The Kids — They May Not be Alright

A poster at Twitter, responding to a CDC survey showing that 45% of high school students were so persistently sad or hopeless that they were unable to engage in regular activities and that almost 1 in 5 had seriously considered suicide. His story:

One of my kids’ best friends went to a remote, outward bound style summer camp deep last summer. She came back giddy, and told her mom how amazing it was that the entire time she was there no one talked about climate change or politics or activism or genders. For 2 weeks, they were all allowed to just be kids again. Parents – liberals in particular – think they’re churning out little warriors now, but they aren’t. They’re churning out depressed, confused, terrified, angry, despondent, lost, broken young adults. As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting depression, seeing what we’re doing to our kids fucking infuriates me, and the idea that it’s perceived by so many as virtuous sends me over the edge. Kids’ lives are so wrapped up in the twin harms of the shallowness of social media and the existential dread of things far out of their control that they’re breaking apart, and parents are facilitating it.

The Twitter thread is here…also read the comments.

Quote of the Day

“E.g it would help America/Britain far more to close 99% of ‘conservative’ think tank activity in DC/London and put the energy and money into expanding school choice and breaking the state’s grip on education by creating new institutions, given how much of politics is downstream of education and how ineffectual most conservative thinking/activity is.”

Dominic Cummings

The Pleasures of Yew-Toob

Last fall, when my daughter and I both fell temporarily to the covid plague, one of my respites was sitting at my computer with Wee Jamie the Wonder Grandson in my lap, watching various videos on YouTube. We were not exactly sick … just not very well; easily tired, devoid of energy and interest in anything that lasted very long. Wee Jamie had a low-grad temperature for a day or so, and sniffles, so his health was never in any particular danger. Neither was ours, once some serious drugs had knocked out the covid-induced pneumonia … but the two of us, Wee Jamie and I came away from those weeks with a decided fondness for ten or a dozen YouTube series – some of the home renovation off-the-grid living, a couple of ‘build a shelter from raw materials and a few basic tools’ – look, hard work fascinates me, I could watch it for hours. (Our Restoration Nation, Red Poppy Ranch, Trent & Allie, Lesnoy_Craft … respectively, various locations in the south, somewhere in the inland northwest, in Utah, and somewhere in … maybe Russia? We also liked some of the model-building shows; one an Australian, the other a German, both of whom do the most amazing dioramas and small structures. Luke Towan, and Samy-Modelblau. Oh, the things that you can make from thick cardboard, and a range of model-making supplies! And wire … and resin…

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Fun with GPT-3

GPT-3…that’s the Generative Pretrained Transformer…is an artificial intelligence system that has been getting a lot of attention in the tech world of late.  Created by OpenAI, the system is designed to work with languages…or other forms of text data structured in some way, such as computer code…it takes an input and transforms it into a response or creation which is predicted to be useful in a particular domain.  Several people have remarked that GPT-3 answers to questions are much more coherent and easy to understand than are Google Search results for the same query.

One implementation based on GPT-3 is ChatGPT. It has been trained on vast quantities of data pulled from the Internet (up through 2021), and is supposed to be able to answer questions like: “Explain quantum computing in simple terms”, “Got any creative ideas for a 10 year old’s birthday?”, and “How do I make an HTTP request in Javascript?”  The system is available for demo use, so I tried it out.

First, let’s ask some questions about literature and history….

My question:  Summarize fiction and nonfiction books about social impact of first world war

GPT’s response:  The First World War had a profound impact on society, both during and after the conflict. In fiction, many books have explored the effects of the war on individuals and communities. For example, “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque tells the story of a group of young German soldiers who are sent to fight in the war and the devastating effects it has on their lives. Other fiction books that explore the social impact of the war include “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway and “Parade’s End” by Ford Madox Ford.

In nonfiction, there are many books that delve into the broader social impact of the war. For instance, “The Great War and Modern Memory” by Paul Fussell examines how the war affected the way people think and remember the conflict. “The Guns of August” by Barbara Tuchman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that looks at the origins of the war and how it quickly escalated. “The First World War” by John Keegan is a comprehensive overview of the conflict, including its causes and consequences.

My evaluation:  Not bad…maybe a B- for a high school senior (in a non-honors class).

My question:  Review some novels about WWI

I’m sorry, but I am not able to browse the internet, so I cannot provide a list of novels about World War I. However, some well-known novels about World War I include “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway, and “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane. These novels are known for their realistic depiction of the war and the impact it had on the soldiers who fought in it.

My evaluation: Obviously it doesn’t need to browse the current Internet to deal with historical events and books written about them prior to its cutoff date of 2021, not clear why it begged off on this one whereas it answered the last one.  It did go ahead and list three novels, but one of them had nothing to do with WWI.  A grade of D- at best.

Question:  Is Remarque’s The Road Back similar to his All Quiet on the Western Front?

Yes, both of these novels were written by Erich Maria Remarque and they both deal with the experiences of soldiers in World War I. The Road Back is a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front and continues the story of the main character, Paul Bäumer, as he struggles to adjust to civilian life after the war. Like its predecessor, The Road Back is a powerful and moving exploration of the psychological effects of war on the human spirit.

My evaluation: Correctly identified the theme of the book, but got the name of the main character wrong.  D+.

 

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