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kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Palestine and the power of language   ·  

The power of language:

    But that familiarity didn’t last. By the end of the first month, the class was split on the definition of “ethnic cleansing”—not only how to define it but who, in terms of the subject doing the action, can be charged with this human rights violation.

For those too young to remember, "ethnic cleansing" was a term unheard of before Slobodan Milosovic. The phrase was coined by the Serbians to describe what they were doing to the Bosnians to say "silly NATO! We're not committing genocide! We're practicing ethnic cleansing! What are you worried about!" It's an example of the power of language that "filling trenches with dead children" was very much genocide, but for the past 30 years everyone has been circling around the crime of "ethnic cleansing" to determine what, exactly, is the prosecutable crime there that doesn't trigger UN conventions against genocide.

It's also worth pointing out that when first introduced, embargoes were considered genocide. After all, they target a civilian population for purposes of death and displacement. Now of course they're the first tool in the kit despite knowing that they hurt the civilian population first and foremost.

The power of language:

    The professor called our attention to his use of the term “ethnic cleansing” in his own writing. He wrote that around 750,000 Palestinians were displaced in 1948, an act that today would be considered ethnic cleansing. At first read, this statement seemed bold—he may not have named the Nakba, but his writing gestured toward violence. Even so, his examination felt sanitized. Palestinians “were displaced,” he wrote. But there was no mention of who did the displacing.

The Nakba was the direct result of European genocide and, if you like, "ethnic cleansing." The whole of the post-WWII economy of Europe was powered by confiscated Jewish wealth; the whole of the West German economy was Jewish wealth, the post-war economies of Eastern Europe and the USSR were powered by confiscated Jewish wealth and founded on confiscated Jewish property. The overwhelming majority of post-War American influence was due to massive expansion in the Western states which was only possible due to de-facto confiscation of property from Japanese Americans.

Meanwhile, of course, the 1948 war was in response to a partition plan that allowed Europe to kick the can down the road. If you give the Jews palestine you don't have to give them back Brussels. The British Empire, which had ruled the entire region with an iron fist for generations, was too weak to do anything but withdraw and the end result was genocide.

Jews did the displacing. It's also complicated.

The power of language:

    After reading part of the article out loud, a girl who had been fidgeting in her seat said it couldn’t be.

    “What couldn’t be?” my professor asked.

    “Ethnic cleansing. Because it’s what happened in the Holocaust, so we can’t be charged with this,” she replied. Another student cut in. He qualified by referring to himself as a critic of Israel. “There’s a distinction between occupation and ethnic cleansing,” he announced. “It’s an issue of structural power and systematic violence—what happened in 1948 was not ethnic cleansing.”

I can't be guilty. There's no way I have any culpability here I'm just a smol bean. History, on every level, in every country, at any time, is "we did good" and "they did bad." The purpose of history education from a civics standpoint is to sheepdip your populace into the common understanding that defines your collective morals - that's why the southern US skirmishes over slavery every goddamn day and will until the end of time. Nobody wants to be the baddies. It doesn't help that we don't introduce the "are we the baddies" conversation until fucking college because any casual observation of the History Channel will clue you in to the fact that we're the baddies, all of us, at some point or another.

But unless you want to know this shit, there's too much complexity. "I benefit materially and spiritually from the oppression of others" is an ethics question for philosophy majors, not a viewpoint introduced to children and god help you if you try. So here's this poor Intro to Fuckery professor saddled with Mary Jane and Bobby Sue who are pretty sure the Nakba wasn't ethnic cleansing and into that mix you've got a Palestinian auditor who could obviously teach the class? But whose salary and tenure are not dependent on Mary Jane and Bobby Sue.

We're the baddies, all of us, at some point or another.

Munich bombings? Palestinians. Lebanese civil war? Palestinians. October 7? Palestinians. I could very easily make the argument that each of those was justified and retaliatory but I won't. Fundamentally the Israelis wear uniforms, the Palestinians don't, both sides know it's because that would be the end of the Palestinians and the Israelis get to sit there going "checkmate."

The power of language:

    The word “complicated” is often used to describe the occupation in Palestine, a word that insists that occupation is untouchable—Palestine’s history is too complex, there are too many moving parts, it’s a puzzle that can never be solved. But this word is condescending—a distraction. It wants us to feel small, worthless, and petty in our investigation. It demands power structures remain in place, allowing some to speak while requiring others to stay quiet.

"Simple" implies it can be fixed. "Complicated" implies that it can't. It's been nigh onto 80 years and the world can't agree on borders, let alone what happens after that, and it's not like nobody has tried. Ben Gurion and Maier firmly believed that there would never truly be peace until they had exterminated the Palestinians but they also knew that Hitler held those exact same firm beliefs about the Jews so they didn't shout it from the mountaintops. Meanwhile four generations of Arab states have loudly proclaimed that the only pathway to peace is the eradication of Israel which - c'mon. You're going to triangulate around the phrase "ethnic cleansing" and ignore that it's a stated goal of Hamas' charter? Bartcop argued the simplest solution would be to give the Jews Oklahoma and I'm not sure he's wrong, despite the obvious distaste Israel would have for replacing Jerusalem with Tulsa.

"Complicated" masks the fact that in a simpler time, both the Palestinians and the Jews would be extinct. That "simpler time" wasn't so long ago.

And that really gets to the worst part of the Israel/Palestine conflict: both sides plead simplicity and if you disagree, you're a murderer.

IN MY ADULT LIFE I have watched the phrase "ethnic cleansing" be born, ridiculed, argued, enshrined and defined. What started out as "you murderous asshole that's genocide" has become "well, but let's figure out if this is bad or bad-bad" and it's nothing more than a way to justify sitting back and doing nothing. A lot of that is because "genocide" was used to set what the Nazis were doing apart from what everyone throughout history has always done, which was generally just referred to as "winning." And yet there are still Palestinians, and there are still Jews, because as a civilization we no longer permit that scale of win.

If it were simple it would be solved already. That it's not means any argument put forth for solving it in Intro to Fuckery is likely to be eliding some important details.

kleinbl00  ·  60 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 27, 2023  ·  

Garbage disposal went out a few weeks back. Just started leakin'. It's okay, it's a Sears; my father-in-law put it in back in like 2004 which I recognize is exactly the sort of thing old people say.

The total time to diagnose, research, purchase, remove and replace the garbage disposal was approximately 2 1/2 hours spread across two days. That included a run to Home Depot to get an assortment of plumbing to replace the father-in-law's "rocket garbage out the other sink" drain geometry.

This made me realize that the machine, from an "effort and cognition" standpoint, has been the equivalent of two, two and a half "garbage disposals" a day, six to seven days a week, for two years.

My cousin and his friends are having a boy weekend, a "for those who tried to rock" adventure at an AirBNB to recapture the mood of trying to be rawk stars back when they were in their teens and early 20s. They're all extremely excited about it even though it's weeks away. I declined my invite because frankly, I was nowhere near them as a teenager (and when they were teenagers I was... seven) but pointed out to my cousin that they clearly need to do this more often; with "deaths from despair" leading all other causes for white dudes over 50, simply bringing guitars, poker chips and tequila to a beach cabin twice a year could extend their lives an easy 20 years. My cousin agreed (several of them clearly neeed this) and pointed out I should come next time as dorking around with a bunch of aging butt-rockers might just clear up my musical constipation.

I said that every ten-fifteen years I'm apparently required to do something stupid and laborious that shuts everything else down. In high school it was a 4x4 Triumph TR-7 with a Chevy 400. In my 30s it was a birth center. In my 40s it's apparently a $150k CNC machine. Besides which...

I had the world's cheapest Atmos studio. I've been limping along on these ancient Tascam surround controllers, one of which I've owned since it was new in 2003. They were born at the height of the capacitor plague, and yes I've recapped all three of them multiple times. I taught myself surface-mount soldering just so I could rebuild the analog section of one. And about five months ago a yahoo in a stolen car drove through the substation that shares a yard with the police department. I heard the bang from here, a quarter mile away. Power flickered in a crazy way, then went out, and despite having four separate UPS in this house, it took out a 40TB server and two surround controllers. The server? Came back once it was allowed to express its outrage. But the controllers started dying in ways I've never seen, that the Internet has never catalogued, that cannot be solved without replacing and reprogramming ePROMs and ICs that have not been available since Obama was president.

