Birch Bark Issue #65

Mixing it up a bit

Hello and happy Friday! This issue is a bit longer than normal, but I felt like adding a bit more color to the links I’m sharing. Hope you still enjoy!

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Links

Coolest link of the week goes to The New York Times for this page that will tell you if you live in a political bubble based on your geography. Apparently I live in a pretty solidly Democratic area, but your results will of course vary.


The Basecamp saga took another dark turn this week as we got new reporting from Casey Newton on what happened last Friday when Basecamp had a town hall meeting that resulted in a third of their staff quitting the company. I’ll spare you my extended feelings about this, but I will just say I’m continually surprised how many people seem to struggle when asked to denounce white supremacy on the spot.


Over the past year I’ve laid into conservative conspiracy theories and bad behavior/policy around Covid, so it’s only fair to link to this piece in The Atlantic about the liberals who can’t seem to move on from that Covid life.

These vaccines we have are remarkably safe and effective, and they are greater than anything we could have imagined a year ago. Everyone who can get one should get one as soon as they can, and we should celebrate it when people get theirs. I think if you’ve been vaccinated then life should get much more back to normal for you immediately. Yes, we still need to wear masks for a bit longer as we get more people protected, but we should not act like the vaccine is just a nudge towards normalcy, it’s the endgame.

I know some won’t like to hear this, but more people getting vaccinated will do more to get the economy back on track, will help small businesses return to normal, and remove restrictions way better and way faster than complaining on social media.


In less controversial news, Nintendo plans on selling 30 million Switch units this year. To understand how monumental that is, that would be over 2x as many Wii Us Nintendo sold in that product’s lifetime, and it even beats the Sega Genesis, GameCube, and original Xbox. And this isn’t a new product, the Switch is over 4 years old now, so this sort of sales velocity is incredible. It is likely that by January the Switch will be the third best selling video gamer console of all time, just behind the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo’s own DS.

On the less positive side, this also means that Switch ports of games from the other consoles are becoming more rare and less impressive. The Switch was underpowered compared to the competition when it released in 2017, and now it’s light years behind the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Maybe this is the year we get a “Switch Pro” with some beefed up specs? Maybe, but the Switch needs more than a bump to even keep up with how far behind it was when it launched. But with this many units selling, this all may be more of an academic point for now.


And finally, if you have the itch to invest, but Bitcoin, NFTs, and stonks are just not doing it for you, you can now invest in portions of rare Pokémon cards. I would write more, but I need to run to my parents’ house to dig up my old Pokémoin card collection from the 90s…

Videos

This is the best video I watched all week, and it does a great job of showing how people and groups who claim to be “all about the science” routinely introduce chaos to make it so people can say “well, it’s not clear what’s true” even when it’s pretty damn clear what’s accurate. The example of cigarette companies half a century ago has some exceptionally direct parallels to what’s going on today.

I't’s a Nintendo week, apparently, as this video of Mario 64 with ray tracing blew me away. It’s also worth congratulating the enthusiast community for putting more effort into Mario 64 than Nintendo has in any of their rereleases.

I’m sharing this video because it just rams home the point that Apple is smoking Intel and AMD in mid-range processors. Apple’s worst laptop is a beast, and we haven’t even seen the high end Apple Silicon chips yet.

Major Scrubs spoilers, but I loved this dissection of probably Scrubs’ best episode, and one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen.