Author Archives: Mitch

Link

B8878251Z.1_20160328160215_000GFFF7IDR.2-0_r900x493The San Diego Union-Tribune has an article and slideshow about the house that was moved by truck from Hillcrest on the way to eventually rest in Chula Vista.

A roughly 11-ton Hillcrest house was lifted off the ground and on to a semi-truck using hydraulic jacks Monday morning with plans to eventually move it to Chula Vista.

Sold for $1, a developer plans to rent out the property, along with five other old homes, on a lot he owns. Homeowner Anne Wilson said it was cheaper for her to sell her house than demolish it.

“It’s been a wonderful house,” she said outside her two-bedroom, one bath home on Vermont Street.

Wilson, who bought the 800-square-foot home in 1993, recently decided to knock down the place and build a new, three-floor house with the top floor to be used as a rental.

Garnell Fitz-Henley “has bought a dozen used homes and found new uses for them over the last 17 years,” working with developers.

He said it makes more sense to reuse homes then tear them down because of all the materials that would just go into a landfill. Also, he said the talent and energy of original laborers on the home is lost when it is destroyed.

Sold for $1, Hillcrest home heads south [Phillip Molnar – The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Link

Shandling appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” in an episode titled “It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive.”

“So it turns out I had a hyper parathyroid gland that was undiagnosed because the symptoms mirror the exact same symptoms an older Jewish man would have,” Shandling says, “which is lethargic, you get puffy, you get heavy, you think you kind of want a divorce but you’re not married.”

They talk and joke about getting older, look back on what it was like starting out, their careers doing sitcoms in the 90s, death, and Robin Williams’ suicide. Shandling makes a joke about his own suicide note.

It’s funny, sad, and poignant. Shandling and Seinfeld seem to be having a good time.

[It’s Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive / Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee]

Link

Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet.

Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things.

You would feel surprised.

This is the position I find myself in today with IFTTT, a form of Internet plumbing that has been connecting peaceably to my backend for the past five years, but which has recently started sending scary emails.

Maciej Ceglowski, who develops the excellent Pinboard.in online bookmarking service says IFTTT, an Internet service that connects things to other things, wants him to use a proprietary API to connect his thing (Pinboard.in) to their thing (IFTTT). They’re requiring him to agree to onerous terms of service, too, he says.

In a nutshell:

IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free

They have really squirrely terms of service

Ceglowski is an excellent writer, and this is an outstanding rant. I’m keeping my pitchfork and torch at the ready, but waiting to hear what IFTTT has to say before I brandish them.

I’ve been using Pinboard for years, and using Pinboard in conjunction with IFTTT almost as long. I’d dislike for them to have a falling out.

My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT [Maciej Ceglowski – Pinboard Blog]

 

Link

seh270wkrqiz36cl8aal

I’ve been taking a break for a month from creative writing, due to a heavy travel schedule. But now the schedule has lightened up so it’s time to get back into it.

Also, time for a “Buffy” re-watch.

Like Charlie Jane, we came to “Buffy” late. Our first episode was Season 3, the episode where Spike comes back to town and he’s bereft because Drusilla dumped him. It was one of the show’s best episodes by far, and a great choice for first. Genre TV often doesn’t work out that way — you’ve been hearing people rave about some fantastic program and you pick an episode at random and you dive in and it turns out to be one that even the show’s die-hard fans think is a steaming turd. (“Brain? What is brain?”)

A friend says “Buffy” shows that if you mix two or more cliches, you can get something fresh and original. Vampires, vampire hunters, Chosen Ones, and high school emo are all cliches. But a show about an emo high school girl vampire hunter? Brilliant!

Giles’ character was terrific. He was a cartoon English expat at first. I know expat Brits, even a couple who live in Southern California. None of them resemble Giles. None of the English people I know in England are like Giles. No English people anywhere in the world are anything like Giles. But as “Buffy” played out we saw that Giles’ manner was a conscious persona, compensating – perhaps overcompensating – for a dark past.

Still: Tweeds? In Southern California? Maybe you could get away with that in winter but even then you have to pick your days.

Oh, hell, Giles was a cartoon. But he was great anyway.

Spike turned out to be compensating in the opposite direction. His Cockney accent sounded fake because it was.

But back to Charlie Jane: The more I read about her writing philosophy, the higher her novel climbs on my to-be-read list.

[10 Vital Storytelling Lessons I Learned From Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Charlie Jane Anders / io9]

FBI Drops iPhone Case Against Apple After Outside Hack Succeeds

The Justice Department asked a federal judge in California court to vacate its petition to force Apple to help it hack the phone. “The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order,” the filing reads.

The filing doesn’t elaborate on the method used, nor does it hint at any of the information revealed. What it means is that the FBI has achieved a method to access the data stored on the phone, circumventing its security features.

