I'm a citizen of Lexington, Kentucky, the United States, the world, and the digital sphere. Politically, I care about equality (and changing structures to support it), elections (that is, making them more fair and representative), and electronics (or, rather, their impact on society).
I am a believing agnostic in Community of Christ with a (mostly) cherished past as a (mostly) literalist Mormon.
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🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested After False Facial Recognition Match - The New York Times'
Facial recognition software is gross. What a good—but terrible!—example that just because it comes from an algorithm doesn’t mean it’s right. When will we learn that the risks of wrong decisions outweigh the purported promise of the right ones? link to ‘Eight Months Pregnant and Arrested After False Facial Recognition Match - The New York Times’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Academic Book About Emojis Can’t Include The Emojis It Talks About Because Of Copyright | Techdirt'
This is dumb. Copyright is important, but this example shows how much we’ve made it overreach. link to ‘Academic Book About Emojis Can’t Include The Emojis It Talks About Because Of Copyright | Techdirt’
Difficult read but an important one. link to ‘The Nazis in the space program.’
So many of our conveniences depend on someone else doing work we wouldn’t want to do ourselves. link to ‘Someone Has to Deliver Your Packages in This Scorching Heat | WIRED’
I have been a fan of Delisle’s for quite some time, but I’m still blown away by how good this is. The book isn’t political or polemical, but a slice-of-life comic done by a cartoonist living in East Jerusalem for a year brings walls, checkpoints, rockets, and attacks on Gaza to life in a subtle, compelling way. I used to follow this news a lot more, and Delisle made me feel like there was a lot I missed even then.
📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for But Where Is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac, by James Goodman
A friend recommended this book to me, and I’m very glad I tried it. It’s a broad consideration of how the Binding of Isaac has been interpreted, imagined, and portrayed over the centuries—combined with the author’s personal struggles with the story. It was difficult sometimes as an audiobook (while I appreciated its breadth, it sometimes felt repetitious), but I got a lot out of it.
Everyone excited about generative AI needs to account for this kind of thing. We don’t pay enough attention to digital labor and the dehumanizing aspects of content moderation. link to ‘Cleaning Up ChatGPT’s Language Takes Heavy Toll on Human Workers - WSJ’
I think this is a much bigger deal than any purported security risk. link to ‘A Leaked Memo Shows TikTok Knows It Has a Labor Problem | WIRED’
On a friend’s recommendation, I’m currently reading (well, listening to) James Goodman’s But Where is the Lamb?, an interesting volume taking a look at the story of Abraham and the Binding of Isaac. This passage stood out to me yesterday: To say that you prefer your church and its stories to another church and its stories is one thing. But to say that your church annuls another church (completes it, voids it, supersedes it) is quite another.
I’m a fan of Dan McClellan’s YouTube channel—he posts a lot there (nearly everything is a repost from TikTok), and I watch most of what he posts. Yesterday, he posted an interesting video on the “Lucifer” name and character in the Bible, describing how traditional Christian ideas about the figure are all post-biblical innovations that don’t neceessarily line up with the text. In particular, the name “Lucifer” is an artifact of the Vulgate, and even in the Vulgate, the name itself is a reference to a Babylonian king, not to a fallen angel who became the devil.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Elon Starts Bribing His Biggest Fans As He Admits The Company Is Still Burning Cash (Despite His Earlier Claims To The Contrary) | Techdirt'
Yet another wild story in the wild history of Twitter. link to ‘Elon Starts Bribing His Biggest Fans As He Admits The Company Is Still Burning Cash (Despite His Earlier Claims To The Contrary) | Techdirt’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Let the Platforms Burn: The Opposite of Good Fires is Wildfires | Cory Doctorow's craphound.com'
Lots to appreciate here. link to ‘Let the Platforms Burn: The Opposite of Good Fires is Wildfires | Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com’
It took me six months to finally read this book, but it’s exactly what I hoped for, so it was worth the wait. Some of Merton’s essays are more compelling than others, but his fierce condemnation of war and advocacy for peace is moving. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this.
Growing up Latter-day Saint, I knew that polygamy was part of our past, but I was so defensive about it not being part of our present that I often failed to understand just how important it was to my ancestors (both literal and figurative). About a month ago, I stumbled on a passage in RLDS missionary Charles Derry’s autobiography (which I recently finished) that reminded me that polygamy was a huge prority for 19th century Latter-day Saints:
One of the biggest perks of working in academia is access to an academic library. Don’t get me wrong: I deeply appreciate and regularly visit my local public libraries, and kiddo and I have made a couple of visits to her school’s summer library hours (which is an amazing idea). There’s something about the breadth of an academic library, though, that can really come in handy sometimes. For example, I was recently reading an article by Dan McClellan on Bible translation in Latter-day Saint contexts and noticed with interest his reference to David Bentley Hart’s translation of the New Testament.
