TWIT 859: Damn the Crepe Myrtle

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!


My daugher has the same issue in her apartment. I’d imagine USPS have a few tickets to work through :roll_eyes:

Generally great episode.

Waiting for the ability to see my Facebook feed while chatting in Whatsapp… /s

Great show, generates much inspiration (and, of course, much critical thought). One sentence may me think and go way off the tech topic:


I would love for [companies] to take a moral stand at some point, but at the end of the day, they have shareholders, people who want them to make money, and it is really hard to take moral stances against that.
(Often heard and repeated, this time uttered about Spotify’s ability to reign in Joe Rogan. )

To me, this is the lightly spoken declaration of utter and complete moral bankruptcy in systems easily thought of as fuelled by nothing more than greed. It’s the most simplistic and misanthropic perspective one can have of any kind of market society. To observe that it’s not only simplistic and misanthropic, but also the most apt way of describing how the world works is, then, the confirmation that many of the current news stories more or less speak of just that: moral bankruptcy hand in hand with excesses of profitability. And at least in my eyes, the least attractive form of misanthropy is the confirmed kind.

It is such a pity that many market societies find it so hard to explore and implement ways to not throw morals out of the windows while increasing wealth but to anchor them in a common set of beliefs. Sets of beliefs that see a review more often than the few-and-far-apart moments of constitution-writing every couple of hundred years. Instead, we keep optimising for the easiest and most effective logic available, money, and simply get accustomed to it that most discussion on moral conduct are either a) left to whip up emotions by extremists or b) friendly, philanthropic acts of good will.

Where is the movement for the development of moral conduct that emerges from the middle of the society? Why is there not really a broad debate about moral behaviour by citizens, corporations, administration? Likely, because everyone is so damn exhausted by trying to pay the bills.

Maybe, after all, the assessment is right and money simply defines morals today. It is the moral thing to do which has a market. Simply put, the wallet is our voting card and we don’t just vote each four years, but multiple times a day. If it sells, it constitutes a representation of our current morals. We’ve worked hard for our rights to vote in the online shop check out process, in the end. It should mean something.

Possibly, this simply is a chapter of our brave new world. And here, Joe Rogan is a trailblazer of morals. Spotify is just a vicarious agent.

Another one-liner was great in this show; just from memory:

I don’t use facebook.
But does facebook use you?

Today, it’s very likely you cannot avoid being used by facebook. This may be its ultimate transgression and it links well to the stance of Google in the Ancillary Copyright discussion. You. Cannot. Avoid. Being. Used. By a company. And many seemingly carelessly and rather stubbornly advocate for that. Just let this sink in.

Not avoid being used.

And then we discuss that there is sadly no way of reigning in tech giants that get too large because that would not be the American way to go. Not avoid being used. + No option to reign in. If that were a cable company, there would be much hand-wringing and Swastikas online, but everyone’s favourite tech giants? Nooo… But I get carried away. More for another time. Or not.

Loved the show! :slight_smile: I tend to have low blood pressure. This is like medicine to me. Will forward the club bill to my insurance and see what they say.


I don’t use Facebook, and when I am on my home network or on my work PC, they cannot track me - over 2,500 Facebook domains are blacklisted on my home network and in the hosts file of my work PC.

But to the main point of your post…

I see one of the biggest problems being the search for more profit now. It doesn’t matter how happy the staff are, how happy customers are or how good your products are (build quality, as opposed to number of functions or how it looks), as long as we can throw product out the door today and make a profit in the next quarter, if the whole pyramid scheme collapses next month, hey, that isn’t my problem, as long as I cashed in at the high point!

The concepts of goodwill and customer loyalty are long gone. Some companies, like Apple, try and keep the myth alive, but it is more about lock-in than customer loyalty. (And I say that as someone sitting here with an iPhone, Watch, iPad and Mac mini (as well as a Windows PC and Linux PC).

Goods these days are not built to last and, if they start to go wrong, it is cheaper/simpler to just replace the whole thing! A case in point, our washing machine is “only” 8 years old and the main bearings on the drum are on the way out, you can hear it throughout the whole house when it is on the spin cycle.

My first, well, my only, washing machine in the UK was 5 years old when I bought it and it had a split lock plastic, which was swapped out for about 5UKP. It lasted me another 12 years and I sold it on, when I left the UK.

My old VW Golf did over 500,000 miles, the last I heard of it, after I had sold it on (I had untold problems with it and ended up putting a 2nd hand engine in it, because the previous owner had messed with the original - they put a 1600cc head on a 1500cc block, the cooling channels were on opposite sides, so it was no wonder it blew, shortly after I bought it - but it was that 2nd hand engine that wracked up those 500,000 miles). Most modern engines aren’t designed to be able to do anywhere near that sort of mileage.

Older computers were a breaking technology, but, over the last 15 years, the technology has been evolving much slower and my 12 year old Sony laptop is still perfectly usable as a Linux PC. With the current explosion of pace from Apple and Intel and AMD trying to find an answer, we might be in for another era where PCs are increasing in power each year.

But, at the moment, a base model Mac M1 or a Core i3 PC is plenty fast enough for day-to-day work. When I bought my M1 mini, I was holding out for a Pro or Max model, or possibly an M2 version… Then it dawned on me, I wasn’t using all the power on my Ryzen 1700 PC and the mini was at least as fast as that, faster in some disciplines, even. There was no need to go Pro or Max,that would just be throwing thousands of Euros away for pose value, and I can use the money better elsewhere.

We need to start looking back at the “good old days”, which probably weren’t that good, but, hey, fond memories and all that, where we would buy generational goods. My mother received a mixer when she got married, its motor finally burnt out 2 years before she died, nearly 40 years later! The same with her washing machine, it was bought new, as I was a child. It lasted over 20 years.

Today, if you aren’t selling devices that will break after a few years and raking in profits from selling new machines, you are doing it wrong. This is totally the wrong attitude.

If I buy a washing machine and it only lasts 5 or 8 years, I’ll look for another brand next time. The same with other white goods. If they don’t last a reasonable amount of time, I’ll look for a product from a different manufacturer next time.

It is getting even worse with IoT based white goods and TVs. Our Sony Bravia stopped getting updates after just over a year. I disconnected it from the network and have been using it as a dumb panel ever since. I just plug a cheap Fire Stick in it. Sony are losing out on my custom, because they didn’t ensure it worked for a reasonable amount of time, so any advertising or sales of media through the TV is gone, and next time round, I’ll be looking at a different brand…

Companies should be looking back at goodwill and customer loyalty as assets again. If you can make a happy customer out of someone with one of your products, they’ll buy others from you. You don’t have to keep selling them tat that falls apart after 5 minutes, so they have to buy again, that just drives your customers away, long term.

Instead of looking to the next few months, companies should be looking at profitability and growth over the next 10 or 20 years, coming up with strategies for the longevity of the company, its sustainability, its treatment of employees and customers, its impact on the environment. These things need to be built into a sort of social balance sheet.

The same goes for product security and the security of their own systems. At the moment, it is cheaper to do the minimum in terms of security and pay out if things go wrong. This should have a huge negative impact on the “social balance sheet”, but it doesn’t. People tut, people forget after a few months and carry on as normal.

Identity theft? A company shouldn’t even be allowed to exist, if it has leaked enough information that customers’/partners’ identities can be stolen! But the worst they currently face is a slap on the wrist, and possibly have to pay for identity protection services for a portion of their customers - but the disruption to the customers’ lives doesn’t play into it.

We have to get away from this short-sightedness and evolve businesses into sustainable entities. A company doesn’t need to grow-and-grow at extreme rates and gobble up the competition. We need to reset our expectations. The greedy, extreme capitalism that we now have is no more sustainable than the failed communist regimes.


… and everything else: if you could find the time, would you please run for office? :smiley:

But then again… I would not even know how to individually push for these thoughts with a more or less likely outlook of success. I mean, how do you help that change to manifest itself?

Sure, posting to a forum we did.

But even given a clear sense of the supposed problem, we still fall into the same consumption traps. I am as much part of the problem as I condem it.

Any sort of local politics or movement groups have just a minuscule scope of impact.

