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Links and Notes for October 22nd, 2021

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

Table of Contents

Economy & Finance

No end in sight for chip shortage as supply chain problems pile up by Tim De Chant (Ars Technica)

“It’s becoming clear that snarls in the semiconductor supply chain are weighing on economic growth. Yesterday, both GM and Ford said that missing chips slashed profits for the third quarter, and Apple is rumored to be cutting this year’s production targets for its iPhone lineup, the company’s cash cow. Chip woes have become so widespread that a division of Wells Fargo thinks the pressures will curtail US GDP growth by 0.7 percent.

Just wait until some of the more meme-y stocks respond to this, like Tesla (don’t they need chips, too?). Or what about Bitcoin? What if it costs too much to mine this stuff when no video cards are available anymore?

“But now, as lead times stretch on, companies are placing more orders and holding more inventory in the hope that they won’t get caught without the chips they need.”

The whole article is a very good summary of the myriad factors contributing to a chip shortage that “[…] are going to continue indefinitely,” Brandon Kulik, head of Deloitte’s semiconductor industry practice, told Ars. “Maybe that doesn’t mean 10 years, but certainly we’re not talking about quarters. We’re talking about years.”


Microsoft reclaims title of most valuable public company after Apple falls by Nicholas Megaw and Joe Rennison (Ars Technica/Financial Times)

“Microsoft regained its crown as the most valuable publicly listed company in the world on Friday from Apple, whose shares slumped following a weak quarterly earnings update from the maker of iPhones and Mac computers.

Microsoft’s 2.2 percent gain on Friday lifted its market valuation to $2.49 trillion. Apple slid 1.9 percent, taking its market cap to $2.46 trillion.

“Microsoft reported this week that its revenues soared in the third quarter, aided by a pandemic-fuelled surge in cloud computing resulting from a shift to remote working. The company’s quarterly revenue grew 22 percent, its largest gain since 2014.”

JFC. This is ridiculous. Just pop already. No company is worth this much. A year ago, we didn’t have a trillion-dollar company. Now there are several. Even 2.5x as much. This is not real value. WTH.


The Job Market Is Far From Recovered by Doug Henwood (Jacobin)

“A better measure than unemployment under these circumstances is the employment/population ratio (EPOP), the share of the adult population employed for pay. It was 61.1 percent in February 2020, fell almost ten points to 51.3 percent two months later, and has since recovered to 58.7 percent as of September. Again, it’s a substantial but still very incomplete recovery. That 58.7 percent neighborhood was around where the EPOP was in the depths of the Great Recession.
“Even the bottom 50 percent was packing some reserves, with an average of $3,744, or 78 percent, more than their 2019 average. The next 40 percent has $11,405 more, two-and-a-half times as much.”

If you have more than $15,000 in the bank, you’re in the top 10% already.


Donald Trump Does a SPAC Deal by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“I think that two fundamental lessons of the last few years are: You can get people to buy any stock; and Donald Trump can get people to buy anything. So if Donald Trump announced “hey I’m gonna do a social media company, buy some stock,” people would buy some stock. And then he’d get a lot of money. And then if the social media platform did not end up being profitable — as I cannot imagine it would be! — then he would, uh, still have that money? And if the social media platform did not end up being launched — if Trump and his crack team of technologists just couldn’t actually build a well-functioning online social network — then he would, uh, still have that money? And if there was no crack team of technologists at all, if nobody even tried to build the social media platform — then you see where I am going with this right?
“[…] obviously part of the Donald Trump thing is “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Similarly, he can launch a company with no product, business plan or capital structure and the stock will double.
“To be clear I have absolutely no corporate finance basis for these guesses; I don’t think that, like, getting sued for attacking protesters will be good for Trump Thing’s ad revenue or whatever. I don’t have some story of “public interest in Trump increases the expected value of Trump Thing’s cash flows so the stock will go up.” I just think that the stock price will have nothing to do with the ad revenue; it will be based entirely on how much attention Trump’s fans are paying to Trump.
“Doesn’t it feel like there has been a paradigm shift, a regime change? Doesn’t it feel like for the last 80 or so years there has been a dominant view of investing, a first-page-of-the-textbook given, that investments are worth the present value of their expected future cash flows? Doesn’t it feel like that world has ended and a new one has begun? I should go buy some Dogecoin.”
“In New York state it is a crime — usury — to charge someone more than 25% interest. If you do that, I suppose you can go to jail. Also, and perhaps more realistically, if you do that they don’t have to pay you back. Not like “they can just pay you 25% interest instead”: They can just keep your money and pay you nothing.
“But I guess the point of usury law is that, even when a company is desperate for money and can only get it on terrible terms, there are limits to how terrible the terms can be. (This is a weird point! Arguably companies will be better off getting money at terrible terms than not getting it at all!) If you lend $35,000 and in return you can get back $54,000 worth of stock in six months, yes, sure, that’s much higher than a 25% annual return. And if it counts as interest, it’s usurious. And apparently it does.
“He says the word “deal” reduces the ownership of a company—which has executives, employees, a strategy and a mission—to a one-time event. He wants the employees of his firm to act like they are owners of businesses, not merely the doers of deals.
“In options terms, if you buy it you profit from Trump vega and you lose money from Trump theta. As with an option, a bet on the volatility of an elderly human being has, uh, an expiration. What do you think Trump Thing would be worth without Trump?
“Your stock is at $10, you issue $1,000 of convertible debt convertible into $1,000 of stock at a floating price. You figure the debt will convert into about 100 shares. Then your stock falls to $5.Now the convertible holder converts $100 worth of its debt and gets back 20 shares, which it sells, flooding the market and driving down the stock to $2. Now the convertible holder converts $100 more and gets back 50 shares, which it sells, driving the stock down to $0.50. Now it converts $100 more and gets back 200 shares, which it sells, etc. Eventually you have issued like 99% of your total stock to this convertible holder and your stock is at $0.01. “Death spiral.”


Stay Away From the Master of Kickbacks by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“If you were good at the process of, like, coming into your office at 8 a.m. every day and thinking “today I bet people are gonna be really excited about pictures of Shiba Inus” or “this week it’s gonna be mall-based video game retailers” or “today it’s gonna be nuclear fuel” or “for the next 19 minutes, tungsten” you’d be super-rich. You’d go to hedge fund conferences and someone would be like “I look for deep-value investments with a strong margin of safety and a compelling catalyst; I create real-world value by allocating capital intelligently and I’m up 13% year to date,” and you’d be like “I am two hours early to all the memes and I’m up 8,000% this month.” You’d be the best investor in the world, but wouldn’t you hate yourself a little?


Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve Board by Dean Baker (CounterPunch)

“This is also the case today, as workers in many low-paying sectors, like hotels and restaurants, are seeing substantial wage gains as employers must compete for their labor. This is the problem that Larry Summers and many others want the Fed to address. They want it to jack up interest rates, to slow the economy, and take away the bargaining power these workers now have. Thankfully, Powell is still standing tight in his commitment to high employment. This is even as supply chain disruptions are creating shortages of some items and leading to higher inflation in many areas.
“Some progressives have exaggerated the importance of regulation because they misunderstand the cause of the Great Recession. The story there is a simple one, we had a massive housing bubble that was driving the economy. Its collapse was certain to lead to a sharp downturn. This recognition did not require great regulatory scrutiny, it required that people look at the GDP reports that the Commerce Department publishes every three months.
“We absolutely need to act quickly to slow global warming, but assigning imaginary powers to government agencies will not do the trick. The Fed can use its research capabilities in a productive way to call attention to the costs that many in the economy will be forced to bear if global warming is not checked, but it is not going to provide a backdoor to get around a Congress that is not prepared to act.”


The Computer Can’t Buy Your House Now by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“People who are actually in the business of buying and selling stocks have developed some important refinements to this algorithm; their prices might be informed by recent trades other than the last one and depth-of-order-book information and trading prices of correlated securities and their own inventory and a finer judgment of the appropriate bid/ask spread. And of course there will be situations — the opening of the day’s trading, trading just after some news hits, etc. — that require more complex judgments. But “the last price minus a penny” is often a decent approximation.
Most of the time the stock market is primarily a sort of gambling venue; the idea that the stock market is a place for companies to raise money to fund their projects is not generally all that true.”
“Since then AMC went on an absolute tear of, you know, being a meme and doing capital formation. And now you can go back to the theater and there are all sorts of new Marvel movies. Retail investors’ boredom absolutely kept that company alive as a viable business, and that was the correct economic result.

Was it, though? Well, no, you can’t come to that conclusion without looking at fundamentals. Is it a good theater chain? A good employer? Whether customers are actually satisfied does not matter in this model—just whether investors are. And the investors barely know what the company does. Probably almost none of them has even been to an AMC theater—or has any plans to go to one anytime soon. This system has even less of a guarantee of providing societally useful resource consumption, which is what we should be optimizing for—especially with climate change looming over us—rather than the fortunes of a handful of gamblers.

“For some reason being right about a crash once outweighs being wrong about it any number of times. “Being early is the same as being wrong,” is a thing that people in financial markets sometimes say, but rarely to TV bookers.”

Pointing out that the emperor has no clothes these days has no immediate consequences, because people’s fortunes and livelihoods are tied up in the scam. The trick is to sell invisible clothes to every elite rather than just the monarch and then they will promulgate the sham for you until it eventually collapses under its own weight, doing far more damage than if it had collapsed earlier.


Cryptocurrency Is Bunk by Raven Hart (Jacobin)

With daily price swings as high as 16 percent on the upside and more than 18 percent on the downside, Bitcoin, the most established cryptocurrency, is one of the most volatile assets on the market. And yet it’s hailed by some as the ultimate store of value and an alternative investment strategy to gold, while others go as far as to claim it’s the solution to a broken financial system.”
Unlike many crypto fanatics who simplistically see money creation as the remit of government, Dixon rightly points out that money creation is more at the discretion of commercial banks. Those banks create credit through loans and mortgages at a disproportionately higher rate than their accumulation of cash or central bank reserves, contributing to a rapidly expanding broad money supply and subsequently inflating financial assets and house prices by creating too much money in these markets. This anti-money-creation theme is at the core of the cryptocurrency ideology.”
“They therefore propose a return to something like a gold standard, which would put a limit on government policy and money creation.”

That is literally what Kris was talking about.

“[…] restricting a state’s ability to use countercyclical monetary policy measures by enforcing a gold standard has often been associated with more frequent and severe recessions.
“In times of financial crisis, paper money can be created quickly and easily when the demand for liquidity is high; not so the supply of gold. Almost invariably, the gold standard was suspended during a financial panic.

They just keep misusing the power to generate more wealth for elites. The Fed board nearly exclusively comprises corporate-bank members, who, unsurprisingly, are in favor of policies that shovel interest-free trillions to corporate banks.

“Commercial bank credit creation links the future with the present, bringing forward value that hasn’t been created yet to invest in capital now, which helps to bring that future value into existence — for example, through business loans.”
“[…] issuing credit cards. This serves to artificially create demand in the short term, which, unless met with rising incomes later on, will mean a fall in future consumption, a contraction in credit, and subsequently a recession.”
“Credit creation isn’t in and of itself good or bad. It has the potential to direct resources toward projects that improve the livelihoods of millions of people, but instead is being directed toward speculative activities that only serve to concentrate wealth in the hands of those who already own it. The issue isn’t therefore the amount of money created but at whose discretion it is created and for what purpose.
“While the critique of loose monetary policy and its negative impact on wealth inequality [bears] some weight, it’s not clear how cryptocurrency provides a solution to this problem by vaguely advocating for some kind of digital gold standard. The problems we face (climate change, inequality, unemployment, and the like) can’t be solved by limiting the creation of money. The issue is a political one: of how to democratize the creation of money.

The crypto solution is to concentrate that power into the hands of a bunch of libertarians, who would benevolently rule in place of nation states. They claim not, but the result, for anyone who has watched human politics, is inevitable.

“What if, instead of banks creating credit for the purpose of generating profits for shareholders, they instead lent sustainably for the purpose of regenerating local economies for the benefit of local residents, who would themselves be key stakeholders in those banks?”

Crypto enthusiasts should be happy with this because it would address the issues they have with the current system. They would hate it because “government bad” but really because “what’s in it for me?”, i.e. Where’s the opportunity to extract wealth at tremendous margin that Bitcoin offers today? They love the situation as they’ve defined it, because they get to think of themselves as noble liberators of society from the shackles of an unjust system while getting fantastically rich from it. That is doomed to failure because the incentives are wrong. Why destroy a system that is benefitting you so much personally? Very few would. Not only that, but such a setup attracts exactly those who would not, who would actively thwart the few who would.

Regional community banks are more in touch with their local economies and are commonplace in continental Europe, and studies have shown that the community banking model has the potential to deliver better economic, environmental, and social outcomes for the regions in which it operates.”

All of the Kantonalbanken here in Switzerland.

“The ideal of “apolitical” money advocated by crypto fanatics is a fantasy: how much, where, and at whose discretion money is created is inherently a political decision. What is needed is a mechanism to extend monetary agency to ordinary people so they can utilize credit creation to the benefit of their communities and society as a whole.


