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    A Bronze Medal Is Better Than Silver
    Illustration by Sam Woolley

    The organizing principle of the Olympic medals functions as a universal language. Gold means first place, silver means second place, bronze means third place. The games have changed over the years, but this concept has remained a constant.

    There is a problem with the medal system, though. The medal count—a ranking of the participant countries based on total metals won—treats all medals as if they are equal. Yet, we know this isn’t true, and the Olympics tells us this isn’t true by the way in which it awards the medals. On the podium, the gold medalist stands the highest, basking in victory as his or her national anthem plays. The silver medalist stands a little lower, and the bronze medalist a little lower than that. But the podium itself tells a lie. It implies that the sliver medal is almost the best. In reality, the sliver medal is the worst.

    Obviously, a gold medal is the ultimate goal. You won the big one and that can never be taken away from you. There has never been a sad gold medalist. Even teenaged athletes with ravaged bodies and minds driven to the brink of sanity by their sadistic adult coaches taste the sweet release of freedom when that gold medal is placed around their necks. We all agree on the gold medal.

    From there, the ordering system gets less intuitive. A silver medal is supposed to be seen as an incredible and joyous achievement. You’re second best in the world at something! (“Air rifle.”) In a vacuum, of course, it is amazing. But Olympians train their entire lives for often just one opportunity at a medal. If you win silver that means you were probably good enough to win gold but instead you... didn’t. Second place is the first loser, someone apparently once said. If you were at an Olympian’s house and he or she showed you his or her silver medal, you would say, to that person, something like, “Wow! That’s so cool!” But in the back of your mind you might think, “What happened?” Because what did happen? A silver medal is ultimately a story of failure. There is a reason the phrases “Olympic gold medalist” and “Olympic medalist” exist, but “Olympic silver medalist” does not.

    The same is technically true for the bronze medal. It signifies a slightly greater failure than the silver medal. But there is a crucial difference: Where the silver medal implies that you almost could have won but lost, the bronze medal implies you almost could have lost but won. No silver medalist has ever looked at the bronze medalist and thought, “Well at least I beat that chump.” But every bronze medalist looks at the fourth place finisher and thinks, “Hey, I’m not that person!”

    There are personal exceptions to this rule, of course. There is no shame in getting silver to, say, Michael Phelps, who has more golds than dozens of nations. There has probably been a presumed gold medalist who slipped to third and left their bronze medal with a beggar on their way out of town. But in almost all cases, gold and bronze medals are to be celebrated, whereas a silver medal is to be carried around like an anvil.

    We have already seen evidence of this in the first few days of this year’s Olympics. Look how happy American swimmer Cody Miller was to go from underdog in the 100m breaststroke to bronze medalist:

    A Bronze Medal Is Better Than Silver

    You wouldn’t know from these images that Tom Daley and his diving partner Daniel Goodfellow won bronze in synchronized 10m platform and not gold:

    Last night, American David Plummer won bronze in the 100m backstroke. Plummer is a first-time Olympian at age 30, which is practically unheard of, especially in swimming, which is typically dominated by athletes in their early to mid-20s. The race was Plummer’s only event, and given his age likely the only opportunity in his lifetime to win an Olympic medal. Going into the race he had little chance of getting gold, and, indeed, he finished behind the winner, his teammate Ryan Murphy, by a full half second. But Plummer snuck onto the podium, finishing ahead of race favorite, the Australian Mitch Larkin, by just .03 seconds.

    After the race, Plummer told NBC’s Michelle Tafoya the following:

    “Just amazing,” Plummer told NBC. “I would have loved to have been a little faster, but to get up there on the podium at the Olympics is just a dream come true.”

    Every Olympian dreams of medaling. None of them dream of winning silver.


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    The greatest mystery of our time has been solved, but you might not even realize that it was a mystery in the first place: Contrary to Gawker’s own reporting, Donald Trump did not say “titties” when addressing the Detroit Economic Club yesterday. Sorry to spoil your fun, but it’s for the sake of regaining my sanity.

    http://gawker.com/he-really-said…

    See, Gawker was far from the only news outlet to report this. Trevor Noah mocked it on last night’s episode of The Daily Show. The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, New York magazine’s The Cut, Mediaite, Mic, GQ, TheWrap, and The Daily Mail were among the outlets to cover this, generally with the absolute credulity that Gawker initially did. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was convinced that Donald Trump said “and, by the way, into titties, like right here in Detroit.”

    I was, meanwhile, incredulous. There was a clear glitch on the word “cities” that clipped all but of a fraction of its initial soft-C sound and resumed at “-ities” to create the illusion of “titties” that was nonetheless quite clearly (to my ears) just that: an illusion. At the very least, the presence of the glitch should have been enough to cause people to question if what they were hearing was actually “titties” instead of the far more logical “cities.” And while I know that Trump has made a career out of misspeaking, it seems that such a slip would at least be acknowledged by its speaker (with the immediate issuing of a correction of the word he attempted to say, for example) or the audience in the room in some way that would signal he had in fact just said a word as hilariously inappropriate as “titties.”

