Smith College economist James Miller has a great example of a ChatGPT answer that looks pretty good until you drill down.
Regarding the highrise at the Wellington lot. Nothing being built should be more than five storeys tall.Creating wind tunnels and blocking out the sun and sky is a Toronto answer to keep developers happy.Low rise is the best answer going forward. Community is important.Tornadoes and power outages are more of a problem when the buildings are too high. Think, what then.
Ted Donaldson, a nearby resident and opponent of the townhome plan, said planning staff in the report appeared “hellbent on shoehorning” the project in against the wishes of 71 neighbours.“Infill is essential. Nobody here sees another single family home being built on this lot,” Donaldson told the committee. “Infill must complement what is already there. It’s like a sculptor adding finishing touches to an already great neighbourhood. Infill is not a sledgehammer.”Critics of the project expressed concerns about damage to trees, potential drainage issues on the lot, limited parking and garbage collection at the site.
What are they hoping for?
“Five of these units, set back from the road, I could definitely support,” she said, adding she can’t vote against the proposal at the committee because she is not a member.
Now, it is true that this particular project is not going to materially effect the housing crisis, should it end up reduced to 5 units instead of ten. But the real goal is at the end:
Opponents of the project say they are not opposed to development on the property, but believe a 10-unit townhouse cluster is out-of-synch with the character of the neighbourhood.
Critics also see the potential rezoning as a warning to other London homeowners, who could see similar high-density infill projects crop up in subdivisions filled with single detached homes.
Basically, there is no way to grow the population of the province and not change the character of the cities. between 2011 and 2021, Ontario grew from 12.8M to 14.2M, which is 1.4M new citizens in 10 years. If this high rate of growth continues, which is the federal policy, then the idea that density can be opposed will require entirely new cities to be created.
The other nasty secret, is that single family detached housing adds value to a neighborhood. It is a popular type of housing, Those neighborhoods that resist density reap a significant financial benefit and if every small project needs to go through a political fight then we'll never manage to end the housing crisis except in an explosion. It is true that not every new house can help with affordability, but a dramatic shortfall, in the face of an accelerated population boom, is sure not going to result in affordable housing, either. At some point, massively restricted supply has to have a market effect.
All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again. [Bold added by me]
It has been replaced by:
All federal legislation sunsets in 5 years, with specific exceptions of Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again. Note to President Biden, Sen. Schumer, and Sen. McConnell — As you know, this was never intended to apply to Social Security, Medicare, or the US Navy [Bold in original]
I think this change illustrates two things.
One, upon close inspection all sorts of bad examples appear that look alarming. The example of the Navy jumps out immediately, but the US Navy is a construct of legislation and the idea that it would sunset every 5 years seems bleak. All you get is a ton of work constantly renewing legislation. including this one (unless it becomes constitutional). Other fun questions arise about all sorts of foundational laws. For example, the supreme court is mentioned in the constitution but all of the rests of the courts are established by legislation.
Article III of the Constitution, which establishes the Judicial Branch, leaves Congress significant discretion to determine the shape and structure of the federal judiciary. Even the number of Supreme Court Justices is left to Congress — at times there have been as few as six, while the current number (nine, with one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices) has only been in place since 1869. The Constitution also grants Congress the power to establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court, and to that end Congress has established the United States district courts, which try most federal cases, and 13 United States courts of appeals, which review appealed district court cases.
For example, the size of the supreme court comes from the Judiciary act of 1869, which I do not see in the intended list of essential services. Reading the constitution, I see very few details and no support for the lower courts independent of legislation. So could the federal court system simply vanish because congress got distracted or gridlocked on another matter? One presumes that serious answers to these questions need to be thought about in advance.
One also wonders about the 1790 residence act. Or the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act. Or the 1878 Posse Comitatus act. This is really shooting fish in a barrel. There are hugely important laws that form the basis of civil society, which is why I bolded legislation in the first quote above.
Finally, this is no longer simple. Now, every law has to be categorized as "sunset" or "doesn't sunset", a herculean task which could be equally accomplished by just having a plan to sunset unnecessary rules. No congress can bind a predecessor. But these sort of mass sunset plans tend to go poorly even when the laws in question are a small portion of the total. Because current laws may have replaced other important laws and there are some quite unexpected interactions that occur.
Now, old laws get struck down all of the time, although maybe this wasn't the example that Senator Scott was aiming for. But I think the real answer is that this document was rhetorical in nature, and not intended as a serious proposal. But I do think it illustrates the problems of "one simple solution" and the benefits of a careful engagement with the underlying issues.
