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“Harassment of marine observers aboard fishing vessels is one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets. In a survey of observers in the United States alone, about half said that they had been harassed on the job. Anecdotally, Liz Mitchell, president of the Association for Professional Observers (APO) and herself a former observer, says the APO routinely logs stories of such incidents. The APO’s website describes them in detail: observers locked in their rooms, threatened at knifepoint, chased around docks, forced to accept bribes, raped, starved, pressured to sign off on sustainability criteria. Conditions in the South Pacific are among the worst.

This is the true price of a can of tuna, that lucrative shelf-stable fare that whips from the Pacific Ocean onto grocery shelves like millions of widgets flung from a slingshot. Amid rising numbers of marine observers allegedly murdered and disappeared at sea, Cagilaba’s story underscores how little words like “sustainably caught” and “certified” may mean when it comes to protecting the humans in the supply chain. And how much grocery and retail brands profit anyway.”

Candidly had never really thought about this, but it makes sense – how do rules get enforced, apart from observation or all-powerful satellites? Ethics are hard to enforce uniformly if at all in super complex supply chains.

“Trible and Kronauer’s new findings turn the previous assumptions on their head. Their alternative scenario focused on the pair of mismatched supergenes in the clonal raider ants. Sometime in history, one of those ants had experienced a mutation that replaced the supergene on one chromosome with a copy of the supergene from the other chromosome. The resulting mutant ant with two copies of the “parasitic” version of the supergene could have suddenly developed into a miniature queen that looked a lot like an inquiline.

The work showed that a single mutation in a supergene was sufficient to produce the full suite of changes observed in the obligate parasites, even before the ants were split by speciation.”

The more we learn about evolution, the more it is clear that mutations and Lamarckian leaps can happen much faster than may be suspected, it seems.

“But this paradigm ignores the fact that not all identity categories are interchangeable or operate with the same currency, and some identities are much more powerful, and dangerous than others. Race and ethnicity in particular have the potential to ignite conflicts within societies in a manner without parallel. Any conflict rooted around fixed identities can only end in zero-sum games. Someone wins. Someone loses. Always.”

A carefully couched essay but one with an undeniably powerful point – most wars are spawned by greed, but the absolute worst are those forged by identity, e.g., Thirty Years’ War, Balkan internecine conflicts, Reconquista, Civil War, etc.

“Late in the podcast, producer Dana Chivvis reflects that if Adnan really is innocent, he must be among the unluckiest people alive given the convergence of incriminating evidence. “To make [Adnan] completely innocent of this,” she concludes dubiously, “you just have to think ‘God … you had so many terrible coincidences that day … you had such bad luck that day, Adnan.’” Consciously or not, Chivvis is reverse-engineering how circumstantial evidence can be used to prove guilt.”

Pretty sobering that in the Internet era someone who is so obviously guilty can be freed even briefly – then again thanks to dying legacy media TV’s desperation, Twitter and other social media even a nincompoop like Donald Trump can get elected, so perhaps we deserve the world we are creating.

“Confronting a possible 90% increase in electricity usage would require a large build-out of additional generating capacity, especially if we don’t want to overload the grid. Many will be surprised to learn, however, that there are already over two terawatts of proposed new power generation waiting to come online in interconnection queues. This delay is the result of proposed power generators needing to hear back from regulators and other stakeholders about how and when their generators could be connected to the grid, how much it would cost, and who would be able to pay.

So the only thing standing in the way of the United States producing three times as much power in the next couple of years is not the scarcity of renewable power generation, but rather the regulatory and logistical bottleneck of connecting this new power to the grid.”

It seems increasingly likely that we won’t really enter a phase shift of seriously committing to upgrading our grid unless the first big calamity really happens, or perhaps, we do end up having a grindingly slow period of upgrading. But rolling blackouts in California for years now don’t seem to be doing much as of yet.

He continued: “This is a realm where we have no experience and no understanding of the possibilities, but they’re going to be very good at manipulation. And if they’ve got any sense, they won’t let us know that they’re much smarter than us. I’m not confident about any of these conclusions. But I’m confident that there’s not nothing to worry about.”  

I suggested to Hinton that he was imputing to AI models motives we do not know they have. He anthropomorphised large language models throughout our conversation. He agreed that the motives of existing AIs are unknown, in so far as they have motives at all, but he thinks they will look to acquire more control so as to achieve the goals we set them. This is an open-ended risk. Hinton is trusting his intuition, having learned to do so over the decades in which his ideas were long ignored. His rise to pre-eminence as the first “god-father of AI” is recent. “My intuition is: we’re toast. This is the actual end of history.”

There are plenty of valid concerns around AI but I think we haven’t yet really defined terms, even. Everyone who believes AI will get more intelligent overall seems to vaguely speak of intelligence in various different ways, but mostly how an idiot-savant is technically more intelligent than I… at a couple distinct things, normally. I think the bigger concern is that AI borrows agency from existing, documented maladies online in medical literature, based on faulty instructions, but ultimately, it won’t ever gain its own agency. That’s because we can’t create agency, at all – we are human, not divine. Our procreation accidentally creates agency, after all.


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“Research from linguistics demonstrates that the metaphors humans use to speak about time are profoundly embodied. Human bodies are directional, meaning our physiology has a direction: it faces forwards. Consider the positioning of our eyes or limbs, which are all oriented toward one direction. This embodied reality means that we are more capable of moving and acting on objects in front of us than behind. We also think about time in a similar way. Consider expressions like ‘we are going into the weekend’ or ‘we’ve left the past behind’. In both sayings, we move forward into the future and away from the past. These are examples of what is known as the ‘ego-moving’ metaphor, in which time is construed as unidirectional, with the future in front of us and the past behind us.”

The concept of time is fascinating – to misquote: “The past isn’t gone – it isn’t even past.” If we live rooted in the past, can we truly move forward? If we all live as forward-looking, are we truly living in our present, in any meaningful sense? We have to look out for our future selves to some degree, but we can’t avoid living well for ourselves (sometimes it’s okay to eat a donut, ya know?).

“From the front porch, you could say hello to passers-by, exchange a few words with your next-door neighbors as they came home from work (no big garages to drive into in those old neighborhoods!), wave at the school kids on their way to the middle school across the street, greet the postman. And if someone stopped to ask about the irises in the front beds, or to pet the dog, or to ask directions, the porch was a place you could invite them into; a place visible enough to mitigate major risk, but homelike enough to offer comfort and care.”

Practical tips are always at the root of tradition. In this fun brief piece, the author notes how porches are simply practical for hospitality, and, thinking back, I do recall being more at ease just in people’s clearly more open spaces, especially porches, than say anything private like a bedroom. There is a distinct sense of ease that evades in any alternate-functional places.

“It’s hardly surprising, then, that many homesteaders also advocate localism, whose goal is to build resilient and sustainable communities by prioritising local resources and production, and instilling a kind of civic pride of place and belonging. According to Lasch, what he calls “particularism” was an antidote to the progressive idea that we could or should love every citizen of the world in the same way we love the members of our families or communities. He pointed to people such as Willa Cather, who spoke to the particularities of place, attributing ‘Nebraska’s vigour and prosperity to the presence of Bohemian, Scandinavian, and German immigrants’.”

Increasingly I am of the opinion that the US needs a blatant Homestead Act 2.0. As progressives and conservatives alike bemoan the hollowing out of small towns, we have to acknowledge the typical American won’t want to live there or farm or do the hard work necessary to keep them alive. But you know who would? The millions of impoverished desperate people in the Global South, that would jump at free property on at least decently healthy soil, in a peaceful country.


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“In the mid-2000s, researchers sifted through 15,000 studies on self-esteem. They found just 200 matching their rigorous standards. Of those 200 studies, few if any backed up the claims of the self-esteem movement.”

Although there are fortunately much more productive therapeutic sessions out there for many I know, one oddity I’ve noticed also about so much of the narrative of “self-love” and “working on myself” and such is that a lot of it doesn’t seem to ever be about a concrete, external achievement or trait. I do think it is very important for people to confront their own fears, neuroses, wishes and flaws head on, which is what I gather “working on myself” and also tracing back why exactly we may consistently stumble in some areas. However, how do we then move to the positive, post-processing stage and counter with action? I’m at much as fault as anyone else in this, as it’s far easier to just read endlessly as a form of entertainment and knowledge absorption than to put it into practice and risk failure, but eventually DOING something does seem to often be a missing piece.

“Scythes are a great example of a simple human tool that we replaced with more complex ones to dubious benefit. They can work as fast as a lawnmower, according to David Tressemer in The Scythe Book, and without any fuel or electricity. In a fuel or economic crisis they could easily be adopted again, if people knew what they were and how to wield them.”

The romanticism of agrarian/pastoral life is likely to persist given the ills of modernity and urbanism, but I don’t quite see it coming back in any full swing. It’s simply too dang hard. That said, perhaps some happy medium between semi-urban, suburban existences and plenty of gardens and orchards could happen? Another key point in this piece is that tradeoffs always exist, but also, there may be unintended consequences from abandoning older technology before we realize full ramifications of its loss.

