Welcome to The Cruelest Day: Tuesday, in this case January 17, 2023. The good news is that Monday was a holiday, so the work week is shorter. It’s National Hot Buttered Rum Day, matey!
It’s also Ben Franklin Day (he was born on this day in Boston in 1706), National Hot Heads Chili Day, National Bootlegger’s Day (also the birthday of Al Capone), and Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the January 17 Wikipedia page.
*Obituaries first. The Italian movie star Gina Lollobrigida has died at 95 in Rome.
According to Italian news agency Lapresse, Lollobrigida died in a clinic in Rome. No cause of death has been cited. In September she had had surgery to repair a thigh bone broken in a fall, but she recovered and competed for a Senate seat in Italy’s elections held last year in September, though she did not win.
And from Wikipedia:
She was one of the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. At the time of her death, Lollobrigida was among the last living high-profile international actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
As her film career slowed, Lollobrigida established a second career as a photojournalist. In the 1970s she achieved a scoop by gaining access to Fidel Castro for an exclusive interview.
Lollobrigida continued on as an active supporter of Italian and Italian-American causes, particularly the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). In 2008, she received the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundation’s Anniversary Gala. In 2013 she sold her jewelry collection and donated the nearly US $5 million from the sale to benefit stem-cell therapy research
Here’s a scene from the 1956 movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” in which Lollobrigida stars as Esmerelda and Anthony Quinn as Quasimodo:
*The NYT reports on the increasing problem of AI-“chatbots” that can write essays for students. One of my fellow teachers had this problem lately because one can spot “bot” essays for the nonce. This will get harder! In some not-so-hot schools, professors spot AI essays because they are too good!
While grading essays for his world religions course last month, Antony Aumann, a professor of philosophy at Northern Michigan University, read what he said was easily “the best paper in the class.” It explored the morality of burqa bans with clean paragraphs, fitting examples and rigorous arguments.
A red flag instantly went up.
Mr. Aumann confronted his student over whether he had written the essay himself. The student confessed to using ChatGPT, a chatbot that delivers information, explains concepts and generates ideas in simple sentences — and, in this case, had written the paper.
Alarmed by his discovery, Mr. Aumann decided to transform essay writing for his courses this semester. He plans to require students to write first drafts in the classroom, using browsers that monitor and restrict computer activity. In later drafts, students have to explain each revision. Mr. Aumann, who may forgo essays in subsequent semesters, also plans to weave ChatGPT into lessons by asking students to evaluate the chatbot’s responses.
I always gave in-class exams in which most questions were answered with very short essays, and I had no essays assigned save lab reports, which can’t be faked this way. But woe unto humanities folks! Here’s one solution: make AI essays identifiable somehow:
That’s especially true as generative A.I. is in its early days. OpenAI is expected to soon release another tool, GPT-4, which is better at generating text than previous versions. Google has built LaMDA, a rival chatbot, and Microsoft is discussing a $10 billion investment in OpenAI. Silicon Valley start-ups, including Stability AI and Character.AI, are also working on generative A.I. tools.
An OpenAI spokeswoman said the lab recognized its programs could be used to mislead people and was developing technology to help people identify text generated by ChatGPT.
And there are programs that give you the probability that an essay was generated by an AI program. In the case my colleague dealt with, it was near 100%.
This wouldn’t be needed, of course, if some students didn’t cheat. It’s a sad blot on human nature that we have to make these changes to keep students from cheating.
*Looking for a job that will make you happy, or one that will stress you out less, or add meaning to your life? There are no jobs that maximize these bonuses, but some do a lot better than others .The Washington Post ranks jobs for all these criteria, and I’ll put their graph below.
Agriculture, logging and forestry have the highest levels of self-reported happiness — and lowest levels of self-reported stress — of any major industry category, according to our analysis of thousands of time journals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. (Additional reporting sharpened our focus on lumberjacks and foresters, but almost everyone who works on farms or in forests stands out.)
Heath-care and social workers rate themselves as doing the most meaningful work of anybody (apart from the laudable lumberjacks), but they rank lower on the happiness scale. They also rank high on stress.
