The existence of a “he said, she said” does not mean it’s impossible to figure out the truth. It means we have to examine what he said, and what she said, as closely as possible. If both parties speak with passion and clarity, but one of them says many inconsistent, evasive, irrational, and false things, while the other does not, then we actually have a very good indicator of which party is telling the truth. If a man claims to be innocent, but does things—like carefully manipulate words to avoid giving clear answers, or lie about the evidence—that you probably wouldn’t do if you were innocent, then testimony alone can substantially change our confidence in who to believe.
ThingsFirst, you see the tweetstorm in your timeline, which begins:
“why are so many young people flocking to brands on social media for love, guidance, and attention? I'll tell you why. they're isolated from real communities, working service jobs they hate while barely making ends meat, and are living w/ unchecked personal/mental health problems.” Then you notice the tweet is from Steak-umms, and you vaguely remember that these are like a weird hideous meat slice made from offcuts, and the one thing you know for sure is that they were invented by the same guy as popcorn chicken. And yet you read the rest of the thread, and you hate that this goddamn brand is capturing so much of the melancholy and pain of just trying to get through whatever now is. So you decide to read Vox’s inevitable backgrounder on the thread, to learn more about “the philosopher poet of frozen meat sheets”. Of course, that philosopher poet is an agency, and so you read their agency reps talk about brand voice and how what on the surface feels like something bold is in fact a careful strategy of saying and standing for nothing whatsoever. And, on top of everything else this week, you just feel so tired…
Though maybe if we were microdosing, we’d feel a little better? Not so fast, argues Rebekah Frumkin in a somewhat meandering but fascinating salvo in The Baffler, tracing the complex path LSD has taken from the counterculture to marker of privilege and libertarian pet project, comfortable on the wellness shelf next to the green tea.
But who needs LSD when you can spend your summer in a series of pop-up experiences, full of inane brandspeak, dutifully cheerful brand ambassadors, and ball pits?
Oh well, people just want to have fun right? And it may be a bull market, but it doesn’t pack much of a punch. So if you’re looking for a real thrill try mixing crypto and cannabis. Is this a new wave of reckless investment as entertainment, enlightened investment as activism, or commonplace investment as usual and we’re all just too green to know it?
There are so many fun things to talk about when it comes to Elon Musk, particularly this week, but if you’re looking at barriers to the mass adoption and storage of clean energy in transit and otherwise, ill-advised pot jokes and egomania are tiny ones; it’s nice to see Wired actually turn its attention to one of the bigger problems: lithium ion batteries don’t and will never scale to meet our demands, either environmentally or just in terms of basic physics. As much as they suck, though, and as much money as we’ve thrown at the problem, we’ve never managed to come up with anything better.
Also in Wired, also on power, this fantastic story of Beirut’s alternative underground network of generators, running on an elaborate network of handshakes, under-table deals, and motivations both shady and altruistic.
Also in motivations both shady and altruistic, Nieman Lab hits on how Jeff Bezos might be quietly pulling off the same trick with the Washington Post that he did with Amazon and its Web Services stack. Just as Amazon technology, in the form of AWS, now sits and racks up billable charges behind the scenes on basically half of the internet that you use, the Post’s Arc publishing platform is now, not accidentally, spreading its way all across the server rooms of the legacy media world, giving Bezos an imperceptible but potentially huge stake in tiny matters like paywall design and ad serving. Oh, and one other nice thing about these technology plays for Bezos? He doesn’t have to deal with those pesky unions.
The winding (bumpy?) history of autotune. Or just hear it at its peak: Scat Autotune.
If you know anything at all about the life of the great Glenn Gould, it’s that he spent it dreaming of being reincarnated as a ghost hologram pianist. Right?