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December links: ChatGPT, Vatican observatories, Taiwan

Newsletter - December, 2022
"Robot in front of a landscape in the style of cgsociety" DALL-E 2

Hello from Salt Lake City! We're just about to embark on our move up to our new house in the Tetons and Fiona and I are extremely excited about it. Having our own basecamp and some space will be so nice after a year on the road. Plus, I'm really hoping I run into Jimmy Chin at a local bar, since he's a fellow resident.

Our plan for 2023 is to hunker down for around five months in our Eastern Idaho abode, where we'll do as much backcountry/cross-country/alpine skiing as we can, and then head to the Pacific Northwest for the summer. We're going to be in Bend, OR, followed by the Seattle area. Our goals are to a) to see some cool new places and b) place ourselves near the Cascades, where I'll be participating in a series of expeditions to glaciated peaks to prep for a 2024 Denali attempt. If you're going to be around any of those places in the summer and want to meet up, please reach out!

I'll start with my stuff

Things I wrote in the last month if you haven't seen them:

Short videos I made (I've been cooking a lot!):

  • I haven’t personally messed with ChatGPT yet, but this was incredible. It can write plausible code! Also, someone in my orbit submitted a music theory essay written by ChatGPT to their college professor and scored a 95%. Look out for a rash of startups or incumbent plagiarism-tracking software companies to come out with ChatGPT identifier features for academia.
  • Humanity wins every time (link).
  • A potential future where our 70-year-old government firmware meets sophisticated machine models.

Security/Ukraine

  • A Chinese seizure of Taiwan would be a pyrrhic victory if they could even pull it off.
  • Fascinating report from the New York Times on the first ten months of the Ukraine conflict. Truly incredible journalism!
  • Perun on the race for sixth-generation aircraft.
  • The F-35B crash at Fort Worth (via my friend Sam S.).
  • The War on the Rocks must-reads of 2022.

General

  • Fiona and I were down in southern Arizona visiting her family for Christmas. While we were driving around just north of the border with Mexico, Fiona's father pointed out an observatory in the mountains and said it was owned by the Vatican. Sure enough, the Roman Catholic church runs deep space observatories!
  • Speaking of Arizona, shortly before Christmas we visited Winterhaven in Tucson. To live here, you must decorate your house to the nines. It was cool, but absolute chaos. It seemed as though the entire town was out touring the neighborhood that night.
  • NUTS— the WWII American General McAuliffe’s reply to a German demand for surrender.
  • The deeper story on "NUTS."
  • A really good channel that reminds me of when the History Channel was at its best.
  • The incredible story of Maurice Wilson and Everest
  • San Francisco killer police robot controversy.
"You are in direct violation of Penal Code 1.13, Section 9."
  • Count Things. A $120-per-month service that counts tubes and other stuff, presumably with machine vision models.
  • A beautiful little meditation on dreams and running.
  • Subway sandwich air strike takes out grandpa.
  • This isn't new and I no longer play the game on which the story is based (League of Legends), but I watched the Netflix show Arcane in the last month and thought it was amazing. The character development is incredibly well-done.

That's it for now! Have a great January.