Saturday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Today in Taylor Swift news, You need to calm down: Taylor Swift can fly from Tokyo to Super Bowl in time, says Japan embassy

    “Ohhh Noooo… That does it! I’m skipping the Super Bowl this year!”
    Either that or,
    “Whew, that’s a load off my mind. Whatever would poor Travis do w/o her there?”

    Or maybe just, “Yaaaawwwwnnn…”

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  2. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “Time travel without a Delorean? next you’ll tell me to fly without an airplane!”

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That trump guy is all class:

    Roberta Kaplan shared the anecdote during an appearance Friday on the George Conway Explains It All podcast, saying it happened while Trump was deposed at his Mar-a-Lago resort as part of an unrelated, since-dismissed case in which he faced accusations of collaborating with a fraudulent marketing company.

    As Kaplan told it, at the end of the questioning, Trump’s attorneys ensured the two sides were no longer on the record before he looked at her and remarked: “See you next Tuesday.”

    The phrase is well-known, thinly veiled code for perhaps the most offensive misogynistic insult that can be directed at a woman, combining words that sound like the first two letters of the word – “C” and “U” – along with words that start with the letters “N” and “T”.

    Kaplan told Conway that she initially didn’t understand the meaning of what Trump said because the opposing sides weren’t scheduled to meet that upcoming Tuesday. “I, thank God, had no idea what that meant, so I said to him, ‘What are you talking about? I’m coming back on Wednesday,’” Kaplan remarked. “Literally, it was an honest answer. I had no idea what he’s talking about.”

    Colleagues of Kaplan informed her what Trump had meant by saying “see you next Tuesday” once they were all in their car driving away from Trump’s property, she said.

    I need to up my misogyny game, I’d never heard that before either. Of course, his cult will love it.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Los Angeles police arrested two people this week in connection with a spate of graffiti on nearly 30 floors of an unoccupied and unfinished downtown skyscraper.

    The tagging stretches across a large portion of a tower in the $1bn Oceanwide Plaza, a stalled mixed-use retail and residential project that has sat unfinished since 2019. The site is located just across from the Crypto.com Arena, where this year’s Grammy awards will be held on Sunday.
    …………………..
    “I could see people up on the balcony were tagging and everything,” Daron Burgundy, a street photographer, told KTLA. “Last night there was a crew on one of the floors and people were coming out and getting detained by LAPD and getting cited and released. People were still in there tagging while the cops were down here.”

    The Los Angeles police department said in a statement that its air support division spotted more than a dozen people trespassing in the building after midnight on 30 January and “possibly spray-painting”. The group fled by the time officers reached the area, except for two people who police arrested on a trespassing charge.

    Days later officers responded to a vandalism call for people reportedly spray-painting on the building’s 30th floor. They fled when law enforcement arrived. That call ultimately resulted in a traffic citation.

    That’s some top of the line crime fighting there.. And just FTR:

    But by 2019, construction had come to a stop after the project’s Beijing-based developer ran out of funding to finish it.

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  5. charontwo says:

    https://wapo.st/3SGVW9x

    Healthy fat and exercise, per WaPo:

    (gift link above)

    Everyone has fat cells. But the more exercise you do, the more likely you are to have healthy and small fat cells.

    Is your body fat fit?

    It could be, if you start or continue exercising, according to rousing new science, which shows that being physically active alters fat at a molecular level in ways that improve the fat’s health. The findings have broad implications for the state of our metabolisms, muscles and even how well our bodies deal with the approaching holiday season of cheery gluttony.

    “Healthy fat is not about the amount of fat” someone carries, said Jeffrey Horowitz, a professor at the University of Michigan, who studies exercise and metabolism. It is about how well that fat functions, he said. “A person who has healthier fat is much better off than someone with the same body fat percentage whose fat is unhealthy.”

    What principally differentiates healthy from dysfunctional fat, Horowitz continued, is the size of the fat cells. “The more small fat cells, the better,” he said.

    And notably, you don’t have to lose weight or fat to make the body fat you already have metabolically healthier.

    Why fat cell size matters
    Large fat cells, he said, are already filled with fat. They cannot store much more and tend to leak some of their overstuffed contents into the bloodstream as fatty acids. From there, the fatty acids slosh toward and lodge in other organs, such as the heart, muscles or liver. Fatty, well-marbled livers, muscles or hearts are undesirable (unless, perhaps, you raise steers).

    Small fat cells, on the other hand, can expand, essentially slurping fat from your blood. You want fat to stay inside fat cells, Horowitz said.

    snip

    Until recently, though, scientists were not sure whether or how much our fat could change. That is, they knew healthy fat tissue could deteriorate, filling with large, leaky cells, dysfunctional mitochondria and inflammation.

    snip

    A study published in June brought glimmers of clarity, though. In the study, researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark biopsied abdominal fat from young, sedentary men, older sedentary men and physically active older men, most of them longtime and frequent cyclists.

