Larry Hosken: New

Some weeks back, I set up a dashboard of San Francisco COVID-19 data. It showed data that was already available elsewhere, but zoomed in near the low end of the graph. I wanted a graph that I could glance at to see if rates were low enough for me to do non-essential things inside with other people. The charts at and the SF Chronicle Corona Virus Tracker had charts, but zoomed out far enough such that you had to squint and/or do math to figure out whether it was worth the risk to eat inside a restaurant.

So I set up a dashboard with a zoomed-in chart; the chart has a line in the middle with some safe-ish numbers. The chart shows values up to 2x the safe levels. Today, it hit an interesting milestone.

[graph with three lines: red (New Cases), magenta (Test positivity), and green (Wastewater); all the numbers are so high they're off the chart]

Today, all the numbers the dashboard tracks are off the charts, over 2x safe levels. Silver lining: now I can track these numbers at or SF Chronicle without squinting.

(People who are good at reading charts might wonder: Those numbers were off the chart as of a few days ago; why only blog about it now? It takes a few days between the time those numbers are measured and then make it to state agencies and then to public online places my program can read. So…the numbers have been off the charts for a while, but I only got to see it this morning.)

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rephrased Phraser word+phrase lists

I updated the scored word and phrase lists over at the phraser page, using data from a recent copies of Wikipedia and other wikis.

Soon after I updated them, I saw that my over-enthusiastic tool that guesses at the spacing of crossword puzzle dictionaries had messed up; thinking that "pre examines" and "sniffing ly" are each two-word phrases. That'll be fixed… next year, along with several more pre- and -ly words.

Uhm, yeah, I guess there's not a big difference between these lists and those I got when I was tinkering with this stuff back in September. But I'm in the habit of refreshing these in the weeks before Mystery Hunt, and without our habits what are we but beasts of chaos?

[Geordi La Forge meme. Geordi rejects: Unfashionably obsolete September phrases. Geordi respects: Fresh lovely December phrases]

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You can use the Give2SF program to donate your private $$ to San Francisco's public services. You direct your funds to different pieces of the government. E.g., you can direct some to "COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund", some to "Disaster Recovery Fund". Only one of these Funds is associated with a particular person, "Mayor's Fund for the Homeless."

Meanwhile, articles like "Scathing allegations against Mayor Breed and city in lawsuit filed over treatment of the homeless" remind us that our Mayor appreciates it when city workers illegally trash homeless peoples' stuff.

I'm visualizing the Venn diagram of people who want to use Give2SF to give to a fund for homeless people; intersected with the people who want our Mayor to have money to, uhm, handle the homeless people problem her way. If you want to visualize it, please see the attached file "non-intersecting-circles.jpg."

[image: two scrawled non-intersecting circles]

I gotta think that fund could get more funders if they took the "Mayor's" out of the name.

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Democratic Primary, a.k.a. Shooting Themselves in the Foot

You may recall a couple of years back I blogged about "electability," specifically, if a USA political party wants to pick an electable candidate, they should listen to voters in states that are median party lean. E.g., don't ask California voters: they're in a liberal echo chamber and will tell you some damned hippie is most electable; but then the rest of the nation will reject that hippie. And don't ask the Wyoming voters: they're in a reactionary echo chamber and will tell you some billionaire trust fund baby is most electable; but then the rest of the nation will reject that baby. Instead, ask the voters from the battleground states. If some candidate appeals to the middle-of-the-road Pennsylvanians, they've got a decent chance with the rest of the country.

So I got excited when I saw the Democrats had voted to move their first Presidential Primary election away from (too right-wing) Iowa. Then I saw they'd voted to move that first primary to South Carolina… even further away from the median, towards the nutjob end of the right wing. The news says the Democrats wanted a state with a large African-American population% to make sure those voices were heard… and Georgia was right there; higher A.A. population %, battleground state, just an all-around great choice.

Oh well. I'm not sure I'd know how to react to an American political party that was nominating appealing candidates nowadays.

