Thursday, March 28th, 2024


Framing a Pitch

Happy Opening Day to those who celebrate!

Have you ever had the thought, "The world would be so much better if only there were more people like me?" Well, be careful what you wish for. The world of deepfakes doesn't just apply to celebrities. Anyone who shares videos online can be victimized by increasingly easy to use technologies. One influencer recently found herself pitching a product for ED. "The commercial showed Janse — a Christian social media influencer who posts about travel, home decor and wedding planning — in her real bedroom, wearing her real clothes but describing a nonexistent partner with sexual health problems." WaPo (Gift Article): AI hustlers stole women's faces to put in ads. The law can't help them. There are really two problems here: The speed at which these technologies are advancing, and the sluggishness with which the law is responding.

+ Generative video has good and bad aspects. Either way, it's coming to a screen near you. MIT Tech Review: What's next for generative video.


Error Born

"There's a lot of areas where things don't seem to be put together right in the first place." That's not a line you want to hear about any product you use. But you really don't want to hear it when it's describing a product moving 500mph while 30,000 feet above the ground and that has you in it. NYT (Gift Article): ‘Shortcuts Everywhere': How Boeing Favored Speed Over Quality. "Some of the crucial layers of redundancies that are supposed to ensure that Boeing's planes are safe appear to be strained, the people said. The experience level of Boeing's work force has dropped since the start of the pandemic. The inspection process intended to provide a vital check on work done by its mechanics has been weakened over the years. And some suppliers have struggled to adhere to quality standards while producing parts at the pace Boeing wanted them."


You’re Might Be Off Base

"Whether this instinct to self-debunk was a product of his intellectual humility, the politesse one learns from growing up in Paris, or some compulsion born of melancholia, I'm not qualified to say. What, exactly, was going on inside his brilliant mind is a matter for his friends, family, and biographers. Seen from the outside, though, his habit of reversal was an extraordinary gift. Kahneman's careful, doubting mode of doing science was heroic. He got everything wrong, and yet somehow he was always right." Daniel Engber in The Atlantic on the recently deceased Nobel prize winner who was the world's leading expert on the world's most popular affliction: Wrongness. Daniel Kahneman Wanted You to Realize How Wrong You Are.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate who upended economics, dies at 90. "Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli American psychologist and best-selling author whose Nobel Prize-winning research upended economics — as well as fields ranging from sports to public health — by demonstrating the extent to which people abandon logic and leap to conclusions, died March 27."


Businessman’s Special

"FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to a total of 300 months, or 25 years, in prison for seven counts of conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from the collapse of the crypto exchange he started. The judge applied a 240-month sentence for four of the charges, plus a 60-month sentence for two others, and ordered that Bankman-Fried forfeit more than $11 billion (including property)." Bankman-Fried's lawyers asked for 6 and half years, but the judge refused to play ball.

+ "SBF may serve as little as 12.5 years, if he gets all of the jailhouse credit available to him." Here's the latest from CNN. (It's notable that Bankman-Fried has been tried, sentenced, and jailed for hidden, complex crimes committed years after Trump committed much worse but very simple and out in the open crimes.)


Extra, Extra

Warning Track: "Kennedy's upstart We the People party still has a slim chance of winning the White House. As of now, he's on the ballot only in the state of Utah. Yet his movement's potential to 'spoil' the election remains very real. Kennedy knows this. In fact, he owns it. But he rejects the premise that he's more likely to pull voters away from one particular candidate. Rather, he sees himself as a bipartisan menace. 'Our campaign is a spoiler.'" The Atlantic (Gift Article): Where RFK Jr. Goes From Here. (This campaign is a joke, his VP pick is a joke, and his conspiracy theory hogwash is a joke. But don't kid yourself. In a country where a major party nominates a treacherous, lying, criminal, RFK will have plenty of takers, and he could take votes away from major candidates in meaningful ways.) And his running mate not only has money. She has some RFK-ish health tips. "Nicole Shanahan has for years denounced IVF — calling it 'one of the biggest lies that's being told about women's health today' ... At the same time, she has also been a vocal proponent of and financial backer for unconventional research into the possibility of helping women having children into their 50s and exploring no-cost interventions to help women conceive, such as exposure to sunlight."

+ Double Steal: "The panel of three judges last year concluded that South Carolina's Republican-led legislature 'exiled' 30,000 Black voters from the district to make it safer for a White GOP incumbent, Rep. Nancy Mace." But now a court has ruled that South Carolina doesn't have the the time to fix things and the state will therefore use the congressional map deemed unconstitutional. Cheating seems to work pretty well.

+ Ugly Finder: "Saudi Arabia was on Wednesday appointed chair of the United Nations' top forum for women's rights and gender equality, a controversial designation for a nation known for its discrimination against women." (Next you're gonna tell me that a heathen who tried to overthrow a democracy is selling bibles with a copy of the Constitution...)

+ In the Squat: "He makes his way into homes occupied by squatters, squatting along side them until he can force them to leave. He brings cameras, recording every moment as he creates as many minor nuisances as he can until they get fed up with him." "The Squatter Hunter" takes aim at illegal tenants across California.

+ Foul Tips: "Chevron is the city's largest employer, largest taxpayer and largest polluter. Yet when it comes to writing about Chevron, The Richmond Standard consistently toes the company line. And there's a reason for that: Chevron owns The Richmond Standard." NPR: Chevron owns this city's news site. Many stories aren't told.

+ Hot Dog's Grandstand Play: "Controlled remotely by state troopers, it first checked the two main floors before finding someone in the basement. The person, armed with a rifle, twice knocked over the robotic dog before shooting it three times and disabling its communication." Robotic police dog shot multiple times, credited with avoiding potential bloodshed.

+ Reign Delay: "When Beyoncé announced Cowboy Carter — an ode to her country and Southern roots — it sent some fans and naysayers into a social media frenzy. But for Carter, the real-life cowgirl and rodeo veteran, and others, it was a time to feel nothing but pride. Their wish for all the Beyoncé uproar? Those folks will finally recognize that Black women and girls reign supreme at the rodeo. Carter added that most people questioned why Bey, a Houston native, hadn't entered the country music scene sooner." The Legacy of Black Cowgirls.

+ Cutt-Off, Man: "Now that Mizuhara's life is under a microscope, key aspects of his biography have proved difficult to confirm; others are outright false. His whereabouts for nearly a decade after graduating from high school in L.A. County are still largely a mystery. He apparently lied about the college he attended and overstated the nature of a previous job with Major League Baseball, in addition to accusations that he misled Ohtani for months — perhaps even years — about a gambling addiction." LA Times (Gift Article): The mysterious life — and questionable claims — of Shohei Ohtani's interpreter. (What's an Opening Day without a little bad Dodgers news...) And if gambling is largely legal, why are bookies still a thing? ESPN: What to know about bookies amid the gambling scandal around Ohtani.


Bottom of the (Inning) News

"Punxsutawney Phil now has a new job that will last year round. The world-renowned groundhog whose primary gig is weather prognostication is now a first-time father for the first time in 138 years." Well, at least he was putting his Gobbler's Knob to good use.