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February 06, 2024

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By the way, the statistics from the American Booksellers Association seemed impossible in relation to bookstores per se (2700+ bookstores per state? I don't think so). But they seem to apply to retail stores in general, from this study. (Solnit's essay doesn't include footnotes, but Google has good points as well as bad.)

I do a lot of walking on the streets. A problem I encounter is some drivers being too courteous to me. They'll stop and wave me across a street, a driveway, etc. while risking another driver not paying attention and driving up their tailpipe.

It's still early days for autonomous vehicles. They'll get better. One effort is not to just view people as objects on or near the street the self-driving vehicle is on. But to predict what a person will likely do next based on orientation, body language, etc.

Someone did a study where a large language model was presented with street scenes from a vehicle's point of view. It did a pretty good job of selecting what the vehicle should do next without any training to drive a vehicle.

Some studies have found that the rake for billionaire entrepreneurs is about 2% of the wealth they created.

The pandemic and lockdowns broke a lot of old habits and created new ones. Both church and public school attendance is down. Homeschooling and other forms of education are up.

Some studies have found that the rake for billionaire entrepreneurs is about 2% of the wealth they created.

First of all, they didn't "create the wealth" alone. They created it inside an existing system that facilitated building things (broadly speaking). And they created it with the help and participation of many other people (from partners -- Jobs and Wozniak come to mind -- to the thousands of people who do the on-the-ground work to make any big idea into reality. (I may post more thoughts about that if I can find the time.)

Secondly, so what? As far as I'm concerned, that's my point about grabbing. The system we're living under allows them to do that, even though other people starve and go homeless. And then it glorifies them as "wealth creators" to justify the greed and lust for power over the rest of us.

First of all, they didn't "create the wealth" alone. ...

Bard's response to your response. :)

Wealth Creation: Debating Entrepreneur's Share

Think I've mentioned, or linked to, this review by Michelle Chihara in the LA Review of Books at least once before here, but I keep coming back to her description of the "Big Swinging Dick realism" in economics.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-finance/

Big Swinging Dick realism both depends on and promotes the idea that financial complexity equals realistic (and that, of course, both equal male). La Berge writes, “For Wolfe, finance is complicated and therefore difficult to represent; for Stone, finance is exclusive and therefore difficult to represent. For both, the capture of finance, its representation, signals a success of the realist mode.” The depiction of the big swinging dicks of Wall Street signals the real: money men and their crass assholery become themselves a hallmark of hard-hitting truth. We wouldn’t believe The Bonfire of the Vanities without a white, male, aggressive Sherman McCoy or Wall Street without Gordon Gekko. The correlation with realism works both ways: money men and their unending dollars seem inevitable, both a condition of possibility for representing the real and proof of their own central importance. La Berge writes: “The economy comes to signify all that is organizing, objective and historical, all that changes but cannot be changed. It is that from which there can be no outside.”

From my perspective as a university teacher, I see how this sense of inevitability that surrounds Big Swinging Dick realism cuts into people's ability to imagine alternatives. A lot of my conversations with students about their writing and research involves asking them why it is that they accept that, say, the housing crunch in SoCal is a problem of a lack of affordability, rather than being one of zoning, or of regulatory capture. Why is it that we speak of government as being corrupt, instead of as developers being a corrupting influence?

It's the shape of the stories we tell each other that limits our ability to see how things could be otherwise.

And as far as that goes, guess what we use to train those LLMs? Yup. All the stuff that has been written in the Big Swinging Dick mode of realism. It's hard enough trying to get a student to think outside the box. Good luck trying to do that with an LLM, that is nothing but the box to begin with.

nous -- thank you. You've said what I was groping for in response to CharlesWT's Bard offering, which is that Bard's "response" was written with no fodder to work with but the accepted paradigm, which is what I'm questioning in the first place.

I didn't know it was called "Big Swinging Dick" but I won't argue the aptness. ;-)

The Solnit essay includes a lot of information and observations about what billionaires do with their money to grab up land, housing, and lots of intangible goods, and to keep the rest of us away from both them (the billionaires) and various goods, like housing and community.

Random other comments:

Not all billionaires are entrepreneurs. Not all billionaires ever lifted a finger to "earn" (under any definition) their wealth.

I have said before that I rarely read the material at the links people post here, so I completely understand if people don't read the Solnit essay, which is quite long.

