Tales from the crypt(o)

NBA commentator Jeff Van Gundy’s well-placed, near-extemporaneous “back at the crypt” comment notwithstanding, ubiquitous references to crypto currency range from annoying to cloying. Everything about digital money is either scammy or… that seems to be mostly it. Scammy neatly encompasses the over-hyped, Ponzi-schemed, last-one-in nature of the the collection of binary data that necessarily requires us to put all the usual finance-related terms in quotes: “ownership” “collateral” “token” “transaction.” You could go on.

And besides the obvious downsides of NFT’s – from terrific money-laundering possibilities to the proliferation of really bad art – we’d be remiss in not noting crypto’s climate impacts:

Crypto’s overall climate impact remains massive, with certain currencies swallowing up entire nations’ worth of processing power from individual computing units and data centers—much of whose power comes from fossil fuels. The most common form of cryptocurrency mining, proof of work, requires a massive amount of processing power. Alternative mining methods have a mixed track record so far, with some ostensibly “sustainable” mining systems still requiring significant amounts of dirty or clean power. And transacting any tokens across the blockchain, whether an NFT or a Litecoin, sucks up the collective energy feeding into the transaction, no matter the product at hand. One estimate claims that a single NFT trade across the much-used Ethereum blockchain uses enough energy that could power an entire house for several days. And this is all so the buyer can have bragging rights about “owning” an image.

Celebrities who are selling NFTs and also claim to care about the environment: What are you doing? Whatever it is, there sure are a lot of you. Here’s a list—surely incomplete—of luminaries who brand themselves as climate-conscious yet have also been hawking NFTs in some form or the other, ensuring this bizarre digital culture product will linger in the public discourse while possibly ruining the art world, the planet, and our collective sanity.

Not even-close-to-exhaustive list of scam-adjacent proponents at the link. Yes, engaging in yet another form of workaround for doing not the things we need to do about global warming: what are we doing? The climate question at the center of everything, that we’ve been needing to ask for decades, that we still need to answer.

Image: the crypt in question

Electronic Collectivism

I haven’t finished this piece yet by Sven Birkerts in the LA Review of Books, The Room and the Elephant, but it’s a situation you can relate to. via A&LDaily.

Every so often something will break through the stimulus shield I hold up whenever I go online, which I do far too often these days, we all do, and for various reasons, one being, I’m sure, that the existence of the medium has created an unremitting low-intensity neural disquiet that we feel only the medium can allay — even though it cannot, never has. But it is an attribute of the Internet to activate in me, and maybe in all its users, a persistent sense of deferred expectancy, as if that thing that I might be looking for, that I couldn’t name but would know if I saw, were at every moment a finger tap away. That is the root of the addiction right there — and it is an addiction, sure, if only a lower-case one. To bear all this, therefore, to proof myself against the unstanchable flow of unnecessary information and peripheral sensation, I make use of this shield, which is really just an attention-averting reflex, a way of filtering almost everything away, leaving just the barest bones of whatever I happen to be looking at, and these only in case some tell-tale name or expression requires me to peer a bit more closely.

I practice this defensive, exclusionary scanning not only with the incidental flotsam I encounter — the inescapable digests of happenings in the world, celebrity divorces, killer storms, and so on — but also, more and more, with texts about subjects that ostensibly concern me. A recent case in point — I have it handy now because I finally printed it out — is an article I found online at The Awl called “Wikipedia and the Death of the Expert” by Maria Bustillos (posted on May 17, 2011). It came to me via several clicks at one of the so-called “aggregate” sites I sometimes visit to keep myself “informed.” I scan a great many articles in the course of my daily tours, but I am not avid. More often I scroll my eyes down the screen with a preemptive weariness — which is an angry and defensive posture, I agree — as if nothing truly worthy could ever be found online (I know this is not true), as if I will have conceded something to the opposition if I were to fully engage the Internet and profit from the engagement.

Meanwhile, Back at the Front

of the Curve, the Germans (and others) continue to cook, eat and run-off the lunch we presume to deny ourselves.


That’s a tremendous percentage of their power needs and will only increase as they continue to put the infrastructure in place to supplant fossil and nuclear energy. As the price per kWh of solar continues on a kind of Moore’s Law trajectory, the question of how cheap it can get is dwarfed by the one which asks, how long will it take us to begin cooking-lighting-gaming-blogging using this and other (any!) renewable resources? The two questions don’t seem to be informing one another in this country yet, and sure, the scale of the U.S. is prohibitive on this front for a while, just as it once was for paved roads, and remains for high speed broadband – which remains scandalously snail-ish compared to other places, largely thanks to “competition.” Hey, wait a minute…

Anyway, bravo Deutschland.


So… even for an election season, the politics of the moment are coming unhinged; just read the last ten or twelve posts at TPM, a supposedly moderate newsy site, and you’ll see how covering the right is becoming a circus of crazy. Conventional thinking is gelling around the notions that

a) the Republican Party is the Tea Party

and b) whatever it’s called the GOP Confederate Party needs to disappear, and/or be replaced by something other than either one of those, for the good of the country.

But that’s… a bit of crazy in its own right, and we could definitely be being governed by majorities of those freaks (think endless investigations of trivial scandals and government shutdowns) after this fall. Nonetheless… Green. What do it mean? How about your crappy internet service? Don’t think its so crappy?

The Connectivity Scorecard is, as Stacey Higginbotham reports for GigaOM, a favorite measure of the telecom industry, since it paints the America in a particularly favorable light.

The Scorecard looks not just at broadband infrastructure, but also at how a country uses its broadband, and how much that helps its economy. So while the United States has less and slower broadband than many Asian and European countries, it was the top rated country on the Scorecard until this year.

But as this chart emphasizes, U.S. broadband is far less advanced than that of leading countries. Despite ranking the United States second, the report states: “While it has significantly more fiber and DOCSIS 3.07 deployment than most of Western Europe, US infrastructure is uneven, and the gap with respect to Asian economies and even Sweden and the Netherlands remains substantial.”

Is there a connection? Sorry. Expect more. Before it becomes a corporate logo. Damn.