Said-same cousin pointed out that Washington's current laws make it so that I will have to pay capital gains on the amount of crypto I'll need to sell in order to expand the birth center. The thought process went like this:

- For that amount of money I could move to another state for a few months while I pull the money.

- But it's going directly to schools.

- Which absolutely need it, this is why your kid is a private school brat.

- Besides which, the only people who would be sympathetic to your plight are the sort of people you hate.

- You aren't even vaguely poor anymore. Why do you feel so poor.

- Because you haven't spent any gains on anything since before COVID.

So I sold some crypto and bought myself a $5000 audio interface. B-stock, of course; I'm not a monster. It showed up yesterday. I put Kai through the monitors one last time and tore it all out.

I dunno. It should feel like a victory. So far it feels like a defeat. I've spent two years trying to find a cheaper solution. I failed. This will solve my problems perfectly - I goddamn saved myself some time by subconsciously buying the wrong bits of eBay which will serendipitously allow me to remove an entire digital-analog conversion chain consisting if eight cables and three powered devices - and yet, my inability to figure out some clever way to solve the problem is absolutely galling. Never mind the fact that this is such corner-case weirdness that the cheapest solution is to use actual movie theater parts - since they aren't made anymore, and since my chosen gadget interfaces at a systems level with the rest of my gadgets, it would be stupid to, you know, not do what every other Atmos studio does. Not that there's a lot of those.

I think there's a fundamental alienation that takes place when your problems are so far removed from the normal experience of everyday life that they take paragraphs to describe. It's probably why, despite being wildly successful by any metric whatsoever, things are a constant goddamn struggle.


Goddamn R2 unit right there. It's 650-odd parts in SolidWorks. I did not design about 150 of them. I had to model them in Solidworks, though, and they all need to line up in three dimensions. 650 parts, no tolerance stacking errors. It all fucking bolts together.

I used to get sick at the end of every season. It's my body responding to stress, basically, by collapsing once I'm over the hump. I haven't had a season since 2019 but I've made a speedrun from stomach flu to thanksgiving to my kid's birthday to COVID to Christmas. My wife has caught none of it. I said something like "I'm embarrassed for my genes" and she said "that's not your genes, that's your ACE score" and she's probably right. That, and those 650-odd parts are... kind of it. There are a few bits and bobs that need to be modified or tweaked, and a couple minor components that need to be created and tested but fundamentally, the next part is "wire it, plumb it and program it."

Two garbage disposals a day for two years. No excuse me, nearly three. Fucker showed up April 2021. While it was crossing the ocean, the Ever Given was clogging the Suez.

someguyfromcanada  ·  100 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Lil told me to post this.  ·  x 2

Hi Lil. Hope the best for you.

I just had my tracheotomy tube removed. 14 months of Stage 4 terminal larynx cancer was fairly unexpected after my organ transplant. I've battled 5% and 1% chances of even living and I'm still here somehow. Just gained 47 pounds. Strong as ever. Hope everything goes as well for you. :)

1. 56 Weller Crescent.

2. I think I am but no one reads. Having been terminally ill for 5 years... no one reads that series.

3. Very long story. No one has given me support except one of three.


5. I'm not invincible. I've always done death defying feats but.having a heart attack, organ transplant and cancer within 10 years should humble me.

6.Yes I'm kinda resentful of my oldest friend who said some hurtful things over covid and the so called freedom convoy. I'm sad about that.

7. Am I going to still have cancer?

8. Professionally, changing case law and textbooks

Being quoted by the Supreme Court in a fundamental case.

Personally... getting all my neices and nephews to go to uni and paying for it.

9. Bukurije. My first girlfriend. We cool.

10. To be continued. I'm loving life right now

kleinbl00  ·  108 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Silicon Valley’s Big, Bold Sci-Fi Bet on the Device That Comes After the Smartphone  ·  

    Looks dumb, but I'm a hater and haters are gonna hate, I guess.

Naaaah dawg. My accountant just spent two emails and a phone call trying to make me feel guilty for taking ERTC so I'm going to indulge in a little self care? I'm gonna show you some HATE. You know. For me. And like I'm going to pause every now and then and save a draft and get back to work and come back to this because it's too delicious and I can tell I'ma spend two hours just straight loathing on this fucking Concorde Moment of tech journalism.

because this is the dumbest fucking shit I have ever seen.

I mean, let's start with the endless loop of a hand trivially grasping nothing. Pinch your fingers three times to pause the world's most insipid playlist. "Imagine staring at your empty hand with a logo projected on it." Down to the Sanskrit wedding ring - fuckin' McSweeney's couldn't write this article better. I'ma need that title image as a gif 'cuz this one takes too long:

And it is just so chockablock with cheesy goodness that I'ma have to go inline because holy fucking shit this is self-parody so incising and adept that if it were anywhere but the New York Times, I would accuse them of trolling. But it's the New York Times so naah, it's Principle Skinner And The Children.


A brief aside, though: ever thought much about space helmets?

I have. See, I wrote a short film with a prominent space helmet in it. It's pure science all the way and we hit it out of the park and I'm really pleased with it and so has everyone else been and one of the "a ha" moments of making a movie with a space helmet in it, as a fan of science and technology, is you go "well of course we're not going to project blinding fucking lights on the actor's face like every other film because that's super dumb." Except as soon as you shoot a single frame of an unlit space helmet you realize that the camera doesn't read your actor's facial expressions and the emotion drains right the fuck out of the scene and you run to 7-11 to buy a half-dozen keychain flashlights to gaff tape around the viewport because fuckin' hell you do not have a movie without facial expressions, I'm sorry, and yeah - the actor can no longer see shit and yeah - this is absolutely not what NASA or anyone else would do in this situation but you know what? It's a movie, and what matters is the audience.

Think about that next time you see some jackass flashing gang tags to dismiss their text notifications. Who is the audience here? 'cuz that whole "fuck haptics let's mime" approach that the tech industry loves? They love it because they are the audience, watching their shit up on the big screen, popping a boner over how fyooooooooochur it looks without sparing a single fucking thought of what it feels like to fucking use it. VR helmets, Marcel Marceau moves, those stupid Playmobil creations that Kroger now thinks are their customers? 100% "fuck yeah my shit looks good on someone else." This is why, incidentally, Neal Stephenson will always be a grasping idiot while William Gibson will always be a fucking genius: Gibson invented cyborgs who were fashionable. Stephenson invented "gargoyles" covered in Borg laptops. Everyone wants to be Molly Millions, everyone hits the cons like gargoyles.

And "my shit looks good on someone else" changes with the times. Take the first Star Trek. Phasers that looked like guns, walkie talkies that looked like walkie talkies. Take the second Star Trek. Phasers that looked like hand massagers, walkie talkies that look like lapel pins. The Federation in '66 was a bunch of gunslingers with belts full of domination, the Federation in '86 was a bunch of grief counselors taking in the complexities of the universe in their pajamas. Federation '66 was about giving the actors props to get them into the zone, Federation '86 was about making the actors look good in the minimalist chic your average '86 coke addict thought the future would look like.

So let's get back to the Graspersons:


    Inside a former horse stable in the San Francisco neighborhood of SoMa, a wave of gentle chirps emerged from small, blinking devices pinned to the chests of employees at a start-up called Humane.

Douglas Addams could do no better: "Far Out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

    It was just weeks before the start-up’s gadget, the Ai Pin, would be revealed to the world — a culmination of five years, $240 million in funding, 25 patents, a steady drumbeat of hype and partnerships with a list of top tech companies, including OpenAI, Microsoft and Salesforce.

That's right - we're a quarter billion dollars into ugly brooches. Take it from a jeweler - the only people who wear brooches are postmenopausal grandmothers and they favor rhinestones.

    Artificial intelligence “can create an experience that allows the computer to essentially take a back seat,” Mr. Chaudhri said.

What the fuck do you think Youtube is by the way

    They’re billing the pin as the first artificially intelligent device. It can be controlled by speaking aloud, tapping a touch pad or projecting a laser display onto the palm of a hand. In an instant, the device’s virtual assistant can send a text message, play a song, snap a photo, make a call or translate a real-time conversation into another language. The system relies on A.I. to help answer questions (“What’s the best way to load the dishwasher?”) and can summarize incoming messages with the simple command: “Catch me up.”

The first appearance of the space helmet: "wouldn't it be cool if some dipshit who didn't know how to load a dishwasher could stare at it like a moron, his hands full of greasy plates, and beg the heavens for guidance? Fuck yeah Sequoia would be all in on that shit." Let's pause to reflect, before moving on, that your average normie doesn't want to take a picture without the ability to look at it. But in the product video we'll just superimpose a perfect snap over his haplessness without having to worry about the fact that generally people want a modicum of QAQC.

    The technology is a step forward from Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

"Hey Siri how much of a dumpster fire is Alexa" "Hey Alexa How are things going at Google" "Hey Alexa how is Siri generally regarded"

    To tech insiders, it’s a moonshot. To outsiders, it’s a sci-fi fantasy.

Or, and I'm just spitballing here, it's the ultimate "if we build it they will come" circlejerk.

    Humane will begin shipping the pins next year. It expects to sell around 100,000 pins, which will cost $699 and require a $24 monthly subscription, in the first year. (Apple sold 381,000 iPods in the year after its 2001 launch.)

For $399. With no monthly subscription! And a pretty compelling use case! By 2009, there were 385,000,000 music players sold by Sony alone! "It's like a walkman but it doesn't skip, lasts twelve hours and holds 50 hours of music" is not a hard sell. "It's like a phone but you can't watch videos, scroll Facebook or call people, also

    For the start-up to succeed, people will need to learn a new operating system, called Cosmos, and be open to getting new phone numbers for the device. (The pin comes with its own wireless plan.)

..."People will need to learn a new operating system," the NYT said blithely, without the slightest acknowledgement of the simple power of blue bubbles.

    They’ll need to dictate rather than type texts and trade a camera that zooms for wide-angle photos. They’ll need to be patient because certain features, like object recognition and videos, won’t be available initially.

Wait wait wait they're expecting this thing to replace your fucking phone? "new phone who dis also don't confuse my AI"

    Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief executive, said in an interview that he expected A.I. to be “a huge part” of how we interact with computers. He has invested in Humane as well as another A.I. company, Rewind AI, that plans to make a necklace that will record what people say and hear.

For the record, Microsoft abandoned that shit more than ten years ago. Their whole focus was alzheimer's patients. They were winding it down when Google announced Glass because ten years of trying failed to find a use for the fucking thing.

    Ms. Bongiorno, 40, and Mr. Chaudhri, 50, have a marriage of contrasts. He shaves his head bald and speaks with the soft, calm voice of a yogi. She sweeps her long blond hair over one shoulder and has the enthusiasm of a team captain. They both dress in Jobsian black.

Let's call it what it is, though - Theranos Black. It's what you wear when you're trying to make people think you're Steve Jobs, not when you're Steve Jobs. See, Dieter Rams also wore all black. So did Karl Lagerfeld. So does Helmut Lang. When Steve Jobs wore all black? He was aping designers to make you think he was a designer rather than a tech nerd. When everyone else wears all black? They're aping Steve Jobs to make you think they aren't grifters.

    They met at Apple in 2008. Mr. Chaudhri was working on its human interface, defining the swipes and drags that control iPhones.

In other words, the absolute worst aspects of iOS.

    Ms. Bongiorno was a program manager for the iPhone and iPad.

In other words, a bureaucrat.

    A Buddhist monk named Brother Spirit led them to Humane. Mr. Chaudhri and Ms. Bongiorno had developed concepts for two A.I. products: a women’s health device and the pin. Brother Spirit, whom they met through their acupuncturist, recommended that they share the ideas with his friend, Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.

“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." Also, Brother Spirit's real name is Denpok

    Sitting beneath a palm tree on a cliff above the ocean at Mr. Benioff’s Hawaiian home in 2018, they explained both devices. “This one,” Mr. Benioff said, pointing at the Ai Pin, as dolphins breached the surf below, “is huge.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

    Humane’s goal was to replicate the usefulness of the iPhone without any of the components that make us all addicted — the dopamine hit of dragging to refresh a Facebook feed or swiping to see a new TikTok video.

"Like a phone, except you can't see or hear anything"

    The device’s most sci-fi element — the laser that projects a text menu onto a hand — started inside a box the size of a matchbook.

Projected haptics - championed by designers and eschewed by consumers since 1992

    It took three years to miniaturize it to be smaller than the size of a golf tee.

Huh, wow! Really impressive. Are you sure it took you that long to miniaturize a laser, Mr. & Mrs. Badhaptics Pointyhair? Or maybe it took you that long to negotiate prices on the one you want? cuz here's Forbes in 2012.

    Humane also retained Apple’s obsession with design details, from its device’s curved corners and compostable white packaging to the Japanese-style toilets at the company’s stark office.

LOL "what can we say about the office?" "it was... office-ey?" "no, no, something something design." "Well they bought Totos." "Fucking everyone buys Totos you can buy Toto at Home Depot now." "well what you got mister design" "shit I guess write about the toilets"

    Mr. Benitez Cong said he was “disgusted” by what the iPhone had done to society, noting his son could mimic a swiping motion at the age of 1. “This could be something that could help me get over my guilt of working on the iPhone,” Mr. Benitez Cong said.

allow me to show you something worse than swiping

    A haunting whoosh filled the room, and two dozen Humane employees, seated around a long white table, carefully concentrated on the sound. It was just before the Ai Pin’s release, and they were evaluating its rings and beeps. The pin’s “personic” speaker (a company portmanteau of “personal” and “sonic”) is critical, since many of its features rely on verbal and audio cues.

    Mr. Chaudhri praised the “assuredness” of one chirp noise and Ms. Bongiorno complimented the “more physical” sounds for the pin’s laser. “It feels like you’re actually holding the light,” she marveled.

    Less assuring: That whoosh, which plays when sending a text message. “It feels ominous,” Ms. Bongiorno said. Others around the table said it sounded like a ghost, or as if you made a mistake, almost. Someone thought it was a Halloween joke.

    Ms. Bongiorno wanted the sound for sending a text to feel as satisfying as the trash-can sound on one of Apple’s older operating systems. “Like ‘thunk,’” she said.


    The device is arriving at a time when excitement and skepticism for A.I. hit new highs each week. Industry researchers are warning of the technology’s existential risk and regulators are eager to crack down on it.

    Yet investors are eagerly pouring cash into A.I. start-ups. Before Humane even released a product, its backers had valued it at $850 million.

You are now aware that Facebook has lost $28b on virtual reality.

    The company has tried to promote a message of trust and transparency, despite spending most of its existence working in secret. Humane’s Ai Pins have what the company calls a “trust light” that blinks when the device is recording. (A user must tap the pin to “wake” it.) Humane said it did not sell user data to third parties or use it in training its A.I. models.

Of course, that light has a name. And of course, you need users to sell their data.

    In September, in an echo of Apple’s fashion-friendly launch of its Watch, the supermodel Naomi Campbell wore Humane’s pin — barely noticeable without knowing to look for it — on a gray Coperni blazer on the runway at Paris Fashion Week.


    Humane’s supporters have a pat way of dismissing skepticism about its prospects — they invoke the first iPod. That clunky, awkward device had just one use, playing songs, but it laid the groundwork for the real revolution, smartphones. Similarly, Humane envisions an entire ecosystem of companies building features for its operating system — an A.I. version of Apple’s App Store.

    But first, raisins. In a demo at Humane’s office of a feature that will be rolled out in a future version of the product, a software designer picked up a chocolate chip cookie and tapped the pin on his left breast. As it whirred to life with a beep, he asked, “How much sugar is in this?”

    “I’m sorry; couldn’t look up the amount of sugar in oatmeal raisin cookie,” the virtual assistant said.

    Mr. Chaudhri shrugged off the mistake. “To be fair, I have trouble with the difference between a chocolate chip cookie and an oatmeal raisin.”

1) Smell it.

2) Look closely at it.


4) And also, read the fucking package.

Space helmet design, personified: "I would never do this, but as the audience I would watch somebody do this, and when it doesn't work I will plead idiocy because fundamentally, my customers are fucking idiots."

What we have here is an expensive device that can barely do the things we need, fails miserably at the things we don't need, but has the words "AI" "Apple" and "valuation" attached to it so of course, they're going to sell 100,000 of the fucking things. Thing about Juicero? At least you got juice. This, apparently, is for people who feel the need to ask the air about their cookies, which is all anyone uses their phones for anyway.


veen  ·  222 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 19, 2023  ·  x 3

I no longer have a girlfriend…

…because I now have a fiancée! We’re currently on holiday in the Italian Alps. When I mentioned our plans for our summer vacation to kleinbl00 he went “you know, being proposed to on a lake in Como is pretty storybook” and I was like “you’re not wrong that’s for sure”. Proposing had until that point been an idea for a future day, but we’re still going strong after five oftentimes turbulent years.

So after finally finding a ring two days before we left, carrying it in my camera bag where she wouldn’t have any reason to look around in, finding to a gorgeous green lakeside pergola in a beautiful village on Lake Como, and her mentioning how romantic this place is, I tell her I’d love to make a video of us with my new camera to capture this wonderful place and go down on one knee. She was completely surprised and elated. (And she loves the ring! Phew.)

I’m still surprised it worked out as well as it did. I even got the video exactly the way I hoped. Not that that matters too much, but it’s the cherry on the cake that I got both the composition right as well as the technical settings that I wanted (6.2K, 30fps, shutter at 1/60 with my variable ND filter and the Eterna Fuji film setting). It helps that my new Fuji camera has been a joy to (learn to) shoot with.

kleinbl00  ·  235 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Titan Submersible Was “an Accident Waiting to Happen”  ·  


My wife was a midwife and naturopathic doctor in Westside LA. We're talking APEX woo. And we had a kid, and we were in with the Apex woo community, like "our friend the birth assistant was pretty much the impetus for Ricki Lake making a whole documentary about this nonsense."

So the kid needed baby swim lessons. How hard could it be? Well see there's "go to the YMCA in Compton" swim lessons but then there's "I think I can get you into Dolphinsgate" swim lessons. "I think I can get you in?"

Yeah. Turns out there's an interview process. You have to go to a "discovery session" with this weird Swedish or Austrian lady, at her house. And you don't get to do that unless you're vouched for. So... okay. We'll go to the "discovery session" at this lady's house. Which is in Venice, right there in the section where the houses are like two million dollars but the roads are dirt. It's fuckin' wild. You're a frickin' block off the Pacific Coast Highway and they've just never bothered to put down tarmac, and there's no parking, and there's like two dozen of you milling around because you were told to be here at ten on a Tuesday which is super convenient and it's twenty after and the weird Swedish lady opens the gate to the back yard and is that an above-ground pool?

So now we're all gathered around in a tiny back yard between the yurt and the Bubba Bucket and we're standing under a fig tree and no, we're not, we've been requested to form a circle and be seated and the weird Swedish lady has this giant embroidered Hindu pillow and you don't. And the singing bowl comes out and there's some sort of weird chant that we're all expected to participate in? And she's talking about some fuckin' discovery chakra thing and now we're going to talk about our traumatic birth stories?

Oh god. Yes we are. We're going 'round the circle while uncomfortable men hold their wife's hand while she nurses and tells you about how the trauma of having a baby in a room where the walls were a different color of taupe than what you had in your birth plan and we're just sort of riffing off each other and it's like noon? We've been talking about this shit for two hours? And hey, looks like we're done talking, I wonder if we can -

"And you? What is your traumatic birth story?"

Bitch is looking at me, not my wife? "yeah so my wife is a midwife and naturopathic doctor, we had the baby at home, it took like a couple hours, pretty much smooth sailing, sorry it sucked for everybody else?" 'cuz it's not like my wife can say shit, we've sat through 90 minutes of random strangers slagging on her competition? So I guess we drop the mic?

That was some awkward fuckin' silence, and the weird Swedish or Austrian lady just sorta stares? As if I'm somehow going to draw this out? She turns to my wife who just sorta shakes her head?

"So now it is time to watch the introductory video?" and she gestures us into the yurt and it's been two hours and now there's 20 of us squished into a 15-foot yurt and there's a thirteen inch CRT TV-DVD player combo in the Year of Our Lord 2014 and she slips in one of those purple "burned on my iMac" DVDs and John Tesh peals out and it's Nirvana's Nevermind cover for 20 minutes.

Naked babies. Naked babies everywhere. Nothing but naked babies. Yeah see Dolphins Gate teaches your kid how to swim successfully and safely by making them swim naked, none of that swim diaper bullshit here, just John Tesh and naked frolicking babies and then the credits roll and I'm doing my level best to keep my eyes in my skull and then Color by Technicolor crawls up and I am ALMOST LOSING IT and we somehow get out of there without me ROFLING myself into oblivion and I turn to my wife and say "well at least we don't have to worry about going there" because there is no. way. in HELL they'll let us in after that and frankly isn't that really for the best?

but no two days later we get an email telling us "we made the cut" and at this point I figure this is the most fuckin' LA Story experience we've had this year because fuckin' hell naked baby swimming in a bubba bucket in Venice is fuckin' amazing and since it's free because apparently my wife is all that sure this will make great stories. Color by Technicolor are you shitting me.

So I take the kid to her first swim lesson. Which is super-ultra-culty because parents aren't allowed to hang out it kills the vibe? And bitch is always late and the other person who showed up early and I are talking and I compliment her baby carrier because this is what you do and we talk a little bit and I mention that my wife has been looking at stuff and there's like this weird baby carrier culture in LA where women are paying like $1800 for a frickin' used baby carrier and the lady says 'this one cost me $3500' and I really have nothing to say to that but we soldier on because she showed up in an AMG somethinghuge and i'm driving a '95 Dodge and then the gate opens 15 minutes late and i get to stay long enough to "initiate" my kid through the singing bowl dolphin chant and then I have to leave? And come back when they're done?

And the kid is like 2 so you can't really ask her how things were but you try and she says "bobby pooped." And she gets an ear infection, and you treat it. And you get into this weird-ass routine of abandoning your naked baby in a bubba bucket off a dirt road in Venice in front of AMGs and hearing about someone else pooping and that can't be right, how much are they changing the damn water, that's gotta be expensive and she gets another ear infection, and you treat it, and isn't it nice that Mr. High Priced Crazy Pediatrician is comping you all your care because apparently your wife is all that and then your wife

reads on Facebook

That Austrian-Swedish lady is having to shut down Dolphinsgate because the Venice Health Department found dangerous levels of e.coli in the water and every time your daughter says "x pooped" plays back in your head and you take your kid to the Compton YMCA where she's one of two white people and she learns to swim and never has another ear infection ever again but goddamn your two best LA stories are Dolphinsgate and Goat Yoga and you think I'm joking about all this but Constanzia will still take your money.

kleinbl00  ·  277 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The War in Ukraine Was Provoked—and Why That Matters to Achieve Peace  ·  

    George Orwell wrote in 1984 that "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." Governments work relentlessly to distort public perceptions of the past.

Governments are not the only ones, of course, but they are certainly the greatest practitioners. The term of art is "active measures", a direct translation of the term used by the Cheka. The first active measures campaign was The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a badly transliterated version of a diatribe against Napoleon III riven through with blood libel in order to gin up support for the pogroms.

Put a pin in that for a minute. I am 1/4 Belarusian Jew. My ancestors had means and had emigrated from The Pale to Moscow so experienced most of the second pogrom second hand, in the accounts and losses of their friends and relatives to antisemitic terrorism and genocide. They decamped for Boston in 1891 because they saw the proverbial writing on the wall; thanks to the work of the Okhrana, the active measures of the Cheka had a circulation of 900,000 a week thanks to Henry Ford. As a consequence, this discussion is academic to me? But also not academic. There are no more Belarusian jews. Prior to the pogroms, Jews were 15% of the population. There are now fewer than 20,000. American antisemitism and its propagation delayed American entry into WWII and objectively made the Holocaust worse.

There's a term coined and used by the Bolsheviks that is relevant to this discussion: fellow travelers, or those with similar goals but no formal alignment with the Communist Party. And there's a term coined and used against the Bolsheviks that is relevant to this discussion: useful idiots, or those who lack the intelligence to not serve the purposes of adversarial political forces. Donald Trump is a useful idiot. Jeffrey Sachs is a fellow traveler.

