“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant”

From the Editorial Board of The New York Times:

The last time President Trump claimed that “both sides” were responsible for bad behavior, it didn’t go well.

That was nearly a year ago, after a march of neo-Nazis descended into violence and a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a woman.

On Monday, Mr. Trump again engaged in immoral equivalence, this time during a gobsmacking news conference after his meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A reporter referred to last week’s indictments of 12 Russian military officials for a coordinated cyberattack on the 2016 election and asked Mr. Trump if he held Russia responsible. “I hold both countries responsible,” Mr. Trump said.

Even in a presidency replete with self-defeating moments for the United States, Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, which were broadcast live around the world, stand out.

The title of this opinion piece is ‘Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?’ and they don’t answer that question because no one but Trump knows, yet.

Categories:

Politics

Instapaper

Instapaper is going independent (via 9to5Mac):

Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.

We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

Lastly, we want to express our deepest gratitude to Pinterest for being such great stewards of the product over the past two years. With their support, we rebuilt search, introduced an extension for Firefox, made a variety of optimizations for the latest mobile operating systems and more. Our focus is providing a great reading application to our users, we appreciated the opportunity to do that at Pinterest, and are excited to continue our work.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please let us know by sending an email to support@help.instapaper.com or replying directly to this email.

– Instapaper Team

When I got my iPhone in 2008 one of my first wishes was an app that let me read articles from the Web while I was in the subway without Internet access. Then Instapaper came out and made my day.

I’m happy Pinterest sold Instapaper. They haven’t updated their own service, let alone Instapaper. Seriously, Pinterest has been coasting for at least 3 years with no feature updates.

Shame on them.

Categories:

Software

Blindspotting

Last week I went to an advanced screening of Blindspotting.

It was written by and stars Oakland natives Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal and was directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada. It’s an honest look into the hipsterification of Oakland and the experiences of both locals and transplants. Intense & hilarious. I highly recommend you see it if you can.

I was lucky enough to see Blindspotting in a Dolby Atmos theatre at the Dolby headquarters in San Francisco thanks to my wife who works at Dolby. Not only was the sound quality incredible, but the picture was insane too (neither my wife nor Dolby paid me to say that).

playing to an empty room

The Twitch streamers who spend years broadcasting to no one:

“It’s kind of exhausting playing to an empty room day in and day out with no results,” one Redditor wrote on a now-deleted thread on r/Twitch.

“It’s fucking hard to stay positive when doing this 5 days a week when it feels like nobody drops by,” another Redditor wrote in a different thread, after spending months streaming to nobody. “I’ve come to a realization that streaming just isn’t working for me.”

“Been streaming on and off for 4+ years and everytime I come back I go weeks where the majority of time I’m streaming to no one,” another Redditor wrote. “It’s tough.”

I think about this story in the context of this website and my podcast. I maintain both of them more for myself than to have what I do seen and heard by others. Sure, I’d love to have an audience that grows every day, but I do these things as hobbies and mental exercises more than anything else.

I’ve become a better writer from writing here since 2006, and I’ve become a better speaker from doing a podcast semi-regularly since 2014.

The same goes for my Instagram account. The fact that I have around 1,100 people interested in my photos street cars is great, but I was doing it way before Instagram existed (how about me with a 2.1 MPX Canon PowerShot ELPH S100 on the streets of Manhattan in 2000).

Clearly some Twitch streamers enjoy the sense of community they get from it, but for the streamers who don’t enjoy the actual process of streaming, then maybe it’s not the right hobby for them.

Categories:

Community

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Russia’s got the clearance to run the interference.

12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation:

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, on Friday announced new charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The announcement came just a few days before President Trump is expected to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland.

The 11-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy by the Russian intelligence officials against the United States, money laundering and attempts to break into state boards of elections and other government agencies.

The indictment is part of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s become increasingly obvious over the last 2 years Russians have been interfering in American politics for quite some time. The Mueller investigation is just further confirmation.

A good trick I learned when listening to Trump is just think of the opposite of what he says to know what’s really going on. If he says the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, it’s not a witch hunt. If he says Putin is a strong leader, he’s really a scumbag. If he claims he didn’t criticize British prime minister Theresa May yesterday, he did criticize her.

Categories:

Politics, Tromp

Restaurant as Workspace

Nellie Bowles looks into the rise of restaurants in big cities being converted into co-working spacing during off-hours:

The company that laid the extension cords and power strips across Elite Cafe’s copper tables is called Spacious. Since it was started two years ago, Spacious has converted 25 upscale restaurants in New York and San Francisco into weekday work spaces. Membership, which allows entry into any location, is $99 a month for a year, or $129 by the month. With $9 million in venture capital it received in May, Spacious plans to expand this year to up to 100 spaces. A restaurant makes for the perfect conversion, the Spacious team argues. Bars become standing desks. Booths become conference rooms. The lighting tends to be nicer, less harsh and fluorescent, than an office, and the music makes for a nice ambience.

Originally, the founders of Spacious thought they would have to sell restaurateurs on the idea. Instead, restaurants, struggling to pay rent and wages and frustrated with disappointing lunch traffic, are coming to them, eager to strike deals for a slice of the membership dues. Only 5 percent have made the cut to become Spacious spaces, said the company, which is unprofitable.

It’s interesting to see businesses adapting to the changes in industries and technologies. The idea of using restaurant space when meals aren’t being served makes a lot of sense, but I wonder if this business model is a solution or a band-aid.

This article reminds me of a book on my to-read list, Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber.

Categories:

Business, Career

Superheroes Born on Third Base

Over at The New York Times, Mark Bowden looks into our obsession with superhero movies:

If heroes are idealized humans, then today’s reflect an exaggerated Cult of Self. They are unique, supremely talented beings who transcend laws, even those of nature. Hollywood has always cherished mavericks, but these are, literally, cartoons — computer-generated.

