Video: Pirated books used to teach LLM AIs (Non-Fiction)

This video by Alyssa Matesic has a good overview on the subject of AI companies using pirated books to teach their programs:

I played around with an AI program while working on my next book. While the rephrase functions gave me some ideas, the purely generated text was laughable at best. I stopped using the program when the company added a function to generate entire books in minutes. I didn’t want to support flooding retailers with poor quality books.

I’m not opposed to LLM AIs in general, but there are many quality, legal, and ethical issues to be sorted out.

What are your thoughts?

Troll army attacks Bolingbrook book reviewer (Fiction)

After giving a horror author’s book a one star review, Bolingbrook resident Jeanne Z. Rushmore worried about being targeted by Internet trolls. She didn’t expect an army of real trolls to attack her home.

According to Rushmore, the trolls jumped out of primitive hot air balloons and landed in her front yard. Before they charged at her home, she moved her family upstairs and called 911.

“The operator said I shouldn’t make prank phone calls,” said Rushmore. “But I knew the Department of Paranormal Affairs would be listening to our call. I just had to hope they would arrive in time.”

While waiting for the DPA, Rushmore claimed the trolls demolished her living room and kitchen. One troll tried to climb up the stairs, but got pinned in the narrow stairwell.

“Who knows what would have happened if they were smarter?”

According to a statement released by the DPA, a cryptid strike team arrived five minutes after the phone call. The team defeated the trolls seconds later.

“The DPA keeps every resident safe from trolls and other monsters. Just remember that every time you feel like complaining about your property taxes.”

Some eyewitnesses disputed the DPA’s account. According to them, the strike team spent several seconds determining the trolls’ weaknesses.

Said one eyewitness, “They started out by playing the sound of thunder over loud speakers. One operative pulled out a knife, and his supervisor told him it was the most thoughtless thing he’d ever seen. Flame throwers did some damage. Someone on the team noticed the trolls had cybernetic implants. An EMP weapon killed the trolls. I guess Shadowrun really predicted the future.”

Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta released a statement saying the village is working with the New World Order to investigate the attack. She also issued a warning to everyone involved in independent publishing: “I don’t care if a one star review hurts your feelings. I don’t care if I Miblart criticized your book cover design. If you send any trolls into our village, we will find you. Every Bolingbrook resident has the right to post a review on Goodreads without fearing for their lives!”

The League of Horrific Authors released a statement defending an author’s right to send monsters after reviewers: “We built our reputations on scaring readers. If our books don’t scare you, we’ll find another way to scare you! Call us selfish. Call us entitled! Call us creepy! Just don’t call us harmless!”

Rushmore says the attack will not deter her from posting reviews. “There are terrible books out there written by terrible people. It’s my job as a Goodreads reviewer to hunt them down and punish them with a one star review!”

Also in the Babbler:

Martian Colonial Ambassador named Bolingbrook’s Alien of the year
Palatine’s Village Manager approves UFO base expansion
Bears coach Matt Eberflus rejects using Chat GPT to call plays
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/31/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. You can also buy me a coffee.

Aliens students go back to school (Fiction)

By Reporter X

Like many human parents, Lozo Gozok struggled to get her son ready for the first day of school. Gozok’s struggle involved getting her son into her human suit.

“You can’t go to Bolingbrook High School with your tentacles sticking out.”

“But my friends—”

“Are going to meet the Men in Blue. If your friends passed an event horizon, would you follow them?.”

Gozok’s son protested as she pushed the last tentacles down and closed the suit. She smiled. “You look like a handsome, typical human teenager.”

“Why do we have to wear these suits? Why do we still call Clow a UFO Base when the new term is UAP? Can’t we just be honest?”

“Most humans want to kill us because they can’t see in a dark forest. Clow UFO Base is an acceptable name. Humans aren’t honest beings. Why should we be honest with them?”

Gozok’s son is among the dozens of alien students attending classes in school districts 365U and D11. For decades, alien human students have intermingled at 365U’s schools. Alien students learn about human culture and make connections with future leaders. Human students might get tutoring, if an alien likes the human.

“People wonder why aliens haven’t annihilated us,” said Steve Quigley, president of the 365U school board. “I wish I could tell them it’s because of our visitor exchange program. Think of us as a light in the dark forest. If you can see the animals, you won’t fear the animals. Well, most of the animals. You still want to stay away from bears.”

D211 board member Tim McGowan also supports alien exchange students. “I believe in the benefits of a diverse student body, and having classmates from another world can only broaden our students’ experiences. There you go! Now, will you stop bugging me?”

