Week of December 9, 2019

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

The Sleep Consultant

A work of fiction by Robin Sloan:

Disrobing in a hotel is special: the puddling of pants or skirt onto a floor unsullied by the rest of your life. The wall-to-wall window at my room’s far end is uncovered, and I leave it that way. I believe in the city dweller’s compact, and as such I must offer to the anonymous world the same view that I myself have taken in. (To clarify: any use of magnification, optical or digital, violates this compact, which exists between humans alone: slivers of pink, no taller than crescent moons, regarding each other across gulfs that are very importantly unbridgeable. Once, in downtown Los Angeles, I saw the glint of a lens across Flower Street, and oh, how I glared. There is a man still crouched beside his window in a tower there, immobile, turned to stone.)

Jackpot

A tale of desperation, greed, leverage, and wealth inequality:

When detectives entered the vault, they were stumped by what they found — or rather, what they did not find. There were no tasered guards with their hands bound: Round-the-clock watchmen had worked their shifts without incident. The vault itself showed no sign of forced entry: The 60-centimeter-thick, steel-plated walls were intact. Security cameras and trip alarms operated normally. Bank officials struggled to explain why they had waited hours to call the police. A lot of money was unaccounted for. And the suspects had left behind only one piece of physical evidence: a bag full of lottery tickets.

Human Progress

There has been a lot of criticism of Mark Zuckerberg’s annual challenge for this year, all of which I think is perfectly valid. However, I think this conversation with Patrick Collison and Tyler Cowen is great on its own merits—I highly recommend you give it a watch.

Genius

Kanye, Bon Iver, Francis and the Lights, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper—musical perfection, all influencing each other.

Fast Internet

It’s hard to overstate how much a fast Internet connection can change someone’s life. I hope that projects from Facebook and Google actually deliver on their promise to provide a connection to everyone in the world. A story about a town with some of the fastest Internet in the U.S.

The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile. “Someone has to build to the last mile,” he said. “The big telecom companies aren’t going to do it, because it’s not economical and they have shareholders to answer to. We’re a co-op. We’re owned by our members. We answer to each other.” The grants they got, he said, were a matter of good timing and good luck.

and

“You can’t make everybody magically go from making twenty-five thousand dollars a year to seventy-five thousand. Broadband is not going to create higher-paying jobs for everyone in the county. But it can help education. It can help entertainment. It can help the economy. It can help health care. And I even think that people’s mind-set—how they feel about themselves—can be improved just by not always saying ‘We don’t have nothing here.’ In this case, we have something to be proud of. We have something everyone else wants.”