As discussed previously, on Fridays, I present my weekly social media roundups. Note that toots of articles generally include header images from the articles, which I don’t include here unless their creators happen to have released them for use under a free license, and I notice. Most have not, or I don’t notice. But I now add my commentary here, where I don’t feel restricted by message length.

diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week

Also, I don’t generally attach pictures to posts with quotations.

9:04 – Mon 15 May 2023

Image Not Shown: Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) pulling facial expression, Kenya, Africa

Chimps combine sounds to communicate greater meaning from Futurity

By conducting careful, controlled experiments with wild chimpanzees in Uganda, researchers showed that these combinations are understood by chimpanzees.

Hashtags: #Animals #Communication

It genuinely amazes me how much animal cognition that we find, now that we’ve grown inclined to look for it. We’ve found tool use, forms of culture, and this looks a lot like a native language. We have not found evidence of any non-humans that record information for future generations, but we’ve found pretty much every classic identifier that we would generally use.

While I don’t want to anthropomorphize anything, because we might look for the wrong behaviors when we think about intelligence, this seems remarkably parallel to colonization and chattel slavery. In both cases, humans (or a subset) dismissed all evidence of intelligence and culture on the land that they wanted, to justify sing the land and its people however they pleased.

12:06 – Mon 15 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

As the people of Alebione had their British history and read about the Saxons and William, so the Hawaiians should read their history…The King said he thought the history of all the islands should be preserved from first to last.

Samuel Kamakau

Hashtags: #Quotes #AAPIHeritage

9:07 – Tue 16 May 2023

Image Not Shown: A bearded worker in a suit explaining papers to a (presumed) couple

People of color get so used to discrimination in stores they don’t always notice bad customer service from The Conversation

…while all groups rated positive scenarios similarly, Black and Hispanic viewers tended to perceive negative experiences in a better light than white viewers.

Hashtags: #Racism #Discrimination

I wonder how much this overlaps with the fear that many people of color have that, if they complain, that draws attention to them, and they risk some white person either complaining about their temper or calling the police.

12:04 – Tue 16 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

Therefore, you are rightly called a child of light; It is also an inheritance for that great life that is to come…

Davida Malo

Hashtags: #Quotes #AAPIHeritage

9:05 – Wed 17 May 2023

Content Warning: US Politics

Image Not Shown: Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party on 6 May, 2023 in Rothschild, Wisconsin

How DeSantis’s voter suppression model could go national from openDemocracy

But the arrests need not result in convictions for the possibility of being arrested for voting to have a deterrent effect among e.g. African-American communities — precisely the kinds of communities whose voting Republicans seek to suppress.

Hashtags: #USPol #VoterSuppression

One of the big problems in American politics, in my eyes—apart from the increasingly literal fascist party, I mean—has to do with how nobody listens to authoritarians or, if they do, they give what they say the most benign interpretation possible. For example, Republicans have spent decades saying that “the states are the laboratories of democracy.” They meant that. Specifically, they meant that control of state governments allow them to test anti-democratic measures, to see which measures not only work, but pass sufficient legal scrutiny to safely replicate and expand.

Meanwhile, we have voters worrying about whether the specific man behind a handful of measures gets elected, as if the specific face matters.

12:01 – Wed 17 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

The race had been very exciting, both vessels flying their national colors, and spreading their sails to the fullest extent, the captain of each standing on the quarter-deck, watching every movement and trimming sails to catch every portion of the breeze.

William Heath Davis

Hashtags: #Quotes #AAPIHeritage

9:03 – Thu 18 May 2023

Content Warning: Terrible Former President (and Sex Offender)

Image Not Shown: Former President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, in Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 25, 2023, while en route to West Palm Beach, Fla.

Republicans outraged Trump held accountable for sexual abuse from Daily Kos

Then there’s the walking GOP zeitgeist who is Sen. Tommy Tuberville, from Alabama. “It makes me want to vote for him twice.” Which is an okay thing to do, if you’re a Republican.

Hashtags: #USPol #Trump #Republicans

I’ve said since Trump’s first day in office in 2017 that we need to ignore all the stories about who secretly hates him. It doesn’t matter, because he supports the destructive policies that they support, and so they’ll happily support him, then have a staffer try to rehabilitate their images with secret hatreds.

Don’t worry. I don’t think much more of the Republicans who refuse to support Trump, because they still support the same policies, and only object to the “personality” presenting them.

12:03 – Thu 18 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

I have witnessed how education opens doors, and I know that when sound instruction takes place, students experience the joys of new-found knowledge and the ability to excel.

