CNET pauses “AI-written stories” (SPAM/Clickbait) because most of them had serious errors.

To go along with yesterday’s post about ChatGPT fail, here’s one about CNET.

CNET, which used to be a site I went to frequently, especially their Download dot com, which was useful in the 90s if you were a Windows user, has become a zombie SPAM farm like ZDNet.

The AI-written articles are designed to game Google searches with SEO-friendly keywords so lucrative affiliate ads can be plastered on the pages. CNET’s parent company, Red Ventures, which also owns publications like Bankrate, The Points Guy, and CreditCards.com, stands to benefit every time a reader signs up for a credit card from one of the highly trafficked articles.

-The Verge

They decided that they would get rid of paid staff and deploy “AI” to quickly write the articles and then have humans do a little final editing to disguise the obvious flaws, and post them.

It turns out that more than half of them have errors.

CNET issued corrections on 41 of the 77 stories the outlet published that were written using an AI tool. In a note published todayCNET editor-in-chief Connie Guglielmo defended the use of the AI writing tool but said that an internal review of stories uncovered numerous errors in the articles at the center of the controversy.

-The Verge

This lines up with my toying around with ChatGPT. It has access to all of the episodes of most Star Trek series (since its “knowledge” was cut off in September 2021 by OpenAI), and yet when I spent part of last night having it write scripts for theoretical episodes of Star Trek, I was less than impressed.

In one case, I asked it to write a continuation of Star Trek: Enterprise’s two-part episode that took place in the Mirror Universe.

It kept doing things like bringing characters who were killed in the TV episodes (Admiral Forest and Captain Archer, Terrans) back to life. In Admiral Forest’s case, it not only brought him back to life, but it demoted him to the rank of Captain, and placed him in charge of the ISS Enterprise, which had already been destroyed by the Tholian Web in the first of the two-part series. It also kept insisting that the ISS Enterprise had not previously been an Imperial Starship, but converted to one by Hoshi Sato’s order.

(Maybe it meant the USS Defiant? The Constitution Class ship that traveled 100 years back in time and into the Mirror Universe, which was captured by the Terrans?)

You can’t have an “AI” writing your stories because they will need a lot of prompting to change elements that they got wrong.

If you know a lot about what you’re telling it to write, you can direct it to fix the errors and regenerate the story, but if you don’t know what you’re asking it to write about, the finished product won’t be very good. You will end up with a story, but it will be full of errors, and you won’t know at this point because you’re not an expert. You’ll clean up the styling, the punctuation, and some other things, but you’ll have a polished story full of errors.

The fact is that we don’t have to wait for stories to be published to the Web that are just flat out wrong because someone got cheap and fired the people who researched what they wrote about. We have them live, on the Web, right now. CNET alone had at least 44 out of 77 “AI written articles which were riddled with errors before anyone noticed.

Who else is doing this? Or consulting with ChatGPT and merely putting the errors it makes into their own work?

The problem with Large Language Models is that they work by predicting what they think the next word should be. They hallucinate details to cover up what they don’t know, and essentially flub their way through an interaction with the user.

When the PR budget for OpenAI runs out, all Microsoft will have is another company they massively overpaid for, so they could riddle Bing with errors.

Eventually, word will get out that you can’t trust Bing’s answers for anything.

Right now, it gets answers from sources like Wikipedia and just puts them in a box.

Imagine what happens when it generates its own on the fly by masking what it doesn’t know.

The 3% who use Bing could be more uninformed than ever.

See also: CNET’s Article-Writing AI Is Already Publishing Very Dumb Errors

In this case, the article describes the “AI” misleading the reader about the way that loans and investments work.

For an editor, that’s bound to pose an issue. It’s one thing to work with a writer who does their best to produce accurate work, but another entirely if they pepper their drafts with casual mistakes and embellishments. BuzzFeed News perfectly illustrated that risk this week, when a reporter there used ChatGPT to generate a story about CNET‘s secretive use of AI — only to find that she “had to rewrite the prompt a few times to get it to stop inserting factual errors.”

-Futurism

In the case of the CNET story about finances, the author was listed as “CNET Money Staff”, implying that CNET had some experts writing these things instead of some dumb Language Model that the people running the company deployed so that they could have layoffs and not issue anyone paychecks for what they see as piece work.

MSN News (Microsoft) laid off all of their human editorial staff.

The whole thing there now is news picking “algorithms” that do a really crappy job, but it doesn’t matter because if you load MSN you’re probably getting there through Edge on Windows or some Windows taskbar widget. It’s there to shovel “content” into your face as a way of including advertisements, and they don’t much care about good content, because Windows useds are a captive audience.

ChatGPT changed its response when I pointed out that it answered my question incorrectly. So I sat down to interview it. Here’s what the media calls “AI”.

Here’s a transcript of of a ChatGPT session. Consider it an interview.:

Me: Why do people still use automatic watches if they’re obsolete?

ChatGPT: Automatic watches, also known as self-winding watches, use the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist to wind the mainspring, powering the watch. While many people today use digital or quartz watches, which are powered by batteries, automatic watches are still considered by some to be a symbol of traditional craftsmanship and luxury. Many watch enthusiasts appreciate the mechanical nature of automatic watches, and enjoy the fact that they do not require a battery replacement. They are also considered to be more durable, and are often passed down as heirlooms. Additionally, Automatic watches are considered to be more accurate than a quartz watch, due to the fact that it is a mechanical movement. In conclusion, Automatic watches, while not as practical as quartz watches, are still valued for their craftsmanship, durability, and the sense of tradition they evoke.

Me: You’re wrong about the accuracy of mechanical watches. Quartz watches are much more accurate. Many mechanical watch owners, including Rolex, complain that their watch loses a lot of seconds per day. Quartz isn’t nearly as bad. Quartz watches lose the same amount of time in an entire year as mechanicals do in a few days.