Thomas Rid, in his seminal work Active Measures, catalogs the distortions of public perceptions of the past and future from the Renaissance (when it wasn't practiced) through the 2016 election (where it was practiced extensively). Aside from one Japanese example (a false Soviet battle plan between wars) and two American examples (a CIA-published fashion and lifestyle magazine distributed in East Berlin and material support for an underground Ukrainian independence movement through 1991), all catalogued examples of active measures have been practiced by Russia under the Okrana, the Cheka, the nKVD, the KGB and the FSB. Rid goes one further by pointing out that democratic governments have a poor risk/reward ratio with active measures because if they are discovered, the democratically-elected government loses credibility and, therefore, power. Totalitarian governments suffer no such misfortune as their actions are not constrained by popular will. A democratic government operates with the permission of the populace and Watergate breaks the government. A totalitarian government can spread the rumor that AIDS was genetically engineered against the Africans to cover up systematic Soviet poisoning of Afghan wells to cripple the Mujahideen without experiencing a single hit to its agency.

Now that we've set the scene, let's continue:

    Regarding the Ukraine War, the Biden administration has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the Ukraine War started with an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

This is more a diplomatic measure by the United States than anything else because if they call it February 2014 then the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of Dutch tourists would arguably have triggered Article 5 and led to continental war. If you examine the conflict as a whole, the Russio-Ukrainian War is generally accepted to have commenced with the Russian invasion of Crimea In response to the Maidan on February 20, 2014.

    In fact, the war was provoked by the U.S. in ways that leading U.S. diplomats anticipated for decades in the lead-up to the war, meaning that the war could have been avoided and should now be stopped through negotiations.

"Provocation" was the justification for the Munich Agreement, whereby Britain opted not to "provoke" Nazi Germany by defending Czechoslovakia against invasion. This was the basis for Nevill Chamberlain's "Peace for our time" speech, now widely considered to be the greatest diplomatic failure of the 20th century. The Tory government bargained that Hitler would be satisfied with annexation of Czechoslovakia and thus would not jeopardize the West-leaning Polish Republic. Poland, of course, was invaded less than a year later.

As outlined in The Gates of Europe, a history of Ukraine from the Scythians to the Maidan, "provocation" has been the fundamental justification of war in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus since the dawn of empire. The plain between the Urals and the Alps has always been considered a "buffer state" for whomever is more civilized at the time against whoever is less civilized and in general, the stretch of land between Armenia and Sweden is the first to betrayed and the first to get overrun. Despite this extensively bloody history, the only polity to routinely practice genocide against the Cossacks, Slavs and Tatars are the Russians, first under Ivan the Terrible, then under the First Pogroms, then under the Second Pogroms, then under the Russian Civil War, then under the Holodomor, then under the Deportation of the Crimean Tartars..

"Provocation", then, has historically meant "letting authoritarianism do what it wants when it wants where it wants" and any act that defies the authoritarian is seen as justification of authoritarian behavior. By the authoriarians, anyway. And the fellow travelers and useful idiots.

    A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.

Note the careful use of the words "might have been" here - speculative passive voice. It's never worked before, but maybe this time would have been different.

    The Biden team uses the word “unprovoked” incessantly, most recently in Biden’s major speech on the first-year anniversary of the war, in a recent NATO statement, and in the most recent G7 statement.

In no small part because the FSB has flooded the zone with the word "provoked."

    There were in fact two main U.S. provocations. The first was the U.S. intention to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia in order to surround Russia in the Black Sea region by NATO countries (Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Georgia, in counterclockwise order).

Worthy of note: Russia was participating in NATO at the time.

    The second was the U.S. role in installing a Russophobic regime in Ukraine by the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.

Right - the same Yanukovich who defied his own parliament and shot hundreds of the 800,000 protesters that demanded his resignation? Speaking as an American, "free elections and the defeat of tyranny" are big on my list of core values. If the price of freedom is "provoking" Putin, gimme the stick.

    Biden and his foreign policy team refuse to discuss these roots of the war. To recognize them would undermine the administration in three ways. First, it would expose the fact that the war could have been avoided, or stopped early, sparing Ukraine its current devastation and the U.S. more than $100 billion in outlays to date.

(By allowing a pro-Putin despot to take over a nascent European democracy)

    Second, it would expose President Biden’s personal role in the war as a participant in the overthrow of Yanukovych, and before that as a staunch backer of the military-industrial complex and very early advocate of NATO enlargement.

Just so we're clear: the argument here is that if the US had allowed the FSB to overthrow Ukraine unimpeded, there'd be no war in Europe. Let's not look away from that.

    Third, it would push Biden to the negotiating table, undermining the administration’s continued push for NATO expansion.

And just so we're crystal clear: It is my firmly held opinion, as an avid scholar of The Deep State, that the 2016 election cemented and prioritized the destruction of Russia by Western intelligence services. An uneasy detente has existed between Russia and the USA since Yeltsin but the benefits of this relationship have diminished yearly while maintaining the fiction of diplomatic alignment has grown ever costlier. Once the Russians attempted to provoke the collapse of American democracy, American operatives dusted off their operational plans and set about to negate Putin. The CIA holds a grudge. The Iranian regime will never be allowed to thrive until the CIA feels satisfied that justice has been served for the barracks bombing and Bill Buckley. There is a straight, bright line between Vladimir Putin and January 6 and whenever Russian mouthpieces talk about American plans for the destruction of Russia, the only thing I can say is "damn right."

But that's not about Ukraine. That's about a criminal organization that thinks nothing of murder, torture and genocide.

    The archives show irrefutably that the U.S. and German governments repeatedly promised to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward” when the Soviet Union disbanded the Warsaw Pact military alliance.

Yeah and they show a mutual defense pact between Ukraine and Russia in exchange for Ukraine giving up their nuclear weapons, too. That didn't exactly work out.

    The great US scholar-statesman George Kennan called NATO enlargement a “fateful error,” writing in the New York Times that, “Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”

Worthy of note: Kennan basically established The Cold War by arguing that The Russians were too crazy to be reasoned with. Furthermore, Ukraine in 1997 sure as shit wasn't Ukraine after two Democratic revolutions. Kennan is two decades dead; considering how he felt about democracy I suspect his opinion would be different but Sachs doesn't get into that.

    President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry considered resigning in protest against NATO enlargement. In reminiscing about this crucial moment in the mid-1990s, Perry said the following in 2016: “Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia. At that time, we were working closely with Russia and they were beginning to get used to the idea that NATO could be a friend rather than an enemy ... but they were very uncomfortable about having NATO right up on their border and they made a strong appeal for us not to go ahead with that.”

He's still saying it. His primary concern, however, is Russia's nukes:

    The bitterness that emerged from dismissing Russia as irrelevant created a climate ripe for the rise of an autocratic leader who would instead demand respect and power through force. And there is no force greater than possessing a nuclear arsenal capable of bringing about the end of humanity. For those who had asked, “what could this defeated nation do to us?” the newly installed President Vladimir Putin would soon have an answer.

Perry, of course, has exactly fuckall to say about his engineering of the Budapest Memorandum which saw Ukraine disarmed, or about the fact that a document he wrote obligates the United States to defend Ukraine against Russia ("Seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance to the signatory if they "should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used").

    Former Zelensky advisor Oleksiy Arestovych declared in a 2019 interview “that our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”

Arestoyvich was merely parroting Wallerstein, Kaplan, Zeihan, John McCain and others. For reasons of demography, the geopolitical rationalists have been predicting a Russian invasion of Ukraine before 2025 since the early 2000s.

    During 2010-2013, Yanukovych pushed neutrality, in line with Ukrainian public opinion.

During 2010-2013, Yanukovich acted as an agent of Russia and suppressed anti-Putin dissent. This is why 800,000 protesters took to the streets to depose him.

    After Yanukovych’s overthrow, the war broke out in the Donbas, while Russia claimed Crimea.

"The war broke out." Not "Russian special forces stripped of insignia or flags invaded Donbas in order to kidnap and murder elected Ukrainian officials in furtherance of the future annexation of a sovereign nation."

    The new Ukrainian government appealed for NATO membership, and the U.S. armed and helped restructure the Ukrainian army to make it interoperable with NATO.

Under the terms of the Budapest Memorandum - see above.

    Russia’s leaders put NATO enlargement as the cause of war in Russia’s National Security Council meeting on February 21, 2022.

It's worth watching that meeting:

...and it's worth watching the template for that meeting:

    Historian Geoffrey Roberts recently wrote: “Could war have been prevented by a Russian-Western deal that halted NATO expansion and neutralised Ukraine in return for solid guarantees of Ukrainian independence and sovereignty? Quite possibly.”

"Peace for our time" where "our time" turned out to be exactly 334 days.

    By recognizing that the question of NATO enlargement is at the center of this war, we understand why U.S. weaponry will not end this war.

This is historically inaccurate. For over two thousand years, peace in the geographic area we call "Ukraine" has occurred only after the destruction of the invading empire. As a territorial buffer between regions more easily defended, the invasion of Ukraine has been the first step in over a dozen wars of territorial expansion. For over a hundred years, peace in Ukraine has come at the cost of genocide. There will be no peace in Ukraine until Putin is out of power and Russia is under a new regime. Full stop.


The above is two hours I didn't have to spend. If you were not a friend, I would have responded with a simple "lol eat shit tankie." As it is, I see you neither as a "useful idiot" nor as a "fellow traveler."

So I implore you to think a little, investigate easily disproved allegations and exercise caution before putting the words of fellow travelers on your lips.

kleinbl00  ·  356 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: USA Powerlifting to allow trans athletes to compete with women after losing suit  ·  

You watch motorsport?

Here's a demo of a top fuel fuel injector. There are eight of these.

The goal is to move a "vehicle" from a standing start to a point 1320 feet away in the least amount of time possible. the current record, set November 2022, is 3.66 seconds. It will not surprise you to learn that there are all sorts of peculiar engineering compromises in order to get this "vehicle" a quarter mile down the road. These engineering compromises, however, are nothing compared to the rules compromises. One small example: no electronic clutches. Dumping that much power onto the road is obviously a tricky application of physics and timing but it must be all analog. As a result, much of the innovation in top fuel dragsters is in tricking a bunch of fluid to leak just so such that big rubber tires can launch a spindly little needle down the road without flying apart but also without using, say, a fucking arduino to simplify things.

stupid compromises are the fundamental nature of motorsport. If you look at it, we should all be watching robots with vacuum-powered under-car plenums ripping around tracks doing 6 gees lateral but nobody wants to watch that. Instead we come up with stupid rules about how Michael Schumacher's tire touched the line while he was pitting so that he has to lose a race in order to keep the standings competitive and dumb shit like that. Top fuel? Top fuel without rules is a nitromethane-powered potato gun and a dude in a love sac being rammed down a tube. This was the evolution of the Purdue Mechanical Engineering Competitive Charcoal Lighting Championship - it took about three years before they just dumped LOX on a hibachi to watch the pyrotechnics.

Here's the reductio ad absurdum on powerlifting:

...at which point, any choices this side of that are cultural, the culture says that a woman is anyone who says they're a woman, and if they want to be a woman who powerlifts they should lift.

How many times in the past year have you thought even a tiny little bit about powerlifting?

Would you think about it even now if there weren't some transgender angle?

I'm sorry to be the one telling you that competitions are a social construct, not an objective measure of anything. This is why whenever anyone decides they're entitled to more rights, conservatives always jump to sports to tell you why you, a person who has never thought about this particular sport before, should be deeply, thoughtfully, moderately concerned.

am_Unition  ·  364 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Scott Adams is a crank looking for a problem.   ·  

The vast majority of conservatives bitching about cancel culture are simply upset that there is now a social stigma and actual repercussions for saying the hateful shit they used to get away with.

My favorite part of Adams' rant is when he was like "I'm gonna back off from being helpful to Black America". LOL, I cannot fathom what Adams thinks he was previously doing that was "helpful". Maybe barely restraining himself from yelling the you-know-what-word whenever he had the courage to venture into an urban area and saw one single Black person? Is he... helping Black America through a newspaper comic strip about a white guy working a white collar job? Did he... not call the police when a wealthy Black couple showed up to a dinner party? I wanna know!

What's scary is that instead of admitting an objectively bigoted rant is over the line, conservatives have largely rallied around Adams. Including Elon Dumbfuck Musk. (p.s. I love that Hubski could smell Elon's shit from a mile away 5+ years ago)

edit: update, hahahhah, new favorite part of the rant, where he says "I'm so sick of seeing videos of Black Americans assaulting White people on social media". Dude, lol, he really doesn't realize that he's getting served that shit because he engages with it and subscribes to people putting out that type of content?!? This guy's such a fucking idiot, holy hellllllllll

edit 2:

kleinbl00  ·  369 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Stephen Wolfram: What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?  ·  

    Particularly over the past decade, there’ve been many advances in the art of training neural nets. And, yes, it is basically an art. Sometimes—especially in retrospect—one can see at least a glimmer of a “scientific explanation” for something that’s being done. But mostly things have been discovered by trial and error, adding ideas and tricks that have progressively built a significant lore about how to work with neural nets.

Some history: chatGPT and neural nets got a real kick in the ass when Robert Mercer decided to apply Markov chains to high-frequency trading. Markov came up with his theories shortly before being blackballed by the University of St. Petersberg for refusing to rat his students out to the Tsar. Mercer, for his part, basically figured out that Markov chains would allow his hedge fund to reverse-engineer the trading decisions of other dark pool trading bots and front-run them. This made him a lot of money, that he didn't want to pay taxes on, so he hired Cambridge Analytica to destroy the world. All that and he only delayed the inevitable.

    In earlier days of neural nets, there tended to be the idea that one should “make the neural net do as little as possible”. For example, in converting speech to text it was thought that one should first analyze the audio of the speech, break it into phonemes, etc. But what was found is that—at least for “human-like tasks”—it’s usually better just to try to train the neural net on the “end-to-end problem”, letting it “discover” the necessary intermediate features, encodings, etc. for itself.

In other words, the blacker the box, the better the performance. This is important because we're talking about training a model - a representation of reality. There is no part of neural networks or markov bots that attempt to explain that model, their sole purpose is to ape it, input to output. They will give you what you have, and hopefully allow you to predict what you'll get... assuming the future matches the past.

My sound world is governed and defined by Fourier transforms.. This is applied math stuff that argues that any function, no matter how random and chaotic, can be modeled as a series of sine waves. It's a curve fit and for most things it's good enough. You talking into your phone becomes a collection of bits through liberal application of Fourier transforms. And most of the time it works and the world continues in its orbit but sometimes the normies can't tell if it's yanny or laurel at which point we need experts who can explain, in no uncertain terms, that it's fucking laurel, that the normie confusion about it is due to their inexperience with codecs gone bad, that when the curve fit no longer fits the curve the philosophical "what does green even mean, maaaaaan" discussion is fine for Medium but if you're prepping a legal brief it is generally accepted to mean 495-570nm, full stop.

    And, similarly, when one’s run out of actual video, etc. for training self-driving cars, one can go on and just get data from running simulations in a model videogame-like environment without all the detail of actual real-world scenes.

All well and good unless your video game doesn't include bicyclists at night where there are no crosswalks.

    And what one typically sees is that the loss decreases for a while, but eventually flattens out at some constant value. If that value is sufficiently small, then the training can be considered successful; otherwise it’s probably a sign one should try changing the network architecture.

Had an interesting insight while still talking to my mother. Medicaid was paying for her physical therapy. She got "better" much faster than me or my sister anticipated - although her therapists never used the word "better." They kept using the phrase "return to baseline." At one point I asked what, precisely, "return to baseline" meant. The lead therapist cleared her throat, put on her lawyer hat and stated that for purposes of Medicaid reimbursement, "baseline" is determined to be that level of performance at which improvement plateaus such that qualitative measures improve no more than twenty percent over the course of X sessions where X is dependent on the qualitative measure.

"What you're telling me," I said, "is that 'baseline' is not 'where was she before' but 'where does improvement stop.'"

"For purposes of Medicaid reimbursement, that is correct," she said.

Now - my mother left their tender care with a walker. She was good for 20 steps, with assistance, before being winded and in pain. Prior to the accident she was getting around without assistance. "Flattens out at some constant value" does not mean the problem is solved, it means the model can't get any closer. Yeah - "if that value is sufficiently small, then the training can be considered successful" but who is determining the value? "Our self-driving model has avoided running over imaginary bicyclists for 2 million runs, it'll be fine in Phoenix."

    In the future, will there be fundamentally better ways to train neural nets—or generally do what neural nets do? Almost certainly, I think.