Daniel Akala

Hashtags: #Quotes #AAPIHeritage

4:00 PM – Thu 18 May 2023

Posted on Mastodon

Have the AI chatbots been getting worse? It feels like they have increasingly gotten into the business of avoiding work instead of doing work. Occasionally, I give one a task like “write a short story about that,” or “take this file and modify its contents to represent this well-known thing.” I’ve gotten more and more non-solutions, like telling me how I could do the work or repeating my file back to me verbatim, then giving me something entirely unrelated when I complain that it got it wrong…

I consider that a serious question, though I can understand why some might read it as a joke. As you can probably guess, I have a pile of one-off projects that I’d like to work on, and AI seems like a perfect way to make progress on at least some of them, by providing a rough draft to edit and add a “voice” to. It used to do this extremely well.

Recently, though, it almost feels like somebody programmed ChatGPT in particular to avoid work.

For an example, I gave it a function and asked it to refactor the code. It chose to define refactoring for me. When I explained that I didn’t ask for a definition, it gave me a list of steps to walk through for refactoring. Again, I complained, and it gave me…the original function. One last time, I explained the problem with that answer, and it generated some entirely unrelated code.

In similar cases, it now only tells the same prose or scripted story, where two people disagree about something, and decide to accept it.

Other projects require more explanation—enough to fill their own blog posts, if I thought that they had enough distinctive features to interest readers—but the generated results proved increasingly implausible and erratic. Though in my “favorite,” most frustrating case, the AI would keep “forgetting” what I had asked it. I put that in sarcasm-quotes, because it could query the conversation to summarize my requests, but when I told it to finish the work, it’d insist that I needed to repeat the question to make progress, but doing so would cause it to repeat the previous wrong solution.

Update: 20 May 2023: I tried my query—the one that keeps going off the rails while it assigns itself an unrelated (but far easier) task to solve instead of what I requested—again with ChatGPT. It provided me with this illuminating response, though I’ve removed the boilerplate apology and insistence that it loves to help people.

As an AI language model, my responses are based on the text inputs I receive, and I try my best to provide accurate information and assistance. However, I don’t have the ability to recall specific past interactions or visualize the chat interface. I rely on the text you provide and respond accordingly.

Arguing with it further, it confirms that, no, it doesn’t remember parts of the conversation other than what it responds to immediately and a small amount of context.

This explains a lot of the problems that I’ve seen. If true—it might have lied, though this has the ring of a bespoke response—this means that OpenAI has deliberately sabotaged their product, presumably to reduce the chances of it saying racist things when racists interact with it. What a waste of time to get to this point…

9:06 – Fri 19 May 2023

Image Not Shown: A hand holding a phone, open to an app, facing a busy street

Gig Work Is Getting Dangerous from OtherWords

To make ends meet, many workers rely on incentives, such as bonuses and surge pay. Those require completing a specific number of rides or orders within a set timeframe, putting pressure on them to work at any cost.

Hashtags: #GigEconomy #Exploitation

I generally support automating jobs away, specifically because of these issues. I would love to have a robot deliver my groceries, so that I don’t need to worry that the weather will turn, or someone driving through my neighborhood will make it unsafe. We need an economic system that makes sure that these people don’t run out of money, but we also can’t keep asking them to literally put their lives on the line for sub-minimum wage.

12:07 – Fri 19 May 2023

Quoted on Mastodon

A magnificent avenue of Tamarind trees in full growth and bearing lined the driveway leading to Kinau Hale. Someone had a dream and forsooth, the trees had to go. A pity.

Curtis Piʻehu Iaukea

Hashtags: #Quotes #AAPIHeritage


Because it accidentally became a tradition early on in the life of the blog, I drop any additional articles that didn’t fit into the one-article-per-day week, but too weird or important to not mention, here.

New American Psychological Association guidelines: Parents should advise teenagers on social media use, impose restrictions from WikiNews

According to the report, before teenagers use social media, parents should provide guidance on social media literacy and support for psychological development.

While certainly not the most critical story, enough parents read here—and social media use has always made good fodder for this blog—that I couldn’t ignore it.

Content Warning: Police activity

Image Not Shown: Police make an arrest close to the 'King's Procession' in central London on 6 May 2023

Outcry over policing is overdue, say groups targeted by cops for decades from openDemocracy

Blowe added that “racist, aggressive and violent” policing has made people from marginalized communities feel much more cautious about taking to the streets and protesting, “because the risks are greater”.

I generally ignore UK news, since I’ve never lived there and so have little to no context for anything, but this felt universal enough to warrant reading and sharing.

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Credits: Header image is Circular diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week from a manuscript drafted during the Carolingian Dynasty.