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    Any day Nick Kroll and John Mulaney suit up as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland–“Ohhh Hello!”–is a good day. In a new ad for Cadillac, everybody’s favorite aging New Yorkers and tuna sandwich aficionados get a ride around the city in the new XT4, chauffeured by Awkwafina, who is playing Val the Vlogger.

    OK. First of all, this is legitimately funny. (“I would never run from a friend.”) But not only because of the writing (Gil’s pronunciation of “podcast” FTW) but also for its sheer randomness. Kroll, Mulaney, and Awkwafina chatting in a Cadillac for three minutes. And hey, let’s throw in a parting shot with 2018 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model Danielle Herrington just for the hell of it. It seems capable of appealing to quirky comedy fans, cool kids, and dudes who still buy the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for some reason. 

    Here is where we make the distinction between great content and great branded content. There is a difference. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but there are times when the former is not the latter. Case in point, this Cadillac ad, created with Kovert Creative. Aside from the fact they’re driving around in a Cadillac, is there anything about this that tells me anything about the brand or its personality? Is Cadillac funny? Mix up the vehicle choice, and this video could be an ad for absolutely any brand that slapped its logo at the end.

    That isn’t brand content, it’s content sponsorship. Which is totally fine! Associating yourself with fun stuff can certainly endear a brand to an audience. But then why a one-off three-minute video trying to pass itself off as a car ad? Content sponsorship works better if it’s consistent. Now, if you gave me a new “Oh Hello” short web series for free, “presented by Cadillac,” that would illustrate how much the brand values quality comedy, my time, and my wallet. While awesome, this spot feels like it could just disappear into the gaping maw of daily digital video content without getting much notice. And that would be unfortunate.

    When you have the budget to create something as funny and elaborate as this, it just seems like there should be more of a strategy than George, Gil, and Awkwafina driving around New York that one time. Free idea: A five-part series in which they have a different driver each time, played by Kovert clients (Mulaney and Awkwafina included) like Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, and Will Forte. And call it . . . wait for it . . . Comedians in Caddies Getting Kvetchy. Either that or just hours of live-streaming corporate softball.

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    Rebel employees can bring a lot of value to an organization. Sure, they hate following rules, but they tend to be creative about finding new ways to optimize productivity and increase revenue. The thing is, rebels challenge organizational norms, values, and policies. They flout convention. And when they get results, they want special treatment.

    But most companies also need soldiers–productive people who follow the rules. They make organizations predictable and manageable. They thrive on consistency. Soldiers don’t expect special treatment, and rebels who do make soldiers feel uncomfortable. They upset the chain of command, and to soldiers, it doesn’t feel fair.

    It’s not easy to square rebels and soldiers without turning off one or the other.

    A rebel’s story

    Years ago, I was the general manager of a luxury hotel. My sales director came to me and said that one of his salespeople (let’s call him Tom) was not hitting the marks the hotel used to measure performance. He wasn’t making his assigned number of cold calls–he said they took time away from building relationships with guests. He wasn’t filling in the fields in the hotel’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. He said that didn’t help him make sales, develop new clients, or take care of old ones.

    On top of that, Tom was often away from his desk (without asking permission). The sales director wanted to fire Tom. I told him I needed to think about it.

    I was at a crossroads. All the evidence was on the side of Tom’s manager. But at the same time, I had an instinct that Tom was (appropriately) focusing on the customer. And my intuition was right. When I looked deeper into the numbers, I saw he sold more high-value rooms and more expensive events than any other salesperson and received more positive reviews from guests. I also discovered Tom had personal relationships with several of the hotel’s high-net-worth guests, who referred their friends to the hotel through Tom. Tom was single-handedly building a new client pipeline, and I had not been aware of it.

    Firing him didn’t make sense. Rebels may step on toes, but it’s often in the service of getting the job done. I knew that I needed to act fast to stop the situation from escalating further. Here’s the three-step process I followed.

    1. I gathered intelligence

    I knew that the first thing I need to do was talk to everyone to find out what’s going on. It turns out that the sales director was not a popular guy. The salespeople called him “the Warden.” His top priority was getting everyone to follow the rules. Make X number of calls, show up at a particular time, and take no more than take 45 minutes for lunch. That might work for some soldier employees, but it definitely didn’t work with Tom. I also found out that the department’s churn was higher than it should have been. Sure, they were meeting their goals, but they didn’t exceed them. And Tom was a significant contributor to those goals.

    2. I had to be intentional about making employees feel valued

    Here’s the thing–great employees don’t fit into one personality. They have different motivations and working styles, which allows them to make unique contributions to the organization’s goals. As a manager, I knew I needed to communicate that to my team members–so that they feel valued and seen, irrespective of their personality.

    I met with each salesperson and explained Tom’s value to the soldiers, and his coworkers’ strengths to Tom. I had to become an umpire, calling them as I saw them. I found that the key was to honor everyone’s contributions, and express how important it was to the hotel’s mission and its guests. I also explained how their combined efforts affected everyone’s compensation, which is an essential motivator for salespeople.

    3. I partnered with HR to craft a win-win solution

    After talking to everyone, I knew that this was a case where I needed to meet with our HR director and craft a solution that addressed his concerns while creating space for rebels like Tom. We decided to implement a flexible work schedule policy, which the sales team embraced and never abused. By working with HR, I was also able to help transform the sales department into a peer-friendly environment where everyone pursued common goals while leveraging their individual talents and strengths.

    But not everyone will be on board with that “win-win” solution

    I didn’t end up firing Tom, and that made the sales director unhappy. Even though I sought his input, he wasn’t interested in having someone question his authority. When he saw he wasn’t going to get his way, he resigned. So I promoted his No. 2 and advised her to manage by outcome, not process.

    Then I met with the new director and Tom together to explain to Tom the importance of filling in the CRM system’s fields. Without up-to-date, detailed data about guest preferences, the hotel couldn’t offer the luxury, high-touch service for which guests came to us. Not all guests, I reminded Tom, came to us through him. I also mentioned that if Tom didn’t fill in the CRM fields, he could kiss his bonus goodbye. I gave the same talk to the soldiers in the sales department, with Tom present, and they appreciated the fact that I was treating everyone equally. The department’s annual revenue grew by 9%. The sales team was inspired to step up when they saw how committed Tom was to his job.

