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- 10/01/18--03:00: _This is how to refr...
- 10/01/18--03:00: _This is the prettie...
- 10/01/18--03:26: _Elusive OnePlus fou...
- 10/01/18--03:36: _106 new movies, TV ...
- 10/01/18--03:40: _General Electric ju...
- 10/01/18--04:00: _What happened when ...
- 10/01/18--04:05: _Issa Rae, Anna Akan...
- 10/01/18--04:10: _Former FBI official...
- 10/01/18--04:20: _Watch a stunning wo...
- 10/01/18--04:20: _There are still way...
- 10/01/18--05:00: _Should the U.S. Sup...
- 10/01/18--05:22: _Here’s a vide...
- 10/01/18--05:25: _Serena Williams cov...
- 10/01/18--05:29: _This AI dreams abou...
- 10/01/18--06:55: _Psst, Pinterest is ...
- 10/01/18--07:48: _Welcome to New Zeal...
- 10/01/18--07:58: _Scotch your old whi...
- 10/01/18--08:00: _Take these steps wh...
- 10/01/18--08:56: _Google’s game...
- 10/02/18--02:00: _Women have a lot to...
- 10/01/18--03:00: This is the prettiest lighter we’ve ever seen
- Bad Times at the El Royale, October 5
- A Star Is Born, October 5
- Venom, October 5
- The Happy Prince, October 5
- Shine, October 5
- Studio 54, October 5
- First Man, October 12
- The Oath, October 12
- Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, October 12
- After Everything, October 12
- Beautiful Boy, October 12
- Halloween, October 19
- Can You Ever Forgive Me?, October 19
- The Hate U Give, October 19
- The Lost Village, October 19
- Serenity, October 19
- Mid90s, October 19
- Galveston, October 19
- What They Had, October 19
- Wildlife, October 19
- Johnny English Strikes Again, October 26
- Overlord, October 26
- Suspiria, October 26
- Viper Club, October 26
- Private Life, October 5 on Netflix
- A Crooked Somebody, October 5
- The Kindergarten Teacher, October 12 on Netflix
- 22 July, October 12 on Netflix
- The Sentence, October 15 on HBO
- An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, October 19
- My Dinner with Herve, October 20 on HBO
- Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram, October 22 on HBO
- Adam Sandler – 100% Fresh, on Netflix October 23
- Shirkers, October 26 on Netflix
- Cat Power – Wanderer, October 5
- Coheed and Cambria – The Unheavenly Creatures, October 5
- Cursive – Vitriola, October 5
- Echo & the Bunnymen – The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon, October 5
- Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams, October 5
- Ghostface Killah – The Lost Tapes, October 5
- High on Fire – Electric Messiah, October 5
- KT Tunstall – Wax, October 5
- Kristin Hersh – Possible Dust Clouds, October 5
- Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie, October 5
- Atmosphere – Mi Vida Local, October 5
- Tokyo Police Club – TPC, October 5
- Twenty One Pilots – Trench, October 5
- Elvis Costello & The Impostors – Look Now, October 12
- Kurt Vile – Bottle It In, October 12
- The Watson Twins – DUO, October 12
- The Dodos – Certainty Waves, October 12
- Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground, October 12
- Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning, October 19
- Peter Bjorn and John – Darker Days, October 19
- Lil Yachty – Nuthin’ 2 Prove, October 19
- Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics, October 19
- Yoko Ono – Warzone, October 19
- Boy George And Culture Club – Life, October 26
- Dean Wareham Vs. Cheval Sombre – A Sentimental Education, October 26
- Homeboy Sandman & Edan – Humble Pi, October 26
- Saves the Day – 9, October 26
- Robyn – Honey, October 26
- Happy Together, October 1 on CBS
- The Neighborhood, October 1 on CBS
- I Feel Bad, October 4 on NBC
- Fresh Off the Boat, October 5 on ABC
- Into the Dark, October 5 on Hulu
- Big Mouth, October 5 on Netflix
- Flight of the Conchords: Live at the London Apollo, October 6 on HBO
- Star Wars: Resistance, October 7 on Disney
- Doctor Who, October 7 on BBC America
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, October 12 on CW
- The Haunting of Hill House, October 12 on Netflix
- Light as a Feather, October 12 on Hulu
- The Romanoffs, October 12 on Amazon
- Titans, October 12 on DC Universe
- The Alec Baldwin Show, October 14 on ABC
- Visionaries: Eli Roth’s History of Horror, October 14 on AMC
- Camping, October 14 on HBO
- Charmed, October 14 on CW
- black-ish, October 16 on ABC
- The Conners, October 16 on ABC
- The Kids Are Alright, October 16 ABC
- The Rookie, October 16 on ABC
- Lore, October 19 on Amazon
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, October 19 on Netflix
- DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, October 22 on The CW
- Legacies, October 25 on The CW
- Deutschland 86, October 25 on Sundance
- Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, October 26 on Netflix
- Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, October 28 on Netflix
- Busy Tonight, October 28 on E!
- Tell Me a Story, October 31 on CBS
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle, October 2
- The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons: A Semi-serious A-to-Z Archive edited by Bob Mankoff, October 2
- Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker, October 2
- All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung, October 2
- Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister, October 2
- Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, October 9
- Melmoth by Sarah Perry, October 16
- Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza, October 16
- Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif, October 18
- Of Love & War by Lynsey Addario, October 23
- Nine Pints by Rose George, October 23
- Joseph Koudelka: Returning by Joseph Koudelka, October 23
- I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson, October 30
- I Am Dynamite! by Sue Prideaux, October 30
- 10/01/18--03:40: General Electric just abruptly ousted CEO John Flannery
- 10/01/18--04:00: What happened when this tech company stopped using Slack on Fridays
- In Dropbox Paper, whenever you follow a Paper doc, you receive an update when that doc is changed in any way, shape, or form.
- In Trello, if you’re following a board or a card, you receive email updates every time a change is made.
- We created Paper docs and @-mentioned teammates to invite them to collaborate
- We added comments to existing Paper docs
- We updated Trello cards and @-mentioned one another
- Could someone read over this blog post I’ve written?
- Where can I find the Dropbox folder with our marketing playbooks?
- Can you check the budget spreadsheet and let me know any charges you don’t recognize?
- Very disappointed
- Somewhat disappointed
- Not disappointed at all
- 10/01/18--04:20: Watch a stunning wood skyscraper rise in Norway
- 10/01/18--04:20: There are still way too many women doing laundry in advertisements
- 76% of consumers believe that “advertising has a lot of power to shape how people perceive each another”
- 72% feel that “most advertising does not reflect the world around me”
- 63% claim that “I don’t see myself represented in most advertising”
- 60% say, “I don’t see my community of friends, family, and acquaintances represented accurately in most advertising.”
- 10/01/18--05:00: Should the U.S. Supreme Court have term limits?
- 10/01/18--05:22: Here’s a video game that uses face recognition to check ages
- 10/01/18--05:29: This AI dreams about pumpkin-flavored craft beers
- 10/01/18--06:55: Psst, Pinterest is quietly growing into a digital ad giant
- 10/01/18--07:48: Welcome to New Zealand. Now hand over your password or pay $5,000
- 10/01/18--08:00: Take these steps when you feel burned out and want to start over
- Why time management won’t solve your time problems
- What most remote companies don’t tell you about remote work
- Yes, the job landscape is changing: here’s what to do about it
- 10/01/18--08:56: Google’s game-streaming plan answers none of our questions
In a crisis, what is it that enables some people to push through and come out the other end seemingly unscathed, while others crumble in the face of extraordinary challenges?
For the prominent neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, it was the search for meaning in the experience of the Holocaust that gave him the will to survive. Frankl wrote about the horrifying experience in his celebrated book Man’s Search for Meaning and later established a school of existential therapy called logotherapy, which is the belief that a person’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” or search for purpose–even in the worst of times. This philosophy opposed Freud’s will to pleasure principle and Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the will to power.
