The Daring Fireball Linked List

Prop ’n Go Tote 

My thanks to Padded Spaces for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They’ve just released the new Prop ’n Go Tote, a convertible multi-angle lap desk and messenger bag. Made for every lap, it’s perfect for keeping gadgets at just the right angle. When it’s time to go, the hidable handle and shoulder strap transform Prop ’n Go Tote into a stylish, versatile messenger bag.

iBedside is an elegant bedside caddy for storing and charging iPad and iPhone. A magnetic shelf flips down with a flick, and three full-sized pockets store gadgets or gizmos. Clever cable management keeps everything tidy and charged. These are great holiday gifts.

Prop ’n Go and iBedside ship for free with Amazon Prime in the US, CA, and EU. Padded Spaces products are made in Seattle by crafters making honest wages.

Political Moneyball: America’s Unfair Elections and the Republicans’ Art of Winning Them 

Jason Kottke:

Nothing in politics gets my blood boiling faster than gerrymandering… it is so grossly and obviously unfair. I bet you don’t even need to guess which of the two US political parties has pushed unfair redistricting in recent years.

More than anything for me, this is the story of politics in America right now: a shrinking and increasingly extremist underdog party has punched above its weight over the past few election cycles by methodically exploiting the weaknesses in our current political system. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, the passing of voter ID laws, and spreading propaganda via conservative and social media channels has led to disproportionate Republican representation in many areas of the country which they then use to gerrymander and pass more restrictive voter ID laws. They’ve limited potential conservative third party candidates (like Trump!) by incorporating them and their views into the main party. I would not be surprised if Republican donors strategically support left-of-center third-party candidates as spoilers — it’s a good tactic, underhanded but effective. They increasingly ignore political norms and practices to stymie Democratic efforts, like the general inaction of the Republican-led Congress over the past few years and the Senate’s refusal to consider Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Don’t skip the two videos from CGP Grey — they’re excellent.

‘Designed by Apple in California’ Book Alongside Actual Products 

There aren’t many people other than Stephen Hackett who could have made this video.

Lenovo Moto Getting Out of the Smartwatch Game 

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge:

Lenovo Moto today confirmed that it will not be releasing a new smartwatch for the launch of Android Wear 2.0, due early next year. The company had earlier said it would not be releasing a new smartwatch in 2016, but it is now saying that it doesn’t plan to put out a new device timed to the arrival of Google’s newest wearable platform, either.

Shakil Barkat, head of global product development at Moto, said the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] out at this time,” though it may revisit the market in the future should technologies for the wrist improve. “Wearables do not have broad enough appeal for us to continue to build on it year after year,” Barkat said, and indicated that smartwatches and other wearable devices will not be in Moto’s annual device roadmap.

I don’t think it’s what sunk their watches, but the flat-tire displays on their round faces were one of the worst designs in recent memory.

Chuck Wendig on White Resentment 

Loved this Twitter essay from Chuck Wendig. It starts with a bang, but turns into a thoughtful examination of white working class resentment:

It is ironic to tell entertainers to shut up about politics when we just elected a greasy reality show host to the highest fucking office.

“Apes shouldn’t have guns,” you bellow, as you load a revolver and hand it to a bigoted orangutan.

“Entertainers shouldn’t talk politics,” you bellow as you vote for a carnival barker con-man to wield the nuclear codes.

TechCrunch: ‘Fitbit Is Buying Troubled Smartwatch Maker Pebble for Around $40 Million’ 

Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch:

A source close to the company told TechCrunch that watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015. This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million. The CEO, Eric Migicovsky refused both offers. Our source said that Fitbit is now paying between $34 and $40 million for the company and is “barely covering their debts.”

If Citizen was really willing to pay $740 million for Pebble, that’s incredible. They really dodged a bullet on that one.

The Talk Show: ‘Election Escape Key’ 

Joanna Stern returns to the show to talk about the new MacBook Pros (and their keyboards), stockpiling old MacBook Airs, dongles, Touch ID, SnapChat Spectacles, and more.

