A bunch of websites may or may not have gone offline this morning due to “a service configuration that triggered disruptions” at content delivery network Fastly, depending on where you are or how late you sleep. I heard about it on NPR, which is a sure sign that the news has already fully happened. But the content must flow, so Alex Hern posted a Twitter thread that served as The Guardian for an hour, then became a story explaining the outage, the gist of which is “stuff breaks sometimes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” The Verge’s Tom Warren tweeted out a Google doc to serve as their website for the duration, but he used the editable link by accident.
Looks like Choire is already making a big impact as Special Projects Editor! I have nothing but respect for the website editors that will do anything to make sure that not a minute passes without new content, even if it has to be a world-writable Google doc that they don’t have any hope of monetizing. True Posters never stop posting. ✊
If OpSec is good, triple sec must be three times as good: The feds recovered 85% of the bitcoin that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom. The ransomware used was called DarkSide, and the DarkSide developers take 15% of every ransom, leaving 85% for the “customer,” which in this case means the hackers who get it into the victim’s systems. So it looks like all of the customer’s cut was recovered, and these particular customers have a strong “dog that caught the car” vibe. Here’s one theory of how the FBI could seize the private key for a criminal’s bitcoin wallet which is unproven but at least plausible.
Also Today in Crime: Most criminals are very dumb. For example, hundreds of them globally were using a “just for criminals” social networking app developed, managed and distributed by the only people with any earthly reason to create such a thing: cops. Smart criminals are called “billionaires” and as you suspected and ProPublica proved, they mostly don’t pay any taxes. Putsch Intensifies: ProPublica also has a letter from a Jan 6th defendant claiming that “he and fellow inmates have bonded in jail.” Can’t think where I’ve heard that tune before. And Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal published his “Magnum Joepus” yesterday, an overview of the battle between Bitcoin dwarves vs. Ethereum elves for the future of defi. Not technically about crime but everything crypto has such a strong crime vibe, it just feels right.
BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE has an extended blessed-gorp meditation with the mother of “the wood-wide web” and rhizomatic fanatic Dr. Suzanne Simard, with notes of ayahuasca, many-pocketed canvas cruiser vests, and Tabs favorite shell brand Arc’teryx. Also today in shells, Jackie Bryant’s Cannabitch newsletter tracked down the true story of the baked lobsters of Southwest Harbor, ME’s Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound. Jess Zimmerman is writing Dissertations for Dogs for those of you with “grad school brain diseases,” e.g. “The Fire Hydrant as Text: Ureics and Hermeneutics.” Joints for Jabs was approved in WA, so why isn’t every bar in the country offering shots for shots? Curbed talked to a bunch of New Yorkers about what their mayoral ranked-choice ballot looks like, and chaos queen Cat Marnell does not disappoint.
I’m going to just let Intern Linda Yu introduce this one herself: “Hello, I filed a piece on the Aztecs, sorry it’s kind of a downer.” Please join us in…
Pledge Day in Tenochtitlan
Hope you all experienced some KPI from yesterday's intern tab, but I realised it would be slightly remiss to talk about the Spanish colonial empire without also giving consideration to some of the people the Spanish colonial empire happened to, so today I’ve brought a paper on the religious practices of the Aztec Empire.
(As a completely random aside: did you know that due to the samizdat culture of the Soviet era there still exist entire Russian websites devoted to the collection and dissemination of scholarly books and literature? How fascinating and wholly unrelated! 😉)
Anyway, this piece from Elizabeth Brumfiel exists in a published volume so you might have to pull out the old library card—it's titled “Aztec hearts and minds” and can be found in this volume. So much of our modern cultural imagination about the Aztecs revolves around their practice of human sacrifice, but Brumfiel writes that these traditions were largely centered in the capital, Tenochtitlan, and focused narrowly on creating a sense of group identity among young, elite men. Think David Cameron “allegedly” shagging a pig at an Oxford dining club or dangerous fraternity pledging rituals of the type that are still killing college students today. Aztec warriors even had their own private club: the Eagle House. Outside the empire's centre, however, their religious calendar revolved more around subsistence concerns such as harvests.
It shouldn’t be ignored that the Aztecs were a conquering people themselves, but the widespread notion that pre-Columbian peoples were "cannibals" was used by the Spanish to justify their subjugation of Latin America. This paper is only a small slice of the archeology, but between our reckoning with colonialism and new videogame-movie-tie-ins, I think it's worth trying to understand who people were and were not.
Intern Linda just does this every day, and I frankly have no idea how. Please subscribe (for 20% off!) or donate to help pay her—you’ve raised $580 of her $1500 pay so far, thanks! I hope if nothing else you’ve learned some good ways to expand your access to content that otherwise might seem out of reach.
Finally: Three friends and two dogs set off in a giant pink inflatable flamingo in Kodiak, Alaska’s Monashka Bay. “We should have been more aware of the tides and the wind, but it was kind of like, ‘What could go wrong?’”
Today’s Song: The Menzingers, “The Obituaries”
~ As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to read forbidden tabs, and land on barbarous posts. ~