    So obvious was this glitch that I wondered if our initial post on the subject was a case of performative mishearing. I brought this up to my colleagues in Gawker’s Slack room and I brought receipts in another medium. Because I find that my senses can sometimes be more sensitive than other people’s (I can’t watch a movie if it’s presented in the wrong aspect ratio and its picture is distorted, for example), I produced a visualization of the waveform on “cities” to show that the sound cut out during the word creating the effect of “titties.” I presented it to my coworkers, who roundly shot me down.

    He Really Didn't Say "Titties"

    I mentioned my theory (aka the truth) in the comments of Gawker’s original post, and no one seemed to believe me there either, big surprise.

    Twitter was exploding over these “titties” and would continue to doing so for hours. Everyone heard “titties.” They all believed in “titties.” There wasn’t even a question. What glitch? All they heard was titties.

    It felt like I was witnessing the entire world seeing the dress as white and gold and I was the only one who saw black and blue. I felt crazy—until I talked to my former co-worker Caity Weaver, who agreed with me. Without her support I think I might have had an actual stroke.

    http://gawker.com/what-color-is-…

    I set about debunking this and proving the world wrong. Every live stream of the speech I checked seemed to have the same audio issues, which by the way, found Trump’s mic cutting in and out several times in the minutes leading up to the fake “titties.” I contacted people whose Twitter feeds suggested they were in the room attending the address. One reporter, who didn’t want to be quoted, told me they didn’t hear Trump say “titties” live, but upon watching the clip, seemed to be convinced that he had said it. I wanted to curl up in some real titties (or fake ones—actual titties) and die.

    I woke up today still thinking about how to debunk this. I considered contacting sound experts, or rerecording the phrase and then cutting the audio to mimic the glitch to show how this could happen. I Googled “didn’t say titties” multiple times, until I came upon this video via the Young Turks’ YouTube channel:

    They discovered that the Detroit Free Press’s stream of the event used a different audio feed that wasn’t plagued with the glitches everyone else’s seemed to have. And that feed confirmed what I always knew in my heart and my ears that you can now know yourself: Donald Trump said “cities,” not “titties.” Of course. It’s fascinating to me that what seems like everyone who was listening all misheard the same thing without acknowledging the glitch that was warping their perception. I think more than anything, people wanted Trump to have said “titties.” But as many aspiring bodybuilders and prepubescent girls can attest, no matter how hard you wish for them, sometimes the titties just aren’t there.

    And now, with the story set straight, the truth setting us free, I can exhale shoop shoop. I feel like I have my life back.


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    The Internet's Shrek Obsession, Explained

    Shrek is love. Shrek is life.

    If you’ve spent more than a few seconds of your life on the Internet, you’ve probably seen a Shrek meme. Maybe it involved Smash Mouth’s seminal 1999 hit “All Star,” the song that inspired a whole generation to unite in shared mockery of Smash Mouth. Or maybe it involved... anal penetration (Warning: NSFW due to child abuse, cartoony but still pretty obvious sex, implied sexual assault of a character who’s described as a child, and also whatever’s going on with Shrek’s face down there):

    The above two videos, created with Valve’s Source Filmmaker, are different interpretations of a popular Shrek fan fiction that originated on 4chan in 2013. It’s called “Shrek is love, Shrek is life.” In the story, a young boy prays to Shrek and is ultimately sodomized by him. It’s inspired countless spin-offs and dramatic readings. The top video alone, which is not even the (now-deleted) original, has over 4.5 million views.

    You might think, “My stars, how could such a vile act of lurid pornography emerge from a beloved children’s film franchise,” or the more common, “Uh... what,” but it all makes sense in the way the Internet often makes sense, which is to say it’s like a big game of telephone where everyone’s simultaneously screaming into an infinite void and the void is screaming back and also vomiting from its mouth and nose and ears and eyes and anus. It all just keeps getting louder and louder. At some point, the world ends. Nobody notices.

    I’ve used the word “anus” or some variation thereof twice, and we’re not even out of the introduction yet. This is definitely a post about Shrek.

    We demand a Shreksplanation

    You might not remember this, but the original Shrek movie was extremely well-liked. Kids loved the fart jokes and the fun action. Adults dug the way Shrek skewered fantasy tropes while telling a story that was, at times, downright heartfelt. To this day, it has an 88 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. It even won a damn Oscar in 2001. For a time, Shrek fandom was neither ironic nor horrifying. People just dug imaginative fictional characters like Shrek, Fiona, and Eddie Murphy. The movie did not age well, however, and its sequels and spin-offs relied more on cheap topical gags and cameos than wit or heart.

    The Shrek meme’s exact origins are tough to pin down, but it’s widely believed that Shrek lost his dignity and purity around the time the franchise’s official Facebook page launched in 2009. It sometimes featured posts written in the first-person, attributed to Shrek himself.