” ‘If China moves one-tenth of its manufacturing value added to India, it doubles the size of the Indian manufacturing sector,’ Cormie told Institutional Investor in an interview.”

I don’t really expect the CCP to go gently into that good night, but a weaker China is better news for all – for at least a time. We should be wary and recall the lessons learned from the 1990s in Russia, as oligarchs ran amok.


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“The negative spaces that exist in baseball—the time that exists between pitches or between moments of action on the field—are features, not bugs, of baseball. The silences are, in fact, part of the beauty of the game, part of what gives space for viewers to enter into the leisure necessary for contemplation. But over the past forty years, these negative spaces took over.”

This piece waxes a bit mystical about baseball, but there is something undeniably fascinating about its power in terms of luck, individual talent, team dynamics, etc. It is a truism that the hardest thing to do in professional sports is hit a major league fastball, while also team dynamics can sink pretty much any contender despite individual talent (looking at you, redundantly named SoCal baseball team).

“If you don’t need to know the syntax for Pandas to move your data analysis from Excel to something better, and if you don’t need to remember the name of some obscure feature you use every few months, do you need to remember… anything?


True – we can’t neglect the physiology of the brain and its peculiar power of associative context and common sense filters. As noted later in the piece, memorization is key no matter what, as knowing which pathway and tools to take is the only way to actually capitalize on the power of our tools.

“The team found that within the structure of the interlocked molecules, the OR51E2 had trapped propionate within a small pocket. When they enlarged the pocket, the receptor lost much of its sensitivity to propionate and to another small molecule that normally activates it. The tweaked receptor preferred larger odor molecules, which confirmed that the size and chemistry of the binding pocket tunes the receptor to detect only a narrow set of molecules.”

It’s fascinating how much physical structure and motion play into sense perception; it’s an oft-neglected aspect of biological systems that everything is in motion and constantly contorting, which lends orders of magnitudes of complexity.


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Trying out a new thing to better my recall and find connections between all the various things I have read as of late. So, some thoughts:

““Large language models work better than any system we have ever had before,” said Pascale Fung, an AI researcher at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “Why do they struggle with something that’s seemingly simple while it’s demonstrating amazing power in other things that we don’t expect it to?” Recent studies have finally started to explain the difficulties, and what programmers can do to get around them. But researchers still don’t understand whether machines will ever truly know the word “no.”

Thought: It’s hard to program negation perhaps because it is difficult to infer mistakes? Most of the time most of what we do is make mistakes – we just have built up a society of safety nets that can tolerate a lot of that, plus social structures. And as most of that is common sense and unwritten, it is very hard for LLMs or other models to learn how to handle that – also potentially worth noting it’s extremely hard to mathematically weight all possible avenues/reasons why something is “no”?

“…hell is founded on God’s love. It is not a place where God exacts endless retributive punishment from those whose sins do not merit what they receive there. It is the condition of those who reject the love that God bathes them in—to the extent to which they will allow it.”hell is founded on God’s love. It is not a place where God exacts endless retributive punishment from those whose sins do not merit what they receive there. It is the condition of those who reject the love that God bathes them in—to the extent to which they will allow it.”

Thought: A very useful clarification of something I’ve struggled with in the past. We create our own hells, in short.

“…The new creed does not take animals to be natural automata, but it does find a gulf between the brutes and us: no non-human animal has a sexed soul. And as to sex, maybe non-human animals unproblematically come in female and male varieties, but as far as humans are concerned—as my old sparring partner Robin Dembroff puts it—the notion that female and male are “universal, stable and discrete categories … is false.” To think otherwise is to be “ignorant of the history and sociology of sex categorization.”

Thought: Much like critical race theory, what perplexes me is that if gender is a construct, then we can’t even hope to organize beyond a “human person” category, as there could be endless varieties of genders. But then, how does one even know one is correct? Nothing matters, all is relative to either feelings and/or appearance.

“Many waypoint names are gibberish, but others are more colourful – DRAKE in the English Channel (for Sir Francis); BARBQ near Kansas City; WHALE in the Mediterranean, off Benghazi. When descending to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, fans of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons will enjoy this sequence: ITAWT ITAWA PUDYE TTATT (followed by IDEED). The authorities in the US, more than most countries, have made a habit of writing five-letter distillations of history and culture onto the sky; as passengers never encounter them, this is for no reason other than that it might be fun for pilots to fly to and from them. And so it is.”

Thought: Had no idea on this and human creativity at its best is always a joy.

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