Tag Archives: people

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Dave Winer: Less Facebook is OK

Dave is my blogging spirit animal. I like blogging, and I like sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Medium. Of those platforms, I get the most return from Facebook. But blogging AND sharing to Facebook and Google+ are just too much work. So I’m going to start focusing mainly on the blog, and just automatically share links to Google+ and Facebook, until those platforms become easier to deal with in conjunction with a blog.

I’m working on figuring out a way I can share short updates directly to those services and to the blog simultaneously. This will involve automated email and plenty of duck tape.

You’re welcome to leave comments here, or on Facebook or Google+. Or just stop reading, even if you’re a close friend or member of my immediate family. I do not require other people to participate in my peculiar hobby.

I will revisit this decision when it doesn’t seem to be working for me, or when the tools for sharing blog content to social media get easier to work with.

I’ll keep mirroring my posts to Tumblr and Medium because that’s easy.

And I’m still trying to figure out what to do about Twitter.

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A funeral director sees things daily that most people should only see once in a lifetime

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The Death, Sex, & Money podcast, hosted by Anna Sale, interviews Caleb Wilde, a 33-year-old sixth-generation funeral director in the small town of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania. He blogs at “Confessions of a Funeral Director.”

“It’s overexposed me to death, and it’s created burnout and depression,” Wilde says. “At the same time, it’s allowed me to see beautiful aspects of humanity: compassion, empathy, tolerance. A close experience with death changes us. It changes all aspects of our being.”

How to unplug when you should

Do you obsessively fiddle with your phone all the time? Win back some mental space with these tips – Michael Duran, Wired

I see many articles like this. They all recommend similar steps. Don’t put your phone in your pocket, keep it in your desk where you have to make some effort to get it. Go a couple of days without connectivity.

These tips are not helpful. Keeping my phone out of reach would create more problems than it’s worth, because it’s a legitimate inconvenience when my phone is out of reach. The problem is that I fiddle with the phone at times when I should be doing something else. THAT’S what I’m looking to control.

Going a few days without connectivity is like going without electricity. It’s doable. People call that “camping.” And it’s good for you. But it’s kind of a big deal. Not to be entered into casually.

One tip that is helpful: Turn off nearly all your notifications. You do NOT want to be notified when you get new email, a mention or comment on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You just don’t.

The future — probably — isn’t as scary as you think

In an interview with the Freakonomics podcast, Kelly acknowledges that artificial intelligence will be a threat in some ways, but promises great benefits.

“Artificial intelligence will become a commodity like electricity, which will be delivered to you over the grid called the cloud. You can buy as much of it as you want and most of its power will be invisible to you as well,” says Kelly, who co-founded Wired in 1993 and whose new book, “The Inevitable,” is about the “deep trends” of the next 20 years.

Most people think that most jobs in the future will be taken over by AI — but not their own jobs, Kelly says.

From what we’ve seen of AI so far, it’s most powerful when paired with human judgment. A person working with an AI is a better chess player or doctor than a person or AI alone, Kelly says.

This American Life: Becoming a Badger

“This week, stories about people trying their best to turn themselves into something else—like a badger. Or a professional comedian, in a language they didn’t grow up speaking,” on the This American Life podcast.

Scientist Charles Foster wanted to get into the heads of animals, so he did it by spending weeks trying to live life as a badger, sleeping in a burrow and crawling around on the forest floor with his eyes blindfolded, getting by on just his sense of smell. And he ate what badgers eat — worms.

Also: “French comedian Gad Elmaleh is known as the Jerry Seinfeld of France. He sells out arenas. Gets recognized on the street. But he’s deciding to give all of that up to try to make it big in America. In English, which he hasn’t totally mastered. And what’s funny in French, to French people, is not the same as what’s funny in English, to Americans.”

And a New York terrier tries to rediscover his roots as a rat-hunter.

Becoming a Badger – This American Life podcast

What It Feels Like to Die

Science is just beginning to figure it out, writes Jennie Dear at The Atlantic:

“Roughly from the last two weeks until the last breath, somewhere in that interval, people become too sick, or too drowsy, or too unconscious, to tell us what they’re experiencing,” says Margaret Campbell, a professor of nursing at Wayne State University who has worked in palliative care for decades. The way death is talked about tends to be based on what family, friends, and medical professionals see, rather than accounts of what dying actually feels like.

