Fuck work

by: James Livingston

on: Aeon

So this Great Recession of ours – don’t kid yourself, it ain’t over – is a moral crisis as well as an economic catastrophe. You might even say it’s a spiritual impasse, because it makes us ask what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character – or whether character itself is something we must aspire to. But that is why it’s also an intellectual opportunity: it forces us to imagine a world in which the job no longer builds our character, determines our incomes or dominates our daily lives.

Required reading in the increasingly post-“work” world.

NOTES ON ‘BEME’

CNN Brings In the Social App Beme to Cultivate a Millennial Audience

by: Mike Issac

on: NYT

Beme was intended to be a social sharing application that Mr. Neistat described as “more authentic,” a way of putting four-second bursts of video out into the social sphere without giving users the ability to edit or tweak the content. Taking video was as simple as holding a smartphone’s front-facing sensor to one’s body, as if the camera were an extension of one’s chest. …

“A huge part of my particular audience sees news and media as largely broken,” Mr. Neistat said in an interview. “My dad sees it as the word of God, but I think the young people definitely do not.”

This is entirely unsurprising. It’s even more unurprising after CNN acquired Andrew Kaczynski and his team from Buzzfeed News (another NYT link, sorry) to run their KFILE blog. CNN, gasping for air as cable declines in relevance, is buying up every bit of new media talent they can.

Related reading: Matt Hackett wrote on Medium about the acquisition.

So far as Beme itself:

Look at what Snapchat is doing right now and compare it to Beme.

Spectacles are the Beme concept realized. They provide a way to shoot video from a natural perspective without the distraction of a screen, and then share it in a mobile app.

In the same breath, think about how Leica can sell the M Typ262 camera (the one that doesn’t have an LCD screen). People have no self control. They expect, to some degree, objects to embody themselves. No one can not use a device with a screen without actually using (being completely consumed by) the screen.

Beme was the app equivalent of this. It was like putting gaffers tape over the LCD of your camera to force yourself not to chimp. Beme was contrarian, and honestly should be celebrated for being what it was, and trying to deny us the single thing that defines most phones: the screen.

But to that end, it makes Beme seem like more of an art project or specialty application than the mass market social network it seemed to aspire to be. It must have been incredibly hard to get people to engage with Beme (it sure was hard for me to really care about and use the app). But you have to commend them for doing what they did and getting as far as they did with it. While other apps have us staring into the screen to find our true selves (ahem, Snap’s face filters), Beme wanted us to look for truth around us with our own eyes. RIP Beme.

Fidel Castro is dead

by: Glenn Garvin

on: The Miami Herald

Fidel Castro, who towered over his Caribbean island for nearly five decades, a shaggy-bearded figure in combat fatigues whose long shadow spread across Latin America and the world, is dead at age 90. His brother Raul announced the death late Friday night. …

Few national leaders have inspired such intense loyalty — or such a wrenching feeling of betrayal. Few fired the hearts of the world’s restless youth as Castro did when he was young, and few seemed so irrelevant as Castro when he was old — the last Communist, railing on the empty, decrepit street corner that Cuba became under his rule. …

He also was a ruthless dictator, the Maximum Leader who reneged on his promise of free elections, executed thousands of opponents, imprisoned tens of thousands, installed a Communist regime and made his island a pawn in the Cold War. His alliance with the Soviet Union brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962. …

Meant to post this yesterday; someone on Twitter called it the definitive obituary, and that doesn’t seem off.

File under: this week in ’20th century recedes ever faster into the past.’

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

by:  CORY DOCTOROW

on: boingboing

The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples’ private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama’s powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage.

Companies like Google and Facebook have 67 days to minimize their data collection and retention before Trump is sworn in. That’s 67 days during which they can take a hard, close look at how much of their data they actually need to do their jobs, and how much they’re storing because hard drives are cheap and someone might have a cool idea down the line somewhere.

63 days and counting…

Designed by Apple in California

This morning Apple did what to many appears tactless and unthinkable:

they announced they’re releasing a book.

I have to say I don’t think that a lot of the people writing commentary on this are the sort of viscerally self aware, creative people that (I think we can rightfully presume) run Apple’s design department. Or maybe they are, but they come from a time or place where an outward act of reflection like this is somewhat frowned upon.

And that’s what I think this is – an act of self reflection through the medium they actively use to express their ideas: a physical product. Sure, it could have been a website, it could have been a video, but – hell – as the video featuring Jony Ive showcasing the design department shows, they are all about expressing ideas through hardware. With Apple’s sort of rudderless product direction under Tim Cook over the last few years, throughly going through the things and ideas in the past that made them great, codifying it, and putting it in the past seems like an obvious move to me.

(I think the fact that it’s priced at $199 and $299 respectively reinforces this.)

So maybe the new Apple book is self involved and stupid, and maybe the criticism is a little warranted, but until I’ve (or anyone for that matter) has seen the book and been able to get a better grasp on what it is/is about  I’m not going to pass judgement. It seems probable that there’s a bigger picture here that a lot of the initial criticism is missing.

(As an aside: would it be ok to make a book like this if Apple were a small design company rather than one of the largest corporations in the world? Apple made a book before the return of Steve Jobs and no one cared, probably because no one cared about Apple…)

Anish Kapoor Coats “Cloud Gate” in the Darkest Black Known to Humanity

By: The Editors

On: Hyperallergic

Taking advantage of his exclusive rights to make artistic use of the high-tech, light-absorbing material Vantablack, the British artist Anish Kapoor has covered the entire surface of his Chicago public sculpture “Cloud Gate” (2006) with it. The result, a looming black orb that neutralizes 99.965% of the radiation that hits it, is a far cry from the mirrored selfie beacon that Chicagoans and tourists have come to love.

From April 1 of this year, but I saw this floating around on Twitter again today because of how eerily appropriate it feels after the election.

Why Be Here Now Is The Best Oasis Album – Angus Batey

He may cringe to read the Be Here Now lyrics, then, but this can only be because he is discomfited by their ambition and depth (by their, whisper it, artfulness) – or by the fact that he wrote about personal subjects, something he told Daniel Rachel he feels is generally indulgent, and usually prevents listeners from being able to relate to songs and their writers. For the most part, though, the lyrics are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, despite the many barbs reflexively lobbed at them over the past 19 years. The record has been interpreted as the band ceasing to be relevant, the songs moving from wide-ranging inclusion to parochial navel-gazing; the everyman aspiration of the debut displaced by cynicism and cocaine-fuelled indulgence. Never mind that this critique could be just as aptly applied to the previous album (“Where were you when we were getting high?”; “All your dreams are made/when you’re chained to the mirror and the razor blade”) – the lyrics here are, for the most part, far richer and stronger than anything he’d done before. This appears to be at least partly because of, rather than despite, the difficulty surrounding their creation.

I’ve long thought that Be Here Now was a severely underrated album, even despite it’s poor mixing.

This is the most articulate defense of it I’ve ever seen (maybe the only defense I’ve ever seen).

In a way, Batey makes it seem more analogous in feeling to the obvious comparisons from the period: Blur’s Blur and Pulp’s This is Hardcore.

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY – David Remnick

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

GLENN BECK TRIES OUT DECENCY – Nicholas Schmidle

Saw lots of screen-caps of this going around Twitter today. It’s eye opening but not that shocking.

“I did a lot of freaking out about Barack Obama.” But, he said, “Obama made me a better man.” He regrets calling the President a racist and counts himself a Black Lives Matter supporter. “There are things unique to the African-American experience that I cannot relate to,” he said. “I had to listen to them.”

Beck’s interactions with Donald Trump helped, too. He told a story of Trump summoning him to a guest room at Mar-a-Lago; Trump then telephoned him from an adjacent room. “We had this weird, almost Howard Hughes-like conversation,” Beck said. He left convinced that Trump was nuts. “This guy is dangerously unhinged,” he said. “And, for all the things people have said about me over the years, I should be able to spot Dangerously Unhinged.”

But really, where’s the commentary about this bit:

“I’m at a Dadaist time in my life,” he said. “So much of what I used to believe was either always a sham or has been made into a sham. There’s nothing deep.”

Has the irony not been lost?

New Tesla buyers will have to pay to use Superchargers – by Sean O’Kane

Any customer who orders a Tesla Model X or Model S after January 1st, 2017, will have to pay “a small fee” when filling up at a Supercharger station. Customers will also have to take delivery of those cars by April 1st, 2017 — so the fees will apply to people who preordered the Model 3. Tesla says the fee will be “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

Current Tesla owners with Supercharger-equipped cars will be able to use the stations for free for the life of those vehicles, and a Tesla spokesperson tells The Verge that the free charging will transfer to successive owners.

How soon till we see jailbroken cars? And how would that even work?

I’m just imagining something like how current Hackintoshes work, tricking the car into thinking it’s an older model. Whether this can be done with software or if there’s a specific embedded chip you’d have to steal out of a pre-2017 car (will salvage title Teslas be worth more because of this?), who knows?