    Managing rebel employees isn’t easy–but I can assure you that they provide tremendous value to an organization. They might just not show it in the same way, and it’s on you, as the manager, to create an environment that lets them thrive.

    Edward Mady serves as general manager of The Beverly Hills Hotel and West Coast regional director, USA for the Dorchester Collection, which includes Southern California’s Hotel Bel-Air.

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    The Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) reportedly has a plan to make Ender’s Game a reality. According to the South China Morning Post, BIT has recruited the best and brightest students (27 boys and four girls, all aged 18 and under) for a highly selective program to develop artificial intelligence weapons systems, like “nuclear submarines with self-learning chips” and “microscopic robots that can crawl into human blood vessels.”

    According to a professor who spoke anonymously to SCMP, the students who were recruited are all highly intelligent, but “being bright is not enough,” as BIT also wanted students with qualities like “creative thinking,” “willingness to fight,” persistence, patriotism, and, naturally, “a passion for developing new weapons.”

    The students will all be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defense industry, and then choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics, or overall weapon design. After completing the four-year program, the students are expected to continue on to a PhD program, and eventually become the next leaders of China’s AI weapons program.

    While the U.S. has similar programs, such as the one run by the DARPA, they tend to hire established scientists, not children. The SCMP did reach out to one of China’s foreign ministers, who said that while the country was “actively engaged in the development and application of AI technology,” it was “very aware of the possible problems with a lethal autonomous weapon system, and promoted the exploration of preventative measures by the international community.”

    Still, Stuart Russell, director of the Centre for Intelligent Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, told the SCMP that the BIT program sounded like “a very bad idea” and hoped the class curriculum included a viewing of the film Slaughterbots to scare the tuna salad out the students—and everyone else.

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    As a longtime resident of Long Island City, I’ve had a ringside view to the gentrification that has been re-creating this part of Queens at an accelerated pace. Eight years ago, this was still a neighborhood of industrial ghosts, its streets lined with taxi depots, small warehouses, strip clubs, and bodegas. Now it’s transforming into a grid of glass condos, formulaic in their design, and filled with amenities that guarantee the residents will never have to leave them: Why venture outside when the gym and grocery store are available on the first floor, and a shuttle takes you to the nearest subway stop?

    This week, of course, we learned that more changes are coming. After a 14-month search, Amazon has officially picked this neighborhood—my neighborhood—for one of its new headquarters, a massive undertaking that will alter the area beyond recognition.

    Granted, Long Island City’s old grit came with its share of trouble—there’s something quintessentially New York about stomping out of your building at 2 a.m. to tell the guys in the chop shop next door to stop spray painting that cab because the paint fumes are drifting into your bedroom. But at least the infrastructure could support the population. As the condos keep rising, Amazon says it plans to cram another 25,000 workers onto the waterfront, a move that will further overburden the overpacked and crumbling subways that serve as the community’s lifeblood.

    No matter which subway line I choose for my daily commute into Midtown Manhattan (usually the E train, although if I’m feeling masochistic I might give the 7 line a try), I already find myself squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder, if not cheek-to-cheek, with my fellow commuters. On a good day, I can make it to work in 15 minutes, unless my 7 train experiences one of its frequent delays. (Fun fact: The on-time rate for the MTA is around 65%, largely unchanged since last year, despite a lot of official chatter about “improvements.”) Stuck on a stalled subway beneath the East River is no place to suddenly realize you’re claustrophobic.

    There have been vague promises of “infrastructure upgrades” to accompany Amazon’s development, but the city has yet to offer a detailed explanation of how it will adapt to the influx of new workers who will commute to HQ2 via subway. The situation becomes more complicated early next year, when the MTA shuts down large portions of the L line, which delivers passengers from hip Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Williamsburg to Manhattan; many of those commuters will head north on the G line to Long Island City’s Court Square station, intending to catch the 7 and E trains across the river—and adding to the morning chaos in the process.

    Without adjustments by the city and MTA, rush hour around Court Square could look like a zombie mega-herd from The Walking Dead, if all of those zombies were on hefty doses of methamphetamine. The station’s average weekday subway ridership, which hit 23,672 last year, is causing visible strain. What happens if that growth multiplies by the end of 2019? That’s where the feeling in the pit of my stomach comes from. It’s like being trapped underwater.

    The Rent is (Already) Too Damn High

    Mass transit aside, there’s also the small matter of New York’s state and city governments offering Amazon more than $1.7 billion in incentives. Although Governor Andrew Cuomo insists that the tax breaks will pay for themselves (“You have to spend money to make money,” he told a New York Times reporter), some local officials aren’t taking the financial sweeteners well in an era of cash-strapped schools and other budgetary issues. “Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” read a joint statement from City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris.

    It’s instructive to study how Amazon’s original headquarters impacted downtown Seattle. Although the tax revenues helped power a lot of capital projects—something that surely warms the hearts of Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio—that city has wrestled with rising rents, homelessness, and traffic issues.

    While Amazon may be getting a tax break to move into the neighborhood, HQ2 could jack up the rents for many longtime residents. New York City has lost 425,000 affordable housing units over the past 13 years, while the number of apartments that cost more than $2,700 per month has doubled. Bill de Blasio has promised to build more affordable units over the next several years, but those likely won’t arrive in time to absorb the incredible demand, especially since Amazon intends to start hiring soon. The issue will prove especially acute in Long Island City, as many Amazon employees will try to live as close to headquarters as possible.

    Years before Amazon considered building another headquarters, developers were razing commercial sites around Long Island City to make way for high-rises. Along Jackson Avenue, a taxi depot, a block of low-rise apartments, and the abandoned-factory-turned-graffiti-mecca known as 5Pointz were flattened and replaced by luxury apartment complexes. On the neighborhood’s northern edge, near the tangle of ramps that serve the Queensboro Bridge, overgrown lots (and a very creepy cabin that looked like something out of the Blair Witch Project) have been transformed into condos. In other words, developers targeting the neighborhood haven’t destroyed apartment buildings and displaced residents; but their focus on the luxury residences has put the area increasingly out of reach for many New Yorkers.

