Requiem for a Tuesday
Did you vote? What you're feeling right now is regret, and shame. But we are going to get through this.
Happy Primary Day, New Yorkers! I hope you’re enjoying the experience of voting for up to five candidates you have serious reservations about, instead of just one. If you need a reminder of what’s wrong with each of the candidates, See More Evil made some endorsement ads.
Hyundai bought murder robot company Boston Dynamics and announced it with a creepy video depicting a future where your doctor is a murder robot doctor, your child’s nanny is a murder robot nanny, and your own legs are murder robot legs. How did you lose your legs? You’ll know soon enough.
Also Today in Tech: Fifteen years of confusing Google chat products, and somehow nothing has ever actually been named “Gchat,” reports The Verge’s Chaim Gartenberg. Instagram is not officially working on NFTs, for now, reports Casey Newton. For only $39.99 a month, Peloton’s $3000 treadmill won’t kill your children (first three months free! 🥰 And mandatory! 🤗) And the new Rob Dubbin game dropped: Hover Gulch.
“Blind Item” is kind of ableist so let’s call this Text to Speech:
I hear this is Jesse Singal, and if so, it’s amazing that he signed up to have people dunk on him in real life too.
Rebecca Alter wrote about Pluto.tv in Vulture: what if all we really want is just… free cable? Yesterday Variety reported that “the ‘Gossip Girl’ crew of 2021 is aware of income inequality. They take Ubers, not limos…” and people were not fans of it. But today Hunter Harris’s long Vulture feature quotes showrunner Josh Safran asking “So what’s the Succession version of Gossip Girl?” which sounds a lot more promising.
Tom Scocca quit Slate for a Substack Pro deal, and he’s relaunching Hmm Weekly as INDIGNITY, starting in August. Tom is intimidatingly smart and always correct, so go subscribe to that. Also, unrelatedly: what’s up with those “Read More” links?
Sabrina Imbler and Michael Roston took the eel research link I tabbed last week and elevated it far beyond my humble efforts: “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray.” But is the eel Benjen named after… BenJen? Another aquatic headline achievement: “Tentacles of Manhattan DA's Trump probe reach former bodyguard Calamari.”
Intern Linda Yu was inspired to fishlosophical musing by all the fish discourse yesterday, and I’m so sorry for both that pun and this title:
So yesterday Rusty linked to a tweet about the layer of Dark Fish in the mesopelagic zone, and I was surprised that there was enough energy down there to sustain so many fish, since the mesopelagic exists in perpetual twilight where photosynthesis is limited and things can't easily grow. I wanted to know, besides grazing on the dead stuff that sinks down, what are these dark fish eating? Turns out they swim up close to the surface to feed at night and are very skilled at dodging nets. These fish are especially interesting to governments as overfishing depletes our surface fish stocks and countries keep expanding their fleets.
This paper from Arved Staby and Anne Salvanes discusses the lives of the sorts of fish that swim in the dark deeps, writing that "most mesopelagic fish species are small, usually 2–15 cm long, and have short life spans of one or a few years." (DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.11212-6) So basically, both these fish and their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.
This got me wondering how they feel about living like that, which reminded me of a bit from the Classical Chinese text Zhuangzhi. The Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi and his friend Huizi are walking along, and Zhuangzi remarks that the fish jumping in the river seem happy. Huizi says “well you’re not a fish so how can you know the fish are happy?” to which Zhuangzi replies “well you aren't me, so how do you know I don't know?" And so on and so forth. Maybe it means there is no such thing as objectivity, or maybe it just means no one knows what it’s like to be a fish, as the elegant analysis in this paper from Lea Cantor argues (DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2019.1667294). This train of thought was also how a friend of mine became a vegetarian as a child, after he thought too much about how he wanted fish to be able to still swim happily.
Can we make “and this fish” a popular phrase in English too? I have no idea what it would even mean… and this fish. Let’s do one more endorsement:
And finally: Do you think a depressed person could make this?
Today’s Song: Vince Staples, “Law of Averages”
~ Louis tab, Gucci tab, you got baggage ~