This is horrifying. link to ‘Hollywood’s Nightmarish AI Proposal for SAG Actors’
I really want to like this book. I am sympathetic to pirate politics, and I’m impressed with its sudden surge to power in Sweden and elsewhere. I even think many of the ideas in here are compelling and will probably come back to it despite my relatively negative review. The thing, though, is that I struggled through it, so it took me so long to read it that I probably don’t even remember enough to give it a fair review—except that that is itself kind of damning.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Congratulations! The US Is 32nd Worldwide On Broadband Affordability | Techdirt'
USA! USA! Seriously, though, bookmarking for future teaching. link to ‘Congratulations! The US Is 32nd Worldwide On Broadband Affordability | Techdirt’
I’ve seen some reviews describe the new Mission Impossible movie (apparently featuring a malicious AI) as perfectly suited for our time of ChatGPT. I’m more worried about things like this: content farming, model collapse, etc. link to ‘AI Junk Is Starting to Pollute the Internet - WSJ’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Something odd is happening when you try and search Twitter for Threads links - The Verge'
It appears that Musk’s “free speech absolutism” continues to be selective and self-serving. link to ‘Something odd is happening when you try and search Twitter for Threads links - The Verge’
As I wrote earlier in the week, I gave today’s sermon for the Toronto Congregation’s inclusive online worship service. The service was recorded and can be found at the YouTube link below: I really enjoyed participating with Beyond the Walls. I had some idea of how much work they put into making this look like a professional production, but getting to peek behind the scenes and see how much work they put into juggling different cameras, testing and managing audio, and everything else made me really appreciate what they do all the more.
Hear hear. Ring is a creepy company, and we shouldn’t support them. link to ‘Why We Don’t Recommend Ring Cameras | WIRED’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Gizmodo’s staff isn’t happy about G/O Media’s AI-generated content - The Verge'
I read that “chronological order of Star Wars” media piece mentioned here in io9 and I was baffled by how poorly done it was (not realizing it was done by AI and wondering how an io9 writer could get things so wrong). Using AI to content farm is a terrible idea. link to ‘Gizmodo’s staff isn’t happy about G/O Media’s AI-generated content - The Verge’
As I’ve written before, one of my favorite things about the Day One journaling app is the “On this Day” feature that lets me remember moments from my past—often moments I might have forgotten if I hadn’t journaled about them. This morning, Day One reminded me of a hymn service my local Community of Christ congregation held a couple of years ago. I had been invited to share a memory of a favorite hymn.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'ChatGPT users drop for the first time as people turn to uncensored chatbots | Ars Technica'
I get that it’s straightforward language that everyone will get, but I think “uncensored” is the wrong word here. Content moderation is not (necessarily) censorship, and content moderation is good and helpful for tools like generative AI. link to ‘ChatGPT users drop for the first time as people turn to uncensored chatbots | Ars Technica’
I finally read this book weeks after picking it up from a local library and knowing I’d enjoy it. Viloria’s life story (like so many others’ stories) casually destroys sex and gender binaries. Reading about the experiences of intersex people was an important part of my beginning to reject those binaries several years ago, and I think anyone clinging to those binaries ought to hear from voices like Viloria’s. That’s not to say that other queerings of that binary are any less valid than being intersex, of course!
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'It Turns Out Elon Is Speedrunning The Enshittification Learning Curve, Not The Content Moderation One | Techdirt'
I appreciate Masnick’s thinking, and I’m a big Doctorow fan, so it’s always neat to see them come together. link to ‘It Turns Out Elon Is Speedrunning The Enshittification Learning Curve, Not The Content Moderation One | Techdirt’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The environmentally conscious Fairphone 4 is finally coming to the US - The Verge'
This is very exciting! I’m far too locked into Apple’s ecosystem to seriously consider this right now (even this post is being composed thanks to Siri Shortcuts), but I hope this does well, because I’d love to own a Fairphone one day. link to ‘The environmentally conscious Fairphone 4 is finally coming to the US - The Verge’
Next Sunday, I’ll be giving the sermon for the Community of Christ Toronto Congregation’s Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation, speaking on the Parable of the Samaritan (more often called the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but my sermon will explain why I’m going for that name instead). I had been planning to post about the sermon after the fact, but the links for the YouTube live events went up today, so I thought I might share them ahead of time.
This is a fascinating bit of history. Derry was an early convert to Mormonism who emigrated from England to Utah, became disgusted with polygamy and what he saw as an abusive system of tithing and church governance, and returned to the American Midwest, where he joined the RLDS church and became a leader and missionary in that denomination. Like The Giant Joshua, it’s odd to read something that is so clearly “a pioneer story” but isn’t uniformly positive.
This is disgusting and reprehensible. I refuse to watch the video myself, but it sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on the Gab groups I’ve looked at for research projects. link to ‘DeSantis slammed over Trump attack ad over LGBTQ rights : NPR’
This is a wild, compelling story that I missed when it first came out. Glad to be reading it now. link to ‘The Fanfic Sex Trope That Caught a Plundering AI Red-Handed | WIRED’
Good focus on the digital labor aspects of this whole thing. I sympathize with Reddit for not wanting to provide free value for generative AI (this is one of the trickiest parts of that conversation), but Reddit’s users are right to balk at providing free value for the platform. link to ‘Reddit Won’t Be the Same. Neither Will the Internet | WIRED’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Internal Twitter Video Reveals Twitter Bent Over Backwards To Protect Trump And Pro-Trump Insurrectionists | Techdirt'
Helpful summary by Masnick; bookmarking for later. link to ‘Internal Twitter Video Reveals Twitter Bent Over Backwards To Protect Trump And Pro-Trump Insurrectionists | Techdirt’
Almost immediately after finishing yesterday’s post, an idea occurred to me that I wanted to chase a little further. I’ve mentioned before my admiration for Thomas Römer, a Germano-Swiss Bible scholar who teaches at the Collège de France and whose lectures are freely available in podcast form. I’ve listened to a lot of those lectures, and I remembered that Römer had made some comments about the rhetorical purposes of the Abraham story that seemed relevant to my wrestling with the story of the Binding of Isaac.