That said, I got this far without mentioning social security, so my editor will be annoyed. So let me say that I agree with Josh Marshall that the goal is to cut social security. I think that the coming demographic shift is unpleasant to deal with -- there is no way to keep benefits at current levels indefinitely and not raise additional revenue. I do think that the sums involved are a lot more modest than the doomsayers say, but that they are enough to cause some pain. This is a hard problem, which is why it has not been simply solved already. But fixing it requires a real discussion about trade-offs and not a simple idea.
We're having quite a year.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A storm expected to be the coldest of the season is blowing into Southern California, bringing chilly rain and snow at low elevations.
The snow is expected to fall as low as 1,000 to 1,500 feet, meaning areas like Santa Clarita and lower-lying areas of the Inland Empire will see a rare coat of powder.
And at higher elevations, the National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning starting Friday morning for the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The service predicts from 2 to 5 feet of snow could accumulate in the mountains above 4,000 feet, falling even as heavy winds gust up to 75 mph.
Below that, at elevations of 2,000 to 4,000 feet, about 6-12 inches of snow are expected.
Visibility at that time is expected to be very low and travel is not advised through those areas. The blizzard warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Passes like the Grapevine [I-5 from LA to the Central Valley and the Bay Area. -- MP] and the Cajon Pass are likely to also see dangerous driving conditions. Drivers are advised to bring chains and a full tank of gas and be prepared for difficult weather and road closures.
"They're expecting snow to drop as low as 1,000 feet," said Mark Bishoff with Caltrans. "The top of the Grapevine is a little over 4,000 feet, so they're expecting it to be impacted by snow."
Just for a bit of context, the highest point in the city limits of LA is slightly over 5,000 feet. In the county, it's slightly over 10,000 feet.
We start with a reminder that much of the world's trouble is caused by profoundly damaged people who desperately want attention.
Laura Jedeed has the disturbing details.
I sure am going to miss the Project Veritas Dance productions. https://t.co/oVf2XXZUfx— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 21, 2023
Project Veritas’ 2020 voter-fraud allegations are the organization’s bread and butter: likely the biggest reason for its $22 million haul that year. Yet O’Keefe uses the allegations solely to lead into his blood feud with The New York Times. His voiceover provides intricate legal arguments for the defamation lawsuit recently filed against the Times while O’Keefe himself — the real one, not the actor — dances onstage. The dancers in haute-couture newsprint dresses contort themselves as Lady Gaga replaces Jamiroquai and here we are, back where we began.
“You and me are like a bad romance,” Gaga sings, and I have to say, she’s not wrong. As the song reaches its crescendo, O’Keefe’s voiceover describes a 2021 encounter with the executive editor of The New York Times, who refused to acknowledge O’Keefe’s existence, which the real O’Keefe acts out onstage.
“In that moment, the muckraker had to come to grips with the fact that this supposed paragon of investigative journalism would never give him the time of day, and would never acknowledge his very humanity,” the voiceover says, referring to himself, as he does throughout his latest book, in the third person. The New York Times dancers claw at the real O’Keefe as he staggers to the front of the stage, heartbroken. “That small part of him that still hungered for recognition and acceptance from the ‘legitimate press’ — he once read The New York Times every morning — would never be satisfied.”
Segue to politics...
Trump mocks Desantis for his paltry turnout in NY today. pic.twitter.com/m3bSXfXkOd— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 21, 2023
Fox News is down in ratings? Not compared to the rest of cable news pic.twitter.com/P2NcvPZSmK— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 19, 2023
All of this may be having an effect.
Orlando CNN — Walking out to a slick hype video and tossing hats into a raucous crowd as he approached the microphone, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday demonstrated for the Conservative Political Action Conference the bravado and fighting attitude that has made him the most popular elected Republican in the country among conservatives.
He’s afraid of Trump and Trump supporters now. https://t.co/M2446y0ruO— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 20, 2023
"Dems in disarray"
Lindell say he’s going after RINOs at the state level to purge them from leadership: “This is a warning to all you Republicans..when we come to your state, you better get out of the way if you’re not gonna be on board. You better hunker down if you don’t want to join us.” pic.twitter.com/CBXbrK9Gjn— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 18, 2023
In order to be allowed to participate in primary debates, you would have to pledge to support the eventual nominee, whoever that might be. The division and strife in the GOP is turning it into a politburo where you have to threaten and cajole people to get their support. pic.twitter.com/7mwKBozVCY— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 18, 2023
Just a reminder, the only clear policy difference between the two leading GOP candidates is that Trump has not gone anti-vax.
