“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

Just a fantastic article about the current Tech Bubble by business week. Really speaks to the crap that the uber-VC, vacuous company creating that’s so pervasive in the startup media lately. Or as the CEO of Redfin puts it:

An entertainment-oriented, hit-driven business that doesn’t fundamentally increase American competitiveness.

Has he not become familiar with Color and Instagram?????

Interview with David Simon of ‘The Wire’

The Wire is the greatest piece of TV I’ve ever seen and probably the best contemporary narrative to come out in the last half century. Its creator, David Simon, is a recent MacArthur grant winner and probably one of the smartest people out there:

Bill Moyers: But here’s the problem for journalism. When we write about inequality, we use numbers that are profound but numbing. I mean, here’s something I just read: over the past twenty years, the elite 1 percent of Americans saw their share of the nation’s income double, from 11.3 percent to 22.1 percent, but their tax burden shrank by about one-third. Now, those facts tell us something very important: that the rich got richer as their tax rates shrank. But it doesn’t seem to start people’s blood rushing.

David Simon: You start talking about a social compact between the people at the bottom of the pyramid and the people at the top, and people look at you and say, “Are you talking about sharing wealth?” Listen, capitalism is the only engine credible enough to generate mass wealth. I think it’s imperfect, but we’re stuck with it. And thank God we have that in the toolbox. But if you don’t manage it in some way that incorporates all of society, if everybody’s not benefiting on some level and you don’t have a sense of shared purpose, national purpose, then it’s just a pyramid scheme. Who’s standing on top of whose throat?

Incentives. Incentives. Incentives.

As for his beloved newspaper industry:

You know, for twenty years, they looked upon the copy as being the stuff that went around the ads. The ads were God. And then all of a sudden the ads were not there, and the copy they had contempt for. They had actually marginalized themselves.

Having worked for a period of time for the Cerberus known as Gannett, Tribune and Knight Ridder, I saw this first hand. I actually sat in on meetings with with executives who debated how to make their online offerings less attractive to users so that they would go back to the hard copy papers.

Stellar interview.

That time will never come.

Leo Babauta on having time to create things:

I had no time, so I created it. Time is often said to be our most limited resource, but it’s not true. We can create time. It takes the sheer force of will to do it, but it can be created.

I’m always amazed when people tell me just how unbelievably busy their life is, while at the same time they seemingly accomplish nothing. Leo is not one of those guys.

And dissing the American Way is blasphemy, brother.

Chunk Banas over at The Urbanophile regarding US sprawl & the rapid suburbanization of the country:

Today, the resulting problems are vast, intimidating, and painfully obvious. Yet it’s hard for most Americans to discern the problem, let alone see a way out of the woods. This is not only because we’ve got so much of our collective wealth tied-up in this system, but because suburban sprawl has become so culturally identified with the postwar “American Dream.” Indicting the system that produces sprawl is often seen an indictment of our very way of life.

And dissing the American Way is blasphemy, brother.

My fiance and I are steadfastly urban people. I’m from the area and I’ve lived in downtown for the past 10 years and she’s from a densely populated city in Brazil. We have no intention of moving to the suburbs when we get married and have kids. A point-of-view that we have to constantly defend from attacks regarding crime, schools, housing prices and taxes. All that despite that fact that using most statistics available, crime is getting far worse in the suburbs, schools are failing everywhere and housing prices have depressed so far that people can’t afford to heat their McMansions anymore. Whenever we ( briefly ) are in the suburbs, we joke that most look like ghost towns now a days.

There are far more opportunities living in a city for things like culture, sustainable living and healthy activities. Incidentally, these are all things that dovetail right into my minimal lifestyle. Frankly, city living is a win-win for us.

The Earliest Encounter With Racism I Can Remember

warning: this post contains profanity and offensive language. act accordingly.

During the 80’s I was into metal / rock bands. Metallica, Def Leopard, Montley Creu and the like. As I became a teenager, I got more into rap music. The early 90’s was a golden era for rap, with Dr Dre, the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, 2Pac and more all dropping their 1st or 2nd albums within 1-2 years of each other. In parallel, grunge music was washing over the country like a wave. Bringing this subculture into the mainstream were bands like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and, of course, Nirvana. I had groups of friends who were into rap and groups that were into grunge, but very few into both. These being the two dominant music scenes in the country at the time, if you were of a certain age, you mostly found yourself identifying with one or the other. I was decidedly in the rap camp, but I respected most of the grunge music I heard and owned a few cds.

As many know, yesterday was the anniversary of Kurt Cobains suicide. You didn’t need to be a devoted fan of Nirvana to understand the impact this event had on the youth in this country. Here was a famous, well liked and talented musician leading the musical charge for a musical revolution and the generation it represented. Throngs of youths idolized him and he was one of the biggest icons of an entire generation. He had given a voice to a lot of disenfranchised youth struggling to find their place in a post-Reagan world.

And like that, poof, he was gone.

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It was especially shocking because it was the first time people my age felt a real sense of loss outside of their personal lives. In fact, for many people, it was like losing a family member despite never even meeting him. The closest comparison I can come to for my parents is when JFK was shot. It’s not so much a sense of sadness, but a yearning for what could have been had they lived and the hope they represented.

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When I arrived at school the first day after the news broke, his death was THE topic of discussion. I distinctly remember a malaise surrounding everyone. When we all finally got together for lunch and were able to talk about things, I heard someone, whom I thought was a friend, say the strangest thing when I asked about the suicide:

It wasn’t a suicide. My dad says it was a bunch of black guys who killed him & made it look like one. I be all you wiggers couldn’t be happier.

record screeching…. Wait, what?

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here’s someone I thought was my friend, a guy like me, and he’s not only spouting off about his racist dad but simultaneously trying to denigrate me. As a kid of 13, I was really confused. That was first blatantly racist thing I’d heard anyone say around me, even without the second sentence. Even back then, I was happy-go-lucky and inclusive of everyone & everything, even if it wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe I was naive, but that’s ok. Unfortunately, others didn’t share my empathy and sense of inclusion. That’s when I learned a hard lesson: you can be as nice and inclusive to people as you want, but don’t assume the same in return. Needless to say, me and this guy didn’t hang out after that.

That’s why every year when his anniversary comes up and gets a lot of press, I don’t just think of the day a generation lost a idol. I think of the day that I realized there are some shitty, angry people in this world and no matter how I treat them, it’s not guaranteed to affect how they treat me. It’s a cruel lesson to learn. In the end, however, it makes me strive to devote my time & energy on people that enrich my life.

Never Owe Money You Can’t Pay Tomorrow Morning

They are not new lessons. Never owe any money you can’t pay tomorrow morning. Never let the markets dictate your actions. Always be in a position to play your own game. Never take on more risks than you can handle. But all of those were old lessons, unfortunately. Even though I didn’t see it coming, those lessons which are timeless allowed us to in effect profit from it rather than suffer from it. Good businesses, good management, plenty of liquidity, always having a loaded gun; if you play by those principles you will do fine no matter what happens. And you don’t ever know what’s going to happen.

I could listen to Warren talk for hours. The loaded gun analogy is one I use a LOT. Cash Is King.

(via 37Signals)