I’m trying to stick with this ongoing reporting, even as the collective world only burns faster and hotter and brighter since the first story dropped just a few weeks ago. What struck me about this latest piece — and it’s something we all know intuitively — is how much of the corruption is just out there in the open. The fact that the Times has to rely on an inside source for tax records to even expose Trump’s malfeasance is, in and of itself, a massive scandal. Then there’s the chart that shows so clearly how often he visits his own private clubs and meets with favor currying donors at the same clubs, all paid for by the government. It’s just a stunning amount of self-dealing and cheap grifting and it’s right out there in the open!
Like the Mueller report before it, the details of the President’s total abdication of duty will have no effect on how people think about the job he’s done. That’s a stunning indictment of our times. We can hope, though, the outcome could be different, even if this reporting has been lost in flood of shit that is the 2020 election. If we manage to excise the cancer and the malignancy that created it, the law comes next.
Machines in space need to operate both quickly (real-time, so they can reorient if they’re about to, say, get fried by too much solar radiation) but also deterministically, so they know how long a process takes to execute, every single time.
Following the success of their Illinois unit, ProPublica is adding distributed hubs that will cover North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the South, and New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and possibly Colorado in the Southwest. They’re also expanding the Illinois coverage to the rest of the Midwest.
ProPublica does fantastic work and this is decidedly great news, even as it’s also indicative of the broader media landscape shift. Not that long ago, there were excellent local and regional news outlets that most folks living outside of those areas had never heard of, doing the grinding work of journalism. Most of these were not only self-sustaining businesses but wildly successful thanks to owning a natural monopoly on local coverage.
The massive realignment wrought by the internet over the past twenty years has meant consolidation at best, and often shuttering of these institutions. Google and Facebook captured most of the revenue that used to go to local news without providing any of the services that people, businesses, and a functioning democracy relied on. ProPublica’s success is in some ways a strong counter to this, albeit at a scale that doesn’t fully replace what’s came before; it’s also funded — very generously — by philanthropy.
One of the interesting things to watch about this move is how ProPublica will (and won’t) be able to fill in those gaps in their regional expansion. It’s somewhat similar to how the New York Times and the Washington Post have grown in stature, and succeeded after some lean years, while so much of the rest of industry struggled or died. All are doing incredible work, but there are inevitable gaps that scale won’t ever be able to fill. There are, of course, innumerable blogs and newsletters filling in at micro-scale of varying degrees of quality. I don’t mean to sound defeatist or grim — there are lots of opportunities here! — but also opportunists who use this institution gap to dark purposes.
Mitsui Fudosan and Takenaka Corporation are planning to build a 17-story wood-frame office tower in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district. With a proposed height of 70 meters, this would be the tallest wooden building in Japan.
The wood is coming from a sustainable forest owned by Mitsui. The building will use about 20% less carbon than a steel framed building would have.
Radiative cooling is a phenomenon that allows people to make ice in the dessert on a clear night, but practical uses in our modern world have been limited — primarily because it’s most useful at night. Aaswath Raman and his team of researchers are using nanotechnology to create a material that reflects solar radiation and disrupts thermal heat enough to make radiative cooling possible during the day. It’s an incredibly elegant solution to how to keep materials cool without using mechanics or electricity. They’ve commercialized the tech into a way to make air conditioners more efficient.
I genuinely love solutions like this to the biggest problem we face as a planet. It’s innovative, cheap, works with existing systems, and doesn’t require some massive sacrifice. When I see how these small changes can add up, it give me hope, as well as infuriates me that we waste so much time arguing over whether climate change is even a problem worth addressing instead of getting to the urgent work of making the world a better place.
One of Facebook’s more salient and successful qualities is the ability to see where things are headed in a big picture sense — perhaps that’s generous, or perhaps it’s what you’d expect from the most pervasive panopticon ever created. They realized early on normal people don’t care about things like privacy online and exploited that to their maximum advantage, for example. It made them wildly successful and largely unassailable.
They’ve finally looked into the fetid swamp of QAnon and decided that being a vector for this insane malignancy of a truly mad age is not a great look. Only three years too late and after this dark conspiracy has become an untamable Lovecraftian horror. But they see there’s a political, if not necessarily cultural, shift and playing along with Trumpism no longer seems like a winning game. Their cowardice and irresponsiblity will haunt us for a long long time.
I’m not much of a podcast listener these days but I’m excited to hear these two gents wax philosophically about Instagram bullshit. And because Noah and Adam are smart and thoughtful and hilarious, we’ll actually get something out of it beyond “can you believe all this bullshit!”
As someone who often gets caught up in the old ads when I’m reading a scanned story from a magazine archive, I thought this bit from Adam was really smart:
I’m also someone who believes that history is written in the edges, and advertising is in the edges. It’s not the body of the content of culture itself, but it’s in the edges, in the detritus of culture, and there’s more value in the details and nuances of that garbage that we call marketing than most people give credit to. A core practice of mine is to search for the deeper meaning in marketing. If marketing is mapped throughout time, then I believe we have a map of meaning throughout recorded history. So there’s a deeper basis for what you and I get to talk about in these shows when we’re eating oatmeal together or wiping our asses.
And that design by Claude Zeins, aping every subway ad I’ve seen the past two years, is perfect