Some Light Reading  

While being incredbly busy at work and with the boys, I’ve been stockpiling a few articles worth reading.

Runs in the Family

Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough went searching for his biological parents. He found them where he never would have expected.

Just read it. It’s sort of amazing.

The Tragic End of Telltale Games

When employees showed up for work on Friday, September 21st, at Telltale Games, there was nothing to suggest the day would be different than any other. The second episode of The Walking Dead’s final season would ship the following week; developers across multiple teams were busy with plans for in-progress titles.

But only hours later, 250 people would find themselves with no job, no severance, and health insurance that would be gone by month’s end — just nine days.

The video games industry appropriately seems to mash together the worst of the tech world with the worst of the entertainment world.

Busting Sim Swappers

If you heard last week’s Reply All, you’ll be familiar with sim swapping. Learn just how bad things are.

Sigh  

When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand, allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump, Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.

And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and it faced a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

Given how widely sourced this article is, it’s likely more true than not. There’s always going to be people ready to throw Zuckerberg under the bus. He’s one of the most powerful people in the world, with little to no EQ to speak of, and, as I’ve mentioned, either a complete lack of awareness or intentional avoidance of his duty.

What’s somewhat new here is that Facebook seems to have had enough high level churn that folks are willing to drive that bus over Sheryl Sandberg. It’s not unexpected. She’s also one of the most powerful people in the world, has flown more or less below the radar, and as the #2 at Facebook, is at least partially to blame for their continued lack of progress on the dissemination of “fake news.”

Even as Facebook has denied much of what is in this article, enough parts have proven true, including their relationship to Definers Public Affairs, that I’m inclined to believe that most of this is accurate.

Given that, it’s really (past) time to evaluate our use of Facebook. Aside from occasionally sharing pictures of my kids with family, I use Facebook less and less. It’s creepy, it surfaces less useful information for me every time I log in, and as more stories of Facebook leak, I find myself wondering why I would ever use it again.

Jack Dorsey Seems Like Another Rich Asshat  

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said he is rethinking core parts of the social media platform so it doesn’t enable the spread of hate speech, harassment and false news, including conspiracy theories shared by prominent users like Alex Jones and Infowars.

Wow, only 4 or 5 years too late.

Dorsey said he was experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers.” He also expressed openness to labeling bots — automated accounts that sometimes pose as human users

Ok. Labeling bots is, and has been, a ridiculously obvious solution. Sure, there are byproducts (when a bot slips through, the fact that it’s not labeled as a bot may provide it some validity), but surely the AI/ML solution to identifying bots and labeling them is much easier than doing so and trying to decide who is a bad actor.

Twitter some day could also label automated accounts, which businesses also use to send out information such as weather or stock prices, Dorsey said … Dorsey said the company had not done so yet “because we’ve prioritized other work that we believe will have greater impact,” including shutting down fake accounts.

How’s that working out for you?

Twitter remains a cesspool, run by someone who either is naive to the impact his platform has, or is perfectly willing to profit off of the massively negative impact his platform has. Maybe it’s both.

But, like Facebook, Twitter continues to do far too little to combat this massive problem. Twitter, unlike Facebook (and Google and Apple and pretty much everyone else), doesn’t seem to care about even appearing to want to solve the problem.

Visual Studio Code vs. Atom  

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been toying with Visual Studio Code as my primary editor, seeing how it does replacing Atom. Most of my work, at the moment, is either looking at (or poorly) writing Node, or working in Terraform. Atom has some packages that offer really nice Terraform support. VS Code has a couple that offer as good (or better). And VS Code seems much better—in my limited experience—with Node than Atom does.

The one place I’ve not found the support as good is for Jekyll. I really like the Atom package that let’s me create a quick post, simply for the ability for it to automatically name the file. I haven’t found something similar in VS Code yet.

I guess maybe it’s time for me to build an extension ….

Yeah, Zuckerberg is an Idiot or Super Villain  

Okay. “Sandy Hook didn’t happen” is not a debate. It is false. You can’t just take that down?

I agree that it is false.

I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, “Hey, no, you’re a liar” — that is harassment, and we actually will take that down. But overall, let’s take this whole closer to home…

I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.

I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, …

This is the most idiotic thing someone has ever said. This is an abdication of responsibility. There was a point in time that he could be proud of his legacy. Now he’s going to go down in history as a villain or an idiot. Or both.

But he’ll be rich and powerful and that’s all he probably cares about.

Haven't Reached the Threshold  

Facebook’s global head of policy management, Monika Bickert, said that while Facebook had removed some of Infowars’ posts, Infowars itself did not deserve to be banned. “If they posted sufficient content that it violated our threshold, the page would come down,” she told Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who asked a similar question. “That threshold varies depending on the severity of different types of violations.”

But when it came to Infowars, she told Raskin, “they have not reached the threshold.”

What the fuck do you have to do to get banned from Facebook if accusing the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook as actors isn’t enough?

There’s a better than 80% chance I’m off of Facebook before the end of the year. I only use it to share photos of my kids with family, and there are other ways to do that.

Between Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, we seem to have very much entered the realm of the billionaire super villain.

They Must Have Been Taking a Knee in the Pit  

As per Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, the 14 regular races on Fox and FS1 (excluding rain-delayed races at Martinsville and Bristol) averaged 3,983,000 viewers this year, down 19 percent (and almost a million viewers) from last year’s 4,898,000 average for Fox/FS1 races and down 29 percent from the high-water mark of 5,578,000 they averaged in 2016.

I bet that’s because all those viewers are turning out when the NASCAR drivers started taking a knee.

End Family Separation  

It’s hard to have the energy to react to every single thing the Trump administration does. Cut taxes on the top 1%; offer to recognize Crimea as part of Russia; invent a city where ICE liberated them from MS-13; criticize the press as an enemy of the state and then don’t respond when someone goes and actually shoots them.

My wife has been much more responsive to this ongoing attack on human decency (not American values, but simply). I have fallen into the trap of just mentally tallying the people in and around my life for whom I have lost respect.

But, now having kids of my own, I simply don’t know how it’s conscionable to separate young children from their parents.

Say what you want about (illegal) immigration. It’s just not as big an issue as people want to believe it is, but, whatever, I’ll concede it’s illegal. But taking babies away from their parents, isolating them, and having no plan on how to reunite them?

That’s fucking evil. That’s “go down in history” evil.

The people who work for the administration, from the top down to the officers enforcing this policy, are complicit. The fact that there is still no plan how to bring these families back together is heartbreaking. I get weepy when I think about someone taking my kids away from me and putting them somewhere that they might not get back to me.

This is the line that I don’t think you can come back from. You’re either a human being with feelings and empathy, or you’re not.

We all know Stephen Miller and Donald Trump fall in the latter category. I’d hope everyone else isn’t quite so evil.

And, remember, this is a President who’s expressed a belief in authoritarian rule, the end of due process, and maybe that being President for life isn’t such a bad idea. Today, it’s somebody else’s kid. Who is to say that it’s not your kid tomorrow?

Watch These and Make the World Better  

My wife and I watched a couple of Netflix comedy specials. In today’s environment, I think understanding (or at least being able to have empathy for) people who aren’t like you is super important. Both of these specials bring a different perspective that I think everyone can benefit from.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is funny, but it’s far more than that. It’s a straight up gut punch. More than anything right now, more people need to watch this.

Tig Notaro’s Happy to Be Here is also very funny, with a very dry, understated view of her life, celebrity, parenting, and a whole host of other topics. And it ends with one of the funniest, joyful fifteen minutes of comedy you’ll see. Sort of.

10 Months  

I tend to be a digital completionist. I keep a set of shows, movies, podcasts, books, video games that I’m working through, and I tend not to move on until I finish the ones I have. I’m one of those people who gets DVR anxiety when too many shows have backed up. I get stressed when I have too many unlisted podcasts.

Or I used to.

It was, coincidentally, on my boys’ 10 month birthday that I caught up on my podcasts for the first time in, well, 10 months.