Previously noted…I’m a gearhead!

I sort of murmur my way around hill and dale, leaving the 6,000+ foot altitude of our La Cieneguilla neighborhood, going into town in Santa Fe or…more likely…off into “hills” or mountains in beautiful northern New Mexico.

My usual ride is my beloved Hemi-powered Ram Pickmeup. Speedo stopped working several years ago at around 225,000 miles. Mostly garaged, now.

The all-purpose family ride nowadays is Helen’s Ford Maverick. Also an eye-stopper…and nigh unto impossible to buy. Not certain if they’re even running a waiting list, anymore. Prolly ran out of ink and paper roll.

So, why the photo of that coupe up top? End of an era, folks. The sort of toy I enjoyed for decades. Not that I resent the quiet riots starting to leave electro-fabs in Detroit and elsewhere. I’m too old, now, to start learning new tricks. Though, I relish the additions that computer geeks will be able to slip past spies who used to rely on removing gas caps to sniff for secret sauce.

Evidence that an Animal started the Pandemic


After international scientists discovered a potential link between the origin of the covid-19 virus and raccoon dogs, medical experts in Western Pennsylvania said the animal could be where the virus began.

Samples collected from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China — where the first human cases of covid-19 were found in late 2019 — contained genetic material from raccoon dogs, indicating the fox-like animals may have been infected with the virus.

Raccoon dogs were linked to the first SARS outbreak in 2003, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“That put it on a list of animals that were susceptible to covid-related viruses,” he said, adding that they were known to have been sold at the Huanan seafood market, which is linked to the start of the pandemic…

Vaughn Cooper, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and director for the Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine at the UPMC School of Medicine, said he’s fairly convinced of the theory that the virus originated in an animal like the raccoon dog and spread to people.

The new evidence that shows the DNA of the raccoon dogs mixed with the RNA of the covid-19 virus is “quite strong,” he said.

Science marches on alongside intellectual honesty. Facts certainly appear to match opinions based on recent science. No doubt leading to confirmation of something like that propounded in this article.

No worry, though. The penny-ante pundits in the Republican Party will soon enough find some new thread to convince the dull-witted and bigoted that ignorance must rule.

Feel younger than you are?

Yuichiro Miura, 80, before ascending Mt. Everest for the third time

..It is actually common to feel younger than we are. A 2018 study with 33,751 respondents showed that once people pass the pivotal age of 25, they typically rate their subjective age as younger than their chronological age. And this discrepancy grows as we get older – for every decade that passes, people tend to feel that have only gained five or six years. This is the equivalent to living Martian years as opposed to Earth years. 

It turns out that this phenomenon may have rather important implications. A recent surge in research in this area has revealed that the extent to which people feel younger than they are is strongly associated with a whole range of health outcomes. People with a younger subjective age are less likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, depression, cognitive impairment and dementia. These people also tend to report better sleep, better memory function and more fulfilling sex lives.

People with a younger subjective age also view their future selves in a more positive light and are more likely to walk faster. One group of researchers even found that people with a lower subjective age have a younger looking brain. Brain scans showed that they had more grey matter overall, with particular resilience in areas called the prefrontal cortex (involved in planning and complex cognitive behaviour) and superior temporal gyrus (responsible for processing sounds and emotions).

Something I’ve experienced, recognized for most of my adult life. Turns out this doesn’t surprise scientists studying folks’ aging…after all.

CNET’s attempt to pass off AI-written commentary gets worse

The prominent tech news site CNET’s attempt to pass off AI-written work keeps getting worse. First, the site was caught quietly publishing the machine learning-generated stories in the first place. Then the AI-generated content was found to be riddled with factual errors. Now, CNET’s AI also appears to have been a serial plagiarist — of actual humans’ work.

…The bot’s misbehavior ranges from verbatim copying to moderate edits to significant rephrasings, all without properly crediting the original. In at least some of its articles, it appears that virtually every sentence maps directly onto something previously published elsewhere.

All told, a pattern quickly emerges. Essentially, CNET’s AI seems to approach a topic by examining similar articles that have already been published and ripping sentences out of them. As it goes, it makes adjustments — sometimes minor, sometimes major — to the original sentence’s syntax, word choice, and structure. Sometimes it mashes two sentences together, or breaks one apart, or assembles chunks into new Frankensentences. Then it seems to repeat the process until it’s cooked up an entire article.

In short, a close examination of the work produced by CNET’s AI makes it seem less like a sophisticated text generator and more like an automated plagiarism machine, casually pumping out pilfered work that would get a human journalist fired.

Reposting of comment on this story by newsdayray

CNET comes out about publishing AI-written articles for months

The AI-written CNET articles bear the byline CNET MONEY STAFF which is identified on the outlet’s website as “AI Content published under this author byline is generated using automation technology.”

The first article written by CNET Money Staff was published on November 11 with the headline, “What is a credit card charge-off?” Since then, the news site has published 73 AI-generated articles, but the outlet says on its website that a team of editors is involved in the content “from ideation to publication. Ensuring that the information we publish and the recommendations we make are accurate, credible, and helpful to you is a defining responsibility for what we do.”

The outlet says they will continue to publish each article with “editorial integrity” and says, “Accuracy, independence, and authority remain key principles of our editorial guidelines.”

You betcha!

A feminist community emerging from the war in Ukraine

Inside a shelter dubbed ‘FemApartment’, residents support one another as they help others affected by the Ukraine war…Boisterous female laughter emanated intermittently from the corner unit of a drab, Soviet-style residential building. Sandals and a pink lamp sat at the entrance to the warmly-lit apartment, reached via the gloomy communal corridor…

Twenty-three-year-old Mira Kapitan, a cheery copywriter and hip-hop artist originally from a suburb of Kyiv, had just popped mackerel in the oven. Also in the kitchen was her flatmate Tanya Vynska, an 18-year-old political science student with dyed orange hair…

The suburban Lviv apartment where Mira and Tanya live – known affectionately as “FemApartment” by its residents – was originally meant to be a temporary home to five young women. Now, however, it is a refuge for the women – strangers to one another until June last year – for as long as they need.

The women were forced to flee from different parts of Ukraine – mostly in the country’s northeast – when the full-scale invasion by Russia began in February 2022. Unable to afford to rent a room in Lviv, they found themselves homeless, but through TikTok and other social media, they learned about a shelter for women involved in different types of community activism.

Not so rare in these circumstances. Often…in a wartime context…what is needed to survive the toughest times survives to move on to other places, other times. Often initiated by the best people caught up inside a disaster.

Car Companies Are Copying One Thing Tesla Always Does Right

Auto manufacturers are entering an arms race of electrification, hawking concept EVs with increasingly luxurious cabins, self-driving driving assistance features, and gargantuan batteries capable of unnecessarily long driving distances. These defining features help brands stand out in a sea of compact crossover EVs, but one thing is common between them: the public charging experience sucks. At the Consumer Electronics Show 2023, some manufacturers announced plans to change that.

EV adoption is expected to grow to 29.5 percent of all new car sales in 2030, up from roughly 3.4 percent in 2021.

But explosive growth has a drawback – it creates more demand for the paltry public charging infrastructure available in most of the U.S. As a result, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis are angling to get ahead of the problem by developing their own charging networks tailored toward its customers.

Drivers arriving at broken public charging stations are an increasingly common story on social media. Although most EV owners refuel at their home, more apartment dwellers are opting for EVs despite not having a dedicated charging spot, and most drivers need to venture beyond their usual haunts once in a while and into areas where stations may be scarce. Worse, the few that are available may be broken when they get there.

These charging fails aren’t just bad for owners – they could become cautionary tales that sour future buyers on a technology into which automotive manufacturers are pouring billions of dollars. One way to protect that investment is to take control of the public charging experience.

Getting ahead of the curve not only works driving down the road…not a bad idea in business, as well.

Rivian truck sighting

On our usual Sunday morning grocery expedition. Helen parked at one of the big box supermarkets stores for Opal Apples and some Cara-Caras. Leaving me listening to music for the short wait. Our usual stop to complete our weekly needs was coming up – Trader Joe’s – and for some reason, we thought they were sold out of those two essentials.

Helen went into the store. As noted, I was listening to music out in the Mav [her name is Moxie] and my first ever sighting of a Rivian pickup truck happened in the next parking spot. Gray – just like the press photo up top. Couple inside hopped out and headed into the store for some portion of their morning’s shopping. Helen was back out in another few minutes and we both took note of – and discussed the Rivian – before heading off to TJ’s.

Have to say it looked pretty snazzy. Didn’t even think of taking a side-by-side comparison snap with my iPhone. And it should look snazzy. You can buy three Mavericks for the price tag of one of these Rivians. Not equivalent comparisons; but, different lifestyle categories to begin with.

Still, it’s nice to see what sort of high quality folks at a startup like Rivian can rollout the door.