POP LOSER no. 96

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I like to “Like” people’s photos on Instagram. I double tap pretty much everything when scrolling by. Why? It costs me nothing and it makes people feel good, unless they are one of those weirdos who don’t get any kind of validation from “Likes” on the internet. Now there’s a bot that will “Like” photos for me and at some point I’ll get around to setting it up. 

Instagram itself kind of sucks now. I just want to look at photos and make the odd comment. I don’t follow many people and I rarely use the hashtag or search or location features. I don’t make stories. I don’t even watch stories. Instagram’s original purpose was great. The ads I loathe, but I get it (though a “pay money to not see these ads” option would be nice). Now they are trying all kinds of shit—shit that isn’t seeing my friends’ photos, and like everyone else I find it intensely irritating. It’s nearly impossible to imagine something replacing Facebook. I’m sure it’ll happen someday, but whatever it is will be very far removed from anything you think of as a Facebook competitor right now. It’s less difficult to imagine someone cloning Instagram’s core features and gaining traction quickly.

Note: I’ve stacked up so many links about Facebook’s revised newsfeed and I absolutely have thoughts and opinions. But I ran out of time, so that’ll have to wait a week.


Video game addiction is now a real thing because we’ve agreed to start calling it a real thing, which is how reality works. 

“The recognition of 'gaming disorder' in the International Classification of Diseases will mean insurance companies are more likely to reimburse video game addiction treatment centers.”

Related: Apple investors are worried iPhones are wrecking kids.

But, but, but: The kids are alright.  




Social media is bad for us. You know it. I know it. Everybody else knows it. 

“Far too many of us have implicitly believed technology would solely be a force for good. But there is almost no reason to think this is true. Many scholars have argued that the world has grown less democratic since the internet was introduced. It is important at least to consider the possibility that these things are connected: That the internet’s democratic promise isn’t what it seems.”




A good explainer on Meltdown and Spectre. The more I learn, the more I think this isn’t something most of us really need to worry about, even though it’s definitely a giant problem. But that’s the current state of technology—we are entirely dependent on things most of us don’t understand and can’t control in any real way, so problems come up and we just sort of shrug our way through it. 

“Meltdown is easier to explain because — Intel’s protestation to the contrary (Meltdown also affects Apple’s processors) — it is due to a design flaw. The processor is responsible for checking if data can be accessed, and to check too slowly, such that the data can be stolen, is a bug. That is also why Meltdown can be worked around in software (basically, there will be an extra step checking permissions before using the data, which is why the patch causes a performance hit).

Spectre is something else entirely: this is the processor acting as designed. Computers do basic calculations unfathomably quickly, but take forever to get the data to make those calculations: therefore doing calculations without waiting for bottlenecks, based on best guesses, is the best possible way to leverage this fundamental imbalance. Most of the time you will get results far more quickly, and if you guess wrong you are no slower than you would have been had you done everything in order.”

Also: How did multiple people find these 20-year-old flaws all at the same time




A look at the services that help keep the Daily Stormer online and the bullshitty free-speech posturing of the people who run them. 

“At this point, despite Zunger’s guidance, I began to feel as if I were playing a confusing, exhausting shell game, rife with terms I’d never encountered before. I’d been rebuffed, then pointed toward the law and the police—in Canada and in the United States—by two different companies, and toward the Constitution by a third. The tech-bro rhetoric of freedom rang in my ears like an ugly bell. All this to protect a site that calls the N.F.L. the 'Negro Felon League’ and called the stabbing of a Jewish citizen of Jerusalem ‘the beginning of the party.’”




Somebody modded Civilization V with an AI research component and I really want to play it, but I’d have to re-install Civ V and I’m only allowed to have those games on my computer during extended work vacations. 

“Add the element of artificial intelligence research to the game. Artificial intelligence can initially provide some benefits, and eventually can turn into superintelligence that brings mastery of science to its discoverer. However, if too much artificial intelligence research goes uncontrolled, rogue superintelligence can destroy humanity and bring an instant loss of the game.”




The Wikipedia entry for SJW is a big old cage fight because of course it is. 