    Suddenly, according to a 2014 Daily Dot deep dive into all things Shrek, the doofy ogre was more than just a calcified memory of a sorta-crappy early ‘00s movie series. He was an idea, a touchstone, a rallying cry. A brand ripe for evisceration by a generation raised on the very sort of ironic detachment (in this case, from the unending sincerity of kid-friendly Disney fantasy) the Shrek movies peddled in ogre-green, onion-laced shitloads.

    In essence, Shrek gave birth to Shrek. Now there’s an idea for a fan fiction.

    Around then, the Internet fell into a deep, dark sleep. Its collective fever dream gave rise to mountains of fan works on sites like DeviantArt. Slowly but surely, they evolved into a surrealist meta-fiction, a dream of a dream of a nightmare. One of the most infamous works is a 2010 piece by user cmara called “Shadow begs Shrek.” The Shadow in question is the one from Sonic The Hedgehog, because of course.

    The Internet's Shrek Obsession, Explained

    It’s accompanied by a story:

    “One day, Shadow the Hedgehog was sitting under a tree petting Donkey who was taking a nap. Then, he saw someone on the path. It was Shrek the Ogre. Shadow then saw that he was holding a bundle. Shadow softly said, “Shrek...” He stood up and watched him walk away. He then ran towards him and said to himself, “You can’t leave this place!” He ran after him along the path. Shrek stopped and looked up at the sky. He then heard someone say, “Shrek!” He turned around and saw Shadow panting for breath.

    “He said, “Shadow?” Shadow yelled out, “Idiot!” Shrek jumped. Shadow said, “What were you thinking about leaving?! You can’t leave us!” His eyes began to fill with tears as he said, “Please Shrek, don’t leave. I wouldn’t know what to do without you. Shrek, I didn’t mean to lie to you. I was only saying those things to protect Fiona and all of the others from dire peril.” Shrek looked at Shadow with a sad look on his face as Shadow talked. Shadow continued, “You know I would never lie to you. You’re one of my best friends ever since we first met. You can’t stay angry at me. I don’t want to lose you like I lost Maria.” Shrek then began to smile. Tears ran down on Shadow’s cheeks as he said, “I don’t want to lose you because you’re my friend. Because you’re always by my side and because...because...”

    The story has multiple parts.

    Things only got weirder from there. Searching “Shrek” on DeivantArt is... an experience.

    Why Shadow, though? Why did this piece and others like it resonate, ultimately forming the foundations of a beautiful, twisted canon? Because by this point, Shrek had outgrown the confines of his holy swamp. He’d become a symbol of all things gloriously shitty and relentlessly focus-tested from the early ‘00s. If Shrek was the big screen embodiment of nu-millennium toilet garbage, Shadow The Hedgehog—with his hilariously unfitting blend of guns and angst in a colorful world of fast animals in clown shoes—was his video game bride. Both tried to act like they were too cool for “kid stuff.” Too sophisticated, too edgy. They were made for each other—and approximately one billion people between the ages of 12 and 34.

    The Internet's Shrek Obsession, Explained

    Countdown to Shreksplosion

    It didn’t end there. Image boards like 4chan were on board more or less since the beginning, but they didn’t kick things into high gear until 2012. That’s the year the now-defunct Shrekchan launched.

    Shrekchan, survived by places like Reddit’s /r/brogres, the Shrekchan Facebook page, the ogreLord Steam group, and countless Twitter accounts, was more than just a repository for memes. It was the oily, ugly spawning pit for an entire meta-meta culture. Its main inspiration? My Little Pony fandom. Instead of Bronies, dedicated Shrekchanners were Brogres.

    They developed their own ongoing fiction with history and terminology. Ogres were misunderstood, but perfect. Holy, even. Onions formed the center of their universe. They represented the concept of layers, a sort of well-roundedness to which good brogres aspired. The swamp was one’s safe place, their sanctuary, and laddies were their friends and comrades. Farquaads, named for the first Shrek movie’s villain, were their foes. Then there was Farquaad’s vile creation, Drek, nemesis to Shrek and all things Shrek stood for. He was literally Shrek, except blue.

    The Internet's Shrek Obsession, Explained

    On image boards, people are defined not by identities (typically, everyone’s either anonymous or they only get a simple username), but by the novelty and shock value of their posts in the moment. Users often skew young. This, naturally, leads to Some Fucked Up Shit in the name of getting attention. Then everyone tries to pretend they’re not bothered by any of it through jokes and escalation. It’s kids sneaking into an R-rated movie or finding dad’s porn collection, only turned up to 11 thanks to the boundless reach of the Internet.

    It wasn’t long before Shrek stories like the ones in the videos above were commonplace. Sex, drugs, violence, muderder, rape—nothing was off-limits for ol’ Shrek. Sometimes Shrek was a vengeful guardian angel. Other times he shit on people’s desks. As per usual with image board stuff, Shrek wore the aesthetic of uncomfortable topics while not really engaging with any of it. A lot of it was like a slightly more grown-up version of a fart joke. Some things never change.

    Valve’s Source Filmmaker, which has been used to create some truly breathtaking virtual movies by Valve and fans alike, was a perfect conduit for people’s most demented Shrek fantasies because a) people could make Shrek models in it and b) Valve’s Source engine has been giving life to Internet strangeness ever since YouTube poops took off.

    In that way, a culture of image board faux-ironic “edginess” formed around Shrek, a character originally intended to be the safe, family friendly version of “edgy,” a character who likely played a small role in inspiring some of the ironic distance that formed the backbone of image board culture.

    I guess what I’m saying is, the Shrek internet meme has layers.

    Shrekpocalypse

    In 2014, Shrekchan disappeared. The board’s creator explained that, essentially, Shrek jokes had been run into the ground, and the board’s community aspect fell to the wayside. “The community has all kinds of people, and I love it very much,” they wrote. “Unfortunately spammers and shitposters—as well as the fact that the Shrek phenomenon has been butchered down to nothing—has made it hard for our community to survive.”

    Shrek memes went mainstream. Shrek became the poster child for “Internet weird” among kids and adults everywhere from Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to Reddit to YouTube. Improbably, Shrek rediscovered his original audience: people of all ages who wanted to feel like they were a little strange, a little subversive... while also being part of a thing pretty much everybody was a part of.

    To add an extra layer of on-the-nose full-circle-ness to it all, even the official Shrek Facebook account began communicating in memes, something it continues to do to this day. It’s currently spoofing the 2016 presidential election, and well, the less said of that, the better.

    Still, though, Shrek continues to resonate. For many of the people now sharing Shrek memes and chuckling slyly every time they hear Smash Mouth on a bar jukebox (while knowing in their heart of hearts that they’re only one drink away from loudly singing along), he represents everything shitty but weirdly likable about the early ‘00s.

    In many ways, the Shrek meme imitates the Shrek movie franchise, the thing it was both directly and indirectly born of. Its humor often relies on cheap shock gags and references, and it’s rooted in layers and layers of ironic detachment—the dullest form of “edginess”—from actual fandoms and real-life problems alike.

    Still, for a few years, it gave a community a means by which to work together and create an entire, weird little universe. Even now, with that community splintered and dissipating, Shrek memes have filtered up into the Internet at large, giving people a way to communicate through a bizarre cultural touchstone that just about everybody recognizes, something precious in these increasingly fragmented times. Despite the irony and the ugliness, even Shrek memes have a core of heart.


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    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes

    Yesterday, Gawker Editor-in-Chief Alex Pareene lied to you, the readers here at Gawker.com. He said, should you write into the Gawker tips line with your phone number, that I would then text you an obscene image of the popular children’s character “Shrek.” I agreed to no such thing. I will, however, share that obscene image with you now.

    But first—why did Alex make this false promise? When I asked him, he said, “Because you had spent like 12 hours sending obscene pictures of Shrek to everyone you knew, seemingly. So I thought, why not offer that experience to our readers?” Fair enough.

    Now, before I show you Shrek’s dick, I must ask: Please do not send us any more requests for Shrek nudes. For our tips box now looks like this:

    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes
    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes

    So you want to see the Shrek nudes? Here is your Shrek nude.

    Please Stop Asking for Shrek Nudes

    And have a nice rest of your day.


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    COUNTERPOINT: Bubbles Are Fun

    Read the news on any particular day and it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the world is Bad. We can do our best to resist the Badness and maybe even contribute some Goodness, but while all of us (Peter Thiel excluded) will one day die, the Badness will surely live on forever. This, my friend, is where the bubbles come in.

    http://gizmodo.com/hot-take-seltz…

    “Bubbles?” you ask (somewhat rudely). “Are you serious, Hudson?”

    Yes, I am completely serious.

    Unfortunately, the costs imposed by many of the greatest pleasures in this world far exceed their advertised delights. Booze, gourmandism and perverse anonymous sex all end up taking more than they give. Drugs aren’t really worth it. Neither is smoking.

    Two exceptions to this are bike rides and maybe flowers. A third anomaly is carbon dioxide bubbles dissolved in water, a solution commonly known as seltzer.

    Less worldly writers, perhaps not yet fully acquainted with this universe’s unending miseries, will disparage seltzer’s good name for the sake of “clicks.” But as time passes, the rush from web traffic will fade and what will you have then? You’ll have the bubbles, which will always be there for you, no matter how cruelly you abuse them.

    Seltzer, it must be said, is not Great. It can make one gassy, it can promote tooth decay and its advantages over plain water are relatively minor. In the end, however, bubbles are more fun than no bubbles. Don’t believe me? Watch this chameleon and then try to disagree.

    http://gawker.com/tiny-brave-cha…


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    Warren: "Pathetic Coward" Trump Makes Death Threats Because "He's Losing to a Girl"
    Photo: AP

    Tuesday evening, Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to respond to Donald Trump’s somewhat less-than-hilarious “joke” about the potential assassination of Hillary Clinton. As you might imagine, she did not hold anything back.

    http://gawker.com/donald-trump-t…

    “[Donald Trump] makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl,” wrote Warren. “Your reckless comments sound like a two-bit dictator, [Trump]. Not a man who wants to lead the greatest democracy on the planet.”

