A Quality Gentleman’s Digest
the tuesday report #1 // tech layoffs, china, tiktok knife fight, google's antitrust gambit (an unlikely cut on AI?), porn perfected, lynchian midjourney creations go viral, and the war of chips
Welcome to the Tuesday Report, a brand new weekly Pirate Wires news product.
Henceforth, in addition to my bi-weekly piece (“Pirate Wires”), our team’s special features, and an assorted selection of wild cultural stories from the internet’s seething underbelly, we’re getting back to our newsletter roots. My writing style tends toward strange connections between unlikely subjects while surfing broader but specific themes. In the context of an essay, this naturally leads to a singular focus, and forces me to edit out a lot of the news stories I find interesting each week. While the editorial process makes for better writing, it perhaps leaves readers with an incomplete sense of what’s going on. So, from now on, I’ll be doing both bangers and banger newsletters. You’re welcome.
The purpose of the Tuesday Report is to flesh our story out. Links will be starker, connections will be brief, and I genuinely do encourage you all to join me in the comments. I expect the community component of the report to be much more active given the livelier, more rapidly evolving content (The News (I am a Newsman, now)). But, as I’ll be opening comments up — for these posts only — I intend to be strict on moderation. The rule remains thus: be smart, be funny, or be destroyed. Enjoy the links, and catch you back here next week with the usual piece.
THE STATE OF TECH
The technology industry has shed around 200,000 jobs over the last 12 months, with Google’s recent 12,000-person hit making them the most recent target of media ire and speculation. (AP) Following the layoffs, Google executives were questioned by employees in a tense meeting, as our once untouchable class of the most privileged workers alive finally came to terms with reality.
Just kidding, they’re still demanding things like the “psychological safety” of guaranteed eternal work from home, and assurances they’ll never be fired. (New York Post)
The cultural disconnect between tech and the rest of America is not entirely an invention of employees. Things do remain quite different in Northern California. For example, while the low interest rate phenomena of affluent millennial retirement communities afforded by the dramatically over-leveraged work of an extraordinarily overqualified few is likely over, it’s important to keep in mind getting fired from Google is still probably one of the most lucrative jobs in literally human history.
PR for China. TikTok, which has achieved a rare and elusive bi-partisan condemnation due to some combination of spying and brainwashing the nation’s youth with hypnotically whorish BLM dance toks, is now aggressively lobbying Washington to spare its existence. (NYT)
The company will have to lobby hard.
Raise your right hand. Amidst renewed cries for a general TikTok ban, and a successful pitch for a ban on government devices (Axios), it was revealed yesterday the company’s CEO will be brought before Congress for a ritual lashing on March 23. (Axios) Put it in your calendar, kids. Pirate Wires will of course be live-tweeting.
Following Twitter’s reversal under Musk, Trump is back on Facebook. (NPR) And Musk vs. Orange Man is now inevitable. Has anybody told the Doomsday Clock?
Do not pass Go. Google is once again being sued by the government for antitrust violations, now targeting their ad business. (NYT) While monopoly pearl-clutching with no clear consumer benefit is only ever irritating, I do find the story interesting in the context of artificial intelligence.
Long story short, for years Google has argued it’s not a monopoly on account of it runs a myriad of experimental products. The argument is, per always sort of losing a little bit, the company is technically competing from hundreds of different angles. Conventional framing on the AI story is Google sat on advanced technology for years while OpenAI ate its lunch. This plays into the popular story / tech myth of the “innovator’s dilemma” (here framed conventionally by the predictably conventional Washington Post).
But what if the appearance of a massive, industry-defining war against Microsoft, which just pumped $10 billion into OpenAI (Forbes), is more a bit of useful cover? Or maybe just a bit of both?
In any case:
Where not explicitly demanding it, the media is already hinting at the need for regulation of the nascent AI space in order to prevent “hate.” (Axios) This has of course been the standard cover for political censorship over the last eight years.
The Chinese Communist Party has entered the ChatGPT. (WSJ)
But at least we’re using artificial intelligence to help our incels have sex. (WSJ) Fascinating love therapist edition.
Or… wait, on the other side of the singularity coin, are we using AI to create a world in which our incels don’t need to have sex because synthetic porn has been perfected? Porn girls now indistinguishable from the real thing. (Random shit that’s blowing up online)
But, from every angle, incels not having sex continues to be a major, growing problem in 2023:
From our beloved, seething, fevered hive mind:
Lynchian Midjourney Creations Go Viral. Twitter user Mleszim created hyper-realistic looking photographs of a houseparty with Midjourney, or at least that’s what it looked like from a distance. As Twitter users pointed out, a closer inspection of the attractive white twenty-somethings revealed portraits with too many teeth, too many fingers, and identical cheekbones.
The aesthetics of tech remain, in general, a great problem.
Nested in a discussion of the great gas stove debate of 2023, and the perhaps literally terroristic MLK statue just unveiled in Boston, I wrote about this subject all last week in American Futura. The piece is not a merry romp through the wild, shitposting world of god king Elon Musk, but if you’re interested in art and why it matters I’m proud of what I wrote, and encourage you to check it out.
A handful of interesting semiconductor stories coursing the web.
First, the cost of chips has been crashing since Covid supply-chain issues cleared up. (WSJ)
There is almost no way this doesn’t make it even more difficult than it already is to get American manufacturing capabilities back online. However, it does still seem the CHIPS Act has incentivized interest in bringing Intel home. (NYT)
I broke down the entire bill in American Hustle: Microchip Edition. It’s mostly pork, but the money for manufacturing at least appears legitimate, and unlike our trillion-dollar infrastructure bill to nowhere, this does have the potential to actually do some good.
Meanwhile, in violation of federal policy, it turns out we’ve been selling advanced computer chips to China, and they’ve made their way to the CCP’s nuclear arsenal. (WSJ)
As cold war escalation continues, both Japan and the Netherlands have followed the US, and are now restricting tech sales to the CCP. (FT)
(Good thread on the subject below, in which followers of mine far better versed on the topic challenge this point, and offer helpful insight)
China woos NBA fans in rabbit-laden soft power flex. Absolutely mortifying stuff from some of the most tedious moral hall monitors in sports. (The Spectator)
China is shutting down World of Warcraft after the company failed to kiss Xi’s ring with sufficient enthusiasm. (The Guardian)
Tesla Announces New Manufacturing Investments in Nevada, likely with an eye on the future, and (speculating here) in hopes of avoiding a similar fate. (The Nevada Independent)
A government report criticizes NIH Oversight of Wuhan-linked lab. (HHS)
FROM THE PAGES OF PIRATE WIRES:
Fentanyl vaxx. Scientists have successfully inoculated rats from fentanyl addiction, and in a manner that appears to prevent death by overdose. Nick Russo navigates the ethical questions already being asked about a possible vaccine mandate. (Pirate Wires)
Cage the Chickens. Amidst a dramatic increase in the cost of eggs, local politicians are predictably and purposely exacerbating the problem. Ostensibly on behalf of diminishing animal cruelty, the Colorado state government just passed a “cage-free” mandate, heralding in a new era — we were all assured — of avian welfare. Unfortunately, cage-free hens have a tendency to literally tear each other apart.
River Page reports on the bizarrely unaddressed reality of “cage-free” dystopia. (Pirate Wires)
More on the ‘weird food stuff’ front:
U.S. Government Cracking Down on Bogus Organic Labels. (DOJ)
Spy Cam Leads to First Footage of CO2 Based Pig Slaughtering Technique. (WIRED)
Lastly, FROM THE PAGES OF PIRATE WIRES: Coomer Conversion Therapy
In honor of River Page, our newest hired gun, I’d like to share an excerpt from his first banger piece. River explored the bizarre, upside-down world of ex-gay Twitter, a corner of the internet where gay men are turning themselves 'straight' by watching hypnotic hetero porn:
In both private interviews and public posts, I often encountered negative perceptions of gay culture, particularly its feminine aspects, and a stated desire to live as a “normal” (read straight) guy. To dismiss this as self-hating misses the point. Perhaps what these men really hate is not their attraction to other men but rather the realities, limitations, and sociology of gay life. Having already identified themselves as gay, men who, in previous generations, would have happily married women and raised children, making room for furtive truck stop blowjobs or semi-annual camping trips with friends on the side, now find such a possibility impossible. However unfair it might have been to those who did find such a life miserable, and the women caught in the crossfire, “having it all”—a Norman Rockwell life with a twink on the side— maybe was the ideal situation for some men. Now, men who have identified themselves as gay categorically forfeit not only relationships with women and a traditional family, but also their ability to be seen as a “real man.” Instead, they’ll forever be associated with poppers-filled orgies, RuPaul’s Drag Race, HIV, Charli XCX, Sunday brunch mimosas, and perhaps worst of all, the sanctimonious blue-haired horde that is “queer activism.”
This is a great piece intersecting the worlds of technology and culture, touching on especially a growing interest of mine in the rapidly evolving world of porn. Read the full piece here.
And have a lovely Tuesday.
Catch you next week with a full essay. In the meantime, jump in these mentions and discuss the news with me I’M BORED.
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DERANGED TWITTER INTERNS. I’ve hired a couple of idiot interns. They’re insane, almost always wrong, and already posting really dumb things on Twitter. Say hi (@pwinterns).
“So, from now on, I’ll be doing both bangers and banger newsletters. You’re welcome.”
Yes. So much Yes!
I'm trimming my subsciptions (Taibbi, Fifth Column), because it's just too much content. I still have to work part of the day. But I'm keeping my Pirate Wires!