Bitcoin ETFs Are Almost Here by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“Unlike Bitcoin ETF applications that the regulator has previously rejected, the proposals by ProShares and Invesco Ltd. are based on futures contracts and were filed under mutual fund rules that SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said provide “significant investor protections.””
“Basically if you slice open the Bitcoin ETF you will find a bunch of (U.S. dollar) cash equivalents. Plus a cash-settled bet with a futures exchange that the price of Bitcoin will go up. If Bitcoin goes up, the ETF will get more cash to plop into money-market securities.”
“The ETF holds a synthetic Bitcoin: cash, plus a derivative to make that cash go up and down with the price of Bitcoin. Somebody is manufacturing that synthetic Bitcoin for the ETF. Probably that someone is an arbitrage trader on the futures exchange, and probably the main ingredient it is using to manufacture the synthetic Bitcoin is a real Bitcoin.”
“[…] the person selling the synthetic Bitcoin has to keep custody of the real Bitcoin it uses to manufacture the synthetic Bitcoin. This is a problem that has become easier over time, but it is still not entirely trivial; there is a lot more high-stakes remembering of passwords in the Bitcoin world than there is in the traditional financial system. This also costs money.
“ETFs may also lag the performance of bitcoin if it keeps rising. Longer-dated bitcoin futures have tended to trade above short-term contracts, a market dynamic known as contango. This can lead to lower returns for funds as they pay to roll over monthly contracts. “A lot of people really don’t understand how futures work,” said Kathleen Moriarty, an ETF lawyer, of individual investors.”
“The answer to the second question is … well, look, sure, go buy Bitcoins. Particularly if you think that Bitcoin is the future of the financial system, etc., it seems a little silly to give your money to an ETF to put into money-market instruments and bet on the price of Bitcoin. Just go to the blockchain and buy a Bitcoin.”

This is, as Kris said, making Bitcoin viable and placing it at the center of finance. Fine, whatever. That would mean that Bitcoin is a good investment for you personally (maybe! The house always wins!) but does nothing to solve any material problems we have. Same people are rich, same people in charge. Different fictitious unit of value at the heart of it all. It’s on a blockchain. Big whoop. It does nothing to put food on the table or to help anyone that the more noble crypto-enthusiasts claim to want to help.

Eventually crypto will take over traditional finance or traditional finance will take over crypto or everyone will just be comfortable transacting in both, and an ETF of synthetic Bitcoins will look sort of quaint.”

Public Policy & Politics

Biden says US will go to war with China to defend Taiwan by Peter Symonds (WSWS)

“China reacted angrily to Biden’s latest remarks. Its UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, rebutted accusations of “Chinese aggression” towards Taiwan. “We are not the troublemaker,” he said. “On the contrary, some countries—the US in particular—is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest.””

That doddering old fuck is going to back the U.S. into a war that the elites want. What is their goal here? They want the semiconductor-chip factories?

“In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Trump’s former national security adviser and warmonger, John Bolton, went far further. He declared that not only did the Biden administration have to unambiguously back Taiwan in any war with China, but it should affirm Taiwan as “a sovereign, self-governing country” and establish formal diplomatic relations. He called for Taiwan to be included in Washington’s formal and informal regional military alliances including through an East Asia Quad—comprising Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the US—to complement the existing Japan-India-Australia-US Quad.”

Who the fuck cares what John Bolton thinks? No-one has given him a job or any position of power. Sit down and shut the fuck up while the adults are talking, John. Oh, wait, there are no adults in the room.

“Far from pulling back, however, the Biden administration is recklessly accelerating the decade-long confrontation with China that began with the Obama administration of which Biden as vice president was part. Biden’s actions on Taiwan have the character of goading China into taking the first step in precipitating conflict.

“Two interconnected factors lie behind the US war drive: the historic decline of American imperialism and the fear in US ruling circles that China could challenge its global hegemony; and the rapidly deepening economic, social and political crisis that is engulfing the US and propelling the working class into struggle.”


Biden’s Unforced Taiwan Error by Daniel Larison (Antiwar.com)

“Over forty years ago, the US was obliged to defend Taiwan under the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty. The US then terminated that commitment during the Carter administration as part of Washington’s switching of its official recognition to Beijing. Ever since, the US has had no formal obligation to go to war in defense of Taiwan, but it has also not explicitly ruled out doing so. The resulting policy has worked for the last four decades to discourage a Chinese attack and to keep Taiwan from declaring independence. There is no good reason to “fix” this policy by making a major and sudden change to it, and tensions are high enough that even hinting at making an explicit guarantee could make conflict more likely.
“The US has no vital interests in Taiwan that warrant a security commitment there. Biden was wrong to suggest that the US is obliged to go to war for Taiwan, and by making this error in public he further poisoned US-Chinese relations for nothing. After 20 years of desultory and unnecessary war, the US should not go looking for a new conflict, and it certainly shouldn’t be courting conflict with a nuclear-armed major power on its own doorstep.”

The U.S. does have vital interests: Taiwan’s lion’s share of the semiconductor industry.


US provocatively calls for “robust” Taiwanese participation in UN by Peter Symonds (WSWS)

“Now, however, the Biden administration, following on from Trump, is step by step undermining the “One China” policy by ramping up top-level contact with Taiwanese officials and establishing a military presence on the island. US Special Forces troops have been on Taiwan for the past year training their Taiwanese counterparts.

“In this context, the US is pushing for a Taiwanese presence in the UN. A US State Department statement late on Saturday reported that American and Taiwanese officials had met online for a “discussion focused on supporting Taiwan’s ability to participate meaningfully at the UN.”

What is the point of this? Why Taiwan? It has a thriving economy, it has the world’s semiconductor supply. That’s probably why, right? That’s the only reason why the U.S. ever intervenes anywhere—pure self-interest. In this case, they can antagonize China—their primary economic rival—and also corner the market in semiconductors.

It doesn’t even show up on the first page of oppressed, impoverished, malnourished populations that desperately need help and better representation. There are other countries that desperately need the world’s support, but no-one cares about those. We diligently focus on those countries that have been selected by the elite for us to focus on. Only rarely—e.g. Darfur—will a country appear on the radar that has not been selected with ulterior motives. But it soon disappears, replaced by an official selection, like Tibet or Tiawan or Iraq or Libya or Syria or Iran. All of these countries have to/had to be saved from their own governments.

Why support the liberation of Taiwan from its parent country? Are they in dire straits somehow? Relative to most of the rest of the world? Of course not. Do they have more freedoms and opportunity than most? Absolutely. Do the people of Taiwan actually want anything to change? No, very few of them do. Some want to officially become a part of China; some want independence; most want status quo, which is not entirely unexpected.

But there is a coterie in Taiwan that sees an opportunity to leverage the U.S.‘s prurient interests to gain control over Taiwan for themselves. Do they care about the repercussions of antagonizing China? No. It’s a gamble with our world that they’re willing to take, in order to amass wealth and power for themselves. This is much more in line with the history of the ruling class in Taiwan. It seems like a much more believable interpretation than “the Taiwanese want and deserve democracy.”

Check out the history of that island on Wikipedia, right up into the late 90s, when they started to clean up their image a bit. Ask yourself whether they’ve changed enough from then to really be the small, oppressed country desperate for independence and freedom and democracy that we’re being told it most definitely is.


Biden administration steps up war threats against Iran by Bill Van Auken (WSWS)

“Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, warned Monday that if diplomatic efforts to resuscitate the Iran nuclear accord fail, the US “will use other tools to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“Malley claimed that talks on the accord, which are moribund, were at a “critical stage” and that Washington’s patience was “wearing thin.” He vowed that the US was prepared to “pursue other steps, if we face a world in which we need to do that.”

What the hell is going on over there? Will we never stop? The Biden Administration—like the Trump one before it—isn’t even pretending to care about an actually diplomatic solution. Their proposals so far have been offensive, designed to be completely unacceptable to Iran.

