Politico has a piece on why the Facebook boycott by major companies likely neither cost the companies much nor impact Facebook very much. The timing is particularly important. The three reasons:
This is during a historically slow sales month.
It is happening happening during a recession.
It coincides with the low-spending period of semi-quarantine.
They make the point with an apt analogy.
Asking a corporation to boycott Facebook in July 2020 is a little like asking a casual drinker to observe Lent by giving up alcohol in a dry county.
I share the skepticism that this movement will gain much but another round of false contrition from Facebook, but I would love to be proven wrong.
🎵 Brothertiger - Fundamentals, Vol. 1: This EP is a departure from the normal sound of Brothertiger and not just because it eschews vocals in favor of completely instrumental tracks. The band is typically very good at crafting some of the catchier glo-fi songs you are likely to hear but Fundamentals takes the direction of organic sounding electronic soundscapes. The EP is described as “a collection of instrumentals improvised through livestreaming.” Think along the lines of Tycho. I’ve had this as heavy rotation working music and will probably keep it there until it starts getting played incessantly between segments on NPR.
I am profoundly grateful for many blessings, but you will have to forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating the U.S. today.
Michael Flarup believes the new UI in MacOS Big Sur is going to bring back a lot more creativity in visual design. In a post on the subject, Flarup writes about the possibilities that are being opened up by the new interface and its guidelines.
With this approach Apple is legalising a visual design expressiveness that we haven’t seen from them in almost a decade. It’s like a ban has been lifted on fun. This will severely loosen the grip of minimalistic visual design and raise the bar for pixel pushers everywhere. Your glyph on a colored background is about to get some serious visual competition.
I’m very excited to see MacOS get a fresh coat of paint, but it does feel a bit like everything old is new again.
Andrew Carter writes for the News and Observer on how wearing a mask became a political issue. In the piece, he describes how a group called ReopenNC recently organized a protest against current restrictions put in place by the governor. When a reporter asked a man at the protest to discuss his thoughts on wearing face coverings, he responded with a sarcastic dismissal.
“I can’t hear you,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “You’ll have to take off your mask.” When the question became louder, the man said: “It’s about freedom. Masks are about fear. That’s all you need to know.”
While I am not personally in an at-risk category, I don’t wear the face mask for me. I wear it for the 13 million Americans over 65 that live in multigenerational households who can’t just “cocoon away” while the rest of the population gets herd immunity, or for those that have or live with those asthma, chronic heart disease, diabetes, cancer diagnosed in the last year, hematological malignancies like leukemia and lymphoma, or had an organ transplant and more. What if my wearing a mask could have saved the life of a single mother of six who beat breast cancer? Scripture testifies to God’s special compassion for those that are the most vulnerable, for the poor or widows, or the foreigner in the land, and this is a small way that we look out for them, or metaphorically “leave our grain for the fatherless, the widow and the foreigner” (Deuteronomy 24:19).”
I have to admit, despite knowing that masks are more effective when worn by those who are infected to keep them from passing the infection to others, I often feel like I’m protecting myself when I wear mine. I’ll be wearing my mask anyway1, but it’s time for my thinking to shift to a mindset of protecting others.
Which is now a mandate in N.C., thank goodness. ↩︎
This comes as no surprise. When I was a kid, I remember hearing this song in an anti-drug film we watched in health class. I was stunned by this guy who sounded like a demon screaming “master” over and over again. Drug addiction was presented as a devastating and uncompromising form of slavery. No track could have made the prospect of cocaine addiction sound more terrifying. “Master of Puppets” is a song that was much needed in the powder-powered 80’s when it came out. From the jolting start, which could legitimately give you whiplash, to the darkly ponderous bridge, to the sounds of cruel laughter at the end, “Master of Puppets” packs a lot of impact in its 8+ minutes.
📚 The Book of Common Prayer (a biography) - Alan Jacobs: Hardly a book you would think of as a summertime poolside page turner, but this book has me engrossed. The intersections of the different branches of the Christian tree never cease to fascinate.
I’ll cut my wife’s bangs during this pandemic, but I demand complete creative control over the process.
Thanks, but no thanks, to that bridge to nowhere. A collage.
I was very close to leaving Instagram after I started seeing political ads a few weeks ago. I have never been on Facebook and deeply dislike some of the choices the company has made. However, I could always rationalize being on Instagram because politics has such a low profile on the service. Politics was rarely discussed (at least in my feed) and there were no political ads. I referenced this in a post I wrote about rejoining the service a few years ago. It’s really what kept me hanging on to Instagram after Facebook decided to allow dishonesty in political ads on their platform.
