Learning from Comics

Over at The New York Times, George Gene Gustines explains how comics educated him growing up and how he parlayed it into a job at The Times:

Growing up as a fan of comics equaled being a nerd. This was long before today’s renaissance when comic book characters, particularly superheroes, dominate television and the box office. My family was poor, so my mother was horrified that I wasted money on comics. I would like to make the argument that this was my way of assimilating — my parents are from Ecuador and moved here in 1966 — but I suspect they would’ve been happier at the time if I had any interest in sports (or girls).

This is point I think a lot of kids today don’t understand and something I’ve been told by friends my age (born in the ’70s) who also started reading comics in the ’80s and ’90s.

Besides shaping a very enjoyable part of my career, comics have also taught me a lot.

When I was in school, comics gave me the first inkling of topics that would be covered in depth by my teachers. I learned about the Cuban missile crisis in 1982 thanks to a Justice League time travel adventure. In 1987, an issue of the Young All-Stars, about World War II heroes, taught me about Japanese internment camps in the United States.

There was also plenty of science. I know the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, thanks to the many “Flash Facts” that were in the adventures of the Flash. I also know that stationary satellites have an altitude of approximately 22,300 miles, thanks to the Justice League’s headquarters in space.

I think there’s still a lot of people who dismiss comic books as ‘kids stuff’ but much like video games — which we all have on our pocket computers — comic books are for everyone.

Categories:

Comics, Education

Essentially Cancelled

From The Verge, The Essential Phone 2 has reportedly been canceled:

Essential has canceled plans to develop a second phone and is exploring selling off the entire company, according to Bloomberg. Much of the details remain up in the air. Talks of a sale sound like they aren’t very far along, and the report says that Essential still has plans for future products.

One thing that does sound certain is that Essential’s second phone — at least as it was originally planned — isn’t going to happen. Bloomberg says the development was canceled and that engineers are now working on a smart home product, which is supposed to be released next year. That may be the Echo competitor that Essential announced a year ago, but which we haven’t heard a word about since.

The Essential Phone shipped months and months after they said it would be available last May, and then when it did launch, they cut the price $200.

Andy Rubin created the Android operating system, and he came to market with a decent phone, but the Android market is very crowded and Rubin clearly was not able to convince people to buy his phone over a Google or Samsung phone.

Categories:

Business, Product

“the white freedom of Calabasas”

From a powerful piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates on Kayne West:

What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought—liberation from the dictates of that we. In his visit with West, the rapper T.I. was stunned to find that West, despite his endorsement of Trump, had never heard of the travel ban. “He don’t know the things that we know because he’s removed himself from society to a point where it don’t reach him,” T.I. said. West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, pussy grabbers, and fuck you anyway, bitch; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.

This essay is a response to West’s recent tweets endorsing of Trump, calling Trump ‘his brother.’

Categories:

Tromp

whipping people into a state of anger

At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf breaks down British journalist Cathy Newman’s interview with Jordan Peterson:

Actually, one of the most important things this interview illustrates—one reason it is worth noting at length—is how Newman repeatedly poses as if she is holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it is she that is “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.”

At every turn, she is the one who takes her subject’s words and makes them seem more extreme, or more hostile to women, or more shocking in their implications than Peterson’s remarks themselves support. Almost all of the most inflammatory views that were aired in the interview are ascribed by Newman to Peterson, who then disputes that she has accurately characterized his words.

If you haven’t seen the interview do yourself a favor and check it out. I love the interview because it’s a great example of an interviewee not accepting the drama television personalities like Newman love to engage in.

Newman misquotes Peterson and tries to create arguments were none exist but Peterson corrects every one of her misquotes during the interview. Good for him.

“Only after experimenting with that joke 25 more times, she said, would she know if it works.”

The Strategic Mind of Ali Wong:

So perhaps it’s no surprise that anxiety about success is also a theme of her new work. This is part of the reason she returned to the stage early this year, five weeks after giving birth, against the advice of her doctor. She’s terrified of becoming unfunny. “I’ve seen it happen to people who got famous and seduced by it,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s work ethic or if they’re delusional because the audience loves them so much.”

Two months after giving birth she slipped out of the house and drove to the Upright Citizens Brigade here to make an unannounced appearance, walking onstage in sweatpants and a puffy jacket to roaring applause. She told a new joke about #MeToo and got a laugh, though she wasn’t sure she could trust it. U.C.B. crowds are notoriously generous. Only after experimenting with that joke 25 more times, she said, would she know if it works.

I’m always interested to hear the creative habits of successful artists, because the successful ones always have creative habits. If you don’t know what creative habits are, they’re goals with work ethic applied to them.

If you’re into this topic check out The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

Categories:

Career, Process

The minimalist smartphones aren’t the problem, you are.

From The Verge, There’s no perfect minimalist phone — yet:

The Jelly’s other big drawback is battery life: there is none. The phone lost almost 20 percent of its juice within 15 minutes as I downloaded four apps. At an 83 percent charge, the phone told me that I has just over four hours of life left, and even that turned out to be overly-optimistic. Eventually, I learned to carry around an external battery pack with me just to make it through the day. I’d never felt less minimalist.

None of these minimalist phones are the problem. Michael Zelenko’s mindset is the problem. He’s downloading multiple apps to his baby phone. You haven’t quit your drug, Zelenko. The point is not to use apps. I believe there is market for phones like these but this isn’t the review they deserve.

Then he gives the Nokia 3310 a try:

Open these up and you’ll be banished to the mid-2000s, moving a clunky mouse cursor up and down with an old school direction pad. It took me 10 minutes to pull up Twitter and complete my two-factor authentication, only to accidentally leave the web client and be faced with embarking on the process all over again. I gave up. The apps are so hard to use they may as well be nonexistent, which suited my purposes just fine.

