Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Substack Roundup: "Don't Panic"

Before the news became completely dominated by the Orange Turd being hauled into court, I saw some interesting substack columns that are worth sharing.
First, Justin Ling asks us to consider how big is the Internet now, and he says its time to figure out how to recreate it in a more human scale.
The internet is big.
The internet is a really big thing.
If a week’s worth of Youtube videos were put on film reel, laid end-to-end, it would wrap around the world, I don’t know, at least twice. All of the words that get written on Tumblr in a day, if printed out, would fill all the world’s Olympic-sized swimming pools, probably. If you committed all of ChatGPT’s responses to hard drives, it would fill every floor of the Empire State Building, I guess.
We used to love thinking about the internet in these arbitrary physical terms — how many football fields, how many Libraries of Congress — but this is all impossible now. By the time you finish calculating the metaphor, so massive and abstract so as to be meaningless, it’s out of date.
....If the old internet was a series of small outposts in the middle of a barren wasteland, the current internet is a series of giant sprawling mega-malls, then perhaps the next internet is a medium-density city, with strip malls and apartment blocks, marked by plenty of wayfinding and readable maps.
This reminds me so much of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy:  
So maybe its time to start writing "Don't Panic" in large friendly letters, isn't it. 
Over at Garbage Day, Ryan Broderick titles his column An impressive way to make everything worse and he describes the latest trend -- posting clips online of yourself in front of a microphone, as though you were being interviewed for a podcast, but not actually being on a podcast!
So on Friday, I wrote about the pornstar that creates clips of a podcast that doesn’t exist to bait men into getting angry (or horny (or both)). Turns out this is a huge thing in Brazil ...
People find the idea of faking your own podcast interview super weird — and, sure, it is — but I also think it makes fairly logical sense. In our current content economy, which is practically mapped one-to-one with our actual economy now, the filmed podcast interview has become a status symbol. In the same way a sit down with Barbara Walters was 25 years ago. And what a lot of creators have smartly figured out is that there are just too many podcasts to keep track of, they’re all essentially the same, they’re too long and hard to find, and no one actually cares what the shows are. They’re simply delivery mechanisms for parsociality. So why not just cut out the middleman? Which in this instance is the actual podcast.
Here's a tweet about it: Next, Paul Wells raises a very interesting point about the federal budget -- one that had never occurred to me before. 
Wells asks whether the "green" tax credits will increase private spending or will they be "yet another fizzled firecracker?" :
One thing that might make the firecracker fizzle is the number of conditions on the tax credit.
A lot of businesses would cheerfully leave large amounts of government money on the table, rather than give government an excuse to start asking them questions. This is a well-understood phenomenon among people who don’t work in government. It helps us understand why by the end of February, take-up on interest-free $100,000 loans under the Canada Digital Adoption Program was running at 15% of what the Business Development Bank’s corporate plan had projected.
The very substantial tax credits in the latest budget, perhaps $80 billion over a decade according to an Unnamed Senior Official, seem less meddlesome. Then we read:
“Labour requirements, including ensuring that wages paid are at the prevailing level, and that apprenticeship training opportunities are being created, will need to be met to receive the full 15-per-cent tax credit. If labour requirements are not met, the credit rate will be reduced by ten percentage points…. The government will consult with labour unions and other stakeholders to refine these labour requirements in the months to come…. Other requirements will include a commitment by a competent authority that the federal funding will be used to lower electricity bills, and a commitment to achieve a net-zero electricity sector by 2035.”
My favourite word here is “include.” The requirements will include lower electricity bills and a quick march to net-zero, but from the moment we see that word, we’re on notice that the requirements might not end there. ... I can imagine even companies that absolutely intend to lower electricity bills, reach net zero on schedule, pay a decent wage and ring every other bell of progressive governance wondering whether they can afford to get into an arrangement that would require them to prove they’re on the side of the angels, again and again for years. Costs can fluctuate, after all. It happens to the nicest people.
Next, here is Scrimshaw describing how Poilievre is shooting himself in the foot by voting against Dental Care:
The Liberal dental plan...[will help] rural and regional Canadians, disproportionately those whose employment isn’t for a big corporation, and those who sell their own goods for a living, so fishermen and farmers. Oh, and the self-employed or the young working multiple jobs, don’t forget about them. What do those people have in common? They’re the groups the Conservatives keep telling us they’re targeting to win the next election.
....Poilievre has now been leader of the CPC for nearly 7 months, and in those 7 months he has not made any moves to actually strengthen his own positive case for election. But what he has done is open up wounds that the Liberals will be able to hit at leading up to the next election. Poilievre essentially gave up on a winnable suburban byelection by spending the weekend before it talking about gun rights and now is saying to the voters he’s supposed to be prioritizing that dental care shouldn’t be for everyone, even though he’s had government paid for dental care since 2004.
... Poilievre is going into the next election much like O’Toole did – with a credibility issue nobody wants to talk about, and the dental plan just accentuates it. Poilievre will either have to inauthentically pivot to supporting the government’s key accomplishments of this term – blunting his attacks on them as a weak, ineffectual, and bad government – or he’ll have to tell his working class flank that he thinks they don’t deserve dental care.
Seems like a lose-lose to me.

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