Tuesday 13 July, 2021

Geology as Art

A rock formation in Co. Donegal, which is — geologically — the most interesting county in Ireland.

A fishy story

Our goldfish passed away last night. He was 26 years old. When we used to tell people that they invariably thought we were fibbing. But we weren’t. I got him as a 10th birthday present for my son, who was 36 last March, so we’re sure about his age. On further investigation, though, it turns out that, by goldfish standards, he wasn’t so old. One source says that they have an average lifespan of between 20 and 40 years.

Quote of the Day

Oscar Wilde

”Do you mind if I smoke?

Sarah Bernhardt

”I don’t mind if you burn.”

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

J.S. Bach | Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria | Lang Lang


Lovely. But also interesting to compare it with the Glenn Gould version.

Long Read of the Day

 How Rentier Capitalism Is Destroying Dublin

A sobering essay by Jack Sheehan on how Dublin, ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’, has become like every other capital city in the Western world — a bastion of inequality in which no normal person can afford to live. Dublin is now the capital city of a country in hock to foreign banks and tech giants. Its PR portrays it as a modern city that is home to the world’s most dynamic industries; but for its residents, daily life is scarred by one of Europe’s worst housing crises and rampant workplace precarity.

Nicely written too.

Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability

Another Long Read, but also one that’s too good to miss. Cory Doctorow (Whom God Preserve) on why monopolies are bad for everyone except those who own them.

I care about monopolies for exactly one reason: self-determination. I don’t care about competition as an end unto itself, or fetishize “choice” for its own sake. What I care about is your ability to live your life in the way you think will suit you, to the greatest extent possible, and taking into account the obvious limits when other people’s needs and wants conflict with you realizing your own desires.

We live in a world of vast and increasing monopoli­zation, with one, two, or a few companies controlling everything from the arts (publishing, movies, music, streaming, comics, bookselling, movie theaters, tal­ent agencies, games, wrestling) to finance (banks, investment funds, auditors, bond-rating agencies) to agribusiness (seeds, livestock, tractors, fertilizer, pesticides, precision agriculture) and everything in between (radio stations, cruise lines, cheerleader uniforms, pharmaceuticals, glass bottles, airlines, eyeglasses, athletic shoes, fast food, food delivery, pet food).

When just a few people have the ultimate say over what you can read, or where you can work, or how our food is grown, or even what you feed your cat, you’d better hope that they value the same things as you!

Nobody writes as compellingly about tech as Cory does. And this is just the latest example of what he can do. So read it and marvel.

En passant I loved the way he picks up on Justice Stevens’s Dissent in the Citizens United case, in particular this passage about the absurdity of treating corporations as persons in a political context:

‘Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.’


Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Text of Joe Biden’s Executive Order on restoring competition in the US economy. Really interesting and much more far-reaching than most of us expected. Link
  • Don’t Piss Off Bradley, the Parts Seller Keeping Atari Machines Alive The world’s greatest hoard of original Atari equipment is guarded by a very temperamental, very devoted dragon named Bradley. Lovely profile of a nerd original. Link
  • Why Do Electric Cars Look The Way They Do? Because They Can Nice essay on how not having to accommodate a petrol engine could free up EV designers. Link

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