Once Upon a Time in Tasmania

A reminder that we're specks in a system of chaos. A rare chance to hear a rare album. TikTok's looming end date sparks a technical challenge. The US is desperate to make Israel look good.

Once Upon a Time in Tasmania

Listen to today's episode on the Stuff Keeps Happening podcast

Zeus, Stop It

Quick reminder that we live in a snow globe of entropy and chaos.

51-year-old rancher Mike Morgan died alongside 34 cattle after a bolt of lightning struck in the open pasture.

Morgan was inside a trailer feeding cattle at the time of the strike. Around 100 cows were affected by the bolt, but the majority managed to survive. This all went down in a tiny town distantly north of Denver. Thankfully, the others who were witness to the blast survived, including Morgan's wife and father-in-law.

There are scarce details here, but I have to assume they weren't just arbitrarily feeding their cows in an open field in the midst of an ongoing storm. That's not… how rancher do. Gotta assume this was some absolutely random bolt, which, oop.

I—someone who does not often find himself in an open pasture—still hustle (and bustle) if I can hear thunder and I am outside. I know, I know, I'm probably fine if there's some kind of tree or tall metal structure nearby, but STILL. Fuckin'… zap. Gone.

Ain't Nothing…

The truest fans of the Wu-Tang Clan should be booking tickets to Tasmania, as the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) will screen the fabled "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" album at ticketed listening parties.

The album was originally released in 2015, where exactly one copy was produced. You may recall that it was purchased by Martin Shkreli ("pharma bro"), who later had to give up the album as a part of an asset forfeiture after he got in trouble for the crimes he did.

The album is now on loan to the MONA, who is performing a handful of screenings.

Clock's Ticking

As time brutally marches forward, we inch ever closer to the looming date when TikTok will be forced to divest from ByteDance if they want to continue operation in the US. To be clear: I still have my doubts that will ever actually come to pass, but it would be far from the biggest stretch of the imagination given the way things have gone in the past few… my lifetime.

Seems TikTok is also taking a few precautions. A recent report from Reuters states that TikTok employees have been given the monumental task of separating out the TikTok recommendation algorithm from their codebase, in the hopes that they'll be able to launch a US-specific version in the future. According to the report, they're sifting through millions of lines of code.

Notably, TikTok denies this claim. They posted saying "nah, Reuters is wrong," to which Reuters said "nah, we're right."

So, it's very clear.

Anyway as someone who worked in tech for quite some time, although the "millions of lines of code" are probably not entirely about the suggestion algorithm, it is still likely that this is an absurd task to try and pound out before the looming legal cutoff arrives. TikTok has stated multiple times that divestment is a non-starter, going on to say:

the 'qualified divestiture' demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act.

In This Specific Case, The "Israel Situation" is Indeed Confusing

Maybe ceasefire? Probably not? Unclear?

Israel's leadership is very much not interested in a ceasefire short of leveling Gaza. Netanyahu has stated he has no intention to stop until they have "destroyed Hamas' ability to govern." He wants Gaza wiped off the map so Israel can more easily claim it without all those pesky residents of the land making it complicated.

But Biden—desperate to seem like he has any handle on literally anything ever—said it's likely that Israel will commit to a "framework" of a ceasefire agreement. The origin of the proposal is pretty unclear, with the US claiming it was a proposal by Israel, but virtually everyone among Israel's leadership is saying "fuck this shit." When asked for clarity, the US' stance was "well, Israel proposed it, but after we did some serious diplomacy."

An aide to Netanyahu said they've accepted the framework, but at time of writing, that hasn't been confirmed publicly.

Meanwhile, OpenAI announced that they've identified Israel and Russia using their AI systems to generate and distribute propaganda in several languages. They've banned the related accounts, but uh, hey, maybe propaganda generation machines aren't a thing that should just be widely available to any jackass with a credit card and an invading army they need to explain away.

Gaming News

Here's the Weather

Source: VentuSky

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