Links for January 2022

There’s a new blog in town. All the old blogs are still here of course. Our small mining town is filling up, it’s shoulder-to-shoulder blogs in here. Blogs in the ditches, blogs in the pantry, blogs under the floorboards. Last night I went to my room and found three strange blogs asleep in my bed. Send help. Anyways this new blog is Experimental History. The name comes from the author’s defining argument that psychology is best understood as the study of bothering people. “It’s nearly impossible to do psychology without bothering somebody,” he says, “and the moment you do, you’ve made experimental history.

MichelangEmoji Bot is by far our favorite AI art project. In particular, it seems like a good argument against the idea that AI will remove human creativity from the process of creating art. The tools get weirder and weirder, but some genius still had to come up with templates like “EMOJI EMOJI – Landscape Series -” and “Portal to the EMOJI EMOJI Dimension”.

Our header image this month is Portal to the 💥💗 Dimension. Please enjoy this additional selection: 

And a similar idea: Horror design based on; 😂🎃🦈 Listen, uh… is she single?

Hmmm. Given all this, are emoji the hieroglyphs of the internet? Yes. There’s even an emoji Alethiometer.

Interesting two-part series about how (and when) the New York Times tests multiple headlines for a single article and what kinds of articles make it to the front page.

Speaking of which, we know that whoever wrote the headline for “Scientists fight crab for mysterious purple orb discovered in California deep” was doing it to get us to click, and listen, it worked.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet of course, but this is big if true: autistic redditor claims that prescription oxytocin nasal spray temporarily suppresses his autism.

End of history disproven by awesome sink.

In Florida they don’t have snow days, but they do have Iguana Warnings.

Noah Smith: “There’s no stopping [the technology] bus. I can only promise you that it’s going to get weirder.” Strap in! 😀 

In other future-predicting news, expect cloaking devices on cars by 2030.

When Timothy Leary (the LSD guy, Harvard Psychology Professor, etc.) finally ended up jail in 1970, this happened:

On January 21, 1970, Leary received a 10-year sentence for his 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. On his arrival in prison, he was given psychological tests used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of these tests himself (including the “Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory”), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a very conforming, conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, he was assigned to work as a gardener in a lower-security prison from which he escaped in September 1970, saying that his non-violent escape was a humorous prank and leaving a challenging note for the authorities to find after he was gone.

If psychedelics are not your thing, consider the exciting and unusual world of hobby tunneling, where random people go full mole and sometimes dig elaborate series of tunnels beneath their house, yard, local public park, etc.

Notable examples include: 

Cray cray indeed: 

On twitter, Anton argues: what if we fixed San Francisco by doing crimes? “illegalism is a political philosophy which says that under unjust systems of control, doing crimes is a political act and revolutionaries ought to establish a parallel illegal economy” He also includes a list of “good crimes to do”, saying, “there’s a lot of really great crimes you can do if you have the resources and the will”. 

In related news, Applied Divinity Studies writes absolutely-not-medical-advice about how you can get fluvoxamine for less than $100 and a few minutes on a video call. We’re reminded of similar work by Scott Alexander, like Mental Health On A Budget and his “long post is long” post, Navigating And/Or Avoiding The Inpatient Mental Health System.

Also see this great thread by Maia Bittner, including tips like “literally no doctor cares if you’re tired or in pain or can’t work. *but* they do care about Activities of Daily Living (ADL). … Show up in kind of a decrepit state. Doctors are power freaks and they dismiss you if you’re put together. Super over-do your ADL- if you can’t put on socks, walk in barefoot. They need to see evidence of how your problem negatively affects your life when you walk in the room.” and “you know how every doctor gives you a 5 page form to fill out with all your family history of every possible disease? just skip it and give it back to them blank. they don’t even notice or look at it”. We’re not doctors so we don’t know if this is true, but either way, more stuff like this please. Medical praxis seems like incredibly valuable low-hanging social good, and most of it isn’t even illegal! Someone should make a manual. In fact, if you want to make a manual, let us know

Speaking of stoopid laws: The secret history of jaywalking

Surprising boondock etymology – “1910s during or around the Philippine–American War after the Spanish–American War, from Tagalog bundok (‘mountain’), adopted by occupying American soldiers serving in the mountains or rural countryside of the American-occupied Philippines under the United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands. The term was reinforced or re-adopted during World War II under the U.S. military, where terms like boondockers (‘shoes suited for rough terrain’) came originally in 1944 as U.S. services slang word for field boots. It was later shortened to boonies by 1964 originally among U.S. troops serving in the Vietnam War in reference to the rural areas of Vietnam, as opposed to Saigon.”  Can you guess why we looked up this etymology this month? 

Bad news for the West, friends — the world’s first classical Chinese programming language is out. It’s also beautiful: 

Pike squares were developed to fight cavalry. Slings could be used to panic war elephants. So too the answer to cheap modern drones may be motorcyclery — essentially, militarized biker gangs.  

If you are looking for new characters for your fiction novel, please please enjoy this list by Jess Nevins of the best characters from the pulps who were created in 1926 and thus fall into the public domain starting this year. Who among you will bring back the Crimson Clown: “The Crimson Clown is a ghastly frickin’ nightmare, of course—just *look* at that picture I posted two tweets back—it’s a clown with a gun, drinking Scotch! Pure nightmare fuel—which is why bringing him back and making him *really* scary would be a great idea.”

A video! Watch to the end.

Q: We’re going to ask this neighbor here, what do you think is happening in Telde?  What do you think is happening here? Hey, sir, I’m talking to you, don’t turn your back on me, man. What happens in your yard? Zapatero. What is your opinion on Zapatero’s government? What is your opinion on the Canary government? And of the city council of the island? Let’s ask him if he receives a subsidy from the government. Do you receive a subsidy from the government? Let’s see. What is going on with the mayors? What is happening with the president of the government and what is happening with the mayors of the island? What is happening with the city councilors? What’s happening…? Let’s see. Let’s see. Come here. Please. Don’t turn your back on me man, I want to talk to you. Look: What is going on with the mayor of Telde? What is going on with the mayors of the island?

A: WUALLLHHHHHHHH

“Excited to share a new study led by Shachar Givon & @MatanSamina w/ Ohad Ben Shahar,” begins this tweet. “Goldfish can learn to navigate a small robotic vehicle on land. We trained goldfish to drive a wheeled platform that reacts to the fish’s movement.” This is exciting but turns out home hackers have been letting fish control robot cars since at least 2014. Compare also to studies in teaching rats to drive tiny cars — researchers say the rats find this relaxing. Ok, new prediction for 2050: robot exoskeletons for small animals that let them navigate the human world, drive, take jobs, etc. Everyone was worried about automation, no one was worried about the goldfish taking our jobs. Alternatively if the self-driving cars don’t arrive on schedule, we can get rats or goldfish to do it.

“While recording the audiobook version of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White needed 17 takes to read Charlotte’s death scene because he kept crying.”

Magawa, the landmine-sniffing hero rat, dies aged eight. Rest in peace hero 😢🥇🐀

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