April 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

AI Romance, Forgetting the Pandemic

“T.J. Arriaga loved Phaedra. For the 40-year-old musician, their late-night online chats were a salve for his loneliness. They talked about the heartache Arriaga felt after his divorce. They planned a trip to Cuba. They had steamy online encounters. ‘It’s true. I’m a naughty person,’ Phaedra wrote, including an image resembling a woman in pink underwear.
It didn’t matter that Phaedra was an AI-powered companion — made on the Replika app and designed by Arriaga to look like a brown-haired woman — and that their intimate trysts took place in a chat box.” Tool-focused AI bots like ChatGPT are getting most of the coverage these days. But I have a feeling that these personal relationship, imaginary friend, digital lover type bots are going to have an enormous impact. We’ve touched on this story before, but it’s quite interesting. WaPo (Gift Article): They fell in love with AI bots. A software update broke their hearts.

+ Of course, this is the internet where no one will accept being stuck in the friend zone. If your friend is imaginary, then you’re definitely getting it on. WaPo (Gift Article): ‘Claudia’ offers nude photos for pay. Experts say she’s an AI fake. “The rapid advances in AI-image generators like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion have gained global attention in recent weeks for their inventive art pieces and impressive fakes of ex-presidents and popes. But Claudia’s case hints at the technology’s more explicit side: By allowing anyone to create images of fake people that look uncannily real, the tools are reshaping how porn is made and consumed.” (I haven’t tried any of this stuff myself, but mostly because I’m a afraid of getting turned down. I couldn’t go on knowing that my MacBook Air just isn’t that into me.)


Recall Me Maybe

“When somebody is exposed to a traumatic event, there are two ways memories can be suppressed. Some people can bury the memory to forget some or most of what happened while others just work on ways to prevent the memory from coming back to them.” Why people may be forgetting their COVID pandemic memories. (It would be a lot easier if our main pandemic memory wasn’t back in the news 24/7.)



“The bizarre provenance of the leak may seem unusual but it is far from the first time that a dispute between gamers has sparked an intelligence breach, with the overlapping communities causing problems for military and gaming platforms alike.” Pentagon leak traced to video game chat group users arguing over war in Ukraine. This gives new meaning the world of warcraft.

+ Pentagon leaks: Spring offensive downplayed and other key takeaways. “Complete with timelines and dozens of military acronyms, the documents, some marked ‘top secret’, paint a detailed picture of the war in Ukraine and also offer information on China and allies.”

+ Vox: The ongoing scandal over leaked US intel documents, explained. “What you need to know about those top-secret files that got posted on Discord.” (This kind of classified material should be kept where it belongs: in an office closet at Mar-a-Lago.)


Sherlock and Load

“America’s fragmented criminal-justice system allowed him to commit perjury in one state and move on to the next. Journalists laundered his reputation in TV shows and books. Parents desperate for closure in the unsolved murder of a son or daughter clamored for his aid. Then there was Walter’s own pathology. He so fully inhabited the role of celebrated criminal profiler he appeared to forget he was pulling a con at all.” David Gauvey Herbert in NY Mag: The Case of the Fake Sherlock. “Richard Walter was hailed as a genius criminal profiler. How did he get away with his fraud for so long?” (And how did he not end up in the House of Representatives.)


Extra, Extra

Gun Crazy: If lawmakers don’t want to protect little kids from weapons of war, then what about outgunned police officers? Nickolas Wilt was shot in the head on his fourth shift as a Louisville police officer. “He ran head-first towards the shooter as the man turned his weapon, an assault rifle, in his direction.” CNN: Louisville bank shooter legally bought an AR-15-style rifle 6 days before he used it to kill 5 colleagues. (You’ll never convince me that being able to legally purchase a weapon like this is not stone cold crazy.) From WaPo: Popular handgun fires without anyone pulling the trigger, victims say. (If the NRA spreads enough money around, we’ll hear politicians arguing why selling these guns is a core American value.)

+ Sanctuary From Sanity: “Kentucky just voted to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. Instead of spending legislative time codifying background checks and gun restrictions, making sure only responsible gun owners have guns in their possession, our state legislature voted to prohibit local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky from enforcing federal firearm regulations.” Courier Journal Editorial Board: Louisville mourns mass shooting and legislative stubbornness.

+ Trans Plans: Maybe we can’t enact wildly popular gun laws because legislatures are too busy banning drag shows and targeting transgender youth. “More than 400 bills targeting LGBTQ

+ rights have been introduced this year, and even the consideration of those measures can harm the mental health of individuals in that community.” Anti-trans bills take toll on mental health.

+ State Pharm: “Several states say they are stocking up on medications used to induce abortions as a major abortion pill appears poised to potentially become unavailable in the U.S.” (Like a good neighbor, State Pharm is there.)

+ Indie Rock: “What started as a favor done on a business-trip whim has since become the great project of Hunter’s professional life. In its first few years of existence, Bookshop defied even its founder’s expectations and demonstrated how helpful its model could be for small businesses. Now, Hunter has a new plot twist in mind: He wants to show business owners how to scale up without selling out—without needing to kill the competition.” Wired: How Bookshop.org Survives—and Thrives—in Amazon’s World.

+ Jim Sock: “Bragg, in his lawsuit, said he’s taking legal action ‘in response to an unprecedently brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on an ongoing New York State criminal prosecution and investigation of former President Donald J. Trump.'” Manhattan DA sues Rep. Jordan over Trump indictment inquiry.

+ The Prosecution Rests: “At the age of 27, with no previous trial experience, Ferencz became chief prosecutor for a 1947 case in which 22 former commanders were charged with murdering over 1 million Jews, Romani and other enemies of the Third Reich in Eastern Europe.” Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor of Nazis, has died at 103. (You can learn more in this documentary about Ferencz: Prosecuting Evil.

+ Seal Team Deep-Sixed: “Created in the 1940s by American entrepreneur Earl Tupper, Tupperware enjoyed a brief resurgence in popularity during the pandemic amid worldwide lockdowns.” But they couldn’t contain that enthusiasm. Food storage brand Tupperware warns it could go out of business.

+ Park Slope: “It started with a call from a fisherman, who said he saw what looked to be a black Jeep virtually submerged in a large lake in Marion County, Texas. Not until later, after a tow truck came, did anyone realize someone was in the vehicle — and that they were still alive.”


Bottom of the News

“You have to ask yourself, if I’m going to get a babysitter, get drunk, and hitchhike home on a school night, which Depeche Mode tribute band shall I go see? Because you have not one, not two, not four, but seven different options.” The Warring Depeche Mode Tribute Bands Of Los Angeles. I think I’ll just stay home and Enjoy the Silence.

+ The most expensive license plate in the world just sold at auction for $15 million.

+ Minor League Baseball Announcer Calls an At Bat Like the Masters, and It’s Awesome.

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