Link Roundups & LinkDumps

Minnesota sushi, Hank Green, debt ceiling talks

🍣 Eater: The Midwest’s ‘Minnesota Sushi’ Is Having a Pop Culture Moment – “Turns out the combination of deli ham, dill pickle, and cream cheese (sometimes flavored with ranch seasoning or dill, but often plain), rolled up, cut up, and served on a toothpick, is better known as ‘Minnesota sushi,’ but it’s clear the dish seems to have a presence throughout the Midwest.”

Okay, so I stumbled across this “Minnesota sushi” thing today (spoiler, it’s just a ham roll), and I definitely remember eating these at holiday dinners when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure we didn’t make ours with pickles, though. Green onions, maybe?

⚕️ Vlogbrothers: So, I’ve got cancer – “Also, when I recorded this , I didn’t have my full schedule, but now I do. My first treatment begins… drumroll please, literally as this video goes live. So, there’s a very good chance that I’m reading the comments right now while getting my first round of chemotherapy. I’ve also gotten my PET/CT which showed that the cancer has not spread anywhere from its original location in my left armpit/chest area, which is very good news.”

Hank Green, who has done roughly about seven thousand amazing things on the internet and in real life, both by himself and with his brother John Green, told everyone via vlog this morning that he’s got Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s just getting started at treatment and it seems like his prognosis is good.

🏛️ CNBC: Republicans walk out of debt ceiling talks, say White House isn’t being ‘reasonable’ – “High-stakes talks over raising the debit limit abruptly came to a halt Friday on Capitol Hill, after Republican negotiators walked out of the room and blamed the White House for holding up discussions.”

“Reasonable.” 🙄🙄🙄 Yeah. I believe this crowd of Republicans is offering anything even remotely resembling “reasonable.” Sure.

Little Notes & Short Posts

AI, Microsoft, & ‘Signs of Human Reasoning’

I am physically incapable of rolling my eyes as hard as this idea deserves.

Microsoft’s research paper, provocatively called “Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence,” goes to the heart of what technologists have been working toward — and fearing — for decades. If they build a machine that works like the human brain or even better, it could change the world. But it could also be dangerous.

And it could also be nonsense. Making A.G.I. claims can be a reputation killer for computer scientists. What one researcher believes is a sign of intelligence can easily be explained away by another, and the debate often sounds more appropriate to a philosophy club than a computer lab. Last year, Google fired a researcher who claimed that a similar A.I. system was sentient, a step beyond what Microsoft has claimed. A sentient system would not just be intelligent. It would be able to sense or feel what is happening in the world around it.
New York Times: Microsoft Says New A.I. Shows Signs of Human Reasoning

I don’t know what it is about Chat-GPT and its various clones that drives people to such histrionics, but these fucking things aren’t sentient, or thinking like humans, or reasoning like humans, or turning into HAL 9000, or whatever fevered, bed-wetting fantasy folks’ll dream up next. Anyone who says so probably needs to go outside for a bit.

These things are complicated, interesting, and possibly useful bits of programming. They’re doing some interesting, possibly useful things. But they aren’t magic. They aren’t thinking. They aren’t alive. They aren’t even reliable – they lie at the drop of a hat. Actually, you can’t even say they’re lying, because “lying” implies that they intended to obscure the truth for some reason, and they aren’t capable of intention.

Chat-GPT and its clones, other LLMs, are basically extremely advanced text-predictors. You know like how your phone will finish a word with several choices as you type? Like that, but more complicated.

When you ask Chat-GPT a question, it generates something that looks like an answer. The program has seen thousands of answers to similar questions, so it knows what an authoritative answer should look like, and it generates text to match. It matches an authoritative tone. It matches the kinds of words in the kinds of orders that you would expect to see in an answer to your question. It even manages to be right frequently, because it has a store of information to draw from. It’s not thinking. It’s regurgitating.

Maybe that’ll change in the future. I don’t know. Maybe by next year, or in a couple of years, or in ten years, these things will be thinking. But they aren’t right now, so everyone needs to settle down. Get off the computer for a while and go talk to some real humans. Touch grass, as the kids say.

Little Notes & Short Posts

The call is coming from inside the house.

Nazis and their ilk are like cockroaches. If you’re not careful, they get into everything. Ask anyone who’s been online for ten minutes: you start a new platform, and the first thing that happens is Nazis weaseling in, trying to use it to recruit, take it over.

I remember twenty-some years ago, I got into playing a dumb little browser-based zombie game, Urban Dead. I don’t even think I managed to play for a whole month before folks in the various associated forums were bitching about Nazis getting into the game, trying to recruit people.

It happens out in the real world, too. You were warned they were infiltrating the police. You were warned they were infiltrating the military. Did you listen? No. You assumed people were being overwrought. Now our institutions are full of fascists/Nazis/alt-righties/white supremacists… whatever you want to call ’em.

They’ve even got into Congress.

Take this shit seriously, people.

Link Roundups & LinkDumps

FINALLY. The CDC recommends better ventilation for indoor spaces.

Folks have been screaming for this since the pandemic started. The CDC is now making recommendations for better ventilation in buildings. They want you to aim for five air changes an hour, through MERV-13 filters. You can read all the recs here, but the air changes (which means swapping all the air in the building out) are a big deal and will make a huge difference in keeping people safe from airborne illnesses.

This isn’t a law or a new regulation yet or anything, as far as I can tell. It’s just, y’know. Highly recommended. Strongly suggested. That kind of thing.

Little Notes & Short Posts

Re: Trump on CNN

I don’t know how someone thinks giving a white supremacist rapist who tried to overthrow the government a free two hours on a mainstream news network is a good idea, but the dingleberries at CNN apparently managed it. They let Trump get on TV last night and rant about how much he hates that he got held nominally accountable for something (raping E. Jean Carroll), and how 2020 was rigged against him (it absolutely was not) for two hours while some nobody tried to “fact-check” him on the go. I didn’t watch, but all the reports claim this went about as well as you’d expect it to.

🍊 NPR: Trump continues lies about election and lashes out after N.Y. verdict in town hall – “In his first media appearance since being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation to the tune of $5 million, former President Donald Trump defensively lashed out once again, as he typically does when he disagrees with something or his back is against the wall politically.”

I’d prefer to completely ignore this happening, but these idgits in the news business basically gave Trump a presidency back in 2016 by promoting every stupid word he said, because they love ratings and money more than they love democracy or doing their jobs. It sure seems like they intend to try to do the exact same thing this time around, so please, for the love of little puppies with heart-shaped spots, please remember that this diet-Nazi freakbag wants us all either worshipping him unconditionally or dead, and he really doesn’t care which one it is.

The 2024 election is coming. I know we ain’t thrilled with Joe Biden. Please don’t re-elect this crazy orange turd.

⚖️ New York Times: E. Jean Carroll May Sue Trump a Third Time After ‘Vile’ Comments on CNN – “In an interview, her lawyer said that the former president’s mocking comments in a town hall broadcast could create fresh legal jeopardy.”

This might just be her lawyer shooting his mouth off, but it would be pretty fantastic if she sued Trump again. She’s got a previous defamation case pending against him, too.