Tuesday, March 07, 2023

7: China

The Beautiful and Terrifying Arrival of an Early Spring On one February day the high hit 85 degrees, destroying records and causing my woolly-haired dog to stretch out on the hardwood floor, panting. ...... The uncommonly warm days of winter turned out to be spring. ....... spring beauties can grow so thick they take your breath away. ....... the early buttercups: Last year they bloomed on March 23. This year it was Feb. 25. ...... Most songbirds seem to understand that warmth in winter is unlikely to last, that another Arctic blast is bound to stomp in before true spring finally shivers into green. ........ I worry that this early spring is the harbinger of a brutal and everlasting summer. I worry most that careless human beings continue to be so careless and that profit-mad corporations continue to be so mad. For the life of me I cannot understand the politicians who keep behaving as though what is happening to the climate isn’t an existential threat. ...... I surrender to the thrumming promise in the springtime air. The birds sing, and God help me I sing too.

A Rival for Erdogan Emerges as Opposition Parties Pick a Candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of Turkey’s largest opposition party, and his allies are looking to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who they say has damaged the country’s democracy........ At stake in the simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, which Mr. Erdogan has said will be held on May 14, is the economic future of Turkey, one of the world’s 20 largest economies. It is also a United States ally in NATO with a wide array of economic and diplomatic ties stretching across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. .

‘A Decade of Fruitless Searching’: The Toll of Dating App Burnout Ten years after the launch of Tinder, some long-term online daters say endless swiping has been bad for their mental health. .

Imagine What These Women Could’ve Done if They’d Had Wives the beginning of the end of their marriage may have been when Dundy published her best-selling and critically acclaimed novel “The Dud Avocado.” “Ken felt emasculated and betrayed,” Ciuraru explains. “‘You weren’t a writer when I married you!’ he yelled one night as he threw a copy of her book out the bedroom window.” ........... the persistence of the gender pay gap in our country, despite the fact that women are now a majority of the college-educated work force. ........ In 2022, women ages 25 to 34 earned about 92 percent as much as men of the same ages .......... Fathers ages 25 to 54 not only earn more than mothers the same age; they also earn more than men with no children at home. ........ Mothers across many countries are still hampered by what economists call the “sticky floor” of gender norms, including “the expectation that women shoulder a greater share of child care and household tasks than men” ........ I do wish we would reconsider the idea of the “creative genius” and what that looks like. It doesn’t have to be a self-centered (usually male) tyrant. ........ .

World out of balance is not yet China's to set right Beijing is keen to assert leadership but nations now have many choices ........ nations from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia are starting to distance themselves from Beijing and move into closer orbit around America. ....... Outside the West, however, many nations are acting on their own accord -- an implicit sign that they do not perceive there to be a global leader. ............. Nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking new trajectories, becoming gateways for Russian finance and refusing to put America's needs ahead of their own. ......... So far, only one nation has succeeded in recent years in getting other nations to redesign their societies and economies around it: the U.S. ........

A new era of vertical globalization is underway where barriers are going up around the globe in many different areas, not just trade and immigration.

........ Whatever Beijing does is often immediately met with a suspicious eye, complicating every Chinese initiative. ....... Like COVID-19, the Ukraine war is testing the world. ....... For China, the transformation that the Ukraine war has unleashed on the world could be equal to what World War II did for America, clearing the way for Washington to build and lead a new postwar order. But unlike after that war, the world stage is now crowded with a spectrum of ambitious powers.

About 100 Chinese Congress delegates chosen from U.S.-targeted companies Defense, chip sectors newly represented while tech giants notably absent ........ Beijing's push for independent semiconductor and commodity supply chains. ......... The "Two Sessions" of the National People's Congress and the advisory Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference bring together a total of about 5,150 delegates. .......... A number of representatives hail from state-owned military-industrial companies, including: arms manufacturer China North Industries Group (Norinco); China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.; and China Electronics Technology Group Corp., which handles IT services for the military, among other clients.......... Internet companies had been a major driver of economic growth, affording political clout to big names like Ma and Li. But Beijing began cracking down on the industry in fall 2020, following rare apparent criticism of the government by Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma. .

SCAMMERS USE VOICE CLONING AI TO TRICK GRANDMA INTO THINKING GRANDKID IS IN JAIL "WE WERE SUCKED IN. WE WERE CONVINCED THAT WE WERE TALKING TO BRANDON." if you have a Facebook page... or if you've recorded a TikTok and your voice is in there for 30 seconds, people can clone your voice." ...... Take ElevenLabs, whose AI voice synthesis service costs as little as $5 per month, and can produce results so convincing that a journalist used it to break into his own bank account. It's even spawned an entire genre of memes impersonating President Joe Biden. ElevenLabs' voice cloning has only been around since 2022. Imagine the damage it — and competitors looking to ride the coattails of its success — could do in just a few more years.

AI PILOT CRUSHES HUMAN DOGFIGHT RIVAL IN 90 SECONDS "THE ERA OF AIR COMBAT IN WHICH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL BE THE KING IS ALREADY ON THE HORIZON." "The era of air combat in which artificial intelligence will be the king," they add, "is already on the horizon." ......... "Aircraft with autonomous decision-making capabilities can completely outperform humans in terms of reaction speed," the study reads....... the AI simply doesn't have to worry about human things, like losing oxygen to the brain during quick turns — or being afraid of death.

OPENAI CONFUSED BY WHY PEOPLE ARE SO IMPRESSED WITH CHATGPT "LIKE, HONESTLY, WE DON'T UNDERSTAND. WE DON'T KNOW." . Even company CEO Sam Altman, has publicly disparaged ChatGPT in the press, calling it a "terrible product." ......... "we work on these models so much, we forget how surprising they can be for the outside world sometimes."

The inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it Exclusive conversations that take us behind the scenes of a cultural phenomenon.

Japan must tread carefully in lining up with U.S. and Taiwan Securitization of economic policy toward China will come with real costs ....... Given China's vast market, countering perceived economic security threats posed by Beijing will come with real economic costs. ........ Given Japan's repeated description of Taiwan as a "precious friend" in official statements in recent years, the growing relationship between military and economic security will likely lead to deepening ties and greater bilateral coordination with Taiwan. ........ Taiwan already has a robust technology screening regime. It will most likely try to use recent developments to reemphasize to its own tech companies the value in shifting production away from China. ......... In its 2013 Diplomatic Blue Book, Japan called Taiwan "an important partner" with which it shared "close economic ties." By 2020, Taiwan was elevated to "an extremely crucial partner and an important friend, with which Japan shares universal values such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law." ........ the two governments have upgraded the names of their respective diplomatic offices. Tokyo's representative office in Taipei, which previously carried the vague name Interchange Association, became the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association. Similarly, the name on Taipei's outpost in Tokyo changed from the Association of East Asian Relations to the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations despite opposition from China. .........

China’s Leader, With Rare Bluntness, Blames U.S. Containment for Troubles Xi Jinping criticized what he called a U.S.-led campaign of “encirclement and suppression.” His new foreign minister said it was impossible for China not to fight back. ....... Mr. Xi has hailed China’s success as proof that modernization does not equal Westernization. He has urged China to strive to develop advanced technologies to reduce its reliance on Western know-how. Then on Monday, he made clear what he regarded as an important threat to China’s growth: the United States. ......... he is bracing for more confrontation and competition between the world’s two largest economies. .......... The Biden administration has depicted Mr. Xi as seeking to reshape the United States-led international order to bolster Beijing’s interests. China’s close alignment with Russia, at a time when the West is seeking to isolate Moscow over its war on Ukraine, has intensified concerns about a new type of cold war. ........ Mr. Qin also called for the United States to take a less confrontational stance toward his country. “If the U.S. doesn’t step on the brakes but continues to speed up, no guardrail can stop the derailment” ........... Mr. Qin, the foreign minister, denied the weapons allegations and criticized U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan. He blamed an “invisible hand” — the United States, in other words — for escalating the conflict in Ukraine. .........

Los Angeles Is a Fantastic Walking City. No, Really. A stroll down Rosecrans Avenue is not a pleasure. But it does offer a 27-mile canvas of the city’s vastness and its diverse communities coexisting. ....... Places we think of as towns (Hollywood) are actually just neighborhoods, while places that sound like neighborhoods are cities (West Hollywood). ........ Rosecrans Avenue is just over 27 miles long, running east from the beach through South Los Angeles to the Orange County town of Fullerton. ........ Often, when people from outside California know of Rosecrans Avenue, it’s because of the street’s storied place in West Coast rap history. DJ Quik and Problem named an album for it. The Game and Kendrick Lamar invoke it in multiple songs. .......... Gentrification is unrelenting, revising the city every day. ......... There was a feeling I’ve experienced only in Los Angeles: I was in the middle of nowhere and at the center of everything, all at once.

Ukrainian Soldiers, Nearly Encircled, Push Russians Back The battle for Bakhmut is not over — at least not yet. Ukrainian assault brigades offered Moscow a bloody reminder of that over the weekend. .......... “I’m confident Bakhmut will hold,” said Col. Yevhen Mezhevikin, commander of a combined tactical group fighting in Bakhmut. “We have enough forces to throw the enemy back from this city, but it depends on the tasks the command has, be it holding the city, or inflicting maximum losses on the enemy.” ......... Bakhmut itself, a city with a prewar population of 70,000 inhabitants, has little strategic value. It was simply the next in the line of fire of a Russian offensive to seize the eastern province of Donetsk. But the battle for the city has created a defining moment of the war for both the Russian and the Ukrainian armies. No longer is the fight about Bakhmut: It is a marathon contest to see which army can break the other. .......... Russia has thrown tens of thousands of newly mobilized troops into a huge ground assault to take the city by sheer force of fire and manpower. Ukraine has used every hard-learned tactic from a year of war to hold ground and inflict maximum casualties on the invader, often battling from house to house in neighborhoods of smashed houses and stunted trees. .......... “The temperature is above zero for a third day,” he added. “Everything melted. Mud up to the knee. Rain 10 times a day. Makes it difficult to perform tactical tasks.” .........

“My daughter left but I stayed,” she said. “It’s home,” she said in explanation.

........... this is predominantly an artillery war. ............ “Imagine: Twenty guys come, we kill them. In five minutes, 20 more guys come, we kill them. In an hour, 20 more. They don’t care about men.” .......... A commander from another battalion, Dnipro 1, which spent months pitted against Wagner units, said he found them more agile and enterprising than most Russian Army units. ............. The commander, who uses the code name Duke, said Wagner used untrained prisoners in the first line of attack and then, after one or two hours, as the Ukrainian troops were tiring, sent special forces into the fray, attacking from the flanks. “It was very good tactics” .......... Ukraine has been able to use Bakhmut as a kill box to grind down the vast numbers of newly mobilized Russian soldiers who were introduced to the battlefield late last year, he said. Even Wagner’s forces are said to have been worn down since the summer. ......... They sometimes demolish whole residential blocks to defeat a single sniper ...........

the more confident Ukrainian commanders insist that the Russians have little fight left. “Russia is attacking on its last legs”

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