Iran knows exactly what “pursue other steps” means, when coming from the U.S. It means regime change, one way or another.

“The Biden administration, which came into office pledging to rejoin the JCPOA, has kept the “maximum pressure” sanctions regime in place, continuing US efforts to strangle Iran’s economy and starve its population into submission. The economic blockade has inflicted a catastrophic loss of over $100 billion in oil revenues, while cutting off Iran’s access to the US-dominated world financial system.


Shifts Since Fahrenheit 11/9 by Nick Pemberton (CounterPunch)

“This leads to our third trend, in some ways our hardest pill to swallow, which Paul Street dubs the Trumpenleft. Street sees so clearly the danger of fake populist people like Glenn Greenwald, Saagar Engeti,, Matt Taibi, Dave Chapelle and Joe Rogan who peddle hate as a version of “rebellious” politics that are actually philistine. These people will mobilize the masses for the return of Trump. They seek to confuse the American people. What is actually going on in their minds is that Trump represents a form of freedom for being against “cancel culture” (which is code for intersectional justice and has become a not so subtle dog whistle against minorities, women, LGBTQ+ and the poor).”

That is a slanderous lie. Paul Street has gone off the deep end with his anti-fascist screeds. I’ve seen some decent interviews with him, but his writing is long and tediously preachy, in a way that that of Chris Hedges is not. I’ve lost a bit of respect for Pemberton as a writer now, as well—although he has a long way to fall, in my opinion; this is one data point on a record I consider to be otherwise quite good—since he’s thrown in his lot with Paul Street. Paul Street has his heart in the right place, but he lumps everything that doesn’t agree with his extreme formulation into a single group of enemies. And look at what Pemberton does, above: he does the same thing! To accuse Engeti (whom I’ve watched on The Hill, but not much since), Greenwald, Taibbi, Chappelle, or Rogan of being Trump supporters is madness. It’s completely ignoring what they’re actually saying and writing.


Title IX And The Next Gen Transgender Issue by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice)

“Their concerns were dismissed to the extent they were discussed at all. Just because some mom is a prude who feels her child deserves some female privacy is no excuse to discriminate. Their little darlin’ will get over it. A transgender person will not. Why the feelings of one trump the feelings of another was justified by marginalization. The more marginalized person’s rights beat the marginalized, but less so, person’s rights.
“There’s a common argument that they try and use that goes ‘What if you met a woman in a bar and she’s really beautiful and you got on really well and you went home and you discovered that she has a penis? Would you just not be interested?’” says Jennie, who lives in London and works in fashion.”

This is a kind of madness, I think. There are a wealth of legitimate reasons for backing out of a tryst. Why are some more worthy than others? Doesn’t no mean no? Or do you have to justify your no so as to remove any potential stain of prejudice? Are you obligated to do so? Can you not like redheads? Skinny people? Fat people? Average people? Bald people? Old people? Big noses? Small boobs? Big butts? Hairy backs? Are sexual preferences now to be adjudicated by the mob? Will there be repercussions for having chosen poorly? Are people going to be forced into sex just to protect their reputations? What madness is this?

“At this stage of the progression, the attack is largely emotional pressure of the sort that many would argue constitutes rape if applied by a straight man to a straight woman.”
“One woman reported being targeted in an online group. “I was told that homosexuality doesn’t exist and I owed it to my trans sisters to unlearn my ‘genital confusion’ so I can enjoy letting them penetrate me,” she wrote.”

These people are irredeemable shysters making the oldest play in the world: negging and gas-lighting. Why in the world anyone supports this is anyone’s guess. I suppose it’s a way of painting yourself into a philosophical corner with reductio ad absurdum and then accepting the argument anyway. Congratulations, you’re all morons.

“Even students who don’t perceive themselves to be particularly progressive have a decidedly progressive perspective on issues of race and gender. This leaves many students open to sexual extortion by pressure to engage in sex not based on physical attraction, but identity politics. Nobody on campus wants to be called the university transphobe.”

If this actually happens, it would be a shame. People are pretty easily manipulated, though, so it probably happens. Let me know when we can all agree that this kind of stuff has crossed over into very cultish behavior. David Koresh is golf-clapping somewhere,

“[…] the future acceptance of transgender people cannot be predicated on gender hegemony, where they get to dictate how other people’s sexual orientation must give way to theirs. It’s unsustainable and counterproductive.”

Or, to quote a comment from the post:

“So let me see if I understand progressive logic here.

“If you are penetrated by someone you don’t want doing so, we will stand with you to destroy that person, unless that person is one of a group we favor that makes up 0.3% of the population. In that case, you’d better let it happen or we’re coming after YOU.

“Does that about sum it up?”

Paleo


The AOC Industry: Selling Empire As Socialism by Nicky Reid (CounterPunch)

“[…] if the left in this country were even half as scary as the right make them out to be, I would probably be a lot less ashamed to be a part of it.”
“You see, Bernie never really ran for president. He ran to herd young wayward leftists into supporting predator capitalist scions of mediocrity like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. In the successful case of Old Joe, Saint Bernard was such a good boy that he was awarded with a cushy position in his masters cabinet and that’s all Bernie really ever wanted. But even good dogs don’t live forever and the DNC needs a new breed of sheepherder for a new era of media-savvy partisan depravity. That’s where AOC comes in, and that’s why we see the so called radical being groomed by the establishment who supposedly fears her.
“This shit that the Squad is slinging like fiver dollar crack rocks ain’t socialism, because socialism without anti-imperialism is just a bribe for the lower class in this country to subsist on while the third world gets raped. Don’t let frauds like Bernie and AOC silence your comrades screams with tabloid theatrics and welfare payola. Lets all ditch these fucking cowards and give Republicans and Democrats alike something to really be afraid of.”


Cancel Culture Has a Lot to Answer For by Peter H. Schuck (Quillette)

“[…] universities are massive entities whose leaders are obsessed by the need to raise ever larger endowments (Harvard’s increased by $11.3 billion, or 40 percent, last year; Washington University in St. Louis gained 65 percent!) to fund ever more expansion, construction, academic and non-academic programs, and salaries. As such, they resolutely strive to create an impression of order on campus.”


The Four Layers of Reality — and Why We’re Only Allowed to Talk About One by Lee Camp (ScheerPost)

“When you look around and so few people are enjoying their lives and so many people are struggling or oppressed, and there are new and bizarre illnesses and viruses to worry about, and all of our so-called leaders are goddamn corrupt morons — shouldn’t we all be spazzing out? If you look at our current reality, it’s all spazz-worthy.”
“A large 2014 Princeton study looked at 1,779 policy initiatives and found that the American public has zero impact on what gets passed through Congress. What we, the American people, want has no influence on American policy. The politicians tell you it does. They act like they care. But nothing you and I want ever gets done.”
What does it matter if I was born on this side of a line and you were born on that side of a line? Who even drew those dumb lines?” Or level four could be something like, “Why do we live the way we do — in single-family houses or apartments? We live inside seclusion boxes, hardly interacting with our fellow humans except at our wage slavery jobs where we go, ‘Hey Jim. At least it’s hump day’ or some dumb crap like that. What the hell is this existence?””