The most stressful sectors are the industry including finance and insurance, followed by education and the broad grouping of professional and technical industries, a sector that includes the single most stressful occupation: lawyers. Together, they paint a simple picture: A white collar appears to comes with significantly more stress than a blue one.
The chart is below. The article explains why forestry may be the BEST job (for one thing, you’re working outdoors and there isn’t much stress, but what I found curious is that science and technical work ranks near the bottom. Well, it made me happy, and I found it meaningful and not nearly as stressful as, say, an office job. Have a look and see where you fit:
They also rank activities for the same three criteria, and here are those results:
The most meaningful and happiness-inducing activities were religious and spiritual, which doesn’t tell us much about farming or forestry — at least not as it’s commonly practiced in the United States. But the second-happiest activity — sports, exercise and recreation — helps crack the case.
Like farming, recreation ranks high on both happiness and pain. And the two activities have one obvious thing in common: They take place outside. Preferably in nature. The slight pain is a sign of demanding physical exertion, and the price of getting outdoors.
Combining these data, the best life you could have, it would seem, would be to be a religious lumberjack and exercise on the side (though being a lumberjack is exercise.
*After a visit to the Texas/Mexico border, the mayor of New York City, a Democrat, has excoriated the Biden Administration—and the federal government as a whole—for contributing to the immigration mess at the U.S.’s southern border:
During a visit to the Texas border city of El Paso, New York Mayor Eric Adams offered up a blistering criticism of the federal government’s response to the influx of immigrants into U.S. cities, saying, “We need clear coordination.”
He said Sunday that cities where immigrants are flowing to need help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Our cities are being undermined. And we don’t deserve this. Migrants don’t deserve this. And the people who live in the cities don’t deserve this,” Adams said as he wrapped up a weekend visit to El Paso. “We expect more from our national leaders to address this issue in a real way.”
Adams said New York City has been overwhelmed. Since last spring, New York City has welcomed about 40,000 asylum seekers, and last week they saw a record of close to 840 asylum seekers arriving in one day, according to Adams.
“New York cannot take more. We can’t,” Adams said, adding that other cities also can’t take more.
“No city deserves what is happening,” he said.
Adams, a Democrat, also criticized the practice of some governors of transporting immigrants straight from the border to cities including New York City. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, over the last year has sent buses of immigrants to Democratic-led cities as a way to maximize exposure over what he said is inaction by the Biden administration over high numbers of migrants crossing on the southern border.
Yes, the busing (especially to Kamala Harris’s home) was a petulant and immature act of retribution, but we can’t expect Texas to absorb all the immigrants. What strikes me about Adams’s criticism is that he offers no solution himself; he just says the gub’nint should fix it. At least Biden has proposed concrete quotas and rules, whlle Adams just says that everyone has been treated unfairly. I don’t think those who have crossed the border illegally have. What, Mr. Adams, do you propose should be done. The whole problem results from an excess of kvetching and a dearth of action.
*I was happy when Chicago elected a black, gay, woman mayor, Lori Lightfoot, in 2019, for I thought she’d help heal racial divisions in the city, which is what she promised. She didn’t deliver. Crime went up, she hasn’t shown much leadership, and I lost faith in her. Now she’s an underdog, as The Wall Street Journal reports:
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing stiff competition from a large field of candidates in her re-election bid as Chicago tackles crime and the lingering economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms. Lightfoot, a 60-year-old former federal prosecutor, was the first Black woman and first gay person elected mayor of the nation’s third-largest city, winning every city ward in a 2019 runoff against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Now, early polls show the mayor as an underdog in the Feb. 28 election, with the top two vote-getters expected to face off in an April runoff if no candidate wins a majority in the first round.
“I think there is a lot of disappointment in the communities that I represent, about having high hopes for her and being very disappointed in her performance,” said Alderman Tom Tunney, a pro-business restaurant owner in the city’s liberal Lakeview neighborhood, who is retiring from the council at the end of his term and had considered his own mayoral bid.
Ms. Lightfoot faces eight rivals, including six other Black candidates, which could dilute some of her support; U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D., Ill.) who is Hispanic; and former schools chief Paul Vallas, who is white.
As the article implies, crime is a big deal here in Chicago, and the concern is universal. Lightfoot hasn’t done anything to reduce it.
In 2019, Ms. Lightfoot promised an overhaul of police oversight, more openness and collaboration and investment in all of the city’s neighborhoods, not just the downtown Loop, seeking to contrast herself from her predecessor, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
She made progress with the city’s long-term budget issues, but crime has remained a major issue. McDonald’s Corp. moved its headquarters to the city’s West Loop neighborhood in 2018, and its chief executive said in the fall that public-safety problems were a barrier to getting workers to return downtown.
I’ll probably vote for Chuy Garcia on February 28, as he’s got a ton of experience and is good on crime and schools.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili may be speaking both metaphorically and literally, much like Augustine of Hippo:
A: What are you doing here?Hili: I’m observing the rise of darkness.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Obserwuję narastanie mroku.
From Bruce. This is SO true, and I was one of those kids:
From Merilee. I still can’t figure out how the cat got up there:
. . . and from the FB site America’s Culture Decline into Idiocy (a great group to follow):
Neither God nor Titania is tweeting today, but here’s a Titania substitute:
I do not purchase products with the term “whitening” in their advertising. This sort of subliminal messaging contributes to societal unconscious racial bias and upholds white superiority.
— Ann Lesby, PhD (she/her) 🌈 (@AnnLesbyPhD) January 14, 2023
From Masih in solidarity with others. The IRGC is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps:
This is what unity looks like: a very powerful joint appeal from @PahlaviReza; @alikarimi_ak8; @NazaninBoniadi; @AlinejadMasih; & @Golshifteh calling on the international community to add the IRGC to their terror lists. #IRGCterrorists pic.twitter.com/GDnHwyspEg
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) January 15, 2023
From Barry, best buddies (note sentimental music):
Your daily dose of sweetness!! 😍😍
Good morning dear people! pic.twitter.com/j03gTN3gt8
— MARTHA ACUÑA (@MARCIAN2003) January 15, 2023
From reader j.j.p., who saw this and said this:
This morning I clicked on one of your Hilli dialogue twitter posts and followed the thread to see if anything else of interest turned up. I was suddenly stopped in mid-click, agape at this video of what I first took to be an absolutely brilliant Welsh avant-garde performance piece – a satire of Mother Teresa as a giant puppet with a horse skull for a face.
But no, alas, it was the enacting of a Welsh folk tradition. But it’ll always be the giant horse-skull Mother Teresa puppet to me. There are many styles of decorative band for the puppet’s sheet but it’s the simple, single blue band that makes it Mother Teresa.
Sure looks like it!
— Siôn Jobbins (@SionJobbins) January 14, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a brother and sister gassed upon arrival:
17 January 1934 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Henriette Charlotte Blocq, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) January 17, 2023
Tweets from Matthew.
Matthew wrote about these dangers in his latest book, which came out in the U.S. yesterday:
Something else for you to worry about. https://t.co/114sN0wWur
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) January 15, 2023
A thread showing the remarkable restoration of a sea-worn teddy bear. There are other tweets on the site.
This is quite remarkable. After winter storms in January last year, we found the remains of an old teddy bear washed up. When we shared a picture online, Anglican priest @CassWoollibold asked if she could restore him.
A thread. pic.twitter.com/1Me8VFm3Gk
— Lego Lost At Sea (@LegoLostAtSea) January 15, 2023
— Lego Lost At Sea (@LegoLostAtSea) January 15, 2023
Can you spot Ingenuity, the small helicopter launched by the Persevrance Martian rover? The reveal is below the fold:
Quelques actus concernant #Perseverance et #Ingenuity 🚁 : un court thread.
Pour commencer, le rover a photographié avant-hier Ingenuity posé sur une dune, à 282 m de là, grâce à l'un de ses téléobjectifs 110mm. Le retrouverez-vous ? (1/3)https://t.co/M1YvdtdMym pic.twitter.com/BP1rlhYCCG
— Thomas Appéré (@thomas_appere) January 16, 2023
Click “read more” to see the reveal of the helicopter:
Here it is!