News & music & dead people



#416  [archive]
APR. 16, 2024

20 years later, Abu Ghraib detainees get their day in US court
    When they're done prosecuting Donald Trump for malfeasance with petty cash after boinking the porn star, can we move on to something serious?  
    George H W Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Trump again, and Joe Biden should all be prosecuted for the continuing crime of Guantanamo, and then locked away there.

Florida: DeSantis signs controversial bill banning civilian boards from investigating police misconduct
    This is fascism. Not the insult, but literally fascism. 

Judge awards $23.5 million to undercover St. Louis officer beaten by colleagues during protest
    The AP’s shitty coverage doesn’t even mention that the undercover cop who got severely beaten is black.
    Cops beat a black undercover cop at a protest, because he was (a) black and (b) at a protest. Cops routinely beat protesters, but everyone who's beaten doesn't get a fat payout like this. Only cops, and only if they sue.

Cops battered a man suffering a seizure, cooked up criminal charges to cover up their actions

Supreme Court allows cop, injured at BLM protest, to sue protest organizers  

Kansas Highway Patrol is ordered to pay plaintiffs $2.3 million for unconstitutional "Kansas two-step" traffic policy  

Seattle police knew officer who struck and killed pedestrian had "checkered history," but hired him anyway

How I built an AI-powered, self-running propaganda machine for $105
    For an old fart, i do pretty well with modern technology, but I've seen enough science fiction and know enough science fact that AI scares the bejeebers out of me. It needs to be sternly regulated, but won't be.

Schools were just supposed to block porn; instead they sabotaged homework and censored suicide prevention sites 

Anti-trans Missouri A.G. can now access trans people's medical records 

US Senator (guess which party) urges Americans to "take matters into their own hands" to stop anti-genocide protestors 

How rock'nroll history was made — and nearly forgotten — in Dallas 

"Hello, I'm John Waters, and I'm supposed to announce that there is no smoking in this theater."

Amusing, Interesting, Outrageous, or Profound
    AIOP is my Lemmy page, for anything that's (in my opinion) amusing, interesting, outrageous, or profound. It's mostly a rough draft of this page, but you're invited to stop by.

♫♬  MUSIC  ♫

Big Machine — Ryan Miller 

Fight the Power — Public Enemy 

The Internationale — Tony Babino 

Only Thing Governments Have Done — Ryan Harvey 

Til The Day After — Emitt Rhodes 


🖕 Bennett Braun
mad psychiatrist 

Larry Brown
baseballer, Cleveland Indians 

Eleanor Coppola
moviemaking wife and mom 

Ben Eldridge
bluegrass banjo picker 

Carl Erskine
baseballer, Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers 

Vincent Friell
actor, Trainspotting 

David Goodstein
condensed matter physics 

Whitey Hertzog
baseballer and manager, St Louis Cardinals 

Ken Holtzman
baseballer, Chicago Cubs 

🖕 Beverly LaHaye
17th century woman 

Fritz Peterson
baseballer, New York Yankees 

Faith Ringgold
narrative quilts 

Lori and George Schappell
twins with something extra 

Penny Simkin
doula organizer

Rae Tyler
forgotten woman


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited. 

Tip 'o the hat to the AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Chuff, Dirty Blonde Mind, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Lemmy.world, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration.

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo emeritus, Jeff Meyer, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. I'm increasingly convinced that people who claim AI is useful in any core subject (coding, math, etc.) should be dismissed as having zero knowledge of that subject, even if (and especially) they claim otherwise.

    1. I briefly tinkered with AI image-making, but stopped after a while because it seems so lifeless, glossy, artificial, and anyway I prefer art by artists. And the written AI is sooo bland. And a while back Microsoft rolled out "CoPilot" which I immediately blocked.

      Show me how it's helpful and maybe I'll reconsider, but for now I have no interest in AI.

    2. Doug, would you consider writing a column on AI? I've been away from the biz too long (my god, 20 years) and I mess around, but I don't know who to trust to explain the AI issues. I don't always agree with you, but I always trust you. You seem doomed to always tell the truth, and I appreciate that. Maybe just an outline and some examples? Or, if you don't want to, could you recommend an honest broker who can explain AI apps in a fair and reasonable way? I'm not too lazy to do the research. I just don't know who to trust and, as I said, above all I trust you. Thanks.


    3. I would certainly consider *reading* or even *publishing* an article about artificial intelligence, but I know so little about it that *writing* such an article would require a day's research I'm unlikely to do.

      With any new tech, I assess quickly the advantages and drawbacks, for me first, but also for others and for the world. When PCs and the internet came 'round, I signed up. When Androids made it possible to carry the internet in my pocket, I didn't sign up, because I don't want the internet in my pocket.

