Rainy Night in Rajasthan.

I don’t understand your relationship. I do not understand you guys at all.

Like, at all.

It’s like 1 AM. Or 1:30 AM. Thereabouts.

We’re sitting at a table in a dimly-lit restaurant.

It’s this strange open-air restaurant that looks like someone set up chairs, tables and a kitchen in a roadside space intended for a fire station.

Is it still raining? I’m not sure. We’re sitting next to a concrete wall on one end, so I don’t hear anything to my right. Around me to my left, there are voices of people chattering in Hindi. Or maybe Rajasthani, I’m not sure.

There are Indian voices here and there. Someone exchanging pleasantries with the cashier at the entrance. Groups of Indian guys discussing in a local language. A waiter yelling details of an order at the guy making food in the kitchen.

I’m low-key wondering why this otherwise normal-seeming restaurant is open and is this active at 1:30 AM, but right now that’s just one of the things that feel strange.


I’m munching on my bowl of Pulav.

I think the bowl is weird. It seems like stainless steel, but the thickness feels strange to me. It feels like it was made out of the exact same sheet of metal as a bunch of stainless steel spoons. I’m not sure how exactly to explain it. The metal just feels the way a steel spoon or a fork does in your hand.

It’s strange. I feel like I’m eating from a bowl that really should be a number of spoons.

Very strange.

He responds to my comment on his relationship.

“Yeah- when it comes to money, that’s a different matter. We think of things differently when money is involved.”

I’m still pretty perplexed.


About an hour ago we were at their lodging in Old City – in more central Udaipur.

He was telling me about how his Kenyan girlfriend could get pretty possessive of him. Not wanting him to get too close to Indian girls. Apparently he was still sneaking around though – he said someone still gave him her number earlier in the evening. An Indian girl. That he had to save it under a male-looking name, or something like that. To throw off suspicion.

About thirty minutes later we were standing outside Glanza– a nightclub/bar on the outskirts of Udaipur. We were both very drenched from riding on his moped through the unexpected rain – giddy from jumping up in the air when we hit speed-bumps on the highway. Speed-bumps we could barely see coming through the blinding army of stinging raindrops that assaulted us.

We were standing in a more enclosed area, drying ourselves out and getting some respite from the downpour. He was telling me about some drug-dealing trouble he got in, back in Jaipur.

He said people did different things to earn money. He said there are a good number of married Indian women who aren’t sexually satisfied in their marriages. And so they pay younger men to have sex with them. He said he did that every now and then, and that it paid well. That they really liked black guys. He said there was even an app for it.

In my head I was like Okay, don’t even bother telling me the name of the app pls. That’s enough info right there, thank you very much hah.

I personally prefer more fulfilling and inspiring ways of earning money.

It just seemed strange to me that his possessive girlfriend who always tried to keep him away from Indian girls, was fine with him having sex with older Indian women for money.

“Yeah, she knows about it. She’s okay with it.”

Hm.

I heard what he said, but it did not make sense to me.


He was on a call about five minutes ago. We were sipping on beers, waiting for our food to be ready.

I was in a conversation with someone a few days ago who mentioned something I found very interesting. He said a good number of Indians enrolled in PhD programs in public Indian universities, just for the accommodation. He said tuition in government universities was so subsidized, that people enrolled in Doctorate programs just so they would have a place to stay while they worked on something else – possibly studying for International exams so they could travel out of the country. They wouldn’t attend class, nothing. Just make use of the school lodging. And he said it was normal. That even some of the lecturers had done that.

I thought that was really interesting, and I brought it up while we waited for the food. He just completed his Master’s degree at a private university here in India. He came from Nigeria for school. I was curious if people also did that stuff at private universities, or if there was some other variant of it there.

We were discussing that, when the call came in.

He answered his phone. It was his girlfriend.

When we headed out for food and beers about an hour ago, she said she was going to a nightclub.

She was now calling him from the club.

Oh. He’s asking for that? Tell him he’s going to have to pay extra for that.