This Duval County teacher who went viral for exposing empty book shelves due to DeSantis' book banning has been fired. This is not what freedom looks like. https://t.co/qpE0FZh6nx— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) February 16, 2023
Welp.— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) February 19, 2023
Idaho bill to criminalize providers of COVID vaccines introduced https://t.co/DDY0tIuR9D
Putin and MAGA
Congressman Paul Gosar, (R: Moscow), tweets his support for Vladimir Putin: pic.twitter.com/d3aZTw3MaE— Roshan Rinaldi (@Roshan_Rinaldi) February 20, 2023
Remember when I predicted that the MAGA talking point today was going to be that Biden should’ve went to OH instead of Ukraine? That was before any of these. pic.twitter.com/YQaM2qY2IY— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 20, 2023
I'll have a write-up soon of the "Rage Against the War Machine" rally, which claimed to be an anti-war protest but was really just a pro-Russia rally attended by (literal) neo-nazis, fascists, & an array of Kremlin apologists who think peace means appeasing a violent dictator. pic.twitter.com/Vc3YIDEIhb— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) February 19, 2023
1/PART 1, THE EVENT: I’ve been working on an investigation for @WashSpec that reaches to the very top of the Kremlin. It’s a few weeks from completion, but we decided to share this work in progress early because failing to do so may place people in significant danger. pic.twitter.com/bKfchA2fOw— Dave Troy (@davetroy) August 29, 2022
Karl Bode also reads the NYT for us.
folks, something is wrong with the Times pic.twitter.com/iTMHaIhVVy— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 19, 2023
we can't fund journalism or education but we can throw untold billions upon billions of dollars at techno bullshit artists whose entire fortunes are built on elaborate, speculative gibberish propped up by a gullible press pic.twitter.com/sYlX9j40bs— Karl Bode (@KarlBode) February 20, 2023
This "crypto land" was truly the stupidest grift; I can't believe people are gullible enough to fall for it. Mindlessly chanting "early internet" over and over does not make something intrinsically worthless have value.https://t.co/H8avChW04Z— Stephen Diehl (@smdiehl) February 19, 2023
Natural language is a terrible way to specify the form and function of a software-intensive system, unless that system is in a narrowly defined domain that already has well-understood patterns. https://t.co/BA9F1G1llZ— Grady Booch (@Grady_Booch) February 21, 2023
Most anyone would score that high if it was an open book exercise. https://t.co/leyLqEsnoQ— Grady Booch (@Grady_Booch) February 20, 2023
A) not really— Grady Booch (@Grady_Booch) February 17, 2023
B) this tells us more about the inadequacy of our measurements than it does the efficacy of ChatGPT https://t.co/36dgoTnOEy
One more from Grady.
Most software is just like that. https://t.co/MvX5hJ5VjP— Grady Booch (@Grady_Booch) February 20, 2023
I saw replies suggesting there might be a 'nicer' arrangement. While it's true that there isn't yet a proof of optimality for 17 squares, there are packing problems with similarly awkward solutions which are proven optimal. For instance 10 circles in a square (look lower right): pic.twitter.com/KE6XGU7WKC— Daniel Piker (@KangarooPhysics) February 14, 2023
NEW: Elon Musk directed Twitter engineers to design a secret system to boost his tweets over everyone else's after his post about the Super Bowl did poorly compared to President Biden's: https://t.co/HsJ0BZOSCI— Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) February 15, 2023
This is possibly the most pathetic sentence I’ve ever read, and that includes anything about Trump. pic.twitter.com/AZuwmwQvXb— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) February 15, 2023
Ruben Gallego is leading all his potential competitors (a good sign for Gallego) but in no matchup does he exceed the 50% mark (a good sign for the GOP and Kyrsten Sinema).
Ruben Gallego being the front runner for the Democratic nomination, should the Democrats decide to run a candidate. This under 50% is a true statement but the question here is whether it makes sense for Sinema to run.
But these are completely intuitive results. The worst case for Gallego is running against a moderate republican (it is a purple state) and not having Sinema in the race. That said, most of the time she hurts the republican more. Look at Doug Ducey, who looks like Gallego's toughest fight at this stage.
With Sinema: D 32, I 17, R 27, Undecided: 23
Without Sinema: D 38 (+6), R 34 (+7), Undecided 28 (+5)
There is a general pattern of Sinema possibly hurting the Republican candidate, stealing more support from them, more than the Democratic candidate. Now undecideds could break heavily R and create a path to victory for Doug Ducey or Blake Masters (even the weakest R candidate is currently outpolling Sinema). But what is the advantage to either side in not running a candidate?