    If you’re not making six figures a year, chances are good that you’re feeling the squeeze. You begin considering apartments in Astoria, or Jackson Heights, or other neighborhoods deeper in Queens—and you hope that gentrification won’t soon hit those neighborhoods, too. Long Island City used to host a robust collection of artists; walking down the street, you could peek through the open door of a warehouse and see a row of half-finished sculptures. Those folks will be forced to leave, along with small-business owners who can’t afford the rent, and the families who can’t keep pace, and then the neighborhood will lose its soul.

    When I first moved to Long Island City, most streets offered an unimpeded view of the waterfront and Manhattan. Over the past few years, new high-rises have blocked progressively larger chunks of that skyline. HQ2, once completed, will surely eclipse it even more. It will loom over the neighborhood.

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    Fox News is not currently tweeting, but that doesn’t mean the channel has no representation on Twitter. Unfortunately for Fox News, it just might not be the representation the Murdochs want.

    The channel’s Twitter blackout stems from some clumsily handled digital housekeeping in the aftermath of last week’s Tucker Carlson brouhaha. (Carlson’s home address appeared in some tweets and the platform was slow to respond to Fox News’ request for removal.) Now in its fifth day, the protest opened the door for the channel’s main Twitter representation on Wednesday morning to be this accidentally hilarious graphic.

    Twitter users are mass-sharing the above graphic, which comes from a Tuesday-night telecast about incoming Democratic Congresspeople, depicting the nightmare scenario of an America with free education and healthcare and a plan to combat global warning. (The horror!)

    It’s not the first time Fox News has seen their attempts at scaremongering around the “Radical Democrat” agenda boomerang back on them. Over the summer, a Sean Hannity graphic listing many of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s positions went viral as soon as it became apparent that it was basically a list of things many Americans do want.

    The only difference is that this time, the graphic may be the first tweet involving Fox News that many Twitter users have seen for days.

    As for Ocasio-Cortez, who has the distinction of appearing in both graphics, she has long since learned to embrace much of what Fox News has to say about her.

    And thanks to Fox News’ protest, she gets to have the last word on this graphic mishap.

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    I’m sitting on the floor of Fast Company‘s conference room, watching Little Red Riding Hood face off with a leather-jacket-wearing Big Bad Wolf. The wolf convinces her to tell him where her grandma’s house is, and then dashes off into the forest. Instantly, Little Red is horrified.

    “What’s wrong?” I ask her.

    “I don’t know, but something definitely feels wrong,” she says.

    Together with the help of a little pig whose house the wolf blew down, we figure out how to use Little Red’s clever inventions to outsmart the wolf and save Grandma.

    [Image: courtesy Within]
    Little Red the Inventor, directed by the designer Tuna Bora, is one of the first stories published on the new augmented reality (AR) platform Wonderscope. The children’s story app, which is the brainchild of VR art guru Chris Milk and his immersive storytelling company Within, launches today with stories that will spring to life through an iPhone or tablet, with the real world as their backdrop.

    Wonderscope is Milk’s first major foray into AR, alongside Aaron Koblin, Within’s cofounder and CTO. Milk is best known for creating VR experiences, including a recent collaboration with the band OK Go, while Koblin, who previously worked at Google, is famed for his interactive visualization design and work with VR. While the duo have focused on VR experiences in the past, the ubiquity of augmented reality technology, which is now on millions of smartphones, was too tempting to pass up. Within, which raised a $40 million Series B round of financing in summer 2017, is poised to turn Wonderscope into the premier AR storytelling platform for kids.

    Milk’s Wonderscope is focused squarely on children, rather than AR storytelling in general. Because these stories are easier to see when they’re told in miniature, Milk believes they’re best for 7- to 10-year-olds. “An audience that likes to watch small stories taking place in miniature and likes to watch the same stories over and over again? That’s not the current version of me–that’s the 7-year-old version of me,” he says.

    [Image: courtesy Within]
    Despite the fact that Wonderscope is a screen-based experience–in a time when many parents are trying to reduce how much time their children spend staring at them–Milk says he’s not trying to compete with formative experiences like playing with physical toys or reading books; instead, he wants to create a more interactive story for kids that tend to be passively sucked into screens. He points out that during user testing, parents have been thrilled to see their kids moving around as the stories encourage kids to check out the scenes from different angles. He thinks that because kids look through the iPad to see the story on the other side, Wonderscope won’t close them off to the outside world, unlike other iPad apps–usually games–that are purposely addictive.

    Rather than adding dopamine hits to Wonderscope, Milk is mostly focused on trying to tell a good story. But what that means in augmented reality is still up in the air. Initially, Wonderscope started as a demo for Apple’s augmented reality developer kit launch in 2017. Milk and his team based their first AR story about Goldilocks and the three bears on the conventional paradigm of reading a storybook: The child narrated the entire story out loud, with the app recognizing each line to move the animated scene forward in time. But when the team started testing the story with kids after the event was over, they learned that kids didn’t want to narrate and watch the story–they wanted to be part of it. Now, the kids become Little Red’s imaginary friend, reading dialogue that appears on their screens to which the character then directly responds. This feels particularly realistic because of a feature that enables the character to look directly at the user, wherever she is in the scene, making it feel like the animation is talking directly to you.

    The team also realized that kids really want to interact with as many parts of the AR scene as possible. Rather than looking to more traditional media, Koblin says he also took inspiration from disciplines like stage design, toy design, and interaction design to create Wonderscope’s next stories. For instance, A Brief History of Stunts by Astounding People, which is also launching with the app today, asks the user to find different parts of an airplane that are scattered around the scene. When you touch them, they merge into a plane that a stuntwoman character hops into and flies. In a story launching later this year, the White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland) is looking for someone to take over his job. The child plays the role of the job applicant, and in one scene, there’s a big smoking caterpillar. “If you poke him, he farts a pink cloud of smoke,” Milk says. “That’s a big hit.”

    Milk’s goal with Wonderscope is to create an entirely new mode of storytelling, but he faces major hurdles to doing so. First of all, many people don’t understand what augmented reality is, or how it works.

    “What we saw from all the existing AR apps that are out there is people will give them one star [in the App Store], and they’ll leave a comment saying, ‘This is a spyware app, they’re trying to take control of my camera’,” Milk says. That’s just Apple asking for permission to let an app use the camera, which is required for any AR app to work. To make sure users understand this, Within built an animated onboarding process for Wonderscope with a character named Blob, who explains each pop-up permission in simple terms.

