Novel clarifying turns of phrases

Hear a new word or turn of phrase that suddenly makes a concept click in you head?

Here’s a thread to share!

“ Trump’s arrival is the catalyst seed crystal that produces the phase change. The final product of the reaction emerges in its crystallised form, and the remaining elements of the mixture are discarded.”

Like counts under social media posts are the Sitcom Laugh Track of our generation.


Avoidant attachment.

I never had a word to describe a phenomenon that’s all too familiar to me.

Entschuldigen Sie, ich habe eine Frage. Sprechen wir hier Deutsch?

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So formal? …

Internet Advertising is the dream state of your digital life.

In other words, at the end of the day, you sleep, and all your memories and experiences are processing and that emerges in your dreams.

And with about the same lag, all of your digital life is processed by Google and Facebook, and emerges as digital memories in your Instagram feed and in YouTube pre-roll adverts.

Goldbuggery, n., someone who believes in the intrinsic value of gold. Derived from an old term used to describe advocates of the Gold Standard. Notable recent examples include Glen Beck and Alex Jones.

Weaponising Wasting Time

I think weaponized time-wasting is a more satisfying way to say it. Just has a smoother feel to it.


Tyranny of Minority Rule

Duopolies justify anti-competitive cooperation

Apple’s RSA incentivizes Apple to push more and more search traffic to Google and accommodate Google’s strategy of denying scale to rivals. For example, in 2018, Apple’s and Google’s CEOs met to discuss how the companies could work together to drive search revenue growth. After the 2018 meeting, a senior Apple employee wrote to a Google counterpart: “Our vision is that we work as if we are one company.”

This gets at a larger problem in many tech markets: the tendency towards duopoly, which often lets one company cover for the other acting anti-competitively. In the case of Apple and Google:

  1. Android’s presence in the market means that Apple can act anticompetitively with its App Store policies (which Google is happy to ape).
  2. Apple’s privacy focus justifies decisions like limiting trackers, restricting cookies, and cutting off in-app analytics; Google happily follows Apple’s lead, which impacts its advertising rivals far more than it does Google, improving their relative competitive position.
  3. Apple earns billions of dollars giving its customers the best default search experience, even as that ensures that Google will remain the best search engine (and raises questions about the sincerity of Apple’s privacy rhetoric).

This isn’t the only duopoly: Google and Facebook jointly dominate digital advertising, Microsoft and Google jointly dominate productivity applications, Microsoft and Amazon jointly dominate the public cloud, and Amazon and Google jointly dominate shopping searches.

And, while all of these companies compete, those competitive forces have set nearly all of these duopolies into fairly stable positions that justify cooperation of the sort documented between Apple and Google, even as any one company alone is able to use its rival as justification for avoiding antitrust scrutiny.


The dynamic is oddly directly similar to how two leading players will interact in a three-player political* game. They will naturally stabilize the game state in a way that prevents the third player from ever engaging.

This doesn’t happen in four player games really. Transient natural coalitions form in twos that tend to keep everyone in the game. But with three players? There is almost invariably one player who is frozen out.

The barrier-to-entry of joining a market for something like “Search” or “Online Ads” is so high that basically every other entity in that space is just the “third player.” Only a large coalition could join such a space and dislodge one of the existing ones. Only multiple coalitions could join and lead to a broader market.

Of course an external event (e.g., a new technology, a radical demographic shift, regulation, etc…) could also alter this equilibrium.

*political as in interactive, not as in actual politics. I.e., players can mess with eachother and the game isn’t just a race.

It’s two different monopolies propping each other up, or flexing on each other, depend on your point of view.

Google using their search monopoly to to force iOS to make them the default. Nobody provides a better search for Apple to switch to, and if they did, nobody else can out-pay Google who is giving Apple like 14% of their annual revenues.

Apple using their iOS dominance, since iOS provides Google with half its search traffic, to force Google to pay them 14% of their annual revenues.

Both their monopolies are so strong in their individual markets, but those markets affect each other. Each is so strong that they can force a huge concession from the other.

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Is this literally true? It seems like that can’t be right.


It’s more than just the size of their combined domination, it’s that the existence of each other is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. The case at hand where they work together, for massive money machine spinning.
  2. The market where they are “competing”, and so each can say “We’re not a monopoly, the other company is just as big as us!”

And if/when new laws are put in place, they each have so much money they can deal with new laws/regulations while their smaller, poorer competitors have to spend a proportionally bigger allotment of time and resources to implement the changes for the new rules.

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Yeap. We need a new raft of anti-trust legislation that specifically targets this kind of market relationship.

In context I get why DoJ has this data and it’s a good reason to, but I did initially read it and go “FBI’s getting cocky about telling us how much they’re spying on us” before realizing it was part of an anti-trust investigation.

Wow. What are all those androids and PCs doing?

Not being used for searching as much.