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November 2019

  1. The Lighthouse

    Watched 21 November 2019

    That scream really did it for me. This film could have been bad and that scream would have saved it. But no, the whole thing was excellent. Sets itself up as an incredibly precise and fastidious formal exercise, only to break with expectations in very unfamiliar, surreal ways. Rule-breaking cinema.

    And meeting real-life Willem Dafoe not within one minute of the credits starting to roll was also a surreal experience. That’s two for the price of one. (Humblebrag, I know.)

  2. How NYT Cooking Became the Best Comment Section on the Internet
    theringer.com

    Zach Gage tweeted:

    i wish all internet comments were like the comments on nyt recipe pages

    Turns out a big part of why they’re so nice has to do with nomenclature:

    This might be because Cooking’s comments aren’t comments at all—they’re notes, a distinction Times food editor Sam Sifton emphasizes several times over the course of our conversation. “We made the conscious decision not to call them comments,” Sifton tells me. “The call to action was to leave a note on the recipe that helps make it better. That’s very different from ‘Leave a comment on a recipe.’ And the comment might be ‘I hate you.’ ‘You’re an asshole.’ ‘This is bad.’ And that’s helpful to no one. I see that on other recipes, and I’m glad that we don’t have those comments, because we don’t have comments. We have notes.”

    While it’s delightful to think that that could be enough, human moderation is also involved:

    On the internet, moderation is something of a dying art, often outsourced, automated, or even discontinued altogether by resource-strained news outlets. At Cooking, however, every single note is approved or rejected by an actual human being.

  3. 16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions: Great Keyboard, Outstanding Speakers
    daringfireball.net

    John Gruber spent some time with the new MacBook Pro:

    It feels a bit silly to be excited about a classic arrow key layout, a hardware Escape key, and key switches that function reliably and feel good when you type with them, but that’s where we are. The risk of being a Mac user is that we’re captive to a single company’s whims.

    Great that they fixed the keyboards, but I’m guessing repairability hasn’t improved. My 2014 MacBook Pro’s battery started expanding recently, and I was surprised to learn that a battery replacement isn’t a simple job, even for this older generation. The battery is glued in place, so replacing it means an entirely new top case, keyboard, and trackpad — and in my case a week without my computer. That’s bad design too, and a side of it that Apple isn’t getting enough flak for.

  4. The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising
    thecorrespondent.com

    Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn:

    It might sound crazy, but companies are not equipped to assess whether their ad spending actually makes money. It is in the best interest of a firm like eBay to know whether its campaigns are profitable, but not so for eBay’s marketing department.

    Its own interest is in securing the largest possible budget, which is much easier if you can demonstrate that what you do actually works. Within the marketing department, TV, print and digital compete with each other to show who’s more important, a dynamic that hardly promotes honest reporting.

    The fact that management often has no idea how to interpret the numbers is not helpful either. The highest numbers win.

  5. Tech and Liberty
    stratechery.com

    Ben Thompson defends Facebook’s recent decision to let politicians lie in ads, arguing that free speech should be considered in terms of culture, not law.

    Here are his concluding remarks:

    Facebook, obviously, is not the government, and thank goodness: the fact that Zuckerberg answers to no one is deeply concerning to me. To be fair, in the case of political ads, this was arguably a benefit: I think he is making the right decision in the face of massive resistance. In the long run, though, it is very problematic that such a powerful player in our democracy has no accountability. Liberty is not simply about laws, or culture, it is also about structure, and it is right to be concerned about the centralized nature of companies like Facebook.

    To that end, the fact that this debate is even occurring is evidence of the problem: those opposed to Facebook’s decision about ads wish the company would wield its power in their favor; my question is whether such power should even exist in the first place. Facebook can close Munroe’s door on anyone, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    Ben makes a good case, but I have conflicting feelings about it. These last few moves by Twitter and Facebook have left me hopelessly lost in this debate. When does a lie become fraud?