Jan 26, 2018

Logged into IFTTT for the first time in awhile to discover my Feedly and Instapaper applets have been broken for awhile. IFTTT provides a list of the failures, but don’t seem to have any idea why they failed. So there goes my trust in that service.

Jan 26, 2018

Michelle Goldberg is not the first nor the only person to make clear why my generation is so quick to balk at capitalism, but I particularly liked this quote:

After the fall of Communism, capitalism came to seem like the modern world’s natural state, like the absence of ideology rather than an ideology itself. The Trump era is radicalizing because it makes the rotten morality behind our inequalities so manifest. It’s not just the occult magic of the market that’s enriching Ivanka Trump’s children while health insurance premiums soar and public school budgets wither. It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that believes in its own superiority. You don’t have to want to abolish capitalism to understand why the prospect is tempting to a generation that’s being robbed.

When you put out a survey to my generation asking in blunt terms, “Captialism: yay or nay”, you’re going to get a lot of Nays. But I’d argue that nearly all of those Nays are a middle finger to the greedy people currently running things in America. Very few of us are truly anti-capitalist. Very few of us are honestly interested in socialism. Every single article I’ve read arguing that Millennials are killing capitalism comes off as fear-mongering. They read blatently disinginous. What we want is simple to understand: We want the Baby Boomer generation to stop stealing from our generation.

Jan 26, 2018

There is so much chatter about blogs, right now. It’s great. What’s not so great is how difficult it still is to post one’s own website. On a laptop, with Jekyll and Github Pages, there isn’t much friction, to be fair. But to blog with my iphone or ipad requires over-difficult hacks. That no one has built an app which can publish to a Jekyll blog via iOS is mind-boggling to me. There must be some kind of deep technical hurdle, right? It can’t be because no one wants this app. I’d unquestionably pay $10+ for it. If it was truly well designed, I wouldn’t balk at $20 or more.

How I currently post to this blog: In my Macbook, I write a new post in Sublime Text, then commit with the Github Desktop app. I have a number of ways of auto-generating drafts with IFTTT which wind up in the drafts folder in Dropbox. If I ‘like’ an article in Instapaper, it generates a draft. If I add a tag to an article in Feedly, it generates a draft. With the iOS app Drafts, I use a workflow to send a note to my blog folder in Dropbox. I then go through these drafts occasionally to see if there’s something to post. I don’t do this with any real regularity, though I wish I would.

If it was easy to post to Jekyll on iOS, I’d probably post many times a day. I imagine it would work like this: when I’m on an article or tweet or anything shareable in iOS, I’d use the Share Sheet to send the link to a blogging app. Even better, it would copy over any text I had highlighted and format the post in markdown with a link and blockquote. From here, all I’d need to do would be to edit the link text in a post-friendly way, perhaps add a little commentary, then hit post.

If there are any developers out there interested in building this with me, I already have designs for this. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now and am so ready for it to exist. It really shouldn’t be so hard to blog to your own website from the computers we all have in our pockets. Twitter and Facebook make it easy. It should be just as easy for those of us who care about the open web.

Jan 24, 2018

This quote from Robin Rendle struck a chord with me.

In fact, it takes a lot of time to design robust systems that can scale across every part of a UI/product and doing all that work weirdly enough doesn’t feel like work, instead it’s more akin to unnecessary hassle and stress. But I can’t help think that this is what should differentiate the work of product designers from the work of graphic or print designers—and orgs should really incentivize simple and perhaps even boring additions to a system or a product.

At the Journal, I’ve been feeling this acutely. So much of my work is just being focused on not unnecessarily doing anything new, as apposed to designing new stuff. We have a growing UI kit and our goal is to keep it tight. This means I’m constantly pumping the breaks on my designs. Is a new component too unique? Is there another UI element I should be reusing? Does this new component expand the UI kit in a way which opens us up to potential off-brand visuals? It takes a good deal of time to think this stuff through. At some point, it becomes clear that doing less is actually doing more, if that “less” is paired with extra thought.

Dec 14, 2017

2017 was a good year for music. I ended up listening to more tunes than I had since 2013, if I can trust the data at last.fm. Tons of great records. A few really great ones. Here are my lists.

Favorite records of 2017:

  • Mangaliso — Bongeziwe Mabandla
  • Humanz — Gorillaz
  • Damn — Kendrick Lamar
  • All American Made — Margo Price
  • Drunk — Thundercat

Honorable Mentions:

  • La Confusion — Amadou & Miriam
  • I Tell a Fly — Benjamin Clemintine
  • Capacity — Big Thief
  • Hug of Thunder — Broken Social Scene
  • Chronology — Chronixx
  • Ash — Ibeyi
  • 4:44 — Jay Z
  • Harmony of Difference — Kamasi Washington
  • Sleep Well Beast — The National
  • Africa Express Presents The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests — The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests
  • In Mind — Real Estate
  • Ctrl — SZA
  • Antisocialites — VVaves
  • Big Fish Theory — Vince Staples

And here’s a public playlist of my favorite tracks of 2017 on Apple Music.

Nov 28, 2017

Like most everyone, I’ve read too many articles about what happened in 2016. The Nationalist’s Delusion, by Adam Serwer, is by far the richest piece to date.

The plain meaning of Trumpism exists in tandem with denials of its implications; supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.

Nov 27, 2017

Jia Tolentino in the New Yorker:

Lately, millennial dreams tend less toward global fame and more toward affordable health insurance, but she is correct that my cohort has grown up under the influence of novel and powerful incentives to focus on the self. If for the baby boomers self-actualization was a conscious project, and if for Gen X—born in the sixties and seventies—it was a mandate to be undermined, then for millennials it’s more like an atmospheric condition: inescapable, ordinary, and, perhaps, increasingly toxic. A generation has inherited a world without being able to live in it.


Young people have curled around their economic situation “like vines on a trellis,” as Harris puts it. And, when humans learn to think of themselves as assets competing in an unpredictable and punishing market, then millennials—in all their anxious, twitchy, phone-addicted glory—are exactly what you should expect.

Seems like baby boomers look at any single millennial and come away with one of two opinions: 1) if they’re doing well, then they’re entitled for wanting more, or 2) if they’re poor or downwardly mobile, they’re lazy and wasting their potentional. After years of this, coming from all directions, it begins to feel a bit oppressive. That’s what Tolentino is successfull at describing in this piece. The generation in power hoards all the wealth and grips tightly around their authority, while at the same time demanding that those of my generation live as they had lived. But the world they’ve created for us isn’t the world their parents constructed for them where the suburban homes were plentiful and for the taking, and even low-level blue collar jobs paid enough to own them. In 2017, homes are wildy unnafordable, and jobs pay less than they did, on average, than they did 40 years ago. It’s an untennable situation.

Oct 27, 2017

Ordered the iPhone X this morning, 3am. The preorder process was extremely convenient because of their pre-confirmation with iPhone Upgrade Program. Once the app finally let me in, it probably took less than a minute to order. Where it went wrong was with the feedback loop. There was one confirmation screen that the phone was successfully ordered, but after leaving the page, there was no way to get back to it. The purchase receipt email didn’t come until after 5am, so I had to go back to sleep assuming everything really did work.

It’s just a phone, and not a big deal. But when it makes a huge difference between getting it right at 3am versus 8am — as in delivery on November 3rd or possible after Christmas — these feedback loops are important.

Oct 27, 2017

So much to agree with in this article in the Atlantic, Climate Policy Can Help Avert Modern Liberalism’s “Doom Loop”.

When you talk to people about why they don’t want kids, they don’t always talk about their aversion to children or child-rearing; they often talk about how bleak they think the future will be. Between the breakdown of the global liberal order and the ongoing degradation of the planet’s climate, the next few decades don’t seem like a particularly sociable place, for them or their hypothetical children.


[M]uch of the conservative argument for pronatalist politics respects the fact that cultural changes—and important medical and political advances—have altered childbearing decisions. Isn’t the general anxiety about climate change as a cultural phenomenon—and the lack of political amelioration of it—one of those changes? Potential parents undertake a complex and often spiritual calculus when they plan their families, when they decide to have zero, or one, or five kids. It seems reasonable to me that if you want to coax people back into having larger families, or families at all, you may have to soften that calculus by assuring them the future will be a good place to live.
Because right now, the future does not seem like a very pleasant place to live at all. Economists who study climate change say that, at best, the phenomenon will exact persistent and troubling costs on the poorest parts of the United States; at worst, it will initiate one of several globally destabilizing crises. Global warming will also degrade Earth in plenty of hard-to-calculate ways, wrecking the gentle rhythm of the seasons and strangling the natural biodiversity of every stream and mountain.

Uh huh.

If you want a society that encourages people to have kids, you must first tell them that you are working to make the future modestly more hospitable. Not a perfect place, not a problem-free place, not a place where everything will be okay. Just a modestly better one