Hm. I’m not sure what “he” is asking for. I’m not sure what “that” is.

But I have an idea.

Someone at the nightclub is requesting for paid sexual activity with her. She’s calling her boyfriend for negotiation advice.

They discuss on the phone a bit more, and then the call ends when they come to some sort of an agreement on what to do.

Our food is here now.

I’m munching on my Pulav, scooping up interesting spoons of rice and vegetables from the strange steel bowl that should be spoons.

He’s sitting across the table from me, munching on some unrecognisable Indian dish. Hearing my perspective on their relationship.

I do not understand you guys at all.

Like, at all.


Image: Somewhere in Udaipur.

Towards an Objective Test of Machine Sentience.

Abstract:

This paper discusses the notion of sentience in machines, and proposes an approach to analyze it objectively.

It draws insight from studies in Affective Neuroscience which map Functional neuroimaging data on a subject’s brain activity, to their emotional states.
It then outlines a procedure to obtain useful information about possible sentience in a given machine/AI model.

It is hoped that this research inspires more work aimed towards structuring an objective test of sentience in machines.

View Paper on Researchgate

Desert Meanderings. 1.

It’s a random night in January.

I’m walking along Sal’s major highway – the one that extends along the island’s longitudinal axis like a vein.

I’m headed towards Santa Maria, at the southernmost end of the island.

The road is smooth and empty. Population here is low relative to land area, so the road is usually empty at any given instance in time – as far as the eye can see.

I enjoy playing dreamy surreal songs from Wildlight while walking along this road at night. Autograf too. I like their music too for stuff like this.

I walk along the edge of the road as it wraps over a hill. On a good hill you can see the edges of the island. During the day.

I think it’s an interesting feeling: Standing on a highway and being able to see the water lapping against different shores delineating the island. It makes you much more keenly aware that you’re really just standing on a piece of land surrounded by water.

Any piece of ground anywhere on the planet is a part of an expanse of land surrounded by water, but it’s just never really something you’re very conscious of- until you’re staring at the different edges of the stretch of land you’re standing on.


I’ve just come across someone. A guy. He’s about the same age as I am. Thereabouts.

There’s a tall structure off the highway. A little into the desert. I’m not sure what it is. It looks like something in-between a lighthouse and a telecommunications mast.

I think I was walking towards it out of curiosity when I came across him. He works security there. He’s on a night shift.

We talk for a bit. He’s from the Gambia I think.

There’s something of a language barrier, so we can’t communicate extensively. We spend some time hanging out in his living quarters. It’s a small room at the base of the tall structure. We’re talking about Santa Maria, and watching some Youtube videos on his phone.

It’s strange seeing technology from the perspective of an insider-somewhat. To a lot of people an app is really just a name that they generally associate with the emotions they experience from using it.

And the company behind the app, the people who build are maintain it, are really just this nebulous, extra-terrestrial and omniscient “They”. “The YouTube people”, “The Google people”, etc.

I recently spent about a year living in Silicon Valley, and so that gave me something of an insider perspective into apps and software technology in general. There’s the insider perspective you get from learning about how the tech works, and there’s the social dimension you get from living in a place that’s renowned for software development.

The people behind the apps are neither nebulous, nor extra-terrestrial, nor omniscient. They’re people. Like everyone else. Things that generally happen to people also happen to them.


At some point I feel like I should head back on the road. I mention that to him. We talk a bit more as we head out of his quarters.

He looks like he could use some company on his solitary nights shifts. He also seems to miss his family back in The Gambia.

We exchange our goodbyes and I head out into the night.


Image: Hanging off some weathered rocks somewhere on the western edge of Sal island.

Sal: An Uneventful Weekend.

I woke up a few minutes ago.

I’m still on the bed. The faded pink – you know I don’t know if the mattress is actually pink. Or if it was pink before the colour faded so much. It looks pinkish now though. It’s a dull dispirited pink that has definitely had better days.

I’m on the mattress, hearing the rusty springs inside it softly creak as my weight shifts.

