March 10th, 2016

Google autonomous car hits bus

Low speed collision. The car saw the bus, and assumed the bus would yield. The bus did not yield. Google drew correct conclusion: Never Expect Buses or Trucks to Yield.

"Our cars will more deeply understand that buses and other large vehicles are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future."

This is one of the most interesting google car accidents so far, because it doesn't involve someone or something else hitting a google car. However, the headline "slams into" is very misleading. It was a _very_ low speed crash with no injuries, even tho the driver of the bus wasn't wearing his seatbelt (this, honestly, is why ordinary passenger vehicles must always yield to buses and trucks -- they are so big, that they just get very relaxed about things that could be quite bad for us. Physics!).

Unusual Names

I've been interested in where names come from -- like nearly everyone else, to one degree or another -- for a long time. When I was working on genealogy pretty consistently for a few years, I built up a sense of "rare" and "common" names that was quite different from what I had once had. There are names that _seem_ common, that are actually incredibly rare (at least with a particular spelling, or a particular combination of first and last name) and there are names that _seem_ unusual that are actually unbelievably common. I love rare names in genealogy, because it makes people easy to track.

I was recently reading about the crossword plagiarism scandal.

And the target of the investigation "edited" with numerous, possibly pseudonymous names, as the "authors" of the plagiarised puzzles. Two of the names on puzzles used as examples are Kendall Twigg (pretty rare) and Harper Dantley. Harper Dantley struck me as _such_ an improbably name that I headed over to pipl, where I saw a result I have NEVER seen before in my life: Zero hits. None whatsoever. Nobody has the name Harper Dantley. There are people with the first name Harper. There are people with the last name Dantley. There is no one with the name Harper Dantley, other than as a byline on a crossword puzzle.

Whatever name generator the editor is using is every bit as good as the one JAK uses when generating her character names. It's kind of impressive, and tougher than it seems, to come up with names that _almost_ sound like real names, but turn out not to actually be real names, of anyone at all, anywhere.

The editor compares puzzles having the same themes (on a very granular level) to two sitcoms using the same joke. Which is perhaps not the BEST argument to use, given the rancor associated with joke stealing.