    Earlier in the day, Trump told supporters in North Carolina that if Hillary “gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno.” The Trump campaign later claimed the candidate was referring to “the great political power” of Second Amendment advocates.

    This has been your daily Elizabeth Warren Trump diss update.


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    A bus carrying media personnel and volunteers between Olympic venues was attacked in Rio this evening, according to multiple media reports. Several people who were on the bus described the attack as gunfire. Initial reports said the bus was shot at on the Trans Olympic Highway when the attack happened.

    Reuters quoted Sherryl “Lee” Michaelson, a retired US air force captain who is working for a basketball publication in Rio, saying “We were shot at. I mean we could hear the report of the gun.”

    According to several reports, police have said the attack was done by stones, not rocks. But this Estadão report, via Google translate, points out that the police also did not bother to inspect the bus as well as other details, like marks on the glass and bursts themselves, that make the stones explanation seem unlikely. The Olympic Games Organizing Committee has opened an investigation into the incident.

    We’ll update this story as we learn more.


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  • 08/09/16--18:30: Secret Service: Don't @ Me
  • Secret Service: Don't @ Me
    Photo: Twitter/Secret Service

    The Secret Service knows about “the comments.” The Secret Service has heard your comments about “the comments.” But the Secret Service will not be commenting on “the comments” at this time.


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  • 08/09/16--16:28: Fuck This Tweet
  • Fuck This Tweet

    Last week I happened upon a very bad tweet and it’s been haunting me ever since, filling me with a quiet and persistent rage I can only release through the art of the written word.

    From the deranged mind of Silicon Valley’s Balaji Srinivasan—member of the board of Andreessen Horowitz and CEO of some Bitcoin startup—comes this unfortunately myopic way of looking at the world.

    Fuck This Tweet
    Balaji blocked after I wrote that this is everything that’s wrong with Silicon Valley. C’mon Balaji, isn’t social media about starting a dialogue?? Techfluence me, daddy.

    Here’s the thing: Only an incredibly out-of-touch person would like this tweet. Being part of the 1%, more often than not, renders you out-of-touch with the rest of us. I try to be accepting of all viewpoints—but really Balaji? Where do I even begin? First, let’s contextualize how batshit crazy Balaji Srinivasan is. Like a certain person intent on bankrupting this very company, he has kooky ideas about living forever. Back in 2014, Srinivasan made headlines because he was very vocal about his belief that Silicon Valley should secede from the rest of society. Specifically, he offered up this plan, emphasis mine:

    Just like the Amish live nearby, peacefully, in the past - imagine a society of Inverse Amish that lives nearby, peacefully, in the future. A place where Google Glass wearers are normal, where self-driving cars and delivery drones aren’t restricted by law, and where we can experiment with new technologies *without* causing undue disruption to others...

    I believe that regulations exist for a reason. And I believe that new technologies will keep coming up against existing rulesets. I don’t believe the solution is either to change the rulesets (which, again, exist for a reason) OR to give up on new technology. I think instead we need a third solution: a way to exit (whether to the cloud for purely digital technologies, or to a Special Innovation Zone or ultimately a startup nation), prove/disprove these new technologies among a self-selected, opt-in group of risk-tolerant early adopters, and report back to the mothership on what works and what doesn’t.

    This is a guy who thinks a group of millionaires and billionaires should be able to lead lives unrestricted by pesky “laws” and “regulations,” drinking Soylent in their own Special Innovation Zone where no one gets bullied for wearing Google Glass. Balaji wants to live outside these restrictive societal norms, so, to reiterate, it makes sense he also holds these beliefs:

    The tweet doesn’t adhere to those pesky rules of “logic.” But then again, the Silicon Valley elites are too rich and innovative to care about such petty things.

    Uber doesn’t stop any argument about regulation. Apps like Uber, if anything, get people very talkative about said “regulation,” even if they were designed to evade it. Recently, Uber settled two lawsuits to ensure its drivers would stay contractors; this way, the company won’t be obligated to do nice things for its drivers, like pay minimum wage or social security. Uber isn’t a solution to regulation; it just found a gap in the system and is rich enough to take advantage of the people who make the company all its money.

    The Bitcoin claim is far more absurd, mostly because no one outside of the tech world gives a shit about Bitcoin. Heck, Florida doesn’t even consider Bitcoin to be real money. It’s far from any solution to monetary policy. Recently, hackers stole over $72 million in Bitcoin. And still, Bitfinex, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, won’t even give you the option to store your Bitcoin offline for you, meaning if you want to keep your Bitcoin safe from hackers, you’re on your own. Clearly, this shit won’t be replacing legitimate money anytime soon. And again, if anything, creating this new medium of currency has prompted more conversations about monetary policy.

    Here’s the heart of why I hate this tweet: We should argue about regulation and monetary policy. These are important conversations. Talking about problems with people who don’t agree with you is actually a really good and important thing. Rich people might not like this because rich people don’t have to be frequently subjected to people who disagree with them if they don’t want to be. I get it, billionaires, regulation suxxxxx because it hinders your pursuit of capital, or as Silicon Valley bros call it, “innovation.”

    There’s this predominant ideology in the tech world that these startup daddies can fix any problem by building something “new,” by innovating and techfluencing and whatever the buzzword of the day is. (Synergy?) People like Balaji Srinivasan think they’re renegades and underdogs because they’re creating new technology. Tech isn’t inherently innovative nor is it a solution to the world’s problems. Especially if the tech set are so intent on avoiding “arguments” about policy. When it comes down to it, the people at the top of Silicon Valley aren’t focused on necessarily “bettering” society; they’re trying to find new ways to get as much money as possible. The only difference between them and business men? They wear hoodies instead of suits and are “nerds” because they can code.

    At the end of the day, if your app is built on exploitation, it’s not truly innovative.


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    Listen to an Unemployed Person Today
    Photo: AP

    In 2013, we published a 40-week series of true stories of unemployment. When it concluded, I still had dozens of unpublished stories. Here are a few.

    More than three years after the final installment of that series, I still occasionally receive new stories. Mostly, people just want to be heard. Here is one that I received just this week, from a woman who says she was told that she owes the federal government $372 for food stamps she received last year.

    Today I received [the judge’s] decision that they must collect money from me which I personal have no job and have no Penney to pay Federal government. According to her decision they should garnish my wages or community service. The questions I have now is OK worked pay taxes for 17 years. My legal husband work on his own. During unemployment benefits I was able to collect my benefits although I have a husband. When I am 65 years old I will have medicare benefits that will be title A, not title B. Title A means I did work and contribute on my own. Why is a public assistance telling me because I have a husband. Most of us in America we survive in one paycheck to pay check. Most of us one income is not enough. Or living as couple and we no longer support each other. How can a Welfare Office don’t see that. I see this as a discrimination. I probably have to hire a public defender for this. This is my unemployment story I wanted to share.

    From an unemployed small town lawyer:

    I am one of the lucky ones. My spouse’s income can cover almost all our necessary expenses, with belt tightening. (Goodbye, IRA contributions and nice dinners out.) My field allows me to just decide I’m self-employed and gives me the cover of “fired? Me? No, I’m just chasing the self-employed American Dream.” But there’s no budget for a start up and I’m mainly doing odd jobs for friends and family from my guest room at home. I’m a house husband with a law hobby.

    The worthlessness is a constant problem. Some is from the firing I still don’t understand. Why would they throw me out on my ear? A lot of it is internal. I’ve been battered with Blue Collar Work Ethic since I was a kid. Work is supposed to be this thing that breaks you but is necessary and you do it well because of Pride. Well, I’m not working. And I sometimes enjoy Not Working, like when I do my shopping when there are no lines or get to watch tv when my chores are done before I start making dinner. Which is a huge source of guilt. And there are the outside voices, who don’t understand why I am such a bum and don’t just get a counter job at McD or wait tables. (Short answer being that one day of legal work, when I get it, pays more than a week of such work and taking such work lowers my community standing as an experienced attorney. This is a small town) but the opinions continue, unsolicited. I’m routinely told to apply for jobs that don’t exist, jobs outside my field, jobs I’m not qualified to do, etc and then when I’m not suddenly working at Job X it’s seen as my fault by the person that suggested it.

    From a woman in New York:

    I have been under/unemployed for 4+ years now, and I always felt like I was alone in struggle, and that no one understood or could relate to my problems. My friends certainly don’t; they all have jobs and are fairly established in their careers. Not being able to work, or afford basic necessities is a very isolating condition. I’m 30 years old, I still can’t move out of my parents’ home (after having to move back in), and I haven’t even been on a date in over 3 years. While I take no pleasure in the suffering of other victims of this terrible economy, it is reassuring to know that I’m not going through it alone.

    From a laid-off nurse:

    If you are doing another volume of unemployment I can write about being over 55 getting economic layoff and finding no jobs in nursing and how the jobs that do exist are geared for the bionic 25yo worker with MSN but pay less than my last job. So after 35yrs of nursing I am in same boat as my 24 yo son who refuses to take debt for higher education and just lost his second min. wage job where he was on call to drive 24/7 but only paid if he was actually called so paychecks varied widely but didn’t give any benefits.

    I tried starting a business which has been a long redmark in the ledger and can tell about that. We enjoy eating mulberries from the alley in great pies and steamed lambsquarter from the yard tastes just like spinach so we don’t need weed killers or groceries as the flower bed is planted in tomato and squash.