Fucking Simon.

He said he was going to get me a better mattress.

Come to think of it, he said he was going to get me a lot of things. That was why he charged me a bit extra for the room.

For example, he also said he was going to install locks on the door.

At some point I realized all of that was never going to happen. And so I stopped bothering him. I have more prominent life quandaries to contemplate anyway.


I feel listless and unenthusiastic.

I’m wearing my camping jacket. The dark green one I bought at a thrift shop in San Francisco. I’m wearing it indoors now, I’m not quite sure why. I guess it helps me feel warm. Warm and protected somehow.

I head out the door of the studio apartment.

It’s a dull day. The sky is somber and grey. It’s almost like it’s echoing my mood.

Today’s sky is actually atypical. Sal island is usually sunny like all the time.

When I first got here, one of things I found extremely thrilling was how clear the sky was. Sometimes there would be practically no clouds. Just this sparkling hue of entrancing blue.

Today there’s no stimulating blue to lift my spirits.


I’m on the walkway, trudging by the row of neighbouring apartments.

I’m by the staircase. The wide staircase that leads to the apartments on the storey above.

There are a bunch of Cape Verdeans neighbours sitting down and having a chat.

To hell with it – I think I’ll join them.


I’m sitting amidst the group. Gleaning whatever I can of their conversation in Creole.

Nino is in the group.

Nino looks very different from the rest of them.

He is a Sambajud.

Sambajuds are generally first-generation mixed-race Cape Verdeans. They’re usually very light skinned, and usually you can tell just from looking at them. This is in contrast to the Badiu who are generally darker-skinned – way more Cape Verdean than they are Caucasian, although they might have some European streaks in their ancestry somewhere.

I feel like Cape Verdeans generally – even the most Badiu of them, are not entirely genetically African – whatever that means. In relative terms, the most Badiu Cape Verdeans will generally have some features different from what you’ll find in more mainland Africa.

For example their hair has larger curls. In like more inland West Africa people generally have hair with type 4C curls – tightly coiled strands of hair that generally give the impression of being one coherent mass.

Badiu Cape Verdeans will have more 3C sort of curls – wavy springy hair – what your hair strands would look like if you wrapped them around a pencil or a crayon. I think it’s because the Cape Verdean archipelago has historically been some sort of cultural confluence – a port for European cargo etc ships on their way back to Europe (I learnt this from Tony while I was having drinks with him and Peverto the other day) – with people of African descent generally accompanying them as underlings – as is usually the historical case.

Something I’ve never quite understood – why aren’t there any historical stories (or at least none that I know of) of colonial empires which grew out of the African continent? At that time there wasn’t such a widespread moral objection to colonization – it was just what people did. People rampaged whatever territories they could, and abducted its inhabitants as slaves- expanding their own empire and furthering their own fictive narrative of ethnic superiority.

My question then is, why was the colonizer-colonized dynamic so biased against the people from the African continent?

For a group of people to successfully, continually, and persistently overpower another group they need to have access to resources the other group does not. Somehow. They have to be at some sort of advantage – have some sort of an edge.

Technology? But these different groups of people had existed for about the same time. None had a significant temporal head start – if any, the people on the African continent did have the head start, because I believe there’s evidence suggesting that human life began in Africa – something like that.

Co-operation? Large-scale inter-tribal co-operation? E.g on say a national scale? Maybe. I think that’s an actual possibility. Maybe the absence of co-operation and a collective identity on a much larger scale than tribes or regional kingdoms – maybe that makes it more likely to be overpowered by a coherent group unified at say a national level. But then there are questions of relative size. Some Western European countries are relatively tiny. Size-wise, how would they compare to say a kingdom elsewhere with a larger geographical area/more people? I don’t know.

Differences in the collective priority attached to innovation? That’s another one.

The discovery of technology that dramatically catalysed technological progress? Eg writing?

For example if one society discovers writing before the other, you’d expect a positively nonlinear acceleration of progress in that society – because all of a sudden people can reliably share large amounts of information more quickly, more effectively, more efficiently. That’s one possibility that occurred to me a while ago. I should look through research papers in Sociology to see if it’s something people have already talked about.


One of the Cape Verdeans hands me a stick of marijuana. They’ve been passing it around as they engaged in their Creole conversation.

As the joint floats in my direction, I ask myself:

Hm, am I really in the mood for weed today?

Do I feel like today is that sort of day?

The joint gets closer.

Ah to hell with it. I’m in a weird-ass mood today anyway.

I accept the joint and take in some puffs.

I feel my headspace gradually begin to transition, as the THC perfuses my bloodstream.

oooooKAYYyy. Now I’m in a different place.

I’ll just chill here for a while longer. Hazy with drowsy and distant excitement while immersed in the gargle of excited Creole chattering around me.


Image:

Random night on Sal. I was trying to get into a casino- “Casino Royale” along Avenida dos Hoteis in Santa Maria. But I wasn’t granted entry because I wasn’t wearing actual shoes. My actual formal shoes were swept away by the ocean waves on a night I spent at the beach a few weeks prior. They were both frustrating nights.

Mango Trip.

It’s a random day. A random morning.

I’m hungry.

I’m walking along the cobblestone road which cuts across the entrance of Hotel Aeroflot – the place where I stay.

There are a couple pawpaw trees nearby.

Every now and then I come along and steal a couple. I think the trees are mostly for decoration, but Hey, fruits!

There don’t seem to be any pluckable pawpaws today.

I keep heading down the road.

I walk past a few coconut trees.

A few boys recruited me into their coconut plucking mission the other day.

They asked if one of them could stand on my shoulders so he could reach the coconuts up ahead.

I said Haha okay.

They got a number of coconuts that day.


There’s a mango tree up ahead.

Hm. Mangoes. Hmm.

Sounds like an interesting idea.

I’m watching the tree from a distance, thinking of how to most effectively to approach it.


I’m at the tree. I’m attempting to pluck a number of fruits.

There’s a queue of tourists not far from me. I think they’re trying to check into the lodge here. The mango tree is in front of the lodge.

Something happens somehow, and I find myself in conversation with some of the tourists. I think someone was curious and and amused, and they asked what I was doing – something like that.

So we’re talking.

I’m talking with this couple from the UK. They should be in their forties or fifties. Or maybe late fifties.

They’re both doctors.

We’re talking about a number of things.

They say they were recently on a number of other islands in the country. We talk a bit about some of their experiences there.

They were recently at Sao Vicente. Sao Vicente is one of the other islands which comprise the Cape Verdean archipelago.

I’d really like to visit Sao Vincente.

Someone said they have a lot of parties there. Someone I met at Terra Boa – the town around the centre of this island – Sal. His name was Aurelio.

He said “Sao Vincente? Festa! Every time Festa! Every time!”

Haha. Sounds like an interesting place.

I keep talking with the Doctor couple.

The woman says something about her husband – says his knuckles are dragging on the ground or something like that.

I’m not quite familiar with the expression.

She explains a bit more.

I think it alludes to being something of a luddite.

In his defence he says a lot of recent technology just doesn’t go down well with him.

He talks about how they send tax reports in the UK.

I think it’s tax reports. Something like that. Some document they prepare and submit to the government.

He said previously you had to walk down to the office and physically turn in the document. That there was a resounding feeling of finality to that process.

“Now there’s just some page on the internet where you click a button to submit, and that’s it.”

It’s just not the same thing. It just isn’t.”

Hahaha.

He says he prefers to still walk down to the office to turn things in.

That he’s never going to be comfortable with just doing that on a screen.

Haha.

We keep talking.


A man just walked out of the hotel entrance.

He’s Cape Verdean.

He’s pointing his finger and yelling at me in Creole.

Hm. I wonder what’s going on.

I think he might be the hotel manager.

Yeah. Yeah he is. Yeah he’s the hotel manager.

“Go away! You! Go away! Go and get a job!”

“Do you have job?”

He stares at me and asks on the very top of his voice.

“Do you have job?”

“Go and get a job! Go! Go!”

I have some sort of an understanding of what is happening.

He thinks I’m trying to ingratiate myself with the tourists somehow. With the intention of somehow getting money from them.

That’s something people here generally do. Tourists and tourism are the primary source of revenue on this island, and people employ formal and informal techniques to get in on some of that tourist cash.

I don’t know what this hotel manager guy’s problem is.

I was just having a plain conversation.

There aren’t so many people on the island I can converse in English with – everyone speaks Portuguese/Creole.

Ad so it’s usually refreshing coming across people with whom I can have extended conversations in English.

I’m a bit hurt, but I don’t blame him.

He’s not entirely wrong.

I do not have a job, or any serious source of income.

That part is true.

Ugh.

I knew my gap-year decision was going to come with consequences. Being misunderstood was one of them.

In all though, I’m not too bothered by him.

I say goodbye to the friendly tourist couple and head on my way, a few mangoes in hand.


Image: Random plant thing somewhere on Sal island.

“Red Wine In Straw”. 2.

I’m sipping some “Super Bock” beer. Wondering how this evening will turn out.

We’re exchanging some light conversation – me and the guy who has offered to host me for the night.

We’re doing what we can, given the language barrier.

Language barriers are so annoying.

I Like, we’re all human beings. Generally we all have this shared space of cognitive concepts we’re all familiar with. I’ve been alive as a human being on this planet for like the past twenty one years. This guy has probably been alive for a similar amount of time. There’s a lot we have in common – just by virtue of the shared experience of existing on this planet as instances of the Homo sapiens species.

But language barriers – language barriers make it seem like we’re completely different species with absolutely nothing in common.

I have things on my mind I’m unable to communicate to you. You have things on your mind you’re unable to communicate to me. I might as well be an ant that communicates with antennas on my head. And you might as well be a dolphin that communicates with underwater sonar signals. Because we’re just unable to exchange thoughts and ideas.

We’re doing so little actual communication because there’s no way to succinctly pass information across. Most of what’s happening between us right now is just vibes. We’re just enjoying this shared congenial vibe over beer at this local bar in the innards of Espargos.

There was this guy I met a while back. I was at a restaurant here in Espargos – I think I had something to eat, and then I was doing some stuff on my computer after. We got talking and he invited me over to his place at Palmeira. We spent over an hour together at his place, but exchanged very few words because of the frustration of the whole language barrier thing.

I was so annoyed. Like, “I know I’m going to like this guy. I know we’re going to be friends somehow, somewhat, to some extent. But we cannot communicate, We. Cannot. Communicate, WHHYYYYY.”

Every now and then I use Google Translate. The app is pretty good, and it translates spoken audio too. But so far it has only proven practical for very brief/more formal conversation.

Like I’m trying to ask if they have say potatoes in stock at a grocery store, and I’m not sure what “potato” means in Portuguese. So I speak into the app, and then a robot-ey voice pronounces the Portuguese equivalent of “potato”.

Those are generally the scenarios in which it has proven very useful.

But informal free-flowing conversation that hinges a lot on that constant continuity and flow in the moment? Especially for people who you’ve just met and are still in the process of building rapport? Nah. Translation apps just kill the vibe. They just don’t work.


We’ve left the bar.

We’re heading somewhere – I imagine his living space is the final destination.

We’ve just come across a number of his friends. They seem cool.

One of them is tall and athletic, with a head of mid-length dreadlocks – like a dreadlock afro. I like him.

We’re all walking along the street and chatting.

There’s a club nearby. Interesting multi-coloured lights and stuff outside. There’s a long queue outside the club. It looks interesting. It’s giving me flashbacks. Haha.

Somehow a carton of red wine appears. I think someone bought it.

So there’s this strange wine they have in Cape Verde. It’s not in a bottle. It’s in like a juice pack. Like the large hardcover sort of pack you’ll usually see like family-sized juice in. Yeah like that. But instead they put wine in it. Red wine.