    Once you’ve selected a story to watch, the app walks you through the process of finding a good surface on which to anchor the story by displaying four little helicopters dangling the scene over the ground. Once you find a good spot that the cameras can accurately detect, the helicopters gently lower the scene down onto the ground, and the story begins.

    [Image: courtesy Within]
    Milk is hoping that Wonderscope’s user-friendly approach to helping people understand how AR works, paired with beautifully curated stories made by independent writers and producers, will turn the app into the go-to place to experience this new format of storytelling. But Wonderscope won’t be open to any creator. Instead, Within will act more like a movie studio, ensuring a level of quality and kid-friendliness to each story. “What we’ve done is build the engine and the tools,” Koblin says. “The voice recognition is built in. It’s basically like an engine for this kind of content, and then it can scale and grow.”

    Next, Milk sees the company adding more features, like the ability to create forking storylines. And maybe one day, characters will be imbued with enough artificial intelligence to converse with kids outside of a script.

    More than anything, Milk doesn’t want the app or its stories to feel like what he calls a “marvelous novelty,” in which someone might watch a story once, but they never come back to it. His ambition for Wonderscope is to create a platform that other people can use to tell their stories, too. “For it to be foundational, you need to be able to build thousands of other stories on top of it,” Milk says.

    Wonderscope is free to download on iOS 11 and works on iPhone 6S or newer, 2017 iPad or newer, or iPad Pro. The app comes with one free story, and subsequent stories are $4.99 each.

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    If you walk into Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Boulder, Colorado and order coffee, you can now use an app to check out a free reusable, insulated, stainless steel mug. The cafe is participating in the beta launch of a new startup, called Vessel Works, that is building a network of shared mugs–not unlike a bikeshare program–that can be checked out at cafes and later returned at kiosks.

    It’s an alternative to the billions of paper cups that end up in landfills each year, and a solution that the startup believes can gain adoption more quickly than attempts to ask people to carry their own mugs from home. “Getting behavior change to happen is not an easy thing,” says Dadny Tucker, founder Vessel. “If we look at a community that’s considered very sustainably-minded, i.e., Boulder, Colorado, you’ll find that in a survey of local cafes, less than 10 people are bringing their own cup every day.”

    The startup chose Boulder for its official launch, which is beginning with four cafes and will scale to add more. Consumers use an app to participate in the free system (if someone doesn’t return a mug within five days, they’ll be charged for it). As they use the mugs, they’ll get reports on how much waste they’re preventing and how much they’re trimming their carbon footprint and saving water.

    [Photo: Vessel Works]
    Tucker first ran a pilot of the system in New York City in 2016, where she used to teach at Parsons School of Design. “The paper cup was really the most highly visible sign of disposability I could see,” she says. “Every fifth person walking down the street [in New York] is carrying a paper cup, which they use for a matter of minutes and then throw away.”

    The pilot–which she ran for several months at a handful of cafes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, iterating on the design of the system–showed that consumers liked the idea. As they used the mugs, it seemed to also have broader effects. “Our research in New York City demonstrated after a couple of weeks of using Vessel, people began to evaluate all their single-use disposable choices,” she says.

    “We’re attempting to disrupt the status quo of an entire industry, essentially,” she says. “And we think that by giving the user immediate feedback on the positive impact they’re having by making a slight behavior change that we’re going to be able to see that turn into larger behavior changes.”

    [Photo: Vessel Works]

    As the system expands–with kiosks to drop off mugs in more locations, such as at transit stations–it will continue to become easier to use. It’s also designed to be simple to use for cafes. “I wanted an intervention that was a win for everyone,” says Dagny. There’s no upfront cost to participate, and the cost that the startup charges the cafes per mug is less, on average, than they pay for paper cups. The containers are easy to stack and store. Vessel cleans the mugs in its own commercial facility, and tracks them to maintain each cafe’s inventory. The startup also sends environmental reports back to the cafes. It’s easier for cafes than a similar system in Freiburg, Germany, where coffee shops have to handle washing mugs themselves. (Others have also experimented with similar systems.)

    It may be more challenging to scale up to larger chains, since a company like Starbucks pays so little for paper cups that this would be a more expensive option. But Dagny is already in conversations with other cities that are interested in setting up similar systems.

    If the system succeeds, it may be due to the design–both in how the system operates, and the usability of the mug itself. “Being sustainable isn’t a hippie, granola sacrifice,” says Dagny. “Our cups are elegant. They’re highly designed…we’re really pushing a vision of the future of sustainability that that’s beautiful and better.”

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    You’ve probably read a fair amount about cryptocurrency mining but have never thought about doing it. I, for one, would not know where to begin. The process is highly technical–and, for popular coins, it requires spending more on computing energy than what you actually mine. And who even has access to such heavyweight computing hardware?

    A new company called Coinmine wants to make the process easier. The startup–which is backed by Coinbase Ventures along with some other well-known investors–launched its first device today: the Coinmine One. It does exactly what you think, which is mine cryptocurrencies.

    [Photo: courtesy of Coinmine]
    The Coinmine One looks like a slightly large external hard drive. It connects to personal computers to more easily automate the mining the process and is controlled by a mobile app. The device supposedly uses less power than a PlayStation and currently costs $799.

    The general idea behind Coinmine is to make a more accessible entry point into the world of cryptocurrency. People can read about the industry in every financial publication, but few have participated in it beyond perhaps buying a few bitcoin or Ethereum.

    Because bitcoin has become so ubiquitous (which is why it is literally destroying the earth), the Coinmine One isn’t powerful enough to mine it. But it is able to mine other popular cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Monero, and Z-Cash. Coinmine also built an operating system that made it possible for others to add new cryptocurrency networks. Essentially, this is an easier way for users to mine new ones that may come out in the future. But don’t expect it to help you get rich off of any already-popular coins.

    [Photo: courtesy of Coinmine]
    According to Fortune, the catch is that the device stores what is mined on its own servers–and then takes a 5% cut. For the die-hard cryptocurrency fanatics, that probably will not fly. But the device isn’t made for them. It’s more for the person who wants to dip their toe in the burgeoning cryptocurrency world for the first time, so a device doing some of the heavy lifting and taking a cut might not bother them.

