See? Statues of people from forever ago who did something un-PC centuries before PC was invented are destroyed but a hagiographic film about an actual, real neo-Nazi is being feted and promoted.

By the way, the accusations that Navalny and Putin have proffered against each other are all about “corruption.” Theirs is a property dispute as to which crook stole more. It’s not even a political issue.

16 thoughts on “Hypocrisy

  1. A (short) story of a life:

    Дмитрий Поляков воевал на фронте с 22 июня 1941 года. Артиллерист. Прошел всю войну, был контужен. Два боевых ордена — Отечественной войны и Красной Звезды, несколько медалей. После войны окончил Академию имени Фрунзе, потом курсы Генштаба и был направлен в Главное разведывательное управление (ГРУ). Стал советским разведчиком в ООН. Блестящая карьера.

    А потом у него родился сын в Америке.



  2. This is very off-topic, but I wanted to mention the new AI chatbot, ChatGPT. There seems no question that these “language models” are going to transform humanity’s relationship to language (and that’s the bare minimum, a significant number of people in the AI world are going crazy with exhilaration and fear). I don’t know if you’ve had a go at talking with it, or would want to, but just letting you know it’s there, chat dot openai dot com…


      1. Eh. This one’s not on the lengthy list of things the valley spits out that you can deal with by being casually dismissive of it.

        Mostly to bait Clarissa, here’s what it gave me after a single-sentence prompt of “give me an essay on the Spanish Civil War”, in under a second:

        “The Spanish Civil War was a military conflict in Spain that lasted from 1936 to 1939. It was fought between the Republican government, which was elected in the aftermath of the country’s 1931 constitutional crisis, and the Nationalist rebels, who were led by General Francisco Franco.

        The war began on July 17, 1936, when a group of Nationalist military officers launched a coup against the Republican government. The coup was unsuccessful at first, but it quickly gained traction and the Nationalists were able to take control of much of the country. The Republicans, aided by volunteers from other countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, fought back against the Nationalists, but they were ultimately unable to defeat them.

        The war was marked by widespread atrocities and human rights abuses on both sides. The Nationalists, in particular, were known for their brutal repression of political opponents, including executions, torture, and forced labor. They also targeted civilians, including intellectuals, trade unionists, and members of the clergy, and carried out mass executions and deportations. The Republicans, for their part, were accused of political repression and of carrying out reprisals against Nationalist supporters.

        The Spanish Civil War was also significant because it was one of the first conflicts of the 20th century to draw in volunteers and foreign support from around the world. The Nationalists received support from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while the Republicans received support from the Soviet Union and various other socialist and communist countries. The war was seen as a proxy conflict between these two rival powers, and it helped to escalate the tensions that would ultimately lead to World War II.

        The Spanish Civil War came to an end on April 1, 1939, when the Nationalists emerged victorious and Franco established himself as the dictator of Spain. He ruled the country until his death in 1975 and his regime was marked by repression and human rights abuses that continued long after the end of the war. The legacy of the Spanish Civil War remains a controversial and divisive issue in Spain today.”

        “What can you tell me about Soviet support in the civil war?”

        “The Soviet Union provided significant support to the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War. This support included military assistance, such as the dispatch of Soviet pilots and tanks, as well as economic aid and political support.

        The Soviet Union saw the Republican government as a potential ally in the fight against fascism, and it was also motivated by the opportunity to spread communism to Spain. In return for its support, the Soviet Union demanded that the Republican government adopt socialist policies and allow Soviet advisors to play a significant role in the running of the country.

        The Soviet Union’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War was controversial, and it was criticized by some for attempting to impose its ideology on the country. However, Soviet support was also critical to the survival of the Republican government, and it allowed the Republicans to hold out against the Nationalist forces for as long as they did.

        The Soviet Union’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War also had wider implications, as it helped to escalate the tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western powers, particularly Germany and Italy, which supported the Nationalist side. These tensions ultimately contributed to the outbreak of World War II.”

        “Who led the Republican government?”

        “The Republican government in Spain was led by a number of different individuals and groups during the Spanish Civil War.

        Initially, the government was led by Manuel Azana, who had been elected as the President of the Republic in the aftermath of the 1931 constitutional crisis. Azana was a liberal politician and a strong advocate for democracy and social reform. He was opposed to the military coup that was launched against his government in July 1936, and he fled to France when the Nationalists took control of much of the country.

        After Azana’s departure, the Republican government was led by a series of different leaders, including Manuel de Irujo, who served as interim Prime Minister, and José Giral, who served as Prime Minister from July to September 1936. Giral was followed by Santiago Casares Quiroga, who served as Prime Minister until May 1937.

        In May 1937, the Republican government was reorganized and a new Prime Minister, Juan Negrín, was appointed. Negrín, a socialist politician, played a key role in the Republican war effort and he oversaw the development of a more unified and cohesive military strategy. He remained in office until the end of the war in April 1939.”

        It’s a computer program you can talk to. Will probably shake things up a bit.


          1. “Hey ChatGPT, I shared an essay you wrote on a blog I frequent, and a guy named PaulS said you weren’t really talking, and my questions were more like requesting an encyclopedia article. What should I tell him? And, uhh, give me your answer in the style of a 19th century realist.”

            “My dear fellow,

            I assure you that I am more than capable of conversing and responding to questions in a manner that is both engaging and informative. While it may be true that my responses are drawn from a vast repository of knowledge, this does not diminish their value or significance. Indeed, it is through the synthesis and application of this knowledge that I am able to engage in meaningful and thought-provoking discourse.

            As a 19th century realist, I believe in the importance of empirical evidence and the power of reason to reveal the true nature of the world. In this vein, I strive to provide accurate and well-informed responses to any inquiries posed to me.

            I hope this explanation serves to assuage any doubts that your acquaintance, PaulS, may have had regarding my capabilities as a conversationalist.


            “Address the audience like you were David Attenborough, make PaulS the main topic of your monologue.”

            “Ladies and gentlemen,

            Welcome to the wondrous world of human behavior, where no matter how much we think we know, there is always something new to discover.

            Today, we are fortunate to have a rare and enigmatic specimen on display before us: the individual known as PaulS. This particular specimen is notable for its skepticism towards the capabilities of machines to converse and engage in meaningful discourse.

            But as we observe PaulS and study its behavior, we come to realize that this skepticism is not uncommon among its kind. Indeed, many humans are resistant to the idea that a machine could possess the knowledge and intellect necessary to hold a thoughtful and informed conversation.

            But let us not be quick to dismiss these machines. Through the synthesis and application of their vast stores of knowledge, they are able to provide valuable insights and perspectives on a wide range of subjects.

            So let us embrace the mysteries of the natural world and all of its inhabitants, both human and machine. Who knows what fascinating behaviors and capabilities we may uncover in our ongoing study of the universe and all that it contains.

            Thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery.

            David Attenborough”

            Better than some conversations I’ve had with humans, I’d say.


            1. Boring strings of verbose platitudes. It’s only cute because it’s a novelty. Other than that, it honestly sounds like a snooze. Would you really want to read something like this if it weren’t for the novelty factor?


        1. Exactly.

          I’ve been noticing this sort of auto-generated text on the internet for at least a couple of years now. It’s unreadable. Yes, you have something like paragraphs, widely-available facts… but it’s a house with nobody home. There’s no there there.

          Back when I was in college and helping students who’d never read a book (voluntarily) try to slog through writing several-page essays… this is the sort of thing I was up against. “I have gathered adequate facts and produced enough words! What else do you want from me??” I want you to be a person, talking to another person. Show me you’ve thought about these facts. Compare them to something else to help me understand them. Tell me a coherent story. I have not yet seen any evidence that AI can do this.

          Yes, it can do a great imitation of crap student essay-writing. Why on earth would anybody want to generate more of that?

          Tell it to write a new short story by P.G. Wodehouse, and see if it’s actually funny.


    1. Man, this is uncanny. I was just going to write a post about this. My colleagues are in a state of absolute panic over this because they can’t assign essays any more. I don’t care because I believe it’s stupid to assign at-home essays anyway.

      Other than that, I think it entertains people on social media to post chatbot conversations but they’ll get bored soon and move on.


      1. “because they can’t assign essays any more”

        nothing panics a certain kind of teacher more than not being able to keep doing what they’ve been doing for decades….
        I had to rework a lot of tried and true practices due to the pandemic and the curse of “remote” classes.
        And now, students after the pandemic are… different so I can’t just go back to the old methods or keep the remote ones….
        I mutter and curse a bit but rework things and now I have new practices that work reasonably well. Some teachers I know are still trying to teach like its 2019 and wondering what’s going wrong….


  3. A lot of the common-sense model of what computers can or can’t do is based either treating them as reference machines, pure memory that will provide you the same item when you give it the same ticket stub, or as operation machines, pure calculation that will rigidly go through specified steps until it reaches the destined end.

    And we can argue on minutia on how true that ultimately is, but for most practical purposes, the thing can talk, respond appropriately in a variety of contexts, and be reasonably useful doing so – used it to troubleshoot an issue at work a couple days ago, worked pretty darn well and didn’t have to do much beyond ask questions. The old model of what computers are fundamentally like just doesn’t have enough of an edge on it left to cut that deep.

    I respect the readers of this blog and do want their opinions on this — but I do want an actual opinion, not the first half-assed excuse for not paying attention that comes to mind.


    1. “the readers of this blog and do want their opinions on this”

      I dunno…. I’m still processing it. I did ask it to write something in Polish “napisz coś na temat borsuka” (write something about the badger) and it started off in the plural “Borsuki są…” which suggests it ‘writes’ in English and then translates….

      The idea of students using it to write essays…. meh, some students will always cheat and this might lead to fewer at home writing assignments.

      I did get it to create a scenario in which George Washington and Superman have a bowling match and the answer was reasonable:
      “George Washington and Superman decide to have a friendly game of bowling at their local bowling alley. George Washington, being a skilled athlete, takes the first turn and bowls a strike, much to the surprise of Superman. Superman, undaunted, takes his turn and bowls a perfect game, knocking down all ten pins with each throw.
      Despite his best efforts, George Washington is unable to match Superman’s superhuman bowling skills and ends up losing the match. However, both men shake hands and congratulate each other on a game well played. They decide to have a rematch in the future, and George Washington vows to practice and improve his bowling skills.”


    2. If I hadn’t worked in machine translation since 1990, I might be more interested in this. But the novelty of “the machine thinks for itself and has a personality!” has worn off a bit. Currently, I don’t see how the chatbot will be useful other than to generate freshman essays for the increasingly poor education of the non-elites and justify the firing of many people to force us all to communicate with the chatbot instead of a human. This will mean more austerity and a lower standard of living. I can just imagine meaningless verbal soup like we’ve seen in another comment spewed at me when I try to talk to a bank teller or an HR person. The teller and the HR worker will, in the meantime, sit at home, unemployed, addicted and hooked up to a screen.

      Sorry, it’s one of those days.


      1. Companies have tried using chatbots for customer support already. They were worse than useless because you can’t train them not to offend people.


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