On the decline of Twitter: Why rage quit a service when diminishing returns just erode your user experience over time?
On the decline of Twitter: Why rage quit a service when diminishing returns just erode your user experience over time?
Your honor, in defense of glo-fi, I submit as evidence the first side of Small Black’s New Chain record.
The fact that Medium is trying to get me to resubscribe by promoting think pieces celebrating identity politics shows that my notes on why I cancelled the subscription in the first place were disregarded.
Augustine, some of his contemporaries, and theologians in the Medieval era reinterpreted Virgil’s poem Eclogue 4 to be a prediction of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many regarded Virgil as a pre-Christian prophet or a virtuous pagan. In keeping with this tradition, Dante included Virgil as his guide through the Inferno.
Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain Of our old wickedness, once done away, Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear. He shall receive the life of gods, and see Heroes with gods commingling, and himself Be seen of them, and with his father’s worth Reign o’er a world at peace.
🎵 Tortoise - Tortoise: This classic post-rock album is full of wandering music.
It was great to have Tru Pettigrew and the Cary PD at church today talking about bridging the divide between law enforcement and communities of color.
I’m happy to finally have a name for that phenomenon that I always knew existed but of which I never had a scientific explanation.
Back in 1980, psychologist Richard Solomon came up with an idea he called the “ opponent process theory ” (paywall). Broadly, this states that whenever you feel one emotion, you’re slated to feel the opposite next. This would explain why after feeling happiness, we feel slightly gloomy.
I recently had my name day and added 2 years to the 4 decades I’ve been on the earth. I observed my birthday by undertaking a pilgrimage to the closest mecca of low-cost contemporary home furnishings, to buy some shelves for my turntable and records. After spending more than 20 years collecting records, I still did not have an ideal storage solution for them. While I’ve always rejected the argument that people collect vinyl for purely performative reasons, I’ve seen through Instagram’s discover algorithm that there are many people who do enjoy showing off their records. With very few exceptions, these people have much better storage solutions than apple crates sitting under a 25-year-old pinball machine (my old setup).
Once I had acquired and put together some new Kallax shelves and organized my audio equipment and media, my thoughts turned to whether I needed to get some new vinyl to break in the new setup. My brother and sister-in-law had generously gifted me with a Bandcamp gift card and I had a couple of choices for how to spend it. I could:
With my new furniture in mind, I was leaning towards the latter option. Then, I ran into a problem that I’m not used to dealing with: scarcity.
With everything available digitally and no limitations on the number of consumers, I’ve gotten used to being able to acquire virtually any music I want. When I step back into the world of physical media, I have to deal with manufactured goods, supply chains and consumer buying projections.
A phrase that has been relegated to the back of my mind while living in this new age of digital abundance is “sold out.” As I looked back at some of the records I had my eye on at Bandcamp, I came across the phrase more than once, when trying to buy physical copies of albums I had loved during my high school days. I remembered well those days of making trips to the mall in the mostly vain hopes that the Sam Goody would have an album by that band that I’d heard the bass player from Dinosaur Jr. had started.
Many record companies release a limited number of records on colored vinyl to entice consumers to buy early. It’s a strategy that makes sense. Frequently, I’m tempted to wait to buy a copy of an album on vinyl until I’m sure it’s worth shelling out the American bucks. The “peak vinyl” program, as Merge Records calls it, turns that around and makes it more enticing to go ahead and buy the album, before it’s released, to get the cool color variants, before they are all gone. It’s a bummer when you don’t order an album early enough to get the “special” version, especially when it’s one of your favorite bands and you didn’t originally know they had something coming out. It’s something else entirely when you can’t get the album at all. That is accompanied by a feeling that to which I’ve grown unaccustomed.
📚 I love it when books of fiction inform me of actual historical events about which I had previously not known. Case in point is There There by Tommy Orange bringing life to the Native American occupation of Alcatraz.
Without a sound.
🎵 Jorge Elbrecht - Wash Away With The Rain: Borrowing from the Johnny Marr jangle guitar template and adding some 4AD atmosphere is a winning formula on this track. The following song on the album, “Rainbow Skies,” sounds like an outtake from Odyssey and Oracle, if the master tape had been sitting in someone’s car on a Texas summer afternoon. The one after that, “Oceans Alive,” a nice slice of lo-fi baroque chamber-pop. When “I Thee Wed” came on, I honestly thought I had unintentionally queued up The Future Bible Heroes. There are some heavily influenced stylistic experiments on Here Lies and you don’t always know what the next track is going to bring.
📚 The Making of the Christian World - Robert Payne: I picked up this book from a retiring pastor who was paring down his library. From its title and cover, I expected a fairly academic treatment of historical matter. I was surprised by the content I found inside. Instead of a cold and dry recounting of events long past, I found poetry that was warm and inviting. Payne does an admirable job trying to find words to describe the unimaginable and transcendent. His prose brings back a world from which we are so far removed. A world where prophets sprang forth from the arid desert and the Messiah preached encouragement to the broken-hearted. A world teeming with encounters of the spiritual.
When discussing the apocryphal book, The Acts of John, Payne writes:
This account of the first meeting of James and John with Jesus has a hallucinatory quality, as of something seen and remembered with fearful clarity. Whoever wrote those mysterious lines was either a master storyteller, who knew exactly how to achieve his effects, or he was recording a living tradition, as it was once related by James of John. Origen, the most distinguished and influential of all of the Fathers of the ancient church, found no great difficulty in believing that Jesus changed his appearance according to the needs of the onlookers. There is a passage in the Talmud that describes Jesus as “cloudlike.” It is perhaps the best of all adjectives to describe him as he moves silently across the land, belonging more to the sunlit sky than to the earth, shining with a mysterious light. Cloud-like, he eludes us to the end.
In his description of Jerusalem, Payne focuses on an environment ripe for hearing messages that are not of human descent.
But if the stones of the Judaean wilderness break men’s hearts, the pure glinting skies bearing the sands of the Negev and of Arabia uplift their hearts. The sky over Jerusalem is a rich golden-blue, never at rest. It is the color of majesty, so ornate and shimmering that it seems artificial. There is a sense of splendor beyond human comprehension. On a summer’s day, God’s face shines visibly in the heavens. The air breathes and the light glancing off one mountain clashes visibly with the light glancing off another. In the trembling glory of that superb light all things seem possible; and in the presence of that light, one no longer wonders why the prophets entered the Judaean wilderness and came out again with revelations of God’s presence.
Payne immerses you in the ancient world. I have only read through the sections about the Apostle Paul, but I am interested in the author’s treatment of later events in the Christian Church.
Last year, I taught a confirmation class of 8th graders about famous Presbyterians. Although few really knew who he was, my favorite among those discussed was Fred Rogers.
With the release of the movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers has once again become a topic of conversation. @vasta recounts his emotional experience of the film, which was colored by his lifelong admiration of the beloved children’s show host. One thing that stood out to him is that even Fred Rogers suffered from self-doubt.
About halfway through Won’t You Be My Neighbor , we discover a typewritten letter written by Fred Rogers that exposes his doubts, his uncertainty of whether he was up to the job. This was profound: I struggle with my doubts every day, as so many of us do, and always ask myself if I really can deliver on making the world better. I ask myself if my work matters, and even if it does, if it couldn’t be better done by someone else.
Fred Rogers taught me that “you don’t have to be sensational for people to love you,” but it was poignant to know that even someone as sensational as him had to battle self-doubt throughout his life.
Christ and Pop Culture provides an examination of how Mr. Rogers’ view of his role on television can inform our behavior on social media.
When accepting his induction in the Television Hall of Fame, Mr. Rogers said, “I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. Doesn’t matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help the deeper needs of those who watch and listen, day and night.… We have only one life to live on earth, and through television we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life, or to cherish it in creative and imaginative ways.” This seems to be a great mission statement for our social media use. Not everyone has to be on social media, but those who are (in whatever way we are) can think of ourselves as chosen to be servants, as having a choice in how to engage. There are many ways to interact on the internet: What if we chose to interact in a way that helps others cherish this life?
With polarization, insecurity and animosity running high, it seems like an especially fitting time to remember this man.
From CNET’s analysis of the beating that the valuations of social media stocks have taken this week.
Then, on Friday, Twitter said it too was seeing user counts drop, to 335 million people who log in each month from 336 million just three months earlier, in part because of its efforts to, as it says, improve “the long-term health of the platform.”
A less than 1% drop in users caused the stock to drop by 17%.
Marriage is definitely easier when your spouse is impresssed that you know all of the words to ‘Mexican Radio.’
📷 Mexican soda. Wanna Fanta?
📚 Armada - Ernest Cline: I understand that ebook usage may have peaked, but the Kindle Paperwhite is one of my favorite devices. I absolutely love the integration with Libby. Checking out ebooks is so easy.
