Alan Jacobs


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I wrote a June update for my Buy Me a Coffee supporters. I’m very grateful for those supporters because they enable me to keep blogging, which I love to do.

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I made a little outline of the Pentateuch — and explained why it matters that such an outline is so easily made.

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Early Anglo-Saxon shoulder clasp

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Urgent insistence that I stop reading and play.

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After watching that shameful display by the USMNT today, I would like to remind everyone that Jürgen Klopp is unemployed. Just saying. ⚽️

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Live oak.

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Rose.

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A vital point by Zeynep Tufekci: “Misinformation is not something that can be overcome solely by spelling out facts just the right way. Defeating it requires earning and keeping the public’s trust.” If American public-health officials had been more open and truthful at the height of the pandemic, they might have increased confusion in the short term but certainly would have built trust for the long term.

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What if writing papers and grading papers are bullshit jobs?

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A sobering post from Rory Smith: “There is no obvious route back to smooth sailing for the Premier League from here. The league’s reality now is that it contains at least one team — its best team — that wants to abolish not only the rules but also the mechanism for making the rules. The legal documents describe the way the Premier League is run as a ‘tyranny of the majority.’ (In this case, that appears to be a synonym for ‘democracy.') City’s aim appears to be to turn it into a much more traditional form of tyranny.” ⚽️

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A new post on Genesis.

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New boilerplate terms & conditions for every tech company in the world: “We reserve the right to do anything we want with anything we find and for any purpose we choose, and will provide no compensation to anyone for anything under any circumstances.” That should cover it.

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Ted Gioia: “When I recently revisited Rick Beato’s studio for our interview, I noted that he had added more than one million subscribers since my previous visit. That’s because music fans (like everybody else) are increasingly turning to alternative media.” Is YouTube “alternative media” though?

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The Premier League loves VAR. Why don’t they care about fan frustration? Because neither attendance nor TV viewing is declining. It’s a simple story, really. ⚽️

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A woven Book of Hours

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Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist I: “So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists.”

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Wood engraving by R. P. Hale

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Currently reading: The Debate on the Constitution. Reading through these documents, so brilliantly chosen and edited by Bernard Bailyn, my two dominant thoughts are (a) Neither the Federalists nor the Antifederalists believed in the honesty or decency of their opponents, and (b) Quiet little James Madison is terrifyingly brilliant. 📚

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I can never quite get over magnolias.

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Charlie Stross on Microsoft Recall: “But this is an utter privacy shit-show. Victims of domestic abuse are at risk of their abuser trawling their PC for any signs that they’re looking for help. Anyone who’s fallen for a scam that gave criminals access to their PC is also completely at risk. Worse: even if you don’t use Recall, if you send an email or instant message to someone else who does then it will be OCRd and indexed via Recall: and preserved for posterity. Now imagine the shit-show when this goes corporate.”

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Robin Sloan on his love for stories that give you checklists. Don’t forget to pre-order his wonderful complete-with-checklist novel Moonbound.

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Genesis: fertility.

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I’ve twice updated my post on highbrow/middlebrow/lowbrow, first with a further thought of my own, second with a correction from my friend Francis Spufford. Endless revisability is my favorite thing about blogging. Blog posts are corrigible.

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Damon Krukowski: “As a creator who requires more than zero for my content, I seem to be part of a conspiracy against Daniel Ek and Spotify. The fact of my existence challenges their program. Something has to give, in this literal zero-sum game. If I and other creators won’t accept close to zero for content, Ek and other platforms cannot operate under the conditions they require to build even a sentence. Creators must be swept aside as a conditional clause to their success.”

Ek is one of several tech leaders who have recently begun saying the quiet part aloud: he’s openly contemptuous of the people who create what he always calls “content.” And he’s rapidly moving his company to the point of paying them nothing at all. If he can’t steal their work he’ll just use AI-generated “content” — because he has contempt for his customers also.

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The first of a few posts on Genesis.