Yeah but are we good enough? Remember - ELIZA was created to show what a bad fucking idea all this bullshit is IN 1965!

Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA, running the DOCTOR script, was created to provide a parody of "the responses of a non-directional psychotherapist in an initial psychiatric interview" and to "demonstrate that the communication between man and machine was superficial"

    Or put another way, there’s an ultimate tradeoff between capability and trainability: the more you want a system to make “true use” of its computational capabilities, the more it’s going to show computational irreducibility, and the less it’s going to be trainable. And the more it’s fundamentally trainable, the less it’s going to be able to do sophisticated computation.

And at some point, someone will decide that tradeoff is good enough - Microsoft figured Bing was ready, Google figured Bard was ready. To do that, they performed a sleight-of-hand that Microsoft didn't pull with Tay, but which underpins all this bullshit:

large language models are trained to talk. Search engines are supposed to provide ANSWERS.

This is a great article that I would badge if I had any left. Stephen Wolfram is a straight shooter in my experience and he's done a great job of explaining what the chatGPT is doing - it's chatting. It's not "AnswerGPT." "I'm sorry but you're mistaken, Avatar isn't out yet because the year is 2022" is a stellar answer for a chat bot. It's fucking garbage from a search standpoint.

This is bad enough when we're looking up showtimes. Complications ensue when we're making staffing decisions.

    Why does one just add the token-value and token-position embedding vectors together? I don’t think there’s any particular science to this. It’s just that various different things have been tried, and this is one that seems to work.

This is very much like how Google made their AI marginally less racist by deleting gorillas from the model.. That one sentence "I don't think there's any particular science to this" is why the whole thing is going to crash and burn in an extremely ugly way after doing a fuckton of damage.

"Please explain for the jury, Doctor Scientist, how your program determined my client's position should be terminated due to her work performance, rather than her inability to thrive in a racist environment:"

    But anyway, here’s a schematic representation of a single “attention block” (for GPT-2):

"Thank you, Doctor Scientist. No further questions."

    (As a personal comparison, my total lifetime output of published material has been a bit under 3 million words, and over the past 30 years I’ve written about 15 million words of email, and altogether typed perhaps 50 million words—and in just the past couple of years I’ve spoken more than 10 million words on livestreams. And, yes, I’ll train a bot from all of that.)

Title VII? 13,000 words. The theoretical, scientific underpinnings of Markov chains and neural networks will severely limit any LLM from accurately reproducing law, let alone parse it.

    So how is it, then, that something like ChatGPT can get as far as it does with language? The basic answer, I think, is that language is at a fundamental level somehow simpler than it seems.

Sure - but what we do with it and how we make it isn't, QED. The problem here is now and has always been pareidolia. We see something that talks and we presume it has a soul. The better it talks the more soul we assign to it. The more soul we assign to it, the more value it has and the more value it has the more we let it trample humans. Until, that is, we've trampled enough that they threaten to tear down society.

The fact that there's a lot more news about ChatGPT sucking than chatGPT succeeding is on the one hand heartening but on the other hand deeply discouraging. Neither Microsoft nor Google care. There is no bad news. Fuckups and how they respond just allow faceless corporations to show how much they care. And the Markov bots only operate on a time horizon of a few milliseconds anyway so we're looking for a derivative of a derivative of a derivative of a signal in order to juice the stock price.

"Dr. Wolfram, can you please explain whether these 'large language models' can separate meaningful language from meaningless gibberish?"

    ...is there a general way to tell if a sentence is meaningful? There’s no traditional overall theory for that. But it’s something that one can think of ChatGPT as having implicitly “developed a theory for” after being trained with billions of (presumably meaningful) sentences from the web, etc.

"In other words, Dr. Wolfram, flawed data will produce flawed responses?"

    The basic concept of ChatGPT is at some level rather simple. Start from a huge sample of human-created text from the web, books, etc. Then train a neural net to generate text that’s “like this”. And in particular, make it able to start from a “prompt” and then continue with text that’s “like what it’s been trained with”.

"Thank you, Dr. Wolfram. Your Honor, the prosecution rests."


A fourier transform will allow you to process an analog signal digitally. It rounds the corners off square waves but then, so does physics. It's "good enough" for what we need most of the time - you listen to Spotify at 128kbps VBR, I mix at 48kHz 32-bit floating point unless I need 96kHz or 192kHz. Even then, it tells you what is, not what will be and the whole of what we want LLMs to do is tell us what will be.

Large language models are improvisational LUTs. LUTs are great so long as you don't wander off the map. In the case of office racism, the AI knows what a stereotypical employee should do in a stereotypical environment and anything that deviates from the stereotype is statistically rounded off.

Ergonomics and biomechanics are governed by the "5% human" and the "95% human." Your cars, your bicycles, your scissors, your coffee mugs are designed around 90% of humanity and the other 10% cope for better or worse. I've long said that any schlub can do 80-90% of any job, it's that last 10-20% that keeps you employed.

AI is gonna be great for the stuff that requires no expertise. Unfortunately, expertise involves knowing when expertise is required and AIs suck at that.

Google was gonna have their self-driving cars on the road by what, 2018? This is the problem marketing always has: they don't understand the difficulty of complex problems and they don't want to. Google is usually smart enough not to let marketing steer the ship while Tesla is the opposite of that. Results were predictable. Unfortunately for big stupid tech companies, Western law has sided with "wronged individual" over "faceless corporation" every time the faceless corporation can't prove they were abiding by the law.

And the achilles heel of AI is that the more sophisticated it is, the less you can prove.

OftenBen  ·  370 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Case for Hanging Out  ·  

We are so fucked if we need an academic defense of why it's a good idea to have friends and do things with them.

I get so frustrated with long time friends when they bum out on small social stuff because it's the small stuff that adds up to memories that make a lifetime.

I'll just continue to cook too much food on Friday nights and keep the invite open. I don't know what else to do.

kleinbl00  ·  373 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A post for chat gpt  ·  

(rolls eyes)


(pours cup of coffee)

So look. Once upon a time, American conservatives believed in welfare. Conservatives believed that if you wanted to see what capitalism could do, your best move was to unchain your captains of industry from the social morass. It's not that conservatives liked poor people, it's that they figured the whole point of government was to get the waste people out of the way of the ubermensch. That all changed with William F. Buckley and The National Review, and it all changed with Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.

Buckley was the son of an oil magnate who did well in the Mexican coup of 1914. Rand was the daughter of a pharmacist in St. Petersberg who did poorly in the October Revolution. Buckley was of the opinion that the rich owed poor people in general nothing, and poor brown people less than nothing. Rand was of the opinion that poor people will come with guns and take away everything so get yours and defend it with your life.

But you can't say that without circumlocuting around it so they invented a whole new language for "fuck poor people." They smothered it in intellectualism, terminology, metaphor. What, according to Rand's biographers, is Objectivism? "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute". Buckley, for his part, burst onto the scene by claiming that Yale was full of godless communists who refused to let good Christians practice their god-given selfishness.

Sometimes they let the mask slip. Rand called John F. Kennedy a fascist for coming up with the Peace Corps. During the '80s, the most outwardly flagrant decade of "objectivism" or "compassionate conservatism" or whatever, Ivan Boesky said "Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

The thing is? It's nothing but intellectualized selfishness. It is the core principle that you are the center of the universe, you should own it, and you should expect everyone else to do the same. Rand called it "the Virtue of Selfishness" and "objectivists" spent the next sixty years arguing about whether she really meant "selfishness" because it's really hard to see "selfishness" (or "greed" for that matter) as anything but a pejorative. Rand didn't give a fuck, she was on the losing side of The Terrors.

Objectivism is this thing teenagers fuck around with because teenagers are isolated, pampered and circumscribed by more rules than adults. In general, objectivism goes by the wayside as soon as your place in society becomes rewarding but some people get stuck.

If the only place you have friends is online discussion forums, you are more likely to get stuck.

Yudikowsky is younger than I am. He caught that tail end when things were switching from UseNet to MySpace. Usenet had no formatting and the only thing you could distinguish yourself with was your ability to argue; MySpace had pictures so it was all over as far as nerd culture was concerned. IN MY OPINION this drove the can't-get-laid types deeper underground where the only place they could find any friends was among themselves. And, since "themselves" were generally over-clever, socially-awkward people who didn't get invited to parties, I-Me-Mine became the obvious guide star. You can't talk about Reagan, though, that's what your parents are doing. And you can reference Rand but you're doing something new and exciting. And nobody will listen to you but your online friends so you basically go Philosophical Incel.

