perhaps soon the Tisatsar's News will be entirely auto-generated
the Tisatsar Newslettr has access to OpenAI’s “davinci” model, at long last.
Much like other computer language models, the most egregious flaw of OpenAI is its tendency to give confident answers to questions that are nonsensical1. However, when you ask it for fiction, it tends to give a passable response.
It does seem to follow stated directions. But davinci is still limited in its ability to help write the Tisatsar Newslettr. And, due to an unfortunate gardening accident and a heavier-than-usual travel schedule, our ability to publish the Tisatsar Newslettr has been delayed.
But now, the Tisatsar’s News.
Silly Season on the Airwaves: October in America means it is political ad season. Here in central Iowa, the top ad by frequency is currently this one, which appears to be titled “Cindy Axne Raised Your Taxes From France”.
The optics of the specific vote aren’t terribly interesting. But the broader question of remote voting in Congress is still an open one politically. It was permitted as something of an emergency measure during COVID, and is still permitted. However, some people (mostly Republicans) don’t like it.
Our take: It is a burden for representatives to be in Washington DC the entire year and still represent people in their districts. The solution is to allow “remote voting” — but only from the State Capitol building or a government building in their district. Bring on the Survivor-style confessionals on Tiktok.
No Justice for Alex Jones: A Connecticut court has found Alex Jones liable for over $900 million in damages (ref: BBC) related to a series of statements he made related to the Sandy Hook school shooting of 2012.
There are extenuating reasons why the judgment is so unusually large. Mr. Jones has demonstrated extreme contempt of court throughout the proceedings. His speech is thoroughly odious and unpopular. Yet the extraordinary dollar value of the verdict is not justice.
An Eternal Morass: At the Supreme Court, discussion about copyright of material from the 1980s. (ref: NPR)
Society appears to be trending in a direction where copyright is maximalist, permanent, and litigable for decades. Hopefully we can avoid a future where every simple melody will be under copyright.
More British Politics: We asked davinci to summarize Reuters' take on the continuing drama in the British government:
The article discusses British Prime Minister Liz Truss's firing of her finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng and scrapping of parts of their unpopular economic package. Truss is under pressure from financial markets and her own party to reverse her tax cuts. Kwarteng becomes Britain's shortest serving finance minister. Truss's own position is now in jeopardy.
The Light Entertainment War: Google is out with a series of videos relating to various security incidents over the past 10-15 years. As davinci can’t watch videos yet, you will have to watch it yourself.
I Ain’t Marching Anymore
a Letter from the Editor
My commitment to a regular news summary continues to falter.
There is a difference between journalism and advocacy. Advocacy needs to occur quickly, or else it will have no possibility of making an impact. Journalism, especially second-hand2 journalism, need not be done in the moment.
And on the major issues of the day, I am past the point of wanting to perform (or even witness) advocacy.
When looking at the Ukraine situation, there is nothing that I can3 do, and I am starting to be of the opinion that the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conflict is not only inevitable4, but a good thing. Important note: tactical weapons (against a military target, and creating a clear no-mans-land for a ceasefire line) are very different5 from an all-out attack on Kiev. The latter would come with a 50-50 chance of the end of the world as we know it, and must be avoided at all costs.
On climate change, the main problem is the limitations of current battery technology. The secondary problem is government officials who are incapable of determining whether their actions will help or hurt efforts to solve the issue. Once those are considered, the various frictions to solar deployments etc. are more of a good thing than a bad.
On social issues, it is clear that nobody wants my opinion, and sharing it wouldn’t help anyway. After decades of trench warfare have caused heated debates but little change, I expect the pendulum to swing chaotically over the coming decade.
If Elon Musk or any of the other principles in the Twitter drama want me to spend any more of my time watching that soap opera, my rate is $1350 per hour. For most people, that would be a “f*** you” price quote, but I assume Elon can afford it.
One of the many potentialities6 of the newslettr2 site is a curatable RSS / social media archive, so it is easier to write these dispatches later (or to have the robots do so). Will it happen? Only time can tell.
Our attendance at the American Royal BBQ competition in Kansas City did not find any news sufficiently interesting for this Newslettr.
It might be more accurate to say there is nothing I should do about the situation in Ukraine.
Prediction markets put the odds of nuclear weapons usage at roughly 10% over the next year. And, for matters of such grave importance, the Tisatsar’s News covers a 10% event as-if it were roughly 90% likely to occur.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar