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Articles on this Page
- 03/21/18--06:43: _These Bulletproof V...
- 03/21/18--07:27: _Genes, not hormones...
- 03/21/18--07:35: _At A Moment Of Cris...
- 03/21/18--08:30: _These Boots Are Mad...
- 03/21/18--09:30: _“Action Point...
- 03/21/18--10:01: _Here’s everyt...
- 03/21/18--10:02: _This flower startup...
- 03/21/18--13:30: _Video shows Uber...
- 03/21/18--14:18: _Mark Zuckerberg say...
- 03/21/18--22:37: _Chinese drone maker...
- 03/21/18--22:49: _Uber rescinds job o...
- 03/21/18--23:00: _Baby Boomers Stole ...
- 03/21/18--23:00: _“Nailed It...
- 03/21/18--23:04: _Uber says it’...
- 03/21/18--23:11: _Best Buy severs tie...
- 03/21/18--23:20: _YouTube is now the ...
- 03/22/18--00:00: _Darren Aronofsky...
- 03/22/18--00:15: _Mozilla yanks ads f...
- 03/22/18--00:53: _Amazon has patented...
- 03/22/18--01:00: _This Is The Woman B...
- 03/21/18--07:35: At A Moment Of Crisis, Facebook Needs Sheryl Sandberg Out Front
- 03/21/18--08:30: These Boots Are Made From Old Plastic Bottles Recovered In Haiti
- 03/21/18--09:30: “Action Point”: A “Jackass” Movie Set At The Notorious Action Park
- 03/21/18--10:01: Here’s everything Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say, and probably won’t
- 03/21/18--10:02: This flower startup wants women to buy bouquets for their friends
- 03/21/18--14:18: Mark Zuckerberg says he’s “happy” to testify before Congress
- 03/21/18--22:37: Chinese drone maker DJI is looking to raise $500 million
- 03/21/18--22:49: Uber rescinds job offer to Amazon’s voice-shopping exec
- 03/21/18--23:00: “Nailed It” Star Nicole Byer Sprinkles Her Cupcakes With Dick Jokes
- 03/21/18--23:04: Uber says it’s not testing unmanned flying taxis in Kenya
- 03/21/18--23:11: Best Buy severs ties with Huawei over security concerns
- 03/21/18--23:20: YouTube is now the iPhone’s top grossing app in the U.S.
- 03/22/18--00:15: Mozilla yanks ads from Facebook due to Cambridge Analytica scandal
- 03/22/18--01:00: This Is The Woman Behind Hollywood’s Inclusion Rider
What: To help mark this weekend’s March For Our Lives in Washington, DC, this fake e-commerce site called Bulletproof Junior launched to raise awareness and lobby politicians to take action on gun control and safety legislation.
Who: Advertising creatives from 180LA, Huge NY, MullenLowe LA, Digitas, Y&R New York
Why we care: Considering how common school shootings have become, it may not surprise you that someone besides the gun industry has spotted a business opportunity. Introducing: Bulletproof Junior, a line of bulletproof vests to protect your little ones against the next inevitable school shooting! The toddler version plays nursery rhymes to soothe a child’s pounding heart rate, the pre-teen vest is blade resistant and glows in the dark, while teen version features integrated Bluetooth speakers.
Thankfully, this is as fake as so many of the thoughts and prayers issued from Washington, D.C. Once you hit the buy button, a message pops up with the reveal. You can enter your ZIP code to automatically aim a tweet at your local U.S. senator, sign up to vote, donate blood through the American Red Cross, or donate to March for Our Lives.
A new study led by researchers at UCLA in conjunction with 23andMe claims to have found genes that increase the risk in extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The condition, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, plagues 2% of pregnant women.
The biotech giant studied two groups: 1,300 women with the most severe form of morning sickness and another 15,700 who did not have the condition. In addition, researchers studied the symptoms data of 50,000 23andMe female customers (who consented to participate). Within these groups, they found severe morning sickness most strongly correlated with the genes GDF15 and IGFBP7.
“It has long been assumed that the pregnancy hormones, human chorionic gonadotropin or estrogen, were the likely culprits of extreme nausea and vomiting, but our study found no evidence to support this,” said, Marlena Fejzo, associate researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, in a press statement.
There are few medications and solutions for women who suffer from severe morning sickness, yet it is the second leading cause of hospitalization during pregnancy, with patients often requiring intravenous fluids or in extreme cases, feeding tubes. With these new findings, researchers hope they can potentially alter GDF15 and IGFBP7 protein levels during one’s pregnancy to minimize symptoms.
“It is my hope that one day a medication that affects this pathway will be used to successfully treat and possibly cure hyperemesis gravidarum,” Fejzo said.
It’s been a big month for 23andMe. Earlier this month, the company announced that the FDA approved at-home kits to test for breast cancer-related gene mutations. In addition, its research department is the middle of the largest study yet on diet, exercise, and DNA, with over 100,000 participants.
Over the weekend it was business as usual on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s profile page. On Saturday, she shared two photos from a visit to her daughter’s elementary school. On Friday, she shared a New York Times article about the fifth anniversary of Lean In, the blockbuster book that made her a household name. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m proud that more women are speaking up,” she wrote. It was standard fare for the Silicon Valley billionaire, who often serves as the face of the company: a mix of cheerleading women in business and plugging her regular-mom bona fides.
Sandberg made no mention of another Times article, also published over the weekend, which detailed how “Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions” and unleashed a still-growing firestorm in the U.S. and in Europe. On the surface, the news would appear to be a strong match for Sandberg’s much-lauded communication skills and years of policy experience in Washington, D.C. She was hired 10 years ago to serve as the so-called “adult supervision” (a characterization she dislikes), the critical No. 2 capable of bringing discipline and maturity to a fast-growing startup.
By nearly every measure, Sandberg has exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. But the Facebook COO has yet to directly comment on any recent reporting that has laid bare the ugly truth of the company’s advertising-based business model, which she is credited with building from scratch. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also kept mum, but it’s Sandberg who many feel is best positioned to speak out. It is she who was once chief of staff to U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. It’s Sandberg who is a best-selling author, public speaker, Oprah interviewee, and public figure in her own right. And unlike many other second bananas, in Silicon Valley or elsewhere in corporate America, it’s Sandberg who has the chops and stature to lead Facebook out of the mess it’s in.
As Sandberg celebrates a decade with the company this Saturday, it’s hard to fathom why such a public, accessible face, at ease circulating in the highest levels of power in the worlds of government, business, and media, has gone along with a crisis strategy that puts herself (and her CEO) squarely behind the curtain.
The silent strategy is even more baffling given Facebook’s raison d’etre: Share! share! the company cries–all the better to target you. Facebook may cloak itself in the warm-fuzzies of baby pictures and birthday wishes, but each post and “like” feeds the insatiable appetite of the ad platform lurking underneath.
Perhaps it was inevitable that bad actors would seek to exploit such a vast trove of personal data. We have known for months that Russian operatives, 13 of whom were indicted in February by a federal grand jury, interfered in the 2016 presidential election; Facebook was the weapon of choice for their “information warfare.” And we are now learning how Cambridge Analytica used an academic researcher as a front for amassing profiles on 50 million Facebook users, later leveraging the data to sell its psychographic modeling expertise to political campaigns.
In retrospect, Facebook’s naiveté (and our own) is breathtaking. Build a surveillance state, and its power will inevitably be abused.
The Trust Factor
But the company’s disastrous response to the escalating crisis was not nearly so inevitable, experts say. Problem no. 1: Sandberg and Zuckerberg have been nearly invisible, sending deputies to speak on their behalf in front of Congress and on Twitter. They have even ghosted their own employees, failing to show at Tuesday’s town hall meeting, according to The Daily Beast.
“Unfortunately, they are the face of Facebook, they’ve branded themselves that way,” Monica Gabriell Wood, founder of crisis management firm MACP, says of Sandberg and Zuckerberg. “It’s why there’s the expectation that they should be responding.”
Brands that survive a crisis have mastered the “trust factor,” Wood says. “It’s about how you build trust in the good days, when the apology isn’t needed. What has your brand done to show appreciation? It’s not something I can give examples to–it just has to come from the heart.”
Since the start of the year, Sandberg has shown appreciation to one constituency at least–advertisers. In a January 31 post on her profile page, she quickly glossed over 2017 as a “challenging and important year” before jumping to her small-business talking point. “It was also a year where more than 6 million active advertisers used Facebook and more than 2 million used Instagram every month,” she wrote. “Many are hard-working small and medium-sized businesses creating jobs and making a difference in their communities.”
Meanwhile, Sandberg has not made a public appearance to discuss the unfolding crisis since her interview with Axios founder Mike Allen last October. “Does Facebook owe the American people an apology?” Allen asked. Sandberg skirted the question: “Certainly any time there is abuse on our system, foreign interference on our system, we are upset, and it’s not just that we apologize, we are angry, we’re upset. But what we really owe the American people is determination. … we will do everything we can to defeat them because our values are worth defending.” She also called for setting “a new standard of transparency in advertising.”
But those ongoing efforts may prove to be too little, too late. Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, some users are threatening to #DeleteFacebook–no idle threat, given the shift in momentum toward Lyft that #DeleteUber prompted last year. “The solution to being mistreated as a Facebook *customer* is to leave,” one user wrote on Tuesday in his final post. “As much as I’ve loved connecting and reconnecting with all of you—friends, colleagues, cousins and siblings–it’s not worth the flagrant disregard Facebook has shown for my personal data.”
In the past, Facebook user revolts centered around product updates (witness the infamous backlash to the launch of News Feed, way back in 2006). Product has historically been Zuckerberg’s domain, and, when necessary, he would respond on his page or some other public forum.
This revolt feels different. For the first time, users are up in arms over Facebook’s core business model. That’s Sandberg’s domain. Yet she has been invisible. There’s even a back and forth happening on Twitter about whether Facebook got the New York Times to erase a mention of her in an update to a story about internal criticism of outgoing chief information security officer Alex Stamos. (The Times is denying the allegations, but the mere speculation shows how much clout Sandberg is perceived to have.)
Far better to get out ahead of the problem and say something in the first 24 hours, says Olivia Santilli, vice president of strategy and media at Cummins & Partners. During a crisis, people are all ears. “Brands have this opportunity–people actually want to listen to them,” she says. The challenge is to strike the right tone: “When you have people that are so angry, you as a brand have to become more human.”
Given the time that has passed, a simple apology is no longer sufficient, in Santilli’s view. “For Facebook to make things better, they need to blaze a new trail now. They need to not only apologize, but make a really dramatic move.”
A Facebook spokesperson seemed to hint at the company’s intention to do just that in a statement that was provided to reporters yesterday. “Mark, Sheryl, and their teams are working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward, because they understand the seriousness of the issue,” the statement read. In the current information vacuum, one technology investor has suggested that Sandberg, a “better communicator,” take over as CEO. According to Axios, Zuckerberg plans to publicly address the crisis today or tomorrow.
As for Sandberg, when, or whether she will publicly comment remains unclear. For as long as she and Zuckerberg sit on the sidelines, meticulously planning their strategy, users and regulators will be at the table, venting their frustration and finding their voices. Given enough time, and enough silence, the public may begin to alter Facebook’s future in a way that, for the first time, could be beyond Sandberg and Zuckerberg’s ability to control.
Timberland’s latest man-boots have an interesting backstory. Their canvas-like uppers are recycled from plastic bottles picked up from the beaches of Haiti.
The outdoor apparel brand gets the material from a social impact startup named Thread, which works with about 1,300 bottle pickers in Haiti. Timberland four boots, which build on a previous set of Thread-infused products, range from the Men’s 6-inch Canvas (price $150) to the more sporty Newport Bay Thread Canvas Chukka Boots ($75).
Thread breaks down the bottles into flakes, heats up the mixture, then passes it through an extruder, like water passing through a showerhead. It then rolls and bales up the threads, so they can be spun into fabric. The material is like polyester–after all, PET plastic, like polyester, comes from oil.
Colleen Vien, Timberland’s sustainability director, says Thread’s material is a little more expensive than a comparable fabric. But the expense is worth it as it allows the brand to tell a compelling story about the product’s provenance (see the video above featuring three trash-pickers).
Timberland has a long association with Haiti. Working with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) and the Clinton Global Initiative, it’s planted millions of trees across the island, helping farmers increase incomes and lay down sustainable seed banks. Recently, it committed to buying organic cotton from Haiti in a unique blockchain-powered project.
“It gives us an opportunity to have a conversation with our consumers that we definitely feel it’s well worth the price,” she says. “We are an outdoor company and customers expect us to do things that minimize our footprint and protect the environment. Improving people’s lives is beyond what’s expected–that’s what gets people’s attention.”
What: The first trailer for the summer 2018 comedy Action Point.
Who: Jackass alumni Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius.
Why we care: Most theme parks strive to create the illusion of danger, but at New Jersey theme park Action Park, the danger was real. (There were 10 fractures and 45 head injuries in the summer of 1985 on one ride alone.) It’s the perfect setting for a new movie from the guy who first got on TV by shocking himself with a taser. In the tradition of Bad Grandpa, Johnny Knoxville’s forthcoming film, Action Point, finds a fictional context to wrap around Jackass-y stunts. Knoxville plays the owner of a theme park who tries to boost attendance by making the rides more dangerous. This premise ensures plenty of neck-snapping stunt-options–and the attendance of every single person who grew up in New Jersey in the ’80s, amid Action Park’s original reign of terror.
Watch the first trailer below.
Cambridge Analytica’s improper access to Facebook user data turned into a firestorm for the social media giant this past week. Four days later, CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally responded, publishing a Facebook post in which he made a familiar vow to do “what it takes to protect our community.” He also conceded that Facebook has “made mistakes” and needs to “step up.”
But the post was as noteworthy for what it did not contain. Zuckerberg did not, for example, mention the role that Cambridge Analytica’s work may have played in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He did not acknowledge that Facebook has had ample time (four years, in fact) to audit and shut down apps violating its terms of service. And he did not show emotion or validate user anger, instead striking the tone of an objective investigator.
Most importantly of all, Zuckerberg did not address the central role that user data plays in Facebook’s business model. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote, carefully skimming the surface of the complicated questions that the Cambridge crisis has raised. Indeed, Facebook does have a responsibility around user data—and a business imperative. Lose users’ data, and you lose their trust, setting off a downward spiral that could jeopardize Facebook’s money-making machine.
Rather than engaging these issues, Zuckerberg spent the bulk of the post outlining three practical steps that Facebook plans to take to investigate and prevent abuse of the company’s trove of personal information. First, it will investigate apps with “suspicious activity” that have, in the past, had access to users’ friend data in the same way that Cambridge Analytica once did. Second, the company will automatically remove app developers’ access to a user’s data if the user has not opened the app for three months. And third, the company will better surface a tool that allows users to control app permissions, which now sits deep within the privacy settings menu.
Perhaps Zuckerberg is saving his chance to speak from the heart for later tonight. At 9 p.m. ET, an interview that he conducted with CNN will air during Anderson Cooper 360.
In the flower industry, there are two big holidays that matter: Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. That’s why UrbanStems, a flower delivery startup, decided to launch on Valentine’s Day in 2014. “It’s a well-known fact that these two days generate a huge amount of business for flower brands,” says Megan Darmody, the brand’s director of press and partnership.
But in a twist, it turned out that UrbanStems ended up attracting a slightly different flower buyer than average. The brand noticed that women were the primary buyers, often as presents to other women. Darmody attributes this to the fact that UrbanStems markets flowers around the idea of romance but also sells other products–like planters and succulents–that might reflect friendship rather than unending love. “This wasn’t our intention from the beginning,” Darmody says. “But we’re really leaning in to this part of our business now.”