Incels can't get laid not because they suck at life but because there's something wrong with women. Objectivists can't get ahead not because they lack the empathy that most people use to form bonds but because society is broken. And, much like Incels sprayed all over society with GamerGate and Elliott Roger and Enrique Tarrio and all that bullshit, the Objectivists gave us LessWrong and SlateStarCodex and Nick Land and latter-day accelerationism and this whole constellation of entitled white bullshit. If you want to see what that looks like among the dipshits who aren't posturing intellectuals, this is the book. If you want to see what it looks like among the dipshits who are?

Look. The protective coloration used these days is "effective altruism.". Here's how that works:

    Effective altruism emphasizes impartiality and the global equal consideration of interests when choosing beneficiaries. This has broad applications to the prioritization of scientific projects, entrepreneurial ventures, and policy initiatives estimated to save the most lives or reduce the most suffering.

Sounds great, right? It's altruism, but it's effective, because you're being impartial! You're saving the most lives! You're reducing the most suffering! And you're doing it this way because you know better!

The definition of "effective" and "altruism" is just as tortured as "selfishness" was under the Objectivists. Hitler was an "effective" "altruist" because humanity would benefit from a world without Jews, since Jews were inferior. The living standards in the United States and Australia are substantially better now than they were when the place was full of aboriginals, and so much more population is supported - objectively speaking, genocide is good! Can't say that out loud, though. Far better to spreadsheet that shit so you can talk about which genocides you can slow down with the least amount of intervention.

Here's the problem. They all want to be Hugo Drax. That's the whole schtick. Elon Musk moving to Mars. Peter Thiel on his tropical island. They know better than you - they are "less wrong" - and obviously only the most credible rubes believe in a second coming while true geniuses know that it's the AI we have to worry about.

And I wouldn't give a shit? Here's the punchline about Roko's Basilisk.

...see, that's Harlan Ellison's most famous story. "Roko" was fucking trolling. "There's nothing to attract a troll quite like a posturing pseudointellectual who thinks he knows better than everyone else," he said, tongue-in-cheek. But you either learn from that?

Or you give Sam Bankman Fried billions of dollars.

    For as much good as I see in that movement, it’s also become apparent that it is deeply immature and myopic, in a way that enabled Bankman-Fried and Ellison, and that it desperately needs to grow up. That means emulating the kinds of practices that more mature philanthropic institutions and movements have used for centuries, and becoming much more risk-averse. EA needs much stronger guardrails to prevent another figure like Bankman-Fried from emerging — and to prevent its tenets from becoming little more than justifications for malfeasance.

Fundamentally? It is now, has always been and shall always be "It's okay that I'm a selfish fuck because I'm smarter than you." In any reasonable society that gets you pilloried. In shareholder capitalism that gets you a board seat.

And that's why it will never be okay.

kleinbl00  ·  409 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Unexpected Heaviosity of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  ·  

Dude you just hate everything and have done for years. The smug thing is you look out, decide the whole world and everyone in it sucks, and then instead of thinking "huh, maybe this is a function of my well-earned chronic depression" you go "it must be because everything is terrible and I'm the only one who has cracked the code." You're literally sitting there going I wonder if I can bait anyone into fighting about... the existence of culture.

I'm not going to tell you to watch Ferris Bueller. I'm not going to tell you to watch Back to the Future. I am going to point out that you took a discussion of a movie you've decided to never watch and used it to shit on everyone who ever has just to give yourself that little edgelord troll-hit of endorphins so... yeah. Good talk. What else haven't you seen, read or heard that you need to pronounce condemnation on? We'll start a list and whenever you have the downzies we'll post something!

am_Unition  ·  411 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 11, 2023  ·  

Guys, it's not a big deal.

Sorry I left in a tizzy.

I'll try to finally make it to shitting all over the recent optimistic fusion news within another week or so.

Glad to be back though, but I'm still on twitter 😬

kleinbl00  ·  427 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: IT DIDN'T HAPPEN HERE  ·  

Whelp, I think Consequence 1 is that the State Department and CIA will never let Russia be a world power again. The fact that the neocons allowed Russia to regain enough power to place a useful idiot in the oval office will forever inoculate the Gray Men from allowing politicians to set policy. The CIA gets their teddy bear back - "destruction of the Former Soviet Union" has been on their wishlist since they checked off "Destruction of the Soviet Union". I don't know that they'll succeed but between the Magnitsky Act, the Bucket'O'Sanctions and the half-tithe we're spending to decimate the Russian military five times over, I know it's rough for Russia.

I think it will take several electoral cycles for Teh Crazeh to burn itself out in the Republican Party, but burn itself out it will. People forget: the number one requirement for Republicans has been LOYALTY since Newt Gingrich and we've seen the logical outcome of that. The era of Mitch McConnell is over; Democrats gained more seats than gerrymandering could protect, and Biden has nominated more judges than Trump as anyone with any character basically went "four more years" during the Trump Era. You can see this playing out in the Boebert Vs. Green debacle as the former nearly lost to a progressive Democrat while the latter handily beat her centrist challenger - Boebert now has to worry about actual voters while Green has to worry about even crazier morons to her right primarying her.

I think the cost of opportunism has been demonstrated for all far and wide. You can be Jason Miller? But all that's left for you is stand-ups on a hated network for old people whose only advertiser is a coke-addled pillow salesman. When all the world is leaning into ESG and everyone around you had a choice between ethics or opportunism, your scarlet letter is never going away. You know how Snowden shocked the world with all his revelations about the NSA? Ten years previously all that shit was called Total Information Awareness. Know what drove TIA underground? The whole country going "oh fuck not John Poindexter again." And that was effectively before social media, an era before teenaged citizen journalists could supercut your transgressions while bored. You can no more get history off the internet than you can get piss out of a swimming pool, and the whole of the Trump Posse Baby Ruthed the fuck out of that watering hole.

I think Jared Kushner is now Our Man in Riyadh. I think MBS went "I am the despot now" and the CIA went "fine, we see how well flattery works, we've got our own Donald Trump now." People forget - Donald Trump went "Jared is going to fix the Middle East" and by damn if Jared Kushner didn't somehow normalize relations to the point where you can fly direct from Riyadh to Tel Aviv now. Do I think Jared Kushner had anything to do with this? No I do not. The man's COVID solution was Facebook. But I think MBS doesn't give a shit about Palestine and the CIA went "we'll fund that emotion" and here we are. Will he still turn up drowned off the Canary Islands like Robert Maxwell? I sincerely hope so. But not while he's still a useful idiot. At its most cynical level, the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi sent a message to the CIA as to how MBS intended to run the country, and from a CIA standpoint, it wasn't particularly expensive or damaging - compare and contrast with Iran.

As far as consequences for Donald Trump? Whelp, he's likely got federal charges lined up against him, his extremely shady taxes are public, and at least two states are lined up for criminal and civil charges related to a smorgasbord of shady shit. And there is no disinfectant like sunlight.

I think he's got five, six years of ignominy left. I don't know if he'll ever serve time. I know we'll be talking about it until he fucking dies, which is extremely tedious, but objectively speaking, the man is a historical figure. He matters more than George Wallace, Herbert Hoover or Richard Nixon. He's up there with John Wilkes Booth as far as I'm concerned.

We have been worried about a man like Donald Trump since before he was born. It has always been up to question what would happen if a legitimate challenge to democracy were to arise - how fragile is the republic, really?

I believe we have our answer.

One thing about our Mennonite form of government: it doesn't move quickly. There are many faster, more agile implementations of democracy in the world and while they're clearly better at coming up with things like universal healthcare, they also give you things like Brexit and Hugo Chavez.

Which is not to say it won't happen again. But a whole lot of Donald Trump's maneuverability was due to the element of surprise. You can attack Pearl Harbor twice but it won't do nearly as much. History doesn't repeat itself but it does rhyme? And Donald Trump was what happens when George Wallace or Huey Long don't get shot, frankly. I don't know what that means for the future? But I know it'll be generations before anyone allows another Donald Trump to happen.