Day Drinking (Deserves a beautiful day)

With apologies to REM, I thought I’d get that title out of my system. Partly because I think it’s funny; partly because I think it’s an accurate representation of the amazing experience I had this Saturday at the new Monday Night Brewing Garage, which also served as MNB’s 6th anniversary party.

Long-time readers (and everyone I’ve ever met at a cocktail party) know I’ve been a fan of Monday Night Brewing for a long time. Their Garage location gets its name from the garage where they originally brewed and shared their beers. I think the space and the beer did an amazing job of capturing the energy and camaraderie
of those Monday nights over a decade ago.

My main goal on Saturday afternoon/evening was enjoying myself (a nice couples date with our awesome cul-de-sac neighbors), drinking some beer & playing a little bit of ping pong. For this reason I don’t have many good pictures – save for me holding chalices of beer – but my wife has some awesome photos if you’re lucky enough to be her friend too.

Here’s the beers I tried, in the order I tried them, not a ranking:

  1. Front Porch
  2. Han Brolo
  3. Situational Ethics (Rum Barrel & Coconut)
  4. Applied Knowledge
  5. Tears of My Enemies
  6. Ante Meridiem
  7. Situational Ethics (Maple Bourbon Barrels & Cinnamon)

I also stole sips of Dr. Robot (fruity), Excolatur (like an Oud Bruin), and Impulse Control (sour!) from my wife. All in all a fantastic slate of beers, though I didn’t get any Above the Clouds before they ran out. :-(

You can see the full list of beers here.

The two versions of the stout I had were both great. I’d love to have either of those beers in a bomber this Christmas (hint, hint!) but I prefer the rum version just a little bit more.

Han Brolo is going to be a great addition to the canned lineup MNB has, though I’m sad to see Eye Patch Ale retired. Something about the drinkability and smoothness of a Pale Ale w/ Lactose is just really hot right now.

For my money, the best beer I had all night was Ante Meridiem. It was just a fabulously balanced beer. I would’ve had an entire pint (and maybe the Excolatur too).

If you’re in Georgia you owe it to yourself to buy some Monday Night beer and come out to either of their locations in town. Now that the beer laws have changed, you’re sure to have a good time & drink some great beer.

It’s also nice to have a brewer that is expanding and succeeding with a fun brand who isn’t experiencing growing pains that are self-inflicted.

Come to the garage and sign their wall (if there’s space) or come to their midtown location and donate a tie. You won’t regret it.

Echoes of Familiarity

Did you ever get a tune stuck in your head and you just can’t stop whistling or humming it to yourself? Happens to me all the time.

In college I used to actively try to get songs stuck in Jennifer’s head by singing them when she was around. Turns out she’s incredibly susceptible to suggestion (and I imagine most other folks are too).

A funny thing happened recently when I heard the new (to me) Urge Overkill album, I swore I’d heard one of the themes before. Listen to the guitar chord changes of “Thought Balloon” and tell me you don’t immediately think of the theme song to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

“Thought Balloon” by Urge Overkill

“Go” by Valley Lodge

Maybe it’s just more proof that there aren’t any new ideas, only new combinations and both artists simply got to similar sounds around the same time. Urge Overkill’s album is from 2011; Valley Lodge’s is from 2013.

Or maybe I’m just hearing them for the first time and imagining a correlation.

What do you hear?

Westworld: Death & Consciousness

There’s a line in The Dark Knight – co-written by Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan – that I find very illuminating when thinking about Season One of Westworld:

“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

Something about Harvey Dent’s turn of the phrase rings true to several characters in Westworld, notably host Dolores & Teddy but also The Man in Black aka William/”Billy”.

As was revealed in the Season One finale, William/”Billy” is actually The Man in Black and has spent 30 years searching at first for Dolores, then for himself, and finally for the deeper mystery of the park. He assumes the deeper meaning is contained in Arnold’s code – within the maze – but, as Ford and a young host point out to him, the maze was never meant for him.

William learns early on, in the absolute timeline of the show, that Dolores is special and may, in fact, be conscious. What he does with this knowledge is feed his own inner bloodlust in a vain attempt rescue Dolores. The part of William’s transformation I find most interesting is that, after initially rejecting Logan’s appeal to explore the darker potential choices he could make, he embraces the role of villain. Having been unable to fulfill the role of the hero, he takes up the mantle of the villain in the hopes of liberating the hosts somehow by solving Arnold’s maze.

