Good morning. Hello. How are you? #646
Dreams of subway car designs, voting, American supply chain woes, Buffy ripoffs, awesome new OFFICE BED, Dumb Texan laws redux, Elon retreats maybe, revaming US Appeals Circuits
Good morning, there, friend. How are you? All well? I do hope so. Happy Friday. I am working today. Fridays should be off for everyone. But I’m okay with this today, I have a lot of work today may as well just get it done. Had a great dream where I invented a new type of New York subway car, the “gallery car,” which is an empty subway car, but in the middle, it has a platform, perhaps six feet by three feet, that can raise or lower. It can raise to a foot or so high to be a stage for performers, or it can raise to three or four feet to be a table to display an object. It also has a crescent-shaped split in it, so you could raise the moon shape without the shadow shape for a makeshift bar. The car has bolt clamps in the floor around the platform where you could bolt stools into the floor. Other than that, it might have a few cocktail tables around the periphery, but it is mostly standing room, with straps to hang on and maybe some poles. It can be used for street performers, for art displays, even as a bar. It would be awesome.
Also dreamt that I got to play guitar as a guest with Mogwai on one song at MSG that was pretty cool. Then Rockets was gonna play MSG without having rehearsed or played together in, oh, five years and I got so nervous it was one of those “I think I’m going to puke in real life while asleep” kind of things where you feel the dream’s emotions in your real-life sleeping body, so that was unpleasant.
Finally, I dreamed the line “when we say a dozen sons went out of the sky it sounds terrible, but when we say a dozen stars went out, it just sounds a little sad.”
Okay! Real world:
I got a haircut yesterday. It looks so much better. It is ridiculous how bad my hair was my hair was terrible. If I mussed it and placed it just right I could get it to look okay but now, even at its worst it looks twice as good. I’m glad I got this done before the trip. No one needed to see that haircut.
We voted yesterday in the NC Democratic Primary. That was fun. Only, like, four races to vote in, but one was the US Senate primary, and a couple were local elections we actually had opinions on, so, you know, gotta do your civic duty. Not that I’ve bothered to look who won yet.
Went to Walmart, they had no good vinyl, no new good 4k Blu Rays, no new Kit Kat flavors, no row cover, no shredded carrots, no Peach Iced Tea Icebreakers, a real wash at Walmart this week. They did have more wire hangers, though, the ones I am slowly moving all my shirts onto, the ones they were out of for… a year and a half? during the pandemic. I bought another batch. I came home, put them in my closet, and felt a rush of sympathy for the other new coat hanger batches in my closet because I keep putting the new ones on the right side, then taking from the right side when I put the new hangers on my shirts, so the oldest ones are just sitting there, never used. So I reorganized things into a FIFO stack and felt better. I am obsessed about FIFO stacks even with inanimate, non-perishable items and it is probably a bit neurotic.
Also stocked up on organic peanut butter. We have… seven jars now? I have been saying since the pandemic that it has permanently changed me, I will be a depression era granny forever, and always hoard essential supplies for the rest of my life, because American supply chains are garbage and shortages can happen out of the blue, at any time, and lo and behold, we now have this horrible baby formula shortage, god, that’s just awful. I do think it’s a bit more complex than just…. “oh monopolies, the baby formula market has two brands that control 90% of the market so that is why this is happening.” I think it gets to the gist of things — that the American brand of capitalism has become incredibly brittle, hollowed out to its core, waiting to fall. But I don’t think it gets the mechanics quite right. Because in this instance it doesn’t matter how many brands there are, or their market share, it matters how many factories there are. Which is actually worse, in some ways. You could have an incredibly diverse baby formaula market of a hundred brands with no brand controlling more than 5% of the market, and you could still be fucked if all that formula was being made in only two factories. When I used to work on the Kashi account, they had no snack bars available for, like, I don’t know, a year? Because someone messed up and contaminated their production line with, I don’t remember. Maybe peanuts or maybe just some non-organic ingredient or something. It was a dumb mistake. And Kashi only made these bars on one production line. But the thing is, it wasn’t their production line, and a bunch of other people got their snack bars made on that line too, and they all had no snack bars to sell for months and months. The monopolies are a problem, but so is our manufacturing consolidation, so is our over-reliance on just-in-time delivery, so many things. It is a mess. But, you know, Coke and Pepsi dominate the soda market, but coke is bottled at a ton (65 if I am reading this right) locations in the US. The closure of a factory wouldn’t make as much of a difference for Coke. But who knows what other smaller brands are made at only one of those bottlers and, of course, who knows what kind of consumer panic/run would happen, thus wiping out any stock in the system, because America business fell for lean 6 sigma and just-in-time delivery and zero inventory and operate, even now, with zero backup, zero reserves. It is so, so dumb.
There is a new show coming to Netflix that involves high school, lady teen vampires, cheerleaders and an ancient lineage of people who kill vampires with stakes and I watched the preview and legit thought it was the Buffy spin-off I had heard rumors about for years, but in Googling it appears not to be, and it appears to be a bit more straight and less arch but I think I am still gonna check this out I am 100% okay with someone saying “let’s make a show that rips off Buffy.”
So, for a long time I got a lot of massages because my neck always hurt. I eventually learned I have Klippel Feil syndrome, several of my vertebrae have been fused since birth, and realized the massages were only going to help so much. Plus the pandemic happened. So, you know, haven’t been to a massage in ages. Miss them. But even more, I miss those massage tables with the headrest with a hole in it. Often, when I’ve had a particularly rough meeting or day at work, I wish I could just step over to another part of the office and lay in one of those beds. I’ve often thought I would love to sleep in one. So anyway, I bought one a few weeks ago because they’re only $80 or so, I have the room, and I really wanted to satisfy this itch. I used credit card points to boot, so free.
Yesterday, then, I had some particularly exhausting work to do, got it done, and thought “I need to go lie down.” I hadn’t set the thing up yet, but went and got it from the garage, set it up, did a little re-arranging of the studio to make room for it, put on my headphones, cranked up the For Those I Love album, and laid there with my head in it, my arms perfectly flopped down with no uncomfortable angles and, gloriously, my feet extended just past the end of the bed so my toes could point straight down without any weird bends and it was glorious. It was every bit as comfortable as I remembered, and it was exactly as therapeutic as I hoped. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
Found a copy of Bark Psychosis’ Independency on vinyl in the US, and fairly priced, too. Sold my CD copy ages ago, and it’s the one piece of Bark Psychosis vinyl I don’t own, so I bought it. Was very excited. Guy selling it to me wrote back and said thanks, he was shipping it today, and that’s when I noticed that I had purchased the record from Byron Coley, from his western Mass record store Father Yod. This was very exciting to me, because I’m a fan of his writing, but also because he’s friends with my sister. So I texted Val and told her, then said hi for her to Byron, who told me a story that he and Thurston used to have Val as a friend and also a woman named Val Webber, and that the had a secret plan to get Val and Val to do a dub battle split-side 12” and I thought that was a great plan. Shame it did not come to fruition.
So apparently Elon is trying to rework/remove the loan component of his purchase of Twitter. I’ve been keeping an eye on this, because the dude is massively over-committed on pledging his shares against various loans, the loans for the Twitter purchase were huge, and the whole deal would fall apart if Tesla’s stock (which he’s pledged as collateral) fell into the mid 600’s. This seemed impossible a month ago but in the last month the markets have melted down and yesterday Tesla’s stock hit 680 briefly (it recovered a bit since). So the deal is very close to falling apart. Except!
… oh man. Even as I am sitting here writing this, I’m just reading that Elon put the deal on hold “pending details supporting calculation that spam fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of the users.” OH GOD THIS IS SO GREAT. What a BS excuse I fuckin love it. To finish my thought above, Bloomberg reported last night that Elon has been looking to reduce the portion of the buyout backed by his loans, so that would a) take some pressure off of the Tesla stock, which is in freefall, and b) give him a lot more wiggle room on the stock price and loan commitments. Which is smart. Except he also has to come up with $20 billion cash, on top of the loans, and everyone thought that is what he was roping in fellow sadsacks Larry Ellison and whastnot. But nope. He’s focused on saving the Tesla stock, which is fine, but now he’s gotta come up with $20 bil, not from Tesla, and I doubt the dude’s in the mood to sell off 20% of SpaceX in the private. As soon as that report came out last night, I felt there was a good chance this deal might fall apart, and here we are.