But how do we seek meaning in challenging times? And how does that meaning then translate to cognitive flexibility?
Start with “why”
The search for meaning starts with the question “why.” Why am I doing this? Knowing your “why” allows you to see information from various angles and results in a resilient mind prepared to change gears and readily adjust to any condition.
Batia Wiesenfeld, a professor of management at New York University’s Stern School of Business, says that forcing yourself to answer “Why am I doing this?” three times allows you to discover meaning in your life and brings you closer to your overarching goal.
For instance, let’s say you’re teaching a workshop. Ask yourself, Why am I teaching this workshop? If your answer is to get paid, then ask yourself, Why do I want higher pay? If the answer is so you can have a better life, then force yourself to answer the third “why”: Why do I want a better life? The answer here could be because you want to be happy. But is teaching the workshop going to lead you to happiness? Knowing the answers to your three whys forces you to examine your actions and decide how to use your time wisely to reach your goal of happiness.
“It’s such a simple routine to work into the way you manage or operate at work or life, and it’s amazing how many outcomes result from that little change, of just forcing yourself to explain ‘why’ to yourself and to others,” Wiesenfeld says. “You just do that and all of a sudden you’re thinking differently and you’re much more resilient because of it, much more flexible because of it.”
Wiesenfeld, who studies how people adapt to challenges in organizational life, explains that recognizing your true overarching goal gives your actions meaning, and “people who are thinking in terms of meaning are more cognitively flexible and adapt better.”
Case in point is the well-known 2001 study that found that hospital cleaning staff members who were happiest and most effective at their jobs were the ones who discovered meaning in otherwise thankless tasks. What the researchers discovered is that workers who saw their work as a calling aligned with patient care and health were the ones who found deeper meaning and satisfaction. These workers, for example, made sure to notice and clean ceilings in hospital rooms–spaces that no one else noticed except patients who have to look up all day.
The research tells us something important about meaning: Seeking it requires one to look for solutions more broadly in what’s called distant search, resulting in the ability to look out farther through a wider lens to see a bigger picture.
Jennifer Garvey Berger, author of Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders,wrote in Fast Company in 2015 that being able to “consider the bigger picture” during times of chaos is key to one’s adaptability:
“Our inclination is to pull things apart and solve the little bits one at a time. In complexity, the system is moving too fast and has too many interrelated parts for us to use this more comfortable approach with success for long. Instead, when things are really moving fast, it’s time to look at the interactions. It’s like watching a game of ice hockey: If you follow the puck with your eyes, you’ll be lost. If you zoom out and look at the patterns of the players on the ice, you’ll see the game.”
The modern workplace affects adaptability in big ways
In the last decades, organizations are increasingly becoming more global, complex, and demanding of workers’ time. As a result of people having to work from anywhere at anytime is that workers in the modern era have a big-picture, abstract way of thinking about overall ideas.
Wiesenfeld and Jean-Nicolas Reyt, assistant professor of organizational behavior from McGill University, found this to be the case in their research published in the Academy of Management Journal, which looked at how the prevalence of technologies–laptops, smartphones, tablets, wearables–affects work demands and norms and requires greater role integration for workers.
In the always-on, always-connected work environment, it’s difficult to keep role boundaries separate and distinct, because boundaries are permeable and even blurred as we move fluidly from one role to another. Even the way many of us use our smartphones for both business and personal affairs is evidence that boundaries are overlapping and combining. The research findings suggest that it’s these role integration behaviors that shape higher construal levels and lead to more abstract thinking.
The downsides of too much adapting
The cognitive power of adapting to all levels of uncertainty is no doubt the human race’s survival of the fittest of a sort. If you can’t adapt, can’t see situations in versatile ways, can’t find meaning in the most dreary circumstances, you might not survive.
But, if you’re always adapting, how does this affect your commitment levels? Think about it in organizational terms. If an organization is always flexible, always changing gears, always thinking about trends in the market and what competitors are doing, could this lead to a lack of direction and commitment? What are the downsides to always adapting and never committing?
Tim Harford, an economist and journalist, wrote in his book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, that the modern economy makes it harder to effectively plan and commit because “whether we like it or not, trial and error is a tremendously powerful process for solving problems in a complex world.”
“We’re often told that we have to totally commit to something,” Harford tells Fast Company. “Whenever we start something risky and scary, we don’t want to entertain the possibility that it might fail. Whatever it is–a marriage, a job, a new business venture. We just imagine this is definitely doing to work.”
“This might work” vs. “This is going to work.”
However, Harford says it’s “probably a much better state of mind” to say “this might work” versus asserting “this is going to work.”
“If [‘this might work’] is what you have in your mind when you start, you’ll be much more alert to take in signals, new information, tweak it, adjust it, adapt, or maybe just stop,” he explains.
In these risk-taking situations, Harford suggests thinking about your actions as experiments that generate information rather than definitive decisions, which will make it easier to move forward, adapt, and adjust.
As to the downsides of always adapting and never committing, Harford points to research that shows if you’re always keeping your options open, you’re constantly second guessing yourself and that makes you unhappy. Research also shows that the moment we commit to something, we start being happier with whatever we decided on.
However, Harford also suggests that this downside is only relevant when there is no new information coming in. But if you’re in a scenario where you’re still learning new things, it benefits you to stay open to options. And adapting, adding randomness and a bit of chaos, in uncertain situations is what Harford believes makes us better.
“I’m aware that when you push yourself out of your comfort zone–a new kind of project, a new kind of activity–you are likely to, in the end, look back and go ‘I’m glad I did that, even if at the time, it feels very uncomfortable,'” he says.
At the organizational level, Wiesenfeld says there needs to be a balance between adapting and committing because “when it comes to actually executing, when you have to get stuff done, then being more specific, being more detailed, being more focused on the here and now is essential.”
In short, the visionary, abstract thinking–the adaptive, big picture mindset–isn’t so beneficial when you need to get things done. In these situations, you need committed, concrete thinkers.
The bottom line is, committing–and concrete thinking–might be what’s needed in a strictly controlled environment where no new information is coming in, but change is inevitable, and in chaotic, challenging times, it’s the flexible, visionary thinker who sees the big picture and can find meaning despite the conditions, who will be able to apply learned lessons, respond to change, and stay relevant.
As marijuana legalization spreads across the United States, the aesthetic of smoking has grown up. Case in point: this handsome, slim Queue Stick lighter manufactured by Japanese company Tsubota Pearl.
It looks like something you’d find in a cosmetics bag or a prim stationery store, with an elongated, handheld casing that comes in eye-popping fluoro color combinations with matte and glossy finishes. At $30, it strikes the sweet spot between relatively affordable and questionably overpriced (although, many people have spent more money on more ridiculous fire-starting accessories), and is likely to make this somewhat of a keepsake–and one that you can refill and reuse, like a standard Zippo.
The Queue Stick can be bought at Tetra, the high-design online smoke shop curated by Sight Unseen founder Monica Khemsurov and Vogue editor Eviana Hartman. In a world blazing with more fires to put out than can be stomached, it’s a small reminder that little things can spark joy in the everyday.
The modus operandi of five-year-old Chinese phone maker OnePlus has always been to sell premium-quality Android phones for hundreds of dollars less than the top-of-the-line Samsung and Apple phones. It also sells its phones direct to consumers, and has relied heavily on word of mouth (and word-of-reviewer) for its marketing. It seems to be working out. The Shenzhen, China-based company is on the sixth iteration of its debut offering, and became profitable last year after reporting more than $1 billion in revenue.
OnePlus founder Pete Lau does very few interviews with Western media, partly because his main language is Chinese. He prefers to talk when OnePlus’s other cofounder, Carl Pei, is with him to help translate. I met with Lau at the Illy Coffee in downtown San Francisco on the day before Apple’s big event in September , so smartphones were on my mind, and smartphones (and, lately, TVs) are always on Lau’s mind.
