Previous “Links” posts

We Don’t Need Robots for This 

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Delivery food is seldom particularly good, but it’s grown enormously popular in recent years, in no small part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, pools of workers bustle around cities for companies like Grubhub and Uber Eats, delivering food from dozens of different restaurants. This army was already strange, but Los Angeles has one-upped it., with multiple companies using robots to carry out these deliveries:

Over the last two years, a handful of delivery robot companies have popped up in Los Angeles, which are essentially remotely piloted (or autonomous, in some cases) cooler-shaped chests on wheels. The issues associated with these robots vary: In Santa Monica, a company called Coco has basically turned food delivery into a video game. Delivery “drivers” pilot the robots remotely, using an Xbox controller and using a series of cameras to help guide them. Serve Robotics explains that its robots operate with “Level 4 autonomy,” meaning they are fully autonomous in certain areas.

The linked article is actually about one of these robots driving through an active crime scene, which is not great! But really, the idea of sidewalks crowded with delivery robots moving autonomously or piloted by unseen humans seems terrible all on its own.

Might Someone Out Taco the Bell? 

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

OK, sure, Taco Bell has the Mexican pizza. But do you know about Pizza Hut’s Italian taco?

Very Off-Brand 

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Beyond Meat is a producer of plant-based meat substitutes, including vegetarian hamburgers and sausages that are far more meat-like than products of old. The products are quite good, especially the sausages. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy them, but they are the sort thing that can be enjoyed by those of us who “don’t want to eat anything with a face”.

Meanwhile, Beyond Meat’s Chief Operating Officer is out there literally eating faces.

Following in Real Life 

Friday, September 16th, 2022

Living in a city, I frequently see folks spending time taking pictures that are clearly intended for social media. It can be an amusing process to witness, because it often takes so. damned. long.

Now, an artist named Dries Depoorter has coupled public cameras and AI to create something new. He’s gathered both final Instagram posts and footage of those Instagram influencers in the wild as they captured their perfect shot.

The project is cleverly titled “The Follower”, and it’s both creepy and fascinating.

Follow the Practical Imperative 

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

I didn’t expect to link to a second story related to Martha’s Vineyard so soon after last month’s “Taxivasion”. But then, I didn’t expect the repugnant Republican governors of Texas and Florida to go so far as to lie to poor human beings who are just looking for a better life, so they could illegally transport them across state lines and dump them in Massachusetts, using them as pawns in a despicable publicity stunt. What a fool I was.

Be Curious 

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

I enjoyed this short story about Derek Sivers’s shortest date, and ketchup. I suspect you will too.

Scott Frost’s Extra $7.5 Million 

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

Scott Frost is the now-former coach of Nebraska’s football team. After 4+ seasons of poor performance, he was fired on Sunday. You shouldn’t feel too bad for him, however, because he’s getting $15 million dollars to not coach Nebraska football. You and I are over here doing that for free, like chumps!

The details of Frost’s contract are both ridiculous and tedious. The bottom line, however, is straight-forward: By firing Frost on September 11 rather than October 1, Nebraska owes him $15 million instead of “just” $7.5 million.

By firing Frost on Sept. 11, the Huskers are now required to pay him a hefty $15 million buyout. That sum would have been cut by 50% had Nebraska waited to fire Frost until Oct. 1. However, Alberts opted to foot the bill ahead of the program’s marquee showdown against Oklahoma next weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska.

One reason college football coaches are paid such disgustingly large sums of money is that the programs generate substantial revenue for the schools, including via donations from alumni. Were I a Nebraska alum, however, I’d damn sure not be donating after they blew $7.5 million by not waiting three weeks to fire their coach on what is sure to be a bad season anyway.

Time Heals All Wounds 

Monday, September 12th, 2022

On the 18th of April in (17)75, two lanterns were hung in the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church, signalling the moves by the British Army so the colonists could react. This led directly to the start of the Revolutionary War, and America’s eventual independence from the British Empire.

On the evening of April 18, 1775 Robert Newman and John Pulling quietly entered Old North and carefully climbed to the top of the church’s bell tower. They briefly hung two lanterns near the windows and made their escape. This signal, from the tallest structure in the town of Boston, served as an early warning that a detachment of the British Army was crossing the Charles River and heading west towards the towns of Lexington and Concord. By the end of the next night, the American Revolutionary War had begun.

Two and a half centuries later, Old North Church is serving as the host for the British Consulate’s condolence book for Queen Elizabeth II. I guess they’re over it.

Kids Have Crappy Taste in Music 

Friday, September 9th, 2022

Why has a song called “Poopy Stupid Butt” earned $10,000? One word: Alexa. The virtual assistant found in Amazon’s smart speakers had led to a cottage industry of scatological songs appealing to young children.

What’s Bad for the Goose Is Bad for the Gander 

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Last year, Texas passed a terrible law requiring public schools to display posters which contain the US national motto of “In God We Trust”.

[U]nder a new law, Texas public schools are required to hang posters emblazoned with “In God We Trust” if someone donates a poster or framed copy to a campus.

Gee, how might that go wrong for the Christians seeking to force their religion on others?

A student group fighting for change in the district, the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition, labeled the donations a “blatant intrusion of religion in what should be a secular public institution.”

So coalition members designed an array of alternate posters that included the motto in other languages and with rainbow lettering. Members of the LGBTQ community use the rainbow flag in pride-related events.

Krishna presented the posters — one written in Arabic, the others with rainbows — near the start of Monday night’s meeting.

Ah, yes, that’s how.