbyn, mentions of the Irish border, and answers from the prime minister’s spokesman.

One such, completely artificial, paragraph reads: “Asked to clarify the reports, a spokesman for May said: ‘The PM has made it absolutely clear her intention is to leave the EU as quickly as is possible and that will be under her negotiating mandate as confirmed in the Queen’s speech last week.’”

From a research standpoint, GPT2 is groundbreaking in two ways. One is its size, says Dario Amodei, OpenAI’s research director. The models “were 12 times bigger, and the dataset was 15 times bigger and much broader” than the previous state-of-the-art AI model. It was trained on a dataset containing about 10m articles, selected by trawling the social news site Reddit for links with more than three votes. The vast collection of text weighed in at 40 GB, enough to store about 35,000 copies of Moby Dick.

The amount of data GPT2 was trained on directly affected its quality, giving it more knowledge of how to understand written text. It also led to the second breakthrough. GPT2 is far more general purpose than previous text models. By structuring the text that is input, it can perform tasks including translation and summarisation, and pass simple reading comprehension tests, often performing as well or better than other AIs that have been built specifically for those tasks.
That quality, however, has also led OpenAI to go against its remit of pushing AI forward and keep GPT2 behind closed doors for the immediate future while it assesses what malicious users might be able to do with it. “We need to perform experimentation to find out what they can and can’t do,” said Jack Clark, the charity’s head of policy. “If you can’t anticipate all the abilities of a model, you have to prod it to see what it can do. There are many more people than us who are better at thinking what it can do maliciously.”

To show what that means, OpenAI made one version of GPT2 with a few modest tweaks that can be used to generate infinite positive – or negative – reviews of products. Spam and fake news are two other obvious potential downsides, as is the AI’s unfiltered nature . As it is trained on the internet, it is not hard to encourage it to generate bigoted text, conspiracy theories and so on.

Instead, the goal is to show what is possible to prepare the world for what will be mainstream in a year or two’s time. “I have a term for this. The escalator from hell,” Clark said. “It’s always bringing the technology down in cost and down in price. The rules by which you can control technology have fundamentally changed.
https://www.theguardian.com/technol...musk-backed-ai-writes-convincing-news-fiction
 
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