Wallace-Wells AI in Warfare

David Wallace-Wells once again writes an important piece in the NYT illustrating some of the current uses of AI in warfare.  An excerpt:

“The more abstract questions raised by the prospect of A.I. warfare are unsettling on the matters of not just machine error but also ultimate responsibility: Who is accountable for an attack or a campaign conducted with little or no human input or oversight? But while one nightmare about military A.I. is that it is given control of decision making, another is that it helps armies become simply more efficient about the decisions being made already. And as Abraham describes it, Lavender is not wreaking havoc in Gaza on its own misfiring accord. Instead it is being used to weigh likely military value against collateral damage in very particular ways — less like a black box oracle of military judgment or a black hole of moral responsibility and more like the revealed design of the war aims of the Israel Defense Forces.”

2024-04-11T16:34:21-05:00April 11th, 2024|Home, Musings|

Covid Vaccine Benefits (for those getting immunized, that is)

More good work from Dave Leonhardt and Ashley Wu in March 11th’s NYT’s The Morning:

“To this day, more than 30 percent of self-identified Republicans have not received a Covid vaccine shot, compared with less than 10 percent of Democrats…

While many liberals exaggerated the value of pandemic restrictions, they were right about the vaccines. After vaccines became available, a huge partisan gap in Covid deaths opened. Even today, when most Americans have had the virus and have some natural immunity as a result, unvaccinated people are at much more risk. Consider that about 95 percent of recent Covid-related hospitalizations in the U.S. have occurred among people who had not received an updated vaccine.”

2024-03-11T14:38:13-05:00March 11th, 2024|Home, Musings|

Not really a democracy…

From Heather Cox Richardson’s March 4, 2024 Letters from an American:

“Two days ago, in Slate, legal analyst Mark Joseph Stern noted that when Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was Senate majority leader, he “realized you don’t need to win elections to enact Republican policy. You don’t need to change hearts and minds. You don’t need to push ballot initiatives or win over the views of the people. All you have to do is stack the courts. You only need 51 votes in the Senate to stack the courts with far-right partisan activists…[a]nd they will enact Republican policies under the guise of judicial review, policies that could never pass through the democratic process. And those policies will be bulletproof, because they will be called ‘law.’”

2024-03-05T15:08:34-05:00March 5th, 2024|Home, Musings|

Ladapo, Wrong Again

Perhaps a study should be undertaken of the number of Floridian lives lost due to its Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s ill-informed advice re. mRNA Covid vaccines.  Katelyn Jetelina , Edward Nirenberg, and Kristen Pagnathi offer an excellent rebuttal in Jetelina’s Your Local Epidemiologist Substack post here.  Perhaps the most trenchant argument offered was this one:

“Producing vaccines requires us to use cells, and cells contain DNA. This is why DNA fragments are found in all vaccines. DNA fragments aren’t limited to vaccines, either. Insulin, for example, also contains small amounts of DNA from the bacteria used to make it. 

Regardless, we try to limit the number because it can impact the immune response. We aim for the purest form of vaccines so they work as intended and consistently. The FDA requires less than 10 ng/dose of residual DNA fragments in any vaccine for full approval. 

Multiple regulators across the globe have consistently found vaccines to have acceptable levels of DNA fragments. Even the flawed preprint confirms Covid-19 vaccines’ DNA content is far below any levels indicating a safety or manufacturing concern (see below).”

As for the referenced preprint’s attempt to correlate the DNA levels found with VAERS morbidity stats, that’s junk science exemplified.

2024-01-05T09:37:56-05:00January 5th, 2024|Home, Musings|

Musk descends further (though I thought he’d already bottomed out)

Elon Musk continues his descent into less-than-complete sanity, though I had hoped he’d learned a lesson from his most recent ill-advised antisemitic tweet.  Alas, wrong again.  He’s reached new lows by reinstating Alex Jones’ X account despite Jones previously being permanently banned for his horribly egregious Sandy Hook actions.  Musk this time hiding behind his “the people have spoken”  poll results (which apparently confirm what a cesspool X has become). I don’t know if Musk is mentally ill, or simply completely amoral and grasping for any new users to prop up what’s left of Twitter.  Either way, it’s sickening. See the December 11 Joy of Tech

2023-12-11T18:53:40-05:00December 11th, 2023|Home, Musings|

On the dangers of coal fired particulates

From the Harvard Gazette, quoting from this paper in Science by Henneman, Choirat, Dedoussi et al, Mortality risk from United States coal electricity generation:

“Exposure to fine particulate air pollutants from coal-fired power plants (coal PM2.5) is associated with a risk of mortality more than double that of exposure to PM2.5 from other sources…Examining Medicare and emissions data in the U.S. from 1999 to 2020, the researchers also found that 460,000 deaths were attributable to coal PM2.5 during the study period — most of them occurring between 1999 and 2007, when coal PM2.5 levels were highest.”

2023-12-04T15:07:12-05:00December 4th, 2023|Home, Musings|


When someone tells you who they are, over and over, in words and actions, BELIEVE THEM! DJT is an abomination who openly talks about how he will dismantle our democracy, violate the Constitution, and take vengeance on his perceived enemies using the apparatus of a government filled with cronies he installs.  See:

Jamelle Bouie in the NYT : “And Donald Trump is telling us, loud and clear, that he wants to end American democracy as we know it.”

Eric Foner in the NYT: “President Trump announced that he plans to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship, the principle that everyone born in the United States, with a handful of exceptions, is automatically a citizen of the United States.“It was always told to me,” the president declared, “that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t.””

Catherine Rampell, WashPo, quoting DJT: “If I happen to be president, and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say, ‘Go down and indict them,’” he said. “They’d be out of business. They’d be out of the election.”

Heather Cox Richardson in her Letters From an American, also quoting the weirdly bronzed one: “In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day [sic] we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Racists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream”

David Graham, writing in the Atlantic: “In fact, much of what Trump is discussing is un-American, not merely in the sense of being antithetical to some imagined national set of mores, but in that his ideas contravene basic principles of the Constitution or other bedrock bases of American government. They are the sorts of ideas that would have been shocking to hear from any mainstream politician just a decade ago.”

2023-11-14T20:28:06-05:00November 14th, 2023|Home, Musings|
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