Some human and alien parents are concerned about the programs in each school district.

One D211 parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I want my children to feel special when they go to school. Having aliens in the classroom makes them feel like uneducated savages. It’s almost as unforgivable as teaching students that slavery was bad, gay people exist, and it’s okay to read fiction. I can’t wait to move to Florida.”

Zelgozot Olo, who runs an interstellar logistics company, worries when his children go to school. “Observing an event horizon spinning civilization is fun until someone shoots metal projectiles at you. I’m not surprised some humans are afraid we’re going to obliterate them. Because they’d obliterate us if we gave them the opportunity.”

One of Olo’s children up to his dad and said he was off to school.

“Have fun,” Olo replied. “And don’t make the Fremd students feel inferior.”

“Inferior? Fremd is just as hard as the hive mind. If a human can succeed at Fremd, they can succeed anywhere in the galaxy!”

“Impressive. I guess Fremd High School is humanity’s redeeming achievement.”

Also in the Babbler:

Bolingbrook man says aliens probed him because of his Uranus joke
Naperville City Council rejects Gunkata martial arts studio
Elon Musk offers billions of dollars to rename Joliet X, Romeoville Y, and Bolingbrook Z
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8 20/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.

Podish-Sortacast Episode 21: Transphobia

Transphobia is the subject of this month’s Podish-Sortacast. Catch it this Saturday at 4 PM US Central.

As atheists, we’ve noticed how the religious right has chosen to demonize transgender people; as skeptics, we’ve noticed how they’ve “secularized” their rhetoric to have more universal appeal. Unfortunately, a lot of our fellow atheists and skeptics have been suckered in by the latter. We’ve covered this quite a bit on our blogs, but so far we haven’t covered it via the vodcast. Let’s change that.

I plan on joining my fellow FTB members on Saturday to discuss Trans panic occurring in the UK and the US. Even if I can’t make it, you should still watch it because I’m sure it will be a lively and important episode.

UFO crashes into Long Grove’s covered bridge (Fiction)

By Reporter X

A spacecraft attempting to land at Palatine’s Sherman Base crashed into Long Grove’s Robert Coffin Bridge. The crew and the bridge were unharmed, but the collision caused extensive damage to the craft.

The pilot, XoiGon, claims the collision wasn’t her fault. “The bridge made me do it! As we flew our the town, I felt compelled to fly through a space that was too narrow. It had nothing to do with the Blue Cheese I was snacking on. I can handle that. I can’t handle a cursed human structure!”

This is the 51st time a vehicle has struck the covered bridge. It is the first time a spacecraft crashed into it. A local official, who asked not to be identified, denied the bridge is cursed. 

“There are lots of signs warning people about the height restriction. Drivers either ignore them and want to test the bridge’s reinforced roof. I think that alien did it on purpose and learned a valuable lesson.”

An anonymous resident disagrees. “The bridge by a demon. That demon demands a sacrifice of vehicles in exchange for its protection. I think it now has a taste for alien spaceships!”

Investigators from the New World Order doubt the bridge is possessed. “We have detected no divine or infernal energy within the bridge. We’re leaning towards magnetism. Maybe the steel used to reinforce the bridge randomly magnetizes itself.”

Beth Z. Carson, a spokesperson for Sherman UFO Base, says the base is fully cooperating with the NWO. “I think this investigation will show the Illuminati were involved. They know Clow UFO Base can’t compete with us!”

Bolingbrook’s Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta denied any involvement in the accident. “Why would we want to give Long Grove more free publicity? They may have their truck devouring bridge, but we have the Golf Club and WeatherTech.”

In the background, a woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer said, “So, is it true D2D is going to buy BookBub?”

A man over the phone replied, “Of course not. We just bought Smashwords and Do you realize how much it is going to cost to clean up both sites?”

“Kevin. You know you could worry about that after D2D becomes the Amazon of self-publishing.”

“Amazon? D2D is the anthesis of Amazon. We’re just providing the tools to help our wide authors succeed.”

Another man yelled over the phone, “Dear Lord! Please forgive us for distributing a book with the word ‘Daddy.’ And forgive our trespass for distributing a Godless Urban Fantasy!”

“Of course, not every author can be a D2D author.”

Also in the Babbler:

Egypt denies conquering Bolingbrook
Mayor will not rename Clow UFO Base
Rep. Bill Foster campaigns on the moon
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/5/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.