Below is most of our hourlong conversation. Lau spoke through a translator. The text has been edited for clarity and brevity.
OnePlus’s latest release, the OnePlus 6, is a big shiny black bar of a device. The display is 6.3 inches, just a bit smaller than the new iPhone Xs Max. Unlike earlier models, the sides of the OnePlus 6 are now glass. The phone comes in one size only, with an option of Midnight Black (glossy glass) or a matte finish.
Fast Company: What drives the design of OnePlus phones? What types of design motifs are used? What type of reaction is the design trying to elicit in the user?
Pete Lau: This is my absolute favorite question . . . I can talk all day.
Most of my time is spent on product development, on the product side. Our approach is to create a “burdenless” user experience. We’ve created that term to describe exactly what we want to evoke in the user. What drives burdenless are three principles. One is maintaining an approach to minimalism, keeping the experience as minimal and clean as possible.
The second is efficiency. That is, keeping the design as highly effective and highly efficient as possible. What I think that ultimately creates in the user is a light and relaxing feeling of experience. The device is there to deliver upon your needs when you need it, and in a way that you expect and want, and it’s not there bothering you or interrupting you otherwise.
[OnePlus phones have long included a physical alert slider switch that turns off notifications from the phone when you don’t want them.]
The ideal device places some focus on thinness and, with that, creating that ideal in-hand feel. That in-hand feel and its thickness are incredibly important to us.
We have observed a number of other devices in the market that are, in design terms, essentially bricks. They have corners and sides that are not well-rounded or thought through. And even the bottom of the device is a total drop-off. Lightness and thinness are very much a core principle of design for us.
In terms of software, what you expect is an experience that isn’t choppy or laggy and that doesn’t freeze in any way, because all those unexpected speeds, or slowness, or choppiness, create a feeling of burden for the user.
When we look at hardware, software, or design it all goes back to this principle of creating an experience that’s burdenless, and the user ultimately finding the experience of using the device to be light and freeing.
So, to do this there are so many stories that can be told, and they’re all focused on details. A lot of these can seem insignificant, but a lot of these are details that drive toward that experience.
And looking at this Midnight Black version we have here, in creating this texture on the back of the device we actually went through dozens and dozens of iterations of the back cover as well as the curvature to get it just right. This increased the device cost over $3 on each device to create this effect, but we see it as worthwhile. It can be hard to have a concept of what $3 means, but in a space it is a very significant cost because there are phones out there that don’t even earn $3.
For us, going back to our principles, we cannot sacrifice on these details for the sake of costs. We make sure we get the product right, and then we look at the cost of the product and what the price of the product should be. We know for many others it can be the other way around, letting cost drive what the ultimate product design will be, but for us it can never be that way.
FC: Apple makes a substantial margin on each phone. To what extent is that a function of really good marketing and advertising, or is it just good technology, good design?
PL: From my perspective this is absolutely due to product excellence. There are plenty of people who say Apple isn’t a good value for the money, but consumers are forever smartest. They have a reason for spending whatever amount of money it is on the products they buy.
Going back to these textural effects, and the overall design look and feel, they might see it as being worth $10 or manyfold that amount, for creating that effect. So all invested costs in the device components need to be evaluated according to what value they’re ultimately driving to the end user. What pain points are they solving?
Why do some brands seem to struggle so much? They seem to face this circumstance where they say “this product isn’t selling.” They can’t even make $50 on the device or whatever it is, $20, so [they] need to keep lowering the price and playing this price game so they continue to eliminate features and functions, and they continue to make compromises. Ultimately [they’re in] this downward spiral of cheapening the product, worsening the product, worsening the overall user experience, and reducing the confidence that they have in delivering.
As an example, when you look at what we have done in creating the fastest and smoothest device, how can you really put a value on that?
[The OnePlus people aren’t the only ones saying this. Forbes‘s Ben Sin, for example, is in full-throated agreement. Sin says the OnePlus 6 loads apps faster than the iPhone X.]
Ultimately it goes back to wanting to deliver the ultimate value for users, and putting the company on a trajectory that is a positive cycle, pushing boundaries and creating products of greater and greater excellence, rather than that negative downward spiral.
FC: We expect Apple to announce a large 6.5-inch screen iPhone. It seems like people keep wanting larger and larger phones. Is there a limit to that?
PL: The trend of larger and larger screens is definitely a correct observation and something we’ve seen in the industry and certainly something we’ve observed since the OnePlus 1. At the time of the One Plus 1 we put a 5.5-inch screen in the device and people said there wasn’t a device [that big] in North America or Europe and that it was too big. But we’ve found that users like larger screens because it creates a better user experience in terms of browsing the internet and doing work on the device.
There is certainly a limit to the size of devices. Devices are carried on the person so there’s a limit there. For example . . . our device is currently at a width of 7.5 centimeters, and we don’t feel it should get any larger. But of course with the existence of the notch on the device, and the chin, all of that is area that in an ideal world can be turned into screen.
So all of that is area that can be fought for from a technology perspective in terms of improving the screen technology and creating a full-screen device. For us, fighting for even .01 or .05 millimeters off that chin or off the notch is an effort we’re willing to put forth, even though most consumers won’t know about or observe that difference.
FC: But obviously Apple has already been able to achieve an edge-to-edge display with the iPhone X.
PL: In terms of the flexible OLED display on the iPhone, it’s a different technology–it’s an OLED technology that wraps around the bottom of the device and therefore eliminates the chin entirely. But for us, our available technology, and our screen technology, is not absolutely there yet–we still have to have a slight chin at the bottom of the device for the fitting of the entire components at the bottom. But we will continue to push down and make it smaller and then eventually wrap around the entire chin of the device.
FC: Do you feel that smartphones have become a commodity product? Is there still room to innovate in meaningful ways? Or is your strategy mainly to offer a phone with premium-grade components at a lower price?
PL: The reality of the matter is that smartphones are far from perfect. We still have a long way to go in realizing all the demands you would have and what could improve.
There is actually a definite space to try to improve on what exists and improve the overall user experience. One example there is looking at screens. The trend in screens has changed, as have the barriers to creating what we see as a better or closer-to-perfect screen.
One example of that is the notch, and the existence of the notch on many devices. Within three years we may have a whole vast range of devices that are entirely screen on the front face, and there is a front-facing camera that’s underneath the screen. This is a definite trend that everyone is trying to push for.
[Lau also confirmed to me that the upcoming OnePlus 6T will have a fingerprint sensor built under the glass on the front bottom of the phone so that no display space is lost to a physical button.]
There’s charging speed. I would imagine that you, like us, are never satisfied with charging speed, and there’s always improvement that can be done in this area.
OnePlus 6T. It's coming. pic.twitter.com/Wrdt9sCdIs
— OnePlus (@oneplus) September 28, 2018
So in the examples I’ve given I hope you get that my focus is not on innovation for innovation’s sake but for the sake of the consumer, and for removing friction.
The new OnePlus 6T should be showing up in the market in October.
It’s October, and we all know what that means: If you haven’t said the word “spooktacular” yet, it’s only a matter of time. It feels like it’s been particularly Halloween-y for a while at the box office, though, with The Nun scaring the bejesus out of millions of viewers worldwide, and Hereditary creating a polarized sensation over the summer. This month, Hollywood is doubling down on its horror offerings, with a Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix and films like Suspiria, Goosebumps 2, and a remake of the granddaddy of all seasonal slasher flicks, Halloween.
However, for anyone not seeking out scares during this candy-clotted swath of autumn, there are plenty of other emotions to embrace in entertainment. To help you separate the worthwhile from the time-wasters, Fast Company has prepared a ghoulish guide to the most promising movies, shows, albums, and books coming your way this Shocktober. (Actual ghoulishness may vary.) All treats, no tricks, and far fewer Halloween-related puns than this intro would suggest.
Movies at home
[Photo Illustration: Samir Abady; Bad Times at the El Royale: Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox; A Star Is Born: Neal Preston/Warner Bros. Entertainment; Venom: courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Mary Cybulski/Twentieth Century Fox; First Man: Daniel McFadden/Universal Pictures; Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween: Daniel McFadden/Sony Pictures Entertainment; Halloween: Andrew Eccles/Universal Pictures; The Hate U Give: courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox; What They Had: courtesy of Bleecker Street; The Kindergarten Teacher: courtesy of Netflix; Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Diyah Pera/Netflix; The Neighborhood: Bill Inoshita/CBS; Happy Together: Cliff Lipson/CBS; Light as a Feather: Rachael Thompson/Hulu; The Rookie: Tony Rivetti/ABC; Camping: Anne Marie Fox/HBO; Johnny English Strikes Again: courtesy of Universal Pictures; Beautiful Boy: Francois Duhamel/Amazon Studios; The Ramonoffs: Christopher Raphael/Amazon Studios; Big Mouth: courtesy of Netflix]
General Electric has dumped its CEO in a bid to get out of a slump.
After barely a year on the job, John Flannery has been ousted and replaced by former Danaher CEO Lawrence Culp, who joined GE’s board in April. GE also installed Thomas Horton, the former CEO of American Airlines, as its lead director, CNN reports.
GE announced the changes early Monday, undoubtedly in a bid to soften the blow to investors when it also revealed more bleak financial news: Its 2018 profit will most likely fall short because of “weaker performance” at its struggling power division.
Flannery had hoped to turn the flailing company around by focusing on aviation and power, but the makeover failed to instill confidence in investors in the short time it had to work. Investors were reportedly frustrated by how long it was all taking in the face of mounting debt and profit shrinkage.
Adding insult to injury for Flannery, GE shares soared more than 13% after the news broke about his firing.
Slack is a ubiquitous part of so many workplaces. The real-time messaging and communication app has become the go-to for so many remote workplaces, distributed teams, and offices–including at our company.
It’s also been a point of contention in our always-on, always-connected “alerts” culture. But we love experimenting at Buffer, so one of our teams explored this idea of turning off Slack. Here’s how it all went down.
How we organized an area-wide “no Slack” day at Buffer
This summer, many of the different areas at Buffer–product, engineering, design, data, people, finance, advocacy, and marketing– experimented with different ways of working. Some teams worked half the day on Friday. Some teams used Friday for learning and personal development.
For the “no-Slack” days, teammates could choose any area of focus (or multiple areas) for their Friday and change it up week-to-week, whatever felt best and most useful that week.
(Interestingly enough, the vast majority of summer Fridays were spent in deep work, strategic thinking, or learning a new skill. When the team was surveyed each Monday, no one ever reported taking the Friday fully off.)
Practically speaking, since this experiment was conducted only on the marketing team, it made sense to communicate what was happening with the wider Buffer company lest any teammate be looking for a marketer on Friday and find things oddly quiet. This was the message sent to the team:
I wanted to share a super quick note about a summer work experiment we’re trying on the marketing team. We’re going to treat the next few Fridays like Deep Work days, where we use the time for focused work, reflection, self-care, etc. Should be some good learnings!
One of the aspects of this experiment is that we’re aiming to be away from Slack on Fridays.
If you do need something on Fridays, you can absolutely use email or Paper to start conversations, and I’ll be “on call” if anything urgent needs marketing help–feel free to @here in the #marketing channel in Slack, and I’ll hop onto it.
Along with an email to the marketing team about the ground rules, that was all that was needed to kick off the experiment. For the next few months, every Thursday afternoon, we’d say our goodbyes in Slack and chat again–in real-time–on Monday.
Since we have international teammates in various timezones, we also gave the option for Focus Friday / Slack-off Friday to be a Focus Monday / Slack-off Monday. For our Asia-Pacific teammates, Fridays overlap with many other people’s Thursdays, so we didn’t want to exclude those teammates from some valuable overlap time.
Here’s what happened when we turned off Slack for a day.
1. We emailed each other more
When Slack was gaining popularity, people used to ask (Slack may have even asked it themselves), “Is Slack the new email?”
In our Slack-off experiment, we found that the inverse was true. Email was the new Slack.
Many of our conversations shifted to the many other tools at our disposal, all of which can filter straight to our inboxes. For instance:
So our team simply shifted our work convos from Slack to these other channels:
And in the absence of a go-to tool, we would simply email one another to start a conversation or ask a question.
2. We questioned what needs to be synchronous
Our communication at Buffer is often labeled one of two ways: synchronous or asynchronous.
We communicate “async” in channels like email, Paper, Trello, and Github, where the conversation is not real-time. We communicate synchronously in Slack and on video calls, where the conversation happens right away.
(Slack is capable of being both sync and async, though we’ve noticed that there does seem to be some social expectation of a quick response on Slack regardless of how explicitly we state otherwise.)
Experimenting with Slack helped us re-tune our default setting. Does this thing really need to be shared on Slack? What is so urgent? Is there a better channel? In most cases, it was not urgent, and there was a better channel.
Here’s a short list of examples where an async conversation proved just as fruitful as a synchronous one:
3. Thursday became the new Friday
This was one of the unintended side effects of turning Slack off: We all sped up our internal clocks so that Thursday became our new Friday.
Since Friday turned into more of a heads-down work day, we felt the need to schedule calls and hold necessary conversations by the end of the day Thursday. Essentially, we had a four-day workweek in which to conduct our synchronous work. This wasn’t ideal. But neither was it a huge blocker. It just took some added planning and foresight to anticipate what lie ahead for you each week.
4. A casualty: “Check out this article I saw”
There was one thing we never quite found a place for: What do you do if you find a really cool article you want to share? Yes, you could save it for Monday.
But (speaking personally) I’m neither good at remembering nor very adept at managing my browser tabs.
For those teammates who were able to stash their cool links, we were treated to a flurry on Monday morning. However, there were also several stories that were likely silenced because we didn’t have an adequate place to share in real-time.
(I personally found myself writing a list of things I wanted to Slack to my teammates on Mondays. I suppose the cool links could have been included here.)
5. We missed each other?
At the end of the experiment, after three summer months of not using Slack on Fridays, we answered a survey question:
How would you feel if we were to no longer do Slack-off Fridays (everyone stays off of Slack and we communicate asynchronously)?
The results were lopsided. Seven out of our eight marketing teammates claimed they wouldn’t be disappointed at all if we moved on from the experiment and resumed our normal Slack hours.
And yes, part of this could be explained by a very contented team who does not disappoint easily, but another way of looking at is a bit more simple: We missed each other.
If you had a nickel for every time an ad for a new phone told you its camera was revolutionary, you’d have enough cash to actually buy that phone. In a new Samsung video series for its S9 phone, the brand decided to show us why its phone is so impressive–by using creative pros to walk us through their process, and how the S9 just happens to fit into it.
The first two episodes of “/make” are up, featuring photographer Cory Richards, and YouTuber Anna Akana. Each uses a relative newcomer as an audience avatar, while the pros dip into their bag of secrets. Richards takes up-and-coming photographer Austin Jensen to Iceland with only a day to shoot a story. Akana shows the actor and comedian Karen Sepulveda how she makes videos with her Galaxy phone. Upcoming episodes will feature Issa Rae, YouTuber Connor Franta, and director Alfredo Flores.
The series, created with agency R/GA, follows the consistent theme of positioning Samsung as a tool for creativity, an initiative that launched in 2017 with an Oscars spot starring Casey Neistat. Here, the brand saw a gap in genuinely helpful, longer-format content and decided to tap into its impressive rolodex to try and fill it.
Check out the first two episodes below:
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Democracy is not perfect, but it is better than anything in second place.” The FBI is also not perfect, but it is superb at interviewing, especially with background investigations of federal judges at stake. In this case, it’s whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh is qualified to sit as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
I have no doubt that Senate staffers are warm-hearted and dedicated to doing their best at interviews in background investigations of Supreme Court nominees. But staffers are not FBI agents backed by the full weight of and stellar experience of the Bureau. There is nothing like staring down the barrel of an agent interview to get your full attention. You lie at your peril—it’s a serious crime to lie to a federal agent.
I conducted dozens of background probes of federal judges during my 30-year career as an agent, both as the case agent or carrying out leads from other case agents. All of these inquiries are married to bureau deadlines that must be fully met. FBI headquarters demands it. Be good or be gone is the FBI mandate for agents when it comes to asking questions in interviews, whether you’re dealing with members of the Ku Klux Klan, mob figures, KGB defectors, kidnappers, common bank robbers, POWs in Iraq or Afghanistan, or Saddam Hussein for seven months after he crawled out of his rat hole in Iraq. There is no higher skill or art in the bureau.
Vetting federal judges is one of the FBI’s most important mandates, none more crucial than nominees to the Supreme Court. The bureau can conduct extensive and complicated interviews within a week. While the FBI does not make recommendations, it does write thorough and extensive reports reflecting the results of interviews gathered from simply sitting down with citizens, listening carefully, and following up leads wherever they point. Interviews are the DNA of agents’ investigations.
Currently, front and center are the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her many decades ago at a party in a home when they were both in high school, an allegation vigorously denied by Kavanaugh. Blasey Ford has alleged that the assault was witnessed by a third person, Mark Judge, who was known to her and also a close friend of Kavanaugh. All three of them will be interviewed by agents to establish when and where the assault took place. All persons listed by Blasey Ford as having attended the party will be interviewed.
President Donald Trump authorized a limited scope investigation to be conducted with a one-week deadline to determine whether the sexual assault took place as alleged. While I do not know the president’s definition of limited scope or the parameters that he set, the FBI will pour into the investigation as many agents as required to determine whether there is evidence that the alleged sexual assault took place. Agents successfully live with deadlines all the time.
What I would do
Here is what I would do. Since there is evidence that Mark Judge worked at a Safeway during the crucial time period of the summer of 1982, I would request that he sign an FBI form authorizing agents to look at his employment records at Safeway to establish when he worked there. This could set a more precise timeline, since Blasey Ford claims that she entered the Safeway around six to eight weeks after the assault, and by chance met Judge, who was working there.
I would request that Blasey Ford ride with agents around neighborhoods that are her best guess as to the location of the home where the party and the alleged assault took place. We are looking for a house described by her as having a living room near the front door, stairs to a second-floor bedroom and a bathroom across the hall from the bedroom. If she can identify the home, Agents will knock on the front door and request permission from the owner to look at the interior of the house and have Blasey Ford examine the home as well, if she is agreeable to that.
If Blasey Ford can pinpoint a general neighborhood, agents will examine public real estate records as to the identities of the homeowners who lived there during that summer, find them, and interview them. I would canvass real estate companies and interview their agents who regularly sell homes in the area and were also doing so in 1982. If retired, find them.
Since Blasey Ford was 15 at the time and did not have a driver’s license, who drove her to the party, and who took her home?
Who hosted the party where the alleged assault took place? Agents will interview the high school friends, however numerous, of Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford, and Judge, for evidence. Also it’s important to ask these same friends as to whether Kavanaugh drank to excess during his high school years and suffered blackouts as a result. Blasey Ford alleges that Kavanaugh and Judge were very drunk at the party and during the alleged assault.
With authority from Blasey Ford, agents will examine the records of therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists who treated Blasey Ford for evidence that she suffered trauma as a result of being sexually assaulted. Also, interview any person she told about the alleged assault.
The bureau will need Kavanaugh’s calendars to interview everyone listed on them during the critical period of 1982.
The FBI stands ready to polygraph Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh, and Judge, even though Blasey Ford was previously polygraphed by a non-bureau examiner.
The FBI pledges to the American people that all interviews will be impartial, non-judgmental, painstakingly thorough, and as relaxed as possible, given the inherently stressful nature of bureau interviews. Agents are friendly, well prepared, of professional attire and demeanor, and strive to establish rapport to get the best results from an interview. We owe our fellow citizens no less.
Over the past few years, timber has become a more widely used material in tall buildings–and from Canada to Japan, architects are pushing the material further and further into the sky. Mjøstårnet, an 18-story project being built in Brumunddal, about 90 minutes north of Oslo, is the latest all-wood high-rise to compete for the record of world’s tallest.
In a five-part micro-documentary produced by Moelven, the Scandinavian construction company behind the project, we get a glimpse at the building project.
At 265 feet tall, the structure is a fascinating piece of engineering for its anti-fire features alone. Up until 1997, Norway had legally prohibited large timber buildings over three stories after a terrible fire consumed the city of Ålesund in the early 1900s.
Yet the construction company claims its building is one of the safest in Norway, thanks to the use of glulam–or glued laminated timber. According to Even Andersen, a fire expert for the engineering consultancy firm Sweco Norge AS that oversaw the project, glulam beams don’t burn. They develop a lawyer of charcoal that stops the fire, keeping their structural integrity intact. “The glulam structures have such huge dimensions that they retain their load-bearing ability in the event of a burnout fire,” he writes. (Though, since we’ve seen much taller skyscrapers made of fire-resistant materials collapse in the past; let’s hope this feature is never tested in real life.)
The company is also taking an unusual approach to the building’s construction, which will happen in five stages without any external scaffolding–just one large crane and internal scaffolding.
The company assembles the glulam structural beams and columns on the ground, then fixes them in place via crane. Only then are floor slabs added, and after that, the external facade. Finally, the building systems–like electrical and plumbing–are added to finish each floor. Once the company has finished this process for four floors, it moves on to the next four.
The building will reach completion in the spring of 2019. If all goes as planned, it will beat out the current holder of the title, the 173-foot timber dorm in Vancouver, by almost 100 feet.
Ask the average person to rate their love of advertising and the answer will probably land somewhere in the range between waiting in line at the DMV and a hot lava enema. But despite a general loathing for what many consider a necessary evil for free YouTube videos and Sunday afternoons of NFL football, advertising does have a significant influence on how we see ourselves and others.
This is especially true with children. If every TV ad a child sees depicts women as just a good-looking piece of arm candy, guess what that kid’s impression of women is going to be?
The U.N.’s the Unstereotype Alliance today announced the results of a new global study conducted by The Female Quotient and Ipsos, in which the groups surveyed 14,700 men and women aged 16 to 64, across 28 countries. The survey found:
These results are especially disappointing because better representation has been an ongoing topic of discussion within the ad industry for years. Just this past June at the Cannes Lions festival, the Unstereotype Alliance launched a short film, The Problem Is Not Seeing the Problem, illustrating the lazy casting choices that lead to this impression.
U.N. Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says the issue is selective blindness toward inclusivity. “Brands, agencies, and advertising leadership need to get more used to the idea that advertising should not only be used to sell a product, influence a choice, or build loyalty to a brand,” says Mlambo-Ngcuka. “It can and should also be a force for good.”
That sentiment echoes one made by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the White House in a 2016 initiative called #SeeHer, which sought to encourage advertisers, creators, and the media to make content that authentically portrays diverse women and girls. That same year, agency MullenLowe created a PSA that showed how children already define career opportunities as male and female.
As frustrating as the results of the Unstereotype Alliance study are, when it comes to diverse representation, the stats on influence remain encouraging if brands and marketers can somehow use it for good.
For advice in how to do that, let’s once again jump back to 2016, to an excellent Cannes Lions presentation called “Men vs Women: Exploring Marketing’s Impact on Gender Bias,” by Kim Getty, president of ad agency Deutsch.
Getty says that advertisers should be asking themselves, does this capture the world as it is today, or are you using dated references? “I think sometimes, maybe because we only have 30 seconds, it’s a shortcut to play into outdated gender norms.”
Thankfully, not all ads fall into these cliched traps. Look no further than Covergirl’s work with Issa Rae to see a smart, funny woman presenting an image of beauty that doesn’t completely revolve around what some dude thinks.
This old Glenfiddich spot subtly subverts the typical casting choice, by making it a daughter, while not banging us over the head (LOOK! IT’S A GIRL!) with the choice.
“Because women make up nearly half the workforce, when you’re writing a script with a woman in it, assume she works,” Getty told the audience at Cannes. “Just start there. When you’re writing a story for a man, assume he knows how to change a diaper and make dinner. Assume he’s capable, because so many men are awesome and capable. Just start there. So many stories don’t start there. Let’s start with how the world looks today.”
Two years later, it still makes perfect sense.
If Brett Kavanaugh, who is 55, is appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s likely that he will be there for the next 30 or even 40 years. The same is true of Neil Gorsuch, who was 49 years old when he was confirmed in 2017. If the U.S. Constitution doesn’t explicitly call for lifetime appointments–and every other democracy in the world has term limits for the judges on its highest courts–does it make sense for Supreme Court justices to serve for decades?
“Life tenure isn’t doing much to ensure that the justices remain above politics,” says Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that is calling for several reforms of the court. The group is advocating for a new system: Justices would serve 18-year terms, and presidents could appoint a new justice every two years.
The proposal, drawn from recommendations from law professors, aims to “lower the stakes in a way that would make each nomination seem less like partisan Armageddon,” Roth says. In the current system, political parties have no incentive to find a judge who is actually most qualified for the job.
“They’re incentivized to find the youngest, most partisan nominee that they believe can get 51 votes in the Senate,” he says. “So there are plenty of jurists in their late fifties, early sixties, who may have more experience or a better temperament to be on the Supreme Court, but they’re getting passed by because every appointment became a generational opportunity.”
Right now, justices have an incentive to stay on the bench until a president with their own views is elected. The new system would make departures more predictable. If justices didn’t serve for 20 or 30 years at a stretch, it might also help keep the court a little more in touch with the current world (just look at what happens when the current justices try to make sense of modern technology). And critically, if political parties knew that their time would soon come–and that the policy future of the country didn’t depend on the chance of a death or retirement when a particular president was in office–the nomination process might be less of a political circus.
The change could happen with a new law rather than a constitutional amendment, Roth says. The Constitution says that justices “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour.” The first five justices served an average of nine years; there was no expectation that they would serve for life. (More recently, the average tenure has been 25 years.) A new law could specify that someone could be a federal judge for life, but could only serve 18 years on the Supreme Court.
“I think 18 years makes sense because it’s long enough to establish yourself on the court, to have impactful opinions, to have a legacy, but it’s not so long that it seems feudal or anti-democratic,” says Roth. Others have advocated for 10- or 12-year term limits.
If the 18-year term limit went into effect for the next appointment after Kavanaugh, that would likely mean that there would be more than nine justices on the court until the middle of the century (the organization laid out one possible trajectory). Remember: There’s also no constitutional requirement that there be nine justices on the court.
It’s a change that could be politically possible. In one 2017 poll, 66% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans supported the idea of 10-year term limits. “There’s nothing in my proposal or even some of the other proposals that are out there that I’ve seen that’s partisan by nature,” says Roth. It might be less likely at the moment with the current leadership in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But things could change with grassroots support. “Given the fractiousness and the frustration that the public on both sides has seen with this most recent nomination, I think the time for reform at the Supreme Court is ripe.”
Honour of Kings, one of China’s most popular video games, is testing the use of facial recognition to check the ages of users. The move is not an attempt to card kids who are too young to play the mature-themed game, but rather to limit their amount of play time.
The game’s publisher, internet giant Tencent, announced the move over the weekend, the BBC reports. The game, which pits players against each other in a fantasy world to wage multiplayer battle royales, is just too darn fun, apparently, and has been criticized for being too addictive for the children and potentially contributing to rising levels of nearsightedness. Plus, recent studies show that limiting screen time from TV and video games can improve brain function.
This is the third time that Tencent has tried to restrict use of the game for young gamers. Back in July 2017, it tried to limit kids under 12 to one hour of gameplay a day, and 13- to 18-year-olds to a maximum of two hours. That didn’t quite work, so the company then added a real-name registry to try and keep the kiddos honest. That didn’t discourage the game play, either, so now Tencent is adding a facial-recognition test in the hopes of stopping young players from gaming the time limit system.
The system will be tested on a random group of “thousands of players” in Shenzhenand Beijing and could, theoretically, help solve the problem. How the company plans to scan users’ faces and cross-reference them with age identification is still a bit of a mystery, and should scare the tuna salad out of privacy advocates.
Serena Williams: greatest athlete of all time, fashion entrepreneur, and pretty damn good singer.
In a new breast cancer awareness ad, Williams gives a somber rendition of The Divinyls’ 1990 hit “I Touch Myself.” The video is part of the I Touch Myself Project, an initiative launched in 2014 in honor of Divinyls front woman Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away from breast cancer the previous year.
Williams’s version, in the context of Breast Cancer Awareness month, completely flips the song’s original meaning, with added poignancy from the line, ” . . . think I would die if you were to ignore me,” which underscores the importance of self-examinations and early detection.
“Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world,” Williams said in an Instagram post. “Early detection is key–it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.”
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This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’ve recorded a version of The Divinyls global hit “I Touch Myself” to remind women to self-check regularly. _ Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key – it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that. _ The music video is part of the I Touch Myself Project which was created in honor of celebrated diva, Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away from breast cancer, and who gave us her hit song to remind women to put their health first. The project is proudly supported by @BerleiAus for Breast Cancer Network Australia. _ Visit the link in my bio to find out more. #ITouchMyselfProject #BerleiAus #BCNA #DoItForYourself
We knew that AI could come with better Burning Man camp names than the actual human Burners. We also knew that AI is great for naming craft beers. So it’s not surprise that AI would come with the coolest names for Halloween-themed pumpkin spice beers, thanks to Janelle Shane doing some weird training of a neural network.
Shane, a research scientist and neural network whisperer, regularly delights the internet with her AI experiments, and the latest is no exception. With the season to be spooky and consume mass amounts of pumpkin-flavored items fast approaching, Shane trained a neural network on beer names that involve pumpkin flavors and winter themes.
Using an existing dataset of craft beer names, she added new additions for fall–then set the model to generate new brews. The initial results were spookier than she expected, she writes: How about a pint of Winter Winter This Dead Ale, Blood Barrel, or Strawbone Masher?
But Shane went even further. She decided to train the neural network with metal band names, taking the creepy factor up to 11 (*makes sign of the horns*). Among the results? Child Shadow Ale, Skin Ale, Flesh Head, Grave Void, and, my personal favorite, Ale Gore.
Finally, she wanted to go less gory and more uncanny, so she trained the AI with scripts from Welcome to Night Vale, the podcast that narrates mysterious, supernatural phenomena that occur in the small desert town of Night Vale. Again, the results are phenomenal: Faceless Ole Ale, Head The Secret Pumpkin, and I Leaked The Root Like The Heads. And finally, Pumpkin’s Garfacksksknes. I want a bottle, stat.
For years, Pinterest has been the almost-forgotten social network. Sure, people know what it is, but it hasn’t scaled at the same pace of services like Facebook and Instagram. But the company is seeing some real signs of growth–and many believe an IPO is on the horizon.
A new forecast from eMarketer provides some data points to help contextualize the company’s future. According to these new numbers, Pinterest’s advertising revenue will hit $553.3 million this year. By 2020, it will exceed $1 billion. For context, Amazon’s advertising program–which is still generally considered in its nascent stages–has already exceeded $1 billion.
