the Quarterly News: 2023-02
The mail never stops! It just keeps coming and coming and coming.
This newslettr is not chugging, but it is not dead either. However, the last two (non-news) drafts I have worked on can use at least six-weeks of rest before publication. So we are devoid of new content here, for a time.
And the News … I get less of the news now that (( the site formerly known as Twitter )) is so openly awful. (That is a good thing.) I do get enough of it. And that news is still not very pleasant2, most of the time. But the State Fair has started on time; and I maintain as an axiom that any year in Iowa where the State Fair starts on time3 is a good year.
and but now, the Quarterly News:
The Social Wars: Elon Musk launches his crusade to be the greatest villain to aviankind4 since Colonel Sanders. The brand “Twitter” is dead. The bird icon is dead. In its place: an X. But, despite all the hints, people refuse5 to leave.
Meanwhile, with much fanfare, Meta Platforms launched a Twitter competitor called Threads. It is bland and boring, which is a good thing. If I check the app more than once a day, I will invariably get boring celebrity gossip.
Our gossip columnist Alan Lee’s take: “Only cancers grow forever, and only parasites hope for constant attention”.
Coup in Niger: meanwhile, an actual war appears possible in West Africa. After coups last year in Burkina Faso and Mali, the coup in Niger appears to have triggered some reaction from other countries in the area. As of press time, it seems unlikely (but not impossible) there will be a military response from Nigeria.
The discourse on social media has been worse than useless. Nobody other than pro-Russian trolls seems to care.
Which, in fairness, is probably a good thing. The best political course of action for the United States here is to do absolutely nothing.
The Fall of Stanford: Another round of “NCAA realignment” has happened. The big losers are Stanford and UC-Berkeley.
It is striking how it seems that not a single sports fan on the internet is at all unhappy that something bad happened to a San Francisco area college.
Current rumors are that Stanford may join the ACC. I’m sure their alumni would prefer to highlight Duke rather than Boston College .…. click for more …
SAG-AFTRA on strike: The previous writers’ strike has been joined by an actors’ strike. Hollywood is shut down, and there has been little noise of an imminent resolution. More next quarter.
LK99: Yes, 2023 was the year where a lot of people thought we discovered a room-temperature superconductor.
The discourse on social media has been worse than useless. Any “positive” news, including “Soviet anime cat girl” supposedly making it in her kitchen, gets amplified. Any “negative” news, such as several major labs failing to replicate the results, gets ignored.
In my opinion: https://arxiv.org/abs/2308.04353 more or less conclusively explains the results as “not a superconductor at STP”.
AOH1996: Yes, 2023 was the year where a lot of people thought we discovered a pill that cures all cancers.
The discourse on social media has been worse than useless. … but I repeat myself …
Last December, I did a post on annual predictions.
Halfway through the year, how am I doing? I see two major misses, and one minor one. The minor one is that Joe Biden is running for re-election. I said he wouldn’t, but “he starts running for re-election and then drops out” was well within my prediction as well. (And I think I was clear that my prediction was, to some degree, “I say he won’t run and then he will run”)
The first failure was my inability to predict the DeSantis meltdown6 over the last six months.
Looking back, “unbelievable” still describes the incompetence of the DeSantis campaign; I have never seen anything quite like it in electoral politics. He didn’t have to be “great” to win the primary, he merely had to be mediocre: yet he couldn’t even pull that off.
Sometimes, unexpected things happen.
The second failure was that I didn’t think Trump would be indicted. And he has been, now three times. I have no excuses here; I was wrong and I’m not sure why.
The “hush money” indictments could be dismissed as a politically-motivated prosecutor with a contrived case. The “confidential documents” indictments could be dismissed as “Trump finding some new way to be criminally stupid that I didn’t consider”.
But the January 6 fake-elector indictments (which, to be very clear, is different from the January 6 riot7 situation) … at this point I have nothing to say other than “I do not know”.
In particular: if you have any enemies who enjoy Vigenere ciphers, please tell them about my new blog. The theme of the blog is “if you’re confused, keep scrolling”.
Also, this is a not-so-subtle attempt to get the major browsers to enable-by-default a mode for language compatibility and a11y ( “accessibility”, not “ally” … ). 如果你不可以读，…
The word “pleasant” would probably be listed alongside “good” in the Thesaurus, but they are not synonyms. In particular, there are miles between Good News and pleasant news.
2020 was not a good year. Pobody’s nerfect.
Rather than aviankind, I would prefer 鸟kind or 🐦kind. But emoji are blurry and kanji are polarizing, so we appeal to Words Common On SAT Prep Lists. “Avians” … humbug!
I have not given up on reading (( the site formerly known as Twitter )), although the prospect of participating there is now too absurd to fathom. For a certain type of real-time news coverage, it is still better than its only competitor: 4chan.
The litany of sins of the DeSantis campaign will have to wait for a different post.
There is much debate about what to call the events of January 6, 2021.
With the benefit of time, it becomes clear that there were two separate events on that date: the attempt by some Republicans to force votes on “fake” elector slates, and the disturbance of the peace caused by the aftermath of a Trump rally on the occasion of the ceremonial counting of the Electoral Votes.
The first topic is the one that I ascribed a 10% chance that Trump would be indicted about, and now it appears that 10% chance is coming to fruition.
The second topic is the one that people talk about when they talk about January 6. An angry mob, storming the capital.
Except it was nothing. It was a fire alarm for the nouveau congressren. They had to retreat from the ceremonial chambers to the secure chambers, and wait for the mob to dissipate.
The term for a group of protestors who are violent, but unarmed, and do not re-assemble after being dispersed is “riot”. Perhaps in a decade the public will listen to reason on this point.