Pinned in March: podcast edition

People keep asking if I am getting any projects done while on leave and I keep saying no, but I realized I actually have been making decent progress on my project to be a little less ignorant about China. Here are my favourite recent episodes from my top two podcasts about China:

  • How does China’s advertisement market work? (Middle Earth Podcast). When I am trying to learn about something I am profoundly ignorant about, I find the easiest way is to piggyback on something I do know about. So I have been listening to tech analysis about China. This one covers the large differences between American and Chinese digital privacy laws and consumer tracking data, plus how social media and influencers work in China, where being too influential can get you arrested. Fascinating (to me)! Middle Earth panelists always seem eager to talk to each other– the two advertising industry guys in this episode have intriguing questions for the Weibo influencer.
  • Huawei and the Tech Cold War (Sinica Podcast). This has a great discussion of 5G and the international politics surrounding it. There is a non-techy panelist so things get explained for civilians.

A couple of other favourite podcast episodes that have made me less ignorant about some other things:

Pinned over the winter

  • The Risks of Using Auction Prices as Artworks’ Fair Market Value (Artsy) I am aware that the high-end art market is a weird financial scam run by rich people, but this article gives some great examples of how that actually works. Secret agreements, price fixing, show auctions– what a trip!
  • The Value of Childhood Crushes (The New York Times) It’s rare enough to see children respected as whole people that each instance is a treat. What a sweet and caring little article about a sweet and lovely topic, crushes.

    One option, of course, is to do nothing at all about a crush except to savor it. “That is so safe,” Mr. Smallidge said. “That’s such a delicious feeling. One of the messages that would be nice for kids to hear is that they don’t have to do anything about crushes. A crush has its own value because it opens us up and it’s exciting. And most of them, I would say, end there.”

  • Delete Your Account Now: A Conversation with Jaron Lanier (Los Angeles Review of Books) I had my usual Jaron Lanier response to this, which is to really enjoy reading a critical perspective on Silicon Valley by someone who knows a lot of insider lore, while simultaneously dreading the condensed version of this I will be hearing from oppressively anti-tech/pro-human-connection west coast hippies for the next few years. Also, being filled with desire for Lanier to cut off his weird white man dreadlocks. I had forgotten about this SEC decision:

    One thing that’s really interesting is that Facebook is not a normal company, in the sense that its valuation when it went public wasn’t based on how much money it made, which is what would normally happen with a business. It actually somehow talked the SEC into creating this other category, where it would be valued based simply on how much it was used, just on user engagement. And I think that was one of the most dreadful decisions in the history of financial governance, because, unfortunately, it set the pattern for other companies that went public later, like Twitter. So it’s almost like a government mandate that, instead of actually making money and serving customers, a company will become an addiction and behavior modification empire.

  • Can New Energy Technologies Save the Planet? Ask the Sperm Whale (The Tyee) Andrew Nikiforuk points out that most of the whales that were killed for oil were killed after the invention of refined fossil fuels made that oil unnecessary, because that invention also made boats a lot better at chasing whales. Capitalism can’t be used to conserve anything; its whole thing is to run the planet into the ground.
  • Leashes, licences for cats promoted as way to protect birds (Times Colonist) Do it, Saanich! This is my #2 favourite minor political goal behind getting rid of daylight savings time.
  • Island Voices: Seeing the forest for the trees in urban planning (Times Colonist) An informed, coherent letter to the editor is a joy.