It’s strange. It’s strange but it’s cool and interesting somehow.

So like, I can buy a “juice pack” of red wine at the grocery store on a random evening, take a few steps out of the entrance, sit down on the sidewalk and have myself some red wine. Straight out of the pack. Like I’m sipping juice.

I don’t know how you’d do that with a bottle. Like, first you’ll need to find a bottle-opener. I don’t think you can just ask random people on the road if they happen to have a wine bottle opener in their pocket or their handbag. Haha.

We’re passing the wine around, taking sips. We all have our own straws. So when you’re passed the pack you dip your straw into a hole on top, take a few sips, and then pass it across.

“Red wine in straw!”

It’s the tall guy with afro dreadlocks.

“Red wine in straw!” He says to me excitedly.

So there’s a way Cape Verdean locals speak English. Their pronunciation is different – for example they pronounce the sound “h” with a more pronounced constriction at the back of their mouths so their “h” sounds almost like a “k”.

So they say stuff like “Hkhow? Hkhow you do it Mayowa? Hkhow? Tell me, I want to know.”

There’s also something unusual about the way they space and stress their words.

For example this guy is saying “Red wine in straw”, but he says it like “Red winee IN…..strAW!”

I think it’s strange and amusing.

He has uttered the phrase like ten times now, and each time he said it the exact same way.

Every time he says it I burst into laughter. That’s probably why he keeps saying it. He looks so funny when he says it.


Something strange is happening. The initial guy I met at the bar – the one who offered to host me at his place for the night- His mood is souring and I don’t know why.

Every now and then he just stops and turns around and begins to shout and rant angrily in Creole. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s disturbing the vibe of the group. The other people are also concerned.

He doesn’t seem to be angry at anyone or anything in particular. He’s just becoming progressively irascible, and I don’t get it.

I don’t know anything about him, but the whole thing feels like the sort of pre-existing subliminal emotional turmoil that alcohol brings to the surface. I wonder what it is that’s actually stressing him.

We keep walking down the sidewalk.

The “Red wine in straw” guy keeps making me laugh and dismiss the other guy’s strange behaviour.

We keep walking and passing the wine around.

I keep watching as things progress.

All of a sudden the irrational guy walks towards me and drags my propane cylinder out of the crook in my elbow.

I’m watching in surprise. What?

He lifts the cylinder and slams it on the ground.

Ahhhhh!!!!

That’s it.

That is fucking it.

This is the last fucking straw.

Does this guy even know where I’m coming from?

Does this guy know how far I’ve brought this cylinder?

I’ve brought this thing halfway across the island!!

All for it to be ruined by this irascible motherfucker?!

Couchsurfing be damned. I can no longer stay within proximity of this person.

I pick up the cylinder and angrily walk away.


I’m about fifteen minutes away before I gradually begin to calm down.

I am still fuming and muttering to myself.

Irrational motherfucker. I wonder what the fuck his problem is.

Just threw the cylinder on the ground like that. For no fucking reason.

Fucker.

It’s almost midnight.

I have no idea where I’m going to spend the night.

The streets are pretty quiet.

Hm.

Hopefully the police doesn’t find me wandering about in the dead of the night.

Ugh. No. Not today please. Not tonight.

Every now and then I find myself in some sort of an issue with the island police. For the most random things. And like, I’m never actually doing anything wrong. Usually. It’s usually just some sort of a misunderstanding somehow.

A good number of the police guys know me by name at this point.

Like, now they call out to me and wave whenever we cross paths.

“Like Hey Mister Strange man, hope you’re doing good today. And hope you’re not planning to get into any trouble on this new day”.

I’m this guy whose life nobody understands, no-one including myself.

I’m not in the mood to spend another night being the butt of jokes from those annoying Police guys.

Let’s see what’s going to happen.


Image: At Praia Antonio D’Souza. The beach on the southernmost end of Sal island, Cape Verde.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the series can be accessed here.

San Francisco: Walking about in an Art Exhibition.

I’m at an Art exhibition in San Francisco.

It’s an interesting room. There are photographs, sculptures, fabric, Interesting stuff.

It was an impromptu thing. I didn’t plan to be here. I was probably skateboarding my way to some cafe to do some work. And as I whizzed by on the sidewalk this exhibition caught my eye.

It is an interesting room.

The glow of the room is mostly yellowish – warm lighting from overhead bulbs.

There’s punch being passed around. I get myself a cup. It’s purple – like some sort of blackcurrant flavour. There’s some fluffy jelly-ey stuff at the bottom of the drink. Chewy. I have no idea what it is. I didn’t know people put chewy stuff inside punch. But it feels like an interesting addition to the drink.

To the right of the entrance there are photographs on the wall. One of them looks like a picture of a subterraneous church in a desert. Like, a literal underground church. Like they dug a hole in the dry brown desert ground, and built a church in the hole.

I don’t get the idea behind the church, but it looks like a really interesting picture. If I had some spare money I would probably buy it.

I’ve been buying a few things here and there.

I bought this really cool ball at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art one random evening. I was walking behind the AMC Matreon building, thinking of cool dark spots to stop and steal some kisses while out on a date.

And then I saw the SF MOMA space. They were moving to a new location, and they had this Discount Sale thing going on. I spent over an hour just going through the very exciting things they had on sale. And at the end I bought the ball. It wasn’t too large to constitute any logistical headache. I also felt it was very financially accessible, for something that interesting.

It’s a small transparent ball you can hold in your hand, but inside it there are like twenty tiny coloured beads that float around in the viscous liquid the transparent ball is infused with. I think it looks super interesting.

I bought two other balls at the Exploratorium. Two smaller squishy balls. One pinkish and the other light light-green.

You know, now I’m not sure which balls I bought where. Did I buy the two squishy balls at SF MOMA? Hm, now I’m not quite sure.

I put the three balls in a wine glass I place on the work desk in my dorm room. It’s really interesting seeing the sunlight hit the glass and the balls, and having that complement the view of the San Francisco Bay I have from the desk. Cool stuff.

I really like my room.

I’ll be changing cities soon as part of the school program. I’ll need to think about how to move around with these things I set up.

I’m not taking any wine glasses along on international flights, that’s for sure.


I’m walking around the room, taking in the art and conversing with people.

I’m talking with the lady pouring the punch.

I think she’s very pretty. She says she’s from Senegal.

She’s very light skinned. I think that’s unusual for someone from Senegal. Usually I would think Senegalese people were very dark. Her pupils look greenish somehow. I don’t know if they’re contact lenses, but either way I think they’re super hot.

I think she flies around with the other lady – a dark-skinned one standing not too far off – she looks like the manager of the operation or something.

We talk for a bit. I entertain thoughts about collecting say a phone number, keeping in touch, possibly planning something. She’s friendly, and she looks like she might be open to it.

I don’t know. These days I have a good number of interesting people I’m unable to follow-up with. My life these days is school assignments and pre-planned travel itineraries mapped out by the school administration. So much is outside my control.

Ugh.

I get some more punch as we keep talking.

Their lives must be so cool though, travelling around and trading art halfway around the world from where they were purchased.

Seems like a really interesting sort of life. Mmm.


I’m talking with the dark-skinned woman a few feet away. The one who has an air of being “the boss of the operation”.

I mention that I find what they’re doing extremely interesting. They’ve got really colourful fabric that reminds me of traditional attire from Nigeria.

We talk about the artwork.

There’s this class I’m taking in college – Multimodal Communications.

Recently we’ve been studying art. Studying Picasso’s artwork and analysing the subliminal messages and undertones in the different pieces. Stuff like that. The classes have been making me feel especially sophisticated.

Like, Professor I definitely agree with Shajara on that. This particular campaign poster was really tapping into the anti-colonial sentiment at the time. And if we take a look at the generous use of the colour red, it was really intended as an allusion to the overbearing presence of the Spanish occupiers...

Please give me second while I take a sip of my 1923 Sauvignon ..

Aha, as I was saying….

Hahaha.

I’m talking with the manager, drawing on some of the concepts I’ve been learning in Multimodal Communications class.

She doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

She gives me a very matter-of-factly stare and emphasises that she’s running a business.

In that second I get a sense of the anxiety that comes with such an entrepreneurial situation. She probably rented out this space for the exhibition. She’s most likely thinking about the wages of the people working with her, how many art pieces have been sold, and how all of this will result in a profitable venture at the end of the day. Those are probably the calculations running through her mind. Not the entrancing use of vibrant colours on West African traditional fabric.

Hahaha. Good to know.


I keep walking around the room, taking in the interesting pieces on display. There’s a couple not far off. An interracial couple. They look like they’re in their mid-thirties. They both have relatively pronounced statures. The man looks like a Black-American, a bit on the fleshy side- just a bit, and his partner is a thick white woman with blond hair.

They look through the art, exchanging smiles and light kisses every now and then.

I watch them with a level of admiration.

They look very comfortable and established in life. I can tell that just from looking at them.

Like mm look at us, we have absolutely no problems in life. Lets go peruse some artwork and enjoy each other’s company on this random Wednesday morning. Mwah mwah. Mwah mwah mwah.

Mm, babe this one is three thousand dollars, how would you like that for the kitchen?

Oh you think it’ll be better along the staircase?

Hm you know, I think I agree with you. It really complements the rug.

Let’s get it. Mwah mwah.

Haha.


I’m in a different corner of the room.

I’m in conversation with a guy. He kinda looks like Harold Perineau. Like a Harold Perineau in his late twenties/early thirties with a pronounced crew cut.

I think he’s an interesting guy. He speaks with a very soft and calm voice.

We’re talking about random stuff. At some point we talk about music.

He says something about analog music and how it represents the highest-fidelity form of audio. He says digital technology chops up the sound into a discrete form amenable to computer processing. And that there could come a time in the evolution of music where the world would revert to audio for its uncompromised fidelity. So it would be a strange trend – Usually transitioning from analog to digital is seen as the very hallmark of technological progression. But at some point it could be the other way around.

Hmm. Wow.

I think that is an extremely brilliant argument. Wow. Just wow.

We keep talking.

At this point I’ve probably read somewhere about the Nyquist-Shannon theorem. I’m probably just not familiar enough with its implications to understand how it relates to his perspective. The theorem says something about the relationship between the information capacity of corresponding digital and analog signals – something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point I realise that he’s a photographer. He was actually the one who took the super-interesting pictures of the underground church. Woah.

He says he took the pictures on a recent trip to Africa. Somewhere in Ethiopia. Or Eritrea, something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point he introduces me to his sister. They live together somewhere in San Francisco. We talk.

Every now and then I bring up something about the super cool college programme I’m enrolled in, and all of the immensely interesting stuff we’re learning. It something I’m extremely excited about, and usually it just comes up at some point whenever I’m in conversation with people.

Haha. All of this stuff I’m so excited about right now, will make my life unthinkably complicated and difficult in about a year.

Haha.

I don’t know any of that now though. I don’t know any of that now.

We keep talking.

At some point the super interesting photographer guy gives me his card.

He says I’m going to be an extremely successful scientific person. I thank him for the massive compliment and say Haha I hope.

His sister wishes me the best of luck with my endeavours.

He says I don’t need luck.

Hahahahahaha. Tell that to me this time next year. I’ m going to need all the freaking luck I can get Bro.

Hahahaha.

I think he’s such a cool guy.

I keep walking around the room.


Image: Random rainy day in Downtown San Francisco.

Assessing Model Behaviour on Extreme Counterfactuals.

Abstract:

This paper outlines reported issues that stem from applying statistical models to extreme counterfactuals – data points which are far outside the scope of what the model was trained on.

It then proposes a technique to estimate model behaviour on these out-of-convex-hull datapoints, and rank models based on their performance.

View paper on Researchgate.