Monday, February 7th, 2022


Three’s a Tough Crowd

In the early days of the internet, we were all pretty sure we were building tools that would benefit the world, spread democracy, and usher in a new era where people from different backgrounds would come together in harmony. Things didn't go exactly according to plan. So it makes sense that not everyone is bullish on the prospects for what is known as Web3. Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic: The Crypto Backlash Is Booming. "At its most basic, Web3 imagines a massive shift away from the habit of accessing the web via centralized platforms such as Facebook and Google, and toward a norm of communicating, storing information, and making payments through a supposedly incorruptible, uneditable, fail-proof system. This would conceivably give the average person greater control over their personal data and the consequences of their interactions, but for various reasons it has so far been a bit of a farce." I'm not sure it's been a farce, but it's definitely created a big divide between the true believers (many have made a lot of money already, and in the startup world there's been a significant investor and employee migration towards Web3 startups) and the doubters. While the tech is new, the battle lines have been drawn and the debate over the future of the internet has become heated. Thankfully, Web1 and Web2 have provided us with countless outlets where we can scream at each other about Web3.

+ 3's Company: If you can beat 'em, join 'em? The U.S. is considering a radical rethinking of the dollar for today's digital world. "It's a vision of a cashless future that other countries are already embracing. China, for example, has unveiled the digital yuan on a trial basis. India this week said it would create a digital rupee. Now the U.S. is weighing whether it wants to get into the game."

+ One thing to note about the crypto revolution and its promise to decentralize the web and level the playing field is that the biggest venture investors are footing the bill for Web3's creation. They'll reap outsized benefits if it succeeds. And the idea that those at the very top will receive outsized benefits is anything but innovative. Forget about the top 1% or even the top 0.1%. We're talking about the top .01%. Barry Ritholtz with the numbers. The Super Wealthy versus the Merely Rich.


Blast from the Past

"As the coronavirus pandemic creeps into its third year, and the death toll in the United States reaches 900,000, the 1918 influenza pandemic can offer some insight into how this chapter of history might draw to a close. But an "ending," when it comes to viruses such as these, is a misleading word. Eventually, experts say, the novel coronavirus is likely to transition from a deadly and disruptive pathogen to a milder, more seasonal nuisance. In the meantime, though, the country's experience a century ago suggests that we could be in for a lot more pain - especially if we let our guard down." The 1918 flu didn't end in 1918. Here's what its third year can teach us. (How are we gonna learn from history when we can't even learn from the last two years?)

+ Of course the big difference between Covid and the 1918 flu is that we're incredibly lucky to have quickly come up with remarkably effective vaccines. Even if not everyone gets that. Not even everyone in Canada. Ottawa declares state of emergency as Canada trucker protest gridlocks city.


Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong

"For $995, Love Cloud will fly you and a partner in a private airplane for 45 minutes so that you can have sex. Granted, you don't have to have sex on the plane. You could pay $1,195 to get married on board. For $100 more, it can be booked for a romantic one-course meal; for $1,595, you'll get three courses. With any package, an extra $300 will get you a bottle of bubbly and ride to the tarmac in a limousine. But according to Andy Johnson, 40, a pilot and the founder of Love Cloud, its Mile High Club Flight, which comes with a commemorative membership card signed by the pilot, remains the business's most popular offering." (I'd be so anxious I might not be able to keep my tray table in the upright position.) NYT (Gift Article): The Mile High Club, Complete With Membership Cards. Groucho Marx famously said, "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members." Well, there are exceptions to every rule.

+ In other air travel news, Spirit and Frontier Airlines plan to merge. (Hopefully not in midair.)


Spine Tingling

"A paralyzed man with a severed spinal cord has been able to walk again, thanks to an implant developed by a team of Swiss researchers. It is the first time someone who has had a complete cut to their spinal cord has been able to walk freely. The same technology has improved the health of another paralysed patient to the extent that he has been able to become a father." Paralyzed man with severed spine walks thanks to implant.

+ Scientific American: Spinal Stimulation Helps People with Paralysis Walk, Canoe, and Stand at a Bar.


Extra, Extra

Spin Class: The olympics aren't getting much buzz so far, but there have been some amazing performances. None more so than 15 year-old Kamila Valieva's first ever Olympic quad. Such a bummer the stadiums aren't full for moments like these. Here are some photos from the games.

+ Spin Cycle: "I didn't think there would be such concern and I would like to know: why such concern?" Peng Shuai, who was accompanied by an official during her interview with a French publication, said that her initial claims of being coerced into sex by a Chinese official were all a big misunderstanding. She also announced her retirement from Tennis.

+ Tears of a Clown: "One senior Trump White House official said he and other White House staffers frequently put documents into 'burn bags' to be destroyed, rather than preserving them, and would decide themselves what should be saved and what should be burned. When the Jan. 6 committee asked for certain documents related to Trump's efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence, for example, some of them no longer existed in this person's files because they had already been shredded." WaPo: He never stopped ripping things up. And, National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago. (The fact that one can so easily shred and burn history is more evidence that the executive branch was not prepared for a criminal in the Oval Office.)


Bottom of the News

"Once it had been confirmed that a jackpot had been won but hadn't been dispensed, the gaming board undertook an extensive search to find the winner." Gaming board tracks down Las Vegas $229,000 jackpot winner after slot machine malfunction.

+ Oh nothing, just Nandi Bushell covering Neil Peart.