In addition to revenue, Pinterest’s ad revenue per user is expected to rise dramatically—from $7.15 this year to $11.99 in 2020. These numbers, writes eMarketer, put Pinterest in line with Snap.
User numbers are also on the up and up for the social network. A recent New York Timesprofile said Pinterest has 250 million monthly active users. Of course, this is lower than Twitter–which most recently reported 335 million MAUs, and of course Facebook, which has about 2.23 billion.
Which is to say that Pinterest is still on the smaller side, especially compared to the other social juggernauts, but these numbers indicate that it may be a force to watch out for.
If you’re traveling to New Zealand, be prepared to hand over your phone and your password. A new customs law says that travelers must not only provide their devices, but also access to them, whether in the form of a password, fingerprint, or face, or risk a $5,000 fine, Radio New Zealand reports. The only silver lining to the law, which is sure to alarm privacy advocates, is that customs officials would need to have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing before performing the digital strip search, and customs officials won’t be searching through your cloud accounts, only the files on your phone.
If people refuse to comply, they could be fined up to $5,000 and their device would still be seized and forensically searched. Border officials searched roughly 540 electronic devices at New Zealand airports in 2017, according to Radio New Zealand, and the agency said it did not expect the number to increase, even with the new law.
New Zealand isn’t the only country performing digital strip searches, of course. Canada does them on occasion, and searches of mobile phones by U.S. border agents grew from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016, according to the Guardian. Last year, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit to force the U.S. government to disclose its rules around device searches at the border.
It may have been Tyrion Lannister who said, “I drink and I know things,” but Johnnie Walker has unleashed a new scotch dedicated to the icy hordes north of the wall that give Blue Steel a completely new meaning.
What fresh gibberish is this? The eighth season of Game of Thrones is set to launch sometime in April 2019, so obviously that means the promotion and product tie-in cycle has begun. Today alone, we’ve gotten this Johnnie Walker news, as well as word that Ghost will be making a grand reappearance in the upcoming season.
Back to the booze.
The brand says the new blend has notes of caramelized sugar and vanilla, fresh red berries with a touch of orchard fruit, and features single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish, one of Scotland’s most Northern distilleries. In a statement, blender George Harper said, “Whiskies from Clynelish have endured long, Scottish winters, not dissimilar to the long periods endured by the Night’s Watch who have ventured north of the wall–so it was the perfect place to start when creating this unique whisky.”
Oh be still my nerdy heart, this thing is going to fly off the shelves.
That said, it’s a curious product tie-in. While it’s not the show’s first foray into booze, whisky isn’t exactly a category steeped in frivolous entertainment marketing jazz, unlike light beer or anything that ends in ‘tini. The voiceover is appropriately stoic, knowing you’ll need to steel your nerves to either scam your parents HBO Now password or re-up that cable package before the new season.
From far beyond the wall/ Comes a whisky for those who face the oncoming storm/ And never stop walking/ Winter is here
It’s just a shame they couldn’t pry former wildling Kristofer Hivju away from Wyndam Rewards to do it. But it is appropriate that the brand gives a noble nod to John Snow. We’ve all awoken from a booze-fueled slumber feeling as if the Red Woman herself has cursed their very soul (or at least liver), amirite?
Stories of people who leave soul-sucking corporate careers and make a radical change–getting rid of all of their stuff, leaving city life for an ashram, quitting journalism to scoop ice cream on a Caribbean island –are everywhere.
“There are so many people who are disillusioned about the organizations they work for or their careers, just don’t feel like they are fulfilling their potential, or they lack purpose and they feel like they’re just cogs in machines,” says Skye Robertson, who heads The Escape School, based in London, which offers courses to help people make career changes.
Yet, many people feel stuck. They may be unhappy, but they are achieving what they were supposed to – advancing in a career in business, law, or academia, for instance – and are at a loss for what else to do. And well-intentioned platitudes, like “following your bliss” and “live your best life,” do little to assuage the very legitimate doubts people have about change – small things like paying the rent or a mortgage, supporting a family, affording healthcare, and saving for retirement.
To get more honest and realistic advice, I asked people who’ve actually made these kinds of big life changes – leaving successful careers in finance and fashion, becoming a tea sommelier or a food truck owner, or turning a school bus into a family home – how they would advise others to find a career and a life that is truer to themselves. Here are a few steps gleaned from their stories that anyone – even the most “normal” among us – can follow.
Trust your unhappiness, then figure out why you’re unhappy
Tiffany Dyba did not understand why she was crying on her nightly walk home from work. She led the recruitment team at Burberry and had recently been promoted after years of hard work in New York City’s competitive fashion industry. But something was not right. She sought the help of a career coach, and through that work, began to realize that fashion was no longer for her.
Through her work with the coach, she realized she wanted to help other mid-career women going through the same thing she was. Last September Dyba left Burberry to begin her coaching business full-time.
In March of this year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, an experience that has made her even more grateful for her recent change. “There’s no way I would have been able to soldier through if I was working for a company where I felt like I was always valuing other people’s feelings, priorities, or projects,” she says. “Starting my own business helped me realize that I’m the priority.”
Find a like-minded community
In individualistic societies like the United States, stories of change tend to focus on the triumphs of one person, which glosses over the influence of those with whom we surround ourselves. At a time when psychology was focusing on people’s inner motivations, Kurt Lewin, considered the “father of social psychology,” put forth a theory in the 1940s that individual behavior could not be understood without understanding a person’s social environment.
In this view, change is hard, writes NYU social psychologist John Jost:
“We value the groups to which we belong, and therefore changing our attitudes or behavior is tantamount to leaving the comfortable embrace of a social reality of which we are a part – a social reality that is largely shared by friends and family members.”
This is why finding a like-minded group is so important. We need the affirmation and support of others to make change. In fact, even our own sense of reality is a social process, according to psychologists Curtis D. Hardin and E. Tory Higgins, who have found that our experiences go from “mere capricious subjectivity” to “objective reality” once shared with and acknowledged by others.
Rachael Arthur, who left a 10-year career as a public school teacher in Texas to move to New York City to become a performer, decided to start the website The Free Fall Project to let people share their stories of leaving unsatisfying careers and pursuing their dreams.
“I feel like you’re going against the current of society often,” she says. “A lot of people who mean very well, the first thing they ask is, ‘How are you going to support yourself? How are you going to live? How much money are you going to make?’ These questions can put doubt into your mind, versus if you’re in a tribe of people who are like ‘that’s awesome, when are you going to start?'”
Don’t worry about needing a passion – experiment instead
Many people believe they need a passion in order to leave unsatisfying careers, but in fact, that is putting the cart before the horse, say experts and career changers alike. It turns out, the vast majority of people – around 80%, do not have a singular passion, according to Stanford professors William Burnett and David John Evans.
In their classes and book Designing Your Life: How to Build A Well-lived, Joyful Life, Burnett and Evans suggest investigating different career options by interviewing people with jobs that interest you or volunteering in that area.
“The majority of us have many things that we’re interested in. So the kind of conventional advice of ‘go follow your passion or find your passion,’ like it’s just going to hit us in the head when we’re in the shower, doesn’t really work for most people. It actively harms people’s abilities to get themselves unstuck,” says Skye Robertson. At the Escape School, where she is director, students can take online or in-person classes in which they do a “career and life audit” and figure out how to test different career paths. “We’re waiting for this thing to come and hit us when actually we have to be cultivating a lot of things to find our passions,” Robertson adds.
Save money & downsize
Whether it means spending less, downsizing, or staying in a job you dislike a little longer than you want to save money, the overwhelming consensus is that being financially secure helps ease the stress of change.
“There is no shame in working a day job, whether it’s waiting tables or being a doctor if it helps you create financial support to pursue whatever it is you really want to be doing. Don’t burden yourself with the stress of having to pay your bills with a skill you’re just beginning to develop,” says Mel Hattie, who diverted from pursuing a career in law to become a travel writer and tea sommelier.
