Little Links & Notes 6

‘A new ‘miracle’ weight-loss drug really works — raising huge questions’ (Financial Times°).

It’s pretty pricey right now. Costing $1,350/mo in the US.

Something interesting about being obese:

Once it becomes obese, the human body tends to push itself to rebound to its previous highest weight. Scientists don’t fully understand why, or how to stop it.


The 100 best TV shows of the 21st century (The Guardian°). I usually hate these sorts of lists and massively disagree with them. But this one is actually pretty good.


The Fireplace Delusion (Sam Harris°).

The case against burning wood is every bit as clear as the case against smoking cigarettes. Indeed, it is even clearer, because when you light a fire, you needlessly poison the air that everyone around you for miles must breathe… By lighting a fire, you are creating pollution that you cannot dispose. Your neighbors should not have to pay the cost of this archaic behavior of yours.

I have discovered that when I make this case, even to highly intelligent and health-conscious men and women, a psychological truth quickly becomes as visible as a pair of clenched fists: They do not want to believe any of it. Most people I meet want to live in a world in which wood smoke is harmless. Indeed, they seem committed to living in such a world, regardless of the facts. To try to convince them that burning wood is harmful—and has always been so—is somehow offensive. The ritual of burning wood is simply too comforting and too familiar to be reconsidered, its consolation so ancient and ubiquitous that it has to be benign. The alternative—burning gas over fake logs—seems a sacrilege.


The Seasonality of Weight Gain (Prime Cuts Newsletter°).

If you miss the single best day of the year in stocks, your performance suffers badly over the long run… I was thinking about how the average adult in the US gains around 1-2 pounds per year… All of it (and then some) comes during the winter months.

[…] I wonder what would happen to that 1-2 pound average annual weight gain per adult, if we removed three days: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. These three days alone account for the majority of the weight adults gain annually in the US.


AI can ‘hallucinate’ (Every / Dan Shipper°).

Hallucination is a technical term that refers to the model’s propensity to return nonsensical or false completions depending on what’s asked of it. The model is like a smart and overeager 6-year-old. It will try its best to give you a good answer even if it doesn’t know what it’s talking about. OpenAI and other foundational-model companies are actively working on this problem, but it’s still common. It’s compounded by the second problem.


The fifteen-hour days and long walking commutes of Victorian Britain (The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London).

Many of those [workers] walking long distances [5-10 miles] then worked twelve-, fourteen-, sixteen-hour days, at the end of which they then walked home again. The great journalist of working-class London, Henry Mayhew, noted in passing what he considered ‘the ordinary hours’ of employment: from 06:00 to 18:00…

Shifts for drivers of hackney cabs were always long: the shorter shifts lasted eleven or twelve hours, the long shifts from fourteen to sixteen hours, sometimes more. (The horses could work nothing like these hours: two or three horses were needed for a twelve-hour shift.) Even worse were the hours of many omnibus employees: frequently drivers and conductors worked twenty hours at a stretch, beginning at 4 a.m. and ending at midnight, with an hour and a half off during that time.

The industry average, however, was fifteen hours: 7 a.m. to midnight, with seven minutes for dinner, and ten minutes between journeys at the termini. Shop assistants worked equally long hours. One linen draper told his fellows at the Metropolitan Drapers’ Association that he had started to close his shop at 7 p.m. instead of 10 – thus working an eleven-hour day – and had found it saved money: ‘so cheerful and assiduous’ were the staff made by these short hours that he could manage with fewer employees. Henry Vizetelly, later a publisher, worked his apprenticeship as a wood-engraver, walking ten miles daily from Brixton to Judd Street in Bloomsbury and back, leaving his lodgings at about six and arriving home again around ten. And, he pointed out in his memoirs, he was lucky: City hours were longer.


For me, magazines (and newspapers too) are such a poor value in comparison to books. Today when I was in my local newsagents I noticed that a copy of the New Scientist costs £7. It’s a slim, weekly magazine. BBC History Magazine – a monthly – was £6.

If you’re interested in science or history why not spend a little more money to get a long, detailed book instead? Something that will really help you understand and grasp the subject, rather than a 500 word cursory article.

I understand that certain magazines are time sensitive and are about recent news or might not have a book equivalent. But there’s plenty of new science books published each month on new and groundbreaking subjects. And if you’re into history there’s a wealth of books, new and old.

Whenever I pick up a magazine the moment and notice the price I nearly always just think to myself “I’d gladly rather just spend double this to get a book instead that will have hundreds of times more content.”


Niccolò Machiavelli in “The Prince.

“When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.”


Watched

  • Tim’s Vermeer - 76%. Documentary. Rewatch. An inventor thinks that the painter Johannes Vermeer had the help of an optical device to paint his masterpieces. He goes to extraordinary and practical lengths to prove this. It’s shot and looks like a web documentary. But this is so great and compelling that you don’t care.
  • Hellboy - 76%. Rewatch. The Nazi’s raise a demon from the other side to help their war effort. But the twist is that the demon falls into the hands of the allies and becomes the good guy. In my mind this is a little bit like a supernatural Indiana Jones. It’s one of my favourite comic book film adaptions. A little corny. But it’s also a great, slightly dumb fun. I consider this a ‘pizza’ movie.
  • Role Models - 68%. Rewatch. Two screw-ups have to mentor two young kids as part of community service. This is one of my comfort films. Quietly heartwarming. And Joe Lo Truglio’s small role as a chap who takes LARPing a bit too seriously is wonderful (spoilers from 02:20 in).
  • Avatar: The Way of Water - 48%. The second Avatar film. It looks pretty, but I just didn’t… care. Turned it off about half way in.

Listened

  • New Riders of the Purple Sage - 1971 - New Riders of the Purple Sage - 7/10: Decent enough, though not outstanding. A nice pretty mellow Country Rock album with a few nice songs. It grew on me as it went on.
  • New Riders of the Purple Sage - 1972 - Powerglide - 5/10: Short and sweet. There’s some standard rock elements here, but there’s also the expected country fare. There’s no outstanding songs on this album, but there’s plenty of really solid ones.
  • New Riders of the Purple Sage - 1972 - Gypsy Cowboy - 5/10
  • New Riders of the Purple Sage - 1973 - The Adventures of Panama Red - 4/10: Looks like this is their most popular album. But for me this is the worst one so far. The album is less than 30 minutes long and it’s rather dull. Fast-paced, but boring songs. Lonesome L.A. Cowboy is on this album which is arguably their best song, but aside from that this album isn’t great.
  • μ‐Ziq - 2023 - 1977 - 7/10: Really loving this at the moment. It’s an electronic ‘background’ album for me, that I listen to whilst programming. It blends nicely into the background and I’ve had on a loop for a week or two. h
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Related: Little Links & Notes 7



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