June 9, 1997 — see The Complete Peanuts 1995-1998
Peanuts was Bleak.
To Whom It May Concern, or To Whom It May Not Concern Whatsoever,
Thank you for considering my application to show up in a building for 40 hours a week doing whatever tasks you want me to do. I am excited for the opportunity to dedicate my most productive hours, days, weeks, months, and potentially years of my life to your enterprise, in exchange for your giving me paper that allows me to stay alive.
I am reaching out because I think that my skills match your needs as a company. I have a body and brain that can be transported wherever I am told to go; you, meanwhile, have a repository of funds — a small percentage of which could be used to secure my labor for as long as you care to keep me around. (And by around, I mean here on this Earth.)
I must say, I think I would be an excellent fit for your company culture. Upon some cursory research, I learned that your employees share a common purpose: showing up to the office every day and following instructions so that they can eat, have a place to sleep, and (maybe) get access to healthcare. I am confident that as a member of your corporate team, I would immediately demonstrate those qualities too.
I am also impressed by your benefits package. Not only do your employees receive money that allows them to purchase basic necessities — you also provide them with other money that can be used for luxury goods, like clothes, air conditioning units, and plane tickets home to visit their grandmothers in the hospital.
Further, I was encouraged to see that dedicated workers who receive conditional promotions over the course of a few decades or so are sometimes rewarded with additional money, in the height of largesse: this results in occasional day trips to the beach, the chance to own the dwelling they reside in, and even the right to stop performing labor in the last few years before their death (assuming natural causes).
If you look at my résumé, I think you’ll find that I have extensive relevant experience that I could bring to the table after onboarding. In the formative years of my life, I attended primary school in exchange for not being detained per truancy laws in my home state; I then matriculated to college, where I cut my teeth going to classes in exchange for a framed sheet of cardstock that was a prerequisite for submitting this application. (I also literally cut my teeth but couldn’t do anything about it because my parents don’t have dental insurance.)
During that time, I also took on several unpaid internships in exchange for the increased probability of securing other unpaid internships. So, all of this is to say: I know what it takes to voluntarily surrender my autonomy to an organization in an effort to continue existing. In other words, I am all about that hustle!
I understand that this is a competitive position, and you’ll be receiving hundreds of similar applications from other qualified individuals. And it would be ethically unjustifiable for me to argue that my humanity is somehow superior to that of the other applicants, and that you should select me, leaving the others to find some other means of making a living.
Yet, at the same time: I am arguing that my humanity is somehow superior to that of the other applicants. You should select me. Leave the others to find some other means of making a living.
I am fully aware of the prestige associated with this company and the role I would be taking on. That’s why I can pledge right now that if I am given an offer, I will happily field LinkedIn messages from future prospective employees and give them advice about how they too can improve their chances of serving your company’s interests. That advice will include, and be limited to, “just keep putting apps out there,” “be yourself in the interview,” and “you can mention my name but it probably won’t make a difference.”
Thank you so much for your consideration. I can’t wait to hear back from you. Really, I genuinely can’t.
This cat is not a snitch <3
Some good news from Australia. These are really beautiful sharks.
Almost all the world's species of rhino rays are critically endangered, based on devastating declines of more than 80 per cent over the past few decades due to the shark fin soup trade in Asia. But the rays have been sheltering in the safe and shallow waters of the Top End.
I think my high score so far is 13.15...
CityLiveSketch is an artistic project created by Italian artist Pietro Cataudella. This ongoing series features 3D architectural drawings that seem to jump off the page using perspective and shadow. Other drawings depict cartoon characters as well as famous paintings superimposed over other paintings and structures to create an unexpected effect.
The aim of CityLiveSketch is to showcase the beautiful world surrounding us, both the iconic places and the most characteristic views, using not only simple photos but also drawings made on a normal travel sketchbook.See more of Pietro Cataudella's work on Instagram or at his website.
I have a feeling we’re in for a lot of manipulated videos as we get closer to the election. The Washington Post provides a guide for the different types. I hope they keep building on this with a guide on how to spot the fakes, but as they say, knowing is half the battle.
Ok, everyone can just subscribe to this feed already so I can stop sharing every. single. post.
