Discover more from Pessimists Archive Newsletter
𝙿𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚜 𝙰𝚛𝚌𝚑𝚒𝚟𝚎 Newsletter
2022 So Far...
The first 3 month of 2022 have been eventful and historically significant. Where the pandemic saw renewed interest and respect for emerging biotechnologies, a new hot war on mainland Europe, has seen a renewed interest and respect for energy technologies like nuclear power.
Risk calculations of peacetime: politically low risk adherence to the precautionary principle, has become untenable, as the often invisible victims of technological stagnation become impossible to ignore.
💉🍅 The Monsanto Years
Late January 2022 saw a viral spat unfold, after Neil Young announced he was pulling his music from Spotify due to Joe Rogan promoting vaccine disinformation. While Twitter lauded Young as a pro-science crusader, we sought to remind people that he played a large roll in sowing distrust in emerging biotechnologies (GMOs) before it was uncool.
We published an op-ed exploring this hypocrisy for The Daily Beast. The article gained a lot of traction on Twitter and postive responses from people across the political spectrum.
⭐️ Achievement Unlocked: Getting Ann Coulter to link to a left leaning publication:
⚡️ Energy Security? Nein Danke!
As war broke out in Europe, EU nations had a reckoning with their dependence on Russian energy imports. Germany in particular has been the slowest in weaning itself off Russian energy, while snubbing energy tech like nuclear that offer a path to energy independence.
While countries like France embraced nuclear power and in turn have much better energy independence, Germany has been planning to end its nuclear power production by early 2020.
📠 Seize the Means of Reproduction
In the USSR the advent of the photocopier meant the means of publishing was at risk of becoming democratized, so naturally the communist regime sought to control this new technology. Only in the final years of the USSR were photocopiers freed from their “guarded, double-locked, steel-covered doors.”
As Russia again descends into authoritarian control, Putin might have a harder time controlling the means of publishing, thanks to the internet and the estimated 99 million smartphones in the country.
✏️ Very Cross Words
In late January The New York Times bought the viral hit word game ‘Wordle’, this prompted us to delve deep into the rise of crosswords for BigThink. Surprisingly, both The New York Times and the Times of London, were staunchly anti-crossword when they first began appearing in newspapers.
The Times of London would come around first, then eventually the New York Times would fold in the 1940s and print its first. Both now have the most coveted and famous crossword puzzles in the world.
Read our deep dive into the topic at BigThink:
🎷 The Devils Dance
Last week New Orleans ended a rule that banned Jazz in schools, passed in 1922, a time when Jazz was a controversial cultural development. We found the report of the ban that was repealed last week:
The 1920s saw other school boards across the US fight against Jazz too, as moral panic grew. Like today school boards are vulnerable to reactionary cultural conservatism:
Accusations of racial motivation were dismissed, with anti-jazz activists insisting they were rational, fair and fact-based. C'est la vie!
🆘 VicTok (Victorian TikTok)
Russia has been trying to obscure its losses in its war on Ukraine via censorship, battling the free flow of information - via new technologies - in order to writer its own version of history and reality. Information has flowed freely and near instantly since the days of the telegram, it was as Tom Standage put it ‘The Victorian Internet.’
We found a facinating example from 1863 of Russia - with the help of Prussia - blocking telegrams from journalists reporting its military losses in a Polish uprising against Russia rule (January Uprising.)
📦 Pessimists Archive Merch
We have created a number of fun and ironic products using our favourite newspaper clippings: a mouse mat, a bookmark, a luggage tag and a laptop case are some of our faves. Support our work!
See our entire catalog of merchandise: