Opting out of Instagram AI

As European users, we can opt out of Instagram and Facebook using our posts for AI training. I’ve exercised this control, as I am the product of Facebook and Instagram, but I strive to limit their use of me as such.

Opting out on Instagram looks deliberately cumbersome. However, from Facebook, which is also owned by Meta, I received an email with very simple instructions.

Now, I am curious if they can prove they are not using my data for AI.

RSS update

Earlier I wrote that today there are excellent search engines as an alternative to Google search. To repeat the argument against Google search use: with Google search, in addition to being an Internet user, you are also part of the commercial product a product of Google, with all the consequences for reliability of results.

newsblur image

Another way to consume content from the Internet is through RSS feeds. Google doesn’t like that either, because with that, they can’t show you ads either. I switched to Newsblur after using locally installed QuietRSS for a while. I was missing the shared nature of the web, so I switched back to a tool with a web interface. Newsblur is good and has a fair price, but there are excellent other alternatives out there.


A story.


John’s first memory was from several years before he was born. Yes, that sounds strange, but perhaps we can explain later. The year was 1960. The memory concerns the copulation that resulted in the conception of his brother Hank. John was standing next to the bed in which his parents had been making love. Absurd details of this memory were embedded in his brain. In front of the high bedroom window hung thunder green curtains. The curtains were not fully closed. The bright light of a sunny day shone through a slit between the curtains into the bedroom. John could feel the pale green, plaid wool blanket poking at his father’s buttocks. His mother’s heavy glasses lay on the pillow. John had gotten cold feet on the gray linoleum covering the floor. His parents’ metal bed thumped against the cabinet at the bed’s headboard. Of his parents, John did not remember a single sound. Their lovemaking activities were betrayed only by the soft squeaking of the spring mattress. The memory ended with the quieting of the squeak and the slapping down a wet washcloth on the floor right at John’s feet.

Between this memory and the next was John’s birth.

Six years later, John saw the downstairs neighbor drive up. John stood at the bedroom window, looking over the road in front of the apartment. The neighbor backed his car into the parking space. The door opened, and two crutches were thrust out. The neighbor lifted his legs out of the car one at a time. With a swing, he placed himself on the crutches and stumbled around the car to the rear door. He opened the rear door and pulled a wheelchair out of the vehicle, which was stored on a rolling mechanism. He closed the door and carefully walked after the wheelchair onto the sidewalk. He stowed the crutches in tubes attached to the side of the wheelchair and sat down in the chair. A fedora hat emerged from under his coat, and he put it on. He groped in his jacket again and took out a cigar, of which he removed the plastic foil and lit up. In the bowl of his hand, he held a small flame near the cigar, enveloping a thick cloud of smoke, and the neighbor began to move. He took the cigar from his mouth, spun on the sidewalk, and drove off. John stroked his finger over the dusted leaf of the sanseveria on the windowsill. He studied the stroke he had drawn across the leaf and then stuck his finger in his mouth. He tasted the musty flavor of the dust and spat it out.

The father

John’s father’s name was Rudy Goltz. Rudy was a car mechanic, the type of worker who ran around all day complaining to the boss, to co-workers, and to his wife. Despite that cussing, he loved tinkering with cars and loved going to work.

Swearing and fussing were Rudy’s forte. His father was an impossible sourpuss with a shabby appearance defined by the long hair, worn combed back and kept in shape by Brylcreem. Someone who at parties only emerged from where he had been sulking all pre-evening after having drunk enough lemon brandy and then started telling stories about the time around 1920 when he had still roamed the country as a freelance carpenter.

Bertus was born in 1898, the year his father was promoted for the umpteenth time and appointed inspector general of fortifications in Berlin. His father was forty-five when Bertus was born. Bertus would remain the only child in the Goltz family.

Bertus’s mother was fifteen years younger than his father. She was the daughter of a Dutch chargé d’affaires in Turkey. She met her future husband in Istanbul, where he was stationed to fulfill a secret military assignment for the Turkish government. They fell in love immediately, and instead of returning to her job as a nurse in Leiden, she moved in with him.

Colmar Goltz

Freiherr Colmar von der Goltz was born in Bielkenfeld, East Prussia, on Aug. 12, 1843. Colmar was a soldier at heart. At the age of nineteen, he applied to join the Prussian infantry. In 1864, he entered the Berlin Military Academy. He was wounded during a temporary foray into the Austrian War in 1866. During a battle, he was hit in the right buttock. Apart from a labored gait that earned him the nickname “Der Krebs” and a curious sight of missing a buttock in the soldier’s pantaloons, he sustained no significant disability from this. In 1867, he joined the topographical section of the General Staff. However, in the first months of the Franco-German War in 1870/1871, he was already conscripted back to the staff of Prinz Friedrich Karl. He participated in the battles of Orleans and Le Mans. In 1871, he was appointed professor at the military school in Potsdam, received the rank of captain that year, and was assigned to the historical section of the general staff. During this time, he wrote several classic military works such as “Die Operationen der II. Armee bis zur Capitulation von Metz” and ”Die sieben Tagen von Le Mans.” In 1874, he was attached to the Sixth Division and, during this time, wrote “Die Operationen der II. Armee an der Loire” and “Leon Gambelltr und seine Armeen.” The views he described in the latter book led him to return to regimental activities, but after a short time, he nevertheless joined the Military History Department. In 1878, he became a Lecturer in Military History at the Military Academy of Berlin. He remained here for five years and was promoted to major. In 1883, he published “Das Volk in Waffen,” which became a military classic. He also contributed to many articles in military periodicals during his stay in Berlin. In 1883, he was lent to Turkey to help the Turkish government reorganize its military. He worked on this for twelve years; the result is obvious: the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 became a success for Turkey. Goltz receives the title Pasha. Upon returning to Germany in 1896, he was appointed lieutenant general and commander of the 5th division. In 1898, he was head of the engineer troops and inspector general of fortifications. In 1900, he became infantry general and, in 1902, commander of the 1st Army. In 1907, he became inspector general of the 1st Army Inspection in Berlin. Finally, in 1908, he was appointed to his highest military rank: colonel general, or Generaloberst.

