The devil’s lassi

fire fighter wearing black and yellow uniform pointing for something

‘The Devil’s Milkshake’, Tarence Ray in The Baffler, February 23, 2023: You’ve seen it before. An industrial disaster poisons a town’s food or water supply. Residents get angry. Public officials try to dispel that anger through a public act of self-sacrifice, of reassurance. They convene a press conference, whereupon some hapless courtier brings forth a … Read more

Who are you, chatbot AI?

two white message balloons

In case you haven’t been following, and to update my own personal records, here’s a list of notable {AI chatbot + gender}-related articles and commentary on the web over the last few weeks. (While I’ve used “AI” here, I’m yet to be convinced that ChatGPT, Sydney, etc. are anything more than sophisticated word-counters and that … Read more

Some science prizes are only for men

a man pointing a best dad ever pin

Say Someone has won the Nobel Prize for physics, perhaps the most prestigious honour (as awards go) for a physicist. What would it mean for all the future awards given to this Someone? One thing that a Nobel Prize does, and which many past laureates have acknowledged, is turn a laureate into an institution. The … Read more

Keep working. Don’t get up.

people working on a call center

‘Inside Meta’s Push to Solve the Noisy Office’, WSJ, February 16, 2023: Coming to the campuses of Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. is a contraption that can block sound, shield workers from their peers and allow for heads-down, uninterrupted work. It’s a cubicle. That is, a noise-canceling cubicle designed using some of the same principles … Read more

A vortex in my bucket

Cyclones of Color at Jupiter’s North Pole

One of the taps in my bathroom at home issues water in laminar flow – without any turbulence. Sometimes the flow from the tap to the bucket looks like it’s frozen: there are no disturbances on the water’s surface to indicate that it is flowing through the air; the fact of the flow becomes evident … Read more

On that anti-mRNA vaccines video

person holding injection

The Times of India has published an irresponsible article today on a video by a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claiming with dubious evidence that all mRNA vaccines are harmful. The article quotes from the video at length, effectively offering less-sceptical readers a transcript and encouraging the uncritical absorption of the video’s … Read more