📷 On fire at the museum.
Philip Christman captures the kind of frustration I felt when using Tinyletter.
Readers, I apologize for the atrocious formatting of last week’s newsletter. I have trouble making the UI of TinyLetter work on my laptop–in particular, it never wants to link. So sometimes I cut-and-paste the thing from elsewhere. That seems to have bitten us all in the ass. When I got my copy of my own newsletter, all the words were cut off on the right. It was mortifying, like the time I realized I had taught an entire class with my fly open. Since I am still unable to get the UI to work today, we may face the same issues all over again this week, but since I’m cutting-and-pasting from a different source, perhaps we will face new and exciting issues.
For such a simple service, there are a lot of bugs, especially around formatting. I could never tell how things were going to turn out and I always had to send myself a few previews to make sure that everything looked okay. Even when things did look decent in the email, they still weren’t exactly beautiful on the web archive. There were sometimes separate issues there. As someone who has spent a lot of time in QA, I found the issues to be somewhat maddening.
Beyond the formatting issues, this latest issue of Christman’s newsletter, The Tourist provides an interesting look at the Episcopalian debate around making references to God in their book of common prayer gender-neutral. Christman has thoughts on both sides of the debate.
I recently ran into the gender-neutralization of prayer when at a church event. We recited a prayer that I had said many times as a kid, “God is Great” (a common meal-time blessing). All of the male pronouns were replaced with simply the name of God, though, and I found myself out of step.
Another take on the discussions, from A Bigger Conversation about Liturgy – Covenant, laments the lack of collaboration with other faith traditions that characterize the current conversations around revisions (via @ayjay).
This shouldn’t mean we just borrow the insights of other traditions as ritual toys. One of the faintly tragic elements on display in the 1979 Prayer Book are the numerous borrowings from Orthodox liturgy, which reflect not just scholarly knowledge, but prayerful conversations with Russian and Greek scholars of the mid-20th century who were then genuine dialogue partners. It is hard to find such engagement with eastern Christianity in the Episcopal Church now, beyond the somewhat hollow testimony of facsimile icons in Church bookstores.
If the changes pass, and they are likely to, this will represent another point of division among Christian denominations. The question about whether the value of the changes warrant that unfortunate outcome has a very real and material impact on the body of Christian believers.
While Evangelicals are not likely to make prayers gender-neutral anytime soon, they are sometimes in favor of dropping The Apostles Creed from worship. Christ and Pop Culture has a post on a book by author Ben Myers about The Apostles Creed, arguing that it is ancient creeds like this that serve to unite Christians from different denominational (or even political) backgrounds.
In his new book, The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism, Ben Myers beautifully articulates the significance of each line of the ancient creed. Even more helpful, Myers keeps one theme running throughout the small book: saying these words is significant not only because they communicate deep truth, but also because they connect us to the global, historic Christian church. There might be nothing more desperately needed in the American church today than the regular reminder that our greatest loyalty is not to our nation or our favored political party, but to fellow believers. Instead of being united by a set of shared political beliefs or geographic origins, we are most strongly united by our devotion to Christ.
The objection some have to The Apostles Creed has to do with the line about the “holy catholic church” (that’s catholic with a small C, a reference to the universal church). As the piece points out, the problem with rejecting that reference pulls us out of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us, carrying the banner of the faith that has survived partly because of these flag bearers.
When we discuss these issues that serve to divide, let us keep in mind the words of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
Life changes are usually best when they are planned. Saturdays are for spontaneity, though, which is why I ended up co-sleeping with a new kitten last night.
I want to work in this office.
This article on the Apple data center in rural Maiden, NC sounds like something written about the Hawkins National Laboratory from Stranger Things before the cover was blown on their experiments. One quote particularly stood out amidst descriptions of the secrecy surrounding the site.
David Vosburgh, a retired construction worker, says he doesn’t know anyone who has been hired there. He has lived in Maiden about 15 years, and says he unsuccessfully applied for a job at the data center.
“Something is going on over there that they don’t want people knowing,” Vosburgh said in an interview last month. “They’re always building. They’re very, very, very, very bad people. My opinion is they’re terrible.”
Vosburgh doesn’t elaborate on why the Apple people are so bad, or at least the article did not capture his further thoughts on the subject. However, the piece does make clear that Apple was fined for violating some environmental regulations regarding waste disposal.
The whole situation has a very clandestine, conspiratorial vibe to it.
📷 Light room. This installation at the NC Museum of Art was truly impressive.