Month: December 2022

Six Impossible Things

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”

(from “Through the Looking Glass”, by Lewis Carroll)

Sshhh! It’s A Secret!

Some truths aren’t for everyone.

There are those among us who aren’t quite old enough to learn every little thing, and there are others who will, sadly, never be old enough. If you know someone like that, there’s no need to tell them. Why spoil their innocence?

(Note: Spoilers below the line.)


It’s Cold Outside

From time to time, I like to take a break from politics and world events to sit and think about the important things in life. For instance: Have you ever noticed how they make socks inside-out? Those seams ought to be on the outside, where they won’t catch on your toenails or etch lines into your skin. And another thing: Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?

While you’re thinking about that last one, let me tell you about something a new friend of mine from Down South asked me. She’s snowed in for the first time in her life and is suffering from cabin fever after only a few hours. “How do you Yankees handle it?”

Let me tell ya: It’s a bit of an art.


The Not Fake News Update, 21 Dec 22

Hello and welcome to a special Solstice edition of the Update!

That’s right: Today’s the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere; happy midsummer to everyone else). To celebrate it, and at the same time to honor ancient tradition, we’re serving up a lovely new batch of news items for you today. Cleverly hidden within one of them is a twice-baked small hard bean; if you find it, you’re the Bean King for the next year.

But enough about the weather; let’s get on with the news!


Truth To Power

“Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it”.

Elon Musk, paraphrasing Plato

Even his worst detractors, if they’re being honest, are forced to grant that Elon Musk has a certain genius for problem-solving. In truth, he has a brilliant mind, enormous energy, and is possessed of grand visions for the future. Along with this come a host of flaws; who among us is not human?

His statement on power is subtly incorrect. I fully understand he’ll never read it; my signal here is buried in the noise. Who has the time to read 50,000+ replies anyway? But it’s important that the truth about power isn’t misrepresented without explanation.

Besides: YOU are reading, and that’s enough.


ChatGPT: Brilliant, Dangerous… Or Both?

The world has been amazed of late by the advances shown in human-taught artificial intelligence that resulted in ChatGPT. For those few of you still unaware, it is a seamlessly interactive virtual assistant capable of near-perfect responses. It can interact conversationally, using the same questions and responses we would see from a reasonably intelligent human; from such prompts, it is capable of followup, discovering some of its own errors, and even challenging incorrect input.

The advances are astounding, the potential even more so — not merely for this application, but for the sister app InstructGPT and the architecture behind it. And yet, there are those who would warn us rather of its dangers, and of a humanity that is not yet ready for the tools becoming available.


The Not Fake News Update, 10 December 2022

Hello again and welcome to another exciting edition of The Not Fake News Update, where we concentrate not on the news items everyone already knows about but instead on those items that probably got drowned out amid all the noise. Thus, while it’s newsworthy that Raphael Warnock won the runoff Senate race in Georgia and that Kirsten Sinema has departed the Democratic Party after they had decided to primary her from the left, these are the last mentions of such items you can expect to see here.

Instead, let’s look at some less well-known items, such as:


Merchant of Death Exchanged

This week’s prisoner exchange with Russia saw notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout swapped to Russia for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Bout was arrested for attempting to supply Colombian FARC terrorists with antiaircraft missiles, millions of rounds of ammunition, and modern military weaponry, and has since served eleven years in a federal prison; Griner was caught with two empty vape canisters which held traces of cannabis oil and was imprisoned in a penal colony for four months of a nine year sentence following her August conviction.