UrbanStems now wants to change the culture of flower-giving. Rather than thinking of them as a gift that a man gives a woman, UrbanStems wants women to consider buying bouquets for themselves or for their friends. To that end, the brand has collaborated with Bumble on a bouquet designed for women to give to the important women in their life. One version of the bouquet even comes with a deck of cards that features thought-provoking questions designed to spark conversations among friends, like “What are your professional goals in the next year?” UrbanStems also partnered with Vogue to create bouquets designed by the magazine’s fashion editors.
The Tempe Police Department released a video Wednesday showing the final seconds before Sunday’s fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber car in that Arizona city.
The video ends before the collision itself, but it may be still be disturbing to some:
The video includes footage from a camera facing the outside of the car, with crash victim Elaine Herzberg appearing to be obscured by darkness until just before the collision, when she’s visible wheeling her bicycle across the street. Herzberg doesn’t appear to see the oncoming SUV. Footage from inside the car shows its supervising driver, whose facial expressions appear to confirm that she only spotted Herzberg at the last moment. The driver appears to be looking down for much of the footage, though it’s difficult to determine whether her eyes were actually averted from the road.
Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating
the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available. pic.twitter.com/2dVP72TziQ
— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) March 21, 2018
It’s unclear to what extent the darkness would have impaired the vehicle’s sensors. “While darkness can limit the vision of the cameras, radar functions equally well in day or night,” Bloomberg reported yesterday. “Lidar actually functions better in the dark because the glare of sunshine can sometimes create interference, said Raj Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who works on autonomous vehicles.
To Rajkumar, there’s little doubt that “lidar would certainly have detected an obstacle.” Any shortcoming would likely be ascribed to classification software “because it was an interesting combination of bicycle, bags and a pedestrian standing stationary on the median,” he said. Had the software recognized a pedestrian standing close to the road, he added, “it would have at least slammed on the brakes.”
Friends of Herzberg have had harsh words for Uber, including calling for the company to be “shut down,” The Guardian reports. Herzberg had “struggled with homelessness” but was starting a new job, according to the report.
Uber responded in a statement: “The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones. Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can.”
The Tempe Police Department and National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the crash, and Uber has halted its self-driving car tests for the time being.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN tonight that he’d be “happy” to testify before Congress regarding the scandal over Trump-connected data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica obtaining personal info on up to 50 million Facebook users. “The short answer is I’m happy to if it’s the right thing to do,” Zuckerberg. “What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge. If that’s me, then I am happy to go.”
He also apologized right out the gate in the interview, saying “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened.” He outlined several steps that the social network will do in the coming months to address the problem, including ensuring that developers don’t get access to such data and investigating every app that obtained such info “from before we locked down our platform” in 2015.
The company is looking to raise the half-billion dollars before a rumored IPO in 2019, reports Reuters. If DJI can raise the funds, it would value the company at around $15 billion–almost double its valuation just three years ago. The funds would be used by DJI to expand into drone technology in the construction, agriculture, and energy sectors. DJI is currently the world’s largest drone maker by revenue and owns 70% of the global consumer and commercial drone market.
Amazon’s former VP of voice and natural user interface shopping Assaf Ronen was hired by Uber earlier this month to be the company’s new head of product, but now the job offer has been withdrawn, reports Recode. The reason for the withdrawal of the job offer centers around a discrepancy related to the length of Ronen’s stint at Amazon. Uber reportedly was under the impression that Ronen was still working for the e-retail giant when they hired him, when in fact Ronen left the company at the end of 2017. This discrepancy disqualified Ronen for the job. The withdrawal of Ronen’s job offer was confirmed to Uber employees in a memo from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi:
I wanted to let you know that we have had withdrawn our offer to Assaf Ronen.
Hiring is, quite literally, the heart and soul of our company and rescinding Assaf’s offer was not a decision we took lightly. I also recognize that it’s one more disruption for our stellar Product organization. But when it comes to who joins our team, we have very clear expectations, and this was the right thing for us to do.
There is one silver lining: we have a strong bench. Effective today, Manik Gupta, who was recently promoted to VP, will take over interim leadership of the overall Product organization. As I said last week, Manik has an amazing reputation in Silicon Valley and has been an incredible mentor and coach for many at Uber. I trust him completely to keep the Product team firing on all cylinders as we continue to create the best experience for riders and drivers around the world.
If one good thing has come out of the horror of the Parkland massacre, it’s the sight of young Americans standing up to a political system that doesn’t benefit them. When thousands of students walk out of classrooms in the middle of the day, it’s a sign of a new generation rising perhaps: a changing of the old order for a new one.
Generations X and Y (and younger) could use more of this kind of activism because it’s not just gun culture that needs fixing. Across many areas–from social security funding to climate change to health spending–the current political settlement isn’t geared toward youth. It’s geared toward baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and their parents, who’ve saddled the rest of us with an increasingly bleak future.
As Bruce Cannon Gibney writes in A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, the boomers have satisfied their needs by squandering our inheritance. They’ve passed unfunded tax cuts that we’ll be paying off for years. They’ve protected Social Security checks while leaving us with trillions in student debts. They’ve waged NIMBY campaigns against new housing while protecting the value of their condos. They’ve elected pussy-grabbers and child molesters while lecturing us about personal responsibility.
Gibney says it’s time to look to a new generation of leadership focused on the future. The Clintons, Bushes, and Trumps–all boomers–aren’t going to look out for the younger generations in the way someone younger would. “For the past several decades, the nation has been run by people who present, personally and politically, the full sociopathic pathology: deceit, selfishness, imprudence, remorselessness, hostility . . . ” he writes. “Unless younger generations remove the boomers from power soon, the next quarter century will be even worse than the last one–a parade of missed opportunities and bad choices.”
I asked Gibney how we, the young, and relatively young, can take back the agenda. If the boomers have transferred the nation’s wealth to themselves, investing only in priorities that pay out in their lifetimes, how can we reorient the system? Here are a few ideas based on his book.
Forgive All Student DEbt
Student debt, now valued at more than $1.4 trillion, is a big drag on generations X and Y, curbing their ability to start businesses, buy houses, and seek out better lives. “Government borrows much more cheaply than students and may as well use its advantage by assuming many student debts directly,” Gibney writes. Federal loans carried interest rates of between 4.3% and 6.8% in 2015-2016, while 10-year Treasury debt traded at just 1.8% in mid-2016.
One recent study from the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College estimated that student debt relief would cost about the same as last year’s tax cut (about $1.5 trillion), but would have vastly more positive economic impacts. Of course, paying off student tuition fees is a bit like paying the debts of bankers after the financial crisis: It rewards financiers who prey on students. But better the government address this issue now “before crushing debt derails younger lives prematurely and the costs arrive, compounded, via the back doors of welfare and other programs,” Gibney says.
Raise Taxes On Older People
Though Gibney decries the state of public finances, he says we need to spend more to secure the future. There’s a big difference, he says, between investing in education, infrastructure, and climate resilience, and simply giving money away to corporations and political donors. Investing at least brings hope of some return. He wants $8.65 trillion more in total public expenditure, with about $3.6 trillion of that going to fix the nation’s deteriorating roads, bridges, and train systems.
To pay for this, Gibney would raise taxes, particularly on boomers, because “they did not pay their fair share of taxes, as the national debt and general decay attest,” and because, unlike younger generations, they tend to have more wealth that can be taxed. He would also end state property tax caps that see boomers enjoy substantial rises in real estate prices without paying more to the government, and increase inheritance taxes, which serve to curb dynastic wealth. “Doing so would be downright republican (lowercase), given that low inheritance taxes are oddities in a nation founded, however glancingly, in opposition to inherited privilege,” he says.
A Better Cost-Benefit Analysis Of Health Costs
U.S. healthcare spending will make up a fifth of the entire economy by 2020. We spend far more than other countries on medicine without getting better overall results. No serious reform benefiting generations X and Y can avoid cutting spending in this area. Gibney favors cost-benefit analysis–or, to use a more charged term, rationing. Arguably, the amount we spend on healthcare already rations other priorities anyway. “Social programs are supposed to do the greatest social good, not cater to false sentiments about kindly geriatrics,” he writes. “Costly interventions to drag a life out a few unproductive months, at the price of a lost generation of children do not balance in the Benthamite books.” (Bentham, an English philosopher, argued that society should do the most good for the most people, even if the cost to a small number of citizens is high.)
Give Young People A Chance In Office
If generations X and Y want different policies, they need different political leaders. Gibney suggests a test when deciding who to vote for. Does a politician advocate ideas for the next four years, or investments that pay out over the next 40 years? The latter is more likely to help.
Then, the question is: Who is going to pay for that spending? At the moment, boomers pass laws–like the Republican tax cut last year–that are all about today and nothing about tomorrow. “The sociopaths’ goal is to wring every last dollar from the system, and any investment that could not be fully realized within boomer lifetimes [is] to be avoided,” Gibney writes.
Other ideas–not advocated by Gibney specifically–might include setting age limits on who can run for higher office. Why do you need to be 35 to run for president, but somehow being in your 70s or 80s is just fine? (Trump is 71 and and Joe Biden is 75). At the same time, generations X or Y could do with their own AARP. After the NRA, the retired people’s association may be the most powerful lobbying group in Washington, D.C., immediately putting other generational groups at a disadvantage.
Gibney’s agenda may seem like an unfair attack of one generation on another. But then the current political settlement is already a form of generational redistribution. Seniors may tell you that they’re merely reclaiming what they paid into the system. But Social Security and Medicare don’t nearly pay for themselves. The way we’re dealing (or not dealing) with entitlement programs, climate change, and the national debt means building huge liabilities for future generations to pay. Our current policies in these areas effectively dictate our future political choices.
Gibney expects Trumpian politics to dominate the 2016 midterms (even if Trump’s party doesn’t actually win). But, after that, he hopes a new type of politics, driven more by the interests of gen X and Y than boomers, emerges. In 2020, issues like Medicare, Social Security, climate, and the debt may be more on the agenda than now.
“The strongest argument for getting rid of the boomers, aside from 30 years of policy failure, is that older people don’t change a lot. They don’t adjust their views of the world,” Gibney says. “How many more times are the Bushes, Clintons, Trumps, and Bidens going to run? How many times do we have to keep electing the same people and expect a different result?”
Of course Nicole Byer, hilarious host of the fail-friendly cooking show Nailed It, has not seen many cooking shows herself.
Part of Nailed It’s addictively watchable shtick is that the contestants are inexperienced bakers, so why not throw a neophyte host into the mix as well? It’s not just the contestants and host who are newbies, though. Netflix’s latest original cooking show is catching a lot of cooking show-agnostic viewers, too.
Nailed It is a cooking show for people who don’t like cooking shows. It bears all the soft-focus trappings of the typical fare–dainty music, goofy sound effects, contestants beating eggs while trying to beat the clock–but it’s self-aware almost to the point of parody. The show gives its rookie bakers complex, internet-beloved assignments like emoji cupcakes, while Byer evaluates their flailing attempts to recreate them. (World-renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres is also on hand for guidance and chiding.) What ultimately emerges from the oven is a funny, relatable bake-a-thon that never takes itself too seriously. It’s pretty much Cake Fails: The TV Show, but with $10,000 on the line.
Although Byer had only seen Chopped and Cupcake Wars Kids before being asked to host the show (she’s more of an HDTV kind of person), she glommed on to the concept right away.
“People failing is very funny,” she says. “People falling down is very funny too, so it’s almost like people falling down while baking.”
The contestants do fail reliably often on Nailed It, but the mockery they incur isn’t mean-spirited. There’s encouragement and commiseration interwoven between laughs. Byer and Torres simply hang back and quietly narrate the contestants’ mistakes in real time, whether it’s forgetting to add flour or not cutting cookies into a cookie-shape before baking them. The cohosts are sometimes bewildered by these omissions, but mostly they’re enthralled. Mistakes mean the final product is going to be extra janky.
When the contestants present their ecce homo-like recreations side by side with the originals–a self-portrait face cookie, for example, with Cheetos for lips instead of frosting–they’re laughing along with the hosts. Since they’re not professionals, everyone is in on the joke.
“I genuinely love disasters,” Byer says. “I like ugly things, so it’s easy to find the positive in something that looks wild.”
Although the premise is certainly a deviation, and most other cooking shows don’t reward their winners by firing a cash cannon at them, what truly sets Nailed It apart is its host.
Nicole Byer is a raunchy stand-up comedian with a lilting, sing-song voice and zero filter. She was a breakout talking head on MTV’s Girl Code and Ladylike, dispensing heroically frank advice on life and love to grateful teens. She later starred in the short-lived, Lonely Island-produced sketch series Party Over Here, along with her own semi-autobiographical MTV show Loosely Exactly Nicole. Anyone who has heard her off of primetime TV, though–say, on Why Won’t You Date Me?,the podcast where she interviews/interrogates guys she’s hooked up with–might be surprised to see her on a PG-rated program like Nailed It. According to her at least, it shouldn’t be that surprising.
“I used to be a nanny so I know how to be family-friendly. I just choose not to be,” Byer says. “But kids like me. I’m like a big ole cartoon character.”
When it came time to start filming, the show’s creators offered Byer no real direction beyond the premise, giving her the leeway to be herself and find the show’s rhythm organically. It’s a feat she navigated by simply chatting up contestants until something funny emerged, and getting to know her cohost Jacques Torres. (“He is the sweetest man I think I have ever met,” she says.) Adding to the show’s charm is the chemistry between Byer and the chocolatier, who gradually develop a breezy banter over the show’s six episodes.
There is only one aspect of the show that emerged organically but is regularly tossed in the recycling bin.
“I make so many dick jokes I can’t even tell you. So many,” Byer says. “They were focused on making the show family-friendly, but when you’re on set for 12 hours, your true colors come out, and I love a good dick joke.”
Sounds like the perfect ingredients for an R-rated gag reel.
The company stepped up to deny the reports in Kenyan newspaper Business Daily that it was preparing to introduce autonomous flying taxis in the nation for testing purposes, reports Bloomberg. The Business Daily, citing Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe, reported that Uber has sought government approval to test drones that could carry as many as four passengers and wanted to introduce the service by 2020. After the report broke, an Uber spokesperson told Bloomberg,“We have no plans to introduce drones.” Although Kibe confirmed in the report that Uber had in the past asked if it was something the government would consider, but “it was not a formal conversation.”
The U.S. electronics retailer giant has cut ties with China’s Huawei Technologies citing increased scrutiny of Chinese tech firms by the U.S. government, reports Reuters. A source told Reuters that Best Buy will stop selling Huawei devices over the next several weeks. The move follows both Verizon and AT&T scrapping their plans to sell Huawei devices after some in Congress lobbied against the idea. A Best Buy spokesperson would not comment on the specifics of the report, only saying, “We make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons.”
This is the first time the free YouTube app has earned the honor, previously only coming in as high as third place. As TechCrunch reports, the YouTube app has been climbing the App Store’s top grossing charts since the video giant launched subscription service YouTube Red in 2015. YouTube Red costs $9.99 a month and allows subscribers to watch YouTube content ad-free as well as offers users exclusive videos and music. YouTube’s No. 1 spot was first noticed by data app analytics site Sensor Tower, which reported that the YouTube iOS app grossed around $14 million in February 2018–a 133% year-over-year increase.
Born in Brooklyn in the 1960s, the decade that saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin make history as the first human beings to walk on the moon, Darren Aronofsky, like many kids of his generation, idolized astronauts. “My favorite book was this pop-up book on Spacelab that I leafed through so many times, I eventually had to tape up the book to hold it together,” the filmmaker recalls.
Call it early training for One Strange Rock, the new 10-part documentary series about Earth that marks the Oscar-nominated director’s first foray into television. Produced by Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, Jane Root’s Nutopia, and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, the ambitious docu-series premieres March 26 on the National Geographic Channel. It’s narrated by Smith and explores life on Earth, looking into the origins of life, how all life is interdependent, and what it would take to foster life on another planet. One Strange Rock features commentary from astronauts who have had the experience of observing, from way up in space, the big blue ball that we humans call home. Among them: Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station; Mae Jemison, a member of the first class of astronauts to go into training after the 1986 Challenger accident and the first African American woman to go into space; and Peggy Whitson, who recently returned from her third trip to space during which she set a NASA record for the most cumulative days in space–665 total–for any American astronaut.
Aronofsky wanted to make a cinematic doc series that would combine footage shot in space and on Earth. He was able to tap European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli’s to serve as cinematographer and film Whitson during her recent stay on the International Space Station. “He knew how to shoot,” says Aronofsky, who equipped Nespoli with a RED HD camera. “I more gave him the visual language that we were looking for that would differentiate the footage you normally see from the inside space station.”
Like any director, Aronofsky wanted the lighting to be just right: “The first thing I said to him was, ‘Hey, is there any way we can turn off those fluorescents and let the sun and the planet Earth and the moon light Peggy?'”
The filmmaker also gave Nespoli tips on what type of lensing to use and directed him to employ a cinema verité style.
To his amazement, Aronofsky was able to communicate with Nespoli via email to offer immediate feedback on the footage the astronaut was shooting. “I had no idea you could just email an astronaut,” Aronofsky says. “For some reason, I thought it was like Apollo times where it would take a long time to reach them.”
Aronofsky also provided detailed shooting instructions for the Earth-based One Strange Rock crew that spent nearly two years traveling to 145 locations in 45 countries on six continents, using cutting-edge equipment, including Phantom digital high-speed cameras and micro- and macro-photography technology to shoot everything from massive dust storms in Ethiopia to kids hunting for meteorites in Morocco. “We wanted our teams to capture all of these amazing locations in ways that have never been photographed before, so we came up with a visual handbook that laid out what type of equipment we used, what type of lenses, everything,” Aronofsky says. “It was all about trying to create boundaries for these different teams so that when all the material came in, we would have similar types of shots that could connect all these different places on the planet and reinforce the idea that we’re all on one strange rock.”
While it would seem there would be little or no relation between the feature films Aronofsky has directed and nature and science documentary filmmaking, he did use a technique that he has employed in his previous work. “A kind of signature thing I’ve done in my last few films has been following characters through their landscapes. I started that in The Wrestler, and I continue it through Mother! And that was something we knew we were going to do with the people in One Strange Rock. You can see that in the trailer,” Aronofsky says.
And while drones are commonly used in filmmaking these days, Aronofsky wanted to use the aerial device in a creative way. “We came up with a spinning drone shot from above that you’ll see a lot,” he says.
“I don’t think there’s a sequence that doesn’t have something that has some type of wow factor,” he says. Two in particular had him in awe: one that reveals the largest lava lake in the world and another in which a grandfather and his grandson collect seafood from beneath an ice shelf in northern Canada as the tide goes in and out.
Beyond the nonstop visual wows, One Strange Rock is impactful on an emotional level when the astronauts go beyond science talk to share their personal feelings about seeing the Earth from way up among the stars. “One of the things we learned from making this show is that the trip into space is not just an adventure, but a spiritual transformation, or a personal transformation of perspective and psyche,” says Ari Handel, Aronofsky’s producing partner at Protozoa Pictures. “So that adds a different layer, and that’s something we really tried to capture in the series.”
There isn’t an overt message warning about the dangers of climate change in One Strange Rock. The focus of the series is really on showcasing the beauty, wonder, and weirdness of our planet. But as science buffs–Handel is a neuroscientist-turned-filmmaker, and Aronofsky is a trained field biologist whose dad is a high school earth sciences teacher–as well as human beings who care about the environment, both men do hope the audience will become sensitive to the fragility of humans’ only home. “Our main goal was to give people a perspective shift,” Handel says. “To get them to look at some of the systems of this planet through new eyes so they can see what an amazing place it really is and how we all take it for granted.”
The company, best known for its Firefox web browser, has suspended its advertising on Facebook, the company announced in a blog post. The move is directly due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal currently engulfing the social media giant, which saw tens of millions of Facebook users have their personal information shared through a third-party app without their consent. From Mozilla’s blog post:
We understand that Facebook took steps to limit developer access to friends’ data beginning in 2014. This was after Facebook started its relationship with Cambridge University Professor Aleksandr Kogan, whose decision to share data he collected from Facebook with Cambridge Analytica is currently in the news. This news caused us to take a closer look at Facebook’s current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars. While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data–particularly with respect to settings for third-party apps.
If Facebook does improve its default privacy settings in favor of users, Mozilla says it’s open to returning to advertising on the platform. Until then, it’s taking its ad dollars elsewhere.
Yes, in the future you may be able to shoo away annoying delivery drones. Amazon has been granted a patent for a drone that understands bystanders’ arm and other body movements, reports GeekWire. The patent describes a number of gestures the drone could recognize. Waving your arms in a shooing manner would alert the drone to stop flying in your direction while waving your hands in a guiding motion toward your body would let the drone know you’re inviting it in for a landing. The patent also says the drone can recognize audible cues, such as shouts, so if all else fails you can just yell “Stop hovering over my lawn!” like a crazed madman to get the drone to bugger off.