My own "excuse" is that I don't have a lot of time to devote to reading these days, and I'm far beyond satiated with pundits' opinions. (Big topic, I'll leave it at that for now.)

As to Bard in particular, I did skim CharlesWT's link, above, but otherwise I never read a word he offers that's generated by AIs. To CharlesWT specifically: I remarked, in the form of a question that I don't think you ever answered, on how strange it seemed to me that you would decide whether to read James Joyce not on the basis of sampling Joyce's actual books, but on the basis of sampling some imitation prose generated by an AI. My position is exactly opposite: I don't care what Bard "says" about anything whatsoever. If I were interested in AI as a technology, I might be interested in how it handles prompts. But my time is severely limited these days, and I'm not particularly interested in AI, and so I don't read what it produces. I'd rather know what actual people think on a topic.

JanieM - the official term that Leigh Claire La Berge uses in her book is "hypermasculine financial realism." Big Swinging Dick realism is what Michelle Chihara calls it because that is the phrase that Michael Lewis' uses for the alpha finance bros that most embody this particular mode of communication.

I think Michelle's formulation captures something essential that La Berge's formulation does not (which probably speaks volumes about my own critical perspective and academic persona).

Nice post. Here in Japan, I don't think there are any tests, but the government is laying the groundwork

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Technology/Japan-to-assign-bandwidth-for-Level-4-self-driving-vehicles

In fact
So far, Fukui Prefecture is the only place with vehicles featuring level-4 capabilities — defined when they can handle all driving tasks — but only under specific conditions with the option for humans to take over. In the town of Eiheiji, the seven-seater golf carts are only allowed to navigate a 2 kilometer course. Maximum speed: 12 kilometers per hour.

Korea, on the other hand, is famed for something called ppalli ppalli culture
https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2022/10/03/business/tech/Korea-ppalli-ppalli-fastpaced/20221003180809683.html

so they are pushing ahead
https://leddartech.com/white-paper-south-korea-accelerates-commercialization-of-autonomous-vehicles/

Looking at the article, I wonder if how many of the steps (updating safety standards, insurance policies, and infrastructure) have been taken in the US.

This is one time I'm thankful for Japanese conservatism.

Sticking with the "everything is bigger in Texas" mystic, autonomous trucks are the thing here. Currently, they are operating with safety drivers. But one company plans to be operating driverless trucks between Dallas and Houston by the end of the year.

People will likely be treating their Teslas as fully autonomous cars long before they're formally designated as such.

why it is that they accept that, say, the housing crunch in SoCal is a problem of a lack of affordability, rather than being one of zoning, or of regulatory capture. Why is it that we speak of government as being corrupt, instead of as developers being a corrupting influence?

Or, to take an example currently in the political spotlight: why is the issue of illegal immigrants always about the immigrants, and not about the people who routinely hire them?

Supose we totally stopped policing the border, and ignored any illegal immigrants law enforcement chanced across. Instead, put all that effort into prosecuting the people who hire them. Establish serious penalties, swingeing penalties even, so they don't just become a "cost of doing business." Not just fines to raise the cost of employing illegals above the cost of employing those of us who are here legally. But also jail time for the individuals, including company officers, hiring them.

I'm thinking illegal immigration largely disappears. Partly by removing the economic incentives to come illegally. But mostly because the immigration laws would rapidly get changed to increase the number of legal immigrants allowed. The xenophobes would hate it, but businesses would insist. No real question who wins that political battle on the right.

Largely upbeat but presents some of the current difficulties with the technology.

"Thanks to artificial intelligence, the driverless car is finally here!

For years, car companies promised that cars would drive themselves, but it never happened... until now.

Now, Google has harnessed artificial intelligence (AI) to create a driverless car called Waymo. It works kind of like Uber. You open the Waymo app, request a ride, and within minutes, a driverless car shows up."
The AI Future is Now! Artificial Intelligence-Driven Cars Are Here (YouTube)

Or, to take an example currently in the political spotlight: why is the issue of illegal immigrants always about the immigrants, and not about the people who routinely hire them?

Or the sanctuary cities that give them places to live and pocket money. At least the illegal workers are doing something productive. Not huddling en-masse on the taxpayers' dime in New York City and committing street crimes.

I'm thinking illegal immigration largely disappears. Partly by removing the economic incentives to come illegally.

I don't think this works long term. Large parts of Central and South America are going to fall outside of the habitable zone within the living future of my current students. Parts are already feeling the effects of desertification, making agricultural regions chancy.

Jobs or no, they will come north because they won't be able to stay where they are.

And speaking of everything being bigger in Texas, just wait until the Climate Chickens come home to roost. Parts of Texas will see crop yields cut by more than half, and other parts will see significant shrinkage of GDP even in moderate emissions scenarios.

See also Florida.

Autonomous trucks driving across a bleak wasteland. It's like the perfect mashup between The Transformers and Mad Max.

Or the sanctuary cities that give them places to live and pocket money. At least the illegal workers are doing something productive. Not huddling en-masse on the taxpayers' dime in New York City and committing street crimes.

Would you have some (not AI-generated) evidence for illegal immigrants committing street crimes? Even at the rate of the natives, let alone higher rates. Inquiring minds want to know.

Google "sanctuary cities and street crime" and references to a bunch of studies come up.

Wikipedia says this (with footnotes to studies):

Studies on the relationship between sanctuary status and crime have found that sanctuary policies either have no effect on crime or that sanctuary cities have lower crime rates and stronger economies than comparable non-sanctuary cities.[5][6][7][8] Sanctuary city policies substantially reduce deportations of undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal records, but have no impact on those who have violent criminal records.[9] Opponents of sanctuary cities argue that cities should assist the national government in enforcing immigration law, and that sanctuary cities increase crime. Supporters of sanctuary cities argue that enforcement of federal law is not the duty of localities, and that law enforcement resources can be prioritized towards better purposes.[10]

Immigrants as a whole commit fewer crimes than citizens. El Paso has a large number of immigrants and is one of the safest cities in the country. Or was the last I heard anything about it.

However, there have been some high-profile crimes by recent illegal immigrants in NYC. Police officers were beaten up. A woman was dragged down a street by a mob of illegal immigrants.

ICE official rips NYC policies shielding police-beating migrants from deportation: A 2014 New York City law prohibited the NYPD from notifying ICE about the arrest of illegal migrants in the Times Square attack

NYPD releases migrant raid photos as soft-on-crime city leaders face national outrage

Alleged migrant attack on NYC police sparks political uproar

Scooter-riding illegals drag woman down street and into pole on video in 'wave of migrant crime': Surveillance video captures suspected migrant moped muggers dragging victim down sidewalk into pole


But mostly because the immigration laws would rapidly get changed to increase the number of legal immigrants allowed.

The number of legal immigrants should be greatly increased.

Okay, so we have millions of people crossing the border to seek asylum, and the "Crisis at Biden's Border" chyron is being fueled by a gang of seven dudes from Venezuela who are jacking scooters and stealing purses, and who knocked over two cops and kicked them just long enough to free their friend and flee?

Also, those headlines...

STAR - Sufficient, Typical, Accurate, Relevant - not sure any apply to the connection between asylum seekers and street crime in any systematic sense. At best the stories are emblematic of a right wing talking point that they are leaning hard into this election season.

All amygdala hijack all the time.

I wonder how many of those asylum seekers would have a legal path to entry if the US were to adopt a standard for defining an "environmental refugee" status instead of viewing all people fleeing the collapse of their livelihoods due to climate effects as 'economic migrants'? One small change in legal definitions and suddenly there's no more de facto labeling of border crossers as undocumented migrants.

https://cmsny.org/us-climate-migration-mahmud-121522/

And see the "Analysis of Protection Frameworks" section of the White House Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration that the CMSNY story links to:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Report-on-the-Impact-of-Climate-Change-on-Migration.pdf

The GOP has no interest in actually attempting to address the problem. They couldn't get elected without some outside threat with which to stir up their base.

They couldn't get elected without some outside threat with which to stir up their base.

To be fair, they make lavish use of inside threats as well. I trust I don't have to make a list.

The number of legal immigrants should be greatly increased.

Amen!

But the crimes are "high profile." It's like a snake vomiting on its own tail.

It reminds me of the "teach the controversy" argument for creationism in schools. The same people who created the controversy want schools to teach the controversy.

There's got to be a Latin phrase for this sort of thing.

The same people who created the controversy want schools to teach the controversy.

You know this, but it's worth saying anyhow: They didn't *really* want to "teach the controversy," because what that would mean in practice would be exposing the nonsensical charlatanism of their side. They wanted to be able to present nonsense as science, without any framework in which to point out the difference.

Even if you gave creationism some respect as a religious belief, it's still not science, and they wanted it presented as if it was, with no framework for teaching kids the difference. The whole *point* was to hide the difference.