Of course, he can walk from the deal, pay the $1 bil breakup fee, and then renegotiate, because Twitter’s stock would be falling like everyone else were it not for the purchase agreement. I had assumed this was going to be his plan, and I suspect it still is, and I suspect it’ll work, because Twitter’s board doesn’t care about Twitter, but were I on the board, I would take that $1 bil, point to the entire market falling as well, say Twitter’s not in bad shape relatively, and say you’re flexible but his new deal is too low and let the chips fall where they may. Let the whole thing be tied up in court for a year, maybe two, give the tech industry time to rebound, somewhere along the line, you might be proven right. With Twitter, a year or two with a bil in the bank and massive unresovled ambiguity is an absolutely fine situation to be in, if you ask me.
Anyway, tldr; I still suspect he’ll get it in the end, and probably at a lower price, but at least cracks are showing in the facade.
Finally, there is a crazy new Texas law, well, I guess in the grand scheme of recent Texas laws it’s by no means the craziest, so we’ll just say a loopy Texas law banning social media platforms (though it’s ill-defined) from “censoring” but also creating a ton of spam opportunities and, the loopy part, doing that thing it does with the abortion law where it says basically “also everyone sue these people all the time, also no one can stop the lawsuits, also it’s illegal for these companies to leave Texas.” It’s so batshit and so unconstitutional that of course the first level of the courts let the law go into effect and stand while the case is tried because the Fifth Circuit (LA, TX and MS) is insane.
Here’s a fun idea that I think congress could do and not the courts, though I may be wrong: Shuffle the circuits. We don’t need them to be geographically adjacent anymore. Aside from a few spots up in Alaska, judges aren’t riding on horseback from town to town on a “circuit” anymore, they’re just levels of administration and there is no logistical roadblock to them being non contiguous. Alaska’s non-contiguous from the rest of the ninth and it works just fine. So, my idea is to break them up. Take states from the fifth, eighth and eleventh circuits and add them into the first, second, third, ninth and seventh. They don’t need to turn ‘em blue just turn em back to, you know, neutral. Then move, like, Washington to the fifth, Vermont to the Eighth, that sort of thing. Also the circuit sizes are completely out of whack. The Fifth circuit has 37 million people in it. The ninth has 67 million. The first has 14 million. Put the entire first into the fifth. Give those southern judges a few Vermonters and Mainers and lets see how they rule.
In any case, I am profoundly disappointed that not a single major tech platform pulled out of Texas over this law. I don’t blame them for waiting a while, I guess. The case is still pending, this was just a court of appeals lifting an injunction before a case is tried, but the case is going to take forever and I think it’d be much, much more fun to have it all happen while, say, Tik Tok wasn’t available to Texan teens. That would just be so fantastic. Of course Facebook’s not gonna do it because they can’t have an entire state discovering they didn’t need Facebook after all. In fact, it really does smack of desperation by all the plaforms, really indicates that they know, deep down, we don’t need them. Unlike when Uber pulled out of Austin. Uber knew Austinites would miss them. Facebook does not seem at all confident Texans would miss them. I kinda think they’re probably right.
Okay let’s do a mix. Lotta old, some new, lotta in between. Really love that Cayatenna song it is a real banger. And Diet Cig. So great. Actually I guess nothing on here is new that is weird. I have been listening to a lot of music that’s new to me, like Wendy James, but i guess it’s not actually new. Oh the Muna’s new. And Tomberlin. Two new songs. And a lot of really awesome hits. It’s a good one, this mix, I put some effort into it.
Okay, well, nice talk. Got some row cover coming (thank you Abby) for the recommendation. I can’t use it all summer because I need the bees to get to the cukes and pollinate ‘em, but it should protect the cukes in this delicate stage and while we’re in Mass. I also bought a heavy duty ten-foot bungie cord to wrap around the base of the raised bed and seal the row cover to the bed very tightly. So hopefully that’ll keep my poor cukes safe while I’m gone. Also gotta trim the tomatoes, mound a few potatoes, move the grapes so they’re not growing through the netting while I’m gone, spray fertilize (with my weak-ass hippie organic fertilizer, never you fret) and then I think the garden is ready for three weeks without me. Fingers crossed the drip irrigation and the cameras don’t crap out.
And then! Time to start packing. Packing for three weeks. With a toddler. Gonna be intense.