Kalpana Kotogal can vividly recall the first moment she felt the slap of racial discrimination. “I was probably 9 or 10 years old, definitely old enough to have a sense of race,” she says. At a now-defunct pizza place in Cincinnati in the 1980s, where she and her family were “decidedly brown,” they waited (and waited) in the vestibule while other parties were seated ahead of them.
What happened next would inspire Kotogal, together with Stacy Smith from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and actor, producer, and educator Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni of the Annenberg School, to craft the inclusion rider in 2016. It had a moment in the spotlight when Frances McDormand added those words to the end of her acceptance speech at the 90th annual Academy Awards.
“I remember very distinctly my parents’ discomfort and embarrassment and anger kind of mounting,” she explains. They understood what was happening, Kotogal recalls, and were trying to shield their kids from it. But she was old enough to pick up on that kind of attack on dignity and the feeling of powerlessness.
“It was small,” Kotogal admits, “in the big scope of the injustices that underrepresented groups have experienced or are currently experiencing in our country.” However, the moment gave her empathy to others who face discrimination of all kinds.
It would be one of a series of moments that would inform Kotogal as she went from being an advocate and organizer for underrepresented groups to eventually becoming an attorney and partner at Cohen Milstein specializing in civil rights and employment cases.
Early Seeds Of Activism
For instance, at just 11 years old, Kotogal attended Children’s International Summer Villages. The peace education organization brings kids from around the world together for camps focused on building understanding across cultural backgrounds and offers leadership development for youth around justice, sustainability, and peace. “That was a galvanizing moment for me, too,” she says, and she now serves on the organization’s board.
From there she helped to start an organization in middle school and high school that worked on local environmental issues in Cincinnati schools. “It was small potatoes,” Kotogal contends, but it gave her valuable insight into how upper-class environmental issues and the environmental issues of people living in urban areas are not necessarily the same thing.
“My worldview was evolving, and activism and service was part of it,” she says, but she credits her parents for seeding this urge to organize. “They encouraged my sister and me to think about the world we want to live in, and be active agents in making that change from the time we were kids.”
By the time she got to Stanford, she started bringing together her passion for environmental issues with social justice. “I came out of college with an economics and an environmental studies degree and went to work with Green Corps as an organizer,” she says. “By the time I went to law school, I had three years of professional organizing and many years of student organizing behind me, and a worldview that was informed by all of that,” says Kotogal.
Standing Up Against Powerful Interests
The path through law school was clear, says Kotogal: She wanted to be a class action litigator. “I had a really clear concern about power and balance in society, in particular why it felt like the political and policy process was often captured by more powerful interests, leading to bad outcomes that weren’t necessarily in the public’s interest,” she explains. Class action litigation seemed to be the legal analog of organizing to build collective power to make a broader social change, she explains.
As such, she’s represented a class of female sales employees in a Title VII and Equal Pay Act case against Sterling, one of the nation’s largest jewelry chains. Kotagal also represents transgender beneficiaries of federal health insurance who have challenged the denial of transition-related care as discriminatory.
So where does the inclusion rider come in? It actually functions differently than class action, as it focuses on one person’s star power to negotiate for more diverse and inclusive hiring both in the cast and on the crew of a production. Since the Oscars, a few A-listers have come forward to state that they’d be using it in future productions, including Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan, writer, and director Paul Feig, and actress Brie Larson. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have come forward too, according to DiGiovanni who worked on the rider with Smith and Kotagal and currently serves as the head of outreach for Affleck and Damon’s production company.
“What appealed to me so much about the inclusion rider and what continues to appeal to me about it, is that while it relies upon star power,” says Kotagal, “the group that is intended to be benefited by the rider is not the stars, it turns on them using their power to change the face of the industry.”
Kotagal believes it’s really important at this moment to talk about workers who don’t have the kind of bargaining power that these stars have, and who are not in a position to be benefited by the inclusion rider. “I’m talking about independent contractors, domestic workers, home healthcare aids. They are the people who make our own work possible.” She cites Ai-jen Poo, head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who reflected on the invisible millions on a recent episode of of the radio show Marketplace whose immigration status or wage and hour laws and discrimination laws don’t cover. “It’s interesting because they are invisible in some respects, but very visible in other respects,” she says. “Those are the people that I think we have an obligation to figure out how to lift up,” says Kotagal.
Change Will Take More Than Star Power
It’s going to take commitment on all sides to make a change, Kotagal believes. “There’s a legislative fix on some of these issues that Frances McDormand and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as powerful as they are, can’t individually affect,” she says. As for her role, Kotagal says she and her practice are committed to continuing to seek out injustices and represent those workers in litigation to seek redress. “We see that both as an important piece of getting justice for those people,” she adds, “but also as a crucial tool for corporate accountability and teaching corporate actors that you can’t get away with that kind of conduct.”
She’s making sure that the firm looks inward, too. As chair of the hiring and diversity committee, she sees how the profession is not as diverse as it could be, despite its workers’ intellectual understanding of the value of diversity in the workplace. But on the most personal level, Kotagal is working on changing things as well.
“My husband and I are raising two mixed race boys,” she explains, and they have made a commitment to raising them with an awareness of the privilege that comes from being male in this society. Alongside that, she says they are working to flip gender norms and stereotypes and thinking about what masculinity should look like, and also preparing them for what it means to be mixed race in America today. “I would say that I have multiple dimensions of this for me,” Kotagal contends,”the personal, the professional, and the political. Hopefully, they all align.”