    The fat cells from the older, sedentary men showed relatively poor mitochondrial health, with fewer mitochondria than in the young men’s fat and less energy produced by each mitochondrion. But the physically active men’s fat cells held plenty of mitochondria, more even than in fat tissue from the young men, so that their fat cells, overall, were better supplied with energy. Their fat tissue also showed fewer signs of incipient inflammation than fat from the inactive men, whatever their ages.

    snip

    “Exercise training meant more mitochondria and better functioning mitochondria” and, in essence, healthier fat, said Anders Gudiksen, a professor of cell biology at the University of Copenhagen, who led the study.

    But for anyone who might not have had the foresight to be a lifelong cyclist, another new study offers hope that starting to exercise now, no matter how sedentary you may have been, could rapidly improve your fat’s fitness.

    For the new study, published in the Journal of Physiology and overseen by Horowitz, researchers biopsied fat tissue from 36 sedentary men and women with obesity and then asked them to ride a stationary bike at a moderate pace for 45 minutes or more intensely for a 20-minute interval workout four times a week for 12 weeks.

    The volunteers’ diets were carefully monitored, so they would not lose weight. Otherwise, Horowitz said, changes in their fat tissue might have been due to weight loss, not exercise.

    But without shedding pounds, the exercising volunteers still remade their fat. They wound up with substantially more small fat cells, as well as more capillaries to nourish those cells. Their fat tissue also held fewer biochemical markers of inflammation and less symptoms of scarring and hardening around the fat cells.

    These effects were seen, whether the volunteers rode moderately or hard. “Intensity didn’t matter,” Horowitz said, only that they were active.

    etc., at linky.

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  6. MarkedMan says:

    Episode 107,351 on why AI is ruining the web: I just searched on “Where do I find trash on a Mac” (OK, yes, I’ve been using Macs for 30+ years but they have moved it! Or I did…) Here’s the first hit on Duck Duck Go: “Where is the Trash folder in Mac and How to Clean it?” Wow! So perfect for what I’m looking for. And when I click on it I get that it is written by one Pamela Garcia, a young and wholesome looking woman. It’s also been recently updated, less than a month ago! Perfect! Let’s take a closer look at ol’ Pamela’s profile:

    Technical Writing Expert who is good at writing troubleshoot to any Mac issue and have helped lots of readers rescue their Macs.

    Oh. AI Bullsh*t. Disregard anything that comes below, because it as likely to be made up, irrelevant or a combo of both. Anything useful will be someone in a long gush of verbiage and is there by chance.

    What does AI BS Pam say about the trash folder?

    The Trash folder in macOS is similar to the Recycle bin in Windows computers. This folder is assigned to contain all the least important files including documents, photos, music, videos, and more.

    Hmm. My documents, photos, music and videos are my least important files? And so they go into a folder called trash? I would have thought the trash folder was where you discard documents you no longer need or want, and where they will remain until you permanently delete them. However, they will not show up in searches. It is Mac Purgatory. And it is located… well, that’s what I was trying to find. Surely ol’ AI Pam answered that question, as it was literally in the title of the article. And “she” maybe kinda sorta does? After droning on with some random blather about trash folders she gives a location that can be accessed via the console, if you know how to bypass the graphical user interface and get right down into the linux-y core of the command line. But after that is finally a paragraph titled “2 ways to access the trash folder” (shouldn’t that be “2 more ways”? Or, more likely, this is just lifted more or less verbatim from some site written by a real person.) And finally, we get the the crucial piece of information. Not in the first of the two ways (or second of the three ways, if you can count), which does work but is not the way 99.9% of people will go to the trash. In the 2nd (3rd) method it finally reveals what I was looking for: “The trash icon is in the dock” Once upon a time (a year ago?), when you searched for something like that you would get a result at the very top, not even a link, that would simply say, “The trash is in the dock” and boom, that would be it.

    Generative AI search engine optimization is garbage whose rot is poisoning the internet.

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  7. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I had never heard of that either. As far as usage, the only ones that seem capable of using that word without offense are Australians. Maybe because it is not directed at women.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: It appears that Scots use it too. My Uber-feminist niece has been living the past two years or more in Edinburgh and when we saw her over Christmas she remarked that she really had to check herself hard so as not to throw it into casual conversation.

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  9. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Out of curiosity, I went and pasted your questions, quote and all, on the Copilot in Edge. Here’s the answer:

    On a Mac, the equivalent of the Recycle Bin in Windows is called “Trash” or “Bin”. It’s located in the Dock. Here’s how you can find and use it:

    Locating the Trash: You should see an icon in the shape of a trash can in your Dock2. This is the icon for the Trash folder.

    Then I couldn’t resist continuing:

    Kathy: Thanks. but I thought the Mac itself was the trash.

    Copilot: It seems like you’re making a joke about Mac computers. Humor can be subjective, and what one person finds funny, another might not. But it’s great to see you’re in a playful mood! If you have any more questions or need assistance with something else, feel free to ask.

    So maybe the AI itself isn’t the problem, as much as the people who use it to embellish and engorge their postings.

    I did expect an MS product to join in the Apple bashing.

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  10. CSK says:

    @Scott: @MarkedMan:

    The Irish use it as if it were “a” or “the,” too. I assume the Welsh follow suit.

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  11. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    There will be one of three reactions to this:
    1. Some Trumpkins will openly approve.
    2. A larger number will ignore it as if it never happened.
    3. The largest number will say Kaplan lied about it; it never happened.

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  12. charontwo says:

    Babylon Berlin leaves Netflix on Feb. 28. I recommend watching this one – the last years of the Weimar Republic.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    So maybe the AI itself isn’t the problem, as much as the people who use it to embellish and engorge their postings

    Oh, absolutely. Cognitive or generative AI has vastly improved many things, such as voice dictation and results in Alexa and Siri, as well as increasing the utility of legitimate (non-paid) search results. But now that it is in the hands of anyone with a computer, there is a slew of people and companies using SEO techniques to instantly generate dreck that rises to the top of the results, hoping to make you click on their worthless and instantly generated pages so as to garner ad revenue from the embeds on the site.

    The big shift is that previous use of this technology was to identify sites and information that might be relevant to your interests or queries, while now it is used to generate that information. And the fatal flaw is that it cannot yet differentiate reality from stuff made up. And as the AI generated dreck takes up more Web space, the problem will only get worse. Is Taylor Swift a CIA mole? Well, 99.9% of websites that mention Swift and the CIA together say she is, so it must be so. Of course 99.9% of those were created by a single bot launched by an incel from the public library.

    I have yet to see a single worthwhile proposed solution to the hallucination problem. It may prove to be fatal to the way people are proposing to use generative AI. In the meantime, I suspect it will end up strengthening large and legitimate sources of information, entities with a long reputation of doing reviews, investigations, etc. As people increasingly disregard legitimate-sounding but new-to-them web sites, it will make it more difficult for newbies to get a foothold.

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  14. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I suspect the largest by far reaction will be 4. Nothing, because it is never reported anyway they get their news from

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  15. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    True. If it’s not “reported” on OANN, The Gateway Pundit, or The Conservative Treehouse, it didn’t happen.

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  16. Kathy says:

    Music for the weekend, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

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  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    Fun with brains. As an author I am not a planner. I start with a concept, then just improvise – make shit up. But it can be scary writing when you don’t know the thing is ever going to come together. (Editors don’t love this.) It always has, but there’s a first time for everything. However today was hump day, the moment when I realized, OMG, this fucking thing I’m working on is actually gonna work. It’s not quite orgasmic, but it’s a weight that just floats up off of you.

    Once over that hump (page 321 in this case) I’m writing with some confidence as opposed to what amounts to faith in some non-verbal, black box part of my brain. I’ve gone full schizo and now think of it as ‘him’ and ‘me’ situation. ‘He’ surprises me, and I’m pretty sure it’s not healthy to be surprised by your own brain. Things sort of appear on the page without at any point passing through my reason. I see where people get the idea of inspiration, of an unseen, outside force.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: The answer is going to be reputation scoring for sources. It always does.

    Way back when, when the internet was young and people still lived with hope in their hearts, Google used their page rank algorithm to approximate that. People link to reputable information. And it was more automated than AltaVista on InfoSeek’s hand curated lists.

    And then SEO came along, and it’s been a constant fight. AI is winning the fight right now. AI is winning so badly that I think Search Engines should just be focusing on recognizing AI generated stuff and dropping it.

    But so much changed overnight with LLMs, and it came out of nowhere — not the big companies at least, so it wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

    If I had to speculate on a longer term solution, it would be using a hand curated set of known truths and popular falsehoods, and calculating a site’s trustworthiness based on how often they mention true as opposed to common false things.

    Or to automate by whitelisting certain sites as “known good” and spidering out from there, with the expectation that if Site A is good, we can compare site B with A on things they report on in common, estimate B’s accuracy there, and hope that the topics on B but not A (the unknown topics) have the same accuracy. Taken to the extreme, you have an N! problem as you compare site C to A and B… You can simplify that by pruning the problem space (do I care if National Enquirer matches Weekly World News? No, they’re both trash). This all depends on being able to distinguish reporting falsehoods from reporting on falsehoods, so will be more useful on “where is the trash can on my Mac?” than Pizzagate.

    This then ties into today’s post about different media environments, and people operating off of different facts. But not in a good way, as you would have different sets of truthiness.

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  19. Gustopher says:

    I’m trying out Bing because they have a bit less of their own AI generated shit on search pages. Google has too much “we read some AI generated shit, and had our own AI generate shit from that to fail to answer your question” — it’s completely broken. My initial impression with Bing is that it is slightly less broken, surfacing a lot of links to AI generated shit, but there’s usually a recognizable site on the first page of results that isn’t complete shit.

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  20. CSK says:

    According to Trump, “many people” have told him he looks like Elvis. So he asked his followers on Truth Social what they thought.

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  21. gVOR10 says:

    @CSK: I think Trump looks a lot like Elvis, born 1935, would look now had he lived.

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