The Restaurant at the End of the Metaverse
There is no food in the metaverse.
In the New York Times Magazine, Steven Johnson wrote 10,000 words about OpenAI which earned a whole Medium post from computational linguist Emily Bender in response, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. First though, it was a big weekend for believers.
I’m an atheist but the specific god I don’t believe in is the Christian one, so the big question for my people this weekend was:
The Ever Forward is risen off the Chesapeake mud, dragged free by two anchored barges, five tugboats, and the moon’s love for the ocean. The Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva, despite reportedly carrying a fragment of the True Cross, failed to rise on the third day. “The Russian warship that was famously told to 'go fuck yourself' has apparently done so,” wrote Task and Purpose’s Jeff Schogol. The first pictures of the inadvertent submarine’s final hours above the surface appeared online last night, and Google Maps stopped blurring all sensitive Russian military installations, so it’s also OSINT Christmas. Carlos Watson has risen, yet again. According to NYTimes newsletterer Tish Harrison Warren, Jesus Christ really did rise. She knows “in part, because I doubt my doubts and I doubt my doubt about my doubts. I can keep going. Round and round, round and round.” This is nonsense even by Times Opinion standards. And last week a reader wrote in to tell me that “William James wrote an article while high on nitrous and claimed it was the only way that Hegel’s philosophy made any sense,” and I don’t know why it belongs in this section but it definitely does. “What's mistake but a kind of take?” wrote William James while just wicked high on whippits. What indeed.
Ok yes, the big OpenAI tab, but first: Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl visited Chipotle in the metaverse (also known as “Roblox”) and “the experience left me both baffled and hungry.” Baffled because there is no food in the metaverse, and hungry because, again, there is no food in the metaverse. “I don't really understand what Chipotle gets out of it… or why I as a customer should come back.” This is the most compact description of the metaverse I’ve ever seen. The talking skeleton was a surprise though.
There’s a new multi-million dollar crypto hack every day, and you should read Web3 is Going Just Great because it’s genuinely hilarious but I don’t mention them much anymore, because there are just so many. But yesterday’s Beanstalk exploit was pretty special. “An attacker successfully used a flash loan attack to exploit a flaw in Beanstalk Farms' stablecoin protocol” wrote Molly White, but if that’s gibberish to you, here’s what happened. Beanstalk is like a hedge fund where anyone could deposit their digital beanie babies, and for each beanie baby deposited, you get one vote on what the fund should do with its whole pool of beanies. A “flash loan” is a way to borrow a lot of crypto beanies at once where you borrow and return the loan in the same transaction. Since the loan beanies never “go” anywhere, there’s no collateral needed and you can borrow as much as the lender can give you. The lender charges a fee on the loan and their line goes up, risk-free. In this case the attacker borrowed enough beanies to briefly control a supermajority of the Beanstalk fund’s votes, and passed a proposal that was like “I think we should give all the magic $BEANs to… me lmao.” That sounds like an incredibly stupid and obvious flaw, doesn’t it? It absolutely was. The attacker made off with $80 million, but the project lost $182 million of total value, because all the magic $BEANs are worthless now, and Jack’s mom is like “I fucking told you.”
The Counter shut down suddenly, which is weird, writes Tarpley Hitt, because it still has plenty of money? The food business newsroom hired a full time audience engagement editor just a month ago. Publisher Jeffrey Kittay previously ran “Lingua Franca, the great magazine about intellectual and literary life in the academy” which also shut down unexpectedly in 2001 despite seeming financially healthy. This is all very normal and not suspicious.
The Lingerie Addict is also closing, because after 14 years Cora Harrington wants to do something else. That actually does seem very normal. And Josh Topolsky is leaving Bryan “Digital” Golberg’s Bustle “Digital” Group to spend more time not making websites.
Antero Garcia & Remi Kalir wrote about “toxic positivity” in Dirt. Welcome to Poundtown. Twitter adopted a $420 poison pill because finance is also shitposting now. Kamala Harris plays Wordle. They had a good party in Dorset.
Ok, so the thing about the incredibly long Steven Johnson AI story is— ah would you look at that, we’re fresh out of time for today! All I can still fit is Craig Jenkins reviewing the new Vince Staples album in Vulture. It’s probably for the best.
Today’s Song: Vince Staples, “Magic”
~ what's mistake but a kind of tab ~
On Friday we made a motivational spring mix tape: check it out. If you want to get the Friday Tabs too, you should subscribe. I tweet @fka_tabs and @TodayinTabs. Registered at the post office as: ”better and better.” Every day, in every way. Extra special thanks to Jared Dunn for writing today’s exquisite subject line in the Tabs Discord and also giving me permission to steal it.