Sinema votes for D priorities the majority of the time, including judges. Why would Rs not run a candidate with that pattern of favorability (Karrin Taylor-Robson is more popular with Ds than Krysten Sinema, an impressive feat). But the argument against Ruben Gallego running crucially depends on Sinema winning -- if the Rs could field a candidate that could pull in the D base (and, obviously the R base) then what is the benefit of losing while doing well with independents? Keep in the mind, many of the normal mechanisms that would bolster support for the Democratic candidate like "they won the primary" and "our candidate, right or wrong" are not going to work with an independent who specifically avoided obtaining this support. That the Republican candidate might poach support from the Democratic base against the independent candidate is a clear sign of how extraordinary this situation might be.
Finally, the threat of going negative has to considered in context of whether you want this to become a common tactic to remove the D senate candidate. Consider:
Sinema’s allies say that Gallego will get tarred as too left wing and also hint darkly that they’ve got a load of oppo to use against what Palmeri oddly terms the “twice-married Gallego.” Either might be true. I have no idea. But neither makes Sinema more viable.
But any race could have an independent appear and start smearing a candidate. If you give into these threats then you'll be constantly abandoning races. The key is that Sinema has a -19 favorability among her own party in her own state. That is a basic political skill.
To make the independent trick work, I suspect that you need to personally be very popular (so that stepping aside is a pretty clear win) as well as being a pretty reliable ally. Angus King is a sitting independent senator and is 62-28 (+34) in his state of Maine. Bernie Sanders has a favorability rating of 64 in his state of Vermont in 2020, down from an epic 80-17 (+63) in 2016. Sinema is 37-47 (-10) in her state of Arizona. Neither Sanders or King gets national headlines attacking D priorities like the minimum wage from the right.
All of this to say that the polls just don't support this maneuver and her conduct as a senator is probably why they don't. It doesn't help matters that Mark Kelly has won as a D twice since Krysten Sinema's historic win, making Arizona a state with two D senators, at least until Krysten Sinema went independent. But that leaves open the question of why not try to have two again?
So, I agree with Josh Marshall. The path to victory here for an independent with these favorability ratings is very narrow indeed.
Since leaving New York, Beth has found herself in tears at least once a week. She makes $300,000 a year — more than she’s ever earned in her life — but she’s running out of minutes in the day to squeeze out more dollars. “How do I make the $700,000 that I’m going to need to send her to private school or do the renovation in the attic so I can turn it into the master suite so I can have a tub and so I can have one thing I enjoy in my life?” she says. Her takeaway from the show: “Both avenues are shit. You can stay in New York and climb, climb, climb and never get where you need to go and give yourself a nervous breakdown, or you can move to the suburbs and be like, Who the fuck are these pod people? Neither seems great. Is the secret to it all that we have to just choose a lane and embrace it?”
The national press, particularly publications with "New York" somewhere in their name), never tire of telling us about the financial and emotional hardships faced by the bottom half of the top one percent. By the standards of the genre, the NYM piece lacks the hilarious budgeting assumptions explaining how a middle class couple can find it hard to scrape by on $300,000 or the stunning cluelessness of a Bret Stephens who thinks a couple in SF making $400,000 are lucky to manage a Camry, still it's hard to beat lines like "so I can have one thing I enjoy in my life."
But as I started to read up on Fleishman, I started thinking this story might fit better with another long running thread.
The series has gotten a ton of coverage...
... which means (and I apologize for disillusioning some of our less worldly readers) Disney is spending a ton on PR. The streaming industry runs on hype and easy to promote awards bait play a big role.
Opinion | Establishment media’s elitism is driving middle America away. Here’s why my next two columns will focus on a Hulu show about a rich couple living in Brooklyn.— New York Times Pitchbot (@DougJBalloon) February 10, 2023
Whenever you're reading about these shows, the first question you should ask is "how many people are actually watching. (The second question is "who owns the IP?"). It's often difficult to find out -- streaming services are secretive about these numbers -- but FlixPatrol is probably as good as we'll get. Here's their list of Hulu shows ranked by viewership for 2022.
For a sense of what is popular, here are the top 20. (check out number 5)
If you go down the list (or use control-F), you find FIiT at 97 out of 119.
Though we can't say exactly how many viewers it takes to get to position 97, we can be pretty sure it's a very small number by TV standards. You almost have to wonder... If you took all the people who wrote articles about Fleishman Is in Trouble, and all the people quoted in those pieces, is it possible you'd have a majority of people who actually watched the show?
