Monday, January 17, 2022

Monday Morning Miscellany

Why save the scraps 'til Friday, eh? I wasn't planning on doing this but the day started with a flurry of weird oddities and peculiar news items and I didn't have anything much planned beyond the inevitable next post about Chimeraland, so why not?

I get my news, such as it is, from a variety of sources, the majority mediated by Feedly, the rss aggregator I swapped to when Google nuked their popular Reader service. People using their stuff and being happy with it has never cut much ice with Google.

Feedly was the best of a mediocre bunch, when it came to alternative options back then but it's improved over time. I'd be as annoyed now if it vanished as I was when Reader itself went. 

Luckily, there doesn't seem to be much chance of that happening. Rather, the idea seems to be to grow and improve Feedly's functionality, even in the free version. To that end, there's currently an effort going on to improve the accuracy of the algorithm that decides how to label things.

A few weeks ago I started to notice a pop-up on many of the feeds, asking me what the linked piece might be about. "Is this article about Entertainment?" the AI would enquire or "Is this article about video games?"

As you can see, that's not an easy question to answer. Or, rather, it's all too easy. Since almost all the blogs and websites I've fed into Feedly are focused on music or gaming, just about everything I ever see could reasonably be described as being about "entertainment".

Still, I do my best to help. I answer as I feel appropriate and Leo thanks me. Leo is the name of the AI, by the way, because of course it has a name. Leo tells me how sure it was about its choice before I came and put the seed of doubt into its silicon mind and then we both go on our way.

Sometimes the categories Leo picks are slightly off-kilter but usually by no more than a judgment call. Then this morning there was this:

Excuse me? Agriculture? How did Leo get there? So I put him straight. (See how I'm already anthropomorphizing the AI? That's what they want you to do...) Leo thanked me and let me know he hadn't been all that sure to begin with:

That's the lowest percentage guess I've seen Leo make. I hope I am making him smarter but I'm not so sure. He seems to be getting worse.

Of course, had he said "Is this article about Sport?" it would have seemed just as unlikely and yet it wouldn't have been all that far from the unfortunate truth. What the piece told me, when I finally clicked through to read it, was this: "St. Vincent, Honey Dijon, and TOKiMONSTA made exclusive David Bowie remixes for Peloton, the popular exercise equipment line. Their three remixes are being released as a celebration of Bowie’s entire catalog being available through Peloton to work out to starting on January 19."

It's tempting to say Bowie must be spinning in his space-grave but of course it's just the kind of thing he might have set up for himself. He was nothing if not unpredictable and he had a clear-eyed understanding of the commercial value of his work.

Moving on from one iconic singer-songwriter to another, the next news squib to spark up was the rumor (Nothing more.) that a new Lana del Rey song might feature in the second series of Euphoria. Just how in-demand do you have to be for a murmur of a single song that might appear on a TV show to make the news? Or how voracious is the demand for things to write about in our modern never-stop world?

Euphoria sounds like exactly the kind of show I'd watch if it wasn't on HBO. I'm currently subscribed to both Netflix and Amazon Prime and I'm actively considering subbing Disney+ as well but there's only so much money in the fun pot, not to mention only so many hours to watch tv shows.

Sounds like a great song. Looks like an intriguing show. Probably just going to go with the song for now.

Speaking of the interface between songs and shows there's also music and movies. Or the names of movies. I guess there's value in name recognition even if it makes for the kind of car-crash cut&shut that would give Leo concussion trying to categorise.

There used to be that trope in the eighties, where Japanese clothing firms would pump out tees with English language phrases seemingly pulled at random from the aisles of supermarkets, a trend seen in reverse, of course, in the mirror-trope of westerners tattooing themselves with unfortunate, misunderstood phrases in languages whose alphabets they couldn't parse. I thought we'd done with that.

Seems like maybe not but who knows? I'm trapped inside my own trope-shaming. I have no idea what Hyolyn's singing here. Maybe Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is wholly appropriate and insightful in the context of the lyric.

Hard to imagine and the onscreen English lyric translation certainly doesn't help, reading as it does, when it says anything at all, "Blah Blah". Oh, no, that's not fair. Once in a while there'll be a phrase in English and then the subtitles get it exactly!

Noting this is actually a cover, I was curious enough to check out the Lee Hyo Ri  original in search of enlightment. If the video's anything to go by the song seems to cover an invasion by space aliens with a dastardly plan to dance us all to death. Or something.

It's pretty good, anyway. Better than the cover. It does have a car in it, too, but it doesn't fly. It mostly runs into the back of the invulnerable singer and crumples. 

Which is what this post is about to do along with my grip on reality. Back to Chimeraland for some sanity, I think. A ride in a wheelchair pushed by a cat-bee seems almost quaint compared to real life.


  1. So if Leo turns into an AI with the intent of destroying all life on Earth, we can thank the person who fed Leo that Peloton was about Agriculture.

    I bow to our robot overlords!

    1. I would like to make it clear that, contrary to what the screenshot suggests, I did in fact press "No" before I answered.

  2. I'ma guess Dijon Honey was the key the AI triggered on here. But yes @Redbeard manipulation is another possibility. As they say in Korea, chitty chitty bang bang.

    1. I thought it could be the honey factor, too, although it's a fair old stretch even from honey to agriculture. I just read a Stereogum piece on the strong chart showing of the Bruno song from Disney's Encanta and Leo wanted to know if I thought it was about "parenting" so I think Feedly's AI has a way to go yet before world domination.


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