    Coinmine is currently taking preorders. You can learn more about it here.

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    Last week, Google did away with forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment–a direct response to demands put forth by female employees who recently protested the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims. Facebook followed suit a day later, and yesterday, Airbnb and eBay pledged to do so after BuzzFeed Newsasked them and a number of tech companies if they would scrap forced arbitration.

    When Fast Company asked Slack about its arbitration policies, the company told us it was reevaluating them. “We are currently undertaking a careful review of our policies related to sexual harassment claims and private arbitration,” a Slack spokesperson said. “We take this issue very seriously, and Slack is committed to creating an environment where our employees can thrive.”

    Though the Google walkout may have created new momentum, these aren’t the first major tech companies to take action against forced arbitration. Here’s a timeline of companies that have put an end to the practice:

    • December 2017:Microsoft
    • 2018: Apple (though it’s not clear when it eliminated the requirement)
    • May 2018:Uber, Lyft
    • November 2018: Google, Facebook, Airbnb, eBay

    A number of prominent tech companies–Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Intel, and IBM–told BuzzFeed News that they have never required forced arbitration. Verizon and Amazon previously told Gizmodo that they don’t enforce arbitration either, but the latter reportedly requires forced arbitration from some contractors. WeWork reportedly still enforces arbitration as well.

    When we reached out for comment, Tesla, Netflix, and WeWork declined to comment on the matter, while Snap, Salesforce, and Spotify did not respond.

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    Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams saved the best for the last episode of 2 Dope Queens. The two hosts sat down with former First Lady Michelle Obama to talk about her new memoir Becoming, her struggle with the “Angry Black Female” stereotype, her hair journey, and what she meant when she said, “When they go low, we go high.” Since this is 2 Dope Queens, they didn’t just stick to politics; they also requested answers to the question of our time: Would you rather go to a Beyoncé concert or have brunch with Oprah? (Since she’s Michelle Obama, she probably has done both.)

    During the course of the wide-ranging conversation, Williams asked Obama about the “angry black woman” stereotype she discusses in her book. “[I]f you’re a woman and you’re too angry, people stop hearing the point,” Obama said. “They don’t hear you. And I’d love to be able to get in [and] change that, but the truth is that people will hear things differently from me. I will do one thing and somebody else will do the exact same thing, and it will be interpreted completely differently.”

    Obama also noted that the double standard is still firmly in place, particularly between what she or her husband could say in the White House versus what is said by the Oval Office’s current occupant. “There’s a lot of anger being expressed these days and I just think, man, if I ever said that … if I said those three words, it would all be over,” she said on the podcast. “And those words are said every day, all day, these days.”

    Her husband, Barack Obama, faces similar issues. “His even-keeled temper is not just cause he’s calm and cool and not emotional,” she explained. “It’s just like, you know, brother can’t get too angry if he wants to move things forward. He doesn’t have the leeway to solve problems with anger… And that remains true for women and minorities.”

    Obama knows that anger isn’t always an effective tool for change, though, which is why she came up with her now-famous phrase, “When they go low, we go high.”

    “I’m not gonna pretend like I’m not angry. But if I’m trying to move an issue, if my anger doesn’t work to move the issue, then it’s not helpful,” she said. “And that’s what going high means. Going high means you don’t ignore it. Going high doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge the fear… Usually your goal isn’t to just be angry.” While she doesn’t “deny the feeling exists,” she tries to “separate [her] anger from the point.”

    Fans of 2 Dope Queens know that the hosts frequently talk about their hair, so of course they asked Obama what it was like keeping her hair looking so impeccable in the White House, because as Obama said, “this wasn’t just a first lady journey, this was a black professional women’s journey.” Obama said she tried a “little bit of everything–braids, weaves, wigs, extensions,” whatever it took to keep her hair styled while she went through the day-to-day of living publicly. “You gotta have hair and clothes that can transition from doing pushups on the floor with Bishop Tutu, which I did by the way. He challenged me to a pushup contest,” she said.

    As for brunch with Oprah or a Beyoncé concert, well, she’s down for either or both, but when pressed, she would pick the brunch, not because she doesn’t love Beyoncé concerts, but she loves to have a conversation more and “You can’t do that at a concert.”

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    On September 25, students from five top French schools unveiled a manifesto titled “Wake up call on the environment.” Citing the recent UN report that warns of an impending climate catastrophe, the manifesto calls for students to capitalize on their collective power–as future employees–to compel French companies to embed sustainability deeply in all their activities.

    Today, more than 23,000 students from over 300 French higher education institutions have signed this manifesto, making a de facto a pledge to not work for companies that heavily pollute. The manifesto has galvanized a student movement that is creating a lot of buzz in the French media and business circles.

    [Source Image: Wacomka/iStock]

    The manifesto is the brainchild of Corentin Bisot, a student at Ecole Polytechnique, the top engineering school in France. Bisot points out the manifesto’s primarily goal is not to boycott polluting companies. Rather, it aims to raise students’ awareness about the ecological crisis we face and show them how they could make wise choices, including the choice of their employer, that can help build a sustainable world.

    The manifesto’s creators believe individual commitments won’t be enough to change the existing economic system. “Does it mean anything to ride a bike when you work for a company whose activities contribute to increasing climate change or draining natural resources?” asks the manifesto, thus calling students to achieve congruence between their core values and their work.

    [Source Image: Wacomka/iStock]

    By putting pressure on French companies to adopt sustainable business models sooner than later, the manifesto’s signatories want to avert the climate crisis. But they also see it as a stepping-stone to co-create a conscious society that eschews overconsumption and enhances the well-being of all citizens within our planetary boundaries.

    The students who initiated and support the manifesto are mostly from the Grandes Écoles, the French equivalent of the Ivy League. These elite schools, which produce future leaders of French business and government, tend to be conservative and do not take a stance–at least publicly–on sociopolitical issues.

    So the manifesto is really a “coming out”–in terms of civic engagement–of the students who represent the upper echelons of the French education system. But unlike the violent student protests of May 1968 that brought France to the brink of revolution, this new wave of non-violent student activism embodies new model, digitally enhanced and fluid. The French youth don’t want to disrupt the system from the outside as much as transform it from the inside and make it better. They are evolutionary leaders, rather than revolutionary ones.