Hey guess what? They have these things called smartphones with big, super-high resolution screens and predictive QWERTY keyboards, and apps, and bigger batteries. Stop trying to put a Toyota Corolla on the racetrack.

I deleted my Facebook account back in March. What I didn’t do after deleting my account was go out and look for a Facebook replacement. I deleted it because it was creating unnecessary noise in my life. I immediately felt lighter without my Facebook account.

I will agree with Zelenko that all these phones have usability issues, but those issues are fixable.

If you’re debating whether to ditch your iPhone or Android phone, I’d first recommend what I’ve done as a first step and see how much it helps. I’ve turned off the majority of notifications on my iPhone. Email and Messages are the only apps that have the badge app icon enabled for unread message counts. My calendar app (I use Timepage) is the only app allowed to use pop-up banners for upcoming events. I’ve muted Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Waze, and every other app on my phone bothering me.

I’ve taught my smartphone baby not to interrupt daddy when he’s in the middle of doing shit and it’s been working out great for the last 3-4 years.

Willie is keeping busy.

Texas Monthly asks Why Does Willie Nelson Still Do It?:

“I think I need to keep being creative, not to prove anything but because it makes me happy just to do it,” Willie says. He partially credits doing what he loves for keeping him animate into his eighties. “I think trying to be creative, keeping busy, has a lot to do with keeping you alive.”

It’s important to have something creative to work on, whether it’s part of your career or a side project. You have to keep the brain moving and thinking.

Categories:

Humanity, Process

Recreational Outrage

‘Simpsons’ Creator Says of Apu Criticism, ‘People Love to Pretend They’re Offended’:

While speaking last week to USA Today, Mr. Groening was asked if he had “any thoughts on the criticism of Apu as a stereotype.”

“Not really,” Mr. Groening responded. “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”

Groening is right. People love recreational outrage. People eat up things to get pissed off about like I can eat up Reeses Pieces.

Now I have to admit I’m one of the few Americans who has never regularly watched The Simpsons, but I do know most of the characters. I’m familiar with Apu. So my question: Is Apu’s character degrading to East Indians? I’m not talking about his accent and I’m not talking about his working in a convenience store. I’m asking about character.

While we’re on the subject, I’m offended by the portrayal of Americans as idiots through Homer Simpson. All Americans are not idiots. That’s a broad generalization. Most Americans are idiots.

Of course I’m not in that group. I’m clearly an intellectual blogger.

Blloc

Blloc is a plain and minimalistic smartphone combining a power saving operating system with efficient hardware and an easy to use messaging platform, it’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool that you can rely on every day.

Blloc is one of those products that seems like an awesome idea in the brainstorming room, but once executed finds very few actual customers who are willing to drop cash on it. The last phone I said this about was Google’s Project Ara back in 2014. Two years later Project Ara was scrapped.

I might be wrong. Blloc might find a niche, but the platform war is over. Google and Apple won and I see no way Microsoft can get back in the game.

Oh yeah, one more thing: no demonstration video? Suspect.

Categories:

Mobility, Product

A Lifetime of Deception

Wesley Morris, writing for The Times, Cliff Huxtable Was Bill Cosby’s Sickest Joke:

If a sexual predator wanted to come up with a smoke screen for his ghastly conquests, he couldn’t do better than Cliff Huxtable.

Cliff was affable, patient, wise, and where Mrs. Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) was concerned, justly deferential. His wit was quick, his sweaters roomy and kaleidoscopic. He could be romantic. Cliff should have been the envy of any father ever to appear on a sitcom. He was vertiginously dadly. Cliff is the reason for the cognitive dissonance we’ve been experiencing for the last three or four years. He seemed inseparable from the man who portrayed him.

Bill Cosby was good at his job. That sums up why the guilty verdict Thursday is depressing — depressing not for its shock but for the work the verdict now requires me to do. The discarding and condemning and reconsidering — of the shows, the albums, the movies. But I don’t need to watch them anymore. It’s too late. I’ve seen them. I’ve absorbed them. I’ve lived them. I’m a black man, so I am them.

I was originally going to say this is such a sad fall from grace, but that’s not correct. Bill Cosby didn’t have an amazing career and then screw up at the end of it, this was a lifetime of deception.

Categories:

Crime, Pyschology

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“…you don’t bring in the third-place team to play for the Lombardi Trophy”

Eddie Alvarez questions legitimacy of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC lightweight title 139:

But Alvarez also doesn’t believe Nurmagomedov should be recognized as the legitimate champion. In Alvarez’s mind, the UFC 223 bout between the Russian standout and 11th-ranked Al Iaquinta — despite the unique set of circumstances that led to the matchup with several potential opponents dropping out — should not have been a title matchup.

“If the Philadelphia Eagles show up for the Super Bowl, and New England can’t make it, you don’t bring in the third-place team to play for the Lombardi Trophy,” Alvarez said. “You have to wait and you have be patient. You can’t tell the No. three, four, five guys ‘you get a title shot.’ It just got silly real fast. Everything got silly real fast, and it made the belt quite meaningless.”

Great analogy by Alvarez. Dropouts in the UFC are quite a problem for the major bouts and finding replacement fighters only solves part of the problem. There’s still the aspect of the belt and who gets it. Sure you can let them fight with neither fighter winning or losing the belt, but this has the defending champ (or the challenging fighter) risking serious injury for no reward.

So what’s the alternative? Cancelling the fight and refunding all the PPV purchases? It’s a tough spot to be in.

Categories:

Sports