And even if you ran on this platform for a big party and succeeded, there would be a snowballs chance in hell to be able to actually change anything. Everything depends too much on a highly profitable economy. It would be like a doctor planning to remove the circulatory system in a patient since he finds just too many good reasons against blood.

This rightfully is among the toughest societal riddles to solve - how to gradually wean away from excessive use of resources and the eroticism of profits and instead rather find another way in which we can compete just as lively and satisfyingly but with little collateral damage.


I find that the 90s consoles are plenty fun over any new gaming system… And in particular the SNES is sooo affordable. :blush:

Some comments in today’s show really stood out to me. I doubt I’m the first to think about what follows, but the profundity of one moment really struck me. The (paraphrased) exchange proceeded roughly like this:

Leo: I don’t know how much I enjoy being sucked into Apple’s ecosystem.
Devindra: But don’t you think it’s worth it for everything to work so seamlessly?
[Later, on the “tech giants” being examined in Washington]
Devindra: We are powerless to stop these companies from absorbing everything and making it their own… [They have] too much power.

I get it: Apple’s ecosystem is different from the way that Amazon can leverage lots of data to create the right products, featured in the right way, and sell them at the right price.

But is it really? I contend that we need an updated mental model to understand the activities of some of these other companies.

Let’s take Google as an example: What is their money-making product? Obviously, the answer is “search engine.” Unless you’re living in 2008, this is probably an unsatisfactory answer to you. For example, Google does several activities other than search: they create Android, the Chromium browser, ChromeOS, Smart Home products, etc. These are technologies that are foundational to the way that many people lead their technological lives. What does a search engine have to do with all of this?

In my mind, it is incorrect to describe the interconnected activities of these companies as “ecosystems.” This evokes a minor level of human involvement, or the beauty of harmonious chaos (insert joke here about Google and chaos). Instead, I think it is more apt to call these the public good activities that would usually be called “governing activities” in the physical world. If you don’t have public streets, you can’t drive your car to the market. The Chromium browser in this sense is like the interstate highway of the web. It is developed because somebody needs to develop it to ensure that virtual citizens of the internet can drive to the virtual marketplace, where ads are served of course.

In this sense, Google and Alphabet are like stewards of their technological country. They have staked their claim to this part of the digital world. Apple and Facebook have each staked their own claims to the digital world, involving hardware and communication.

When we start viewing the digital world as its own entity, and not as something that merely connects to the physical world, we have a better mental model for processing the milieu of unease. To the people who claim parallels to the monopolistic actions of the 1900s, I contend that we are witnessing the colonization of the 1500s. New virtual lands are being sown, although they aren’t exactly new–others have been here working on communication, on hardware, and software. The sentiment being reflected on Capitol Hill is not anger over consumers being monopolized in a market category, which can be preemptively refuted with some quote of market cap down to the cent. “Look here, in the physical world, which is all that Congress has authority over, we are not even close to having too much business.” It’s anger at the unrepresentative virtual governments we find ourselves in. Nobody claims that foreign governments should be given a blank check to do whatever it is they want to their citizens just because “there are 8 other countries with larger GDPs than us.” This is the level of skepticism that consumers have towards these corporations.

I don’t know what the right answer is. We have no working model for democracy in the virtual world. But that world is nascent, and I expect many changes to take place over the coming decades. We can’t hide behind our current “market-centric” model for tech over the next decades–at least, not without detrimental consequences.


The framework above is very compatible with this thought: we have muliple citizenships at any given moment. We contribute to the strength of those multiple countries by voting with our wallet, our time, or our attention. But our voting rights are only whether that “virtual country” should continue to exist, not any meaningful contribution to its governance.

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No, I’d say that Google’s money making product is advertising, probably followed by their Google Cloud corporate product. Search, Android, ChromeOS etc. are there to drive adverts and gather data to improve the advert targeting engine, this increasing ad revenue, because they can charge more for better targeted ads.

Chromium is the taxi full of advert panels, where the driver is asking you questions the whole way to your destination and quietly building a profile about you, without you realising it. It is why I use privacy based browsers, like Firefox, Brave and Safari, I also use various network tools, like my own DNS server, with blacklists of major tracking sites, including all of Facebook and much of Google (blocking Facebook tracking includes over 2,500 blacklisted sites, for example).

