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The best tech writing of the week, December 2

The best tech writing of the week, December 2

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Your Sunday reading

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long reads
long reads

We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekendmorning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.

Grab all of these as a Readlist.

On immortality

Author Nathaniel Rich spends some time with scientist Shin Kubota, who researches Turritopsis dohrnii, otherwise known as the "immortal jellyfish."

The New York Times: Nathaniel Rich - Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

You might expect that, having learned of the existence of immortal life, man would dedicate colossal resources to learning how the immortal jellyfish performs its trick. You might expect that biotech multinationals would vie to copyright its genome; that a vast coalition of research scientists would seek to determine the mechanisms by which its cells aged in reverse; that pharmaceutical firms would try to appropriate its lessons for the purposes of human medicine; that governments would broker international accords to govern the future use of rejuvenating technology. But none of this happened.On "Weev"

Adrien Chen profiles infamous internet troll Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, best known and convicted for the massive AT&T iPad 3G breach in 2010.

Gawker: Adrian Chen - The Internet’s Best Terrible Person Goes to Jail: Can a Reviled Master Troll Become a Geek Hero?

Auernheimer deploys a peculiar rhetorical strategy that he's learned to work to his advantage: he peppers his conversation with bizarre but true facts and historical references—he has an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Greek history, world religions and contemporary U.S. anti-government extremists, among other things—then hits you with dubious details about his own life. The idea is that the overwhelming strangeness of the world will make you more receptive to the relatively banal stuff Auernheimer makes up about himself.On lying

Cienna Madrid writes about the disturbing world of people faking serious sickness online.

the Stranger: Cienna Madrid - The Lying Disease

The deception began with an opaque post here and there. "Oh I’m sick again" posts, as Alex calls them. "No one paid attention until I started full-time illness blogging." So in April 2011, she ordered two wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, face masks, some veterinary IV tubing, and other medical equipment from Amazon.com. She also cut her hair off and told her IRL best friend that she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She reasoned that this would help validate her story.On cooling

Edible Geography's Nicola Twilley covers the architecture and infrastructure behind cooling and refrigeration in shipping and food storage in Cabinet.

Cabinet: Nicola Twilley - The Coldscape

As a result, meat locker visitors (who include many of the city’s best chefs, armed with a stamp to mark their purchases) walk down fluorescent-lit, white-tiled aisles surrounded by purpling, mold-covered primal cuts and chased by gusts of malty, mushroomy, slightly sweet-smelling air. Of course, according to Mark Solasz, Sam’s son, "it’s not a smell, it’s an aroma."On 'Thriller'

With Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' turning 30, Steve Greenberg looks back at the market and culture the best-selling album of all time was released into.

Billboard: Steve Greenberg - Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' at 30: How One Album Changed the World

What really had happened over the previous three years was a seismic technological shift that had torn apart the very idea of the mass audience upon which pop hits depended: By the end of the 70s, 50.1% of radio listeners were tuned to FM, ending AM's historical prevalence and hastening the demise of the mass-audience Top 40 stations that had dominated the radio ratings since the 1950s. By 1982, FM commanded 70% of the audience-and among the 12-24 year old demographic, it was 84%. Consequently, a mass pop music audience that crossed demographic lines could not be sustained.On music blogs

Mark Allen offers a look at the distinct online culture of obscure music download blogs that flourished around 2004-2008.

The Awl: Mark Allen - The Rise And Fall Of The Obscure Music Download Blog: A Roundtable

If one smart record collector was able to share the entire contents—music, artwork and all—of one vinyl LP on his blog, for free, and upload another item from his 1,000+ collection the next day, for weeks and years, and others like him did the same, competing with each other about who could upload the rarest and most sought-after record, and anyone who downloaded it could then share it again and again… Suddenly everyone in the world had the coolest record collection in the world; and soon, nobody in the world had the coolest record collection in the world. Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

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Twitter
Emma RothAn hour ago
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


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External Link
Russell BrandomAn hour ago
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
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Youtube
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


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External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


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External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


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James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
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The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


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External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


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The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


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The Verge
Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


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David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”