It debuted ten years ago to a great deal of hype (much of which has a definite 2023 feel), then, as far as I can tell, faded quietly away. Now that automating journalism is back in the news, it might be interesting to revisit what happened to the last next big thing in the field.
Late last month, The Washington Post debuted "The Truthteller," an application that it hopes will soon be able to fact-check politicians' speeches in real time using speech-to-text technology and a vast database of facts. Brooke talks to Cory Haik, The Washington Post's executive producer for digital news, about the app.Of course, the speech-to-text and database problems are trivial next to the issues with processing natural language. To work at anywhere near the level discussed by Haik, the system would have to be considerably more advanced than IBM's Watson. Watson was designed to address short, free-standing questions following similar linguistic conventions and having clear, unambiguous answers.
In case you aren't familiar with the professor's research (from NYT via Gelman):
A Yale Professor Suggested Mass Suicide for Old People in Japan. What Did He Mean?
In interviews and public appearances, Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale, has taken on the question of how to deal with the burdens of Japan’s rapidly aging society.
“I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,” he said during one online news program in late 2021. “In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?” Seppuku is an act of ritual disembowelment that was a code among dishonored samurai in the 19th century.
Some surveys in Japan have indicated that a majority of the public supports legalizing voluntary euthanasia. But Mr. Narita’s reference to a mandatory practice spooks ethicists.
Viewing of supplemental materials is, of course, required.
Remember all of the "Trump is fading away" articles a while back? These think pieces combined wishful analytics with a curious belief that Trump would peacefully go along with being pushed aside (even though the nomination would at least partially avert or at least delay indictments).
I'm still not seeing it.
Trump on Desantis: “Ron would’ve not been governor if it wasn’t for me. Number 1, he wouldn’t have gotten the nomination, and number 2 - he wouldn’t have beaten his Democrat opponent. So then when I hear he might run, I consider that very disloyal.” pic.twitter.com/11r2k3b6z0— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) January 29, 2023
Far Right Burns Sarah Sanders Over Response Speech That 'Insulted Trump' - National Memo https://t.co/FyCaCxx3c5— Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton (@RiskAlert) February 9, 2023
Lou Dobbs tells Bannon that Sarah Huckabee Sanders speech tried to undermine Trump in favor of Desantis: “I think that was a great insult to Trump - not mentioning his name. To not mention his name, to talk about ‘new leadership’ .. it was a shame.” pic.twitter.com/Qekoo1LWmB— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 8, 2023
Not only is Disloyal DeSantis an ingrate, but he’s a copy cat who desperately wishes he was Trump. He never had these mannerisms before becoming Gov. He tried to create himself in the image of Trump,but he’s the dollar store made in China version.That’s why I call him #RipOffRon. pic.twitter.com/lxTbOrVdwE— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) January 31, 2023
Can’t really find anything to argue with here. pic.twitter.com/fcXjiHZsyJ— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 9, 2023
This is a good point. A year before his re-election, Desantis had raised more than he could ever spend on that race. He continued to raise gobs of $ knowing that he was going to use that money to run against Trump. Did Trump supporters know their $ would be used against Trump? pic.twitter.com/NvUHtkgRhS— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 11, 2023
And it gets better.
From Alex Henderson:
Right-wingers ranging from the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro to Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch to firebrand author Ann Coulter are very bullish on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as an alternative to Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential primary. But The Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson, a Never Trump conservative and former Republican strategist, has a very different viewpoint. Wilson has predicted that ultimately, the GOP will "bend the knee" and give Trump the 2024 nomination after his attacks on the Florida governor grow increasingly vicious.
Although DeSantis has yet to officially declare a presential run, Trump’s attacks on him are — just as Wilson predicted — becoming nastier and more mean-spirited. In a Truth Social post, Trump accused DeSantis of "grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher." DeSantis’ supporters were quick to call Trump out, but in a column published by The Bulwark on February 9, Never Trump conservative Tim Miller (a former GOP strategist) accuses them of being "hypocrites" who can dish it out but can’t take it.
"For some MAGA observers," Miller observes, "there is one thing startlingly new-ish about the former president’s latest broadside. It’s his target: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the prized stalking horse of the conservative infotainment industrial complex…. If you missed it, Trump’s latest attack featured a picture in which DeSantis is shown drinking with women who appear younger than him and are allegedly his students. One included the caption 'Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher.'"
