Saturday, January 21, 2023

Kiss: The major revolutions I have seen in my lifetime

“I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.”

 -Henry Miller

2,800 year old "kiss" at the Teppe Hasanlu archaeological site. Read more

Dragon 🐉 Lake

The major revolutions I have seen in my lifetime

The nature, size of impact, and time horizons on all these vary greatly, but here is my list:

1. Moon landing, 1969.  Most of the impact still not felt, except for satellites.  My parents did let me stay up late at night to watch it.

2. The collapse of communism (1989-????).  Poland is a lovely country to visit, Shanghai is amazing.  I flew to eastern Europe once I could in 1989.

3. The rise of Asia.  Japan and South Korea starting around the time of my birth.  The rise of China for sure, and currently the rise of India is a likely addition.

4. Feminization, ongoing, no firm date.  Impact plenty.

5. The realization of the internet.  Hard to date, but I’ll say the 1990s and ongoing.

6. The smartphone — 2007.  Impact in your face.  Bought an iPhone the first day, was mocked by MRreaders as an “Apple fan boy.”

7. Effective Large Language Models/AI.  Impact still to be seen.

The “African population explosion” is perhaps next in line…

(don’t) read all about it!

In all the stories from the funeral there’s one that they don’t tell:
it’s how Kwasi’s clearly off his chops or seriously unwell,
but the media stay silent, they decide this isn’t news
instead they focus our attention on the pronouns people choose.
They laud a queue to see a coffin, ignore the ones for A&E,
print photographs of food-banks with Conservative MPs
who are smiling for the camera, and never ask them how it is
that folk can work yet not afford to eat in this wealthiest of countries.
And if we start to grumble about what lies out of our reach
they’re quick to point their lying finger at some poor sod on a beach
who’s just landed in a dinghy, say that they’re the ones to blame.
They set the poor upon the poorer, the same old sorry game
they’ve played down all the centuries, one that offers no solution,
which provides us with a scapegoat when we need some kind of revolution.
And yes, we’re desperate and angry, and we sometimes take the bait
they’re dangling in front of us. The politics of hate
can be attractive when you’re powerless, when hope’s in short supply,
when costs go up and wages don’t. When rent’s sky-high.
When the day-to-day is dismal and the future is a threat
and you could do with some distraction. And so, the trap is set
with flags and pageantry and outrage, they launch their war on woke™
and we’re conscripted in a culture war against our own folk
where we’re at each others’ throats and all of us lose,
fighting on battlegrounds we didn’t choose.
We need to do so much better than this. Bring ourselves back from the brink.
The world we want to live in is closer than we think
if we just look out for each other. Don’t buy the lies they sell.
The stories that we need to hear are the ones that they don’t tell.

There is more from Steve on his website.

  1. “A.I. [learns] through statistical distribution the best word to use, the distribution of the reasonable words that could come next. I think moral decision-making can be done like that as well” — an interview with computer scientist (and MacArthur “genius” grant winner) Yejin Choi (Washington) on morality and artificial intelligence.
  2. “Some researchers say it does not make sense to frame something that is a normal biological process as disease. Further complicating things… is that there is no agreed-upon point at which a person becomes old” — Is old age a disease? Is a “yes” answer “ageist”? Or is the view that ageing is acceptable ageist? Questions about aging at Technology Review
  3. What happened in math, physics, computer science, and biology in 2022? — Quanta Magazine has published its annual round-ups for each of those fields
  4. “After a five-week strike at the University of California, employed graduate students have ratified a pathbreaking new contract that offers most of them 50 or 60 percent wage hikes within the next two-and-a-half years” — Nelson Lichtenstein (UCSB) on what can be learned from this “stunning accomplishment”
  5. “Despite what many people might think today, the young Romantics didn’t turn against the sciences or reason, but lamented what Coleridge described as the absence of ‘connective powers of the understanding’” — Andrea Wulf on how “what happened in Jena in the last decade of the 18th century has shaped us”
  6. Contest: “Give us a transcription of how a dialogue between Socrates and one or more contemporary figures would play out. The topic or the question can be whatever you want” — and yes there are cash prizes for the winners, you sophists
  7. “Our aim should be to allow each animal to live an active life characteristic of its species, up to some reasonable threshold level” — “All animals count, and all deserve to live as the animals they are,” says Martha Nussbaum (Chicago), interviewed by Evan Selinger (RIT)