James Hallenbeck, a palliative-care specialist at Stanford University, often compares dying to black holes. “We can see the effect of black holes, but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look inside them. They exert an increasingly strong gravitational pull the closer one gets to them. As one passes the ‘event horizon,’ apparently the laws of physics begin to change.”

What does dying feel like? Despite a growing body of research about death, the actual, physical experience of dying—the last few days or moments—remains shrouded in mystery. Medicine is just beginning to peek beyond the horizon.

Tommy Chong asks Obama to pardon him for his bullshit drug paraphernalia bust

When federal agents banged on his door and asked him if he had any drugs, he said, “Of course I do! I’m Tommy Chong!” Now he wants his criminal record to go up in smoke .

There’s a serious point to this. The war on drugs ruined the lives of millions of innocent people and is a stain on America’s claim to being a land that cherishes freedom. Chong’s life wasn’t ruined, but he can shed light on their problems.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I smoked a lot of pot in college, never suffered any legal harm from it, and walked away from it in 1985. Now that it’s virtually legal maybe I’ll give it another try sometime. Or maybe not; I gave it up because I realized I’d stopped enjoying it.

(Full disclosure: I also shared a joint at a wedding in 1993 or so. But nothing between 1985 and then, and nothing since. I’m not going to claim to be “clean and sober,” because that would be an insult to people who struggle with addiction. It’s just something I did for a while, and decided it wasn’t working for me so I stopped.)

However, there’s an alternate universe where I got busted for marijuana possession, spent time in jail or prison, and had to get by with a felon conviction on my record. As millions of people do — all for doing a thing that me and Barack Obama did with impunity.

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

Preserving the history of technology

In the future, communities might choose, like the Amish, to remain static at past technology levels — the year 2000, say, or 1950 — as a living record of people’s relationship with technology and how it changes over time.

Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything:

Social Media theorist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to understand what is truly revolutionary about ephemeral photographs and platforms like Snapchat, Fred Ritchin says we are going to get our minds blown “After Photography” and Finn Bruntun explains why we need to preserve our transition from Analog to Digital.

It’s Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley

Older workers are finding it harder to get jobs in Silicon Valley, say Carol Hymowitz and Robert Burnson at Reuters. So they take steps to seem younger and fit in. They hang around the parking lots of companies to see how their prospective colleagues dress, They study Reddit and other social platforms to get up to date on the latest pop culture references. They hang up their business suits and bowties. And they even go in for plastic surgery and lawsuits.

I’m 55. I haven’t personally encountered age discrimination. I’m fortunate. Or oblivious.

Big changes are always unpopular

John Gruber relates Apple’s decision to drop headphone jack to bigger issues:

“When we think of controversial decisions, we tend to think of both sides as creating controversy. Choose A and the B proponents will be angry; choose B and the A proponents will be angry. But when it comes to controversial change of the status quo, it’s not like that. Only the people who are opposed to the change get outraged. Leave things as they are and there is no controversy. The people who aren’t outraged by the potential change are generally ambivalent about it, not in a fervor for it. Strong feelings against change on one side, and widespread ambivalence on the other. That’s why the status quo is generally so slow to change, in fields ranging from politics to technology.”

I would not even describe myself as “ambivalent” about Apple’s decision to drop the headphone jack. Really, what it comes down to is I don’t give a darn. I switched to Bluetooth a couple of years ago. The only time I use that 3.5-mm jack is to connect the iPhone to the cassette adapter in my car. And a Bluetooth car adapter only costs $25-$40.

In politics, it takes a crisis to bring about big changes. When things are gradually declining — as they are now in the US — people want to just kick the problem down the road a little longer.

Marie Manning wanted to be a crime reporter. Instead, she invented the advice column.

Fresh out of finishing school, with a name that appeared on the social registry of Washington D.C.’s debutante parties, Marie Manning was fascinated by true crime stories. She got a job as a newspaper reporter in 1892, but was soon sidelined to the “Hen Coop” to work on the “women’s page.” There, they received letters from people looking for advice, and Manning cooked up the idea to run the letters and answers as a regular column.

