Wednesday 15 May, 2024


For one awful moment, it looked like a human arm.

Quote of the Day

”The mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought.”

  • Rebecca Solnit

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir | “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”


Long Read of the Day

 Traveling At The Speed Of The Soul

Lovely meditation in Noema on walking by Nick Hunt, who once walked from Hook van Holland to Istanbul, in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor, who completed his great walk on New Year’s Day 1935 and wrote a couple of entrancing books about it.

I slept on couches, in the ruins of castles and abandoned hunting hides. I got lost in graffitied city streets and in snowbound forests. I spent the vast majority of those months alone, talking to myself with a lack of self-consciousness that at times alarmed me. Birdsong, the roar of cars, church bells, cowbells, outraged dogs, the rush of rivers and the patter of rain kept me steady company. The sound I heard more than anything else was the crunch, crunch, crunch of my boots on the road.

By the time I got to Istanbul, those boots were full of holes…

Not for the faint-hearted, that kind of walking.

Books, etc.

Nabokov, writing. Not a keyboard in sight.

My commonplace booklet

AI’s Next Big Step: Detecting Human Emotion and Expression


Alan Cowen, CEO of Hume AI, is a former Meta and Google researcher who’s built AI technology that can read the tune, timber, and rhythm of your voice, as well as your facial expressions, to discern your emotions.

As you speak with Hume’s bot, EVI, it processes the emotions you’re showing — like excitement, surprise, joy, anger, and awkwardness — and expresses its responses with ’emotions’ of its own. Yell at it, for instance, and it will get sheepish and try to diffuse the situation. It will display its calculations on screen, indicating what it’s reading in your voice and what it’s giving back. And it’s quite sticky. Across 100,000 unique conversations, the average interaction between humans and EVI is ten minutes long, a company spokesperson said.

Hmmm…. I tried it (via I pretended to be an Apple user infuriated by its autocorrect feature. (Not difficult: I loathe that particular ‘feature’.) It figured that I was cross and tried to be emollient. Asked me if I’d tried the settings, and after that suggested that I get in contact with Apple Support, who might be able to make some helpful suggestions. “Yeah”, I replied, “and pigs might fly in close formation”. It then went quiet for a while, obviously trying to process whether this was a joke or not. Conclusion: it’s better than Siri. But then that’s not exactly a high bar.

En passant: wonder why they called it ‘Hume’.


Something I noticed, while drinking from the Internet firehose.

  • Arlo Guthrie, riffing on Amazing Grace. Wonderful folksy mastery of an audience. Link

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