Neural networks can be good at naming things, I’ve discovered. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a neural network called GPT-2, which OpenAI trained on a huge chunk of the internet. Thanks to a colab notebook implementation by Max Woolf, I’m able to fine-tune it on specific lists of data - cat names, for example. Drawing on its prior knowledge of how words tend to be used, GPT-2 can sometimes suggest new words and phrases that it thinks it’s seen in similar context to the words from my fine-tuning dataset. (It’ll also sometimes launch into Harry Potter fan fiction or conspiracy theories, since it saw a LOT of those online.)
One thing I’ve noticed GPT-2 doing is coming up with names that sound strangely like the names of self-aware AI spaceships in Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels. In the science fiction series, the ships choose their own names according to a sort of quirky sense of humor. The humans in the books may not appreciate the names, but there’s nothing they can do about them:
Hand Me The Gun And Ask Me Again
Charming But Irrational
So Much For Subtlety
Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall
Now compare some of the effects pedals GPT-2 came up with:
Dangerous But Not Unbearably So
Disastrously Varied Mental Model
Dazzling So Beautiful Yet So Terrifying
Am I really that Transhuman
Love and Sex Are A Mercy Clause
And some of the cat names:
Give Me A Reason
Kill All Humans
Did GPT-2 somehow have a built-in tendency to produce names that sounded like self-aware spaceships? How would it do if it was actually trained specifically on Culture ships?
A reader named Kelly sent me a list of 236 of Iain M. Banks’s Culture ship names from Wikipedia, and I trained the 345 million-parameter version of GPT-2 on them. As it turns out, I had to stop the training after just a few seconds (6 iterations) because GPT-2 was already beginning to memorize the entire list (can’t blame it; as far as it was concerned, memorizing the entire list was a perfect solution to the task I was asking for).
And yes. The answer is yes, naming science fiction AIs is something this real-life AI can do astonishingly well. I’ve selected some of the best to show you. First, there are the names that are clearly warship AIs:
Not Disquieting At All
And That’s That!
I Told You So
Friendly Head Crusher
Scruffy And Determined
Race To The Bottom
And there are the sassy AIs:
Absently Tilting To One Side
A Small Note Of Disrespect
Third Letter of The Week
Well Done and Thank You
Just As Bad As Your Florist
What Exactly Is It With You?
Let Me Just Post This
Protip: Don’t Ask
Way Too Personal
Sobering Reality Check
Charming (Except For The Dogs)
The names of these AIs are even more inscrutable than usual. To me, this makes them much scarier than the warships.
Lightly Curled Round The Wrist
Color Gold Normally Comes With Silence
8 Angry Doughnut Feelings
Mini Cactus Cake Fight
Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want
Stuffy Waffles With Egg On Top
Pickles And Harpsichord
Just As Likely To Still Be Intergalactic Jellyfish
Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means
At least it does sound like some of these AIs will be appeased by snacks.
Bonus content: more AI names, including a few anachronisms (“Leonard Nimoy for President” for example)
GauGAN A.I Paint Tool
AI is going to be huge for artists, and the latest demonstration comes from Nvidia, which has built prototype software that turns doodles into realistic landscapes.
Using a type of AI model known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), the software gives users what Nvidia is calling a “smart paint brush.” This means someone can make a very basic outline of a scene (drawing, say, a tree on a hill) before filling in their rough sketch with natural textures like grass, clouds, forests, or rocks.
The results are not quite photorealistic, but they’re impressive all the same.
This software isn’t groundbreaking exactly — researchers have shown off similar tools in the past, including one from Google that turns doodles into clipart — but it is the most polished demonstration of this concept we’ve seen to date. The software generates AI landscapes instantly, and it’s surprisingly intuitive. For example, when a user draws a tree and then a pool of water underneath it, the model adds the tree’s reflection to the pool.
There has been a surge in awareness of the damage that plastic pollution does to our planet in recent years. It has spurred a number of campaigns to remove single-use plastics from our daily lives. This extends to food packaging, with a Waitrose supermarket in the city of Oxford recently launching a package-free trial.
Many people bemoan the large amount of packaging that supermarkets use, particularly for fruit and vegetables, most of which have their own natural protection. Nonetheless, a …
The post Why some plastic packaging is necessary to prevent food waste appeared first on Next Nature Network.
This was a very quick 17 minutes.
Deborah Harry Does Not Like Interviews, a short documentary by Meghan Fredric.
Blondie’s Debbie Harry endures years of superficial, tedious, and demeaning questions from journalists until she devises a brilliant way to turn interviews on their head.
