I’ve recently read a chapter from “Reality Lost: Markets of Attention, Misinformation, and Manipulation”, by Mads Vestergaard and Vincent F. Hendricks (2018) in which they explore the phenomenon of constant (and dissonant) disinformation on the population’s shared reality. Can democracy survive this? If people do not share a reality, what happens, ultimately? Interesting and very timely stuff to think about.
Amid America’s golden age of cheese, there are hundreds of varieties of fine fromages handcrafted by more than 900 artisan and specialty cheesemakers in the US.
Let’s be clear: this article is not about those fine artisanal cheeses. No, this is an ode to Cheese Whiz, that gooey substance that is neither fine nor artisanal… nor even actual cheese.
But to criticize Cheese Whiz for its lack of class, craftsmanship, or cheese, would be to miss the point of the product entirely. When Kraft food scientist Edwin Traisman and his team invented Cheese Whiz, they dreamed of creating a food that outdid Kraft Singles in terms of quick and easy eating. No longer would Americans have to laboriously slice or peel off flimsy plastic films or even chew to enjoy cheese — cheese-loving consumers could shovel a spoonful of Cheese Whiz straight from the jar into their mouth!
In celebration of this iconic, cheese-like condiment, let us go back to a time before we became cheese snobs and dive into the untold truth of Cheese Whiz.
I think Lolly Jo is near her last sail for 2020… The season, as it happened, was a gift during the Pandemic. However, with the Montréal-region likely to show 1000 new cases daily by the end of the month (a 10-fold increase over just weeks ago; my guess based on trending numbers) I’m anticipating a lockdown here. Anyway… Fantastic late-afternoon light on the lake! #grateful– cPaul
When you’ve been shooting film for 30+ years, one tends to collect a great number of negatives.
Not content to take the Covid-19 Pandemic Shutdown sitting down and being idle, I digitized my entire negative hoard last year. Some of the resulting images are surprisingly good (judging by my meager standards), and stand up well against images captured by relatively modern DSLRs of similar quality to my old “analog” gear. Many of these have been “tweaked” and can be viewed at my Adobe portfolio site.
Here’s a fun example of an image shot in the Summer of 1993.
This was taken in east-end St. John’s, Newfoundland — perhaps off of Cochrane Street. To the best of my recollection, the building had formerly been a funeral home, but during the mid-’90s it was briefly a restaurant. – cPaul
America Needs a New Chant to Replace “We’re #1,” But “We’re #28 and Dropping Fast” Won’t Cut It!
I enjoy the articles posted over at The Smirking Chimp and have been a fan since the Bush 43 Administration. (Jeff Tiedrich’s Tweets are comedic things of beauty!). This missive by David Cattanach is no exception.
Watching the slow burn decline of America, and it’s standing in the world community, has been devastatingly sad. – cPaul
The latest Social Progress Index for 2020, finds of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in social progress worse than when the index began in 2011, and the declines in Brazil’s and Hungary’s social progress data were smaller than America’s.” The United States ranks #28 overall and moving in the wrong direction.
The index, created by Nobel-winning economists, assesses fifty metrics of well-being, nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and many more, to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.” The data for the latest index predates Covid-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the United States and seems likely to exacerbate the slide in America’s standing. One new study suggests that in the United States, symptoms of depression have risen threefold since the pandemic began — and poor mental health is associated with other risk factors for well-being.
It’s not every day that we come across a paper that attempts to redefine reality.
But in a provocative preprint uploaded to arXiv this summer, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth named Vitaly Vanchurin attempts to reframe reality in a particularly eye-opening way — suggesting that we’re living inside a massive neural network that governs everything around us. In other words, he wrote in the paper, it’s a “possibility that the entire universe on its most fundamental level is a neural network.”
For years, physicists have attempted to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. The first posits that time is universal and absolute, while the latter argues that time is relative, linked to the fabric of space-time.
In his paper, Vanchurin argues that artificial neural networks can “exhibit approximate behaviors” of both universal theories. Since quantum mechanics “is a remarkably successful paradigm for modeling physical phenomena on a wide range of scales,” he writes, “it is widely believed that on the most fundamental level the entire universe is governed by the rules of quantum mechanics and even gravity should somehow emerge from it.”
“We are not just saying that the artificial neural networks can be useful for analyzing physical systems or for discovering physical laws, we are saying that this is how the world around us actually works,” reads the paper’s discussion. “With this respect it could be considered as a proposal for the theory of everything, and as such it should be easy to prove it wrong.”
The concept is so bold that most physicists and machine learning experts we reached out to declined to comment on the record, citing skepticism about the paper’s conclusions. But in a Q&A with Futurism, Vanchurin leaned into the controversy — and told us more about his idea.