Circle the Wagons

When something is designed, we need to look at the motives of the designer. Tech campuses are designed to, first of all, lure you in… Secondly, they’re designed to keep you there… Thirdly, and most insidiously, they’re designed to inspire loyalty. Especially when the community is under attack. They may appear to be designed for the benefit of the worker, but the feelings of loyalty the community is designed to engender benefit the company much, much more.

Facebook Isn’t a Community, It’s a Company Town” – Mike Monteiro

The Keys to a Great Rebrand

  • Be crystal clear on why you need a rebrand
  • Dig deep into your history
  • Be willing to change your story
  • Connect what you’re doing to a futuristic idea – and leave room for others to join
  • Meet your customers where they are
  • Get your key stakeholders deeply committed

Advice from Brian Collins, CCO of branding consultancy COLLINS, and Lelan Mashmeyer, CCO of yogurt maker Chobani. Both are co-founders of COLLINS.

Whistling past the robot factory…

…no algorithm can replicate human creativity. In fact, creativity is antithetical to the way artificial intelligence works. We develop machine learning by feeding in data about the way people react in certain situations. The point of algorithms is to predict what most people will do and execute that expected action.

How to thwart the robots: unabashed creativity” – Fast Company

I worry that statements like these misunderstand AI, fetishize human creativity, and underestimate the drive to substitute every human labor with capital.

My Jukai

This morning I undertook Buddhist lay ordination in a ceremony called jukai, which means “receiving precepts” in Japanese. “Precepts” are a series of vows for living one’s life. This ceremony was conducted entirely online through Treeleaf Zendo, an all-online Soto Zen sangha that I’m a part of. The others taking part came from all around the world – Ukraine, Thailand, Vietnam, and elsewhere. Here’s a recording of the ceremony.

What are we waiting for?

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.”

The People vs. Donald TrumpThe New York Times

“Emergency” Powers

It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.

What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of EmergencyThe Atlantic

The Rule of One Hundred

Start with the total U.S. population, then divide by 100, since that’s the size of the current, more deliberative upper chamber. Next, allocate senators to each state according to their share of the total; 2/100 equals two senators, 3/100 equals three, etc. Update the apportionment every decade according to the official census.


Using 2017 census estimates as a proxy for the official one coming in 2020, the Rule of One Hundred yields the following outcome: 26 states get only one senator (having about 1/100 of the population or less), 12 states stay at two, eight states gain one or two, and the four biggest states gain more than two: California gets 12 total, Texas gets nine, and Florida and New York get six each. This apportionment shows how out of whack the current Senate has become.

Here’s How To Fix the Senate” – The Atlantic

Support your local newspaper

To the extent that you know your local school board is corrupt or that your city’s subway expansion plan is millions of dollars over budget or that your local power plant is dumping coal ash into your water supply, it’s usually because of a reporter. You may think this stuff just comes drifting in on the air, or the Internet, like water flows when you turn on the tap, but no: Reporter. Newspaper. Journalism.

Zach Baron, “The Fresno Bee and the War on Local News” in GQ

Heike Geissler’s “Seasonal Associate”

While many on the left have long discussed the loss that comes with alienating people from their labor, Geissler offers a detailed description of the alienation from the self that accompanies it. No longer free to live according to her preferred rhythms, she begins to eat faster, to walk faster, and to push and shove her colleagues as they rush to leave the warehouse. She counts the days until her contract’s expiration date: Christmas Eve. “It’s all about sheer endurance, about presence, about translating your time and energy into money,” she writes. 

The Nation, “No Space To Be Human

The Problematic, Privacy-Invading Spy Machine

So you bought a loved one an Amazon Echo. Maybe it was on sale, or maybe it was on someone’s list. But inevitably, an Echo is a bad gift. It’s also a lazy gift. But don’t worry. It’s not too late to return it and get a better gift.

The Echo is still the problematic, privacy-invading spy machine it was last year and the year before. In fact, recent reports show that Amazon is not only still mishandling Echo recordings and user data, but it’s also actually getting worse about it

Gizmodo, “The Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Nightmare Came True”

…the radioactivity of Facebook’s data hoard…

For a company that is user data, Facebook sure has made a lot of mistakes spreading it around. By the looks of it, other tech players have been happy to let Facebook get beaten up while their practices went unexamined. And then, in this one story, the radioactivity of Facebook’s data hoard spread basically across the industry. There is a data-industrial complex, and this is what it looked like.

Alexis Madrigal, “Facebook Didn’t Sell Your Data; It Gave It Away