I do not know a standard term for that but it has something of a malicious vicious circle. Would "circulus malitiosus" fit? Or perpetuum mobile malitiosum?

Hermeneutic Circle Jerk.

I don't think this works long term. Large parts of Central and South America are going to fall outside of the habitable zone within the living future of my current students. Parts are already feeling the effects of desertification, making agricultural regions chancy.

Yup. They will come, and they will not be stopped. Of course we could pull up the ladder (at great material cost) and simply let them die. Or hope they die. Samo, samo.

So much for the moral certitude of the so-called "conservative" movement.

Thanks to janieM and nous for their replies to CharlesWT. Due to the abject moral depravity underlying his entire world view, mine would be largely unprintible.

for thoughts on driverless cars I turn to Eschaton (Duncan Black) for pithy commentary on that topic.

:)

Thanks.

I literally just read fifty-some student research papers, about half of which were taking on the issue of cross-border migrancy and climate change. Commenting here is like having a copy/paste that puts the snark back in.

Thanks to janieM and nous for their replies to CharlesWT. Due to the abject moral depravity underlying his entire world view, mine would be largely unprintable.

Don't let your stirrups slip. :)

It's like a snake vomiting on its own tail.

That would be an ouremetos, I think. ;-)

Yup. They will come, and they will not be stopped. Of course we could pull up the ladder (at great material cost) and simply let them die. Or hope they die. Samo, samo.

Of course The Right could turn the country into the totalitarian hellhole and wasteland they constantly claim it already is under liberal rule (or what they take for it much to the chagrin of the actual liberals). Afghanistan's immigration problems are probably rather low due to inattractiveness and at least parts of The Right are more or less openly envious. Others would prefer something more in the North Korean style. Official reintroduction of slavery on the other hand would not be a real deterrent since many will not subscribe to "better dead than a slave" (slaves tend to get fed to keep them productive).

Even if you gave creationism some respect as a religious belief, it's still not science, and they wanted it presented as if it was, with no framework for teaching kids the difference. The whole *point* was to hide the difference.

Exactly right.

In mid-January, there was the spectacle of Elon Musk demanding billions of dollars worth of Tesla stock as a new "pay package," or else he'd take his gloriousness elsewhere to develop robots. (Or something. I don’t really care.)

Then, at the end of the month, a judge in Delaware invalidated his previous (2018) "pay package," which had also been for a gazillion billion dollars, a good chunk of which he blew to purchase Twitter.

To me this seems like unimaginable wealth made out of moonbeams.... But hey, it worked once, why not try it again? Except, apparently it didn't work the first time, because some shareholders called bullshit, and the judge agreed.

I would say it doesn’t have to be this way, but maybe our species is such that the rapacious narcissists will always win. Or rather, that the winners will always come from that class of people; because I’m sure there are plenty of rapacious narcissists who get squashed along the way.

Sitting quietly next to the topic of wealth accumulation is the topic of the qualities we come into the world with – some useful, some a hindrance to our (and often other people’s) well-being. I have known a number of people who think and act as if their inborn talents were somehow their own creation, which they should be rewarded for.

Maybe the world would be a bleak place without the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Z., or Elon. Or maybe, just maybe, we could have nice things even if they were brought into this world by people like José Andrés – people whose talents include not only creativity and the energy and drive to make a difference in the world, but also . . . generosity.

Also related: it wasn't a deity that made corporations responsible only to their shareholders and not to the community at large. Humans did that. It’s not inconceivable that humans could change it. *Almost* inconceivable, I grant you.

Also related: it wasn't a deity that made corporations responsible only to their shareholders and not to the community at large. Humans did that. It’s not inconceivable that humans could change it. *Almost* inconceivable, I grant you.

To quote Kipling: Yet it was law [...], compared with which that of the Medes and Persians was no more than a non-committal resolution.

Or maybe, just maybe, we could have nice things even if they were brought into this world by people like José Andrés – people whose talents include not only creativity and the energy and drive to make a difference in the world, but also . . . generosity.

I'd guess, confidently, that he's a far happier person than ElMu.

More on billionaires from Anne Laurie’s late night post at BJ, quoting Adam Silverman from last Sunday:

McConnell broke the Senate in order to accumulate the power to achieve a very specific set of political objectives: 1) to cut taxes for the wealthy, 2) to remove as many regulations on the wealthy and on businesses as possible, 3) to remove as many campaign finance regulations as possible to ensure it was legal for the wealthy to shovel obscene amounts of money at him and his caucus members making them wealthy beyond their dreams, and 4) to pack the courts with Federalist Society apparatchiks who would both do through the judicial process what he could not accomplish legislatively and, perhaps more importantly, ensure that none of this could ever be reversed by Democratic presidents working with Democratic majority Congresses.
More here.

McConnell broke the Senate in order to accumulate the power to....

And at this point, I think he's maybe realizing that, as a result of breaking the Senate, his power is disintegrating. But he may not have enough self-awareness to recognize that. However, I have no doubt that he is seriously regretting not booting TIFG in the second impeachment trial. Bitterly regretting, even.

On non-grasping types, who advanced humanity without seeking any reward, I always think of Tim Berners-Lee. And presumably even the likes of Elon Musk could hardly look down on him....

And presumably even the likes of Elon Musk could hardly look down on him....

I suspect Elon looks down on someone like Tim Berners-Lee for being a dumb sap who didn't care about becoming a billionaire.

Yes, I bet you're right, a bit like Trump looks down on dead soldiers (as he said "But what's in it for them?"), but I meant intellectually, because I suspect that Musk thinks he's cleverer than almost everybody...

According to Gemini(formally Bard)

Berners-Lee vs. Musk: Visionaries, Technocrats, Global Impactors

On non-grasping types, who advanced humanity without seeking any reward, I always think of Tim Berners-Lee. [Emphasis mine.]

As I recall, Sir Timothy has a net worth around $50-60 million. He may not have sought it out, but he didn't turn it down when it came his way either.

He has started the odd company or two, I think (something called State? Inrupt? Solid?), and good luck to him. But he made the world wide web available patent-free, and with no royalties payable, and he continues to do what he can to safeguard its availability. I think that this extraordinary act counts as advancing humanity without seeking any reward.

It was a different time on the internet. It was still the days when, for HTML/HTTP to succeed, they had to be written up as RFCs and weren't official until there were at least two independent implementations that interoperated. And you've got to give Marc Andreessen and that group an awful lot of credit for Mosaic.

Elon Musk is turning out to be a horrible person, but so far as I know he's become the richest person not by intellectual property, but by almost preternatural timing. The Web was desperate for a way for entities that couldn't afford bank fees to exchange modest amounts of money when Paypal came along. Tesla got to where they were shipping electric cars at the point where there was money to be made at that. (Tesla may be more about patents and such now that they seem to have realized they are a battery company that happens to do cars, and are buying up little companies with interesting battery chemistry IP.) SpaceX was in the right time and place (and courtrooms) to break into the launch services business.

Bezos is a much worse person in terms of IP abuse: patent on one-click shopping, indeed.

"Will self-driving cars be safer because they will follow the rules of the road? In this video I will address this pervasive argument in favor of self-driving cars. I will show that the argument rests on the flawed notion that there are always obviously applicable 'rules' in traffic. Traffic laws fall short because they may define what you are not allowed to do legally, but do not describe how one should drive. How you should drive can only be determined by learning the application of social norms, which are rules like: "do not block others from where they want to go" and "do not make others wait unnecessarily," and "everybody has a right to get to where they are going." Such social norms are guidelines which imply different actions in different situations, and thus require one to interpret each situation morally to determine what to do. Self-driving cars cannot make such in-the-moment decisions, all decisions are fixed at the time the program is uploaded. Given that they drive on completely different principles, self-driving cars are destined to flaunt social norms and as a consequence upset human road users. Driving to upset their human counterparts, even if unintentionally done, means that self-driving cars will forever remain pariahs on our streets." (Counterarguments: Addressing Key Concerns of Self-Driving Cars)
Autonomous Vehicles cannot follow the rules of the road (YouTube)

In a dystopian future, hordes* of driverless AI cars roam the streets, seeking charging stations and the few remaining parking spots.

(*hordes? fleets? flocks? musks?)

'murders' could fit there (car and crow are close enough).

As far as I can tell, our last Open Thread was on January 14th, so, with apologies, I am putting this here. Marina Hyde's column today is headlined Trump is too old and incited a coup. Biden is too old and mixes up names. America, how to choose?. My thoughts exactly. For anyone who wants the whole thing:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/feb/09/donald-trump-joe-biden-america-us-president-6-january

The Trump-Biden analogy that popped in my head this morning was that Biden is like having lost one of your gloves. Trump as a solution to that problem is like cutting off your hand so the lost glove doesn't matter anymore.

From GftNC's link:

Call it the pedants’ curse – or indeed, the pedant’s curse.

I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

On balance, I think I'd go with "fleet" for AI cars. That is, in my experience anyway, how cars are referred to otherwise. (Although as I write it occurs to me that those have been sets of cars with a single owner....)

A "musk of AI cars" did make me laugh. But we wouldn't want to give him too much credit.

Call it the pedants’ curse – or indeed, the pedant’s curse.

I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

Or, as a friend of mine insists on referring to such things: the pedants' revolt.

ObWi is one of the few US places in which I don't think I need to explain that joke. But I once had an unfortunate experience here assuming everybody would understand my reference to the Shelley poem Ozymandias, so just in case:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasants%27_Revolt

self-driving cars are destined to flaunt social norms...

That's one pedant triggered.

LOL

That's one of my most hated ones!

But seriously, I hadn't originally seen that because, like Janie, I don't read the AI generated stuff. But for crying out loud, if they can't even use vocabulary correctly, why are they called Large Language Models? Jesus wept....

self-driving cars are destined to flaunt social norms...

This was written by the YouTuber at the YouTube link, not a LLM. There are several grammatical shortcomings in the quoted text. But LLMs do make grammatical errors.

The Peasants are Revolting.

You can say that again.

I had to actually look up the 'flaunt' and the correct word. At least I have the excuse of not being a native speaker of English - despite my penchant* for quaint and oldfangled vocabulary.

*wich I almost misspelled as 'penchance'

Michael Cain can shed more light, since I know almost nothing about AIs beyond what I've read here (and in one pop book....). But I don't have the impression that the training materials include grammar books.

Here's a bit of Bryan Garner's entry on "flaunt; flout" in Garner's Modern English Usage (fifth edition, 2022):

Unfortunately, confusion about these terms is so common that some dictionaries have come to allow flaunt as a synonym of flout. But the words are best kept separate. We need each with its conventionally distinct sense.

Garner then gives a bunch of examples and analysis, all of which is entertaining but which I don't have time to copy out in full. He puts the use of flaunt for flout at Stage 3 (of 5) in his language-change index: "The form becomes commonplace even among many well-educated people, but it's still avoided in careful usage." (One of his examples is of a judge using flaunt for flout, getting called on it by another judge, and sticking to his guns because the usage does appear in a dictionary.)

PS Wrote my 2:14 before I saw CharlesWT's 1:50. (Got interrupted and didn't catch up before hitting Post.)

Yes, I fear flaunt/flout is going the way of uninterested/disinterested, regarding which we also "need each with its conventionally distinct sense". But that's now in dictionaries, and almost certainly a lost cause (like refute/rebut/reject, alas.)

CharlesWT: Yup, my mistake. Sorry.

CharlesWT: Yup, my mistake. Sorry.

That's okay. I flaunted my comment while flouting due diligence to make clear who said what.

I find flaunt/flaunt not nearly as annoying as disputed/refuted.

Those that get called on it, invariably flounce off in a huff.

flaunt/flout.
Sheesh.

I thought my wife was going to lose it when our kids brought home "on accident" from school.

And then there's "she graduated college" and "he got a high school degree."

Of all the things kids could bring home from school that seems to be among the mildest.

Irregardless, though, it’s probably all a mute point, so…

From the Solnit essay quoted in this post:

They proliferated in the 1980s and 1990s as places to hang out, maybe read, maybe chat to whomever was around or just people-watch. [my emphasis]

Should be "whoever" -- which grammatically is the subject of its clause, not the object of "to." I'd be curious to know if it was Solnit or the copy editor who committed that infraction. If it was Solnit, at the very least the copy editor didn't catch it, or know enough to correct it.

This is another very very very lost cause; Adam Silverman at BJ, and a lot of other people I see online, use "whom" forms almost exclusively, sometimes even as the obvious subjects of simple sentences. I'm sure I've gone on about this before, but I would have thought that if one of those forms disappeared, it would have been the "whom" variations and not the "who." I have a whole library's worth of examples.

I have a nasty feeling that I often misuse "whom". I blame it on the fact that (as far as I remember) I never learnt English grammar. I feel I just sort of picked it up. But maybe it's so long ago I just don't remember!

Since we're on this subject, there is something happening over here that (as far as I know) is not happening in the US. Many people now seem to feel that the words "you", "me" and "I" are impolite, so you often hear things like "How does that seem to yourself?" And "it would be a good idea if yourself and myself were to go to the head office". Any sign of it in the US?

I haven't heard that usage in the US, but I don't get out much, to put it mildly.

It makes an echo in my head of a certain humorous Irish usage of words like "meself" and "himself" -- but clearly not in the same contexts.

I find the who/whom mistakes only mildly irritating. What sets my teeth on edge is me/myself errors. Even worse: using "myself" rather than "I". Sheeeesh!

P.S. Not meself, which I too find amusing. And less likely to be used ineptly.

wj -- the usage pattern like the one I quoted from Solnit is one thing; that's not a straightforward construction and I can see why people use the wrong form.

This is the kind of thing that really sets my teeth on edge:

Apparently Prigozhin, or whomever writes his Telegram posts, is a clearer thinker than anyone in the Kremlin...

or this:

I live in Florida and I want to know why the legislature has gone all lapdog to DeSantis whom really hasn’t been around that long...

If you find stuff like that only mildly irritating, you're a mellower man than I. But then, we already knew that. ;-)

The -self usage GftNC describes reminds me of another pattern that I think gets inculcated (at least in a lot of people I know/knew) in childhood. Kid says something like "Me and Jimmy are going to play baseball." Mom says "Jimmy and I...."

Two "rules" being inculcated: 1) name yourself last; and 2) use "I" and not "me" when talking about yourself.

The result is that it's very common, including among adults, to hear "She invited Jimmy and I to the party" -- because we were told so often in childhood to say "Jimmy and I...." that "Jimmy and me" just sounds wrong.

And no amount of further instruction that points out what you'd say if you were only talking about yourself ("She invited me to the party") ever totally erases that early conditioning.

In my experience, anyhow.....

But it seems like a stretch to assume that's related to GftNC's pattern. That sounds like one of those things were everyone does what the cool kids are doing....

The result is that it's very common, including among adults, to hear "She invited Jimmy and I to the party" -- because we were told so often in childhood to say "Jimmy and I...." that "Jimmy and me" just sounds wrong.

What really gets to me is "Jimmy and myself are invited to a party." or "She invited Jimmy and myself ..." Both of which seem increasingly common.

wj -- and I wonder if that's an extension of the pattern I described. People are so befuddled by the various phases of "that's wrong" -- but no, "that's wrong too" (even if in a different grammatical situation, which most people don't care a damn about understanding) -- that they throw in a "-self" construction because it's neither of the other ones.

Now we're getting closer to GftNC's pattern, I think.

I haven't heard people us this one you're describing hardly ever -- but again, I'm retired, and fairly covid-isolated still, so the things I notice tend to be things people write more than things people say.

Very grindy for me: "the below chart." I prefer "the chart below." -- But I can't actually give you a logical explanation for why "the above chart" seems fine to me but "the below chart" is an abomination.

Because “above” is like “before” and “below” is like “after,” so that’s where you put ‘em?

hsh -- never thought of that explanation. It made me chuckle.

But why is it "It's me" while "It is I" simply sounds pretentious or hopelessly old-fashioned ("It is I - Arthur - King of the Britons".)

But I can't actually give you a logical explanation for why "the above chart" seems fine to me but "the below chart" is an abomination.

I'm always at least a little uncomfortable about referencing a figure by relative position. I cut my professional teeth using software that supported floating displays, so where the graph appeared in print was not necessarily the same relative place that it appeared in the raw file. "The chart in Figure 3" is safer.

Large Disqus comment sections have the same problem. Comment order from top to bottom is dependent on both (a) the users choice, eg, newest-first versus oldest-first, and (b) the particular timing and method new comments are inserted into the display. "In my comment below" often refers to a comment that appears before the reference.

I've always said Microsoft Word will be a toy until it can handle floating displays.

@Hartmut -- Bryan Garner has an entry for "it is I; it is me" -- too long to copy here, but he says both are acceptable, "one by virtue of common grammatical rule, the other by virtue of common educated usage" (he's quoting another author, from 1961).

His examples of "it is me" (or the equivalent) go back to 1712. He also writes, "Of course, those with even a smattering of French know that It's me answers nicely to C'est moi."

