Wednesday, December 27th, 2023

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My haul of books from the holiday:

S.P.Q.R. by Mary Beard
S.P.Q.R. by Mary Beard
Bookshop | Amazon
The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
Bookshop | Amazon
Letters from Father Christmas by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Letters from Father Christmas by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Bookshop | Amazon
12/27/2023 3:56 pm | | Tags: books

Jason Kottke's 52 things he learned in 2023

A look at how the list starts. Quite a few interesting things here.

  1. Ciabatta was invented in 1982.
  2. “If our planet was 50% larger in diameter, we would not be able to venture into space, at least using rockets for transport.”
  3. Purple Heart medals that were made for the planned (and then cancelled) invasion of Japan in 1945 are still being given out to wounded US military personnel.
  4. More than 100,000 public school students in NYC [were homeless during the 2021-22 school year.](were homeless during the 2021-22 school year.)


12/27/2023 4:46 pm | | Tags: blog, jason kottke, interesting

Vox discusses why Ross Perot performed so well in 1992

Nineteen percent of the national vote is incredible. I had no recollection of it being nearly that good a performance for him.

Why did Ross Perot do so well in 1992? And could something like that happen again in 2024?

Americans were dissatisfied with both major-party options for president. The incumbent was viewed as prioritizing foreign affairs while failing to address voter dissatisfaction with the economy back home. The challenger was dogged by scandal. There was a palpable yearning for someone else. So a third-party contender entered the race — and was received with raucous enthusiasm, shooting to first place in the polls.

The year was 1992, and the third-party candidate was billionaire businessman Ross Perot. Obviously, Perot didn’t end up winning. But he had what now stands as the strongest performance for a third-party presidential candidate in the past century — he got nearly 19 percent of the vote nationally.

The billionaire businessman [Perot], who had made his fortune in computer and IT services, had long gotten media attention as an opinionated entrepreneur with a Texas twang. CNN host Larry King had heard that people around Perot were hoping he’d get into the presidential race as an independent, and on February 20, 1992, he invited Perot on his program to quiz him: Why won’t you run? After initially demurring, Perot said that, if the American people helped him get ballot access in all 50 states, he would run. It kind of went viral — volunteers and donations poured in, more media followed, and polls soon found him drawing significant support in a three-way race.

Scrutiny of Perot’s history and character intensified, with journalists covering his penchant for conspiracy theories and his frequent use of private detectives and surveillance. Critics denounced him as a kook or even a budding fascist. He made gaffes on hot-button social issues, saying he wouldn’t appoint any gay Cabinet officials (before reversing himself), and referring to Black Americans as “you people” at an NAACP meeting. And, he believed, opposing campaign operatives were trying to manufacture dirt about his family. So in mid-July, having fallen back down to third place in the polls, Perot quit the race.

12/27/2023 4:52 pm | | Tags: us politics, ross perot

The 5 Hour Rule

Over the last few decades, a cottage industry has sprung up that examines and dissects the habits and values of “self-made” millionaires. One of the key findings that comes up again and again is known as the “5-hour rule.” In short, this is the rule where we spend one hour a day learning, reflecting, and thinking. We do this five times a week (which makes up the “5-hour” rule). The rule dates to Benjamin Franklin, who would devote (at least) an hour each day specifically to learning something new. Franklin would rise early to read and write. He even set up his own club of artisans and experimenters.

12/27/2023 5:00 pm | | Tags: learning, education, time management

NYT suing OpenAI and Microsoft for use of Copyrighted Work

Excerpts from the NYT's own article about the lawsuit:

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, contends that millions of articles published by The Times were used to train automated chatbots that now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.

The suit does not include an exact monetary demand. But it says the defendants should be held responsible for “billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages” related to the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.” It also calls for the companies to destroy any chatbot models and training data that use copyrighted material from The Times.

The lawsuit could test the emerging legal contours of generative A.I. technologies — so called for the text, images and other content they can create after learning from large data sets — and could carry major implications for the news industry. The Times is among a small number of outlets that have built successful business models from online journalism, but dozens of newspapers and magazines have been hobbled by readers’ migration to the internet.

At the same time, OpenAI and other A.I. tech firms — which use a wide variety of online texts, from newspaper articles to poems to screenplays, to train chatbots — are attracting billions of dollars in funding.

OpenAI is now valued by investors at more than $80 billion. Microsoft has committed $13 billion to OpenAI and has incorporated the company’s technology into its Bing search engine.

12/27/2023 5:11 pm | | Tags: machine learning, artificial intelligence, copyright, us justice, chatgpt, new york times, microsoft

Navalny located in Siberian penal colony

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was located in a penal colony in Russia's far north, his team said Monday, after a span of nearly three weeks when the imprisoned dissident politician's whereabouts were not known to his aides, lawyers and family.

"His lawyer visited him today. Alexey is doing well," Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Yarmysh added that he is being kept in a prison in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenetsk region more than 1,000 miles northeast of Moscow, a region notorious for severe winters and the site of some of the harshest camps of the Soviet gulag system.

12/27/2023 5:16 pm | | Tags: russia, world politics, vladimir putin

Predicting 2024 Japan Megatrends

First, a necessary "fuck Substack" comment, given their stance on platforming Nazis.

With that out of the way, I think it's interesting to share this from the article about Japan's future for immigration:

4. Open-Door Japan

Japan will become an immigration powerhouse. Before the pandemic, the country was on track to accept about 150,000 new non-Japanese employees per year. This more than doubled to almost 350,000 in the first half of 2023. There are now approximately 3.2 million non-Japanese residents of Japan, up from barely half a million 30 years ago. Visa and permanent-residency requirements continue to ease. Most importantly, the biggest obstacle to employing non-Japanese talent—seniority-based rather than merit-based compensation—is beginning to change. All said, it is now perfectly reasonable to expect that about 10 percent of employees will be non-Japanese by 2030. That's more than double the current rate of just below four percent.

12/27/2023 5:31 pm | | Tags: japan, economics, 2024

From a Tumblr post I saw screenshot elsewhere:

Telepathic aliens enjoy that humans will "play music" for hours at a time. When it's too mentally quiet on deck, they just announce the catchiest song titles they know and the humans will start thinking about it automatically.

The humans hate this so, so much.

Zorf: Human Steve, can you please play that song I like, the one with all the females

Steve: what

Zorf: A little bit of Monica in my life


Steve: mother fu--

12/27/2023 8:35 pm | | Tags: joke, aliens, tumblr

Automated Archives for December, 27th 2023

This post was automatically generated

Wallabag Additions

These are articles that which I saved today so that I may read them later. Substance and quality will vary drastically.

Chess For the Day

Record: 3-0-2
Net Elo Change: +7

Games Played

Blog Posts On This Day

12/27/2023 11:45 pm | | Tags: automated, longreads, chess
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