Planned Spontaneousness

This is kind of an interesting story — Sean Parker partially paid for environmental law violations with the state of California (he had a fancy wedding where you aren’t supposed to) by building a mobile app for them.

Parker agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle all the violations from the event, though the bulk of the issues stemmed from the hotel’s misuse of the camping area. For another component, Parker, Lenas and the commission set to brainstorm ideas. The agency said it increasingly seeks out creative solutions to problems in addition to financial settlements. Some ideas, like one Parker had to buy a campground to be used by schools and other organizations to bring disadvantaged children to the coast, never got off the ground. So the group started focusing in on one that would blend Parker’s technological acumen with the agency’s coastal access work: an app.

The Washington Post

Here’s the funniest quote from the piece, though —

He also provided funding for two years of maintenance, after which the state will have to take it on itself. And he will be making a video about the commission that is required by contract to go viral, as the final piece of his settlement.

Oh man, that’s great. I hope he is contractually obligated for it to be a “sensation” and “part of the cultural zeitgeist”. Good luck, civil court judge left to interpret this in 2024.

OMG George Will

I obviously have no idea, but I’d like to assume a non-George-Will person came up with the actual headline here and just tried to come up with the smarmiest possible language, because… George Will.

Churches

There’s nothing I can write on my little website that will put a terrorist mass-murder into perspective, but I do think it’s worth mentioning that even as basically non-religious person raised outside of any kind of faith community, the idea of targeting a church with an act of violence seems particularly… perverted?

I don’t know what the right word is, and I hope it’s obvious I don’t mean to downplay secular violence, violence against the non-religious, etc. But these are places often built and operated outside of the idea of money, power, control — they are literally safe havens from all of the cruelty and pain of the world, and in that way they are really one of the most amazing things ideas have ever put into practice. I’m not necessarily talking about organized religion or the institutions themselves, even if that’s what enables many of these places to exist. I just mean the places themselves, especially those that are truly open to everyone (which is the vast majority).

We all need places like this. We can and should build non-denominational ones — town halls, squares, even the stupid Panera I go to when I want to get out of the house. But churches are places that, without the force of anything — commerce, the state, etc. — simply provide shelter to the world because it’s there and it’s the right thing to do, and so many of them share that weirdly similar mission across different faiths.

Now, I know basic history. Nothing is truly sacrosanct among every last one of us, and nothing ever really has been. But the fact that this kind of thing — not just mass violence, but mass violence specifically targeting the very idea of sanctuary — could find a community of like-minded support online is hard for me to internalize.

on Dads

Sally Jenkins writes about her father, sportswriter Dan Jenkins, who died at the age of 90 this week:

He acknowledged his absences with the kind of drollery that characterized his parenting style. “Don’t rob old people,” he would say as he headed off.

the Washington Post

I have a feeling that, had I known him, I would have gotten along with Dan Jenkins just fine. Here’s more of his parenting:

He was an unindicted co-conspirator, constantly in trouble with my mother for his scandalously unorthodox child-rearing. One afternoon in our hometown of Fort Worth, when I was about 7, he drove my two brothers and me the wrong way down a quiet one-way street. Delighted, I stared at the baffled drivers and street signs pointed in the opposite direction. “People are easily led,” he instructed.

Just read the whole thing.

What is happening?

I think I got very old, very fast today. Here’s ESPN trying to tell me what happened in a soccer game.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar blasted the video assisted refereeing (VAR) decision to award Manchester United a late penalty in their 3-1 Champions League last-16 second-leg win at Parc des Princes that secured a 3-3 away goals success.

http://www.espn.com/soccer/paris-saint-germain/story/3793346/psgs-neymar-blasts-var-after-losscalls-it-a-disgrace

Great news guys, we secured a 3-3 away goals success. As soon as I find out what that is, we can celebrate. But hey, that’s soccer, I never claimed to understand soccer. Tell me what’s going on in football free agency, a thing I’ve cared about for about 20 years.

Keenum has a base salary of $18 million this season, but only $7 million was guaranteed in the way of offsets, which the Redskins and Broncos decided to split evenly, sources said. The Broncos, who would’ve carried $10 million in “dead money” had they cut Keenum, will instead save $3 million by paying only $3.5 million as well as a $500,000 restructuring bonus.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/26174723/sources-broncos-trading-keenum-redskins

My God man, what are you doing? How is this level of salary cap information relevant? Who is this coverage even for? Anyways, the moral of the story is that I yell at clouds now, film at eleven.

Facebook + Privacy = LOL

Wired noticed the same thing I did about Facebook’s big announcement it was going all in on privacy as a feature.

Zuckerberg listed six privacy principles, but there was one glaring omission: He said nothing about how Facebook plans to approach data sharing and ad targeting in this privacy-focused future.

https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-zuckerberg-privacy-pivot/

Uh… yeah. This has happened every time something disastrous occurs with Facebook and the way they use people’s information (usually to make money, because America) — they add features or clarify a bunch of existing features designed to keep other Facebook users from seeing the stuff you post.

But the problem isn’t keeping your data away from Facebook users. It’s keeping it away from Facebook, or more importantly, away from the functions at Facebook responsible for turning things Facebook has into money. In other words, it’s a business model problem. Apple can say “hold on, if we do not try to make money off this data, it will allow us to make more money off hardware”. Facebook has nothing like that, and has shown neither the willingness or capability to develop it.

Until that happens, Facebook is going to get more and more aggressive about using your data to make money no matter what their CEO or anyone else says (except maybe, someday, the government), because they are a growth-oriented, publicly traded company in the post-Milton-Friedman world of MAXIMIZING SHAREHOLDER VALUE(tm). They don’t have any other cards to play.

Tom Wheeler, Enigma

I’ll admit to being one of the many sneering technology professionals who assumed Tom Wheeler was going to be a terrible, short-sighted head of the FCC primarily because of his background in telecom lobbying. I guess I’ve always known you could theoretically serve some lobbying interest (as any professional does) and then suddenly switch into the role of principled regulator. I just don’t think it happens very often, and wasn’t hopeful.

But even now, he really seems like an interesting thinker. I am both an internet dork and a Railroad Tycoon II dork, so listening to the guy talk about shared concepts between digital and industrial networks is right up my alley. Give it a read — what he says not to do is just as interesting as what he thinks is necessary.

Channel My Daughter

As you probably know, I have an adorable, hilarious three year old daughter.

I also have a son, but I didn’t make a t-shirt for him yet, so ignore him for a second. Sorry, Sam. Now, about that t-shirt.

Look at this thing! Don’t you just want to adorn your toddler with it? For what it’s worth, I’m doing this through Gooten, my amazing new employer that provides real e-commerce businesses (i.e., not me) with order management, sourcing, and on-demand production of all kinds of cool stuff. I’m largely going through this exercise for my own education, but I’m not gonna lie… I kind of like messing around with this. Wait until you see my line of phone cases.

Anyways, yes, this is a real t-shirt and you will actually get one if you order. I’m just saying.

BREAKING: High School is Awkward

… and wrestling makes it more awkward!

To Brendan Johnston, it was a simple choice. The 18-year-old senior wrestler from The Classical Academy in Colorado had never competed against a girl, and faced with the option to do so and potentially move one round closer to his goal of winning a state wrestling title, he instead decided to forfeit.

– the Washington Post

The article — and the kid himself — frame the decision around religion, which is totally fine. Maybe that’s what makes this weird for him. But I can tell you that 18 year old Nate wasn’t especially religious, and he definitely would have found the idea of competitively wrestling a girl to be a total no-go. Basketball, soccer, baseball, hell, even football, wonderful, let’s do this, let’s go, I’m ready to win, lose, or most likely of all somehow embarrass myself.

But wrestling? Does anyone else remember high school? This is a total no-win scenario in every way for this kid. There’s just no way I’m asking a teenage boy to leap into this minefield — in 2019 — and handle everything exactly the right way when we’re not even sure as a society what that way is yet.

Obviously his female opponent didn’t do anything wrong, unless you think it’s wrong for her to get really, really good at wrestling, which isn’t something that bothers either me or, from what I can gather, the boy in this scenario. And yet…

Gallegos, who started wrestling when she was 5, said Johnston’s actions weren’t “shocking,” because forfeits by boys happened a lot when she was younger. And even if Johnston didn’t want to wrestle, she knows other boys will. Proving them wrong is what she likes to do.

“You walk around before the match and you hear [the boys say], ‘Oh, it’s just a girl. I got this,’” Gallegos said. “And then after the match they come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re really good!’ and it’s really funny actually.”

This seems like a giant misread of the situation. You can’t prove Johnston “wrong” in this scenario unless you were to somehow convince him that he actually isn’t uncomfortable wrestling a woman. You could, in theory, beat his ass into the ground and clearly demonstrate you are a superior wrestler (this at least seems to me to be what Gallegos is talking about proving), but all that would prove is that you’re a better wrestler than him. It totally misses the point that he just doesn’t want to wrestle women.

Now, I don’t know any of these kids, so it’s entirely possible whatever your pet theory here really is true — the boy in question doesn’t think a girl has the right to compete with him, he thinks women are inferior, unworthy athletes, whatever — but none of that is actually said here. And more in my lane, I know I do not think women are inferior athletic components (as getting annihilated by members of the 2001 University of Richmond women’s basketball team in multiple pickup games demonstrated clearly to me), but I also know I would definitely not want to go through this exercise myself, either. So his thinking is at least plausible.

But hey, I’m old now, what do I know. I may also be scarred from an after prom party altercation involving those big inflatable fighting suits and inter-gender physical combat. Teenagers, man.