Memory as variable

Just as time is not a constant in the theory of relativity, neither is memory a constant; it is a function of 1) the memory itself and how it changes over time and 2) the memory’s possessor and how she or he changes over time.

Cerebral palsy

Infarct-affected mass, like old bread soaked in milk, through which a last single vein still makes blood flow like that overloaded sewer pipe that plods a barely liquid mass of muck to the liberating mouth above the river to vomit out its blobbing contents there, freed from distress.


‘Yet have to drive.’

The spectacle lasts fifteen minutes and she smokes five cigarettes in that time, lighting one with the other like the proverbial chain-smoker, shooting the fags between thumb and forefinger into the churning lava flow passing in front of them.

‘Where’s the water pump pliers?’

‘In the car.’

Not wanting to turn around and open the car, she tries to tighten the screw on the hatch with her hands, but her finger slips on the rusty iron. The setting sun illuminates her operation. He continues to stare into the red orb of light. In keeping with their agreement. But she curses, walks to the car anyway, and opens the tailgate. She shoves aside the dwarf in his sou’wester and rummages among the tools until she gets hold of the water pump pliers. Looking at the mouth of the pliers, she sees her dentist in front and feels the metal in her mouth. It creaks. He pulls at her jaw, but her head jerks with it. With his other hand, he presses her against her forehead against the chair and wiggles the forceps in her mouth again. Then the molar shoots loose and the forceps crash against her upper teeth. She curses and feels the blood in her mouth. The tooth…


Connel, 2024

Deborah Turbeville in FOAM

A few months ago, I bought Deborah Turbeville: Photocollage, which presents Turbeville’s collage work. It is probably the best photobook of 2023.

Huis Marseille has created a great exposition of her work and I had a look at it today.

Deborah Turbeville was an influential American fashion photographer known for her unconventional and avant-garde style. Turbeville’s unconventional career spanned both commercial fashion work and the art world. Her work is often dreamy, mysterious, almost surrealist, and ambiguous.

The cost of AI

I stumbled upon this fascinating article by Stuart Mills looking at the challenges that further development and operations of AI models face.

The costs of model development and operation are increasing. Efficiencies in development and operation are challenging but may be addressed in the future. However, model quality remains a significant challenge that is more difficult to solve.

Data is running out. Solutions such as synthetic data also have their limitations.

There is also a severe challenge around chips. There is a supply shortage in the context of geopolitical tensions between China, the US, and the EU. Also, the environmental costs of running large AI models are significant.

The costs of model development and operation are increasing. Efficiencies in development and operation are challenging but may be addressed in the future. However, model quality remains a significant challenge that is more difficult to solve.

Data is running out. Solutions such as synthetic data also have their limitations.

There is also a severe challenge around chips. There is a supply shortage in the context of geopolitical tensions between China, the US, and the EU. Also, the environmental costs of running large AI models are significant.

Two revenue models may emerge in the AI industry. Each with their own take on the cost aspects highlighted above. The first is the ‘foundation model as a platform’ (OpenAI, Microsoft, Google), which demands increasing generality and functionality of foundation models.

The second is the ‘bespoke model’ (IBM), which focuses on developing specific models for corporate clients.

Government action can support and undermine the AI industry. Investment in semiconductor manufacturing in the US and China may increase the supply of chips, and strategic passivity from governments around regulations such as copyrights is suitable for the industry. Government interventions should regulate the AI industry in areas related to the socially and environmentally damaging effects of data centers, copyright infringement, exploitation of laborers, discriminatory practices, and market competition.

Remarkable mathematical truths

Deductive systems are either incomplete or inconsistent. Meaning

  • Inconsistent: they contain contradictions. Statements can be true and false in the same deductive system.
  • Incomplete: Statements can be found that can not be proven to be true or false.

Gödel proved this for us.

Wittgenstein formulated something similar:

The truth is built of true facts and untrue facts: facts that are not based on a system of observation yet are true anyway. Nevertheless, Wittgenstein seems to disagree with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. Food for a lasting scientific debate. Anyway, Wittgenstein was looking at language and philosophy, not at mathematics.

Final remarkable mathematical truth for now from Cantor.

Cantor proved that one infinity is not the same as the other infinity. He developed a way to compare infinite sets and describe how infinite sets with different characteristics exist.

As an example, Cantor proved that real numbers are more numerous than the set of natural numbers. While both are infinite. He also invented a way to operate on infinite sets.

Cantor ended up in a mental hospital, which seems to be viewed as as heroic achievement among mathematicians—an opinion I do not share.

I recall reading The Mystery of the Aleph by Amir D. Aczel about Cantor. Unfortunately, I have lost my notes and the book. This book was very accessible, I do recall that.

Norwegian Wood notes

On the plane back from Prague, I finished reading Norwegian Wood—re-reading, actually. I don’t often re-read books, but Murakami is a favorite of mine.

Watanabe is in love with Naoko. She is the girlfriend of their mutual friend, who died at a very young age. Naoko can not cope with life and commits suicide in the end, while Watanabe is torn between emotions he is not able to identify or is not even conscious of. The girl who falls in love with him must tell him he is in love with her. An old friend tells him he has to choose for himself. While perfectly capable of analyzing other people’s situations, he is unable to analyze his own issues. Let alone that he is able to come up with a choice for his own problems he is not even aware of.