Category Archives: Strange World

Hawk or Dove?

Usually, iNaturalist’s AI is pretty good at narrowing down a plant or animal to a genus, but sometimes it can get confused. Like this pigeon sitting on a silk floss tree branch. It was “pretty sure” it was a hawk.

Um, nope!

I can sort of see that with the first image, but the second one makes it blindingly obvious!

Here’s the kicker, though: Pigeons and doves are the same as far as biological classification. Some names might lean toward one or the other, like the mourning dove, but others, like the rock pigeon or rock dove seen here, can be called either.

Which means the AI was literally confusing hawks and doves!

Ring! Ring! Who’s There? *handcuffs*

Cnet has a report on how police departments are being inundated with false alarms from Amazon Ring alerts because people have freaked out over the camera footage of innocent activities. In one case someone called to report footage of themselves walking into the door!

I’m reminded of a case that happened nearby just a month ago. In Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles), police from five cities — and an LA Sheriff’s helicopter — descended on a neighborhood because someone panicked over Ring footage of a food delivery sent to the wrong address. It took them an hour and a half to confirm that there was no crime in progress.

The story basically filled a bingo card:

  • IoT doorbell camera (and of course it was Ring)
  • Gig/app delivery service
  • Upscale neighborhood
  • Paranoid reaction to, you know, people
  • NextDoor posts quoted in article (because of course they are)
  • Massive police over-response
  • SMS alerts sent to neighboring cities

It was absurd. Fortunately no one was hurt or arrested, so it remains an absurdity, but between the waste of resources, the increase in fear, and the risk that something could have gone wrong, it fits right in with these other cautionary tales. As Fight for the Future puts it:

Ubiquitous, privately owned surveillance camera networks are NOT going to make our neighborhoods safer. They just make us all paranoid. Soon we’ll be snitching on our neighbors Red Scare style. Enough

Art or Eyesore?

A few miles from Hearst Castle, a trash collector spent fifty years cobbling together his house out of junk and found objects. As Cambria became more trendy in the 1970s, neighbors wanted him to tear down the multi-level “eyesore,” while others saw Nitt Witt Ridge as a folk art monument. It’s still there, and still a controversy within the city and its historical society.

This seems like the kind of roadside construction that would fit in with American Gods’ cosmology. More like The House on the Rock than Hearst Castle, despite the proximity.

And it turns out that the first of Wyland’s 100+ whale murals, on the wall of a Laguna Beach hotel, was later painted over as an “eyesore.” (C’mon, really?) But since then, a friend of his bought the building, and he’s recreating the original mural. On canvas this time, so he can move it if anything happens to the wall!

Feral Tomatoes Doing Well

We’ve joked about “feral tomatoes” for ages, and occasionally found a volunteer tomato plant in an unexpected place: a city park, or next to an office parking lot.

Green tomatoes on the vine.

This feral tomato plant was growing out of a crack in the pavement next to the driveway of a grocery store. I imagine someone must have dropped a tomato with viable seeds on the way out and it took hold.

Feral tomato plant growing out of a crack in a driveway.

It’s doing remarkably well, especially under the circumstances of where it is. Heck, it’s doing better than most tomatoes I’ve planted on purpose!

Originally posted on Pixelfed