Microsoft Is Kicking Ass with Their Phones

It looks like Microsoft is kicking ass with their mobile phone division:

Microsoft is cutting 2,850 more jobs beyond the 1,850 that the company announced would be eliminated earlier this year. The new cuts will hit phone hardware and sales.

The entire computer world has moved to mobile, with everyone on either iOS or Android, while Microsoft is at the gate after the flight has taken off. They’re tried to reboot their mobile computing efforts a few years after the iPhone came out (2008-ish), but none of them have been successful.

This failure in Microsoft’s mobile hardware efforts is interesting in light of the 300 million active devices that are (supposedly) running Windows 10 as of this past May.

Meanwhile, today is your last chance to get Windows 10 for free, because, you know, it’s that great that people will want to buy it tomorrow.

“Sitting around waiting for an idea is the worst thing you can do. All ideas come out of the work itself.”

That title is a quote from a great profile over at The New York Times by Wil S. Hylton on one of my favorite artists of all time, Chuck Close. It’s titled, The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close:

he has recently set about leaving much of his old life behind: filing for divorce from his wife, Leslie, after 43 years of marriage, disappearing for the winter to live virtually alone in a new apartment on Miami Beach and retreating from his summer friends to the crowded isolation of Long Beach.

His painting style has dramatically changed too:

It’s difficult to know how to describe that painting, or the series of new work it was part of, except to say that it was a radical departure from the last 20 years of his art. Gone were all the swoops and swirls that he typically paints into each square of the grid. In their place, he had filled each cell with just one or two predominant colors, creating a clunky digital effect like the graphics of a Commodore 64. The colors themselves were harsh and glaring, blinding pink and gleaming blue, while the face in the portrait — his face — was cleaved right down the middle, with one side of the canvas painted in different shades from the other. To the left, his skin was peach, his shirt deep red and the background mint green; to the right, his skin was pink, his shirt sapphire and the backdrop orange. There was a sea-green splotch hovering over his neck, with a long tail that poked into his nose, and one ear was radioactive yellow; the nose was honking blue.

The dude is getting old. Cut him some slack. The systems inside his body are shutting down, possibly including his brain. It’s called aging. To Close’s defense, “blinding pink and gleaming blue” sound like the colors he would see around him in Miami Beach.

This bit about Jeff Koons resonated with me:

In Long Beach, exile had the sound of summer, and I spent a few more days with Close, watching the tides roll out. We would sit at the long table on the middle floor, eating Indian takeout and discussing the commercial compromise made by artists who rely on assistants to make their work. “I look at my friend Jeff Koons, and I think, Why in God’s name does he want to do that?” Close said. “Why would he give up the fun part to become the C.E.O. of an art-­manufacturing company?”

Seriously. Why would you give up the fun part? If I had to guess, I’d say Koons is more interested in being a businessman than being an artist.

The transformation in Close’s work reminds me of what happened to Willem De Kooning towards the end of his life. His works became more and more minimal to the point where they were barely recognizable as De Kooning paintings. There are allegations of De Kooning’s assistants taking away canvases when they considered them finished.

After reading the Close profile, Austin Kleon wondered how you tell the difference between symptoms of art-making and dementia. Great question. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I’ll say this: even if Close is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, his work is still incredible. This isn’t a case where a once brilliant painter has forgotten his process and lost his craft and is finger painting (although Close could probably do a mean finger painting).

(Fifty-cent word from the Close profile: uroboric)

The Republican Internal Class War

Back in January, The Atlantic published an article by David Frum on the internal class war going on in the Republican party. I finally got around to reading it and it’s still very relevant and it’s great.

Here’s a piece:

When Trump first erupted into the Republican race in June, he did so with a message of grim pessimism. “We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems … We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money … We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain … The American dream is dead.”

That message did not resonate with those who’d ridden the S&P 500 from less than 900 in 2009 to more than 2,000 in 2015. But it found an audience all the same. Half of Trump’s supporters within the GOP had stopped their education at or before high-school graduation, according to the polling firm YouGov. Only 19 percent had a college or postcollege degree. Thirty-eight percent earned less than $50,000. Only 11 percent earned more than $100,000.

Trump Republicans were not ideologically militant. Just 13 percent said they were very conservative; 19 percent described themselves as moderate. Nor were they highly religious by Republican standards.

One of Frum’s core points is that there’s a disconnect between the candidates the Republican elite want to win (people that are not Trump) and the candidate resonating the most with the non-elite people (Trump).

Elon Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux

While Donald Trump talks about bringing coal jobs back to West Virginia, Elon Musk is creating (actually, he laid out his vision 10 years ago) concrete plans to get us off fossil fuels, but we can’t just jump directly from A to Z.

Two days ago he revealed part deux of his master plan:

The first master plan that I wrote 10 years ago is now in the final stages of completion. It wasn’t all that complicated and basically consisted of:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive

  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price

  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car And…

  4. Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.

Elon Musk a great example of putting your money where you mouth is. Talking the talk and walking the walk.

What’s important about Musk is he has a reason for everything. Everything is done by design.

I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability.

I’ll tell you this: I trust a partially autonomous Telsa over a human being who’s driving while playing fucking Pokémon Go and slamming into a police car.

DeSoto on Valencia

DeSoto automobile from Instagram

Taken from Instagram

From Wikipedia:

The DeSoto make was founded by Walter Chrysler on August 4, 1928, and introduced for the 1929 model year. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of the explorer who led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama), and was the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River.

Peter Thiel

Kara Swisher on Silicon Valley tech investor Peter Thiel, who will speaking tonight at the GOP convention:

According to BuzzFeed: “The speech will cover why Donald Trump is better for America over Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s anti-war stance and Trump’s economic credentials. Thiel is also expected to say that he’s proud to be gay.”

The last part is something socially tolerant Silicon Valley will surely cheer. But even the most diehard Republicans in tech — Meg Whitman, Mary Meeker and the always contrarian bear-hugger-of-capitalism Marc Andreessen — think Trump is insane and that any administration run by him will spell doom for the sector.

And while everyone imagines that is because tech people are so liberal, they’re really not deep down — the economic system works very well (thank you very much for the billions!) for Silicon Valley. Its denizens would rather tweak it to their advantage rather than blow it up completely as is Thiel’s bent.

Like Trump standing out from the rest of the GOP, Thiel stands out from the rest of Silicon Valley. An odd dude for sure.

Thiel is the guy who was secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker.