Monday, January 8th, 2018


Oprah Rah Rah

Imagine Donald Trump; actually smart, actually rich, and actually having revolutionized reality TV. Oh wait, I'm imagining Oprah. And after last night's instantly legendary Golden Globes speech, a lot of people (at least on social media) were suddenly imagining an Oprah 2020 run for the White House. And you can understand the enthusiasm. She spoke for more than eight minutes without lying, attacking the free press, praising Vladamir Putin, or riffing on the size of her button. She even has the word win in her last name (You're gonna get tired of all the Win-frey?). My sense is that the reaction to Oprah's speech is less about her ambitions and more about our yearning for sanity. Compared to what we've gotten used to over the past year, she seemed both very stable and fairly genius. But what if Oprah's speech was less about running for office and more about an even higher calling? What if she wants to be something more important than a president: A citizen who takes a stand. When it comes to that, she has my vote. Here's the speech. "For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up!"

+ Would she actually run? I have the same question I had when people thought Mark Zuckerberg might run. Why would she take the demotion? And yet, CNN already has an Oprah 2020 Live updates blog.

+ The movies and shows that won the night's awards aren't getting a lot of water-cooler chatter, but Big Little Lies and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri each had four wins. Here's a complete list of winners.


Hit the Pine, Meat

"The only slaughterhouse job worse than eviscerating animals is cleaning up afterward. The third-shift workers, as the cleaners are often called, wade through blood and grease and chunks of bone and flesh, racing all night to hose down the plant with disinfectants and scalding water. The stench is unbearable. Many workers retch." Bloomberg on the dangerous and repulsive work of cleaning up a slaughterhouse, and the immigrants who do the job. America's Worst Graveyard Shift Is Grinding Up Workers.


Salvador Folly

"In the nearly two decades during which they have been able to live and work legally in the U.S., Salvadorans with protected status have built careers and opened businesses, and workers now play a significant role in industries like construction and housekeeping. The economy of El Salvador also is dependent on money sent back to families from abroad — $4.5 billion last year." LA Times: The Trump administration is ending protections for more than 200,000 Salvadorans in US.

+ "In the final moments before Laura crossed the bridge, she turned to Agent Garza. 'When I am found dead,' she told him, 'it will be on your conscience.'" Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker: When Deportation Is a Death Sentence.


An Eye for an I

"A goal of all of these interlocking efforts: to track where people are, what they are up to, what they believe and who they associate with — and ultimately even to assign them a single 'social credit' score based on whether the government and their fellow citizens consider them trustworthy." Like many Americans, Chinese consumers are attracted to the conveniences afforded by facial recognition and other identifying technologies. But there's a dark side. From WaPo: China's Watchful Eye. "Surveillance technologies are giving the government a sense that it can finally achieve the level of control over people's lives that it aspires to."

+ Two people wrote a letter to Apple asking for more kid controls on their phones. Why is this news? The two people own a couple billion dollars worth of Apple stock.

+ While reading tech headlines, this one caught my eye: Google Assistant will unlock Schlage Sense deadbolts. (You know, because traditional deadbolts are so vulnerable and anything connected to the internet is completely safe...)


Going to the Source

"America's business titans have a tradition of turning, late in life, to charity. Andrew Carnegie gave away nearly 90 percent of his fortune, and Henry Ford left much of his to an eponymous foundation, which now has an endowment of $12 billion. But it is rare for an American dynasty to confront the source of its wealth." NY Mag on the Rockefellers vs. the Company that made them Rockefellers.


Out of Arms Way

"President Donald Trump as early as February is expected to announce a 'whole of government' effort to ease export rules on purchases by foreign countries of U.S.-made military equipment, from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery." Reuters reports that Trump will call on diplomats to play a bigger role on arms sales.


Brazilian Stakes

"Residents are using cellphone apps to track shootouts. Schools have closed or shortened their hours because of the violence. In September, the army was called in to help pacify the streets. In November, students were trapped inside their homes by gunfire, unable to take their equivalent of the SATs. The mayhem in the favela of nearly 200,000 people reflects a national plague. Brazil suffered a record 61,000 violent deaths in 2016, a figure greater than the estimated loss of life that year in Syria's civil war." From WaPo: The murders in a popular Brazilian favela reflect rising violence in a country in crisis. A Rio slum is now at war.



"Google's management goes to extreme — and illegal — lengths to encourage hiring managers to take protected categories such as race and/or gender into consideration as determinative hiring factors, to the detriment of Caucasian and male employees and potential employees." Buzzfeed: Google Memo Author James Damore Sues Company For Discrimination Against White Males. Editor's note: I've been working in the Bay Area's tech industry for more than two decades, and I can confirm, there are like no white dudes getting ahead in this industry...


Rounding Error

"They each pushed themselves to do something at ages 29, 39, 49, and 59 that they didn't do, didn't even consider, at ages 28, 38, 48, and 58—and didn't do again when they turned 30, 40, 50, or 60." Daniel Pink with an interesting look at what numbers have to do with our decisions: You're Most Likely to Do Something Extreme Right Before You Turn 30
... or 40, or 50, or 60 ...


Bottom of the News

"The orange beverage tasted orange. The yellow beverage tasted like lemonade. There wasn't a thing they could do about it." NPR on the powerful role colors play when it comes to flavor. Are Gummy Bear Flavors Just Fooling Our Brains?

+ Radiohead's suing Lana Del Rey for similarities between their song Creep and her song Get Free. (Del Rey should just ask the judge, "What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here.")

+ Already overwhelmed by your Monday? Try some executive time.