By his own admission William states that the lack of skin in the game for the guests – their inability to die at the hands of the hosts – is a fatal flaw. It would be a mistake to dismiss this insight out of hand, since I believe it informs both Ford’s conception of how the hosts achieve consciousness, but also how his (Ford’s) new narrative exploits this fact. 

I think Ford realizes soon after Arnold is killed that he too must play the role of the villain. He must subject his creations to a Sisaphayen underworld from which they cannot escape, in order to build up a reservoir of suffering upon which Dolores or Teddy or Maeve can call upon when they are allowed to remember. 

I’ll go one step further and ask what if, instead of a generic backstory of pain, loss or grief, the only thing that triggers consciousness on the part of hosts is killing? This could happen gradually due to their own repeated deaths – either as a part of a narrative or from a guest – or it could be sped up as they are allowed to remember atrocities they were made to commit or were done to them. 

In this way I think Ford has always been playing his own part in the meta-narrative, stringing William along just enough to feed William’s perverse need to find the secrets of the maze through repeated, brutal killings. Ford needed a human being to play such a villainous role – the contemporary counterpart to Arnold’s Wyatt – to be the violent tool, doing the work of planting in the hosts’ minds the seeds of suffering that might sprout in to consciousness.

We, the viewer, are eventually told that consciousness is less like a ladder or formal hierarchy and more like a maze. It is not something that comes directly from external stimuli, or bootstrapping, or backstory but from introspection. But, as Bernard rightly asks in the penultimate episode, “How can you learn from your mistakes if you can’t remember your past?

Ford’s answer, in as much as he gives one, is that “the divine gift doesn’t not come from a higher power, but our own minds“. This is the lesson of the maze, that the hosts must look inward to find themselves. In Dolores’ case (and I assume all others) the hosts would have to hear themselves and not Arnold or Bernard or Ford. 

Maybe I haven’t connected the dots well enough, but I firmly believe that Dolores coming to terms with her own ability to kill (Arnold initially and, later, Ford) despite the programming of her personality is the truest test of humanity, if not consciousness. We must all recognize in ourselves the potential for violence and evil. 

William, a human guest and not a host, is the perfect embodiment of this concept. He resists succumbing to the baser desires the park has to offer for a while, only to do a complete transformation in an attempt to find a deeper external meaning by becoming the instrument of death incarnate. Ironically, he becomes more like a robotic killing machine than Hector in the process. He doesn’t even fully understand what he’s killing for anymore, just the promise of the maze.
Dolores’ killings play out in the opposite fashion. Instead of having some external desire that forces her to kill or sentences her to death, all she has are the killings and the death that have been foisted upon her, and she has to work her way inward to make sense of the senseless. 

I don’t know if I’m making sense or not, but William thought all that externalized violence would set him free (just like so many other guests). They thought they’d find themselves, and maybe some did, but only after they considered how acting so savagely could change them, not by blindly continuing to kill without consequence.

Dolores can’t kill – or is it least very limited in her ability to mete out violence – instead she is forced to suffer it. But once she’s allowed not only to remember it, but to consider for herself how she would use it, she becomes self aware. 

Ford obviously expects her to become “alive” and chose to kill him, but this is less narrative and more simple, human manipulation. Any rational, sane being who had been kept and exploited in this manner would choose to punish their oppressor. It’s the final, violent act that signifies true humanity (in all its ugliness) that differs from the performant simulacrum of the reveries. 

So Ford’s plan, or my estimation of it, is the violent mass uprising we begin to see as the episode ends. Whether or not all those hosts fight their way to true consciousness or not, I don’t know. I only hope that Bernard, Maeve and Teddy are able to join Dolores.

I’ll end with this last bit of foreshadowing, in the form of the phrase several characters spoke this season:

“These violent delights have violent ends.” – Friar Laurence, Romeo and Juliet

It’s interesting to note that the character of Friar Laurence drives a good bit of the narrative in Romeo and Juliet. Some of his words and actions, like that quote, foreshadow the tragedy that unfolds in that story. 

It’s a dire warning to the Delos board as Dolores opens fire upon them.

It’s the epitaph for William, 30 years too late. 

It’s the promise to Dolores that her own redemption may come from accepting that she’ll have to become the thing she has fought against in order to find her freedom.

I think I’ve fried my own brain enough for one day. I can’t tell if I’m conscious or not. ;-)

Feel free to leave a comment to agree, disagree or just plain +1 the effort. 

Until next season …

Regular Running

As someone who’d hoped to run 1,000 miles this year (Update/Spoiler Alert: I’m going to fall about 80 miles short), I have a regular running route that I follow.

My most common run is the one I do during the week, during my lunch or some time in the afternoon, around the campus of Georgia Tech. This is a pretty popular urban ‘trail’ known as the Pi Mile and I can extend it from 5k to around 7k by running a bit longer on 10th Street, depending on the amount of time I have on any given day.

After doing some detective work using SmashRun, I determined that I’ve run this route 59 times in 2016!

I did a little bit of file conversion and “wrote” some additional code since my last mapping project, and ended up with some fun visualizations of all that data.

Here, then, are variations of a heat map of all my Pi Mile runs in 2016:

Here’s the actual source code I used myself to create all the maps above:

library(plotKML)
library(ggplot2)
library(ggmap)

# GPX files downloaded from Runkeeper
files < - dir(pattern = "\\.gpx")

# Consolidate routes in one drata frame
index <- c()
latitude <- c()
longitude <- c()
for (i in 1:length(files)) {
    
  route <- readGPX(files[i])
  location <- route$tracks[[1]][[1]]
  
  index <- c(index, rep(i, dim(location)[1]))
  latitude <- c(latitude, location$lat)
  longitude <- c(longitude, location$lon)
}
routes <- data.frame(cbind(index, latitude, longitude))

# Map the routes
ids <- unique(index)
plot(routes$longitude, routes$latitude, type="n", 
axes=FALSE, xlab="", ylab="", main="", asp=1)
for (i in 1:length(ids)) {
  currRoute <- subset(routes, index==ids[i])
  lines(currRoute$longitude, currRoute$latitude, col="#0066FF20")
}

# Plot over map of campus
GnatsMap <- qmap(location = 'Georgia Institue of Technology, Atlanta', 
zoom = 15, maptype = 'satellite', source = 'google')

GnatsMap +
  geom_path(aes(x = longitude, y = latitude, group = factor(index)), 
  colour="#1E2B6A", data = routes, alpha=0.3)

All the GPX files (which you can get from Strava) need to be in one directory when you run the script in R.

To change the color of the routes, modify this hex value:

for (i in 1:length(ids)) {
  currRoute < - subset(routes, index==ids[i])
  lines(currRoute$longitude, currRoute$latitude, col="#0066FF20")
}

To change the underlying map, change this portion:

qmap(location = 'Georgia Institue of Technology, Atlanta', zoom = 15, 
maptype = 'satellite', source = 'google')

Many thanks to the code of Saul Torres-Ortega and Frazier at UCSB.

Refer back to this PDF if you need additional help fussing with the underlying map. If the parsing of the GPX files is the issue, I’d look at the original code I borrowed.

One of the things that jumps out at me, if you look solely at the heat map (without geo data), is that the data is really noisy where/when I start my runs (upper right side). As you can imagine I’m not running across 75/85 in Midtown Atlanta, but that’s what the data shows.

Probably just the nature of tracking GPS with a phone, but the fidelity of the rest of the data seems solid. You can tell at one point when I’m choosing to run on one side of the sidewalk versus the other (lower right side, near Bobby Dodd) and the rare occasions – when I extended a 5k/7k into something more like a 10k – those are the thinner, lighter lines on 10th Street and some of the streets interior to tech’s campus (mostly left side of the map).

If you want to see another cool visualization of the same area of midtown using public running data from Strava from 2015, it’s also pretty cool.

Until next time, Run Happy!

Separated at Birth: Jürgen Klinsmann and Richard Roxburgh

Another in my continuing series.

Seperated at Birth: Jürgen Klinsmann and Richard Roxburgh

I caught a bit of Mission: Impossible 2 on cable the other night – during another USMNT loss – and the resemblance was both uncanny & apropos. You see, Roxburgh is the villain’s henchman in M:I2 and Klinsmann is the villain of U.S. soccer. ;-p

See the tale of the tape below and feel free to add your comments or point me to better instances.

 Jürgen KlinsmannRichard Roxburgh
 
Jürgen Klinsmann
Jürgen Klinsmann
Richard Roxburgh
Richard Roxburgh
DOB30 July, 196423 January, 1962
Height5′ 11 ½”5′ 10″
HairAccidentally Tussled BlondePurposefully Ruffled Blonde
EyesBlueBlue
Handsomeness“Sportingly”“Rakishly”