    [Source Image: Wacomka/iStock]

    These bright youngsters want to lead by example by investing time and energy in self-transformation. Indeed, the manifesto has a whole section that offers a lot of advice to students on how they could adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

    The French manifesto should inspire U.S. students–especially at Ivy League schools–to take action. What if MBA students at top U.S. business schools took a pledge to not work for banks that contributed to the financial crisis of 2008, and commit their talent to promote social justice? And what if U.S. engineering students vowed to not offer their skills to the 100 most polluting U.S. companies, but rather work for 100 firms that develop the greenest products?

    The fight against climate change has been neglected by our political leaders. American college students can pick up the fight.

    Navi Radjou is a fellow at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. He is the coauthor of Jugaad Innovation (2012)From Smart to Wise (2013), and Frugal Innovation (2015). His next book, Conscious Society: Reinventing How We Consume, Work, Relate and Live, will be published in 2019.

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    The Presidential Twitterfeed is a modern phenomenon/hellscape, but the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation has launched a new awareness campaign that puts our current president’s habit in historical context.

    Created by The Martin Agency, “Words Count” doesn’t explicitly call out President Trump for less than fully thought out tweets, but it certainly puts a fine point on the idea that what the President of the United States says actually matters.

    With his inaugural address almost 58 years ago, JFK inspired Americans to action in droves, whether it was to run for office, serve their community, or join the Peace Corps. Not, say, to pick up the nearest tiki torch. He was far from perfect, but also far from public temper tantrums.

    Steven Rothstein, executive director at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, said in a statement, “Today, we see citizen activism on the rise, increased voter participation rates and a new generation that is speaking out and getting involved in the political process. With the launch of this effort, we hope JFK’s words will speak directly to them, with the immediacy and urgency of a modern platform, to be a guiding light as they set out to shape our future.”

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    Salesforce and CEO Marc Benioff are winning some love among progressives, especially since going all in ($7 million worth) to support San Francisco’s Prop C business tax to fund housing and homeless assistance.

    But one issue in particular dogs the company–its decision to maintain a cloud services contract with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, sister organization to the family-separating ICE. Tech workers, including Salesforce employees, have petitioned against the deal. And now potential future tech workers and employees have joined in. Students at Stanford have begun a petition pledging to not interview with the company unless it drops the CBP contract.

    Related: Anti-ICE protesters descend on Salesforce Tower in San Francisco

    “Stanford being the CS [computer science] and Silicon Valley capital, we thought we could raise more awareness on campus,” says Sarah Tran, a sophomore studying symbolic systems. “Salesforce is a big internship company. A lot of people I know intern there.”

    Over 60 people have signed the petition as of this writing. Tran says that she and co-organizers have verified that the signatories are all Stanford students, but not all are in computer science or other technical fields.

    I reached out to Salesforce for comment and will update if I hear back.

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    So far, the Camp fire in Northern California has scorched some 135,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. While the blaze is only 35% contained, it has already become the deadliest and costliest in state history.

    The Camp fire has destroyed 8,817 structures so far, 7,600 of them homes; the Woolsey fire burning around Los Angeles and Ventura County, has burned 97,114 acres (which is roughly the size of Denver) and destroyed some 370 structures. The Hill fire, also in Ventura County, has burned through 4,531 acres so far.

    To put these fires in historical context, we looked through Cal Fire’s list of blazes through the years. While they’ve been keeping track of fires since at least 1932, the vast majority of fires have taken place in the last few decades as the planet warms up and dries out, and as people move further from urban centers, putting their homes at greater risk.

    These are the most destructive fires in California history (structures include homes, outbuildings like barns and garages, and commercial properties):

    • Camp fire, November 2018–135,000 acres so far, 7,639 structures, 42 deaths
    • Tubbs, October 2017–36,807 acres burned, 5,636 structures lost, 22 deaths
    • Tunnel, October 1991–1,600 acres burned, 2,900 lost, 25 deathss
    • Cedar, October 2003–273,246 acres burned, 2,820 structures lost, 15 deaths
    • Valley, September 2015–76,067 acres burned, 1,955 structures lost, 4 deaths
    • Witch, October 2007–197,990 acres burned, 1,650 structures lost, 2 deaths
    • Carr, July 2018–229,651 acres burned, 1,604 structures lost, 7 deaths
    • Nuns, October 2017–54,382 acres burned, 1,355 structures lost, 3 deaths
    • Thomas, December 2017–281,893 acres burned, 1,063 structures lost, 2 deaths
    • Old, October 2003–91,281 acres burned, 1,003 structures lost, 6 deaths

    These are the largest wildfires in California history:

    • Mendocino Complex, July 2018–burned 459,123 acres
    • Thomas, December 2017–burned 281,893 acres
    • Cedar, October 2003–burned 273,246 acres
    • Rush, August 2012–burned 271,911 acres in California and 43,666 in Nevada
    • Rim, August 2013–burned 257,314 acres
    • Zaca, July 2007–burned 240,207 acres
    • Carr, July 2018–burned 229,651 acres
    • Matilija, September 1932–burned 220,000 acres
    • Witch, October 2007–burned 197,990 acres
    • KlamathTheater Complex, June 2008–burned 192,038 acres

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    They call it “country’s biggest night,” and I’m just going to have to take their word for it. The 52nd Annual CMA Awards are happening tonight at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, where country music’s biggest and brightest stars will gather to celebrate the genre. For the 11th time, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley will cohost the event, which is presented by the Country Music Association. Performances are expected by more than two dozen guests. You can find a full list of nominees here.

    Red carpet coverage of the CMAs begins today (Wednesday, November 14), as early as 6:30 p.m. ET. The awards ceremony is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET and will air on ABC. If you’re a cord-cutter looking to watch the CMAs on your computer, phone, or smart TV, you’ll need access to ABC’s live stream. I’ve rounded up a few options below:

    • Standalone streaming TV services: Many popular streaming services offer access to live streams of ABC, including PS VueHulu With Live TV, and DirecTV Now. Some of these services are offering free promotions, and they’re easy to cancel. ABC may not be offered in all areas on these services, so check your zip code first before you sign up.
    • ABC online or mobile: If you have login credentials from a cable or satellite TV provider, you can stream live ABC on or via its iOS and Android mobile apps.
    • Red carpet coverage: A number of outlets are offering free online red carpet coverage of the event. ABC’s official “All Access” Red Carpet Show, powered by Google, is available to stream live on the CMAs website, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. Find it here.

