Thursday, March 16, 2023

Cancelling my trip - and ChatGPT, cancelling writers?

How fast things change. I have just cancelled my trip to Paris. I hated to do it, but there's unbelievable chaos there, including tons of garbage festering on the streets, with ongoing social unrest and violence because Macron just pushed through his reforms. 

The rest of the world gazes in incomprehension; the French have fabulous free healthcare, free university, free daycare from a very early age, free three-course hot meals in the schools, and a month off in the summer. But they're going to shut down the county because they can't retire at 62. 

It boggles the mind. But it's France. Take to the streets! is the default position. 

When I told Anna I was thinking of cancelling, she said, "Paris with garbage is way better than Toronto. Shut the window, woman, and eat cheese!" But, I wrote back, you go to Paris not just to eat cheese, though that's a major reason, but to stroll along the beautiful streets admiring the beautiful vistas. Hard to do if the streets are piled with garbage and obliterated by tear gas. Plus, Lynn who's coming from Provence to see me isn't even sure the trains will be running. 

I'm packed; the cat and house sitters have the keys and extensive lists, everything's ready. But now is not the time for a trip to Paris. 

What should I do next week? Any ideas? A friend suggests I do things I never do. Maybe I'll rent a car and drive around. Yay. 

Plus: A professional engagement has also caused great stress these last few days and a little bit of heartbreak. Stay tuned. 

PLUS: Jean-Marc just came over and showed me ChatGPT. He thinks it will replace writers within a year or two. It is indeed phenomenal; I asked it to write a difficult letter for me, and it did a credible job. Then I asked it to write the same letter as a poem, and the results were respectable if hilarious. JM has colleagues who are not good writers or aren't fluent in English, who now write well and fluently. 

JM said, Ask it what it knows about you. Instantaneous long response - a few things wrong, but this: 

Kaplan's writing often explores themes of identity, family relationships, and personal growth. She has been praised for her honest and introspective approach to memoir writing and her ability to weave together personal experiences with larger societal issues.

Incredible, no? Terrifying. 

So not my best few days on planet earth. BUT the boys seem to be having a wonderful time in Washington, and my son was over today in great spirits, much recovered from his concussion. We celebrate his one year of sobriety on Saturday. Much to be joyful about. 

Plus the sun was shining today. 



  1. I'm sorry about your trip, Beth -- I was looking forward to a vicarious time in Paris! -- but you're right, Paris is more than cheese. It's walking, sitting on benches, and so much more. I hope something good works out.

    1. Theresa, let's hope the unrest settles before they roll out the guillotine again!

  2. " healthcare, free university, free daycare from a very early age, free three-course hot meals in the schools..."
    Are you serious? Not true. At all.

  3. I am glad you decided not to go to Paris - it looks dangerous! I’m not a fan of the writer replacement - I’m not feeling any emotion in the text, although it is impressive. This old world is on its head these days. Sigh.

    1. No, ChatGPT is competent but there's no heart, definitely. But it will be a game-changer for many professions. As my friend said, so many people will be put out of work, it's time for universal basic income.