Two-year-old finds solution to ethics “trolley problem:” Kill everybody

E.J. Masicampo posed the question to his two-year-old:

I’m teaching a moral psychology class this semester, and we spent part of the first day discussing the trolley problem, which is a frequently used ethical dilemma in discussions of morality. When I returned home that night and was playing trains with my son, I thought it would be interesting to see his response to the trolley problem. I recorded his response so that I could share and discuss it with my class, given especially that we also will be discussing moral development from birth onward. My wife and I are constantly talking with our son about how properly to treat others — so this has been teachable moment both for my class and for our son!

The Trolley Problem:

The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

Via Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing. Thanks!

Hillary Clinton gets the Al Gore treatment

Journalists are gearing up for a repeat of the 2000 election, where a crooked candidate (Bush in 2000, Trump in 2016) gets graded on a curve, while the honest candidate (Gore in 2000, Clinton in 2016) gets overscrutinized until the candidate looks shady. (Paul Krugman, The New York Times)

The Clinton Foundation is clean.

Emailgate is a peccadillo, deserving of a slap on the wrist and nothing more.

Benghazi is a result of 60 years of failed US Middle Eastern foreign policy. Clinton was a part of that policy, so she should not be exonerated. But she was no more guilty than any other of the hundreds of people who have shaped that policy over the decades.

Also, Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet. Never, ever. It just didn’t happen. That still pisses me off, 16 years later.

Trump’s immigration speech was about bigotry, not economics. 

Josh Barro at Business Insider explains.

Reasonable people can argue for restricting immigration on economic grounds. But that’s not Trump’s primary argument. His primary argument is that brown skinned people — specifically Mexicans and Muslims — are violent and dangerous. In reality, immigrants commit violent crime at a lower rate than native born Americans.

Moreover, Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel show that Trump’s bigotry isn’t limited to illegal immigrants.

Trump’s opposition to immigration isn’t about economics. It’s about ethnic purity. It’s about making America white again.

Peek inside NASA’s simulated Martian house

NASA built a dome on the isolated slopes of a Hawaiian volcano, where six people lived on a simulated Mars mission for a year. They wore space suits when they went out. Inside, they enjoyed six bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, pantry, science lab, solar power, preserved food, and an Internet connection with a 20-minute delay (just like on Mars). The dome even has a TARDIS, though it’s out of order.

Nadia Drake, National Geographic

Self-Driving Cars Will Improve Our Cities. If They Don’t Ruin Them

Without planning, self-driving cars could increase congestion, widespread unemployment, and reduce tax revenue, says Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase on Backchannel.

Most of what has been written about self-driving or automated vehicles (often abbreviated as AVs) focuses on subjects like their technical aspects, the regulatory battles to license them, or the fascinating but remote dilemma of a self-driving car being forced to choose between holding its course and hitting grandma, or swerving into a troop of boy scouts. There’s relatively little discussion of the speed and scope of change, the impacts that go well beyond the auto industry, or the roadmap to unlocking the enormous upside potential if we actively guide the trajectory of their adoption.

We’re at a fork on that roadmap. One direction leads to a productive new century where cities are more sustainable, livable, equitable, and just.

But if we take the wrong turn, we’re at a dead end. Cities are already complex and chaotic places in which to live and work. If we allow the introduction of automated vehicles to be guided by existing regulations we’ll end up with more congestion, millions of unemployed drivers, and a huge deficit in how we fund our transportation infrastructure. We will also miss an opportunity to fix transportation’s hereto intractable reliance on liquid fossil fuels (and their associated pollution).

Right now, we’re not even alert to how crucial the choices are. In fact, we’re falling asleep at the wheel. Most people in charge of shaping cities — mayors, transportation planners, developers, and lawmakers — haven’t realized what is about to hit them and the speed at which it is coming. They continue to build as if the future is like the present.

Trump is right: He didn’t kick a baby out of a campaign rally

Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post, writes that the mother was already on the way out when Trump made the comment on kicking her out. The mother, Devan Ebert of Virginia, was and continues to be a staunch Trump supporter and has written in his defense. She later returned to the same seat at the rally, with her now-quiet baby.

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale says he was there, saw the whole thing, and corroborates the mother’s story.

Dale says he chooses not to get press credentials for rallies, preferring to sit with the people for what he might see and hear. Which is what journalists at political rallies should do routinely.

https://plus.google.com/+MitchWagner/posts/2jmSjaSmRSc?iem=4&gpawv=1&hl=en-US

Melania Trump had work visa when she modeled in the 90s, former agency says

Melania Trump’s former modeling agent says she obtained a work visa before she modeled professionally in the United States in the mid-1990s. Those comments came in response to questions about Mrs. Trump’s own remarks that appeared inconsistent with U.S. immigration rules….

