[This fragment is available in an audio version.]

Dear Readers, once again a selection of links to long-form pieces which I, as a semi-retired person, have time for, but people with normal lives probably don’t. The hope is that one or two will enrich your life. Housekeeping note: I have said “Yes” too often recently and Long-Linking opportunities will probably shrink. Featured this time out: American roots music, BC beer, how wealth vanishes, and the Apple M2.

Bill Strings band with Molly Tuttle

Let’s start with the music. My streamer has noticed that I really like Sierra Ferrell and has been feeding me increasing doses of acoustic American flavors. While I’m not giving giving up on Bach or alt-metal, I’ve enjoyed it. I particularly recommend Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle charging full-throttle through Little Maggie, and AJ Lee and the Brothers Comatose gracefully covering Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.

This one is specific to my part of the world, but hey, we’re a tourist destination and if you’re going to visit us, I think a close study would reward your vacation planning. Local CBC reportor Justin McElroy, who has found a lovely niche in ranking things (neighborhoods, parks, welcome signs) has ranked all the breweries in the bottom left corner of Canada. A few of these were already among my faves and I surely plan to visit more, particularly those within bicycle range.

For your enjoyment, a piece of excellent propaganda. Recently I accidentally studied the Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823 (even wrote about it). This is a big link in the chain of events and activities that eventually led to the British abolition of slavery. One of the activists’ tools were the 19th-century equivalent of blogs, namely leaflets. Courtesy of the Internet Archive, here is Cushoo: A Dialogue.

Cushoo: An anti-slavery pamphlet

It’s short and snappy (and racist of course, in the manner of its time) but well-done. We know this was effective because the colonial plantation-owners lobbied ferociously to get it banned and, above all, to keep it from circulating among their own slaves. They failed.

There’s no geek-out like a linguistics geek-out. The Economist covers the strange reverse-transatlantic journey of the subjunctive case in modern English. Fun!

Way back when the Net was young, Kevin Kelly suggested that you could make a living with one thousand true fans. Which turned out to mostly not work. But, maybe it’s starting to?

Humans rely on tools. Here’s a convincing curation of nice ones.

OK, this has been a pretty cheery long-link curation so far. But it’s 2022 and There Are Politics and They Are Not Good. Elephant in the Room addresses something that’s going on but is really hard to talk about: The fact that many progressive organizations have been ineffective in recent years because they’ve been tearing themselves apart in an effort to live the progressive ideas they exist to promote. Empirically, we are really bad both at avoiding institutionalized racist/sexist/homophobic culture and at constructively working to get out from under that shadow. This piece is long and (I think) balanced and (I think) important. I have experienced, indirectly, some of the heat and churn being discussed here. We really need to get better at this stuff.

It is no secret that the Big Techs actively try to “manage out” their least effective employees. It’s easy to splash a broad brush of condemnation on this but on the other hand, when an organization is growing by 25%+/year, you’re going to screw up some of that hiring; what to do about it? I sure don’t know. Anyhow, the conversation continues, and I thought “Standing Up For Us Plebs.” Amazon Leaders Reject Policy To Push Employees Out, about an Amazon division going rogue on this issue, sheds illuminating light.

Eric Alterman is a really good writer on politics and popular music. There are a lot of terrible things in the world, and the continuing bloodshed and brutality in Israel/Palestine has been one of them for pretty well my entire life. Alterman surveys the (terrible) state of affairs in 2022 in Israel and Palestine and the Absence of a Solution.

There’s a lot of financial doom-and-gloom going on, you hear stories about how a trillion dollars worth of cryptocurrency value vanished, or how Bezos or Musk or whoever “lost billions”. It’s reasonable to ask “Well, where did that money go?” Noah Smith explains: Where does the wealth go when asset prices go down? It vanishes into nothingness. While I’m as anti-billionaire as the next progressive, I was sort of annoyed, in the recent stock-market run-up, at the feverish headlines about how Bezos was making a million dollars a minute. In fact, wealth due to ownership of financial instruments was being created out of thin air by equity-market machinations; and now it’s being un-created. Poor Jeff has probably lost more money in 2022 than any individual human in history has ever lost before. Not feeling sorry for him. And anyhow it’ll probably all come back. Or maybe not. Whatever. Oh, and the basic politico-financial infrastructure that lets this happen is broken, obviously.

This wouldn’t be a Long Links without an anti-cryptocurrency screed. These days, the stinkiness has become so obvious that it’s kind of hard to find anything new to say. Kyle E. Mitchell, whose blog is called /dev/lawyer, has a new angle in The Work, the Tech, and the Crime. As you’d expect, the viewpoint is that of a working lawyer. Let me pull a paragraph for flavor: “I don’t support cracking down on blockchain people just for being blockchain people. A scene being riven with datajackers, confidence men, and self-taught, emoji-adept bucket shop jockeys does not condemn others not so involved by abstract association, be they merely fools or holdout true believers. But neither do I support special accommodations for those in denial or indifference to the unwelcome company they keep.” Good stuff.

Let’s finish up with a hard-core tech geek-out. (Civilians can close the tab now, my feelings won’t be hurt.) Those who actually care about the nuts and bolts of CPUs and how they fit into the computers in your pocket and on your desk will enjoy Apple M2 Die Shot and Architecture Analysis – Big Cost Increase And A15 Based IP. I’m particularly impressed by the M2 design’s apparent focus on RAM bandwidth and latency; all CPUs wait for memory at the same speed.

Until next time, whenever that is.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Rob (Jul 01 2022, at 16:17)

Re: The Elephant In The Room:

I dunno, as an old vet with over 30 years working in the sector and adjacent, well, it was ever thus.

Aside from the basic fact that such organizations are almost by definition made up of people who are very much inclined to disagree with pretty much anything, the sector suffers particularly acutely from the baneful effects of the Peter Principle. Activists and media guerillas and firebrand orators and polisci systems theorists tend to make exceptionally poor managers. I mean its not just incompetence, its that the very skills and aptitudes and inclinations that put them into leadership tend to very much work against effective people and organizational management.

And as usual, the leaders interviewed to a woman identify the staff as being where the problem is. Of course they do, they always do. Kids these days....

I think an iron law of any organization, and in particular those of the social justice persuasion, is that management and leadership tends to end up focusing on institutional survival and growth and development over cause/client/political growth and development; its practically part of the life cycle of such organizations.

But the big lesson of history is that the revolution does not in fact depend on the institutional players building capacity and human resource skill sets and financial prudence. Usually quite the contrary. Organizations like personalities come and go, but the Cause is Eternal.


From: Ned (Jul 05 2022, at 08:32)

I dunno, not to splash the "broad brush of condemnation" but surely just firing the workers instead of putting them through an intentional hell designed to get them to quit is a fairly easy answer here?


From: Nathan (Jul 06 2022, at 09:35)

I read Kevin Kelly's blog The Technium as well as yours. Coincidentally, he has recently posted a few pieces where he refers to his 1000-true-fan model. He seems to think that by this point he's been proven correct. Now I find myself very curious to know who's right: Kevin, who asserts that his idea is correct, or you, asserting that it has been "proven to mostly not work".


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