While this case is now moot, there “may well be similar conflicts down the road,” a Justice Department spokeswoman says.

FBI Drops iPhone Case Against Apple After Outside Hack Succeeds [Arik Hesseldahl – re/code]

Link

Link

The Secret Service says people attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July will not be allowed to carry guns.

The statement comes in response to a petition that calls for allowing open carry of guns inside Quicken Loans Arena, the host venue.

Secret Service: No guns in GOP convention [Jordan Fabian – The Hill]

Sharing economy companies such as Airbnb and Uber are built for abuse

They’ve got billions of dollars of capitalization they can use for public relations and lobbying to bulldoze regulatory oversight.

They’re privately held, so they’re not required to report finance and operations details.

The business model encourages “fake it until you make it” operations. Early investors, who often provide oversight for privately held startups, have every incentive to go along. After all, if the companies fail, investors lose out.

The whole thing is structured for disaster. At least one of these companies is going to turn out to be a fraud of Enronesque or Madoffian proportions. And that’s the best-case scenario — with Enron and Bernie Madoff, the only thing victims risked was money.

[The Sharing Economy’s Dirty Laundry / Tom Slee / Jacobin]

The 89% Pay Cut That Brought Trump-Mania to America’s Heartland

 

“Nafta is the worst thing that’s ever happened to the U.S.,” said Beverly Anderson, a Scottsville councilwoman who worked at the town’s now-shuttered electric-motor plant for 28 years.

For millions of white working class Americans, a vote for Trump is a vote against NAFTA, which one economist estimates has cost 850,000 Americans their jobs. That job loss causes a ripple effect that cuts wages for everyone without a college degree.

Amid the rugged cattle farms that dot the hills of southern Kentucky, in a clearing just beyond the Smoke Shack BBQ joint and the Faith Baptist Church, lie the remains of the A.O. Smith electric-motor factory.

It’s been eight years since the doors were shuttered. The building’s blue-metal facade has faded to a dull hue, rust is eating away at scaffolding piled up in the back lot and crabgrass is taking over the lawn. At its zenith, the plant employed 1,100 people, an economic juggernaut in the tiny town of Scottsville, population 4,226.

Randall Williams and his wife, Brenda, were two of those workers. For three decades, they helped assemble the hermetically sealed motors that power air conditioners sold all across America. At the end, they were each making $16.10 an hour. That kind of money’s just a dream now: Randall fills orders at a local farm supply store; Brenda works in the high school cafeteria. For a while, he said, their combined income didn’t even add up to one of their old factory wages.

Politicians “keep saying things are going to get better,” [Williams, 60] said while waiting for customers to show up at the farm supply store on a recent weekday afternoon. “They’re not going to get better.”

Jeff Woods is still angry, too, about A.O. Smith’s departure. His mother had worked at the factory. Today, she’s a pharmacy technician, making a fraction of her old wage. “Somebody works there all their life and you get to be 50-something-years-old and your income gets cut in half because the place moves to Mexico,” he said. “That’s not right.”

Woods played it coy when asked which candidate he backed. He wouldn’t outright say, but he went on to speak glowingly about just one of them—the one who’s not a career politician and who says he’ll crack down on illegal immigrants and bring jobs back to America.

The 89% Pay Cut That Brought Trump-Mania to America’s Heartland [Thomas Black & Isabella Cota  – Bloomberg Business]

How professional poker players can win big even when they lose

On Planet Money: “We talk to a professional poker player who lost on the first day of poker’s most famous tournament–but went on to get a huge payout. Turns out there’s a game behind the game.”

The “game behind the game:” Professional poker players stake each other, so even if a player loses, he can come out ahead if the players that he stakes win.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals – Shira Ovide / Bloomberg

Amazon, which has  used razor-thin margins to undercut rivals, is susceptible to the same competitive pressure because of its fat AWS profits.

“Your margin is my opportunity.”

It’s a quip often attributed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain his zeal for high-volume sales at teeny-to-nonexistent profits. It’s ironic, then, that in Amazon’s cloud business it is Bezos’ margin that is providing an opening to rivals like Google.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals [Shira Ovide / Bloomberg]

This Is What Using The New Small iPhone Is Actually Like

Excellent review by Nicole Nguyen at BuzzFeed.

I’m tempted by the small size. I have small hands. For a man, at least.

On the other hand, I’m also tempted by a larger phone, something I can use instead of my iPad mini.

On the negative side, I don’t want to buy a phone with the guts of the year-old iPhone 6s.

On the positive side: Two-day battery life! Holy mother of Steve Jobs!

Conclusion: I’m going to hold out until autumn, when we’ll probably see the next full refresh of the iPhone line. Or even next year, when rumor has it we’ll see a complete revamp.

[This Is What Using The New Small iPhone Is Actually Like / Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed Life]