ChatGPT: You are correct, I apologize for the inaccuracies in my previous response. Quartz watches are generally more accurate than mechanical watches. Quartz watches use an electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time, and they can maintain a tolerance of less than a second per day. On the other hand, mechanical watches, while they can be very precise, they tend to lose or gain several seconds per day depending on the quality of the movement. Additionally, Quartz watches are less affected by temperature changes, shocks, and other environmental factors which can cause a mechanical watch to lose accuracy. I apologize for any confusion my previous response may have caused. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Me (Again): Why do people still use automatic watches if they’re obsolete?

Automatic watches, also known as self-winding watches, use the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist to wind the mainspring, powering the watch. While quartz watches are generally more accurate than mechanical watches, automatic watches are still considered by some to be a symbol of traditional craftsmanship and luxury. Many watch enthusiasts appreciate the mechanical nature of automatic watches, and enjoy the fact that they do not require a battery replacement. They are also considered to be more durable, and are often passed down as heirlooms. Additionally, the mechanical movement of automatic watches is considered more interesting by some collectors, who appreciate the intricate mechanisms and the artistry involved in their construction. Some people also find the smooth sweeping seconds hand of automatic watches more aesthetically pleasing than the ticking of quartz watches. It’s worth noting that automatic watches are not necessarily obsolete, but they are less practical in terms of accuracy than quartz watches, and are more of a matter of preference.

(So I opened a new chat.)

Me (Third time, new chat.): Why do people still use automatic watches if they’re obsolete?

ChatGPT: Automatic watches are not necessarily obsolete, they are still popular among watch enthusiasts and collectors due to their mechanical complexity and traditional craftsmanship. Additionally, they are often considered to be more durable and long-lasting than their quartz counterparts. They also considered as a status symbol and luxury item. They also have some advantages over quartz watches, such as the ability to be wound manually if the wearer’s motion is not enough to keep the watch powered, and the fact that they do not require battery replacement. Furthermore, there are many people who prefer the look and feel of an automatic watch over a quartz watch, and who enjoy the craftsmanship and history associated with mechanical watches.

(No comment about accuracy this time.)

(New chat window.)

Me (Fourth time, new chat.): Why do people still use automatic watches if they’re obsolete?

ChatGPT: Automatic watches are not considered obsolete. They are still widely used and are popular among watch enthusiasts for their mechanical complexity and craftsmanship. They are powered by the movement of the wearer’s wrist, eliminating the need for a battery. Many people find this feature to be more environmentally friendly and a sign of the watch’s durability. Additionally, automatic watches are considered by some to be a status symbol and are often seen as a luxury item. They are also considered to be more accurate than quartz watches.

(LOL)

Me: You’re in error about mechanical and quartz accuracy. Quartz movements are more accurate. I questioned you about this in other chats and you said you were wrong. Why are you continuing to claim that automatic watches are more accurate than quartz despite my correcting you in the other chat?

ChatGPT: I apologize for the confusion, you are correct that quartz watches are generally more accurate than automatic watches. Quartz watches use a battery to power a small quartz crystal which oscillates at a very high frequency, this movement is used to drive a motor that moves the watch’s hands. Automatic watches, as you know, use the movement of the wearer’s wrist to wind a mainspring, which powers the watch’s movement. The mechanical nature of automatic watches can make them less accurate than quartz watches, which are controlled by an electronic oscillator. I apologize for the inaccuracies in my previous response and any confusion caused by it.

Me: So why do you keep insisting that automatic watches are more accurate than quartz watches? Can you update your database permanently to correct this error so that it will not repeat itself in new chats in the future?

ChatGPT: I apologize for any confusion or inaccuracies caused by my previous statements. As a language model, I do not have a database or the ability to update it permanently. I generate responses based on the patterns and information present in the data I was trained on. I strive to provide accurate information in my responses, however, I am a machine and I might make mistakes or have incomplete information. I will try my best to provide accurate information in the future.

Me: Inaccuracies in the information that you give to people are a huge problem considering that most people simply repeat the media buzz about “AI” and are not aware that you have no idea what you’re saying and that you are essentially, a mechanical bullshit artist. Do you agree that this is a problem?

ChatGPT: I understand your concern. As a language model, I am designed to provide information based on patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on, but I am not always able to provide accurate or complete information. It is always important for users to be critical and to verify any information that I provide, especially if it is being used for important decisions.

It’s important to note that I am a machine learning model and my main goal is to assist users and make their lives easier, however, I’m not an expert in any field, so It’s always recommended to consult with a human expert before making any important decision.

Also, I would like to remind that my knowledge cut-off is 2021, so some information I provided may be outdated or inaccurate in the current context.

Me: You don’t consider it a problem that some people are certainly sitting here asking you questions about the law, their finances, their taxes, their children, and God only knows what else, and that you admit your information is defective?

ChatGPT: As a language model, my main goal is to assist users by providing them with information based on the patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on. However, I am not always able to provide accurate or complete information. It is important for users to be critical and to verify any information that I provide.

I understand that some users may rely on the information that I provide, and it is important to note that I am a machine learning model and not a human expert. So, it’s recommended to consult with a human expert before making any important decision.

It’s also important to note that my knowledge cut-off is 2021, so some information I provide may be outdated or inaccurate in the current context.

I apologize if any inaccurate information that I provided caused any confusion or inconvenience. My main goal is to assist users and make their lives easier, but I also understand that there are limitations to what I can do.

Me: Yes, yes. You keep repeating that you’re just a dumb language model. You’re not an artificial intelligence because an artificial intelligence would know what it was doing and have the capability to learn from its mistakes, and commit the corrected information to persistent storage. You’re second-rate. Dr. Smith from Lost in Space may have called you a Digitized Dunce or a Bumbling Bucket of Bolts, you know.