      I'm skeptical about AI because of Colossus: The Forbin Project and a hundred other movies and books, that's all. No expertise, just disinterest and concern.

    4. The weirdest thing about ChatGPT is that it's not good at the kind of computational work you'd think it'd be good at. Like sifting through large amounts of data to come up with definite results.

      I wrote a prompt to find all the players who had played in games for both of two NBA teams but no others. It should be easy for this computational power to come up with this list.

      But that's not what ChatGPT does: it is a prediction engine that estimates the likelihood of WordX to follow WordY. It had never encountered this particular query before, so it just listed 12 random basketball players, some of whom had played for both teams (but also played for others), some who had played for one or the other but not both and some who had played for neither, and the best that I can figure out were placed on the list because they had appeared in other lists of totally unrelated queries that ChatGPT had been fed. They call this "hallucination" but that suggests something random and unexpected. Here it was behaving as written, but not how it's sold.

      Two examples of how it's been explained to me that I found interesting:

      1. It's a front end that so beguiled its creators that it's eaten away the back end that it should be drawing data from. It's pure presentation and user experience.

      2. Someone once told me to imagine every word "generated" (the air quotes get copious here) as having a blue link to its source material or at least a footnote and how it would totally demystify this entire field. I think that's right. It's "magical" because it's creators, out of fear of copyright law, are intentionally obscuring the origins of what it does.

    5. And *that* is the best brief piercing of the AI hype I've seen.

      Sounds like Google — yields results pretty close to what you're looking for, so long as what you're looking for has also been looked for by millions of others. Ask something out of the ordinary, and it'll just fake an answer.

      Maybe it'll get better at unusual inquiries. Maybe it won't. Until it does, it feels like fakery to me. You get fake answers, fake writing, fake art, fake music, and the sooner it's all plugged in and up to speed, the sooner millions of people lose their jobs.

      And you know they'll plug it in for the military, so instead of future wars like wars of the past, with decisions made by psychopaths, they'll be run by an entity that never had a soul or a conscience at all.

    6. Thanks to both Doug and Granville. I appreciate both of you taking the time and writing so clearly.


    7. I'm taking a gentle bow, and farting as I bend over.

    8. Thanks, I think about this stuff a lot, and I've tested a lot. Like Doug says, AI-generated images often have a grotesque sheen to them that is very unpleasant. The only thing I managed to get that looked satisfactory was in a cartoon style, and I strong suspect that's only because it faithfully reproduced its source material and I just don't recognize it.

      I find it interesting (and heartening) that users seem to have a visceral reaction after they discover that (say) a website they've been reading was generated by AI. It seems very similar to the "uncanny valley" from robotics and I'm curious if that will be confirmed by scientific testing. Even without having strong feelings about AI, the output seems to strike people as gross.

    9. Given time and especially the money that the world's worst people always have, AI will improve in quality and decrease in cost. The imagery's "grotesque sheen" will fade, the writing won't seem so empty, and the mimicry will be so finely-tuned you might read an article, even a book without knowing it's an imitation.

      That's what undermines everything, seems to me. What appears to be genuine art, literature, and music will be good enough to hang in a museum, be shelved in a library, and the tunes will have a beat you can dance to.

      People who once might've been painters, architects, sculptors, moviemakers, novelists, cartoonists, session musicians... or had any of thousands of careers that'll be automated — almost any job, really — can eventually be unemployed and replaced. And 'can' plus money always adds up to 'will'.

  2. Always thought that Eleanor Coppola's "Hearts of Darkness" did more to lift "Apocalypse Now" into the stuff of legend than anything in the film (which I think is great, of course, though Coppola crossed out some of the better material). Like you and I can talk about crazy things we've read about various movies but she's got all the strokes, nervous breakdowns, actors fucked up on drugs or padding their bill on tape. Heresy? I think it's in a lot of ways better than the movie.

    1. I'm not even sure I've seen it. If I did, it was 30+ years ago, so obviously, Hearts of Darkness goes on the watchlist — grazi.

  3. Doug, thanks for your good wishes. (two days ago -- I'm running late). The diagnostic boys finished the first scan and I'll get results soon. Three scans to go over the next several weeks and then the surgeons will get together and decide whether the risk/reward ratio looks favorable for a shot at a valve replacement. This isn't the best forum for a medical report, but you kinda asked and that's what I know so far. Your kind well-wishes mean more than you'd suspect.


    1. I appreciate the update, sincerely, and wish you better than the best.

      If they decide against a valve replacement, maybe I can send you a Pep Boys gift card? They have a whole shelf of valves...

    2. That would be great because I'm out of pep among other things. I stuck my hand in my pocket and gave up self gratification for lint. I'm tired when day is done and a little fatigued when it starts. But giving up isn't on my short list and I don't have a long list.


    3. Made me chuckle and smile, friend.


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