Desantis fans now responding to Trump’s Groomer Desantis posts today. pic.twitter.com/l6SL2Jgfm5— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) February 7, 2023
In case you've forgotten.
The real victim here is Elon. Cheong and Catturd are two of his new besties. Now they're fighting and he's caught in the middle.
If you were writing a satirical roman à clef of the Twitter take-over, you'd throw this scene out for being to on the nose.
Zoë Schiffer, Casey Newton writing for Platformer.
For weeks now, Elon Musk has been preoccupied with worries about how many people are seeing his tweets. Last week, the Twitter CEO took his Twitter account private for a day to test whether that might boost the size of his audience. The move came after several prominent right-wing accounts that Musk interacts with complained that recent changes to Twitter had reduced their reach.
On Tuesday, Musk gathered a group of engineers and advisors into a room at Twitter’s headquarters looking for answers. Why are his engagement numbers tanking?
“This is ridiculous,” he said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
One of the company’s two remaining principal engineers offered a possible explanation for Musk’s declining reach: just under a year after the Tesla CEO made his surprise offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion, public interest in his antics is waning.
Employees showed Musk internal data regarding engagement with his account, along with a Google Trends chart. Last April, they told him, Musk was at “peak” popularity in search rankings, indicated by a score of “100.” Today, he’s at a score of nine. Engineers had previously investigated whether Musk’s reach had somehow been artificially restricted, but found no evidence that the algorithm was biased against him.
Musk did not take the news well.
“You’re fired, you’re fired,” Musk told the engineer. (Platformer is withholding the engineer’s name in light of the harassment Musk has directed at former Twitter employees.)
There are lots of other last-hour-of-Titanic details in the piece including outages, internal chaos and this sure sign of a healthy $44 billion company.
A timely example of how the nuances in predictive models have a way of getting lost.
For decades, two climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean have loomed large in predicting weather in California and other parts of the globe. El Niño — a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific — seemed synonymous with wet winters for Southern California, while La Niña was a heralder of drought.
But the would-be model didn’t hold up this winter. Despite La Niña’s presence, a robust series of 10 storms brought impressive precipitation across California, spurring floods and landslides, increasing reservoir levels and dumping eye-popping snowfall in the mountains.
The Sierra Nevada has a snowpack of 240% of average for the date, and 126% of where it should be by the start of April. San Francisco was drenched with more than 18 inches of rain since Christmas, posting its wettest 22-day period since 1862. Downtown Los Angeles has logged more than 13 inches of rain since October — more than 90% of its annual average of 14.25 inches.
Though winter isn’t over, and a renewed dry spell can’t be ruled out, the significant storms have defied expectations of a dry winter.
The forecast in October by the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, indicated the odds were stacked against the Golden State: a rare third year of La Niña was expected. And California had already recorded its three driest years in the historical record.
The center’s seasonal forecast for December, January and February said there were equal chances of a dry or wet season in Northern California. But for Southern California, the agency reported there was a 33% to 50% chance of below-normal precipitation.
Taking the midpoint of that forecast — say, 40% — that meant there was a 35% probability of near-normal precipitation and a 25% chance of above-normal precipitation, said David DeWitt, director of the Climate Prediction Center.
“These probabilities are going to be relatively modest ... because that is the state of the science,” DeWitt said.
Those subtleties, however, tend to get less attention. Easier to understand was the bottom line, as a center’s statement noted: “The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are forecast in portions of California,” as well as other southern parts of the nation.
It was that jolt that pushed scientists to figure out ways to predict the next El Niño. The failure to forecast the 1982–83 event led to the development of a range of tools that successfully predicted another El Niño in 1997–98, which came in at record strength.
There was “massive flooding over the West Coast, especially California. And it was well predicted,” DeWitt said. The damage in California was severe — with at least 17 deaths — and brought Los Angeles its wettest February on record.
“And then the next year, 1998–99, was a strong La Niña, and you saw exactly the opposite ... these very dry conditions,” DeWitt said.
“And that imprinted on a lot of people — including the scientific community — a couple of messages: one, that that was what you were always going to see with El Niño and La Niña, especially significant-strength ones; and that basically, this was a solved problem.
“And not one of those was ever true,” DeWitt added.
He remembers his predecessor at the Climate Prediction Center testifying to Congress about the upcoming 1997–98 El Niño and its predicted effects, a forecast that ended up being on the money. “And it created this confidence that you could always rely on just knowing ... the El Niño/La Niña phase, and that would be able to give you a very accurate prediction for precipitation, especially for California. And that is just not scientifically true.”
When I read that John Boehner, the speaker of the House, had said that the federal government added 200,000 federal workers under President Obama, I wondered, “Really? Where?” I’m not aware of any major federal hiring initiatives since January 2009.To be more accurate there wasn't an honest reason. As Leonhardt points out later, 11,000 jobs were added by President Bush in his last month in office. Speaker Boehner was interval shopping, one of the most effective and time-honored methods of lying with statistics. (Given that, by Leonhardt's estimate, Boehner went from 57,000 actual jobs to a claim of 200,000, he used lots of effective and time-honored methods of lying with statistics.)
... It turns out that the 200,000 number is simply incorrect.
Second, Mr. Boehner was starting his clock in December 2008, the month before Mr. Obama became president. The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts its monthly survey during the week that contains the 12th day of each month, so there is no reason to start the clock in December 2008 as opposed to January 2009. On Jan. 12, 2009, George W. Bush was still president.
Now I’m getting in a foul mood because I’m reading this sentence again: “The badness of so many of Orson Welles’s post-Mankiewicz films ought to be instructive.” That’s another of those glib, sweeping statements that play right into the reader’s lack of information and is written so as to presume a general critical atmosphere, which in this case is not just superficial, it is decidedly untrue, which makes it all the more offensive and irresponsible on Gore’s part. Almost everyone with any sense knows that Orson Welles is a great director and that Herman Mankiewicz was a talented hack,* but for the record, here is a list of the movies Orson Welles has directed since Citizen Kane:
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Lady from Shanghai
Mr. Arkadin (Confidential Report)
Touch of Evil
Chimes at Midnight (Falstaff)
The Immortal Story
F for Fake
And these are all of Herman Mankiewicz’s post-Welles films:
Rise and Shine
Pride of the Yankees
Stand by for Action
The Enchanted Cottage
The Spanish Main
A Woman’s Secret
The Pride of St. Louis
[Derek Flint's spy watch had a slide rule hidden in the inside of the band but we're getting off topic.]
["Does this armor make my butt look fat?" would also be off topic.]
I just read "The Tinkerings Of Robert Noyce" by Tom Wolfe (more on that later) and it got me to thinking about the cultural impact of transistors. This was one of the defining technologies of the post-war era, a period when that particular bar was really high.
Because my mind is so cluttered with trivia that I can barely make it to that door, the first example that came to mind was Iron Man's suit. Transistors loomed large in the popular imagination when the character was created sixty years ago, and Stan Lee made heavy use of the technology. The armor, the gadgets, even the life support system were "powered" by transistors.
As many have noted, other than the fact they were small, Lee knew absolutely nothing about transistors, which arguably adds to the charm.
Obviously there are less silly examples, but even the hardest of hard science fiction written by people who did understand the technology treated it as at least slightly magical.
This is Joseph.
One of the great lessons of the Brexit referendum is that it makes sense to require a large majority to do a big change via a referendum. Why? Because change has costs and you might well end up with a policy that no longer has popular support:
52% x 0.725 + 48% x 0.05 = 40.1%
Which would suggest that the opposition to Brext, once the costs were known, is about 60-40 among the people who voted. Of course, young people (less pro-Brexit) have aged into voting in the past seven years and older adults (more pro-Brexit) have left us for a better place. A recent poll pegged the decision to leave as being correct as a view held by 34% of the population, which seems about right.
Now it is true that the vote was advisory, but there is a reason that a super-majority makes sense for this type of poll. A weak majority can easily drift back and it makes a country seem unreliable if major treaties can be snapped with a weak mandate. If the UK was utterly convinced that the EU was a bad plan (say 67% in favor of leaving) then it is also plausible that majority support would have survived the downside surprises.
Now this is a bit of an oversimplification, as the Brexit also had a misleading campaign. It promised to bolster the NHS, the British social medical care scheme, whereas it actually hurt it. People skeptical about claims were told they were part of Project Fear, a claim that the detractors were unduly pessimistic. Now it looks like they might have been correct and the planners of Brexit would have been well advised to consider that in terms of planning for how to keep public support high.
Now it is true that rejoining the EU is likely impossible, who wants a member who can leave with such a narrow majority of a single referendum, but it does suggest that there is also no plan to go forward from here. Brexit is done and will now be an never-ending series of pressure points. Lots of problems were very conveniently solved by Brexit: Spanish claims over Gibraltar and Northern Ireland both look a lot less pressing when the UK is in a free trade and movement compact with the other polity. Unification of Ireland, for example, brings many fewer obvious benefits when both parts are a part of the same large and democratic union.
