I have no idea if he’s right about Silvercar. But as someone who used to have all kinds of élite status with all kinds of travel companies, I can testify to the bigger truths he’s getting at.
When Silvercar sells you car rental that “doesn’t suck,” they’re really selling you car rental that doesn’t involve ordinary people, that end arounds the inefficiencies of large-scale practice by buying out of it. The truth is, Hertz doesn’t suck. Avis doesn’t suck. Sure, things about them suck, like the usurious fuel charges they impose if you return a car without refilling its tank… It’s not car rental that sucks, but dealing with the everyman, being in his presence, even knowing he exists…
This isn’t a business meant for the public anyway. It’s a tech startup ultimately destined to service the beau monde élite produced by entertainment, by energy, by finance, by other tech startups. A luxury car only gets to be a luxury if not everybody gets one…
My driver pulls up to the Delta terminal, curbside, directly in front of the Medallion priority check-in (I nod as he asks, “You have priority with Delta, right?”). I check in for my flight—my upgrade had cleared—and head to the Delta SkyClub to cash in on unearned elitism. As I sit in the quiet of the lounge sipping my complimentary latte, I try to remind myself how good I have it. How can I even tell this story, full of privilege and fortune? Few will empathize with me and my privileged upper middle-class lifestyle perks, nor should they.
It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting. One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower. When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For example, parents now routinely tell their children never to talk to strangers, even though all available evidence suggests that children have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a generation ago. Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?
As I watched my class struggle, I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single-most overlooked skill we fail to teach students. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and one another through screens—but rarely do they have an opportunity to truly hone their interpersonal communication skills. Admittedly, teenage awkwardness and nerves play a role in difficult conversations. But students’ reliance on screens for communication is detracting—and distracting—from their engagement in real-time talk.
Born in Europe out of religious obligation, poverty, and ingenuity, gefilte fish survived in America due to bottling technology, innovative advertising, and an American Jewish desire to experience faith through the large intestine.
When you are lost in the dark you still have a self that you can use to try to navigate and negotiate and grope your way towards some light. But when you become the dark, you don’t have anything to work with. And all semblance of religious faith or a feeling of God’s presence just disappears. What I don’t understand is how some people are able to come through depression and find themselves more alive and more whole on the other side. I don’t understand the mystery of tenacity or whatever you want to call it that allows some people to go through that profound experience and find themselves back in the light with a better life than the one they had before.
We’re really, really fucking this up.
But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the doublespeak bullshit of regulators and lobbyists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand better not only from our government, but from the companies that serve us as well. “This is a political fight,” says Craig Aaron, president of the advocacy group Free Press. “When the internet speaks with a unified voice politicians rip their hair out.”
We can do it. Let’s start.
Details were announced Monday for a Father’s Day weekend (June 13–15) cast reunion and celebration of the film that will include star Kevin Costner and other cast members, as well as baseball players Bret Saberhagen, Glendon Rusch and Ryan Dempster. Bob Costas will emcee and Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show, who will lead a Q & A with the film’s cast. This will, of course, take place in Dyersville, Iowa, where “Field of Dreams” was filmed.
Before the Dodgers game with the Giants, as part of the Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies at AT&T Park, both teams' lineups were introduced on the field.
But what made it special was that Vin Scully and Jon Miller did the announcing, and much like the NCAA Final Four used to do their introductions, each announcer alternated teams each player.
Exposed to the entire spectrum of human enthusiasms, it’s basically impossible not to judge. Our empathy overloads and gives up and we sit, staring at the screen aghast, that somebody, somewhere might actually believe that what they’re doing is OK, is acceptable, is even appropriate.
A lot of people make a lot of assumptions about ADHD, and most people assume that they know what it is (and how it operates) by observing people who have it. But seen through the eyes of someone without it, the behavior of someone with ADHD doesn’t tell you much. That’s because all the important stuff is happening in their brain.
Though it’s on a site that seems to be mostly filled with stupid click-magnet garbage, I liked this article, intended to explain what it’s like to have ADHD to someone who doesn’t understand it. An excerpt:
We rely heavily on routine, and 90% of the time get by on autopilot. You can’t get distracted from a sufficiently ingrained habit, no matter what useless crap is going on inside your head… unless someone goes and actually disrupts your routine. I’ve actually been distracted out of taking my lunch to work, on several occasions, by my wife reminding me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um… briefcase! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!
