Let's Not Work at Cross Purposes

I diligently do the WSJ and NYT crossword puzzles in the (probably mistaken) hope that they'll help keep my brain from calcifying, so I really liked this cartoon from xkcd:

[Crossword Constructors]

Mouseover: "Also, we would really appreciate it if you could prominently refer to it as an 'eHit'."

Crossword authors are ingenious, constantly surprising me with outrageous wordplay, references to obscure figures in science, business, history, and the arts, … But if you want to get a leg up on some of the music stuff that appears again and again:

  • Know your genres, particularly: SKA and EMO. And I've seen SOCA, which is a thing.
  • Artists too: Yoko ONO, Brian ENO, ABBA, ENYA, Dr. DRE, CHER, REM, the Korean BTS, ACDC, FOO Fighters, …
  • For that matter, AXL Rose. And give it up for DUA Lipa.
  • And all the rappers billed as LIL Something. Especially Lil NAS X, a twofer, …
  • What, you've never heard of RAE Sremmurd? Neither had I, but those crossword constructors have. (When they don't want to go for the easier clue "Issa     ".)
  • I never heard of YUNG Gravy either, but there he (or she) is.
  • I'd throw in AHA, but usually the clue doesn't refer to the group, …
  • And (thanks to all the vowels) ADELE.
  • If the clue is (for example) "Nirvana or ZZ Top", don't hesitate to fill in TRIO in ink.
  • Be on the watch for musical instruments, like the OBOE or LUTE.

I'm sure I'm missing some. I might come back later and add.

Also of note:

  • Did you have "Ignoring the Constitution on Student Loan Relief" on your Impeachment Bingo Card? Well, you probably already crossed it off, but in case you missed it, Emma Camp has the details: Biden Announces Plan To Forgive Student Debt Over Financial 'Hardship'.

    On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a new plan to enact large-scale student loan forgiveness, this time by targeting borrowers experiencing financial "hardship."

    Under the proposal, borrowers would be eligible for forgiveness if they meet certain criteria demonstrating financial hardship, such as their "total student loan balance and required payments relative to household income" and "high-cost burdens for essential expenses like healthcare or childcare," according to a Thursday press release. The goal of these standards is to identify students who are likely to default on their payments in the next two years.

    The new proposal builds on rulemaking changes proposed in December, which seek to provide forgiveness to borrowers who saw their balances increase after not paying enough to cover interest and who have been paying for 20 or 25 years, among other groups.

    It's unclear exactly how much these new changes will cost. But based on previous, smaller-scale student loan forgiveness measures, these changes are likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. In the same press release announcing the new plan, Education Department officials bragged about approving $136.6 billion in student loan forgiveness through a series of forgiveness programs.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars.

    It doesn't actually have to be put into place in order to "work". I.e., the implicit promise that if borrowers vote for him, Biden will keep trying to give them money.

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? Nate Silver has today's answer: It's time for the White House to put up or shut up.

    Personally, I crossed the rubicon in November, concluding that Biden should stand down if he wasn’t going to be able to run a normal reelection campaign — meaning, things like conduct a Super Bowl interview. Yes, it's a huge risk and, yes, Biden can still win. But he's losing now and there's no plan to fix the problems other than hoping that the polls are wrong or that voters look at the race differently when they have more time to focus on it. Neither is so implausible and it is likely to be a close race. But even the most optimistic Democrats, if you read between the lines, are really arguing that Democrats could win despite Biden and not because of him. Biden is probably a below-replacement-level candidate at this point because Americans have a lot of extremely rational concerns about the prospect of a Commander-in-Chief who would be 86 years old by the end of his second term. It is entirely reasonable to see this as disqualifying. The fact that Trump also has a number of disqualifying features is not a good reason to nominate Biden. It is a reason for Democrats to be the adults in the room and acknowledge that someone who can't sit through a Super Bowl interview isn't someone the public can trust to have the physical and mental stamina to handle an international crisis, terrorist attack or some other unforseen threat when he'll be in his mid-80s.

    Silver draws obvious conclusions from Biden's reluctance to do Improvisational Public Appearances (IPAs), and invokes a stat-head's term of "Truncated Sample Bias".

  • Only a few tweaks to the Weekend at Bernie's screenplay… and you get a plausible picture of a second Biden term. So Kevin D. Williamson insists on something that should be non-controversial: Biden’s Decline Is a Legitimate News Story.

    The media isn’t the driver—the media is the passenger. That’s one of the things we consistently get wrong in how we talk about politics and political discourse. 

    Former New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan writes

    Biden’s advanced age is, granted, far from ideal for a president seeking a second term, even the very effective president that he has been. Yes, he’s old; and, never a gifted public speaker, he makes cringe-inducing mistakes. It would be great if he were 20 years younger. His age really is a legitimate concern for many voters.

    But for the media to make this the overarching issue of the campaign is nothing short of journalistic malpractice.

    In other words, after the throat-clearing and the obligatory “to be sure” bit: Stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

    But “fetch” is happening. And not because the “corporate media,” as Dahlia Lithwick of Slate calls it—meaning CNN and the New York Times and presumably the outlet in which she writes (Slate’s parent company does approximately $4 billion a year in revenue; it isn’t exactly Fugazi on tour in 1989)—wills it to be so. It is not as though media outlets and like-minded groupings of media outlets do not have agendas of their own—they certainly do. But their ability to drive the national political agenda is wildly overstated—traditionally by conservatives, who have got a lot of mileage out of complaining about being shut out of the mainstream media and persecuted by it, but also by Democrats and progressives when it suits them.

    For readers not as immersed in pop culture as KDW and are puzzled by the "fetch" reference: here you go.

  • Least surprising news of the day. Elizabeth Nolan Brown reveals that Sarah Silverman's Copyright Lawsuit Against OpenAI Is Full of Nonsense Claims.

    Is it a crime to learn something by reading a copyrighted book? What if you later summarize that book to a friend or write a description of it online? Of course, these things are perfectly legal when a person does them. But does that change when it's an artificial intelligence system doing the reading, learning, and summarizing?

    Sarah Silverman, comedian and author of the book The Bedwetter, seems to think it does. She and several other authors are suing OpenAI, the tech company behind the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, through which users submit text prompts and receive back AI-generated answers.

    Last week, a federal judge largely rejected their claims.

    Also see one of my favorite posts from last year, a fisking of a Facebook item from Joyce Maynard: My AI Wants To Kill Your Mama.

Recently on the movie blog:

Last Modified 2024-03-17 8:23 AM EDT