Our old friend David Coleman is back in the news.
From Talking Points Memo:
College Board Strips Down African American Studies Course After DeSantis Loudly Rejects It
“At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” David Coleman, the organization’s president, told the New York Times. He said that the final version was influenced mostly by “the input of progressors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”
Much of the feedback the College Board received focused on the source material, Coleman told the Times. Some said that the more theoretical sources included in the curriculum were “quite dense,” as opposed to primary sources like biographies.
But it’s hard not to see the influence of DeSantis’s high-profile rejection of the work. This new curriculum differs from the early version leaked to the National Review back in September in many ways. While it kept most of the historical material intact, the new version mostly omits writers on modern issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and feminism. It does, however, add “Black conservatism” as an idea for a research project.
Notable writers on these issues like Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at Columbia University who the school describes as a “pioneering” scholar on race studies, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Black journalist famous for advancing the case for reparations for chattel slavery, have been removed from the final version.
On Tuesday, a group of 200 African American studies teachers published an open letter defending the field of study from DeSantis’s politically calculated attacks.
The DeSantis administration is rife with fools and scoundrels (with considerable overlap), which makes this New York Times puff piece even more unintentionally amusing.
When [David] Coleman attended Stuyvesant High in Manhattan, he was a member of the championship debate team, and the urge to overpower with evidence — and his unwillingness to suffer fools — is right there on the surface when you talk with him.
Joseph's recent post reminded of Thiel's comments about another well known oracle.
From Caleb Ecarma writing for Vanity Fair.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fellow billionaire, in Peter Thiel’s book, you either see cryptocurrency as the future, or you’re an “enemy.” “Enemy number one: the sociopathic grandpa from Omaha,” Thiel, the billionaire PayPal cofounder and pro-Trump Republican mega-donor said in an address at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami this week, sneering at business magnate and Nebraska native Warren Buffett. Thiel, whose current firm amassed a substantial Bitcoin fortune, also condemned JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink as two other “enemies” of Bitcoin, dismissing Dimon, Fink, and Buffett as a trio of geriatric tyrants standing in the way of progress. Thiel’s comments were his latest attempt to turn crypto into a right-wing culture issue, hailing Bitcoin as a revolutionary conservative movement fighting against “woke” corporations and the financial establishment.
Here's what we had to say about this conference at the time.
We'll probably do another post of this article by Emily Shugerman [we did -- MP] focusing on the politics of this 2022 bitcoin conference (Jordan Peterson, Peter Thiel, you see where this is going). Most of the well-written piece focuses on less famous and far more likeable characters. Much of it is funny. Most of it is sad. This will not work out well for these people.
Jump cut to 2023.
So let me get this straight - Thiel was calling Warren Buffett a “sociopathic Grandpa” for shunning Bitcoin he was dumping billions on his unwitting fans. This is what psychologists call”projection” https://t.co/QRBSEuMd1E— Spencer Jakab (@Spencerjakab) January 19, 2023
Peter Thiel's reputation as the smartest man in the room owes a lot to the time he spent hanging out with Elon Musk.
[Thiel] has described British people’s affection for the state-backed health service as “Stockholm syndrome.”The venture capitalist’s comments came during a Q&A session after a speech at the Oxford Union, a 200-year-old debating society, on Monday. He also said that the crisis-stricken health service, currently grappling with strikes and long wait times for emergency care, was making people sick and needs “market mechanisms” to fix it. Such mechanisms include privatizing parts of it, avoiding rationing and loosening regulations…“In theory, you just rip the whole thing from the ground and start over,” Thiel said after an address in which he argued that a perceived fear of disruption was holding back technological and scientific developments. “In practice, you have to somehow make it all backwards-compatible in all these ridiculous British ways.”
Let me be blunt. I can improve any pension plan by starting over and no longer needing to pay out previous obligations. It's trivial.
The political challenge is that older adults have paid into the NHS their entire working life. The National Health Service (NHS) started in 1948, only a few people over 90 will have worked at any point in their career without contributing to the national health care plan. Tear it down might be ok, if and only if the new package of services are equivalent. Privatizing and avoiding rationing, together, make it hard to see how services can be maintained. Further, if a major infrastructure projects go way overtime or fail then that is one thing -- but if it is an entire healthcare system is being rebuilt there is a lot of risk inherent in loss of services or poor performance.
How can you impose a market mechanism without these risks? Now maybe radical change is a good decision in the face of an unsustainable problem. But let us not fool ourselves that it will be cheaper, just as comprehensive and have equal or better outcomes.