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    There’s been a boom in direct-to-consumer bedding startups, with brands like Brooklinen, Parachute, and Boll & Branch entering the market with high-quality sheets at a fraction of the price of luxury brands.

    Today, a new Japanese brand enters the mix with a focus on organic, eco-friendly materials. Aizome’s bedding uses no synthetic chemicals throughout the manufacturing process. As I’ve written about elsewhere, non-organic cotton farming involves pesticides that pollute the groundwater. But Aizome points out that dyeing textiles also damages the environment, and the harsh chemicals used in the process can also irritate skin and cause allergic reactions.

    Related: The truth about your cotton bedsheets will give you nightmares

    Aizome takes its name from a centuries-old Japanese dyeing method that the brand uses. It involves putting the raw textiles into vats of natural indigo. Indigo also contains a chemical called tryptanthrin, which is believed to have healing effects on the skin. In the past, samurais wore garments dyed with indigo under their armor, and it was also used in baby clothing, since an infant’s skin tends to be particularly sensitive to irritants.

    The process is also better for the environment because it uses 85% less water than chemical dying, and since the wastewater is chemical-free, it can be reused as fertilizer. Traditional chemical dying typically uses about 10,000 liters of fresh water per bedding set. The company is launching in the U.S. market through Kickstarter with sheet sets starting at $99.

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  • 11/14/18--10:31: Alexa, who is the killer?
  • Authorities investigating a suspected double homicide in Farmington, New Hampshire, noticed an Amazon Echo in the home where two women were apparently killed, and a judge has now ordered Amazon to turn over three days’ worth of audio from the device, TechCrunch reports.

    It’s unclear if the company has turned over the data. A search warrant also orders Amazon to turn over any data identifying phones paired with the device during that period.

    Reached for comment, an Amazon spokesperson told Fast Company that the company does not release customer information without a “valid and binding legal demand served on us,” and that it objects to overly broad and inappropriate demands “as a matter of course.”

    It’s not the first time Alexa data has come up in a potential murder case. Last year, Amazon objected to turning over recordings from around the time of a suspicious death in Bentonville, Arkansas, although the device owner ultimately agreed to turn over the data. Charges were dropped in that case, involving a 47-year-old man found dead in a friend’s hot tub after an apparent night of drinking.

    Amazon and other smart speaker makers don’t release data specifically on court orders involving user audio, so it’s unclear if there have been more search warrants involving the devices. But as they and other recording equipment become more prevalent, it seems safe to assume it’s only a matter of time before one actually captures critical information to an investigation.

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    A typical wind turbine is hundreds of feet tall, with blades that stretch wider than a football field. But a new design is small and lightweight enough that it could sit on the balcony of an urban apartment and generate some power there.

    The design, called O-Wind, is the winner of the 2018 International James Dyson Award, which honors recently graduated design engineering students. The device makes use of a source of energy that is usually untapped: Wind gusts between buildings in skyscraper-filled cities, but standard wind power doesn’t make sense there, because of size, and because wind in cities travels chaotically as it moves around buildings (normal wind turbines only capture wind traveling in one direction).

    “As you get close to cities, there are more obstacles, and wind gets a bit more turbulent,” says Nicolas Orellana, a designer originally from Chile, who developed the design with Yaseen Noorani, originally from Kenya, while studying for a master’s degree in international innovation at the University of Lancaster in the U.K. “It goes in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal directions, and it keeps changing and changing. Current turbines are not really optimized for this situation.”

    Yaseen Noorani and Nicolas Orellana [Photo: Dyson]
    The designers adapted an older concept Orellana had worked on as a student, where he made a vehicle that could use winds coming from multiple directions to travel in a set direction. “Right away, we thought it could be useful for generating electricity,” he says. The new wind turbine, like the vehicle, uses vents with larger entrances on one side and smaller exits on the other, creating pressure that makes the device move. As the turbine turns, it powers a generator that can make electricity.

    In cities, the device could make it possible for apartment dwellers to generate renewable energy. At the moment, of course, someone living in an apartment doesn’t have the option to install solar panels on the roof; only homeowners can take advantage of policies that give credit on electric bills as renewable power is sent back into the grid. “Right now, people in apartments cannot generate their own electricity, so they cannot get any savings on energy,” says Orellana. “They cannot participate in this big revolution to make a contribution to the environment.”

    A similar design could be used in other applications, such as wave energy: In the ocean, water also travels in multiple directions. “There’s also no standard technology for harvesting that energy yet, so this could be a good option for this technology as well,” he says.

    The designers have tested early prototypes to prove that the concept for the apartment-sized wind turbine works, but don’t yet know how much energy the devices will be able to generate, though it will certainly not be enough to power an entire apartment. The next step will involve more testing, and partnering with others who can help refine the design before it can be mass produced.

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    A bombshell New York Timesstory today paints an extremely unflattering picture of the way top Facebook executives handled the abuse of its platform by Russia and others following the 2016 election. CEO Mark Zuckerberg went out on a public apology tour, while chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg oversaw an aggressive lobbying campaign in Washington to silence critics and head off new regulation.