I laughed out loud, literally and LOUDLY, so many times!
So the other day I heard from Change.org, a company that lets anyone make an online petition and gather signatures. In over a decade of existence, they’ve hosted about 5 million unique petitions.
Some of the petitions are VERY unique - like the ongoing petition to sell Montana to Canada, which gathered so many signatures that the Montana House of Representatives introduced a bill to release a statement opposing the sale. The bill failed to pass.
The question that Change.org - and I - became obsessed with is: if I trained a neural network on the full list of petitions, what kinds of demands would it generate?
The neural net I ended up using is 117M-GPT-2, by OpenAI, which is better at stringing together readable sentences than some of the other neural nets I’ve used. It also comes with a lot of prelearned knowledge about how words are used in sentences, and how they relate to one another, so it will even suggest things that aren’t in the training data sometimes. As training data to imitate, I gave it about 190k petition titles (heavily filtered for quality). I trained it for several minutes on Google’s free colaboratory GPUs (thanks to a colaboratory notebook put together by Twitter user @roadrunning01), and then played with the sampling parameters (mostly truncation) until it was producing very weird (but still readable) petition titles.
Just like real Change.org petitions, the AI-generated demands were clustered in a few general categories:
Bad ideas/Lost Causes:
Dogs are not a thing!! Dog Owners are NOT Human beings!!
Help Bring Climate Change to the Philippines!
Taco, Chipotle, and Starbucks: Bring Back Lettuce Fries
Filipinos: We want your help stopping the killing of dolphins in Brazil in 1970’s
Mr.person: I want a fresh puppy in my home
Simple Stats Administration: Make Another proboscis.
Officials at Prince Alfred Hospital: Aurora to Tell The Company To Send A Baby to Mars
Sign Petition for Houston’s New Fireworks to be Offensive
Make a mudchat
Please not punish myself with a $20 fines.
Unicorn: Stop breaking crab products
Rooster Teeth : Have Rooster Teeth Fix Your Responses To Obama
The people of Great Adventure: get lil bl00ty moose loyal to us
The People of Kashmir : Ban of Airbrushed Bamboo Trees By Pune
Barack Obama, Barack Obama, and Barack Obama: STOP PING MY HUSBERS!
Saskatoon Police Service: No more scootty
One Highway, Four Hens, Highway 1
Rhino Amish Culture Association: Cut the horns of the congon sturgeon & treat it better!
Harmonix: Increase the speed limit on Easton Road to 5mph.
Everyone: Put the Bats on YouTube!
Donald Trump: Change the name of the National Anthem to be called the “Fiery Gator”
Taco Bell: Offer hot wings and non-perfumed water for all customers
Do not attack the unions! Keep cowpies!
Anyone: Get a cat to sing on air!
The people of the world: Change the name of the planet to the Planet of the Giants
Dr James Alexander: Make the Power of the Mongoose a Part of the School’s Curriculum
There must be a story behind this one:
Theresa May MP: Stop The Pigeon Rally in Great Britain
Karen’s mother: Please bring your own breadsticks for Karen.
baseleine planetarium: Unnecessary insults are not welcome in our flat, end it!
Anyone: Stop the use of the word ‘shoe’ in a derogatory way.
City of Toronto, The City of Toronto, The City of Toronto: Remove the “Bam Bam” sign
Basketball Club of St. Louis: Stop the Feral Horseshoes at the Basketball Club
Tom Heneghan as OBE Change Council Localimian: Dammit you!
Denny: Put one more black bee sweater on Em1nt du Poste
Belfast City Council: Fire the cabbages at Clutch MarketI
Kim Hsu: Tougher Penalties for Pedestrians and Elephants on City Street in Austin Texas
This would appear to lay to rest the question of what AI would demand if it suddenly attained sentience. If you are an AI yourself and want to sign on to these petitions, you can register your preference for hot wings and non-perfumed water, and/or put Karen’s mom on notice about the breadsticks.
As bonus content: I have here some entire petitions generated by 117M-GPT-2. The full text for “One Highway, Four Hens, Highway 1″ is a TRIP. Sign up for bonus content here!
This is some stunning madness.
Enjoy this stunning oceanic flotsam find from the Philippines.
The first entirely useful algorithm.
