2022-20: the antepenultimate edition?
Is the flood of bad news merely a blood-letting, or a sign of the apocalypse?
The carousel effect continues to not have the desired effect here.
I am giving it one last chance … no, no, no, three last chances1. Largely because that gives the Newslettr an excuse to use the word antepenultimate.
The theme for the week is: reasons to become a super villain. No, it wasn’t my first choice of theme either. But the news this week borders on apocalyptic.
and now, the week’s news.
Feeding our Children: the infamous supply chain issues2 plaguing America have reached the baby formula market. The greatest country on Earth is unable to feed its children. Or at least it is having some difficulty. the Newslettr is going to wait until somebody important asks for our advice3 before giving it in any detail.
A reported 21 people were killed in an attack by a lone gunman at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde, Texas. At least 19 students and two adults were among the casualties. The gunman was killed by police, according to local law enforcement officials.
No news from Twitter: the Twitter annual shareholder meeting was almost entirely without drama, according to media reports. the Newslettr submitted some questions, but we don’t think they were answered. the Newslettr also planned to watch live, but due to time-zone issues5 completely missed the meeting.
Climate nonsense: the Newslettr tries to avoid pointing out that carbon credits are more about accounting fraud than combating climate change. But for the insufficiently-disgraced Adam Neumann, carbon credits are one of the two buzzwords needed to raise millions from a16z. The other buzzword, of course: “blockchain”.
The dreaded lurgi: Talk continues of a monkeypox outbreak. Preliminary indications suggest this is more likely to be the equivalent of Zika than COVID: quarantines and mass casualties are unlikely.
Threat of famine: the Newslettr has gotten a sense from the media that there is a substantial risk of famine in the next two years. Apart from the War in Ukraine, there is no single dramatic concern, just a lot of small concerns. While we struggle to imagine the tragedies and incompetence that would be necessary to cause such an event, we have learned over the past few years that the incompetence of bureaucracies routinely exceeds our imagination.
Unnecessary censorship: the once-prestigious Nebula Awards have descended into farce. This week: “canceling” fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey for daring to use the phrase colored person6. The circular firing squad just got smaller …
Henry Kissinger is not yet dead: At Davos this week, a 99-year-old Henry Kissinger talked about the situation in Ukraine. The Twitterati, as a matter of reflex, hate Kissinger and everything he stands for. And here … he stands for “it is insanity to expect this war to end with Ukraine controlling the Crimea peninsula”.
The Gaping News Hole: CNN continues to blur the line between “news” and “advertising”. On Monday, a news story billed as Exclusive turned out to be an ad for an Arby’s hamburger. Perhaps it is one of those situations where a hired PR consultant writes a piece for a lazy reporter, who then runs it without the “advertising” tag. If you’re not familiar with this practice, (P. Graham, 2005) has more.
A marketing failure: the Newslettr attended VeeCon in Minneapolis this last weekend. Our mood for the event was gallows humor; we watched the crowds and saw a wake for the dying madness of the NFT bubble. Some of our thoughts are in the open thread.
And as far as marketing: despite talking about the Newslettr all weekend, we did not get a single new subscriber. It would seem “NFTs are dying” isn’t a popular take at an NFT conference.
California could soon hold social media companies responsible for harming children who have become addicted to their products, permitting parents to sue platforms like Instagram and TikTok for up to $25,000 per violation under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Monday.
The bill is AB 2408. In this context, both “addicted” and “harm” are weasel-words: they are specifically vague to allow people to harass rich corporations the government doesn’t like. The right-to-private-action, while not as egregiously disgusting as the Texas abortion legislation, once again appears to encourage harassment rather than justice.
And, presumably, any *effective* method of preventing persons under 18 from using an internet service would also be illegal …
One of your holiday games: There is a certain sense where people can confuse the historical record by giving unusual or stupid names to things. A more mild example applies in horse racing. A few years ago, it was Cloud Computing. At the Derby this year, it was Rich Strike. And last weekend, it was Early Voting that won the Preakness.
the Newslettr has some guesses as-to what they will think of next, but we don’t want to give them any more ideas …
Another word for nothing left to lose: In the year 2022, there is apparently exactly one excuse to fire a tenured professor: allegations of sexual misconduct. At Princeton, a certain Mr. Katz was recently fired on this rationale. The claimed issue: fraternization8, approximately 15 years ago. The actual issue: political opinions, of some sort. Mr. Katz’s take9 is in the Wall Street Journal.
Even in Australia: well, actually … apparently the news in Australia isn’t quite so bad this week.
The recent Australian election saw the defeat of the pugnacious Scott Morrison, and the triumph of “teal10 independents” in multiple seats. We are waiting for the election results to be finalized (and a few more Australian journalists to publish) before commenting in any depth.
As far as Prime Minister11 Anthony Albanese: we assume he is a bureaucratic type, who can be counted on to support the Labor Party platform and to do little else. After our research on Bongbong Marcos is complete, we hope to look into Mr. Albanese in more detail.
This certainly won’t be the end of the Newslettr as a whole, but it could well be the end of this style of post.
The thing about “supply chain issues” is that most of the time, it’s a shortage. But, as a euphemism, we say “supply chain issues”.
Sometimes it actually is a supply chain issue — in other words, sometimes the problem actually is getting formula from the factory to the store.
The proximal cause of the “supply chain issues” appears to be that there are only about 4 factories in the US that manufacture baby formula, and one of them has been closed for 3 months due to product contamination concerns. The solution is to have more than 4 factories.
We were going to quote the Associated Press, but on fast-moving news stories they apparently pull articles without a URL redirect.
Time zone issues, and incorrectly assuming the annual meeting wouldn’t be held during New York Trading Hours.
There are dozens of Twitter comments along the lines of: if saying colored person is a mortal sin, but saying person of color proves you are enlightened … then you are dealing with obnoxious people who should just be ignored.
Google used to do dupe-detection on its search results. Today, a search for <sue for social media addiction> provides the same AP story as at least 40 of the top 50 results.
the Newslettr supports anti-fraternization rules. the Newslettr also supports statute-of-limitations rules.
The various “well, actually, it’s about zero tolerance of sexual misconduct” opinions are relegated to the footnotes. Nobody actually believes that. Certainly none of the prime movers here believe that.
Very roughly, the “teal independents” are: upper-class, middle-of-the-road conservative, women, who support substantive action on climate change.
The election results aren’t final yet, but the Prime Minister is appointed by the governor-general soon after the eventual outcome is clear.