Friday, December 9th, 2022


Chat Roulette

The best way to defeat a computer's artificial intelligence is with a lack of one's own. In yesterday's lead item, I spelled Brittney Griner's name multiple ways in the same paragraph. You may have thought it was an unintentional error caused by the fact that I just don't do that well when it comes to good news. But it was actually my subtle way of letting you know it was really me: the flawed human you've grown accustomed to. (The one who feels fine about ending a sentence with a preposition.) For people like me, the days could be numbered. Or worse, lettered. With advances in now widely available AI, we're entering a brave new world of writing. As Daniel Herman writes in The Atlantic, this could be The End of High-School English: I've been teaching English for 12 years, and I'm astounded by what ChatGPT can produce. "If you're looking for historical analogues, this would be like the printing press, the steam drill, and the light bulb having a baby, and that baby having access to the entire corpus of human knowledge and understanding. My life—and the lives of thousands of other teachers and professors, tutors and administrators—is about to drastically change." Oh well, it's not like no one warned us about the risks of majoring in English. (I'm purposely closing with a line that's good but not too good. I want to give ChatGPT a fighting chance.)

+ What's all the fuss about? You can ask ChatGPT yourself, or checkout this from The Atlantic: Five Remarkable Chats That Will Help You Understand ChatGPT.

+ The Verge: AI-generated answers temporarily banned on coding Q&A site Stack Overflow. "ChatGPT simply makes it too easy for users to generate responses and flood the site with answers that seem correct at first glance but are often wrong on close examination." Holy shit, this thing is more human than we thought...

+ AI is also coming for a creative output much more valued by society than writing: selfies. CNBC: Here's how to use Lensa, the chart-topping app that uses AI to transform your selfies into digital avatars.

+ Writers and photographers might be endangered, but don't worry, human drummers, your jobs are safe... for now. (Maybe AI just knows it's way too dangerous to be a drummer.)



South Korea might want to consider using AI to establish how old a person is. They currently have multiple methods of determining age. That's about to change. NPR: South Koreans are getting a year younger, parliament rules. Before all you metformin-popping, senolytics-sucking, nutraceutical-nomming, life-extension obsessed billionaires start flocking to South Korea, we're just talking about a numerical change, not the fountain of youth. "The country's parliament passed a set of bills requiring the use of the international age-counting system, where age is based on birth date. South Korea currently uses three age-counting systems, but most citizens abide by the 'Korean age,' where a person is 1 year old as soon as they are born, and gain one year on every New Year's Day."


ER Cancelled

"For 46 million Americans, rural hospitals are a lifeline, yet an increasing number of them are closing. The federal government is trying to resuscitate them with a new program that offers a huge infusion of cash to ease their financial strain. But it comes with a bewildering condition: They must end all inpatient care." NYT (Gift Article): A Rural Hospital's Excruciating Choice: $3.2 Million a Year or Inpatient Care?

+ In a country where health care is so remarkably expensive, why are so many hospitals on life support? To answer that question, let's head to Delaware County Memorial Hospital in suburban Philadelphia. Thankfully, our visit is not an emergency, because their ER just shut down. CBS News: Pennsylvania hospital shutdown spurs questions about private equity in health care. (Maybe we need to spur fewer questions and spur more action instead...)


Weekend Whats

What to Book: "This is a wildly funny, wonderfully sincere — and a little bit devastating — story of art, our limitless past, future nostalgia and all those perfectly imperfect ways we continually come of age. Kevin Wilson's books are so full of heart. They're utterly indelible." That's WaPo's accurate review of Kevin Wilson's latest novel: Now Is Not the Time to Panic. (Bonus content: Goodreads Best Books of 2022.)

+ What to Watch: If I'm on a deserted island (with decent wifi) and I only get access to two types content, I'm going with Bruce Springsteen's music and the Howard Stern Show. So I'm pleased to announce that after three decades of trying, Howard Stern finally got Bruce Springsteen to come on the show, and the interview was so successful, it's now on HBO.

+ What to Sitcom: It's like a less edgy The Office set in a Philly public school. Abbott Elementary is a great family show. Bonus content: How Quinta Brunson Saved the Sitcom.


Extra, Extra

Where Credit is Due: No one can accuse Maxwell Frost of not being able to relate to the problems faced by his constituents. First Gen Z congressman says he was rejected from Washington DC housing for poor credit.

+ Sinema Verite: Kyrsten Sinema did what you do when no one in either party really likes you much. She became an independent. How Kyrsten Sinema's decision to leave the Democratic Party will change the Senate.

+ Held Hostage By Partisanship: Bill Plaschke: "An American who has been wrongfully detained for 10 months in brutal Russian prisons is coming home. Why are so many other Americans so angry about it?" Of course, we wish we could have gotten Paul Whelan, too. And we wish we didn't have to give up the world's most notorious weapon's tracker. But we're negotiating with a man who in is in the process of committing nonstop mass murder in Ukraine, and America has done a pretty good job of rallying Europe to stop that incursion. And our current president is not pro-Putin. And the former one who's rallying his base and enablers to attack Biden over the deal was president for two years of Paul Whelan's imprisonment. Why didn't he bring him home?

+ That's a Wrap: France makes condoms free for 18 to 25 year olds. "Emmanuel Macron said young people would be able to collect them from pharmacies, and described the move as a 'small revolution in prevention.'" A small revolution? This could be the worst condom marketing of all time.

+ Let's Review: There are few better ways to review a year than through photos and no one collects those better than Alan Taylor. Here's his annual collection: Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Not a photo person? Try this from Vox: An incomplete guide to this very weird year, in charts.

+ Lava Camp: Sometimes a headline can sum up a story. Other times, it can sum up an era. Hawaii mayor asks people to stop throwing marshmallows into Mauna Loa lava.


Feel Good Friday

"Griner landed at Kelly Airfield in San Antonio at 4:29 a.m. local time. She was brought to Brooke Army Medical Center, where she'll undergo evaluation and reunite with her wife, Cherelle Griner." Brittney Griner is back home in the US.

+ "Jaylen Smith, who graduated from Earle High School in May, is now the city's mayor -- one of the youngest ever to be elected as a mayor in the country." Youngest mayor is elected in Earle.

+ There's a new Broadway show based on the life and music of Neil Diamond. And he showed up on opening night.

+ "As Baker Mayfield walked off the podium and into the locker room after his postgame news conference, he stopped and turned to a member of the Los Angeles Rams' PR staff. 'Where the hell do I go?' Mayfield asked. Given this was the quarterback's first time in the SoFi Stadium home locker room, the question wasn't much of a surprise." Inside Baker Mayfield's first 48 hours with the Rams and his stunning debut win. (For me to include a feel-good story about the Rams, you know it has to feel pretty damn good.)

+ Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service Announce Co-Headlining Tour. Both bands have the same lead singer, Ben Gibbard. (This could either be a historical concert tour or the best ever episode of Behind the Music.)

+ California girl licensed to own unicorn — if she finds one. (Hopefully, she's not looking for the tech startup kind. They're an endangered species.)