R S S : Daring Fireball
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Jess Joho, investigating for Motherboard:
As the story goes, one night in 2010 or so, Kalanick was with friend and Uber investor Chris Sacca. Sacca’s dad requested a game of “Wii Tennis” and Kalanick allegedly blew them all away before revealing he was tied for 2nd best in the world.
The first problem here is that “Wii Tennis” is not a video game that exists. I reached out to several Uber representatives a few times for clarity on this but the company replied that, “we’re not commenting.” When we asked Nintendo of America for help in identifying this game, it said “We have nothing to announce on this topic.”
Based on this story’s many retellings (and the images used whenever it makes media rounds throughout the past couple of years), most people assume that they actually meant Wii Sports, released in 2006, which included a tennis mini-game. It was also an insanely popular game that sold over 82 million copies and was packed in with the Wii in North America, so it makes sense that Sacca’s dad had it. The problem here is that Wii Sports had no online play of any kind and therefore no leaderboard to keep track of the best players in the world.
“Second-best in the world” is such a funny thing to lie about.
But I have to point out: it’s Chris Sacca, not Kalanick, who looks like he’s full of shit in this telling. As far as I can tell, this wasn’t a story Kalanick used to pump himself up but rather a story Sacca used to pump Uber up by painting Kalanick as a superman. Sacca owns 4 percent of Uber.
Reuters reporters Stephen J. Adler, Jeff Mason, and Steve Holland:
President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.
“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
As with his admission two weeks ago that after just 10 minutes with President Xi Jinping of China, he realized he was completely ignorant of the complexity of Chinese-North Korean relations, what’s striking here isn’t that Trump was so ignorant that he thought being president of the United States would be easier than hosting a game show. It’s that he’s so militantly ignorant that he’s not embarrassed to admit this. He’s a laughingstock around the world.
More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.
“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”
He had copies for each of the three Reuters reporters in the room.
The election is old news to everyone but Trump, because it’s the only thing he can hold onto as any form of success. Again, the fact that he’s still obsessed with it is bad enough, but even worse is that lacks the self-awareness to realize that perseverating on it in an interview with Reuters — with prepared printed material in triplicate — lays his pathological narcissism bare for the world to see.
Matt Taibbi, writing for Rolling Stone:
Of those bad actors, there is a subset of still-worse actors, who not only sold these toxic investments to institutional investors like pension funds and Fannie and Freddie, but helped get a generation of home borrowers — often minorities and the poor — into deadly mortgages that ended up wiping out their equity.
Phillips, who helped Fannie and Freddie into substantial losses and worked with predatory firms like New Century, belongs in this second category. As Beavis and Butthead would put it, Phillips comes from the “ass of the ass.”
Donald Trump, then, has essentially picked one of the last people on earth who should be allowed to help reshape the mortgage markets. This is like putting a guy who sold thousand-dollar magazine subscriptions to your grandmother on the telephone in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the A.A.R.P.
Tom Nichols, in an op-ed for USA Today:
There is a serious danger to American democracy in all this. When voters choose ill-informed grudges and diffuse resentment over the public good, a republic becomes unsustainable. The temperance and prudent reasoning required of representative government gets pushed aside in favor of whatever ignorant idea has seized the public at that moment. The Washington Post recently changed its motto to “democracy dies in darkness,” a phrase that is not only pretentious but inaccurate. More likely, American democracy will die in dumbness.
Those of us who criticized Trump voters for their angry populism were often told during and after the election not to condescend to our fellow citizens, and to respect their choices. This is fair. In a democracy, every vote counts equally and the president won an impressive and legitimate electoral victory.
Even so, the unwillingness of so many of his supporters to hold him to even a minimal standard of accountability means that a certain amount of condescension from the rest of us is unavoidable.
If you say “I voted for Trump because I want to say ‘Fuck you’ to everyone — my life’s in the toilet and I’d like to see the world burn”, OK, I get it. I don’t like you, but you made the right choice in Trump and I can see why you’re happy so far. But if you’re pleased with Trump because you think he’s running an effective administration and is accomplishing the things he promised to accomplish, you’re as disconnected from reality as he is.
(Also, kudos to Nichols for the rare exception to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.)
Terrific 5-minute video from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island on the politics behind the Republican Party’s stonewalling on climate change. Watch it and pass it along.
(I’m surely the millionth person to make this observation, but how great would it be if he were elected president and we had a Whitehouse White House?)
There are a few fleeting shots of men in Amazon’s intro video for the Echo Look, but this is clearly envisioned as a product for women. I’m trying to think of another gadget whose advertising is so heavily skewed toward women, and I’m coming up blank.
Once you start thinking about the implications of an AI-driven device that can both see and hear you, it becomes obvious just how primitive these devices still are. I want a C-3PO, not a talking camera fixed on my dresser that tells me if my socks and shirt match.
Privacy-wise, this bit seems rather alarming:
Motherboard also asked if Echo Look photos, videos, and the data gleaned from them would be sold to third parties; the company did not address that question.
Apple can’t get into this category fast enough.
Apple today announced plans to launch dozens of new educational sessions next month in all 495 Apple stores ranging in topics from photo and video to music, coding, art and design and more. The hands-on sessions, collectively called “Today at Apple,” will be led by highly-trained team members, and in select cities world-class artists, photographers and musicians, teaching sessions from basics and how-to lessons to professional-level programs.
I think Apple’s retail stores are one of the most overlooked / under-estimated advantages in all of technology. They have spaces around the world where people can have interactions with real people, in real life. Not through a screen. Real life. Who else has that? I think taking that to the next level is what this “Today at Apple” program is all about.
Mark Bergen, writing for Bloomberg:
The Alphabet Inc. company is making a rare, sweeping change to the algorithm behind its powerful search engine to demote misleading, false and offensive articles online. Google is also setting new rules encouraging its “raters” — the 10,000-plus staff that assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls “low-quality” content.
The moves follow months after criticism of Google and Facebook Inc. for hosting misleading information, particular tied to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Google executives claimed the type of web pages categorized in this bucket are relatively small, which is a reason why the search giant hadn’t addressed the issue before.
“It was not a large fraction of queries — only about a quarter percent of our traffic — but they were important queries,” said Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering for Google.
Good for them. What Gomes said is exactly right — it may not be many queries, but they are important queries.