In interviews earlier this year with MSNBC and for a profile in Harper’s Bazaar, Mrs. Trump’s comments appeared to be inconsistent with holding a work visa.

“I never thought to stay here without papers. I had a visa. I traveled every few months back to the country to Slovenia to stamp the visa,” she said during the MSNBC interview.

U.S. immigration law did not require such trips that Mrs. Trump describes for work-visa holders at the time. People who hold visitor visas would be required to leave the country on or before the end date of their authorized stay. U.S. law does not allow someone to use a visitor visa to regularly live and work in the country.

Mrs. Trump published a statement on Twitter on Thursday, disputing that she violated immigration laws. “I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period. Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue,” she wrote.

Seems likely that she was here and working legally. Maybe back in the 90s she overcomplied with requirements because she misunderstood them. Or maybe now she is misremembering events of 20 years ago.

(The Associated Press/CBS News)

Bottled water & M&Ms are the most popular items sold at airports.

Cell phone chargers and battery packs are hot items too.

Hope Remoundos, chief marketing officer at Hudson (formerly Hudson News), an airport convenience store chain, said the company noticed “the panic on the traveler’s face when their smart device had no juice, and there were only two or three plugs in the airport for somebody to plug into.

“Immediately, we added to our selection a line of chargers and [battery packs] so that all you had to do was plug in the power and you were ready to go.”

Topping the list of Hudson’s most expensive items sold is a pair of $1,000 ear buds — W60 by Westone. Eight people have purchased them to date.

Mostly though, people want a bag of Lay’s potato chips (number one in the snack category) and a pocket-size pack of Kleenex tissues (number one in the Health category).

(Michelle Cohan/CNN)

 

The problem with Twitter’s new marketing campaign

Twitter’s new video ad actually explains what Twitter is for – Kurt Wagner, Recode

Twitter unveiled a new video ad Monday morning, and it does something that its previous TV commercial never did: It explains why you might want to use Twitter.

Here’s a look at the new ad, which Twitter is running on its own properties for now and will soon pay to distribute on other digital platforms:

“What’s happening in the world?” the narrator asks over video of Donald Trump campaigning and clips from “Game of Thrones.”

“What’s everyone talking about? How did it start? See what’s happening in the world right now.”

This is, in essence, why anyone uses Twitter. To answer these exact questions. And now Twitter is explaining that, or at least highlighting it, in a way that might catch people’s attention.

Twitter’s problem is that most of the time there’s nothing going on in the world that you need to know about RIGHT NOW. Osama Bin Laden isn’t being killed somewhere every second of the day.

Sports and celebrity gossip might be the exception. People don’t need to know that stuff right away, but they enjoy it. Is that enough to sustain Twitter?

Also, if someone has never used Twitter before, can they find what’s happening right now FAST, like right this second?

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Journalist McKay Coppins is often blamed for the Trump candidacy following a blistering 2014 profile. Now he looks at what makes Trump tick.

Trump is still the young man whose father and grandfather made it big in the outer boroughs, desperately trying — and failing — to get taken seriously in Manhattan. An episode later in Trump’s life in Palm Beach, when he bought an estate called Mar a Lago and tried to get accepted by high society, shows what’s like being Trump:

“You know, in Palm Beach there’s an in-crowd and an out-crowd and no matter how much money he has, he will never be a part of Palm Beach’s inner circle,” socialite Marlene Rathgeb told the Miami Herald in 1986, adding, “The fact that Trump is Jewish and because he’s nouveau riche turns a lot of people off.” When a rumor circulated that he’d been denied membership to the exclusive Bath & Tennis Club, Trump furiously disputed the claim, insisting even decades later, “I can get in if I wanted to. If I wanted to, I can get anything. I’m the king of Palm Beach.”

When the whole nasty ordeal was finally over and Mar-a-Lago was his, Trump looked endlessly for ways to take revenge on his stuck-up neighbors. He had DJs blast music loud enough for all the “stuffy cocksuckers” in town to hear. In 2006, he installed an 80-foot flagpole in brazen defiance of local zoning ordinances, and then left it up for six months — a towering middle finger to the Palm Beach pooh-bahs who were heaping fines on him.