#34: Gifting, Watching, Reading, and More on AI
I spent my November holiday in Los Angeles, with family and friends. My little grandson and I spent hours running in the park, digging up concrete and rocks from his family’s yard, and picking ripe pomegranates from a neighbor’s tree, then breaking open the fruit and enjoying the seeds. We pushed wooden trikes and plastic trucks up and down a small hill endlessly, so fun.
December looks hectic. Coping strategies: early morning gym sessions three times a week, yoga practice, more hikes. Also sleep, so big YEAH for my new sleep mask (a great gift from E!).
At Cover Your Bases, I usually start by sharing what I’ve been reading and watching. But since I have holidays on the brain (Hannukah starts on December 7th, and we also celebrate Christmas, and the Solstice), I am kicking off with my favorite gifts and where to buy them.
Oaktown Spice Shop: Friends and family regularly get gifts of spices and herbs from Oaktown Spice, a wonderful small business. Selections I especially enjoy sending include the Bakers Delight Gift Box, with gorgeous cinnamon, and the Oaktown Favorites gift box, which includes favorite spices–Shichimi Togarashi, Zatar, and Persian Lime Curry rub. There are also game-changing salts for sale like the Humboldt Flake Sea Salt and the Umami Sea Salt, and many other gift boxes.
BAGGU: If you know me, you know I LOVE Baggu. I’ve gifted bags to friends, colleagues, and co-workers, have bought some for myself, and covet others. Metallics, stripes, pouches, carry-ons–I love them all.
Green Salmon Coffee: The blurb for this not-too-sweet Shroom Cocoa from a shop in Yachats, OR, says that it helps with the immune system, fatigue, depression, dementia, tumors, colds, flu, etc, but it just tastes damn good. The coffee is good, too.
C. Cassis: Visiting the new tasting room for C. Cassis in the Hudson Valley this fall and having a flight of cassis-focused drinks made me want to order cassis for everyone I know. The cassis is sold across the US, and they also do mail-order and it’s so good.
Things to read
Why I left, Freelance Cafe newsletter, Mia Lobel, 11/27/23: Mia Lobel’s recent essay, about her decision to leave Pushkin Industries, a production company that she helped found, struck a chord. Lobel describes how success and fast growth led to a culture of expansion that felt unsustainable (and not in tune with her, or other staffers.) She also shares how she’s exploring coops–aka shared ownership–as a new, more inclusive business structure. I appreciated this essay on so many levels; if you’re a creative, entrepreneur, or tech person who has worked for various-sized companies, you will really enjoy this read.
“I’m not one to cast blame. Our industry was built on collegiality and kindness and I intend to keep it that way. But I can’t help but wonder what might happen if instead of growth, we focus on sustainability. And if instead of the money (and therefore decision-making power) being in the hands of a wealthy few who don’t understand how the sausage gets made, the money is in the hands of the sausage makers.”--Mia Lobel
Where are all the ‘godmothers’ of AI? Women’s voices are not being heard, The Guardian, Luba Kassova, 11/25/23. OpenAI now has no women currently on its board, and male perspectives dominate. Kassova has been brilliant in documenting bias, and this article is a comprehensive look at where AI stands in terms of gender parity, and what needs to change.
“Concern has been expressed about the long-term threats that AI poses to humanity, but what are the immediate risks of a world reflecting predominantly men’s perspectives? We must urgently seek to intercept the damaging absence of women and the lack of understanding of their needs, worries, and experiences related to AI.”—Luba Kassova
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist, Technology Review, by Will Douglas Haven, 10/26/23. This article was written before the drama at OpenAi, but it’s a good read.
“I will admit, to my slight embarrassment—I don’t know if I should, but what the hell, it is true—when we made ChatGPT, I didn’t know if it was any good. When you asked it a factual question, it gave you a wrong answer. I thought it was going to be so unimpressive that people would say, ‘Why are you doing this? This is so boring!’”—Ilya Sutskever
Things to watch
The Buccaneers, Apple.TV: Having the best time watching this show! Kristine Frøseth is a luminous ingenue, the art direction is glorious and everyone is great-looking. Much in the spirit of Bridgerton and Catherine the Great, this look back at the 1870s (based on a novel by Edith Wharton), is also a commentary on the present (and has fantastic music.)
Quiz Lady, Hulu.com: Awkwafina and Sandra Oh tear it up in this very campy–and very funny comedy about two mismatched and estranged siblings who end up coming back together, with hilarious, yet heart-warming results. It’s so much fun to watch Sandra Oh go full crazy, while Awkwafina plays a way-too-cautious 30-year-old.
Happy, Texas, (1999): A cinema-savvy friend recommended watching Happy Texas. This hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy about two escaped criminals hiding out in a small town and pretending to be gay made us laugh so hard! Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam play the leads. William Macy has a supporting role. Everyone in the cast is funny.
Because you made it this far: The trailer from Happy Texas. This movie may be from 1999, but it’s still got belly laughs.
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