They celebrate exceptionalism and vigilantism. The old American ideal of succeeding through cleverness, virtue and grit is absent, as is the notion of ordinary folk banding together to overcome a threat — think of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or the original “The Magnificent Seven” or any of a dozen World War II-era films. Gone is respect for the rule of law and the importance of tradition and community. Institutions and human knowledge are useless. Religion is irrelevant. Governments are corrupt and/or inept, when not downright evil. The empowered individual is all.

The superhero is an alien or outcast who possesses unique powers acquired either at birth or through some accident or gift. You can imagine the avid consumers of such films electing a president who boasts “I alone” can solve the nation’s problems, and who delights in tagging his domestic and foreign opponents with villainous, comic book monikers — “Crooked Hillary,” “Rocket Man.”

Bowden doesn’t talk about what two of the biggest superhero franchises – Iron Man and Batman – have in common: their wealth provided them means with which they were able to transform themselves into superheroes. Tony Stark was not only a brilliant engineer, he inherited Stark Industries from his father and Bruce Wayne inherited Wayne Industries from his father.

Wealth affording you otherwise unattainable opportunities could not be more relevant in today’s world.

Categories:

Film

Weekly Exhaust Ep. 81 – Know What You’re Worth

In this episode Mike talks about employers not always wanting to hear the truth in interviews, Harlan Ellison’s advice on not working for free, another reason Mike loves Anthony Bourdain, one movie reco, and one doc-series reco.

Subscribe on iTunes (or listen online)

“Twitter is shit when it comes to meme”

Young people still love Twitter — as screenshots on Instagram:

“You’d think, ‘I have a viral account on Instagram. Almost 50,000 people pay attention to me. Surely they care about what I’m tweeting?’” says Hartwig. “But people absolutely do not give a single shit about what you’re tweeting,” she says. “When I post on Instagram, I can expect about 2,000 likes a post. With Twitter, I expect about two retweets and 20 to 30 likes.” She says Twitter rewards trends and current social relevancy, while Instagram offers more topical flexibility.

In theory, Twitter should make sharing content easy; retweets are a vital part of its model, and you can share anything with one click. Going viral on Twitter is also a double-edged sword: even if you pop off a good joke, its success is unlikely to reward you with substantial new followers, and most meme creators are looking to build a fan base, not just go viral for 15 minutes. Having viral tweets can often make the platform virtually unusable, not only because of spam, but due to the personal harassment and dogpiling that often accompanies it.

This sounds very similar to my experiences with Twitter and Instagram. I’ve had my @combustion Twitter account since 2007 and for the last 4-5 years I’ve been hovering around 330 followers, whereas on my Instagram @combustionchamber, I’ve gone from ~500 followers in 2017 to ~1100 followers this year. Admittedly, I put more effort into maintaining my Instagram account, but my effort and focus is rewarded with more followers who appreciate my obsession for snapping shots of the old cars I find on the streets.

There’s a simplicity to both viewing and creating content on Instgram that I think makes it much more approachable than Twitter, regardless of age. In light of the news last week that Twitter is replacing their head of product (again) it should be no surprise their platform seems like a shitshow with no clear focus or objectives.

Let’s also not forget they dropped support for their Mac desktop client earlier this year. Luckily Tweetbot still exists.

Categories:

Community, Product

Man up, Dems

Obama offers Democrats tough love ahead of midterms: ‘Enough moping’:

At one point, he turned to the crowd and declared, “Enough moping, this is a mope-free zone.”

And the former President even suggested to the roughly 200 donors in attendance, who also enjoyed a performance from Christina Aguilera, that Democrats can’t get fixated on the glitz and personality of politics.

“We shouldn’t expect (politics) to be entertaining all the time — and Christina Aguilera was wonderful — but you don’t need to have an amazing singer at every event,” he said. “Sometimes you are just in a church basement making phone calls and eating cold pizza.”

Word. Dems need to toughen up, fight back. The old rules of politics are no longer valid. This doesn’t mean lying, cheating, and treating others with hostility and prejudice like Trump does, but it does mean fighting back.

Categories:

Politics

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“I sell my soul, but at the highest rates.”

Science fiction author Harlan Ellison has died:

The science fiction genre has lost one of its greatest — and most controversial — authors. Harlan Ellison, who wrote and edited groundbreaking sci-fi anthologies, short stories, and television episodes, died at the age of 84, according to his wife, via an associate.

Ellison was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934, and published his first short stories in 1949, before moving to New York City to focus on writing science fiction. Throughout the 1950s, he wrote hundreds of short stories, and served in the US Army for two years. In the 1960s, he relocated to California, where he began to write scripts for television shows such as The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Star Trek. He later served as a consultant for shows such as The Twilight Zone and Babylon 5. Ellison also worked briefly for Walt Disney Studios, only to get fired after a day when co-founder Roy Disney overheard him joking about making a porn film with the company’s characters.

I’m not big sci-fi reader, so I only discovered Ellison about 8 years ago from an interview posted on Youtube:

That clip had a profound effect on me as a graphic designer and artist.

All artists would be wise to heed the words of Ellison. Health Ledger’s Joker also said it nicely, “If you are good at something, never do it for free.”

Netflix, HBO, magazines, publishers, they’re all nothing without the creative output of artists. Sure, I’ve bartered, exchanging the services of someone else for mine, but that’s the exception, not the rule (I did a hair salon’s website for free in 2002 in the East Village in exchange for free $60 haircuts for 8 years).

Know what you’re worth and and get paid for it.

Categories:

Art, Finance