With 'you' it's no problem since there forms coincide. But I think with 'we' only 'us' will do.
And it stays in singular form with 'it': 'it is us' not 'they are we' (let alone 'them are we').
Again the same in French while - for a change - German is a bit more logical there: "Das bin ich/bist du/ist er, ist sie, ist es" but "Das sind wir/seid ihr/sind sie". The 'das' stays in singular though, if it's a general statement. Otherwise one would use 'diese' (=those) in plural (and dieser/diese/dieses (=this/that) in singular).

Should we have stayed with Latin?
(Actually, no. Methinks that tongue encompasses yet worse quirks and possesses a rather unwieldy nature. Classical Greek would be better but imo it's too difficult.)

I wonder if that's an extension of the pattern I described. People are so befuddled by the various phases of "that's wrong" -- but no, "that's wrong too" (even if in a different grammatical situation, which most people don't care a damn about understanding) -- that they throw in a "-self" construction because it's neither of the other ones.

I'd say almost certainly Yes. With the only caveat being for those who found their manager (mis)spoke that way and started emulating the mistake.

Michael Cain can shed more light...

Probably more smoke than anything. Most of what the LLMs produce is grammatically correct, so there's some sort of grammar knowledge embedded in the models.

ChatGPT is an example of reinforcement learning, so during training someone/something is assigning a score to some result. Software to do grammar analysis and find errors has been around for a long time: Writers' Workbench was available on UNIX by 1980 and did a fair job of nagging me about common errors. Less explicit, the token sequence "dogs are" is much more common on the internet than "dogs is"; enough sorting of that kind of thing biases the model to match noun-verb plurals correctly.

I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together

What really gets to me is "Jimmy and myself are invited to a party." or "She invited Jimmy and myself ..." Both of which seem increasingly common.

That's exactly how it starts. Next comes "Yourself and myself were both invited to the party."

"one by virtue of common grammatical rule, the other by virtue of common educated usage"

What I am describing does not yet occur in "common educated usage". Or, in fact, it might at the moment be a class difference. (I was trying earlier to come up with a less loaded, privileged way to explain both of those possibilities.) But it is probably only a matter of time...

Interestingly, while misusing "myself" is painfully common, I can't remember ever hearing "yourself" (or "themselves" for that matter) misused similarly.

"How are you?"

"I'm fine, how's yourself?"

I've heard this pattern all my life. It's certainly colloquial, but I don't find it jarring.

Less explicit, the token sequence "dogs are" is much more common on the internet than "dogs is"

Now do "data".

Parts is parts.

"I'm fine, how's yourself?"

I've heard this pattern all my life. It's certainly colloquial, but I don't find it jarring.

Yes me too (or, indeed, me neither). This new thing is jarring, however. And it started exactly as wj says with the use of "myself", and then gradually went on from there. I hope you escape it. I have a strong sense that it is a way of making language more "genteel" (like many - but hopefully not mine - of the misuses of whom), and as with many euphemistic practices there is something very off-putting about it, in addition to its (probably only current) incorrectness.

I have a strong sense that it is a way of making language more "genteel"

Could be, at least hoccasionally.

Which reminds me: 29 Feb is coming, which is when one should watch "Pirates of Penzance". If you've seen it you'll know why; if you haven't you *should*.

I like the Irish slang:

"Good man." ... "Good man yourself!"

Now do "data".

Charles should ask ChatGPT to say something about data as singular/plural.

Data Demystified: When to Use Singular vs. Plural

Tech & IT: Usually singular: The data center needs maintenance.

Tech & IT: Usually singular: The data center needs maintenance.

The data centers need maintenance. Data is also an adjective.

Data is also an adjective.

That's not relevant; the example doesn't illustrate what it purports to illustrate.

"Center" is the subject of the verb; "data" has nothing to do with whether the verb takes the singular or plural form. (And as a side note, also irrelevant to what the example supposedly illustrates, adjectives don't change form in English depending on the number of the word they're modifying.)

An example that would be apt might be: "The data in the client database needs daily maintenance."

It a very literal way, the AI doesn't know what it's talking about. ;-)

People have talked at BJ about how, when they read news articles about topics they're familiar with, the articles are often unreliable and sloppy, if not downright inaccurate. (I have a small collection of examples of the innumeracy of journalists/editors.)

The AI seems similar. The "Data Demystified" write-up is well-organized and mostly correct, as far as it goes. (Garner is much more thorough and interesting, though...) But then there's that one example that's just irrelevant. I happen to know a lot about grammer, so I noticed, but what about topics I know nothing about? I wouldn't have any way of knowing which parts were which (reliable/unreliable).

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