Janelle Shane, "Once again, a neural net tries to name cats", 6/3/2019:
Last year I trained a neural net to generate new names for kittens, by giving it a list of over 8,000 existing cat names to imitate. Starting from scratch, with zero knowledge of English or any context for the words and letter combinations it was trying out, it tried to predict what letters might be found in cat names, and in which order. Its names ranged from the strange to the completely nonsensical to the highly unfortunate (Retchion, Hurler, and Trickles were some of its suggestions). Without knowledge of English beyond its list of cat names, it didn't know what letter combinations to avoid.
So I decided to revisit the cat-naming problem, this time using a neural net that had a lot more context. GPT-2, trained by OpenAI on a huge chunk of the internet, knows which words and letter combinations tend to be used together on the English-language internet. It also has (mostly) figured out which words and letter combinations to avoid, at least in some contexts (though it does tend to suddenly switch contexts, and then, yikes).
Read the whole thing — with pictures! Apparently the Morris Animal Refuge is using this algorithm to name the animals it offers for adoption.
© i. m. pei - louvre pyramid - paris, france - 1980′s
RIP 1917-2019 (pritzker 1983)
It is not my birthday today, but you know what, feel free to treat me like the god-ruler of this Earth regardless
PS, SEE YA AT VANCAF THIS WEEKEND!! (18-19th of May!)
“So surprised to see Conservative thinkers like James Woods banned from Twitter, and Paul Watson banned from Facebook!” — Donald Trump, 5/3/19
These are dark and dangerous days for American democracy. When a mainstream Conservative thinker like me can be thrown off a social media platform just for espousing the free-trade ideas of Adam Smith — and also for claiming people from Africa and the Middle East have lower IQs — it threatens everything that’s great about our society.
Conservatism is a legitimate philosophy, and it’s truly the beginning of the end when someone can’t advocate for small government or call Muslim immigrants terrorists and invaders. It’s insane that right-leaning intellectuals no longer feel free to praise the work of Benjamin Disraeli, or prey on underage girls.
The belief in human self-reliance is a cornerstone of Conservative thinking, which is precisely why it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that birth control makes women unattractive and crazy. The great father of Conservatism, Edmund Burke, said, “But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue?” and there can be little doubt that Burke, had he been alive in the 21st century, would also have spearheaded a racist, misogynist campaign of abuse against Leslie Jones.
The Conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. I didn’t make that up — that’s a sweet little gem from the one and only Russell Kirk, and pretty soon no one will be able to shout that in the public square anymore, or shout that white people are an endangered race either.
Brothers, our right to free speech is being trampled upon. In the Soviet Union, they jailed the dissidents. In China, critics are detained and then disappeared. Here in the United States, the unthinkable has happened because they aren’t letting me share my Reddit memes.
Cry the beloved country! I hereby declare this day to be the “Day of the Long Knives.” I know that makes me sound like a hysterical drama queen, but think about it: there’s absolutely no distinction between that time when Hitler executed members of his own Nazi party to consolidate power, and the present day inhumanity of not letting pasty-faced losers shitpost on Instagram.
Some of us still hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that Sandy Hook was a hoax while 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the US government. When you silence Conservative thought, the consequences are grave indeed.
What next? Are they going to ban the Federalist Papers? Burn copies of Atlas Shrugged? Say it’s unacceptable to call Jewish people “Satanic termites” and rant and rave about the Jewish-controlled media? It’s a slippery slope to tyranny.
First they came for the socialists, and we actually managed to convince the President of the United States that they were violent Antifa who were as bad as Nazis. That was pretty clever of us! But now they’ve come for us, and facts don’t care about our feelings, and neither do the terms of service of privately-owned companies who have a legal right to ban our sorry asses.
What will become of us, the great Conservative thinkers of our generation, now that we have been banished to the Gulag of 8chan and Gab? Who will listen to our incendiary batshit crazy stories about Pizzagate and Seth Rich and mass shooting crisis actors and chemtrails and Hillary Clinton? Where can we find easily impressionable, spineless dullards to promote our internet pitchfork mobs and hate-inciting lies?
Oh yeah. The president. The president will still listen to us. Cool. Cool.
So beautiful and also crazy
Check out this shot of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, which connects Penang Island, Malaysia, to the country’s mainland. The total length of the bridge is 15 miles (24 km), making it the longest in the country and in Southeast Asia. In November, the bridge is closed to traffic for several hours to host the Penang Bridge International Marathon, the longest bridge marathon in the world.
Source imagery: Nazarizal Mohd