    The company even retained a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters and tech industry critics. Among the more dramatic revelations:

    • Facebook was conflicted over Trump posts considered to be in violation of its own hate speech policies: “…in December 2015 [Trump] posted a statement on Facebook calling for a ‘total and complete shutdown’ on Muslims entering the United States…  Mr. Zuckerberg… asked Ms. Sandberg and other executives if Mr. Trump had violated Facebook’s terms of service.” But Sandberg delegated the decision to some underlings, who decided not to suspend Trump’s account or even remove the post. (Fast Company‘s Sarah Kessler first reported Facebook’s inaction in 2015; at the time a spokesperson explained, “we are carefully reviewing each report and surrounding context relating to this content on a case by case basis.”)
    • Sandberg was upset that Facebook researchers had probed Russian activity without prior approval.“In December 2016, after Mr. Zuckerberg publicly scoffed at the idea that fake news on Facebook had helped elect Mr. Trump, [Alex Stamos, the since-departed Facebook security chief]— alarmed that the company’s chief executive seemed unaware of his team’s findings — met with Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Sandberg and other top Facebook leaders. Ms. Sandberg was angry. Looking into the Russian activity without approval, she said, had left the company exposed legally. Other executives asked Mr. Stamos why they had not been told sooner.”
    • In September 2017, Facebook finally decided to tell its board about the Russian interference, including Erskine Bowles, a White House veteran, who was not pleased.The disclosures set off Mr. Bowles, who after years in Washington could anticipate how lawmakers might react. He grilled the two men, occasionally cursing, on how Facebook had allowed itself to become a tool for Russian interference. He demanded to know why it had taken so long to uncover the activity, and why Facebook directors were only now being told.” The following months would yield more revelations about the Russia-funded campaign, including, as Fast Company reported that October, a profusion of ugly Instagram posts.
    • Facebook hired a Republican political consultancy to covertly spread its messages—even after the controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-linked political firm.“In October 2017, Facebook also expanded its work with a Washington-based consultant, Definers Public Affairs, that had originally been hired to monitor press coverage of the company. Founded by veterans of Republican presidential politics, Definers specialized in applying political campaign tactics to corporate public relations— an approach long employed in Washington by big telecommunications firms and activist hedge fund managers, but less common in tech.”
    • Zuckerberg ordered a ban on iPhones after Tim Cook’s diss. In March, The Times and The Observer/Guardian published a joint investigation into how the personal data of millions of Facebook users had ended up in the hands of shady Trump data consultants Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters. Facebook’s tech rivals capitalized on the news. “‘We’re not going to traffic in your personal life,’ Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said in an MSNBC interview. ‘Privacy to us is a human right. It’s a civil liberty.’ (Mr. Cook’s criticisms infuriated Mr. Zuckerberg, who later ordered his management team to use only Android phones, since the operating system has far more users than Apple’s.)”
    • Facebook hit back, in an unexpected way.“On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook. The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies.
    • Zuckerberg was surprised at the Democrats’ frustration during Capitol Hill hearings.“During a break in one [Congressional] hearing, [Zuckerberg] buttonholed Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to express his surprise at how tough on Facebook Democrats had been. Mr. Walden was taken aback, said people who knew of the remark. Facebook’s leader, Mr. Walden realized, did not understand the breadth of the anger now aimed at his creation.”
    • Facebook tried to disperse criticism among other tech giants.“In June, after The Times reported on Facebook’s previously undisclosed deals to share user data with device makers — partnerships Facebook had failed to disclose to lawmakers — executives ordered up focus groups in Washington. In separate sessions with liberals and conservatives, about a dozen at a time, Facebook previewed messages to lawmakers. Among the approaches it tested was bringing YouTube and other social media platforms into the controversy, while arguing that Google struck similar data-sharing deals.”
    • Facebook sought to accuse protesters of the company of anti-Semitism.“In July, organizers with a coalition called Freedom from Facebook crashed a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, where a company executive was testifying about its policies. As the executive spoke, the organizers held aloft signs depicting Ms. Sandberg and Ms. Zuckerberg, who are both Jewish, as two heads of an octopus stretching around the globe. Eddie Vale, a Democratic public relations strategist who led the protest, later said the image was meant to evoke old cartoons of Standard Oil, the Gilded Age monopoly. But a Facebook official quickly called the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish civil rights organization, to flag the sign. That afternoon, the A.D.L. issued a warning from its Twitter account.”

    Related: How Facebook blew it

    • Facebook’s PR firm attacked George Soros following his anti-Facebook speech.“In a speech at the World Economic Forum in January, [George Soros] had attacked Facebook and Google, describing them as a monopolist “menace” with “neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions.” Definers pressed reporters to explore the financial connections between Mr. Soros’s family or philanthropies and groups that were members of Freedom from Facebook, such as Color of Change, an online racial justice organization, as well as a progressive group founded by Mr. Soros’s son.
    • Facebook reportedly relied on the help of New York Senator Chuck Schumer.“During the 2016 election cycle, Schumer raised more money from Facebook employees than any other member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Schumer also has a personal connection to Facebook: His daughter Alison joined the firm out of college and is now a marketing manager in Facebook’s New York office, according to her LinkedIn profile. In July, as Facebook’s troubles threatened to cost the company billions of dollars in market value, Mr. Schumer confronted [Senator Mark] Warner, by then Facebook’s most insistent inquisitor in Congress. Back off, he told Mr. Warner, according to a Facebook employee briefed on Mr. Schumer’s intervention.”

    Read the whole Times article. It throws more needed reality on the “we connect the world” image Facebook works so hard to portray in public, and on the questionable ways that it’s been doing that.

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    After decades of having to drive to suburbia just to grab a plate of delicious Swedish meatballs, Uber is delivering Ikea’s most famous dish directly to front doors.

    The meatball company, which also sells furniture, is partnering with Uber to celebrate a Swedish tradition called Fredagsmys, which translates to “cozy Friday.” This is a thing Swedes allegedly do to celebrate the end of the workweek in the warmth of their comfy homes. The promotion will only offer three menus: The Snug, with meatballs for two, The Formal, with veggie meatballs, and the Family Platter, for four people. The menus come with fries, mashed potatoes, Daim Cake, and some donuts. According to House Beautiful, you can only order one menu at a time–but each order comes with an Ikea cushion cover, napkins, throw, and candles, all for a total of 10 British pounds for the smaller menus and £20 for the family menu.

    [Photo: Uber Eats]

    Which brings me to the bad news, my friends: This promotion is limited to the United Kingdom. In fact, it’s limited to those people living within a two-mile radius of Ikea’s kitchen in Hoxton, London, and it will only last from November 16 to November 20. Basically, this is like Santa Claus materializing in front of your eyes to say, yes, I’m realbut I’ll never ever bring you any gifts. Also, Rudolph just pooped on your doormat.

    Come on, Ikea! You can’t do this to the rest of the people who visited your stores over 2 billion times last year. If you can open stores in 25 different countries, you can make meatballs deliverable for the rest of us. And throw in the rest of your menu–herring and Kalles Kaviar, for instance–while you’re at it.

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