Cool Computers, Wood, and the future of EVs

Also I'm sorry but I did write about NFTs.

I enjoy these art pieces quite a lot: These jaw-dropping Macs are made of ice, honey, and dirt

Wood

Apparently I have two wood-related pieces of news to share with you today.

First: Scientists develop transparent wood that is stronger and lighter than glass

Secondly, a longer piece with a lovely mix of technique and artisanship: Treasure Out of the Bog. This one is very interesting, about how some woodworkers figured out a technique to process “bog oak,” trees that have been stewing in murky water for a very long time.

Sorry But This Section Is About NFTs

If you haven’t heard, there’s some extremely hypey new art sales on the block…chain: JPG File Sells for $69 Million, as ‘NFT Mania’ Gathers Pace

The concern raised by most about NFTs is about their climate impact. While proof-of-work systems like Bitcoin and (currently) Ethereum do indeed have a large energy expenditure, is this the best place to focus our criticism?

My favorite rebuttal to this take is from an author writing on Blogspot dot com. NFTs and Crypto Art: The Sky is not Falling

TL;DR? Look at this chart and find Bitcoin and Ethereum’s energy usage:

Personally, I find these two criticisms of NFT tech more interesting:

  1. One needs to be fairly technical to understand what’s actually being sold when buying NFTs, otherwise Your [multi-]million-dollar NFT can break tomorrow!

  2. Currently the fees to begin selling NFTs are quite high, and this is probably taking advantage of artists.

    Fellow Substack writer and creator of 2021’s Most Important Website, istheshipstillstuck.com, wrote a piece about the experience in which he made an NFT and discovered this imbalance.
    The whole post is quite worth a read and full of interesting tidbits.

Culture Notes

Would you sell your right to make choices in your life? If so, for how much? This is a trend that was new to me but is apparently happening. In some ways it seems a logical conclusion of the need to monetize and people being Increasingly Online.

For Creators, Everything Is for Sale

This next awesome piece is from a newer publication with an edgy name, I’ll let the title speak for itself: Everyone Is Beautiful and No One Is Horny - Blood Knife
It’s about depictions of fitness, romance, and sexuality in movies, and how that relates to our cultural moment. Really cool read.

Did you know it’s been ten years since Fukushima? NYT has a nice photo set with pics of the area today. Fukushima Photos: 10 Years Later - The New York Times

One good thing I can say about TikTok is that apparently TikTok’s recommendation algorithms make it surprisingly easy to get famous!

The future of electric cars isn’t Tesla. It’s golf carts.

Finally, on a lighthearted note, Taiwan official urges people to stop changing their name to 'salmon'. This is what happens when you give away free sushi!

AI stuff

Biden urged to back AI weapons to counter China and Russia threats - BBC News

I asked an AI to tell me how beautiful I am | MIT Technology Review

This last piece, The AI Index Report – Artificial Intelligence Index, is interesting because it shows the areas where we’re already using AI systems the most. It’s important to keep aware of the fact that this technology is already in use, despite its flaws.

Broadband Update From Last Issue:

The President’s new infrastructure plan includes $100B to significantly expand high speed internet access in the US. You can expect your ISP to oppose it.
Biden broadband plan will be hated by big ISPs, welcomed by Internet users

If you doubt the importance of internet access, consider why countries block and restrict it during political turmoil. For example: Myanmar’s Military Deploys Digital Arsenal of Repression in Crackdown

Another interesting development in this space is that India is actually “leading” in terms of shutdowns worldwide: How India became the world’s leader in internet shutdowns