Wednesday, September 29th, 2021


Bada Binge

"We all have to live this way, in a landscape vandalized by increasingly inane and powerful flows of capital. Chase told me the real joke of the show was not 'What if a mobster went to therapy?' The comedic engine, for him, was this: What if things had become so selfish and narcissistic in America that even the mob couldn't take it? 'That was the whole thing,' he said. 'America was so off the rails that everything that the Mafia had done was nothing compared to what was going on around them.'" NYT Magazine (Gift Article for ND Readers): Why Is Every Young Person in America Watching The Sopranos? "The show's new audience is also seeing something different in it: a parable about a country in terminal decline." (Well, it's not like the Tiger King is showing a country on a perpetual upswing.)


Command P

We may not be living in a simulation. But we could soon be living in a dot matrix. "In a tiny village on the outskirts of Nacajuca, Mexico, builders are creating new homes using a novel tool: an oversize 3-D printer." Yes, you read that right. New homes, not built, but printed by large scale, on-site printers. "To build the homes, the printer pours layers of lavacrete, a proprietary concrete mix, one after another in long swirls. One home can be completed in less than 24 hours." These things are getting built faster than the time it takes the ink to dry on the contracts. NYT (Gift Article for ND Readers): How an 11-Foot-Tall 3-D Printer Is Helping to Create a Community. This bodes well for my reputation. I've never been particularly handy around the house. But I can press Command P as fast as any man alive.


Fly the Friendlier Skies

"This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority." So said United CEO Scott Kirby as he prepares to fire almost 600 employees for refusing to get the vaccine (although there are still a few days to go). It's worth noting that the company employees 67,000 Americans. So most people got with the program. For the rest, they should definitely put on their own mask before helping those around them.

+ Half of unvaccinated workers say they'd rather quit than get a shot – but real-world data suggest few are following through.


Owning the Liberal Democracy

"A majority of Republicans still support Trump leading their party, according to polls. A CNN poll released in September found that 68 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican say democracy is under attack, with about 7 in 10 of them believing that President Biden didn't win the 2020 election. One side's nightmare scenario — Trump running in 2024 and reclaiming the presidency — represents to the other side simply the democratic system working as it should." WaPo: As Trump hints at 2024 comeback, democracy advocates fear a ‘worst-case scenario' for the country. ("Democracy Advocates.")

+ Trump plans to sue to keep White House records on Capitol attack secret. (I suppose hiding the truth is a nice change of pace from just lying about everything.)


Can You Dig It?

"With Republicans solidly opposed and no Democratic votes to spare, Biden canceled a Wednesday trip to Chicago that was to focus on COVID-19 vaccinations so he could dig in for another day of intense negotiations with lawmakers ahead of crucial votes." Biden digs in with fellow Dems seeking deal on $3.5T plan. (Can we count digging in as part of the infrastructure bill?)


Beet Street

"Now, thanks to the work of a team of music historians, musicologists, composers and computer scientists, Beethoven's vision will come to life. I presided over the artificial intelligence side of the project, leading a group of scientists at the creative AI startup Playform AI that taught a machine both Beethoven's entire body of work and his creative process." How a team of musicologists and computer scientists completed Beethoven's unfinished 10th Symphony. (You can have all the AI in the world, but you're not gonna beat Walter Murphy's A Fifth of Beethoven as featured in Saturday Night Fever.)


Vicious Cycle

"The 16-year-old driver appeared to have been trying to 'roll coal' on a group of eight cyclists training for the Ironman Triathlon, according to fellow cyclist Chase Ferrell. Ferrell was a few paces behind the group when the driver blew thick, black smoke on him as he pedaled along Old Highway 290 on Saturday morning. Moments later, the driver caught up to the larger group up ahead and tried doing the same thing." A teen who ran over 6 cyclists outside Houston walks free. (Texas has some really weird laws. You're not allowed to control your own body, but you are allowed to run people over.)


Planet 1.0

"I began to feel a strong sense of déjà vu. I couldn't place it until, one night, in the glow of the e-reader, I realized: It's Web 1.0 all over again. We are in the era of climate. The comedy of the technology industry is playing again as a kind of Ibsenian tragedy: Scientists and academics told everyone about this thing for decades, and almost everyone ignored them. But then enough people got interested, and now there's a market. And as a result there are a million business models, a million solutions, huge promises of the change to come: We'll pour everything we have into green-energy infrastructure. We'll transact in carbon marketplaces. We'll pull a trillion tons of CO2 out of the air every year. Never mind that today we can do about 0.0005 percent of that, which rounds to nothing." Paul Ford in Wired: Climate Change Is the New Dot-Com Bubble. (Let's hope this bubble isn't filled with methane gas...)


Disney Plus

"There are people all over the world who get up to go work. They're unhappy about it. They don't really like their jobs. As you can tell from us, there's an enthusiasm. We are privileged to be at a place where we love what we do." Disney World opened 50 years ago; these workers never left. (I wish I had bought Disney stock 50 years ago and never sold.)


Bottom of the News

"Nina Simone sat down at the Steinway. She took a piece of chewing gum from her mouth and stuck it on the piano. She raised her arms above her head and, into the stunned silence, began what was to be the greatest show of my life – of our lives – savage and transcendent, and the last performance of Nina's in London. The show ended in mutual rapture and Nina Simone left the stage a different person – restored, awakened, transfigured – and we too were changed and would never be the same." 'The last person to touch it was Nina Simone': Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on an old piece of chewing gum.

+ Bay Area woman charged with starting Fawn Fire after allegedly burning bear urine. (I'm old enough to remember when we dealt with burning urine using antibiotics.)

+ Watch Brandi Carlile Join Pearl Jam Onstage To Sing Better Man. (Seriously, what more do you people want?)