Various Threads (ft. 'Post' Late-Stage Capitalism, Aesthetics, & Web3)
December's Curated Ingest
I have made it through another semester and am at home for the first time in a year. I therefore have the time to be able to curate this newsletter a bit more - I hope you enjoy! I ask you to play this song in the background as you peruse the links collected below 💕.
Top 3 Books of 2021:
Blockchain Chicken Farm (how is technology actually impacting society and non-coastal global cities?)
The Myth of the Rational Market (who actually made the financial models we use today, and what does that teach us?)
VC: An American History (the roots of American - and consequently global - VC. Gives clues as to why the industry has grown so large today, and why it is the way it is!)
A Brief Blockchain Chicken Farm Reflection
My favorite read this year!
Being at home again reminds me the negative externalities that come from the neoliberal hellscape that I am able to optimistically work against in New York. Having listened to this quickly on the flight back and during my first few days in Tigard, I was brought back to the radicalizing reality of the world I was used to before I left home.
The book begins with a series of chapters dedicated to the lives of real makers (in my opinion, when compared to many entrepreneurial figures I work around in my usual life) applying technology to their non-coastal elite lives. I found this interesting as I think it relates to my political economy interests more than a new productivity software startup does.
More personally moving to me, however, were the final two chapters: “Gone Shopping in the Mountain Stronghold” and “Welcome to my Pearl Party.” I feel like I could write an entire post or essay on these two chapters alone.
“Shopping is an ecstasy-inducing act, a brief tease that allows us to brush up against the life we desire, that we feel like we deserve.”
She develops a profound argument that I haven’t yet heard around shopping as protest in her second to last chapter. She relates it to tech workers in SF all the way to debt-laden traditional laborers in the Chinese countryside - the universal application of her argument points to the all-encompassing nature of the systems that create it. She relates this personally (a personal identity that I am not too far away from) in her final chapter as she attempts to work against this sad and seemingly helpless reality. Really a great short read - lmk if any of you finish it in the next few months! I would love to talk to someone about it!
On language, relationships, and fringes of human thought: ‘attending to the other’ by Jasmine Wang.
Jupe is a minimal housing startup that (in my opinion) is largely green- and culture-washing its way to prominence. This was really evident in this video I watched about them. As I will mention below, I have been thinking a lot about how societies treats those on its fringes (and how the largely negligent current reality we experience today hasn’t always existed…)
A 35mm Love Letter to Freedom of Movement in the Mountains, by fellow Balkan brother Jaka Bulc. Pretty inspiring seeing this message told through the medium of 35mm photography and in the mountains - many parts of my identity combined in this piece.
Fading Borders, a piece exploring two main topics: Romanian migrant workers (much of my younger extended family are migrant workers in Western Europe) and shrinking Romanian cities (where the rest of my older family continues to live).
Have been thinking a lot about what the elderly will do (besides be isolated in a stereotypical American suburban home…) as I’ve been home where my family hosts an adult-care home. Thought this Nowness piece about Chinese square dancing was interesting - a nice way to still maintain community in your local neighborhood and move outside.
I read this article calling out the lazy solution that are electric vehicles by some British high schooler (they won some writing competition run by the FT to get this published). After having spent a summer working in climate-tech (and generally being engaged in the space for the last 7 or so years) there is so much virtue signaling through lazy startup ideas that really don’t do anything. I liked how this article easily addressed how EVs contribute to this phenomenon.
Similarly, ‘Land Acknowledgments’ Are Just Moral Exhibitionism. I have been learning more about how colonialism and imperialism apply to parts of my immediate life (Romania, the PNW, NYC, etc.) and found this one to be particularly relatable. As was this one about the U.S. national parks (very long but a good read, <3 the atlantic).
Also learned about Praxis, yet another DAO trying to remake the city. Finding this while reading Blockchain Chicken Farm was particularly striking: it read to me like some SF engineers who read a little too much (and only) Socrates and space-based Sci-Fi decided they could create a new sort of ‘upper class’ defined city. This (as well as Jupe’s insincere branding) are the most dangerous ways Web3 and SF style tech can be leveraged today imo…
Why New York’s Billionaires’ Row is Half Empty - honestly really appreciated this take makes me sick that this is the direction NYC is still heading down…
Have spent a significant amount of time learning more about fashion the last two or so months. My favorite newsletter that I’ve found on the topic so far is Blackbird Spyplane (yes, really) - they got Tyler on as an interviewee and it’s so weird…?! I kinda love and hate it which makes it all so fun!
A high school schoolmate who I admire has their zine for sale on Secret Riso Club! Serving as major inspiration for the SVS Zine »»» (the buy link doesn’t work for me though? 😢😢)
Hierotopia by Kieran Dodds - images remind me of the Google Earth new tab extension I used to have haha
Romanian Christmas caroling in Transylvannia - a little repetitive but v cute :)
Lightly Crafted – Eucalypt House by Not All Architecture - I liked looking at this house, and am again surprised by how much architectural innovation I find interesting is happening in Austria (<3 never too small)
Signal A, a cool Swiss grid inspired poster shop
Mobile Phone Museum - I like the way they organized all of the phones in a clean image grid.
Jordan Singer is always an inspiring figure walking the line between engineer and designer. Here’s his year in reflection.
Cute corgi animations - ty taco <3
Against Advice (build your own futures) by Agnes Callard.
A former crypto skeptics acceptance of NFTs: It’s not a Ponzi by Reggie James.
Contrarily, found a timeline of the ways Web3 is fucking up seemingly nonstop…
Again thinking about analog and digital experiences — appreciated the conclusions in The Persistence of Analogue, a BBC podcast episode.
Pony Messenger - thought the idea was cool
More on mountains: 14 Peaks, where an inspiring Nepalese climber sets an astonishing record… makes me miss climbing honestly ready to climb Denali after reading this.
The Internet Dungeon of Unexplained Internet Phenomenon - thanks Lily for finding this!
The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant by Nick Bostrom. I read a lot of Bostrom towards the end of my philosophy class this semester, and was reminded of this piece that I read some months ago. I don’t know if I agree with his conclusion, but found it thought provoking nonetheless.
Jonathan Zong just seems so fucking cool I wanna be him.
That is all folks. I tried adderall for the first time while writing this and it was a very interesting experience - I feel like I wrote a lot of words and included much less imagery than I usually do… hopefully that’s alright! I basically spent a few hours just working on this in a pretty focused manner - totally new experience for me! I’m excited to see how I can leverage this tool now 😎.
Optimistically stepping into the future,