“Within two hours of its creation, a Wikipedia administrator nominated the article for deletion as a ‘non-notable neologism.’ The entry might well have been deleted forever had another user not quickly added citations to the then-current Gamergate controversy.

As of this writing, the ‘social justice warrior’ article is no longer a stub. Three hundred and forty-three Wikipedia editors have collaboratively written 13 paragraphs, contributed 26 external links, and added sources ranging from Urban Dictionary to Oxford University Press to this little-known role-playing game. But despite all efforts to show that social justice warrior is a culturally relevant, actually-used insult against those with progressive views, the article fails to establish something fundamental: why the expression means what it’s supposed to mean.”




Kodak is licensing its brand to a company that mostly handles copyright on paparazzi shots so they can start their own cryptocurrency to handle rights and payments. And as soon as they said “cryptocurrency,” Kodak stock jumped 60 percent. There is literally no aspect of money I understand. 

“The company paying Kodak to use its brand is a unit of WENN Media, a photo agency that specializes in paparazzi photos. Among WENN’s greatest hits is an infamous 2007 ‘crotch shot’ of Britney Spears getting out of a car, which gained notoriety after celebrity blogger Perez Hilton published it.”

Related: Coke made a typeface to help sell cola. It’s one way to go, I guess. They probably should have announced the CokeBucks cryptocurrency instead. 

“But don’t lose the forest in the trees. Coca-Cola continues to operate under the mindset that its sinking soda ship is a brand problem rather than a product problem. It believes a green can of Coke will exude feelings of longevity, and that self-referential nostalgia will be enough to re-anchor it in the hearts of consumers, if presented again, and again, and again. These are the sentiments of VPs who don’t realize that the world has changed.”




Update to a link from last week: MailChimp is not shutting down TinyLetter




Snapchat, which tries to be a great many things, is actually just used for chatting.

“Currently, though, the section of the app reserved for publisher content is ignored by most users. Discover, which hosts daily programming from the Daily Mail, Vulture, and The New York Times, among others, topped out at 38 million daily users in the data obtained by the Daily Beast. The data, which covered the period from April to September, suggest that only 21 percent of users view Discover daily.”




📺 My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

📠 The Screenless Office

⚱️ Donnelly “Guy from Danger Bay” Rhodes

📖 A map of Orwell’s 1984

📷 The Eggs-hibit 

🖼 Excessive tape loops

📺 Silicon Valley Season 5

🚂 Train Driver’s View

😂 I Shazamed My Orgasms for One Year and This is What I Learned

📰 There were 487 original TV shows in 2017

📷 Highways to nowhere




Lester Bangs is one of those people I’ll always link to, including this review of a play about him. 

“Though interest in Bangs seems to ebb and flow, I believe he is one of the most important critical writers of the last hundred years, and a singular stylist. (Like Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or David Foster Wallace, Bangs is hugely tempting to imitate, which means the field is perpetually muddied by a lot of subpar mimics in whose work rambling bravado is substituted for heart.) Bangs’s prose is loose and musical; each sentence attempts, in one way or another, to approximate its subject, to inhabit and express a particular rhythm, a beat. To read him is to behold someone trying, desperately, to get closer to something he cherishes, to hold it down long enough to marvel at it and love it more deeply.”

Weekend Reading

I Started the Media Men List // The Cut
In October, I created a Google spreadsheet called “Shitty Media Men” that collected a range of rumors and allegations of sexual misconduct, much of it violent, by men in magazines and publishing. 


Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids Are in Danger // New York Times Magazine
Child protective agencies are haunted when they fail to save kids. Pittsburgh officials believe a new data analysis program is helping them make better judgment calls.


The Science of Loneliness // The Walrus
We’re more lonely today than at any other point in recorded history—and it isn’t good for us.


Tonya Harding Would Like Her Apology Now // New York Times
In the movie, “I, Tonya,” the disgraced figure skater looks back on the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan scandal and her struggles to tell her side of the story.


Pop Loser is a weekly newsletter of innumerable confusions collected and written by Tyler Hellard.

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