Sunday, December 03, 2023

The New York Times publishes a list of ten white men “behind the modern artificial intelligence movement"

When I saw a link to J. Edward Moreno's "The Who’s Who Behind the Modern Artificial Intelligence Movement" on the New York Times Mastodon feed, I saw the picture of Elon Musk that promoted the article and wondered if the article would only refer to men. But I also hoped Moreno and his editors would have made sure to avoid such bias. But of course the "who's who" list includes ten men, all white (or at least, from their pictures, able to pass as white), from Altman to Zuckerberg. There's no mention of women doing important critical work on AI, such as Emily M. Bender, or non-white researchers like Timnit Gebru. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 3 December 2023)


Saturday, December 02, 2023

A coalition to defeat Donald Trump: From Ocasio-Cortez to Cheney

In an interview published yesterday by the Swiss online news outlet Republik, Daniel Ziblatt, Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University, argues that, to defeat Donald Trump in the 2024 United States presidential election, a broad coalition is necessary: from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democratic Congresswoman from New York) on the left to Liz Cheney (former Republican Congresswoman from Wyoming) on the right. Coalitions are necessary to govern the United States, with its system that has come to be based on two main parties that bring many types of people together, and only such an inclusive coalition can be sure to defeat the minority MAGA coalition that has formed around Trump. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 2 December 2023)

Friday, December 01, 2023

“Space” from The Grateful Dead, the Bill Frisell Trio, and Sparks and Tides with Andreas and Matthias Tschopp

I loved the ten minutes or so of "Space" at concerts by The Grateful Dead, when guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir (and sometimes bassist Phil Lesh and keyboardist Brent Mydland) played free-improvised feedback and textures. It's great to hear other performers arrive at a similar "space" in their concerts, as in some of the passages guitarist Bill Frisell played in Strasbourg last month with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Roylston. Tonight at the Bird's Eye in Basel, brothers Andreas Tschopp on trombone and Matthias Tschopp on baritone saxophone, playing with their band Sparks and Tides, twice took their horns and their electronic devices into "space" for long, beautiful passages. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 1 December 2023)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

How to write a headline about the death of Henry Kissinger (1923-2023)

"Sometimes controversial" (BBC) "Former US Secretary of State" (NBC News) Henry Kissinger (1923-2023) may indeed have been "America's most famous diplomat" (Politico) and a "Nobel winner" (Reuters), he can be said to have "shaped Cold War history" (New York Times) and "helped forge US Policy" (Wall Street Journal), and he may even have been "a dominating and polarizing force" (CNN) who "shaped world affairs under two presidents" (Washington Post). But those news organizations are being mealy-mouthed. This is a headline that puts his major achievement front and center: "Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies" (Rolling Stone). Or this: "Henry Kissinger, America’s Most Notorious War Criminal" (HuffPost). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 30 November 2023)

Note: Credit to this post for collecting the phrases used in headlines:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Delving into Tom Waits again

For the last couple of days, I've been delving into my Tom Waits collection (which is complete). I began with "Franks Wild Years", the first Waits album I bought, and also the one I saw the tour for in San Francisco on 5 November 1987 (with Marc Ribot, Ralph Carney, Greg Cohen, and Michael Blair – my first Ribot concert). Now I'm listening in alphabetical order – "Alice", "Bad as Me", and "The Black Rider", and now "Blood Money". The arrangements are like nothing else, the ballads are as good as any ballads in the world, and the voice is inimitable – or at least when I try to imitate it, my throat hurts. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 29 November 2023) 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The poor journalism of recent newspaper attacks on the University of Basel

Today, after Rico Bandle's Basler Zeitung article Sunday about the supposed "Ideologisierung" at the University of Basel, Naomi Reichlin published another article critical of the University in the BZ. Neither journalist did any in-depth research on the issue. Bandle referred to a course on border policy in Switzerland from Spring Semester 2021 but did not interview the lecturer who taught the course. Reichlin, a member of the FDP Switzerland, made broad generalizations about how the University's scholars are supposedly unwilling to challenge their own ideology, but since she did not interview anyone from the University who might have disagreed with her, she ended up not challenging her own "liberal" ideology either. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 28 November 2023)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Borders between countries as instruments of discrimination

In an article in the Sonntagszeitung this weekend criticizing the University of Basel's Urban Studies program for its supposed "Ideologisierung", Rico Bandle discussed the "problem" that an instructor teaching a course on "Die Schweizer Grenzregime" also works with sans-papiers immigrants: "Überwachte Grenzen, so der Grundtenor, seien ein Unterdrückungsinstrument der rassistischen westlichen Staaten, inklusive der Schweiz." The reported speech implies that Bandle disagrees and perhaps even finds the idea patently absurd from his own ideological perspective. But the borders between countries, no matter how guarded they are, are tools of discrimination between insiders and outsiders, and that discrimination is often based on race and racial profiling, especially in "Western countries", including Switzerland. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 27 November 2023)