Tom MacWright



The weather is starting to get better.


I am still really loving the constellation of bands around Mammal Hands. They just released a new album, “Gift from the Trees”, and it’s really excellent.

Their guitarist, Stephen Mullins, also just released an excellent album that has more of a Fennesz direction - guitar-based ambient.


Of course I watched Succession, and it was good. I also watched four movies - the best being Nope, which delivered on all the levels. The rest were more uneven: The Neon Demon is a “vibes movie”, Triangle of Sadness was sort of an overdone, kind of tedious satire, and I disliked how much I liked This is the End. It started sometime in the pandemic, but my already-bad taste in movies has gotten even worse, and what I seek more than anything is just a “romp” - a fun, stupid movie.


I’m still resisting the urge to write something about AI. I think there’s something to be said about how a lot of people feel sad about it, and how it seems to resonate most with ideas & money people, and how in our conception of luddites versus adopters we’re implicitly signing onto a sort of capitalist ethos in which productivity will increase but everyone will work just as much and just as hard - but who needs all that.

Before too long, we will not dele­gate decisions to AI systems because they perform better. Rather, we will delegate decisions to AI systems because they can get away with everything that we can’t. You’ve heard of money laundering? This is human-behavior laundering. At last—plausible denia­bility for ever­thing.

In the meantime, Matthew Butterick continues to produce the most interesting critical writing on the topic, most recently Will AI Obliterate The Rule Of Law? He has a lot of legitimacy here, being a lawyer, typographer, artist, programmer, and also the leader of the most prominent lawsuits about AI.

In recent months, the phenomenon has jumped up a level, with many city workers now blocking, defacing, folding, or obscuring their license plates in order to remain invisible to automated tolls and red-light and speed cameras. They are contributing to a staggering $100 million a year lost to the MTA and Port Authority through toll evasion.

On a totally different topic, there’s this, NYPD’s Illegal Parking Needs to Stop, along with the NYPD breaking all kinds of privacy laws. It’s this odd combination of factors - the police surveilling people while obscuring their own license plates and parking illegally. One big component is the raw power of the police, which rivals and often trumps the power of politicians. And the other is just cars, those cars.

inclusionary zoning can be a good short-term housing policy, if it is well designed, but should not distract us from longer-term goals of housing abundance and affordability.

Sam Deutsch wrote a fair, clear summary of Inclusionary Zoning, the controversial but widespread system for creating affordable units in new housing.