We all knew the day would inevitably come. But so soon?
It seems artificial intelligence can now write almost as well as humans. Last week, OpenAI released their new ChatGPT chatbot for public testing, and the raves are pouring in. Try it now: it’s free. Just log in and ask it a question or assign it a task. But remember, it doesn’t search the internet; it ‘thinks’. For example, here’s what it comes back with when you ask: “What are the ethics of creating test-tube babies?” and “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, and on a whole other level of thought: “Write a rhyming couplet poem about playing hockey in Canada.”
Given the pace of AI not just imitating language, but thinking in original ways, I’m relieved I’m an old writer and not a young one. Then again, new technologies always create jobs that didn’t exist before. But buckle up; real creativity is about to become a lot harder, as is ethics.
1. Birds on the fly. Here’s the most current and sophisticated atlas not just of 300 bird species, but of their migration from Europe to Africa and Asia. Just plug in “Canada Goose” for example, and you’ll see their world headquarters seems to be in Inverness, Scotland.
2. When Harry met . . . reality. The new Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan isn’t exactly a critical hit. In fact, this biting piece by Alex Massie, The Sad Prince of Montecito, sums it up well: “Harry finds himself in a position not unlike that of a Cold War defector. He has crossed to the other side with no prospect of return. He is useful for as long as his secrets are relevant. He will be squeezed until every last drop of gossip or innuendo has been wrung from him. At that point, he is spent.”
The Brits are so annoyed by Harry and Meghan’s antics that one Tory MP plans to introduce a private members’ bill to have them stripped of their royal titles under the Titles Deprivation Act, passed in 1917 to deprive enemies of the United Kingdom of their British peerages and royal titles.
3. Loneliness kills. Loneliness rivals smoking and alcohol as an early cause of death. So says Scott Galloway in his lovely essay on the importance of having close friends. He’s worried. In the past 30 years, the percentage of people with fewer than 3 close friends has risen from 16% to 32%, and the percentage with no close friends of all has risen from 3% to 12%.
4. Colossal Forests. We don’t think of Britain as the home of giant forests. These pictures seem to show But maybe “Colossal” is best applied to the publication and not the subject. The entire Colossal site abounds in colossalness, even in kittens and bonsai trees.
5. The shortest day of the year is next Wednesday. December 21 is the winter solstice. In Toronto the sun will rise at 7:48 am and set at 4:44 pm. Here’s a dreamy podcast to celebrate the longest nights – and to market small-batch organic perfume.
And let’s not forget this month’s big birthday, the 190th birthday of Jonathan the Tortoise, believed to be the world’s oldest land animal, who lives on the island of St. Helena where Napoleon was banished 60 years before Jonathan was born.
6. Why we cry. One of my best sources for intriguing articles is The Browser. Most every one of their five essays a day are brand-new, from odd corners of the internet. But sometimes they send a gem like this: 6,000 words on weeping that’s from 2014. “Humans use tears strategically to deter aggressors and attract defenders.” Some things like tears don’t really change.
7. Just the facts, ma’am. Britain’s Royal Academy awarded its President’s Medal this year not to a person, but an organization called Full Fact that finds, exposes and counters misinformation and misleading claims. You may want to sign up. It’s free, and begs the question: Why don’t we have something like it here?
8. No more short haul flights. Last week, the European Commission gave France permission to ban short-haul commercial flights between cities whose train journey is less than 2.5 hours. Those flights eat gobs of fuel and create asylums of stress. This, of course, is impossible in the US or Canada because we have Dickensian railways. But think if it didn’t take longer to get to and through the airport than your actual flight from Toronto to Ottawa or New York to Washington.
9. Are you growing old gracefully, or marginally? If you’re a woman, it’s likely the latter. But last year, Women’s College Hospital in Toronto opened the world’s first Women’s Age Lab, headed by renowned geriatrician, Dr. Paula Rochon. After all, 82% of Canadians over 75 are women, yet they’re still far too invisible to both medicine and marketing. In October, the lab published its first report. Read it to learn what your and your families’ future can be like.
10. The banjo played an outsize role in what kind of music? Black American Folk Music. A fascinating primer from Jake Blount.
And on a final note, kids can now get Canadian-made 3-D printed violins for under $50 each, and yes, they play fine.
It’s only going to get colder and snowier. Time to engineer your escape.
If you know about our trips, they don’t involve lying on a beach for a week, but doing adventurous things with fascinating people.
So from January 22 – 29, 2023, we’ll be aboard the 100-guest National Geographic Quest with 50 of our friends as it sails through the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Costa Rica.
This is with Lindblad Expeditions and we’ve been on two of their luxury adventure cruises before, to Antarctica and the Spanish-Portuguese coast. On board and on shore, we were in the hands of the most experienced experts and crew on earth. One evening during “Recap” with cocktails and appetizers in hand, we saw “The Monster of the Day” that our expedition divers filmed from the ocean floor. Oh, and it’s one thing to kayak on Georgian Bay; it’s another to kayak on the Antarctic Ocean. For one, it’s safer in the Antarctic because the Lindblad people are so on top of it.
All to say, we’ve come to expect the best in comfort, dining, adventure and safety from Lindblad, a view confirmed by Condé Nast Traveler, who last year declared them to be the #1 Small Ship Cruise Line in the world.
Our 8-day trip starts when we land in Panama City, Panama, and ends in San José, Costa Rica. The cost is from $6,479 USD per person, depending on what level of cabin you choose (this includes a special savings for our group of 5% off the standard rates). Airfare, of course, is extra.
So – a good deal on a great break in a hot place with nice people in the hands of the best in the business. As founder Sven Lindblad said: “Think of us as a conduit to exhilaration.”
You may already know RamsayTravels does group travel for people who don’t do group travel. People like you. So as we all sit and freeze this winter, think about what you could be doing, and where you’d like to be (and with whom) in January and join us.
So please spend some time with the links above. Then, if you like what you see but you have questions, please e-mail or call me at email@example.com, or 416-822-3452.
If you’re planning on joining please act soon. And if you want more information, here’s the webinar we hosted recently that will give you more details of the trip. To book your cabin, please call the Lindblad folks directly at1-888-773-9007 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One last thought: now that we can lift our heads on a different world, isn’t it time to plan what you may have promised yourself you’d do?
If not now, when?
If not you and your family, who?