If your job demands nights or weekends and leaves you with little time or energy to try other activities, it might be worth finding a position in the same field that is less demanding, cutting back your hours, or becoming a consultant or independent contractor.
Nicole Robertson found that consulting gave her the time and flexibility she had lacked when she held demanding jobs in the beauty industry and at a bioplastics company to work on her business Swap Society, a clothes trading company that aims to reduce the environmental impact of the apparel industry.
Reframe ideas of risk and failure
Many people fear the risk of leaving their job and the prospect of failing at what they embark on. But the real risk may be staying in an unhappy situation.
First there are physical and mental health risks. People who reported low job satisfaction early in their career, in their 20s and 30s, reported higher levels of depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry in their 40s, according to a 2016 study from sociologists at the Ohio State University. (Fortunately, those whose job satisfaction began low but got better over their career did not have the same health problems).
There’s also the risk of regret. One of the top five regrets of people who are dying, as chronicled by an Australian palliative care nurse, was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Lauren Chu, who lives in Toronto, works for hiking travel company Live Out Loud Adventures doing communications, researching and organizing trips, and leading tours, while also managing her own website, the Ridgeline Report, to encourage people to get outside. It’s a different world from the job she left as a production supervisor at PepsiCo, where she regularly worked the overnight shift. “The change from a Fortune 500 company to independent and self-directed work has been a bit overwhelming, terrifying, crazy, and overall incredible,” she says. It has led her to a particular definition of success: “Even if after a few years I have to return to a job that gives a steady pay – although to be clear, I don’t plan or anticipate this happening – I will have done what I can and invested in myself to pursue my passion, and there is both emotional and financial success in that.”
More from Doist:
Google’s long-rumored game-streaming plan–or part of it, at least–is now official. Starting October 5, Google will let a small number of Chrome users play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey directly within the web browser as part of “Project Stream.” Instead of requiring a powerful gaming PC, Google will render the game on its own servers and then stream the video and audio to lower-cost laptops and desktops over the internet.
Game-streaming technology is nearly a decade old and was pioneered by startups like OnLive (whose assets were acquired by Sony in 2015) and Gaikai (which was also bought by Sony in 2012). Sony, Nvidia, and several startups continue to offer game-streaming service today, and Microsoft is working on its own version now.
But it’s unclear how Google intends to stand out or solve the latency and reliability issues that have kept the concept from going mainstream. Google’s blog post says nothing about technology, pricing, or even publisher support–let alone rumors of a Google game console–and casts Project Stream as a “technical test” rather than an actual product. Like others in this space, Google might have a long way to go before it can match the experience of a proper console or gaming PC.
When Soraya Chemaly began to give voice to her anger, she was well into her thirties. “If you had asked me if I was angry in my 20s or early 30s, I would have been the person who said, ‘Oh no, I’m just not an angry person,'” the writer and activist says. “But I had all of these physical manifestations of problems that I never associated with this emotion.”
Doctors told Chemaly, a working mother of three, that she was just stressed. As she tried to work through her stress, and the source of it, Chemaly started writing. “I didn’t realize at the time that writing was actually a very powerful force of sublimation of anger for me,” she says. “What resonated with people was the anger in my writing. I was much freer to express myself that way.”
In writing her new book, Rage Becomes Her, Chemaly was nothing short of angry. “I don’t throw plates, but I do throw words,” she writes in the introduction—a reference to an incident from her childhood, when Chemaly watched her mother silently throw her wedding china out the kitchen window. Rage Becomes Her lays bare the sources of women’s anger—from harassment and sexism to the expectations imposed on women as caretakers and mothers—and the ways in which women are trained, from childhood, to suppress their anger. (“I don’t think anyone can read this book without getting angry,” Chemaly tells me.) When women are permitted to be angry, she notes, it is often in the form of aggrieved mother.
But what Chemaly really sought to convey is the power in women’s anger—and to help alter how people think about a woman’s right to be angry. After all, in 2018, angry women are making things happen: They have won primary elections and have brought to heel serial sexual harassers. “I think that you would have had to be living on Mars to go through the last several years and not realize how profoundly the lives of women are being affected by this regulation of our freedom of expression,” she says. “What I wanted to accomplish was to really say, Stop dismissing women’s anger. Stop stereotyping it. And understand how much knowledge is embedded in it, and what we lose when we shut it down.”
The cost of confrontation
As Chemaly writes, regulating how women should or should not express their anger can be particularly harmful to how they are perceived in the workplace, especially as it intersects with race. “You can see a real break between how we socialize children to understand that confrontation is a ‘masculine’ quality,” she says. “Even in early childhood, we know that young black girls are severely penalized for acting in ways that are considered confrontational, but in a young white boy, that is literally considered a sign of leadership potential.” Women, she says, don’t even need to be confrontational to be labeled as such. “They basically have to speak with authority and with confidence,” she says. “We don’t get to make that nuanced distinction of saying I’m angry, but I’m not being aggressive.”
A recent example of this was, of course, how Serena Williams was penalized at the U.S. Open for arguing with the umpire. When Williams dared to show her anger after being slapped with a code violation she deemed unfair, the umpire docked her further with a game penalty—an unprecedented move in the final match of a Grand Slam. “What I think is so remarkable about this episode is how conscious Serena Williams was,” Chemaly says. “As a black woman who is smart, has gone through decades of discrimination, and is at the top of her profession, she must have an exquisite sense of the need to calibrate her assets. She knows. This is not new to her; this is not unfamiliar ground for her.”
Chemaly wants to empower women in moments like these, to give them the language to understand and challenge what unfolds, much like Williams did. “I know that on the spot, I freeze, and I clam up,” she says. “I don’t want to be confrontational because I grew up thinking that was unladylike and rude and all of these other things. But the prohibition on being confrontational often means we don’t say anything at all. And that’s a problem.” Often, the calculus of speaking up hinges on whether it feels worth it to do so, when women are so often penalized for anger.
Anger competence (aka, “What to do with all this rage?”)
Chemaly even points to the fact that women aren’t thrust into the role of caretaker only at home; women often bear the brunt of “office housework and emotional labor” in the office as well. “I was talking to a man the other day, and this guy considers himself a liberal, progressive Democrat who works in an office with many women and works for a woman,” Chemaly says. “I said, ‘Well, do you organize [office parties]? Do you clean up? Do you order the cake? Do you get the gifts? Do you do any of that?’ And he said no. And I said, ‘Well, who do you think is doing that? They’re not office fairies.’ And once I said it, it looked like a light bulb went off. He was like, ‘Oh my god, I just didn’t ever think of that.'”
Women have to “engineer around” those type of scenarios, she says, to ensure they don’t keep happening. Toward the end of her book, Chemaly devotes a chapter to tools for “anger competence,” an attempt to answer the question of, “What to do with all this rage?”
She recommends that women take stock of their anger and how it presents, and that they learn to distinguish between what she calls the three As. “Anger, assertiveness, and aggression are frequently and unhelpfully lumped together, particularly when the person who is being assertive, angry, or aggressive is a girl or woman,” she writes. “All three are, however, related by the word ‘no,’ and a simple unapologetic, declarative ‘no’ is not a word that girls and women are taught to embrace.”
Chemaly also encourages women to take their rage to work and use it to effect change. The things that anger women in the workplace—being taken for granted, for example, or experiencing gender- or race-based discrimination—are often the very things that stir discontent in their personal life. “Organize your thoughts and actions with clear objectives,” she says. “That may mean asking for a long-overdue raise, but it might also mean saving money to quit a miserable job and look for another one or taking the step to report harassment.” If you’re angry about something at work, she adds, it’s likely other people are, too.
“The hardest part about any of this, whether you’re at home or work or school, is coming to terms with whether or not your community cares enough to validate your anger,” Chemaly tells me. “Indeed, one of the major components of women’s anger is this failure of reciprocation—this feeling that their care is not being reciprocated.”