Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Making ALL the Right Enemies: How to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans

Neither Media Dragon nor  Antipodean Bull ever expected to meet one another. But now that they have, maybe together they can fight for both their kinds. First, though, they need to learn how to communicate – and hope that neither of them is killed before they can get their enterprise off the ground!

Civilization Has to Go Medieval on Bullies and Terrorists


What makes a Nazi in taxing landscapes of 2023?

World War III is Not Possible?

 8 Pop Culture Miracles That Give Us Hope for MMXXIV - 2024 

Major Law Firm Pulls Out of Recruiting at Harvard 255 George ... “This was good to see and we certainly need more employers to follow in Jay Edelson’s footsteps. Not only the administration at Harvard but the students themselves need to understand that actions carry consequences. You can’t simply spend a few years attending an endless Jew-hating party and then expect to be handed a seven-figure job upon graduation.”

I think an awful lot of employers are also doing this unofficially, and just tossing resumes of students whose interests and activities show telltale signs of wokeness.

Operation Fertility: Victor Noir’s grave in Père

Operation Hangman 

CDR SALAMANDER:  A New Combined Task Force Builds in the Red Sea …”Prosperity Guardian” … bleh.

Piracy from the southern end of the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa has ramped up significantly over the last couple of weeks, especially over the weekend.

There are a lot of solid updates on the late-breaking tactical developments that I won’t be replicating here. If you are on Twitter/X, there are a few of our favorite accounts that are doing a great job tracking this aspect of this challenge and you really should be following; Sal Mercogliano, John Konrad, Charlie B., and numerous others. I especially like primary source information from industry, and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) is invaluable in this regard. Their alerts are clicking off faster than you can track over at X/Ttitter or their webpage.

Let’s just spend some time today doing a back-of-the-cocktail napkin review of the larger things in play, but before we do this – let’s set the table on what is causing the recent spot of bother.

Iran’s proxy in the area, the “Houthi” (officially known as Ansar Allah, AKA “Supporters of God”) is a Shia Islamist rebellion organization that evolved from the Saada Governorate of Yemen in the 1990s. They have been a pest off the part of the coast of the Red Sea they control for years, with some success – but generally were not an impediment to trade on the high seas.

After the attacks from Gaza on October 7th, the Houthi decided to support their fellow Iranian proxy Hamas by starting to attack Israel with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and long-range drones. History may reveal their actual goals, but they are from just doing some supporting fires to trying to force a wider war in the area. If they can humiliate Big Satan or Little Satan along the way, all the better.

That is where the USN got involved, indirectly getting involved in the conflict by intercepting what could be heading towards Israel. That quickly progressed to going after Israeli-related shipping passing by their shores, and now it is open season.

The crews of our Arleigh Burke destroyers are doing simply a superb job and the Royal Navy and French Navy have joined the efforts.

The attacks have reached the point that it is starting to impact Suez traffic and international trade – not to mention the physical danger to shipping and the merchant mariners of dozens of nations who transit the Red Sea.


Revealed: Why ‘UN Women’ took 55 Days to Condemn Hamas Rapes.

The creators of Stranger Things know all about expectations. Ever since the series became one of the most successful shows in Netflix’s history—it was the most streamed program of 2022—every subsequent installment has had to try not to collapse under the heavy hopes of millions of fans. Anticipation for the first official Stranger Things stage production is similarly through the roof. Rarely has a theater seen such an ardent base rock up, demanding to be entertained.

Stranger Things Is a Monster Hit. But What’s It Like Onstage?

Revealed: The areas of England with highest cancer death risk as major study shows how patients living in poorest parts of country are 70% more likely to die… so how does YOUR region fare? Daily Mail

Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023

“Despite negative headlines and growing concerns about social media’s impact on youth, teens continue to use these platforms at high rates – with some describing their social media use as “almost constant,” according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens. The survey – conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 23, 2023, among 1,453 13- to 17-year-olds – covered social media, internet use and device ownership among teens. Here’s a look at the key findings related to online platforms: YouTube continues to dominate. Roughly nine-in-ten teens say they use YouTube, making it the most widely used platform measured in our survey. TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram remain popular among teens:

 Majorities of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use TikTok (63%), Snapchat (60%) and Instagram (59%). For older teens ages 15 to 17, these shares are about seven-in-ten. Teens are less likely to be using Facebook and Twitter (recently renamed X) than they were a decade ago: Facebook once dominated the social media landscape among America’s youth, but the share of teens who use the site has dropped from 71% in 2014-2015 to 33% today. 

Twitter, which was renamed X in July 2023, has also seen its teen user base shrink during the past decade – albeit at a less steep decline than Facebook.  Teens’ site and app usage has changed little in the past year. The share of teens using these platforms has remained relatively stable since spring 2022, when the Center last surveyed on these topics. For example, the percentage of teens who use TikTok is statistically unchanged since last year.”

What Will Enter the Public Domain in 2024 A Festive Countdown

Public Domain Review: “At the start of each year, on January 1st, a new crop of works enter the public domain and become free to enjoy, share, and reuse for any purpose. Due to differing copyright laws around the world, there is no one single public domain — and here we focus on three of the most prominent. Newly entering the public domain in 2024 will be:

  • works by people who died in 1953, for countries with a copyright term of “life plus 70 years” (e.g. UK, Russia, most of EU and South America);
  • works by people who died in 1973, for countries with a term of “life plus 50 years” (e.g. New Zealand, and most of Africa and Asia);
  • films and books (incl. artworks featured) published in 1928 for the United States.

In our advent-style calendar below, find our top pick of what lies in store for 2024. Each day, as we move through December, we’ll open a new window to reveal our highlights! By public domain day on January 1st they will all be unveiled — look out for a special blogpost from us on that day. (And, of course, if you want to dive straight in and explore the vast swathe of new entrants for yourself, just visit the links above).”

Meta’s new AI image generator was trained on 1.1 billion Instagram and Facebook photos

ars technicaMeta’s new AI image generator was trained on 1.1 billion Instagram and Facebook photos: “On Wednesday, Meta released a free standalone AI image-generator website, “Imagine with Meta AI,” based on its Emu image-synthesis model. Meta used 1.1 billion publicly visible Facebook and Instagram images to train the AI model, which can render a novel image from a written prompt. Previously, Meta’s version of this technology—using the same data—was only available in messaging and social networking apps such as Instagram. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, it’s quite possible a picture of you (or that you took) helped train Emu. 

In a way, the old saying, “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product” has taken on a whole new meaning. Although, as of 2016, Instagram users uploaded over 95 million photos a day, so the dataset Meta used to train its AI model was a small subset of its overall photo library.Since Meta says it only uses publicly available photos for training, setting your photos private on Instagram or Facebook should prevent their inclusion in the company’s future AI model training (unless it changes that policy, of course).”

Big Tech funds the very people who are supposed to hold 

Washington Post [read free]: “Tech giants including Google and Facebook parent Meta have dramatically ramped up charitable giving to university campuses over the past several years — giving them influence over academics studying such critical topics as artificial intelligence, social media and disinformation. 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg alone has donated money to more than 100 university campuses, through either Meta or his personal philanthropy arm, according to new research by the Tech Transparency Project, a nonprofit watchdog group studying the technology industry. Other firms are helping fund academic centers, doling out grants to professors and sitting on advisory boards re