The New England Review of Tabs

Newly discovered tabs of variable quality.

Sam Jones, New York Times

10 / 10 Tab: Perfect headline, so good that the first four or five times I saw it I didn’t read the story but simply let the little Brendan Fraser movie it suggests unfurl itself in my head. The article turns out to be about a PLoS ONE paper with the flawlessly backhanded title “Newly discovered crocodile mummies of variable quality from an undisturbed tomb at Qubbat al-Hawā (Aswan, Egypt).” I can’t wait for “Crocodile Mummy 2: Crocodile Mummy Dearest.”

8.5/10 App and/or Bit: Amogh Kambale built a Salesforce-style CRM for dating. I have showed Dateforce to a number of people and they all ask the same question: “is this real?” That’s impossible to answer about anything here in the distant and unknowable future, so let’s rephrase it to: “is this a joke?” which is hardly any easier to decide, but Kambale’s Twitter bio says “I spent 100+ hours and $1000+ on an elaborate joke,” so in one sense yes, it is a joke. But it is also real software that can really be used for its ostensible purpose. The lesson here is that software can be real and functional, but also at the same time be a bit. I mean, Emacs exists.

Matthew Brockett, Bloomberg

12/10 Exit: Jacinda Ardern Prime Ministered her imaginary Hobbit-infested island realm through some of the worst crises in living memory, and did as good a job as any world leader has. She even had a baby in 2018, during her first term. After two terms and at just 42 years old (only one third the age of the average U.S. Senator) she has announced that she’s out of gas and shall yeet herself into retirement. Truly a You Can Always Quit icon.

Gif of Sarah Lynn from Bojack Horseman exiting the house with a hearty “Suck a dick, dumb shits!”

Anna Merlan and Tim Marchman, Motherboard

10/10 Tab, 0/10 App: Merlan and Marchman absolutely nailed the lede here so I’m just gonna step back and let them cook.

If you want to talk to Adolf Hitler, that'll cost you 500 coins, or $15.99. But on Historical Figures—an app that uses AI technology to allow you to have simulated conversations with prominent people from human history, and which is marketed to both children and adults through Apple’s App Store—Joseph Goebbels is free to talk, appears to have a lot of time on his hands, and claims to feel very bad about the “persecution of the Jews.” Joseph Stalin is reflective, taking credit for having “many great ideas” but regretting not spending enough time making sure Soviet citizens were treated equally. Jeffrey Epstein, meanwhile, can’t say definitively how he died, but assured a Motherboard reporter that he was focused on providing “justice and closure” for the victims of his crimes from the Great Beyond. 

Tweets in Conversation:

Talk of the Tabs:

The Rick Rubin thing is this clip. This has been today’s Service Journalism.

A: Always, B: Be, P: Posting

Max Read argues (correctly) that the lesson we should learn from room-temperature take factory Matt Yglesias’s otherwise baffling success is that “Under the present regime, there is no real downside risk to posting.” Just keep posting. It doesn’t matter if today’s post is any good or not, there’s always tomorrow’s post. Meanwhile what the post-consuming market primarily responds to is “not intelligence or novelty or outrageousness or even speed, but regularity.” So just keep posting. I certainly will.

Today’s Song: Labrinth, “I’m Tired”

It’s Gentlemen’s Friday so let’s Jacinda Ardern ourselves out of this week together. I think I already promoted everything I planned to. Will there be a new Today in Polly tomorrow? Honestly probably not, but next Friday at the very latest, and not through any fault of Polly’s. But for subscribers: there will be something tomorrow. All hail the rise of the Octopus Lords.

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