”The Bidens”: Is the First Family Corrupt, or Merely Crazy? by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“On the side symbolized by Joe and prodigal son Beau, they appear modest, down-to-earth, perhaps even ethical. On the other side, symbolized by son Hunter, the entrepreneurial brothers Jim and Frank, and others, they appear almost fanatical in their efforts to take financial advantage of the Biden name, while also cursed by horrific luck and a propensity for decisions that are almost mathematically perfect in their disastrousness, all of which became more and more problematic as Joe Biden heads up the ranks of power.”
Hunter not only goes into business with a famed mobster’s namesake (Whitey’s given name was also James) and buys into a hedge fund whose chief investors are Moonies, he registers a new fund with the SEC with Allen Stanford, better known as the second most famous Ponzi schemer in modern American history. He also seeks out a partnership with financier John Burnham, because Hunter and pal Devon Archer had a dream — no joke — of resurrecting Burnham and Company, the remnant of the Drexel Burnham Lambert investment bank made infamous by junk bond king Mike Milken.”
“Hunter around this time was also fathering a child with a former Arkansas State basketball player named Alexis Lunden Roberts, who naturally was paying her way through grad school at George Washington University working as a stripper. By that time, he had also reached the stage of crack addiction where, to head off the possibility of supply ever running out, it becomes necessary to move in with one’s dealer, in this case a homeless woman named “Bicycles.”
“In particular, Biden’s insistence that “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses,” is simply not believable after reading this book, not just because there is witness and documentary evidence directly contradicting him, but because the family does appear to be just as close as it claims.


How to Save the World From a Climate Armageddon by Michael T. Klare (ScheerPost)

“According to the U.N.’s analysis, even if all 200 signatories were to abide by their pledges — and almost none have — global temperatures are likely to rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius (nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by century’s end.”
“To limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, by 2030, scientists believe, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would have to be reduced by 25% from 2018 levels; to limit it to 1.5 degrees, by 55%. Yet those emissions — driven by strong economic growth in China, India, and other rapidly industrializing nations — have actually been on an upward trajectory, rising on average by 1.8% per year between 2009 and 2019.
“It all boils down to this: to save human civilization, the U.S. and China must dramatically reduce their CO2 emissions, while working together to persuade other major carbon-emitting nations, beginning with fast-rising India, to follow suit. That would, of course, mean setting aside their current antagonisms, however important they may seem to U.S. and Chinese leaders today, and instead making climate survival their number one priority and policy objective. Otherwise, put simply, all is lost.
“In 2020, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021 (a widely respected source), China was the world’s top user of coal, the most carbon-intense of the three fossil fuels. That country was responsible for a staggering 54.3% of total world consumption; India came in second at 11.6%; and the U.S. third at 6.1%. When it came to petroleum consumption, the U.S. took first place with 19.9% of world usage and China came in second with 15.7%. The U.S. was also number one when it came to consumption of natural gas, followed by Russia and China. Combine all three kinds and China and the U.S. were jointly responsible for 42% of total global fossil-fuel consumption in 2020. No other countries came even remotely close.
“According to BP, China was the world’s leading source of CO2 emissions in 2020, responsible for 30.7% of the global total, while the United States came in second with 13.8%. No other country even reached double digits and the European Union as a whole accounted for only 7.9%.”
““China-U.S. cooperation on climate change cannot be divorced from the overall situation of China-U.S. relations,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry during his September visit to China. “The U.S. side wants the climate change cooperation to be an ‘oasis’ of China-U.S. relations. However, if the oasis is all surrounded by deserts, then sooner or later, the ‘oasis’ will be desertified.””
“To defend their respective homelands not against each other but against nature, both sides will increasingly be compelled to devote ever more funds and resources to flood protection, disaster relief, fire-fighting, seawall construction, infrastructure replacement, population resettlement, and other staggeringly expensive, climate-related undertakings. At some point, such costs will far exceed the amounts needed to fight a war between us.


Civil Liberties Are Being Trampled by Exploiting “Insurrection” Fears. Congress’s 1/6 Committee May Be the Worst Abuse Yet. by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

“Following the post-9/11 script, anyone voicing such concerns about responses to 1/6 is reflexively accused of minimizing the gravity of the Capitol riot and, worse, of harboring sympathy for the plotters and their insurrectionary cause. Questions or doubts about the proportionality or legality of government actions in the name of 1/6 are depicted as insincere, proof that those voicing such doubts are acting not in defense of constitutional or legal principles but out of clandestine camaraderie with the right-wing domestic terrorists and their evil cause.”
“With more than 600 people now charged in connection with the events of 1/6, not one person has been charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government, incite insurrection, conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping of public officials, or any of the other fantastical claims that rained down on them from media narratives. No one has been charged with treason or sedition. Perhaps that is because, as Reuters reported in August, “the FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result.” Yet these defendants are being treated as if they were guilty of these grave crimes of which nobody has been formally accused, with the exact type of prosecutorial and judicial overreach that criminal defense lawyers and justice reform advocates have long railed against.”
“[…] these defendants are subjected to one of the grossest violations of due process: they are being treated as if they are guilty of crimes — treason, sedition, insurrection, attempted murder, and kidnapping — which not even the DOJ has accused them of committing.
“All of this suggests that to the extent 1/6 had any advanced centralized planning, it was far closer to an FBI-induced plot than a centrally organized right-wing insurrection.
“{…} people selected for interrogation precisely because they exercised their Constitutional right of free assembly by applying for and receiving a permit to hold a protest on January 6 opposing certification of the 2020 election.”
“[…] what Congress cannot do is investigate private citizens to determine if they committed crimes or issue subpoenas simply to satisfy a desire “to know what happened” — exactly what the Select Committee on 1/6, by its own admission, is seeking to do. The Supreme Court has explicitly imposed this limit on congressional investigative power over and over, and has banned congressional investigations which were not geared toward either one of those two legitimate investigative purposes.
“Specifically, the Constitution bars investigations that have little or no real purpose other than simply to find out what happened, no matter how consequential an event may be. In other words, the mantra that “we need to know” is a classic example of an invalid motive for a congressional investigation into the acts of private citizens.
The CRS report laid out the limited framework that allows Congress to act as an investigative body. For a congressional investigation to be a valid exercise of lawmaking duties, an investigative body “must be understood to include ‘inquiries into the administration of existing laws, studies of proposed laws, and surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling the Congress to remedy them.’””
“When it comes to the 1/6 Committee, there is not even a pretense that their investigation of dozens if not hundreds of private citizens is designed to aid them in enacting new laws or rewriting existing ones. All of the acts in which they believe their investigative targets engaged — conspiracy to incite insurrection, to interfere in democratic processes, attempts to kill or kidnap elected officials — are all already crimes: quite serious felonies.
Anyone who believes that Congress has the right to haul American citizens before itself for interrogation and to obtain their most private data simply to “find out what happened” is someone who recognizes no limits on Congress’s investigatory powers. They are also someone either unaware of or indifferent to the long history of jurisprudence that has made clear exactly how menacing such congressional inquiries can be, and how unconstitutional they are.”
“[…] these limits on congressional power to investigate private citizens are not mere annoying legalisms but vital safeguards against the repetition of some of the worst abuses of civil liberties in U.S. history. Indeed, it is not a coincidence that several of the key Supreme Court precedents imposing limits on congressional investigatory power were from the McCarthy era.
“To identify the specific civil liberties abuses starting to emerge, POGO wrote, in language designed to appeal to the political sensibilities of liberals: “While claims of election fraud were baseless and have seriously undermined public faith in our democracy, false and grossly offensive speech is still constitutionally protected.
“As the Supreme Court summarized that rationale in its 1957 ruling in Watkins v. U.S.: “The Government contends that the public interest at the core of the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee is the need by the Congress to be informed of efforts to overthrow the Government by force and violence, so that adequate legislative safeguards can be erected.” But in both of the McCarthy era cases decided by the Supreme Court, that rationale was rejected as an invalid basis for Congress’s investigative tactics.
“[…] the more invasive the investigation of private citizens — the more their political beliefs and associations are to be exposed to the world — the greater the burden imposed on Congress to demonstrate a clear nexus between their investigation and a valid lawmaking purpose. Simply because Congress claims that they are conducting an investigation of private citizens in order to reform a law or to exercise oversight does not magically transform the investigation into a valid one […]”
“[…] must be infuriating and baffling to a large sector of the population to have been convinced that what happened on January 6 was an unprecedentedly dangerous insurrection perpetrated by an organized group of seditious traitors who had plotted to kidnap and murder elected officials, only for the Biden DOJ to have charged exactly nobody with any criminal charges remotely suggesting any of those melodramatic claims.
“In the days and weeks following 1/6, liberals really thought that dozens of members of Congress — from Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene — would be not just expelled from Congress but summarily imprisoned as traitors by a newly righteous Justice Department. They were led to believe that, with Bill Barr out of the way, Trump and his mafia family would finally pay for their crimes.
“The House Democrats have smart lawyers who are fully aware of all the above-discussed case law and other limitations on congressional power. That is why they purposely structured their third-party subpoenas to ensure nobody can challenge them in court: they know those subpoenas vastly exceed the limits of their authority and cannot withstand judicial scrutiny. This congressional committee is designed to be cathartic theater for liberals, and a political drama for the rest of the country.
“At some point, the line between actually believing this and being paid to pretend to believe it, or feeling coerced by cultural and friendship circles to feign belief in it, erodes, fostering actual collective conviction and mania.
They spent 2020 depicting police officers as racist savages, only to valorize the Capitol Police as benevolent public servants whom only barbarians would want to harm, then gave them an additional $2 billion to intensify their surveillance capabilities and augment their stockpile of weapons.”