Once the ads started to appear, I stopped opening the Instagram app. I had not yet deleted my account, waiting and hoping that things would change. It appears that they will soon do just that, according to this Facebook post.
Political ads play an important role in every election – and this year will be no exception. People have told us they want the option to see fewer political ads on Facebook and Instagram. After announcing this feature earlier this year we are now making it available as part of our preparations for the 2020 US elections.
I’m happy to hear this because I enjoy Instagram. I’m just disappointed that the OwnYourGram service that syndicates Instagram posts to your blog no longer seems to work.
Matt Taibbi has a thought-provoking edition of his newsletter where he ponders whether journalism is destroying itself with its changing mission of asking hard questions to one of trying not to offend. He makes some good points, although some of his examples of cancel culture might not be entirely accurate.
What struck me, though, was a particular paragraph listing situations where people were trying hard to show their respect for the African American community.
Each passing day sees more scenes that recall something closer to cult religion than politics. White protesters in Floyd’s Houston hometown kneeling and praying to black residents for “forgiveness… for years and years of racism” are one thing, but what are we to make of white police in Cary, North Carolina, kneeling and washing the feet of Black pastors? What about Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer kneeling while dressed in “African kente cloth scarves”?
Each year, during the worship service that starts the season of Lent, Forgiveness Sunday, Orthodox Christians go one by one requesting forgiveness of one another, usually hugging as they do so. This doesn’t sound a whole lot different that the situation Taibbi describes in Houston. I live 5 minutes from Cary, NC, and I didn’t hear about the officers washing the feet of pastors. However, I met some of those officers when they did a session on race relations a couple of years ago at the Cary church I attend. They were serious about improving race relations, before the death of George Floyd, working with the community they serve to make sure that was a priority. One might say it is a particular mission of the Cary PD. In this instance, though, the report of the officers washing the feet of the pastors was not even true. The officers were there to support white pastors washing the feet of black pastors in a show of solidarity and request for forgiveness.
I’m not sure if Taibbi is aware, but feet washing has been a part of Christian practice, since Christ did it for his disciples (John 13:1-17), before what is commonly known as The Last Supper. It is emblematic of the faith of one who came, not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). No less than the king of France (in the age where kings held absolute power), Louis IX, used to wash the feet of his subjects, so zealous was he to show his Christian faith.
Louis was renowned for his charity. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor.
The Pope washes the feet of prisoners and refugees. When he does so, he is just contributing to a long Christian/Catholic tradition of humility and service.
Fred Rogers made a similar gesture with Francois Clemmons, playing the role of an African American police officer, as they placed both of their feet in a small pool to make a point in a time when many swimming pools were not integrated. His point in doing so was to focus on racial reconciliation, much in the same way the Cary police officers have done for the last few years.
But here in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, only five years later, a quiet Presbyterian minister and an African-American police officer show the world how to integrate swimming pools. Rogers invites; Clemmons accepts. As Clemmons slips his feet into the pool, the camera holds the shot for several seconds, as if to make the point clear: a pair of brown feet and a pair of white feet can share a swimming pool.
In referring to Christian practices as cultish, Taibbi comes off as sounding a bit like one of the ancient Romans, many of whom didn’t understand the religion. I expect we will see more of this type of thing as we move into a post-Christian period. Foot washing has been practiced in many different contexts, to show love and service for one another in the manner of Christ. While some of Taibbi’s points land with chilling implications, his ignorance about certain traditions and his readiness to jump on unsubstantiated Twitter rumors somewhat damage the credibility of his claims.
One of my favorite albums this year has been TOPS I Feel Alive. I know I’ve been down on music algorithms in the past, but this was one recommended by Apple Music in my New Music Playlist and I was instantly smitten. I think I played the title track around 100x the first couple of days after I heard it and a delivery of Coke bottle clear vinyl was not long behind that. The AM Gold vibes reached a certain part of my brain that hadn’t been activated in too long.
One of the best tracks on the record is the song “Colder and Closer,” here transformed into a danceable house track without any of the kind of shoehorning that can sometimes stand out on remixes.
If you like the remix, check out the video for the original here, but beware of the frenetic thermal lighting.
