March 2015 news

N/A (newsletter)
created: 14 Feb 2015; modified: 26 Jul 2017; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the March 2015 edition of the gwern.net newsletter; previous, February 2015.

This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with Changelog & Google+ & LW media threads. This broadcast has been brought to you by my donors on Gratipay.

Writings

  • LLLT self-experiment finished: no effect (so earlier correlative results were grossly overestimated; I’m starting to expect this from anything non-randomized…)
  • an ICE subpoena on my Reddit account caused me a good deal of trouble
  • playing with inferring Bayesian networks for my Zeo & body weight data (powerful generalization of SEMs, but requires a lot of data before networks stabilize)

Media

Books

Nonfiction:

Fiction:

Film/TV

Movie:

  • Project Nim:

    Thorough documentary on a 1970s scientific project in raising a chimpanzee as a human to get it to sign true language. The project was very well documented with photographs and footage, so with all the archival footage and retrospective interviews, we get a vivid sense of Nim and the people around him. Specifically, we get a vivid sense of everyone involved as having absolutely terrible judgment and the people involved as fanatical nurturists - why on earth would anyone expect such a thing to work? Why would chimpanzees have evolved true language when they never use that in the wild, and why would you expect any sort of objectivity from the involved personnel? Early on, the daughter of the foster-mother comments that It was the ’70s!; which does explain a lot.

    It goes about as terribly as one expects: there is bitter infighting over who are Nim’s real parents, the footage of Nim signing is quite weak (I know a little ASL myself, and I was deeply unimpressed by what we see Nim do - the teachers’ claims about Nim communicating seem to be a hefty heaping of anthropormorphizing, reading into random gestures, and wishful thinking; a nice example of which is how one male teacher comments how Nim loved to play with cats and would quiver with excitement holding it, while later on, we see this quivering is actually Nim trying to dry-hump the cats, and the cats are eventually taken away lest he kill them). As Nim gets bigger, it’s less that he became human than his caretakers became chimpanzee: the original foster-mother and the new female teacher compete for who can play with & supplicate Nim the most, and Nim successfully dominates the two men involved while the women applaud & enjoy the dominance contests. (The project lead, Terrace, comments at one point that most of the staff turned out to be women.) The film-makers seem to try to draw a parallel by noting that Terrace slept with the first foster-mother before the project started and with one teacher during the project, but it doesn’t work too well since Nim clearly won their hearts long-term. Unrestrained, with no other males to keep him in check, it predictably starts going all wrong - the female teacher in question recounts how Nim put ~100 stitches into her (I counted her enumeration of the batches), and then the project shuts down after he tears open her face.

    After which, of course, he goes back to the primate colony. The documentary & people lay it on thick how Nim is being terribly treated in this, but they’re so compromised that it’s impossible to take them seriously; I was baffled when they described him being sedated, to transport him safely back to the colony in a plane as quickly as possible, as being a nasty thing to do. Very deceitful. Seriously‽ A growing male chimpanzee nearly killed his closest caretaker and that is your reaction to an entirely sensible measure, a completely irrelevant concern about deceitfulness, as if Nim were some sort of athlete whose competitor cheated? Similarly, a big deal is made of the locked collars on the chimpanzees at the colony… which turn out to be on the chimps so if one starts trying to chew your face off, you have a chance to defend yourself by grabbing the collar and holding them off.

    While at the primate colony, Nim’s minimal signing skills seemed to degrade even further and the primates eventually start being used in medical experiments; rather than take it seriously and ask whether the medical experiments were scientifically & medically useful, the documentarians choose to simply show decontextualized injections. (With an approach like that, routine operations in a hospital would look like ghoulish crimes against humanity…)

    Finally, Nim winds up at a horse-rescue farm, where as a reminder of why Project Nim had to be terminated, we’re told how he casually killed a dog one day and how, when the original foster-mother visited she, apparently still under many illusions, enters the cage to visit him and is attacked (one interviewee commenting, The fact that he didn’t kill her meant a lot, ’cause he could have. I see.)
  • The King of Kong: fascinating in part because the stakes are so low, and the skullduggery so calculated; the access of the filmmakers to key players is so thorough that at times you’re given a god’s-eye point of view and it feels fictional (eg when you watch both sides of a telephone conversation happen).

Anime:

Music

Misc:

  • classique d’amour~愛のクラスィーク (Yoko Kanno; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [orchestral]
  • White House (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; Space Dandy OST 2 {2014}) [progressive rock] - ep 21 ED
  • Dandy’s Fly (Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [brass]
  • 金色の玩具 (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [progressive rock]
  • バブル・オブ・バブル (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [progressive rock]

Doujin:

  • Dreaming Shout (livetune feat. NIRGILIS; 「と」 {2014}) [electronic/dance]

Kantai Collection:

Touhou: