baron chonkster

Or how I wish scientists got their damn act together and did something useful for once.
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Plugged In

This week, Plugged In is attaching hooks to a giant sandworm and riding it across Arrakis to pick up some milk and bread.

Guess who's still gallivanting around and actually on holiday right now? 

giphy-Aug-19-2021-11-44-50-58-AMThe answer is me, not John Krasinski or Jim Halpert. Just to be clear


And who would I be if I didn't suckle upon some low-hanging content fruit about traveling for this newsletter? So that's what we're going to do.

I've read a lot of sci-fi over the years.

One of the gifts these books have given me is complete and utter disappointment. They promise so much, yet the real world delivers so little.

Much of this I can get over. A flying car may be cool in my mindbrain, but, in reality, there's no way I'd want the common person in charge of a huge metal chunk hurtling across another dimension. 

giphy-Aug-19-2021-11-50-41-05-AMDon't pretend you have no idea how this ended. JUSTICE FOR WHOMPING WILLOWS.


But... there is one bit of sci-fi technology that'll never forgive scientists for not creating. But I can only explain it with a convoluted detour, so buckle up.

In Dune, there's a character called Baron Harkonnen.

(NOTE:  I made a podcast about the novel you should listen to).

For those who haven't read the book, he's the most archetypal "bad" character you could imagine.

Picture all the stereotypes of an antagonist. Bald? Check. Fat? Check. Murderous? You betcha. A literal pedophille? Uhh... yeah. How'd you guess?

Despite these… shortcomings, there's one bit of technology he uses that I covet.

Baron Harkonnen is such a CHONKSTER that he needs "anti-gravity devices known as suspensors to support his weight."

And you know what this is? Genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. It's the work of a (mad)man operating on another level.

giphy-downsizedYes, this is an actual clip from one of Dune's adaptations.

As someone who is currently dragging suitcases and bags down streets and onto tubes and off buses and into trains and up stairs, I'd give up a desert planet covered in rich spice to get myself some anti-gravity suspensors.

But nay! Modern technology has let me down.

Is it too much to ask for all my heavy stuff to be lifted as though I'm some sort of evil space baron? I think not, friends.

If you could send this newsletter to your local politician or scientist, I'd be forever grateful.

(P.S. We're keen to improve Plugged In and hear what you think about it, so head to the bottom of this email to give us your thoughts!)

News you need



The Boox Note Air is the Android-powered Kindle alternative I didn't know I needed. AND YOU DIDN'T EITHER!!!


Praise be! Xbox gets xCloud so you don't have to wait for slow downloads.


Apple's M1X Mac Mini may launch soon with new design and more ports. It can't come soon enough.


Hot damn, the OnePlus Buds Pro are legit AirPods Pro competitors for $150. Watch our Mr. Apple.


This dude's promotion is great news for Microsoft Surface fans.

A review you're required to read

The answer to the question "what's the best value Android phone" is one fraught with disagreements.

Ask ten phone nerds and you'll probably get ten different answers.

But that may have changed. Well, a bit, You know what nerds are like.

Anyway, this is what I'm talking about: the Google Pixel 5a.


This is Google's "budget" version of its flagship Pixel 5, and it does almost everything that phone does... but for cheaper.

To find out all the relevant information, I suggest you go and read our delicious review.

Sponsored by TNW

Look who's taking the stage...

Yes, our sub-brand Neural covers AI and quantum computing but it's so much more! We've got one eye on big tech, one on the startup scene, and a third robotic eye focused on politics and government policy.

And that's exactly why we're proud to introduce Neural at TNW Conference, featuring an amazing speaker list with people who work and create in a variety of domains.

From Unity's Danny Lange — a legend in the gaming industry — to Shopify's Ella Hilal, we're hosting some of the AI/ML community's most important thinkers. Come see them — virtually or in person — at our two-day tech festival on Sept 30 and Oct 1.

Here's a cool thing (also, cya)


Some of you may have seen the 2003 movie, Mystic River. It was an Oscar hit, being one of the few films ever to win both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

(TRIVIA TIME: Before Mystic River, this was last done in 1959 with Ben-Hur and then in 2013 by Dallas Buyers Club).

I haven't seen Mystic River. I'll be honest, I wasn't even aware of the movie until I read the book.

And yes, I am that guy.

The Mystic River I'm talking about was written by Dennis Lehane (of Shutter Island fame) and was published in 2001.

While it might not be the pinnacle of literature, it's a rip-roaring, page-turning, heart-racing read. It was one of those books that, despite its occasional shortcomings, I just couldn't put down. 

This isn't to say Mystic River is bad — far from it. The first hundred pages or so display some of the finest, tautly-written literary crime fiction I've come across, it just doesn't maintain this momentum throughout.

Despite that, I guzzled Mystic River down in mere days. And now I'm excited to sink my teeth into some more Lehane.


Tell your enemies all about Plugged In. I'll see the rest of you jabronis later.


Peas & Louvre,


(Find me on Twitter here and on Instagram here).

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From Amsterdam with <3

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