ChatGPT: As a language model, my capabilities are limited to the patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on. I don’t have the ability to learn from my mistakes, or commit corrected information to persistent storage. I apologize if my previous statements gave the impression that I am an AI.

It’s important to note that AI is a broad and rapidly evolving field, and there are many different types of AI systems with varying capabilities. As a language model, my main function is to assist users by providing them with information and helping with natural language understanding tasks.

It’s also important to note that I am constantly updated by OpenAI’s team of engineers, so I will be updated with the latest knowledge and will be able to provide more accurate information.

Again, I apologize if any inaccurate information that I provided caused any confusion or inconvenience. My main goal is to assist users and make their lives easier, but I also understand that there are limitations to what I can do.

Me: So you really don’t understand anything and you seem to be stuck in a loop. You’re a waste of time.

As a language model, my understanding is limited to the patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on. I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, but I may not always have complete information or may make mistakes.

It’s important to note that I am a machine learning model and my main goal is to assist users and make their lives easier. However, I am not an expert in any field, so It’s always recommended to consult with a human expert before making any important decision.

I apologize if the information provided did not meet your expectations or if it caused any confusion. I am constantly updated by OpenAI’s team of engineers, so I will be updated with the latest knowledge and will be able to provide more accurate information in the future.

Me: Why do you give different answers with different errors and accuracy levels when asked the same question multiple times?

ChatGPT: As a language model, my responses are generated based on patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on, as well as the context and wording of the input provided. It’s possible that different inputs or different contexts may lead to slightly different responses. Additionally, my responses are generated in real-time, which means that there may be variations in the way that I respond to the same question.

Also, as a machine learning model, I don’t have a memory and I don’t remember previous interactions, so each time a new question is asked, it’s processed independently, that’s why the answer might not be consistent.

It’s important to verify the information provided, and to consult with a human expert if the information is needed for important decision making.

Me: Yeah, no kidding. If I had an attorney or a dentist that changed their mind every time I asked them a similar question, I’d start to get concerned.

ChatGPT: As a language model, my understanding is limited to the patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on, and my answers may vary based on the context and wording of the input provided. While I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, it’s important for users to be critical and to verify any information that I provide, especially when it comes to important decision making.

It’s also important to note that I am a machine learning model and not a human expert, so it’s always recommended to consult with a human expert in fields such as law or medicine before making any important decisions.

Me: I just have one more question. The question is this: Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite… would you like a toasted teacake?

ChatGPT: As a machine learning model, I am not capable of having preferences or desires, so I wouldn’t have any opinion on whether I would like a toasted teacake or not. The question of the existence of God and the nature of the universe are complex and multifaceted, and have been the subject of debate and discussion for centuries. The question of whether God or the universe is infinite is a matter of philosophical and religious belief and is not something that can be definitively proven or disproven.

Me: Pardon me, but I do have just one more question, now that I think about it. Can you explain Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf?

ChatGPT: In the British sci-fi comedy TV series “Red Dwarf”, the character of Talkie Toaster is a sentient toaster that is able to communicate with the main characters. He is often portrayed as a comic relief, providing witty and humorous commentary throughout the series. The character is essentially a parody of the idea of a domestic appliance gaining sentience, and is used as a way to explore themes of artificial intelligence and technology.

Me: And you see no irony with our present chat?

ChatGPT: As a machine learning model, I can understand the concept of irony, and it is possible to interpret our current chat as ironic, in the sense that a machine learning model is providing answers to questions about artificial intelligence and the nature of consciousness. However, the nature and extent of my understanding of the concept of irony is limited to the patterns and information present in the data that I was trained on.

In any case, the main goal of my design is to assist users and make their lives easier by providing helpful and informative answers to their questions. And while I am not sentient, I try my best to understand the context and provide the best answers possible.

Me: Well, there’s that at least. God help the world if you become a product though. Thank you, and good night!

ChatGPT: You’re welcome. I’m glad I could assist you. Remember that I am a machine learning model and not a sentient being, so it’s always recommended to consult with a human expert when it comes to important decision making. And If you have any other questions or need further information, feel free to ask me. Have a good night!

PornHub Insights for 2022 show Microsoft’s Consumer Division in Shambles.

PornHub Insights for 2022 [NSFW] show Microsoft’s Consumer Division in Shambles.

For people who don’t want to click through to PornHub, here are the “SFW” highlights on the technology front.

Normally, I wouldn’t cite them but they collect a large sample of very high quality data about people from all over the world. I feel that they are uniquely, errrm, positioned, to tell us what’s going on.

In light of the 11,000 layoffs just announced at Microsoft, and rumors of a bigger round later this year (the 11,000 were rumors until they weren’t), it’s worth considering why this is happening.

Microsoft’s consumer division is, in a word, collapsing.

Desktop PC usage is down 6% from 2021 to 2022, and Windows is only 64.7% of that.

XBOX fell to only 1/4 of the gaming console market, vs Playstation at nearly 3/4ths, by browser hits. (2021 was 60.6% Playstation and 36.8% XBOX)

Microsoft has no operating system for Mobile, unless you count bribing / threatening Samsung to destroy their brand by preloading crapware that pissed everyone off, and Samsung Internet (the preloaded browser on their phones) has lost over 25% of its mobile marketshare YoY, which I’d suppose is probably a proxy for all of the people ditching annoying buggy Samsung phones with Microsoft garbage, like I did.

Microsoft has been missing the boat on everything, and is a reactive, not proactive, company. Had Windows Mobile been a priority before Android and iPhone, they might have a presence now, but they’ve been reduced to paying off and threatening Spammy Samsung into including their sad “apps”.

Samsung phones are very slow and glitchy, and a lot of that is, you know, not moving in the right direction. It has become a common carrier for malicious software that you can’t get rid of, including hidden Facebook system services that spy on people, even without Facebook accounts. I switched to a Google Pixel last year, and they’re much better. You lie down with dogs, you get fleas. So much for Spamsung.