Journalism & Media

Pierre Omidyar’s Financing of the Facebook “Whistleblower” Campaign Reveals a Great Deal by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

“I want to make clear that my analysis of Omidyar’s role in this scam Facebook “whistleblower” campaign and the dangers it presents is in no way motivated by personal animus toward him. Indeed, I harbor no personal hostility toward him; to the contrary, I genuinely respect that he kept his word for all those years by honoring our editorial freedom even as he was funding my journalism and the journalism of others with which he vehemently disagreed.
“When it comes to billionaire funders of political and journalistic projects, Omidyar — despite the long list of political views and activities of his that I regard as misguided or even toxic — is, for the reasons I just outlined, as good as it gets. And yet despite all that, it is simply unavoidable — inevitable — that the ideology, views and political agenda of a billionaire funder will end up contaminating and dominating any project for which they are the exclusive or primary funder. Omidyar is not some apolitical or neutral guardian of good internet governance; he is a highly politicized and ideological actor with very strong views on society’s most debated questions.”

“It is virtually impossible to fathom that quantity of wealth, let alone the amount of political power that can be created with it. Multi-billionaires can and do buy television outlets and finance media companies and single-handedly create powerful NGOs and advocacy groups to control public debate. There is virtually no limit on their ability to dominate political debate: except one.

“The internet, as they know, is one of the few tools — arguably the only one — that can level the playing field, that can allow non-billionaires a fighting chance to be heard above the systems they erect and control. The absolute last thing we should want or tolerate is for those same billionaires scheming to control the internet, to eliminate the last vestige where dissent and free thought that is not subject to their oligarchical control can still thrive.


Episode 191: Network by True Anon (Patreon)

At 20:00,

Liz: It’s not just like, your own personal attractiveness, like, that’s a part of it, for sure. But, also, depending on what you’re looking at on Facebook, it’s how you see your life in relation to, like, … all aspects of your life. […] That can completely distort the way that you view your own life.”
Brace: 100%. A lot of the sort of discourse around this involves some sort of failsafes or new features that Facebook or Instagram could implement that would mitigate this. Total bullshit.”
Liz: It’s the actual mechanics of the social production that occurs on these platforms that fuels this. There’s no tricks. There’s no safeguards. What these platforms do, […] is what you’re watching in realtime, and what’s making you crazy, is you’re watching the circuit of capital, happen at a really fucking quick speed. You’re watching yourself commodified in real-time. And it’s fucking sickening. It’s what makes you feel crazy.”
Brace: 100%. Instagram had a huge marketing budget specifically toward young teenagers. […] Because they know … […] you and I […] grew up in an era before all of this.”
Liz: We were just talking about this last night. I feel very #blessed […] for what little time I had to experience […] I don’t know what it would be like, as a kid, being digitally native, just being […] it’s not an appendage…it is fully integrated in our lives. This idea that it’s outside, somehow separate, or something … is completely wrong. It’s just how you interact with the world now. And I don’t know how I feel about that.”
Brace: I know exactly how I feel about that. I think every single social-media platform should be annihilated, and their owners and many of people who work at them, should be arrested, imprisoned, or executed. Absolutely. These people are fucking poison salesmen. And they’re not even poison salesmen…this shit? You gotta have this shit in order to like half of the stuff that most people do, day to day. It’s fucking absurd.”

They then discuss proposed measures for mitigating this poison, with the following conclusion,

Brace: Brother, you are arguing with the warden about the terms of the prison. These things are sick and they are bad. You can’t make them good in any way.”


Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“[…] he’s representative of a generation of young, left-leaning intellectuals who grew up in the Trump years believing the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other such agencies to be trusted, straight-and-narrow defenders of democratic “norms.” These credulous kids with piercings and chin-beards who think the secret services are on their side are the fruits of one of the great P.R. campaigns of our time.
“Targets of the FBI’s “National Security Letters” could not by law be told they’d been searched. You couldn’t find out if you were on a watch or no-fly list. Those scooped up as enemy combatants (so named to eliminate Geneva Convention oversight) and renditioned to God Knows Where had no habeas corpus rights, a fact a lot of Americans were fine with, so long as the prisoners were al-Qaeda suspects and random Afghan cabbies.”
“Then Trump arrived. Almost immediately, it was obvious his historical destiny was to be the best thing that ever happened to the secret services. In the same way hydroxychloroquine became snake oil the instant Trump said he was taking it, the “Deep State” became a myth the moment Trump and his minions started talking about it.
“Before 2016, the FBI, CIA, and NSA already had most major news agencies eating out of their hands, mainly by feeding certain journalists scoops. In the Trump years that model was dismissed as too slow and cumbersome, and, as mentioned here before, intelligence officials accelerated things by physically mass-replacing both print and TV journalists with ex-spooks. Now, just like any other tinpot third-world country, we get our news directly from secret agents.”
During the Trump years you could wake up on any given day and see the former head of the CIA’s drone program or the architect of the NSA surveillance program — literally those people — reading the news on commercial television […]”
“The cultural memories of the coming wave of media professionals extend back a few years at most. Most have read thousands more tweets than book pages. Their opinions come mainly from the dung-pile of popular news and are in sync with most Democrats, whom polls consistently show to have strong majority favorable views of the CIA and the FBI, a dramatic turnaround from the pre-Trump years. In fact, now that the War on Terror has ostensibly been reconfigured to target gun owners, white supremacists, and “insurrectionists,” they can scarcely remember why they ever felt negatively about the NSA or the folks at Langley, which of course makes them perfect for their jobs. In a dystopia, a good memory is just an inconvenience.”

Science & Nature

Fossil fuels doomed in New York as regulator blocks new gas power plants by Tim De Chant (Ars Technica)

“New York’s climate law requires polluters to account for two sources of emissions: from the plants themselves and from the natural gas supply chain. Once the latter was included—figures which in the past were nearly always ignored when determining a power plant’s pollution—the emissions quickly exceeded the DEC’s thresholds, the decisions say.”

This is a good way of looking at it, and I’m glad that they’re finally forced to consider these pollution vectors.

“In that time, scientists and regulators became increasingly aware of the lifetime carbon footprint of natural gas, particularly along its supply chain. While natural gas burns cleaner and produces less carbon pollution than other fossil fuels like coal, leaks from wellhead to turbine tip the scales. Methane, a major component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas, with one ton warming the atmosphere 84 times more than one ton of carbon dioxide over 20 years. The potency means that leaks along the supply chain represent a significant fraction of natural gas users’ carbon pollution.”

However, there is the niggling issue that there needs to be some form of energy that can be put online on-demand (in a way that solar and wind cannot). Natural-gas power-plants are one way of doing this that are far less polluting than coal (also not as on-demand as many think) or diesel generators.

“The DEC also faulted the logic both companies used to suggest that the new plants would displace emissions elsewhere on the grid. The problem, the agency said, was that their modeling relied on too many assumptions—particularly “projected reductions that could occur at other GHG emission sources across the State” (emphasis in the original). In other words, since neither company can control the actions of other polluters, they don’t get to count speculative reductions elsewhere as their own.

In the near term, though,

“Both Danskammer and NRG were proposing to upgrade some of New York State’s dirtiest power plants. They’re older, producing many times more NOx emissions than newer gas-fired power plants.”

The logic is, though, that no-one should be replacing dirty natural-gas plants with less-dirty natural-gas plants. Find another solution (no-one really has a scalable one yet, though…). Hey, maybe when power finally gets more expensive, the economy will finally be confronted with the reality that it will have to use less of it, which would satisfy the climate-change-combatting goals we actually should have. Using austerity to limit use has, historically, backfired—or ended up harming the most vulnerable either first or exclusively.

On the other, other hand, the currently very dirty fossil-fuel plants are probably located in the neighborhoods of the most vulnerable.

Art & Literature

It’s Time to Put the Halloween Reboots Out of Their Misery by Eileen Jones (Jacobin)

“So it’s not scary, it’s merely irritating to see wave after wave of idiots clutching baseball bats, and knives, and guns they don’t know how to shoot, wandering out into deserted parks and dark wooded areas after Michael Myers. Until the very end of the movie, none of the characters has a plan of attack. And all too frequently, one moron will tell the other morons to “wait here” while they go into some dark house to seek him out alone, for no good reason whatsoever. This includes veteran survivors of Michael Myers attacks.”


The Call by Chris Hedges (Scheer Post)

Baldwin, like George Orwell, names truths that few others have the courage to name. He condemns evils that are held up as virtues by the powerful and the pious. He, like Orwell, is relentlessly self-critical and calls out the hypocrisies of the liberal elites and the Left, whose moral posturing is often not accompanied by the courage and self-sacrifice demanded in the fight against radical evil. Baldwin is true to a spirit and power beyond his control. He is, in religious language, possessed.”
“It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.
James Baldwin
“I was possessed by a vision, a call to tell the truth—which is different from reporting the news—and to stand with those who suffered, from Central America, to Gaza, to Iraq, to Sarajevo, to the United States’ vast archipelago of prisons. “You are not really a journalist,” my friend and fellow New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer once told me, “you are a minister pretending to be a journalist.”
“The love that informs the long struggle for justice, that directs us to stand with the crucified, the love that defines the lives and words of James Baldwin, George Orwell, James Cone, and Cornel West, is the most powerful force on earth. It does not mean we will be spared pain or suffering. It does not mean we will achieve justice. It does not mean we as distinct individuals will survive. It does not mean we will escape death. But it gives us the strength to confront evil, even when it seems certain that evil will triumph. That love is not a means to an end. It is the end itself. That is the secret of its omnipotence. That is why it will never be conquered.

That’s a very existentialist statement.

“I walked through an open gate that would then close behind me. I would wait fifteen seconds in a holding cell before the next gate opened. I repeated this process several times as I went deeper and deeper into the bowels of the prison. It felt as if I were traveling downward through Dante’s circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, and fraud, and then to the final circle of hell—treachery, where everyone lives frozen in an ice-filled lake. Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate. Abandon all hope, ye who enter.”
Education is not only about knowledge. It is about inspiration. It is about passion. It is about the belief that what we do in life matters. It is about moral choice. It is about taking nothing for granted. It is about challenging assumptions and suppositions. It is about truth and justice. It is about learning how to think. It is about, as Baldwin writes in his essay The Creative Process, the ability to drive “to the heart of every matter and expose the question the answer hides.” And, as Baldwin notes further, it is about making the world “a more human dwelling place.””
“[…] was an English major at Colgate University.”

He grew up on upstate NY (Scoharie County) and went to Hamilton’s sister college. Neat.

Philosophy & Sociology

How To Recognize When Tech Is Leading Us Down a ‘Slippery Slope’ by Clive Thompson (OneZero)

“What transaction costs does the new technology diminish? What transaction cost does it impose? A gun, for example, radically diminishes the transaction costs for ending life almost effortlessly at a distance. A gun can’t force you to kill anybody. But it’s going to be predominantly used in ways that capitalize on its affordances.”
“Okay, so you see face recognition as a true slippery slope. It hits all three of your principles: Really strong affordances; plenty of motivations for state and corporate actors to roll it out; and few roadblocks. If we don’t stop it quickly, it’ll be everywhere.
“I think that when texting first came on the scene, there were concerns that this would be a slippery slope towards the erosion of formal language. Critics worried that people would become so habituated to casual texting that when we found environments where formal writing is required, we’d be less able to do it. We’d spend so much time texting that it would create a kind of intellectual atrophy, or it would rewire us. And I think what we’ve seen is sort of the opposite. People have learned how to adapt and code switch. They’ve learned how to become, let’s say, especially contextually savvy communicators.