In case you're curious, here's a table of states with 538-estimated partisan lean and electoral college votes.

elec. votes
elec votes
(this state)
partisan lean state
1 3 3 -49.86651 Wyoming
2 6 3 -37.06978 North Dakota
3 13 7 -36.86855 Oklahoma
4 17 4 -36.79051 Idaho
5 22 5 -35.57757 West Virginia
6 25 3 -32.0032 South Dakota
7 31 6 -31.50176 Arkansas
8 42 11 -29.205 Tennessee
9 51 9 -29.17974 Alabama
10 59 8 -27.18871 Kentucky
11 65 6 -26.28323 Utah
12 70 5 -24.75097 Nebraska
13 76 6 -21.07362 Kansas
14 86 10 -20.98018 Missouri
15 94 8 -20.39682 Louisiana
16 105 11 -20.25634 Indiana
17 108 3 -19.90665 Montana
18 114 6 -19.78266 Mississippi
19 123 9 -18.26597 South Carolina
20 126 3 -14.6111 Alaska
21 164 38 -12.90278 Texas
22 182 18 -12.10644 Ohio
23 188 6 -9.611277 Iowa
24 217 29 -7.396878 Florida
25 233 16 -7.357549 Georgia
26 244 11 -7.171309 Arizona
27 259 15 -4.815506 North Carolina
28 269 10 -3.839976 Wisconsin
29 289 20 -2.96776 Pennsylvania
30 295 6 -2.59005 Nevada
31 311 16 -1.175974 Michigan
32 315 4 0.5663683 New Hampshire
33 325 10 1.995261 Minnesota
34 338 13 3.601613 Virginia
35 342 4 4.379831 Maine
36 351 9 6.750234 Colorado
37 356 5 7.150143 New Mexico
38 363 7 10.60454 Oregon
39 377 14 11.34622 New Jersey
40 384 7 12.14592 Connecticut
41 396 12 12.43839 Washington
42 416 20 13.20919 Illinois
43 419 3 13.92317 Delaware
44 448 29 19.90219 New York
45 452 4 23.66751 Rhode Island
46 507 55 25.74527 California
47 517 10 26.2639 Maryland
48 520 3 27.77973 Vermont
49 524 4 31.81241 Hawaii
50 535 11 32.67723 Massachusetts
51 538 3 68.32358 District of Columbia

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When I walked through Golden Gate Park, the carnies were setting up Jingle All the Way, also known as the San Francisco tree lighting ceremony and official lighting up of the Entwined artificial tree thingies.
[photo: cotton candy stand and rides setting up on a gray day]

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image with meme-referencing text Don't ever talk to me or my son ever again. The picture shows two toys modeled on the Go programming language gopher mascot, one big and one small

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Did you ever find out about a new-to-you API and immediately know what you wanted to use it for?

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In theory, the "Mumbled Artist's Instructions" puzzles were a challenge to figure out some absurd thing an AI had tried to draw. Reverse-engineering an AI is a fun challenge.

But it turns out AI is not good at drawing absurd things. It draws unguessable nonsense when I was hoping for guessable nonsense. So for the past several weeks, I've been manually adding elements to the AI-generated art. That is much less satisfying.

This week, I was determined to use fully-AI-generated art. If one set of absurd punny "instructions" didn't yield something guessable, I'd try another set of instructions, no compromise. So I tried a bunch of things and… none of them yielded anything comprehensible.

I give up. I give up on this whole puzzle gimmick. As consolation, please enjoy these pictures allegedly of

[image: ball dixie, which looks something like a minimalist steamshovel made from plastic toys] [image: bullet surprise, except it looks more like a can of spraypaint falling out of a malformed box] [image: florid estate, which looks like a Miami mansion with a nice garden out front. I don't think I'd go so far as to call it 'florid' though] [image: rid lease caught, which looks someone holding up a fish they caught; no sign of a rid lease]

Is it weird that the "florid estate" picture looks like it's in Florida (with palm trees) but doesn't have a lot of flowers? Does the AI not know the difference between "florid" and "Florida"?

Anyhow, good news, artists: your jobs are still safe from AI.

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Every so often, you stumble upon something that reminds you how much more is going on in San Francisco than you know about.

[screen shot of a Swarm check in at the Golden Gate Park horseshoe pitch. Description reads "Folks are burning sage and dancing, dressed in (I guess?) some Native American ceremonial garb."]

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Looks like that Entwined light-up art installation is coming back to the Peacock Meadow in San Francisco (as has been noted elsewhere).

[photo: behind a chain link fence and traffic cones, a pile of plasticky-looking dendrite forms to be assembled into some light-up trees. A sign reads "pardon our mess"]

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