    Let me know if you want to divine the depths of despair.

    America’s official unemployment rate now sits at less than 5%. But that equals nearly eight million unemployed people, and millions more who have given up looking for work. They all have a story to tell.

    [Our entire “Unemployment Stories” series can be found here.]


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  • 08/10/16--09:10: The New Meme Is Plabe
  • The New Meme Is Plabe
    Image: Getty

    Everybody’s always asking me: What’s the new meme? I’m here to tell you: The new meme is plabe.

    A meme happens when someone does something funny on a website somewhere, and other people on the internet start doing the same funny thing, but they put their own spin on it. Maybe you find out about the meme when it pops into your feed, or maybe you find out about it on a website like the one you’re reading now, where writers like me explain the joke of the meme in great detail.

    Anyway: The new meme is plabe. For a while, plabe has been bubbling under the surface of internet culture, and it’s finally ready to make its big debut. After this post, you can expect to see plabe texts from your normie friends; plabe tweet screenshots on your favorite meme Instragram accounts; plabe memes from Hillary Clinton’s Blackberry as she sits on a military airplabe, wearing sunglasses. Check it out.

    Wow they have found the plabe in the ocean. Classic.

    The idea behind plabe is simple: take a commonly used word—plane—and replace its third consonant with B, the adjacent letter on a QWERTY keyboard, for an absurd and humorous effect.

    You can even do the plabe with your favorite songs.

    As you can see, plabe is really catching on in the meme scene. Some Twitter users have even mashed plabe up with the classic “Bush did 9/11” meme, for a killer meme remix.

    And you know it’s a good meme when media Twitter starts getting in on the action.

    Nice.

    Often, in the course of doing meme journalism, we dig into the nitty gritty history. Where did plabe come from? Why? Is it a reference to a rap song, or a ‘90s cartoon? I can’t answer all of those questions, but I can tell you about the first plabe on Twitter. It seems to have come from plabe superfan @SupaMagg, who tweeted this cheeky bit of environmental advice back in April 2008.

    It seems that since then, the whole internet has caught plabe fever. Paste your favorite plabe memes in the comments.


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    What Is This Lizard in My Apartment and What Should I Do About It?

    This morning, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something moving on my couch. But this was no ordinary New York City bug-in-the-apartment nightmare. It was a baby lizard, sitting next to me, enjoying the soft cushion of the couch I spent two months debating whether or not to buy, and frankly, I’m not sure what to do about it.

    Here’s what I know about the lizard so far:

    • It’s not supposed to be here.
    • It’s about two inches long, including its tail.
    • It has ten fingers and ten toes.
    • It jumped in a bowl like an idiot and now it can’t get out because I’ve trapped it inside with a notebook.
    • It doesn’t appear to be one of New York’s native lizards, nor one of SoHo’s native reptiles.

    Here’s what I would like to know about the lizard:

    • How the hell did it get in my house???

    Here are some possibilities. I have a dog—maybe she picked up the lizard on the street and snuck her into my apartment? I bought some orchids over the weekend at Whole Foods—could they have harbored the interloper? Perhaps it’s my bad luck—I’ve sensed it for a while, and now it’s revealing itself one creepy crawly at a time?

    Deadspin video director Tim Burke, who lives in Florida, believes this is a barefoot gecko native to California and claims it is good, because “they keep your house clean of vermin.” I say, I have no vermin, and I don’t need this tropical amenity in my apartment.

    Now what am I supposed to do with this lizard?


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    Pictures of Food Are Not Helping Your Restaurant
    Photo: Flickr

    Some takeout restaurants choose to decorate their menus with large, unappetizing photographs of their food. Not a good idea.

    I’m no restaurant industry insider but I bet it’s probably better for your restaurant if you don’t show bad pictures of food. Try it with no pictures of food at all and see how it goes.

    If you’re a restaurant owner with your heart set on putting pictures of your food on the menu, use good pictures of the food.

    Pictures of Food Are Not Helping Your Restaurant
    Photo: Flickr

    Looks great. But don’t use old, faded pictures of the food that have become discolored with time and taken on a disquieting greenish tint that’s only more pronounced under your overhead fluorescent lighting. That just doesn’t help.

    Also try this: free self-serve water on the counter. See if your customers don’t enjoy that.


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    Mic, the well-funded website for woke millennials, has produced a corny video about voting called “69 the vote.” Now, we issue a tearful goodbye to 69, the only pure thing that was left in this hateful world. This is why we can’t have nice things.


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  • 08/10/16--11:10: The Best Way To Eat Chipotle
  • The Best Way To Eat Chipotle
    Photo via the author

    Chipotle offers four ways to consume its product: burrito, burrito bowl, taco, and salad. Instead, I recommend a fifth way.

    My favorite way—and the best way—to get Chipotle is by ordering a burrito bowl with a steamed burrito tortilla wrapped in tin foil on the side. To eat, I stir up the burrito bowl and then place forkfuls of the mixture in torn shards of the tortilla. The effect, which is more or less an adoption of the way people eat Ethiopian food, is what you see above.

    Now, this is not the cleanest or easiest way to eat Chipotle. But I find it to be the most satisfying. Their burritos are fine in a pinch, but we’ve all had plenty of them that just give you big mouthfuls of rice. Chipotle tacos are mostly shitty. They get loaded up with enough food to fill a burrito, which is generous but ultimately results in a bunch food spilling out of the sides and onto your hands. Burrito bowls are great but I find this method to combine the best attributes of each: you get the warmth and softness of the tortilla, but every bite contains each component you ordered. And because you control how much food goes into your little tortilla pockets, everything makes it into your mouth.

    I encourage all Chipotle connoisseurs to give it a try. This is not one of those “hacks” to get you more food or anything like that. It’s just a way to make your Chipotle experience as enjoyable as possible. I wager that, like me, it will make you so happy that you won’t feel any shame when you eventually do it at your desk.


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    Why Did Edward Snowden Delete His Humblebrag About Getting Nudes? 

    Breaking news: famed NSA whistleblower has deleted his infamous humblebrag about getting sent some nudes via Twitter DM.

    Why Did Edward Snowden Delete His Humblebrag About Getting Nudes? 
    This tweet is now gone. Wow.

    We’ve contacted Snowden’s attorney, Ben Wizner at the ACLU, and will update if we hear back.


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    Former Christie Staffer: Governor "Flat Out Lied" to Reporters About Bridgegate

    A redacted transcript of a damning set of text messages between former staffers working for Governor Chris Christie was unsealed on Wednesday. In one exchange, from December 13, 2013, the pair discuss a press conference the governor was giving about the still-developing George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal. “Are you listening?” Christina Renna, who worked in part of the governor’s office focused on his re-election campaign, wrote. “He just flat out lied about senior staff and [campaign manager Bill] Stepien not being involved.”

    At the press conference, Christie said he had “no reason to believe” that anyone on senior staff had anything to do with the lane closures. “I’ve made it very clear to everyone on my senior staff that if they had any knowledge about this that they need to come forward and tell me about it and they’ve all assured me that they don’t,” he told reporters.

    “Gov is doing fine,” Pete Sheridan, another Christie aide, replied. “Holding his own up there.”

    “Yes,” Renna wrote. “But he lied. And if emails are found with the subpoena or ccfg emails are uncovered in discovery if it comes to that it could be bad,” using an acronym for Chris Christie for Governor. According to NJ.com, the filings show that Renna deleted the texts after the New Jersey state legislature began issuing subpoenas.

    On Wednesday morning, Christie was in the middle of guest-hosting a four-hour-long shock-jock sports-radio show on WFAN 660AM when the court filings were put on the docket. From WNYC:

    He was not questioned about the breaking news on Bridgegate and instead fielded questions about topics like “nip slips” during the Olympic beach volleyball tournament.

    Approached by the Associated Press after the appearance, Christie said: “It’s ridiculous. It’s nothing new...There’s nothing new to talk about.” He also said the text alleging he lied was sent by Renna when she was not under oath.

    In 2014, Renna was under oath when she went before a state legislative committee and denied knowledge of Bridgegate. She did not reveal this text exchange with Sheridan, nor did she allege that Christie was lying at the press conference.

    The filings also include redacted emails between Stepien and David Wildstein, a friend of Christie’s from high school who he appointed to a vaguely-titled post at the Port Authority, strategizing over how to acquire the endorsement of Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop. (Wildstein has pleaded guilty.)

    “Built a few emergency exits into deal and can screw him in less than an hour,” Wildstein wrote to the campaign manager, an assurance that would seem to support federal prosecutors’ argument that Christie’s operatives used state resources to punish mayors for a variety of offenses. In one email, Wildstein described Fulop as “quite the snake.”


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    This Is the Best Video on YouTube

    I don’t remember how I found it. I don’t remember exactly when I found it. But I do know that I have watched the video below nearly once a week for the past three or so years. It is, objectively, the single best video on YouTube.

    The six-minute clip comes from a failed 1960s television pilot called Suzuki Beane, which was based on a children’s-ish book by the same name. You can find the book in its entirety on Scribd, but I’d recommend watching the video with as little context as possible first. I can guarantee it will be the most delightful and bizarre six minutes of your day.

    That said, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is about this video that keeps me coming back. The little girl’s intonation is impossibly catchy (every time I watch the video I find myself repeating “square personified” in my head for hours). The premise of a five-year-old beatnik wandering around New York City and shitting on everything is, in itself, incredible. And the fact that this isn’t even a whole episode can be infuriating.

    What happened when Suzuki went on the subway? Were her parents worried? Are we sure her parents are even still technically alive? Did Suzuki murder Henry?

    The book answers all these and more, of course, but television adaptions never follow the original plot exactly. Meaning that, as far as we know, anything is possible.


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