I think that’s wrong. The erosion is evident. He just doesn’t notice because his own class is unaffected. But, down in the trenches, people are terrible and ineffective communicators.


The Tree of Knowledge by Tomas Pueyo (Uncharted Territories)

“Learning something completely new is harder for an old person than a young one, but not as much as people think. Old people are just not used to learning completely new things anymore, and that’s what makes them uncomfortable. The loss of the habit.”
“You know how much people say you should listen before talking? That’s what it means, really. If you talk before listening, you push your ideas without understanding how they will land on the other person. You can’t have empathy.
“That’s why all communication disciplines tell you to start by understanding your audience. You need to figure out the structure of their knowledge tree first. Then, you craft a message that resonates with that tree, that the audience can easily connect to their existing branches.”


The Art of Not Taking Things Personally by Dave Bailey (The Founder Coach)

“When we encounter emotions and behaviours that don’t make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t have all the information. And in the absence of information, we tend to assume the worst. ‘Emotional generosity’ is the ability to see past behaviours that we don’t understand and proactively look for compassionate ways to explain them.
“When you notice someone avoiding something important, try to encourage them to talk about it. Often they know they’re avoiding it and need some support to see it through.
“Advice is sometimes regret in disguise. Perhaps a past experience has left them with a longing to have acted differently, and this is their chance to put things right and help you avoid the pain they felt. When you notice someone giving unrequested advice, ask if they’ve been in a similar situation before — and how it went.
“Trust tends to break down when there’s an unspoken perception of the other side not taking responsibility for their behaviours. This perception turns into resentment, which eventually shows up as a lack of trust. And of course, when trust breaks down, so does communication.

Hilariously accurate.

“Working around the clock and sacrificing your own needs for others can seem like commitment and diligence. However, prolonged selflessness often masks a sense of unworthiness; if you believe you don’t deserve to have your own needs met, you focus on the needs of others instead. And eventually this can lead to resentment, fatigue, and burnout.”
“They’re negative… even when there’s a lot to celebrate. Are they just an energy sucker?”
When you notice a negative emotion in someone, get curious about what that emotion might be — and try to uncover the unmet need that accompanies it. ‘Are you feeling X because you’re needing Y?’.”

This is fine advice if the target person is receptive at all. There has to be some willingness to open up and be empathized with.

“At the same time, being generous doesn’t mean ‘taking one for the team’. If other people’s behaviours affect your wellbeing, it’s time to set some boundaries. After all, your emotions and behaviours are your responsibility.”


Covid Concept Home by Gina Schouten (Crooked Timber)

“Middle class housing shouldn’t look like this. But it will, for now. Within that context, and if consumers’ predictions about future pandemics are right, the kitchen zoom room isn’t such an abomination. We just need more men zooming from the kitchen and more women zooming from the upstairs quiet. And, even as we desperately need subsidized childcare, we also need more men staying home with the sniffling kid while they wait for that Covid test to come back negative.”

Technology

2021 MacBook Pro review: Yep, it’s what you’ve been waiting for by Samuel Axon (Ars Technica)

“As we all know, gaming on the new MacBook Pro models will be a mixed bag. For years, I have tested new Mac GPUs by maxing out World of Warcraft’s settings on a 5K screen with the latest expansion (it’s native on Apple Silicon now and uses Metal, so it might be the best test of the Mac’s gaming power in ideal circumstances) and seeing what kind of performance I get. The only Mac I’ve reviewed previously that was playable at these settings was a maxed-out iMac Pro, which just barely eked out 30 frames per second. The M1 Max does it at 90 fps—and that’s with several major graphical improvements that the game’s developers have made since launch. If there were any triple-A games that were well-optimized for the Mac (there basically aren’t), the new MacBook Pro could be a great gaming laptop. But alas, all we have is World of Warcraft and one or two others.”


The Novel According to Bezos by Megan Marz (The Baffler)

“While McGurl’s perspective is presumptively anti-capitalist, he asks us to stand in awe—as if before a great, problematic work of art—at the fruits of Amazon’s ambition: “Honestly, to not be impressed with what Amazon has accomplished, as distinct from approving of it, could only betray a willful ignorance of the facts on the ground.””


Intel slipped—and its future now depends on making everyone else’s chips by Tim De Chant (Ars Technica)

“By the next year, the company was the third-largest foundry by revenue—still well behind TSMC but with a roster of blue-chip clients that included Sony, Qualcomm, Nvidia, and AMD. Its fab technologies were the envy of the industry. “IBM is the absolute best,” an industry analyst said at the time. “You pay through the nose for it, but it’s great stuff.”
“One famous example was Apple, which struggled with IBM’s hand-me-down technology. In the early 2000s, IBM designed and supplied Apple with the PowerPC G5, a derivative of the POWER4 server processor. It worked well in Apple’s spacious Power Mac towers, but Apple struggled to put the hot, inefficient chip in a laptop. At a time when more customers were buying laptops, Apple’s PowerBooks began slipping further behind Windows PCs.”
“IBM’s chip division was tossed a lifeline when Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all adopted the PowerPC architecture for their game consoles in the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t enough.”
“Today, around 90 percent of leading-edge chips are manufactured by TSMC, and the rest are made by Samsung.”
“It will be a while before anyone can judge Intel’s foundry ambitions as a success or failure. Observers think it will be at least three years, and more likely five, before that can happen. The fabs will take a couple of years to build, and new chip designs will take months or years to test and produce.
Congress is mulling an injection of around $50 billion into the semiconductor industry that would incentivize research and development and the construction of domestic fabs. That would go some way to leveling the playing field, but it would also pose new challenges. If the bill passes, tens of thousands of new jobs would be created in the semiconductor industry every year, said Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. (Liu is also a board member at Intel, though she spoke with Ars only in her capacity as dean.) “This means that we need between 5,000–10,000 new graduates per year. No single university—or even a university system like the University of California—can meet that workforce development need,” she said.”

Interesting dilemma, but why is the government staking money for giga-dollar companies without an ownership stake? Does this industry really need money in order to do what is, ostensibly, its job?

Programming

HTML with Superpowers by Dave Rupert

“[Web Components] have one superpower that no other JavaScript framework offers called the Shadow DOM which is both powerful but frustrating. But another superpower — the power I’m most excited about — is that you can use them standalone without any frameworks, build tools, or package managers.


Early Evaluator, Late Adopter by Mark Heath

“[…] you need to reserve sufficient time for training developers and operations. For example, to effectively use Azure Durable Functions, there are some really important rules you need to know about what can and can’t be done in an orchestrator function. And to troubleshoot failed orchestrations, there are some tools and techniques that operations staff need to be familiar with. Rushing out a new technology without sufficient training is a recipe for disaster.