Archive for June, 2024

"Dutch roll"

Simon Hradecky, "Accident: Southwest B38M enroute on May 25th 2024, Dutch Roll", The Aviation Herald 6/13/2024:

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, registration N8825Q performing flight WN-746 from Phoenix,AZ to Oakland,CA (USA) with 175 passengers and 6 crew, was enroute at FL320 when the aircraft experienced Dutch Roll. The crew was able to regain control and landed the aircraft on Oakland's runway 30 about 55 minutes later. The aircraft sustained substantial structural damage.

The FAA reported: "AIRCRAFT EXPERIENCED A DUTCH ROLL, REGAINED CONTROL AND POST FLIGHT INSPECTION REVEALED DAMAGE TO THE STANDBY PCU, OAKLAND, CA." and stated the aircraft sustained substantial damage, the occurrence was rated an accident.

The aircraft remained on the ground in Oakland until Jun 6th 2024, then positioned to Everett,WA (USA), ATS facilities, and is still on the ground in Everett 6 days later.

Dutch Roll is a coupled out of phase movement of the aircraft as result of weakened directional stability (provided by the vertical tail and rudder), in which the aircraft oscillates around its vertical as well as longitudinal axis (coupled yaw and roll).

The PCU is the power control unit, an actuator controlling the (vertical) rudder.

On Jun 13th 2024 The Aviation Herald learned that two ribs, that the stand by PCU is being mounted to, were damaged as well as the mounts of the stand by actuator. A temporary repair was done in Oakland replacing the damaged PCU, the aircraft was then ferried to Everett to replace the damaged ribs.

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AI plagiarism again

Along with concerns about hallucinations and learned bias, there's increasing evidence that generative AI systems sometimes commit what would obviously be plagiarim if a human did it. One particularly striking example is discussed in a recent article by Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine: "Why Perplexity’s Cynical Theft Represents Everything That Could Go Wrong With AI", 6/11/2024:

For most of this year, two of our best journalists, Sarah Emerson and Rich Nieva, have been reporting on former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s secretive drone project, including a June 6 story detailing the company’s ongoing testing in Silicon Valley suburb Menlo Park as well as the frontlines of Ukraine. The next day, Perplexity published its own “story,” utilizing a new tool they’ve developed that was extremely similar to Forbes’ proprietary article. Not just summarizing (lots of people do that), but with eerily similar wording, some entirely lifted fragments — and even an illustration from one of Forbes’ previous stories on Schmidt. More egregiously, the post, which looked and read like a piece of journalism, didn’t mention Forbes at all, other than a line at the bottom of every few paragraphs that mentioned “sources,” and a very small icon that looked to be the “F” from the Forbes logo – if you squinted. It also gave similar weight to a “second source” — which was just a summary of the Forbes story from another publication.

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Respect the local pronunciation: runza and Henri

After I left Omaha and headed westward on Route 30 / Lincoln Highway, I began to notice that every little town along the way with a population of around three thousand or more had a restaurant called Runza.  My instinct was to pronounce that "roon-zuh", but the people around here say "run-zuh".

Because I was not familiar with them, at first I didn't pay much attention to the Runza restaurants, but then I saw a sign that said they made legendary burgers.  Since I'm a burger freak, always in quest of a superior hamburger, by the time I reached Cozad — which somehow has captured my heart, for more than one reason — I decided to stop in and try one.

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Dark cuisine

"Lattes with onions are a hit in China", by Allan Rose Hill, Boing Boing (6/7/24)

Some might call that "over the top", I would call it "under the bottom". 

It's all part of a trend referred to as hēiàn liàolǐ 黑暗料理 ("dark cuisine").

Dark cuisine basically refers to food and drinks that put people's sensibilities to the test.

Basic Barista provides a recipe that boils down to the following: Finely chop a bunch of spring onions and drop them in a glass. Add ice, pour in milk, and then dump in that double shot of espresso.

[VHM:  many people pour in some soy sauce too.]

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Gender, dialect, and taboo vocabulary in court

In case (like me) you haven't been following the murder trial of Karen Read, this article provides the background: Kim Stelloh, "Karen Read is accused of killing her Boston police officer boyfriend. Here's what we know about the murder trial", NBC News 6/7/2024. The current media fever focuses on the testimony of (Massachusetts State Police investigator) Michael Proctor, forced on the witness stand to read some text messages that hit a trifecta of gender, regional, and vocabulary biases:

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Not

Lately I've been seeing greater use of this kind of sentence structure:  "He is an awesome hero — not".  And (mis)negation has always been a favorite topic for discussion on Language Log.  Consequently, I'm calling to your attention two recent publications on "not".

"'Not' in the Brain and Behavior." Cas W. Coopmans, Anna Mai, Andrea E. Martin, PLOS Biology 22, no. 5 (May 31, 2024): e3002656.

Negation is key for cognition but has no physical basis, raising questions about its neural origins. A new study in PLOS Biology on the negation of scalar adjectives shows that negation acts in part by altering the response to the adjective it negates.

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3002656.

Language fundamentally abstracts from what is observable in the environment, and it does so often in ways that are difficult to see without careful analysis. Consider a child annoying their sibling by holding their finger very close to the sibling’s arm. If asked what they were doing, the child would likely say, “I’m not touching them.” Here, the distinction between the physical environment and the abstraction of negation is thrown into relief. Although “not touching” is consistent with the situation, “not touching” is not literally what one observes because an absence is definitionally something that is not there. The sibling’s annoyance speaks to the actual situation: A finger is very close to their arm. This kind of scenario illustrates how natural language negation is truly a product of the human brain, abstracting away from physical conditions in the world.

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ChatGPT is bullshit

So say Michael Townsen Hicks, James Humphries & Joe Slater — "ChatGPT is bullshit", Ethics and Information Technology 2024.

The background is Harry Frankfurt's philosophical definition of the term in his essay "On Bullshit":

What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.

This is the crux of the distinction between him and the liar. Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

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Povinelli et al. on "Reinterpretation"

In yesterday's "AI deception?" post, I proposed that we ought to apply to AI an analogy to the philosophical evaluation of "theory of mind" issues in animals. And one of the clearest presentations of that evaluation is in Daniel Povinelli,  Jesse Bering, and Steve Giambrone, "Toward a science of other minds: Escaping the argument by analogy" (2000). You should read the whole thing — and maybe look through some of the many works that have cited it. But today I'll just present some illustrative quoted passages.

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A Kuchean shift in terminology from Indo-Iranian to Tocharian

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-forty-eighth issue:

"A Historical Perspective on the Central Asian Kingdom of Kucha," by Angela F. Howard.

http://www.sino-platonic.org/complete/spp348_kucha.pdf

ABSTRACT

The article reexamines the dating of the earliest Buddhist cave paintings in the ancient Kingdom of Kucha, which was located in what is now Xinjiang, paying particular attention to the site of Kizil. Based on multiple Carbon-14 results spanning thirty years, historical and religious documents, and the author’s in situ research, the dating proposed is earlier than the traditional one, considered to be circa 500 AD. The latter was formulated, close to a century ago, by the scholar-explorer Ernst Waldschmidt on the basis of the “Indo-Iranian” style and is still used in art historical literature. Relying especially on Kucha’s comprehensive history, this paper suggests that the earliest cave paintings might have been coeval with the flourishing of Buddhism in Kucha during the fourth century. Given the centrality of the Tocharian language to the Sarvāstivādin Buddhist school associated with Kucha’s monasteries and the relative stylistic independence of Kucha from India, the author recommends adopting the term “Tocharian style” rather than “Indo-Iranian style” to describe artistic production in Kucha prior to the Tang.

Keywords: Tocharian, Central Asia, Caves

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All issues of Sino-Platonic Papers are available in full for no charge.

To view our catalog, visit http://www.sino-platonic.org/

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Fissures in the Great Firewall caused by X

Things are becoming dicey for the CCP/PRC regime:

"A cartoon cat has been vexing China’s censors – now he says they are on his tail"

By Tessa Wong, Asia Digital Reporter, BBC (6/10/24)

Here's the dilemma faced by the Chinese communist authorities.   It would be very easy for the censors to shut down all VPNs and invoke strictly draconian internet controls that would make it impossible for netizens to communicate with the outside internet.  But that would mean that China would no longer have access to external information and communication, which the government desperately needs if they are going to continue to acquire advanced technology and science from abroad, not to mention operate their economic initiatives such as BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).

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AI deception?

Noor Al-Sibai, "AI Systems Are Learning to Lie and Deceive, Scientists Find", Futurism 6/7/2024:

AI models are, apparently, getting better at lying on purpose.

Two recent studies — one published this week in the journal PNAS and the other last month in the journal Patterns — reveal some jarring findings about large language models (LLMs) and their ability to lie to or deceive human observers on purpose.

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Mixing (or ignoring?) metaphors

Matt Taibbi has gotten some teasing for mixing metaphors in a recent Xeet about Bannon's jailing:

That’s . . . a lot of metaphors.

[image or embed]

— Radley Balko (@radleybalko.bsky.social) Jun 7, 2024 at 6:42 PM

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Nebraska: "Flat Water"

When you hear the name "Nebraska", the first thing you think of is probably "corn" and "cornhuskers", at least that was what always passed through my mind.

No longer.  Now having come roughly halfway across this long (430 miles) state and finding myself in Central City, I have gained a keen (I would even say "palpable") sense that it means "flat river".  That's because, from one end to the other, I'm following Route 30 / Lincoln Highway, and it was easy for the surveyors who laid out the Lincoln Highway (our nation's first transcontinental road) to follow the Platte River.  You guessed it, which I also did long ago, that "platte" is French for "flat", and that decidedly is what this river is all about:  flat, flat, flat.

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