…he compared Defector to a neighborhood bar, no pun intended. “This is our little business—we just need to have these margins, pay our employees, and that’s it,” he said. “No one who owns a bar is thinking, ‘I can’t wait for NBCUniversal to come offer to buy my bar for a hundred million dollars.’
The Columbia Journalism Review does a great piece on Defector, the sports/commentary website born from the ashes of the old Deadspin blog. What an amazing concept: building a self-sustaining business to provide a healthy lifestyle for its employees, not to make the founder rich. Venture capital is a virus. I subscribed almost two years ago and I’ve never regretted it; the writing is that good.
The CR-V is back on the road and running happily, but we’ve got a Maintenance light on the dashboard, which could mean any one of a number of things. Typically this means she’s reminding us to change her oil, but that was done less than 1500 miles ago and the alert shouldn’t be coming back up. I figured I’d bite the bullet and buy a cheapo OBD2 scanner to hook up to the car and see if it threw any codes; in typical Amazon fashion I ordered the unit over morning coffee and it arrived later this afternoon. Plugging it in to the car, it took a minute to talk to the car and revealed no codes. It is probably just the oil maintenance light coing back on, in which case I can reset it in 10 seconds; knowing it’s not about to explode for other reasons is a good thing.
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In the car on my way home from karate this evening we heard about Bitcoin dropping in value because of some exchange doing something or another, and Finn asked what Bitcoin actually was. I started out by asking her about the concept of money, and then explained government-backed securities, and stocks, and then tried to explain Bitcoin to the best of my abilities. I think I got it about 60% correct, and ended with an explanation of what a Ponzi scheme is, which I figure at least puts me in the ballpark. Finn listened and answered questions and was very interested to know if all of our bank accounts were FDIC insured. Defector did a very good explanation of what all the fuss is about, and I suddenly understand a lot more about what NPR had been reporting on.
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One of my favorite podcasts, You’re Wrong About, did a format change last year when one of the hosts, Michael Hobbes, left for greener pastures. I like the other host but I don’t dig her new format all that much, so I ended my subscription. He’s now doing a new podcast called If Books Could Kill, which reviews single-serving pop nonfiction books you see in airport newsstands. The first episode is about Freakanomics, and it’s an excellent takedown of a factually bullshit narrative. As someone who has made a big part of his professional life about producing and promoting factual scientific information, I found this fascinating. Subscribed!
The update from downtown Baltimore is thus: my white blood cell count is still below average, trending slightly downward since a post-surgery high point in August of 2020. Everything else in the bloodwork seems to be leveled off and within normal ranges, with the exception of lymphocytes and eosinophil, which are specialized white blood cells. We are told that my lymphocytes may never rise to pre-cancer levels as a result of chemotherapy, and I’d guess eosinophil is probably the same. The CT scan showed no new passengers, and my oncologist seems pretty positive about everything. So, that’s good! I’ll take it. If I make it to the five year checkup in October with a clean bill of health they say the chance of any new tumor drops dramatically; let’s hope my rare surprise doesn’t return.
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I’ve been wearing my Vaer watch almost exclusively the last couple of months, but knowing I was going to start welding class regularly I figured I should switch to one of my utility watches. I wore my LL Bean watch, and during class I was wondering why time was moving so slowly—until I realized the minute hand was stuck and not advancing. This is not the first time this watch has been in the shop for repairs. I’ve been waiting on having the Ollech & Wajs diver tuned up, but now that I have two that need servicing, there’s more of a push to visit a repair shop. For now, my Timex will work just fine for shop use.
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A couple of months ago, two writers from one of my favorite sites, Jalopnik, quit that site and started up a car blog of their own: the Autopian. David Tracy has always been a great read; his exploits with busted jeeps, insane wrenching projects and cross-country shitbox trips are the stuff of internet legend. His partner Jason Torchinsky was the weird beating soul of Jalopnik from its inception, writing about taillights, strange Chinese electric vehicles, and his Nissan Pao, as well as being the illustrator for many of its articles. They have assembled a crew of writers covering odd engineering history, daily car news, bizarre car-related videos, and other random stuff—basically a better version of Jalopnik with more personality and less corporate bullshit (as well as many fewer ads). I don’t see a subscription system set up yet, but when it comes (as it is for Defector) I will gladly send them money. More of this, please.
I’ve long been a fan of the Onion A/V Club, a website dedicated to pop culture and home to a ton of excellent writers from the early days of the web. Some time ago they got merged into Gawker and when that family of sites imploded they were able to hang on, most likely because of the quality of their work. G/O Media, the new corporate owners of the old Gawker sites, are now basically pushing the longest tenured writers at the A/V Club out in a pretty blatant move to bust up their union and hire cheaper workers in a race to become yet another middling entertainment site. I can only hope they follow the lead of the writers at Defector and build their own thing together.
The Democrats are now the party of only trying to stop things from getting worse; they currently control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency and yet they have accomplished very little, either because they are so corrupt or so self-defeating or so uninterested as to have accepted the idea that Accomplishing Very Little is what they are there to do.
Kelsey McKinney writes for Defector about what going back to normal means; she’s put something into words that I’ve been feeling but haven’t been able to properly synthesize: the pandemic illustrates just how broken the American society we’ve built actually is, how our elected officials can’t help us or fix it, and how a whole group of powerful interests don’t want things to get better. We are all experiencing trauma and most of us don’t have time or energy to realize or process it.
Defector is nominally a sports website but the writing reaches far above and beyond that. Every author is outstanding. I recommend subscribing—the site is owned by the authors and it’s worth every penny (and I don’t typically subscribe to many websites).
Marilyn Mosby is a sociopath and the Baltimore Police Department is literally a drug-dealing gang that happens to wear badges and has committed more murders than it has solved. So when the Ravens put out a cool tweet like this, it’s INSTANTLY undermined by a city that treats its citizens like shit and a governor that treats that city like it’s fucking Baghdad.
Here’s an interesting thought exercise. 1,600 banned books were analyzed for similarities to see what they all have in common, by author and genre. The results aren’t all that shocking (unfortunately their presentation here is garbage, but this second link has a more direct analysis) but I was surprised to see that Pennsylvania is right behind Texas in the amount of books that have been banned. This data is now 3 months old, so I wonder where we stand now and how much things have changed gotten worse since then.
I just became aware of this part of the Internet Archive: the Great 78 project is an effort to digitize old shellac records that are long out of print. And, of course, a bunch of record labels have decided to file a copyright lawsuit for damages on recordings they most likely don’t even oversee, against profits they haven’t collected, for recordings they haven’t digitized. I’m not a lawyer so I have no idea if this argument holds water, but fuck those guys.
Meanwhile, I love me some big band and early jazz; I’m going to be collecting some new music from here for sure.
I found this video link a week or so after the 80th anniversary of the Tidal Wave mission over Ploesti, Romania, during World War 2. Somebody did a pretty decent job of visualizing the raid with animation and 3D modeling, although there are several historical inaccuracies I saw immediately; the B-24’s in that theater were too early to have belly turrets, for example. I’ve often thought this would be an amazing opportunity for a movie or video game, but my fear is that it would get turned into garbage like the Midway movie from a couple of years ago.
From the Guardian: 15 Ways to Get Back to Sleep. I’ve been waking up randomly at 3AM with various anxieties floating around my head for the last six months or so, and I think I need to internalize some of this advice.