Yes, and these countries make the former DDR, with its Staatssicherheit (Stasi) look like amateurs, when it comes to surveilling their “population”. Amazon and Facebook are little better. Microsoft is somewhere in the middle ground and Apple, at the moment, is probably the most benevolent, but you pay heavily with real money for that benevolence - and Apple is more like a scary priest that you have to confess your sins to every week, after you’ve dipped deep into your pocket to pay him your church tax (a real thing, here in Germany) and coughed up more for the offertory basket.


That’s fair.

The reason I call it the highway is because this conceptualization as the taxi doesn’t explain why it exists the way it does. It is an open source tool, as are Android, ChromeOS, etc. I agree these are made for the monetary purpose of increasing targeting, but I argue these are also “public works” provided for the virtual nation-state of Google.

I also use Firefox. It is wonderful, and duckduckgo is rarely worse than alternatives these days with the amount of crud in the search engines.

In this mental model, surveillance is not the only harm. It’s just easiest to make the case with Google because it has, again, parallels with the physical world. But make no mistake, Apple is fierce virtual nation-state. They make it difficult to have dual citizenship in Microsoftland, Alphabetia, or Penguin Island, but “at least the trains run on time.”

I personally never intend to own an Apple device, because I never intend to be locked into a virtual state. I’m aware there are tradeoffs, but it is too much to ask that I have total and complete trust in one organization to be responsible for my digital life. After removing my ability for dual citizenship in other states, they have unilateral power to change my entire digital existence, since again, I do not have any vote in Applistan’s governance; only whether it exists.

My wife may choose to buy an Apple device in the future. I just bought her a Framework running Ubuntu, and I think it’s been great for her. We’ll see how much we can diversify our digital lives.

As more children grow up in a world that is profoundly digital, I think the importance of our virtual lives will be highlighted. I hope we can figure out how to deal with the problem then.

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That is a widely held mis-conception.

Chromium is open source, Chrome is Google’s version of Chromium, with extra, hidden, proprietary Google code.

Google Android is the same, Android AOSP is open source, Google Android has a lot of extra functionality and proprietary layers stacked on top to make it usable, and build in all that lovely tracking that isn’t in the AOSP version.

I totally agree with you. I’ve been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix and DuckDuckGo for the last 5 years or so.

Yes, I didn’t leave them out, although I did liken them to a religious state, more than a traditional despotic state.

I use Windows, macOS, Linux, iPhone and Android on a daily basis, moving freely between them. But I do use third party tools for managing my information, like 1Password for password management, instead of Apple Keychain or the KDE equivalent, or Edge or Chrome.

There again, I have real, physical dual citizenship, so maybe that makes it easier for me in the virtual domain?


Yeah, I’m aware I honestly just can’t be bothered to remember the AOSP acronym sometimes. AOSP is “pure Android” unlike the marketing jargon that accompanies the Pixel phones these days.

My Pixel 1 was one of my favorite phones. Nothing else has the magic, and it’s hard to find my friend Jack.


hmmmm, I’m trying to remember the last product that Apple or Google “forced” me to buy!! :joy: This entire discussion is a bit over the top folks!

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Ctrl+F force only brings up your post… Not sure who or what specifically you are responding to. Are you saying my mental model of governing instead of marketing is over the top? My disdain for lock-in is over the top? Or are you speaking to someone else entirely?

The IRS may have come to its senses on the facial selfie thing:


I think they must have cleaned up the address data. At ours, all the mail goes to the appt management office, which is then distributed to residents. So USPS aren’t aware of appt numbers I guess.

Not in an apparent and haven’t received any test kits yet.

I requested my test kits the day they became available, still waiting.
Would have been nice to have this week. I was fighting what ended up being a nasty head cold, but went to get tested to be on the safe side.

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We buy the quick tests in the supermarket or our employers provide them. We have to do a test 3 times a week at my place of work, when we aren’t in home office.

For those that aren’t vaccinated, they have to get a pcr test on the way to work, as a quick test isn’t enough.

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Yeah, haven’t had COVID (that I know of) just wanted the kits Incase I need to be tested in emergency or something…

Fully vax’d aswell. :+1: