Angry Robot

Detroit State of Mind

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“What I end up saying when I try to explain to people, and myself, why I bought a vacation house in Detroit.”

WoodGreen workers walk off the job

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The workers at our daycare are on strike, along with many other WoodGreen workers. They are fighting for a 2% annual wage increase (cost of living in TO is going up by 2.5% a year. Meanwhile:

WoodGreen management’s total salaries and benefits have increased 177 per cent between 2010 and 2013. Between 2010 and 2013, WoodGreen’s total salaries and benefits for executive management has ballooned from $394,000 to nearly $1.1 million.

Keepin' the Blog Hot

Here are two posts from old-school bloggers declaring their intent to resume old-school blogging operations: Andy Baio and Gina Trapani.

“Sorry for the lack of updates” blog posts are a classic of the genre, and these are exemplary examples – I’m not being sarcastic. I particularly like Trapani’s list of personal rules, which made me think what mine would be. Sometimes I wonder why I do this! It doesn’t really make much sense. But essentially this is how I roll:

Some of these rules are harder to follow than others – it’s especially hard to value something posted publicly without thinking about its reception, audience, etc. And sometimes you have to. Here are my problem areas, things I want to get better at, or find better solutions for:

Bikergate?

Here’s Leigh Alexander’s vitriolic, already-seminal piece on Gamergate. She argues that Gamergate is the death spasm of “gamer”, the identity based around games, which is becoming obsolete in an era when everybody plays games.

“Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.

And here is an interview with Mikael Colville-Andersen, head of Copenhagenize, a bike-related urban design company and associated weblog. This passage is interesting:

The cycling sub-cultures are a hurdle to mainstreaming bicycle culture, even though that may sound counter-intuitive. The nature of sub-cultures is insular. They are not often keen to see their beloved hobby/activity become mainstream. Much bicycle advocacy in North America is done by the “avid” cyclists. They have a sense of ownership over all things bicycle. They don’t, however, realize that the 99% doesn’t want what they want. They don’t want over-complication with gear and fancy bicycles. People – Citizen Cyclists I call them – just want to be able to ride a bicycle safely and conveniently.

Having avid cyclists doing the talking about bicycles is like having race walkers doing the talking about pedestrian-friendly cities. It doesn’t work. It’s two different things.

The parallel is striking, and weird.

Ultimately, if you think about telling hobbyist cyclists that they “drank the kool aid” and are “angry young men” who should “grow up” because “traditional [biking] is sloughing off, culturally and economically, like the carapace of a bug,” it seems waaaay over-the-top. These are just a bunch of dudes who enjoy riding around with their friends, really fast! You would want to say something much less threatening, like “you guys are right, biking is awesome! While we value your advocacy, we also need to hear from other bikers, people who may not share your point of view exactly, and in fact those people already outnumber you. But this doesn’t mean you have to have to change anything – keep doing what you’re doing!”

It’s a shame that the Gamergate thing has already gotten so out of hand that such dialogue seems impossible. I guess that’s what happens when the death treats start.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The Ars Technica Review

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Siracusa seems happy with this one.

The War Nerd: Nobody could have predicted Islamic State’s retreat from Kobane (except me)

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Good read on the latest happenings in Kobane: the US did some real air strikes and the Kurds are a lot better at fighting than IS. So now IS is retreating. Also see this on how Turkey fits in.

Let Me Tell You About Homestuck

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Giant MetaFilter post

What If Black America Were a Country?

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“The statistics reveal a fragile state within a superpower.”

New TPP Leak: Canada Emerges as Leading Opponent of U.S. Intellectual Property Demands

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Tycho of Penny Arcade on Gamergate

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Mixed in with his news update:

You can’t threaten people with death, and I resent very strongly being made to type that out.  Not only can you not do that because you can’t fucking do it, it has the power to obliterate everything else you say.  In fact, it obliterates everything the people around you are trying to say.  That’s what has happened now.  I know that this situation is more complex than anyone is willing to enunciate.  I know that “Gaming Journalism” is a contradiction in terms.  But they’ve broken your banner, now, and you helped them do it.  I grieve for the ones who tried to do it right.  When your media doesn’t represent you, or actively attacks you as it has here, it’s not your media.  You’ll have to make your own, and it’s not impossible.  It’s more possible now than it has ever been in human history, and you’re reading an example of it at this moment.  Go your own way.

HBO to offer stand-alone online service next year

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That’s big. Still not a lot of detail: what will it cost? Will it carry new episodes?

Christian Bale is Steve Jobs: Actor in Talks to Play the Apple Co-Founder

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Perfect.

The Shifting Middle

Ben Thompson writes

At the first iPad presentation, Steve Jobs was at pains to explain that the iPad would only work as a product if it found a spot between the iPhone and Mac where it did some number of things much better than either. […] Over time, though, that middle has shrunk.

Phones have gotten bigger and Macs have gotten smaller and get better battery life.

Last year I bought an iPad mini for the first time. Initially I loved it, and was thrilled that I could carry it everywhere I brought my bag. But increasingly I realize that I don’t use it that much. I mostly use it at home, where it might as well be the bigger iPad Air.

There are very few things the iPad can do that the iPhone can’t, and that’s why – when you’re out and about – you’re almost always going to reach for your phone. The iPhone Plus may well be just as good for reading, which is one of the main things I use the iPad for.

Thompson notes that “the downside of a bigger phone is reduced convenience and portability, opening up room for a device that is even more portable and always with you – the Apple Watch.” If you’re carrying a big phone that may not be usable one-handed, you can see why you’d want a smartwatch. A lot of my iPhone uses are relatively brief interactions that require a minimum of data presented: weather, figuring out when the next streetcar is coming, seeing a notification, fast forwarding a track. You can see how this could be taken over by something on your wrist.

Tablets are far from useless, however. I prefer a touch interface to a mouse or trackpad for many computer-y tasks (web browsing, feed reading, photo editing, music creation, games). Also, the sheer size of a tablet makes it better than a phone at other things (games, reading, video).

But it strikes me that a) I want the biggest size since it will only get used at home, b) I don’t need the newest, fanciest model, and c) maybe don’t even need it to be iOS. The video apps I use are all on Android as well – it’s really just games that would make me stick with iOS.

That is something Thompson notes: there was an opportunity for the iPad to define itself through killer apps, and Apple has mostly blown it. When you see a good iPad app, it’s impressive: all the fun and usability of a phone app, most of the power and real estate of a desktop app. The iPad is more of a computer alternative (and eventual replacement) than it is a phone. The middle hasn’t vanished, but it has moved, and may be swallowing one of its neighbours.

I realize these are dull first world problems for people who have more than one fancy gadget. Still, it’s interesting to see how computing changes over the years based on both tech and how people actually use the things.

Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project

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We really are living in the future

The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It's Gamergate

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Why the Two-Hour Game is the Future

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Good!

Hyperlapse's secret best feature: fixing your shaky hands

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Instagram’s timelapse app has an option to not speed up footage, and in that mode it uses gyroscope data to stabilize your shit. It looks REALLY good – watch the video. Like Steadicam good.

Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.

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Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?

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David Graeber

The Case for Doug Ford

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“Come Election Day, your alternatives include people who, despite differences in strategies, opinions, and priorities, seem to genuinely care about this city and want to make it better. Only you can stop that from happening. Vote Ford 2014.”