After nine seasons, like other viewers, I felt that the protagonist who had experienced so much hardship in his life deserved better. Yet a part of me also appreciated that what I got to see for really the first time on a television program was a glimpse of what actual life happiness is like. Some TV programs geared toward younger people today demonstrate happiness as the perfect happy ending: the screaming bride gets her perfect wedding cake or the perfect wedding dress, or privileged elites find a way to solve their first world problems. But this was a different kind of finale that reminded us that while life is imperfect, all of us must still find a way to find happiness.
As Abbott sees it, the need for reflection has never been greater. Spurred by technological advances, “civilization is on the cusp of a metamorphosis,” he says, that will lead either to societal collapse and chaos, or to a resurgence of liberty, community, and ethics. Either way, schools are stuck in the past: The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.
Google’s decision to activate (and turn on by default) a “feature” that allows anyone to send you email via Google Plus has sparked some controversy.
The problem with the free email services most of us use is that virtually all of them are offered provided by companies whose main interests aren’t email. In other words, Google, Microsoft, and Apple all offer “free” email in order to get you into their ecosystems. Gmail exists so Google can sell your eyeballs to advertisers. Like all of Apple’s software, iCloud exists so Apple can control every aspect of an iOS or Mac user’s experience.1 Hotmail and Outlook.com (and whatever other crap Microsoft is doing these days) exist so that Microsoft can keep more people reliant on Office and Windows (and whatever other crap Microsoft is doing these days).
And that’s the thing: Their goal isn’t to create awesome email that meets users’ needs. Sure, insofar as creating awesome email helps get more people into their ecosystem, then I suppose creating an awesome email system is part of what they do. But don’t ever forget that they have a bigger goal in mind. When it comes right down to it, Google is obsessed with getting people into Google+, and they don’t even blink when prioritizing their needs (integration with their social network) over most users’ (the ability to receive messages only from those who’ve received my email address from me).2
We can bitch and complain all we want, but here’s the thing: As long as we use email that’s provided by someone who sees email as a means to achieving their own (non-email related) goals, then this is going to keep happening. That’s the cost of “free” email.
I want a service that provides email that’s clean, elegant, and easy-to-use. I want it to be private, secure, and safe. I want it to be standards-based, by which I mean I want it to work well with my existing devices and systems as well as with the ones that I don’t have or that don’t exist yet. And I want as much control as possible. I want control over my privacy settings, over the interface, over the implementation of new features, over… everything.
And for that, I’d gladly pay a few bucks a month. Or even ten.
Steve Jobs once said, “I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.” Over the years, Apple loosened up a little as Jobs and Co. realized that they could gain more by giving users a little bit more control. But it’s pretty clear that the brain trust in Cupertino is still pretty committed to the idea that the only way you can guarantee users a product that “just works” is to maintain as much control as possible over every aspect of both hardware and software (including cloud-based software and services). And since consumers seem to like products that “just work” (Lord knows I do), Apple makes a lot of money as a result of this formula. (back to footnote in text)
Marco Arment says it best:
Google’s leadership, threatened by the attention and advertising relevance of Facebook, is betting the company on Google+ at all costs.
Google+ adoption and usage is not meeting their expectations. Facebook continues to dominate. It’s not working. They’re desperate.
Google will continue to sell out and potentially ruin its other properties to juice Google+ usage. These efforts haven’t worked very well: they juice the numbers just enough that Google will keep doing this, yet will keep needing to do more.
I don’t like Google+ very much, and I have no interest in being dragged into using it. Gmail belongs to Google, and if Google wants to build Gmail and Google+ into each other, then that’s Google’s prerogative. And finding a new email provider is my prerogative. And honestly: As long as Google’s behavior doesn’t have a noticeable effect on how many people use Gmail (and/or how much they use it), then they have no reason to stop. (back to footnote in text)
If you’re the type of person that’s interested in grappling with some of the… um… stickier parts of the Hanukkah story, the past few years have seen a bumper crop of impressive writing on the topic.
I’ll write more later about my own take on all this. But for now, check out all this good stuff.