📚 Catalyst - James Luceno: Although Rogue One was one of my favorite Star Wars films, I didn’t have high hopes for its prequel. I’ve been kind of skeptical of SW books. However, I loved this one. As a commenter said, it’s like House of Cards set in the Star Wars universe.
Adult coloring some goths.
Has anyone ever listened to “Regress No Way” by 7 Seconds while sipping chamomile tea?
I’m not normally a huge fan of recorded live music. Very few of my most treasured albums were recorded in a live context. The majority of the time, I find live recordings to be inferior versions of their studio-recorded counterparts. Right now, though, I’m mostly home bound, unable to attend gatherings where music would be played. I had tickets to see Tennis perform in May, but that was postponed indefinitely. I don't foresee that show, or any others, returning in the next few months.
Living through this, live recordings can slake a sort of thirst that isn’t getting quenched any other means. NPR has unlocked over 100 performances from the legendary 9:30 Club in Washington DC to fill in the gap. I'm creating a habit of listening through a live performance on weeknights. I started with this Stars show from 2007. As expected, the songs don’t sound as good as they do on the records, but there’s a certain energy and spontaneity to them. There is also a sense of nostalgia that is invoked by these little time capsules. They take you back to an earlier time in an artist’s career as well as a different part of your life.
The downside to these live performances has to do with some of the technology involved. The sets are each presented as one monolithic piece. Those who are used to track divisions and song identification from live albums may be put off by the lack of those things in the simplistic player that NPR offers.
NPR also has an accompanying piece about the 9:30 Club by All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen. The club is 40 years old, though it remains closed, which makes it harder to celebrate its legacy. When it opened, according to its own typewritten promotional material, it was “the first non-disco niteclub to open in downtown D.C. in thirteen years.” I’ve never actually been to the club, as my dad saw to it that I couldn’t go as a teen living in Northern Virginia. My cousin worked there for much of his adult life, though.
Boilen clearly loves the venue and the rich experiences that it provided for him. He ends the piece by advising us to have the same affection and dedication to the clubs wherever we may live.
So in that spirit, celebrate the clubs in your town. There are many more venues in D.C. now than there were in 1980, but not all of them are likely to survive this pandemic. There's a newly formed organization called NIVA is taking action to help support venues. If there's a club you love, new or old, remember that they are part of the fabric of your community. These places that have given so much to us and, in turn, to the artists who have energized, galvanized and changed many of our lives.
I do not want this moment to pass with the changing of the news cycle. I want these fires to remain lit until there is reason to put them out. I don’t mean the literal fires and I don’t mean the looting that is destroying communities and livelihoods that were already in danger from the pandemic. I mean the protests that catch people’s attention and make them take a pause and start thinking about what right looks like and how we get there. I mean the apology from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who should have been for peaceful protest the entire time, instead of following the president’s calls to divide and label people enemies.
Soon after, Goodell responded with his own video in which he made his strongest and most specific support of the demands and goals of African-American players. In the one minute, 21-second video, the commissioner condemned the oppression of black people, apologized for not listening to the concerns of African-American players and encouraged the league’s athletes to protest peacefully.
That all being said, I also want people to keep going about kingdom work in all sorts of ways. Not everyone has to be a slacktivist on social media for the cause that captures the spotlight for the moment. Alan Jacobs writes about this aspect of our collective focus.
If three months ago you were primarily focused on addressing sexism in the workplace, it seems to me that you ought to be allowed, indeed encouraged, to keep thinking about and working on that now, when everyone else is talking about police brutality. If your passionate concern is the lack of health care in poor communities, here or abroad, I think you should stick with that, even if it means not joining in protests against police racism. If you’ve turned your farm into a shelter for abused or neglected animals, and caring for them doesn’t leave you time to get on social media with today’s approved hashtags, bless you. You’re doing the Lord’s work.
Keep trying to bring about change for the better where you can and where you are led.
Push th’ little daises and make ‘em come up.
McKay Coppins writes for the Atlantic about the Christians who loved the president posing with a Bible in front of a church. I’ve read a lot of pieces about the current president and his faith (or lack thereof). I don’t think two sentences better capture the dynamic than the following.
To Trump, the Bible and the church are not symbols of faith; they are weapons of culture war. And to many of his Christian supporters watching at home, the pandering wasn’t an act of inauthenticity; it was a sign of allegiance—and shared dominance.
On a related note, I’ve read so many pieces from the Atlantic lately that I should probably start supporting them monetarily.
These kinds of artwork critters are found in various places during our neighborhood walks.