Link roundup for February 15, 2023

AMEN by Jessica Hilltout. “The aim of AMEN was to shine the light on all those in the shadow of the World Cup, far from the big stadiums and the corporate carnival-nature of the event. To embrace Africa and everything that makes it unique. To speak of the authenticity and sheer ingenuousness of a continent that manages to do so much with so little. To capture people with simple needs and huge hearts. To express football in its purest form.” []

God Did the World a Favor by Destroying Twitter. I love Paul Ford. “Our smarter, richer betters often preach the idea of a town square, a marketplace of ideas, a centralized hub of discourse and entertainment—and we listen. But when I go back and read Genesis, I hear God saying: ‘My children, I designed your brains to scale to 150 stable relationships. Anything beyond that is overclocking. You should all try Mastodon.’” []

SolidGoldMagikarp (plus, prompt generation). This is all super weird and shows that we really have no idea what’s going on with these LLMs. Are we really ready for this stuff to become the backbone of internet search? “We’ll demonstrate a previously undocumented failure mode for GPT-2 and GPT-3 language models, which results in bizarre completions (in some cases explicitly contrary to the purpose of the model), and present the results of our investigation into this phenomenon.” []

Hey, Ease Up; A Load-Bearing If-Statement. What happens if, for health reasons, you need to use a fitness tracker to move less? “But if you’re trying to conserve energy, you don’t want to reach that goal. You want to stay under it. Sure, you want to maybe get up and about, I guess? Take a very slow short walk outside? But you are supposed to be resting.” []

Scientists Develop Compound That Kills So Efficiently They Named It After Keanu Reeves. “The molecules ‘kill so efficiently that we named them after Keanu Reeves,’ German researcher Sebastian Götze said in a press release, ‘because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles.’” []

Buy Nothing groups and the culture of free stuff. This deep-dive into the things people post in Buy Nothinggroups (and that actually get picked up!) is quite something. “There is something about free stuff that makes us abandon all rational thought.” [, soft paywall]

The mystery of the disappearing vacation day. Why have we stopped taking regular vacations? “Many were on a paid-time-off (PTO) plan that lumps sick days, personal days and vacation days in a single bucket. While workers often appreciate the flexibility of PTO and employers find it easier to administer, such plans can deter taking long vacations by making us feel as if we’re cutting into the PTO we might need in case of sudden illness or tragedy.” [, gift article link]

Nope, coffee won’t give you extra energy. It’ll just borrow a bit that you’ll pay for later. Ok listen, don’t come at me with your “facts”, please. “While it feels energizing, this little caffeine intervention is more a loan of the awake feeling, rather than a creation of any new energy.” []