1 February 2022
[tech] Watch an AI Outplay Tetris
… There’s something slightly uncanny about watching this AI coolly and efficiently beat NES Tetris. More details here. ‘Like human players, Cannon’s impressive StackRabbit AI gets better at playing Tetris through repeatedly playing and analyzing the game to develop improved strategies. But unlike human players, StackRabbit has nerves of steel and doesn’t start to panic as the ever-growing stack of tetrominoes approaches the top of the play board, which it pairs with lightning-quick reflexes to play one of the most mesmerizing and impressive rounds of Tetris you’ve probably ever seen.’
3 February 2022
[comics] Leo Baxendale: Bash Street UnPlugged
… A Radio 4 documentary from 1995 about Leo Baxendale
the creator of the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx and Sweeney Toddler comic strips.
7 February 2022
[tv] The FBI is going crazy-stringboard crazy
… Slate takes a look at the Crazy Wall trope
often used in TV and movies. ‘Nowadays, some might chalk up the explosion of this trope to prestige television and cinema trying to advance a complicated plotline. This is why journalist Richard Benson in 2015 called our age the “Post-it Procedural.” For example, the Baltimore detectives in The Wire, now almost 20 years old, tried to crack a complicated drug ring using a board to pin up all the photos, press clippings, and index cards with information on the suspects. The board—and the data flowing in from the detectives—became the focal point of the investigation and the show, helping the audience to know who and what was important. If it was on the big board, it mattered.’
8 February 2022
[fb] The end of the metaverse hopefully
… Some analysis on the future of Facebook/Meta. ‘Basically, Facebook and Instagram is Squid Game, the algorithm is the big piggy bank, and the last three traumatized contestants in tuxedos armed with knives are an out-of-work magician, an antivax chiropractor, and a QAnon mom from Tuscon who runs a drop-shipping pyramid scheme. Which, of course, is not a platform that users will want to use. But it’s all Facebook has to fall back on now that its attempts to “build the metaverse” have been exposed as an absolutely ridiculous bluster.’
9 February 2022
[experts] Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Future?
… A look at why experts find predicting the future correctly difficult. ‘The integrators outperformed their colleagues in pretty much every way, but especially trounced them on long-term predictions. Eventually, Tetlock bestowed nicknames (borrowed from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin) on the experts he’d observed: The highly specialized hedgehogs knew “one big thing,” while the integrator foxes knew “many little things.” Hedgehogs are deeply and tightly focused. Some have spent their career studying one problem. Like Ehrlich and Simon, they fashion tidy theories of how the world works based on observations through the single lens of their specialty. Foxes, meanwhile, “draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradiction,” Tetlock wrote. Where hedgehogs represent narrowness, foxes embody breadth.’
11 February 2022
[cummings] What Dominic Cummings Gets Wrong
… More analysis of Dominic Cummings
. ‘Ultimately this is what Cummings gets wrong. Regulation, institutional norms, information transparency, processes, are more important than brilliant people. Because it is only those things that stand in the way of bad actors destroying systems. It is the current absence of these things causing America so many problems because Trump is a really bad actor.’
14 February 2022
[valentines] AI Generated: Love Hearts
and Valentines Day Cards
… Some good, some Bizarro World. More love hearts here.
17 February 2022
[radio] Cataloguing BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time using Dewey Decimal Classification
… Stuart from Feeling Listless has categorised every episode of In Our Time
. ‘Classification is automatically a compromise. You’re applying a numerical label to an object which it wasn’t really designed for, so on some occasions, especially with something like In Our Time which revels in obtuse topics, there isn’t a perfect place for the episode to go. Also I’ve only used the a heading when it pertains to an episode which is why it looks like there are gaps in the sequence. Melvyn and the gang haven’t covered every sub-division in the DDC.’
18 February 2022
[web] Resurrecting the old Wordle for procrastinators
… How to avoid NYT Wordle
and carry on using the original version.
21 February 2022
[cannonball] Is This the End of the Cannonball Run?
… How Covid-19 killed the Cannonball Run. ‘The following March, the world shut down, and the nation’s empty highways looked enticing to potential Cannonballers. Bolian said the record was broken 12 times during the early months of the pandemic. “It was just an unimaginable set of circumstances,” he says.’
22 February 2022
[movies] Alien in 60 Seconds
… A wonderfully condensed and low budget version of Alien
. [via Kottke
24 February 2022
[web] The adorable love story behind Wikipedia’s ‘high five’ photos
… Occasionally the Internet can produce a wonderfully wholesome story. ‘Thanks to an overabundance of time alone with my laptop and a growing pile of responsibilities that I wanted to push off, I found myself fixated on these photos recently. I became increasingly convinced that there was nothing platonic about this high five — I mean, you can feel the chemistry through the screen. Just look at her smile in the first frame! Look at their gazes in the third frame! There’s no way two people so young and so beautiful could exchange such a flirty high five without feeling flutters of the heart. I couldn’t help but wonder what their story was — and what had happened to them. So I launched an investigation…’
28 February 2022
[podcasts] Death by Conspiracy?
… I’ve really been enjoying this BBC podcast’s deep dive into the death from Covid of a UK man
drawn into the web of online conspiracies.