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Links: March 2019

You Are Not a Tool

To me, that combination of many things — of not being tied to one particular tool — is where the power often lies.

The Tragedy of Baltimore

In 2017, it recorded 342 murders — its highest per-capita rate ever, more than double Chicago’s, far higher than any other city of 500,000 or more residents and, astonishingly, a larger absolute number of killings than in New York, a city 14 times as populous.

An hour into the forum, a neighborhood resident named Renee McCray stepped up to the microphone. She described how bewildering it had been to accompany a friend downtown, near the tourist-friendly Inner Harbor, one night a few months earlier. “The lighting was so bright. People had scooters. They had bikes. They had babies in strollers. And I said: ‘What city is this? This is not Baltimore City.’ Because if you go up to Martin Luther King Boulevard” — the demarcation between downtown and the west side — “we’re all bolted in our homes, we’re locked down.” She paused for a moment to deliver her point. “All any of us want is equal protection,” she said.

It was a striking echo of the language in the Department of Justice report and the activists’ condemnations of the police following Gray’s death. Back then, the claims were of overly aggressive policing; now, residents were pleading for police officers to get out of their cars, to earn their pay — to protect them.

You could look at this evolution as demonstrating an irreconcilable conflict, a tension between Shantay Guy and Tony Barksdale never to be resolved. But the residents streaming into these sessions with Harrison weren’t suggesting that. They were not describing a trade-off between justice and order. They saw them as two parts of a whole and were daring to ask for both.

Matmos: Plastic Anniversary Album Review

Plastic Anniversary’s ultimate resonance comes when you take in everything—ideas, sounds, images, links. On the album’s back cover is a heartbreaking photograph of a sea bird decaying on a beach, its body almost gone while the plastic material that had been in its stomach—and presumably had caused its death—remains. The colors are sickeningly beautiful, like this album at its best.

Otoboke Beaver: Don’t Light My Fire

The new Otoboke Beaver single makes me happy and I’d like it very much if they played some non-festival US dates.

Your AirPods Will Die Soon

Of the 3.4 million tons of electronic waste generated in America in 2012—an 80 percent increase from 2000—just 29 percent was recycled. “Imagine that every single thing in the world has the same life span as a battery, and wore out after 12 to 18 months,” Wiens told me. “It would be catastrophic for consumers and even worse for the planet.”

But, of course, companies design for performance and sales, not life span. They make money when they sell more units, and they’re not financially responsible for disposing of products when consumers are finished using them. Nadim Maluf, the founder of the battery consultancy Qnovo, told me that a decade ago, he went to big tech companies telling them he could help them double the longevity of their products, by extending the life of the lithium-ion batteries they were beginning to use. “No one really cared,” he told me. “Extending product life wasn’t consistent with growth on the financial side.”

Alia Bright

Look at this gorgeous 3D paper lettering from Alia Bright!

At the center of Mueller’s inquiry, a campaign that appeared to welcome Russia’s help

John Sipher, a former CIA officer who ran agency operations in Russia, said that counterintelligence investigations — which is how the Russia probe began — rarely lead to criminal charges, because they are largely intended to piece together information carefully and professionally hidden by foreign intelligence professionals.

“We are looking for a clean, legal answer — and it is something that is rare in these kind of cases,” he said. “What we have seen so far is already ugly, despicable, unpatriotic and unethical. However, by bluster, lies and attacking the system [Trump] has convinced a large minority of people that anything short of an arrest means that he is totally innocent and nothing happened.”

Reunion Tour! The Band Is Back! Wait, Who Are These Guys?

Rock music constantly asks the question, “What’s real and make believe?” Strict constructionists like Koppelman, Edwards and I may scoff at some incomplete band reunions, but for less skeptical fans, including apparently many people who adore Foreigner, there’s a simpler, ontological litmus test. If you have as grand an emotional experience seeing Journey without Steve Perry as you would with him, how is your experience not real? Because if Journey won’t perform with Perry, your choice isn’t Fake Journey or Real Journey, it’s Semi-Journey or No Journey at All.

Show Us Your Junk! Ep. 23 - Steve Albini

I was correct to assume that Steve Albini giving a tour of Electrical Audio is a great way to spend a half hour.