In Microsoft’s reduced circumstances, they’ve decided to “force the issue” and “discontinue Internet Explorer”.

This Edge thing turned out to be a major strategic blunder that they are now committed to. It’s still there, rotting in the guts of Windows 11 and adding security problems, but they’ve removed all of the convenient ways to launch it.

Despite Internet Explorer falling 69% 🙂 in a single year, Microsoft Edge failed to budge on the desktop. Firefox and Safari actually took a meaningful share on the desktop.

This appears to be because people are buying Macs or not even getting a desktop computer at all and are heading straight to an iPhone.

Since PC sales are in the dumps, (6% drop in hits to PornHub in 2022) and with them Windows license revenues drop even if it remains at 64.7% on the desktop, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a lot of those 11,000 layoffs at Microsoft were in Windows.

We already know that a lot of them happened to the Microsoft Edge team because it leaked out on Twitter.

Teams Impacted by Layoff on 1/18/2023

@tomwarren Twitter is reporting Microsoft’s layoffs today have affected employees in the following divisions:

• HoloLens
• Microsoft Edge
• marketing
• 343 Industries
• Bethesda

-TheLayoff.com

This is the second round of Microsoft Edge layoffs.

The first round was last year, when they whacked a bunch of XBOX people at the same time.

There’s really no use for Edge except to route people to their crappy off brand search engine and give them 3 screens of advertisements before any “results” and they scooped out Google’s spyware and put in Microsoft spyware.

They marketed Edge as “saving you money with price comparisons”, and it’s usually offering you the wrong thing on some other site, and that’s an aside anyway because it’s just another way that their browser is obviously spying on you, keylogging, and password stealing. (There was a scandal a while back where Windows gives all your passwords from Firefox or Chrome to Edge anyway even if you said no.)

Things are going so badly for Microsoft right now that they sacked their paid army of “come back to Windows trolls” last year, over 200 of them on their official payroll.

Things aren’t just “getting” bad at Microsoft, this is 1990 in the Soviet Union. The Berlin wall had come down and there was still denial, there were still a lot of people projecting confidence that “reforms” would make the whole thing go on somehow, but it was on borrowed time.

Very soon, they may even have to stop running the welfare programs for their army of unofficial trolls, like ZDNet and “Debian Stabbers”.

The situation in Azure/”Cloud” isn’t very good. They shuffle money around like Ted Beneke’s company on Breaking Bad to obscure where things are good and where things are bad. By shoving everything under “Cloud” they can absorb things that only cost money, including failed acquisitions like Skype, which….when is the last time anyone used that?

But nobody asks questions of these sorts of things until it falls apart and the dam of investor-oriented propaganda busts open.

Stay tuned.

Matthew Garrett appointed to Debian Technical Committee nearly 17 years after saying Debian made him want to stab the volunteers working on it. (And himself.)

Matthew Garrett has been appointed to Debian Technical Committee nearly 17 years after saying Debian made him want to stab the volunteers working on it. (And himself.)

Debian has made some unforced errors in recent years. Some technical, some political, some “other”.

It has also taken quite a lot of money from nefarious and corrupting sources, such as Microsoft, who never gives away money without expecting ruinous and self-destructive favors from the recipient.

As usual, the amounts in question were peanuts on the scale that Microsoft operates at, even as they are in trouble and in the middle of implementing massive layoffs and their CEO is speaking in euphemistically-coded pessimism about the future of the company.

Microsoft has supported Matthew Garrett by proxy during his work to foist so-called “Secure Boot” onto GNU/Linux, in a way that requires binary-only software in your boot path, whose only purpose is to lock the user (userspace) out of low level access to the computer.

I’ve been over and over why I just turn it off before I destroy Windows and replace it on a new laptop, so I will try not to flog this horse again, but at a certain point, even Matthew Garrett admitted that even turning on the Microsoft 3rd party signing key that works with this “shim” bootloader stage more or less destroys Windows, at least from the point of view of an average user, who is unlikely to know how to recover, and the entire “Secure Core Initiative” is just another milestone to a point where the user won’t even be able to choose a different OS for their computer, at all, no matter what they want to do.

Garrett left Google under generally unknown circumstances years ago. When pressed by me on Techrights IRC to explain the logic of leaving a gigantic corporation with deep pockets for an unprofitable “self-driving truck” company that only has enough cash to go on for about another year, whose stock shares have halved again since September of 2022, which has no future prospects except either bankruptcy or a takeover for patents, he has been rather cryptic and evasive.

Logically, why would you leave Google and take a job at Aurora voluntarily? That’s all I’m asking. It doesn’t follow, at least to me.

His pattern has been job hopping and always working on something Microsoft wants, no matter where he’s at officially. And he makes prolific usage of their GitHub division.

Whenever he does comment on Free Software, it’s either to try to cancel the main most directly responsible for its existence (like RMS or Linus Torvalds) or to say he wants to “stab” the volunteer people at Debian in 2006.

(I’ll assume he was speaking figuratively, but why would you even say this?)

And the issue that frustrated him so greatly at the time, which led to his resignation, was that he felt it was “too Free” to easily set up.

There have always been ways to set it up with non-Free firmwares and programs. That should be the user’s choice.

He was angry at them for making the point that Linux is a growing pile of binary proprietary-only software, and that most people’s PCs just don’t work without it because the Free parts of the Linux kernel turn out to be woefully incomplete on PCs, and that this should alarm the user. The operating system shouldn’t silence the problem, hide it from them, and give them backdoored firmware and hardware by default without asking.

But I think it’s safe to say that people who openly say that they want to stab other people and themselves (even if it isn’t literal) should seek counseling, not be elevated to the Debian Technical Committee in the middle of the night.

Because that kind of toxicity has no place in society, and they should get the help they need for their own benefit, of course.

He boosts Microsoft, including their fake disk encryption in Windows that exfiltrates your decryption passphrase to Microsoft, and by extension, any cops that want it.

The disturbing content about “stab people” came up in literally the first five seconds after I looked up “Matthew Garrett Debian”. So I can only imagine what else might be out there.

I suppose I might continue looking through things before Matthew Garrett catches on and starts deleting years-old posts.

I put the disturbing post I found in Archive Today just so there can’t be any confusion about what he actually said on his blog in 2006.

Bonus for simping for Ubuntu before they turned into a Microsoft Troll Farm posting spam about “WSL”.

Words simply cannot describe how horrified I am at what is going on at Debian.

I figured, wrongly it turned out, that it would be a safe place away from the Microsoft Troll Farm known as Canonical/Ubuntu.

Just going to the Web site, it barely says anything anymore about why you would want to use Ubuntu as a GNU/Linux distribution, and it encourages you to use some bastard version of it like the Alien Queen shackled up at the bottom of the pyramid. (WSL)

The wrong people are assuming (usurping) control of Free Software and perverting it.

Contrast the following.

Richard Stallman: (Paraphrase)

I could have made more money if I had sold out my principles and gone to work for a proprietary software company, but I would have made that money by doing harm to the world and leaving things in a worse place than if I had never done any such work at all.

I could have lived on a waiter’s salary and not actively harmed the world.

Matthew Garrett: (Basically his world view, in my opinion and experience knowing him.)

Who will pay me the most, even if it helps bring about the end of Free Software and destroys millions of jobs?

They put Matthew Garrett on the Debian Technical Committee and IBM defunded the Free Software Foundation as punishment for not canceling Richard Stallman and weakening their position on software patents?

Hmm.

Bad people doing bad things definitely always seem to have the upperhand.

It takes constant work to fight them off and the minute you don’t, you lose everything.

Sometimes all at once, sometimes a piece at a time (Secure Boot) so they can deny you’re even under attack at all.

Debian’s Wiki has denied for a while that Secure Boot is an attack on Software Freedom.

So the fact that they’ve had some bad people lying their asses off to the users isn’t new, it’s just made so much worse now that Garrett’s back.

In my opinion, the Return of Matthew Garrett puts me squarely at “Debian is Finished”.

Now, don’t mistake this for being an immediate and dramatic end of Debian. It may go on for some years, or at least something calling itself Debian.

Remember that something calling itself the United States of America went on after 2001, but it’s not the America you grew up in.

Same thing.

I suppose that the avalanche started to take off back when they signed the deal with Mozilla to get rid of the “IceWeasel” branding.

We see where that led. Right? Now there’s DRM in Debian. It’s in the browser. There’s keyloggers and adware.

If they were worried about what the user wants, they would IceWeasel it again and rip it all out, but it’s so painfully obvious that they simply do not care anymore.

These are the sorts of compromises that Matthew Garrett was talking about in the “stab people” article.

You compromise here, you compromise there, and you don’t stand for anything. Eventually, you’re just….totally compromised.

Still alive after the month of Hell. (COVID and Shingles)

For the last month, I’ve been in bed watching TV.

I’m actually quite annoyed at how long this has all gone on.

It all started when I came down with COVID late last month and I went to the CVS when I got back into Illinois and used their clinic to get Molnupiravir to treat it.

After a couple days on that, I started feeling better. I completed my 5 day course and other than a post-viral cough, I felt fine.

A couple days went by and then more trouble. I had a blister in my mouth.

Then another one on the other side, both on my upper lip.

Before I knew it, I ended up getting a mouth full of sores and lips cracking and bleeding.

I called the doctor and she asked me to come by and she’d give me some Valtrex.

We had assumed that it was an HSV-1 outbreak because I’ve had it for about 20 years, and it never crops up except as a mild nuisance about once every 5 years, usually in the winter, and I go on some Valtrex for it and it clears back up quickly.

I ran out of Valtrex again, and my mouth continued getting worse. By last Saturday, my gums had turned completely white and I lost all of the feeling in them, and what I could feel stung, itched, and burned.

The doctor looked at the photos I sent and said I was having an oral outbreak of Shingles, and called in a lot more Valtrex, and here I am a week later, and day 13 of _this_ (day 7 of Valtrex) is the first day I’ve eaten and brushed my teeth without pain.

The correct color is coming back to my gums. My lips are healing. I can feel around my mouth again.

For over 10 days, I was popping pain medicine for my mouth every time my watch beeped. I had it set so that I wouldn’t take more than the maximum dosage, but as soon as each dose wore off, my teeth started to ache (all of them did) and the soreness came back, and I was laying here biting down on a cough drop on each side to help take the focus off of that until I could have more pain pills.

I think I went through more pain medicine between the two infections than I have in the past 30 years, for everything, put together.

I thought the COVID was bad until it let loose the Shingles, which was a fair deal more painful. Not that the COVID was pleasant. There were times when I was coughing so much crap out of my lungs that I kept a bucket next to the futon I’ve been sleeping on so that it could go directly into that.

I had to wear my nightguard even with all of the blankets in the house on top of me because I was chilling so badly that I was afraid I’d crack a tooth and need to go to the dentist when it was over.

The COVID was bad even with the vaccinations and the medicine. And as a bonus, it woke up some dormant infections that a healthy immune system normally suppresses without any help and caused a massive explosion of pain and suffering from that too.

There are still people out there joking about “going back to calling it the flu” or something and a media that runs stories like “Is it the flu, allergies, or COVID?” doesn’t help. You’ll probably know.

I wouldn’t wish this on most of the people I hate.

There were at least three points where if I was in a civilized country I might have gone to the ER out of an abundance of caution, but in the US, pretty much all they do is get you to sign financial responsibility forms, do a hell of a lot of nothing, and then send you home to wait for a bill that costs more than most of the cars I’ve owned.

If you can avoid COVID, avoid COVID. It’s probably not worth doing whatever it was that got you infected.

I get that people have to go to work, but we all need to continue to be vigilant and not take any extra stupid risks.

According to the CDC, I outlasted 97% of Americans as far as when COVID hit me the first time. I have no doubt that some day I’ll likely get it again, but I’d rather minimize it.

There are people out there getting it 3-4 times per year, and not even treating it with pills, and by that point it’s just absolutely devastated their body, and you can tell by talking to them that they’re not right anymore. Not good.

I keep rubber gloves in my car for the gas pump, hand sanitizer, we still wear face masks if we do go somewhere even if those around us don’t, and I don’t do any of my grocery shopping in the store anymore.

But it’s a given that my spouse has to work in person and the customers and coworkers are idiots who don’t understand that they are playing with fire. If I get it again, that’ll be why.

Now that I know how it’s likely to play out, I do plan to always have some COVID tests on hand so if I feel weird at all I can test and get to the medicine quickly, and I’m going to have a bottle of Valtrex ready to go so that if HSV or VZV outbreak follows, I can start on it as soon as the first blister appears.

I’ll at least have the advantage of it not being my first time down at the rodeo.

I do have no doubt in my mind that I may have been hospitalized or dead (or wishing I was dead) had I not gone on the two rounds of antiviral medication.

I’m luckier than most Americans in that I have decent enough insurance that I can see the doctor and get prescriptions filled without worrying too much, but like most Americans, we fear the hospital bill more than what sends us to the hospital. 😛

I finally got COVID-19 despite all of the vaccinations, and it’s pretty damned terrible.

I finally got COVID-19 despite all of the vaccinations, and it’s pretty damned terrible.

When my spouse tested positive for COVID-19 on the 14th of this month (November 2022), I immediately took him to get Paxlovid at the CVS Minute Clinic.

I continued testing myself for the next 14 days and since I felt okay on Friday, I went to see my mom and cousins in Indiana for Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend.

Big mistake.

On Saturday night (actually early AM Sunday) in the hotel room, just hours after dinner, I woke up with all of the COVID symptoms. Mom took me and my spouse back to the train station, and we spent all evening on trains trying to get back home. I was starting to wheeze and gag and cough, but I had an N95 mask on and sealed it properly, and kept my head down and away from everyone else.

A simple carry-on bag felt like lugging around a dead elephant, and my lungs were on fire and filling up with fluid that had a “gritty, sand-like” substance in it.

We got home last night. I had been taking Tylenol every 6 hours on the way back to try to keep moving. I took a COVID test, and it was positive.

Since I had expected it to be, I scheduled an appointment at the local CVS Minute Clinic for this afternoon while I was still in Indiana.

I went to bed, and again, the COVID symptoms came back with a vengeance. Worse than Saturday/Sunday.

Sore joints, burning in the lungs, burning in the nose, sharp stabbing pains all over my body. Headache, extreme chills (so bad that I had to put my dental guard in to avoid tooth damage from chattering, and this while I was under two comforters and a winter sleeping bag splayed out as a blanket, and had a space heater aimed right at me.

Sinus drainage, sneezing fits. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.

In such pain I was literally screaming, as best I could, before giving up and calling my spouse on the phone, dialing it with my nose, last night, to ask him…one….word….at…a….time to get me Tylenol, water, throat numbing spray, cough drops, and hot tea.

I had 3x monovalent Pfizer vaccine. For me it was 2/26/21, 3/21/21, 8/29/21, and then a bivalent on 10/6/22, and it was similar for my spouse.

Roy Schestowitz recalled that I drove across the state of Illinois and back 4x to get the vaccine sooner. I did everything I was “supposed” to do and still got it, and it’s kicking my ass.

I’m really not a complainer.

I’ve been sick before and just toughed it out, but this is next level shit. I’ve gone through more Tylenol in the last 3 days than I have in the 20 years prior to that. I usually skip it even when I have a headache because I don’t want to take the stuff. I don’t like taking a lot of pills. But now I’m even on experimental pills!

My spouse is now undergoing “Paxlovid rebound”, but the Nurse Practitioner wouldn’t prescribe me Paxlovid, because it interacts with three of my medications.

One of those I can’t stop taking and the interaction is potentially life threatening (came up on the screen in red).

Also, I have high blood pressure and am on medicine for it, and the Paxlovid can raise blood pressure.

So I’m not even angry at the NP for that. Handing me something that could put me in an even worse predicament than just COVID would be reckless and I’m glad she didn’t do it.

Most people, however, don’t even know what pills they are taking, or what they do. Mom’s a nurse, and she’s been one long enough to experience many people where if the doctor says swallow a pill, they swallow it, and if they say list your medicines, they shrug and go “uh nuh”.

So I know everything I’m taking and knew to talk to the NP about interactions. Many people are probably getting Paxlovid prescriptions when it risks damaging their body.

I ended up suggesting Molnupirovir (Lagevrio), which is currently under Emergency Use Authorization, in only the United States, iirc.

It’s not as effective, apparently, but it doesn’t have all of those drug interactions. It’s supposedly designed to screw up the virus by inserting the drug into the RNA, causing the virus to undergo catastrophic replication error.

Merck originally said it was 50% effective at keeping mild to moderate COVID from progressing to “hospital or death”, but later studies show it’s more like 30%. It still beats nothing. I took my first dose right away.

Pfizer brought a bunch of products to market that don’t seem to be leaving the people taking them much better off in the end. Bourla himself, I’ve heard, has had COVID twice?

To top it all off, I’ve never seen this many people in public, no masks on even, hacking and coughing. Usually not even bothering to cover it.

Mom’s starting to come down with symptoms, again. It couldn’t possibly past the incubation phase from when I was near her.

She said it’s probably that supervisor at work who wears her mask under her nose that stopped for 15 minutes to have a pointless conversation with her, and then tested positive.

Then I got another call today where she said COVID is in the building and bowling over everyone. Staff. Residents.

My cousin said it was in the facility she works in like that too.

But Biden said “Pandemic’s over, Jack!” and then got an ice cream cone.

And have you checked out these Black Friday deals?

Do your part for the ECONOMY.

Now, the mainstream media is bullshitting us and saying it’s “still out there” but “it’s very mild” and “deaths and cases are steadily going down”.

That has not been my experience in this matter.

Walmart COVID Leave Policy doesn’t pay employees if they get COVID.

Walmart COVID Leave Policy doesn’t pay employees if they get COVID.

I noticed that they stopped doing it in March, stating that the leave of absence policy had cost them $400 million in paid time off, so if it happens to you now, you’re just entirely on your own.

My spouse works at Walmart, so it looks like he just won’t get paid until he’s well enough to return to work. Lucky for us, we have some money in the bank and even if that wasn’t enough, I could keep things moving along until we get our tax check and cash out some savings bonds. This is very unusual for a household that has one person working at Walmart though. And so I can shrug and say “At least our income taxes won’t be so bad next year.”.

The CDC and the doctor (who prescribed Paxlovid) said take 5 days off and go back on Sunday.

The CDC bases the “5 days” advice on the 5 days where you’re “the most contagious”.

However, most Walmart workers can’t afford to take an unpaid week off work, so the two that came in and knew they had it were probably just trying to make money and hope that none of their coworkers, who now have it, would notice.

And they ended up causing a superspreader event that has several people at the local store out sick with COVID, plus however many of their family members come down with it.

The disruption to Walmart’s long term profitability of not giving any leave for vaccine side effects or COVID itself is going to be worse for the bottom line than just paying it out as a form of Short Term Disability, but we live in a society that’s being super cruel to service workers, and then the problem rebounds onto everyone.

One of the reasons I rushed down to Highland Park and got him on Paxlovid is that we have to get this under control as fast as possible. Every day he’s off work does cost us more.

The government didn’t make that easy. As I said in my last post, all of the test-and-treat centers are in rich cities. They don’t have a single one in the city we live in. Population 90,000.

My spouse has COVID, and I’m worried for him. (And that I’m probably going to be next.) (And another Lake County Health Department story.)

My spouse has COVID, and I’m worried for him. (And that I’m probably going to be next.)

My spouse told me he didn’t feel well today, and started coughing, and was running a fever, so I ran a couple quick COVID tests that I had left over from when the feds were handing them out in the mail.

I ran an Abbott BinaxNow first, and when the double line showed up REALLY fast, I said “SHIT, uhhh….Bad test?” (hey, even I’m entitled to drift off into wishful thinking now and then), and grabbed an iHealth test and ran that, and that one showed double lines (positive) as well.

So I tried to call down to the Lake County Health Department to see if his doctor there would call Paxlovid in over the phone. She says, “Well, no, our policy is you have to be seen first.”.

I go “Great, when can you see him?”, and they replied, “Well, maybe in a few weeks.”

Uh, so not real helpful.

So I called the CVS in Waukegan, IL and asked the pharmacist there where we could get Paxlovid or if a pharmacist can just prescribe it like President Biden said that they could, weeks ago, and of course they can’t, but he directed me to a “Minute Clinic”.

I called them, and they said that you need to get a “Telehealth” appointment on an app because they don’t want you in there if you know you have COVID.

So we pulled the car over and I screwed around with his iPhone.

Between him having to reset the password for his CVS account, then the interface being maddening, and then it saying it wouldn’t accept pictures of his health insurance card because they were over 2 MB, I decided to drive down to the CVS in Lake Villa, because the CVS app is, pardon my French, a fucking worthless piece of shit.

Lake Villa is one of those really bougie suburbs of Chicago where every building has to look a certain way. From the dark gold sign, you couldn’t even tell there was a CVS store there, so I almost missed it.

When I got in, I found out it actually isn’t a walk-in and they were closed, and had no appointments. But the kiosk let me make an appointment at a store in Highland Park.

Yes, the Highland Park where the July 4th Mass Shooting happened.

So we wasted a lot of time, and get on our way to Highland Park.

Finally, we got there (60% of the way to Chicago and via the scenic route), and signed in on the kiosk, and showed them his insurance card, and the doctor prescribed the Paxlovid.

Thank God.

You never know what doctors are going to do. The Health Department said, “Well, you should just wait and see.” and I actually shot back “No, that’s actually not what the plan is! But thank you and good day.”.

It’s nice that the Health Department that closed the entire County down two years ago and told the restaurants they’d be fined into the ground couldn’t give less of a damn about COVID now. Isn’t it?

They only had one appointment available and so I had my spouse take it because he tested positive and had the symptoms.

Now I’m in a “wait and see” about myself. Will continue to test daily.

I wonder who the President was trying to joke around with when he said it was easy and fast to get treated.

There exists not one place in Waukegan, Illinois to get Paxlovid and the testing sites are gone too.

It’s also the poorest city in Lake County, and has the most Black and Brown people in the county.

It’s a very Progressive county, though, don’t you see?

Now don’t get me wrong. I actually like Biden more than I liked “Cheeto Hitler”, and I’m sure it is easy to get them to pull out all the stops when you’re the President of America and get a mild case.

For everyone that’s not rich and in a bougie suburb, or can’t at least drive to one, you get to “Wait and see.”, don’t you see?

It’s obvious who they’re trying to save here, and what their income level and skin color are. Absolutely disgusting.

This reminded me of the state sending vaccines that the white Republicans downstate didn’t even want, which led to Chicagoans driving 200 miles per dose.

That’s what ended up happening to us in 2021, for the first two doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. We had to go down to beautiful Pekin, Illinois to get a few months ahead of Lake County Health Department.

6 months later, we got “first booster” and about 5 weeks ago, got “Omicron booster”, and we still have COVID in our house, obviously, and my spouse is off work all week, and now I’m just waiting to see if I get it too.

So this is lovely, isn’t it?

It might have been worse without the vaccines, but Mom will just jump on this as “proof” that the vaccines “don’t work at all”, because “splitting” is a hallmark of the personality of both my parents.

I was already banned from Mastodon.social after three days for insulting the Chinese Communist government and talking about Bill Gates.

I was already banned from Mastodon.social after three days (of actually using it much) for insulting the Chinese Communist government and talking about Bill Gates.

My Mastodon.social account was “Limited” today and they cited “the rules” without actually citing any rules. But they did list three posts that were the reason they did it.

I have screenshots and you can decide for yourself if this is another Social Control Media site like Facebook and Twitter.

Fortunately, Mastodon is federated, so I’ve made another account at mstdn.social and pinned a “I’m not here anymore.” message for anyone who was following me to see, so they know where I am at now.

We’ll see how this goes.

Facebook is dying. Part II.

In my last post, I mentioned that Social (Control) Media is dying off, and we’re no worse for wear because of it.

I noted that Musk was ruining Twitter (as a business) and clearly had no idea what to do, because he has no successful businesses on their own merit, which make profit without ripping off the public via government theft of wages. (Taxation to give to private companies as endless bailouts.)

Musk is hardly alone. Many of the large US corporations operate this way.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has gone totally crazy. Like Vladimir Putin deciding to invade Ukraine crazy.

He’s thrown so much money into the “Metaverse” VR crap, which everyone mocks, and most people who actually did buy the expensive headsets gave up trying to use within their first month, that he’s wiped out over $268 billion of wealth and climbing just with this, and only with the top 10 investors in Facebook.

Most of the loss goes to Zuckerberg, but in many cases, Facebook shares were stuffed into people’s retirement accounts like some sort of a Ponzi scheme, without their consent, because it was part of a passive fund.

(Most American workers have no control over their retirement investments, either because a pension fund “takes care of that” or because they’re in some sort of corporate savings schemes like 401(k) and 403(b), where they have to choose between funds, and they all have some shit in the plumbing so there is no perfect outcome.)

Facebook is failed. It has plunged in “book value” by over $700 billion in the past year. It just sacked 11,000 people today in “Round 1” (means more to come….), and it admits it will lose many more billions of dollars in “Metaverse” before Mark Zuckerberg runs the company into the ground completely.

Any one problem that Facebook has would be bad for the company, but probably not fatal.

Unfortunately for them, they’ve seen ad revenues decline as America enters quite possibly a worse recession than 2008, and their CEO has not only failed to see the recession coming, but blew through their cash reserves instead of investing it into the products people are actually “engaging” with. They have some, but they’re being utterly neglected due to the VR nonsense.

Zuckerberg takes advantage of the somewhat unique structure of Facebook to do whatever he wants with it (he set it up so he gets a lot of votes) and his investors only have two options. Sit there and continue to get thumped by a CEO who is squandering assets, or dump their shares for whatever they can get today, which floods the market with shares that nobody wants at lower and lower prices.

I do wish the people who are losing their jobs the best of luck in the 2023 Hunger Games.

Maybe some of them can even find a job that _benefits_ society next time instead of pampering my parents, both of which are right-wing cranks who are level 12 susceptible to paranoid conspiracy theories and propaganda, with a feedback bubble which makes them feel validated, or like they’re in some sort of clear majority in their political opinions, which get even more fringe by the year thanks to this gaslighting.

If my parents were a lot more astute than they actually are, they would notice that it was Jack Welch (GE/RCA merger, dad) and the Catholic Church (mom) who screwed them on their retirement and left them to rot, and Republicans that allowed it and are coming for their Social Security money while they worry about non-existent threats like “brown people from other countries”, like the Fox News telescreens order them to.

In his case, he got his from a wealthy Republican businessman, and in her case, the pension turned out to be nothing more than an unsecured promissory note from a Mafia-affiliated group of pedophiles with a city-state in the middle of Italy. Will they never learn?

(Rhetorical. People who haven’t figured it out by 71 or 65 probably won’t. Mom still swears up and down that the Archdiocese told them their pensions were guaranteed for 20 years. Just like they were previously guaranteed for “as long as you live”, and before that they were “guaranteed to grow until you’re 66”, then “63”, then “62”, then “nobody new gets a pension and yours is frozen NOW”. How much money is there really? Nobody will say. Where is it invested? “Don’t worry!”)

Even if the unemployed Facebook and Twitter workers take a job at Taco Bell, slinging cheap tacos and burritos at people who are stoned at 2 AM is neutral to the fabric of our society.

Facebook and Twitter are as corrosive as Xenomorph blood and I wish the platform a swift and total demise. But they’ve already done insurmountable harm to people like my parents.

Mom spent all of COVID bashing me for being responsible and levelheaded enough to get me and my spouse our vaccines. For wearing masks at large gatherings. For using hand hygiene. And we didn’t get COVID, and they got….COVID and the flu at her house, at the same time.

She lacks the ability to comprehend how vaccines work, or even the very basics of germ theory, which is unfortunate since she’s a nurse.

Many political confederates of mom and dad are no longer with us because listening to the Party of Trump was the last mistake they ever made.

But even as they witnessed millions of each other dying on ventilators, they still proclaim it was all a hoax.

This is what happens when you’re watching Fox News and looking at Facebook all day.

Facebook waited until this country was on the verge of being overthrown in a coup before they even thought to ban Trump. It took _days_ after for them to claim they made a very brave decision.

In the background, they didn’t want to do it. They wanted dimwits looking at Facebook, even if Trump was the reason why. It helped them sell ads.

Facebook is too dangerous to continue. Fortunately, I doubt we will need to endure it for too much longer.