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Netflix Finally Allows Downloads 

You know I don’t like the overuse of “finally” in a headline, but here’s a case where it’s justified.

Nintendo World Coming to Universal Theme Parks 

Nintendo press release:

Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.

You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.

The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you — in breathtakingly authentic ways.

Universal did a good job with the Harry Potter franchise — the Hogsmeade land at Islands of Adventure is kind of meh, but Diagon Alley at Universal Studios is amazing. If they can do something as good as Diagon Alley for Nintendo, it’ll be great. (Universal Studios did a good job with their area for The Simpsons, too.)

Penn and Teller Burn a Flag in the White House 

“You go to law school?”

“No, clown school.”

How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’ 

Amanda Taub, in an eye-opening piece for the NYT:

Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.

The graph showing the results for this question is terrifying.

Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be a “good” or “very good” thing had risen to 1 in 6 in 2014, compared with 1 in 16 in 1995.

That trend is particularly strong among young people. For instance, in a previously published paper, the researchers calculated that 43 percent of older Americans believed it was illegitimate for the military to take over if the government were incompetent or failing to do its job, but only 19 percent of millennials agreed. The same generational divide showed up in Europe, where 53 percent of older people thought a military takeover would be illegitimate, while only 36 percent of millennials agreed.

Militaries that answer to democratic civilian authority are the bedrock of Western civilization.

Mark Gurman: Amazon Planning Alexa Speaker With 7-Inch Display 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.

The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced.

The latest Amazon speaker will be larger and tilt upwards so the screen can be seen when it sits on a counter and the user is standing, one of the people said.

Interesting — but unsurprising — to see Gurman getting scoops about companies other than Apple.

Andy Baio on the Decline of Independent Blogging 

Andy Baio, earlier this month:

More people than ever before are able to express themselves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Medium, YouTube, Pinterest, and countless other social platforms. All of that is great.

But there a few reasons why I’m sad about the decline of independent blogging, and why I think they’re still worth fighting for.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.

Last week, Twitter announced they’re shutting down Vine. Twitter, itself, may be acquired and changed in some terrible way. It’s not hard to imagine a post-Verizon Yahoo selling off Tumblr. Medium keeps pivoting, trying to find a successful revenue model. There’s no guarantee any of these platforms will be around in their current state in a year, let alone ten years from now.

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

Couldn’t say it better myself.

Jonathan Chait: ‘Trump Wants You to Burn Flags While He Burns Constitution’ 

Donald Trump, in a seemingly bizarre (even by his standards) tweet this morning:

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

Jonathan Chait:

This is an unusual “issue” for the president-elect to highlight, given the dire conditions he claims the country faces. The odd protester has torched the odd flag every so often for decades. The Supreme Court in 1989 held that burning the flag constitutes political speech, and thus cannot be banned. Republicans have occasionally used the issue as a cheap political stunt, since a majority of the public viscerally opposes flag-burning. To that standard tactic, Trump added the new Trumpian touch of proposing to revoke citizenship for violators, which would make his unconstitutional proposal even more unconstitutional, and also more attention-getting. And he did not send this one in the middle of the night, as he often does, but at 6:55 a.m., a moment probably calculated to seize the morning news cycle.

But why would he choose to pick this strange fight? Here is a case where the common complaint that he is distracting the public from unflattering stories rings true. Proposing a flag-burning ban is a classic right-wing nationalist distraction, and Trump has a number of ugly stories from which to distract: his plan for massive, unprecedented corruption, the extreme beliefs of his appointees, a controversy over a recount that highlights his clear defeat in the national vote.

Trump using this as a distraction aside, the 1989 Supreme Court decision that held flag-burning to be a legal form of First Amendment protest is an interesting one. It was a 5-4 decision, but the split among justice was not along party lines. The majority decision was written by William Brennan, perhaps the staunchest liberal ever to sit on the court, and joined by Harry Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall, conservative Anthony Kennedy, and arch-conservative Antonin Scalia. Dissents were written by conservative chief justice William Rehnquist and liberal John Paul Stevens. Different times.

(Scalia, notably, is Trump’s proclaimed model for the type of justice he plans to nominate to the court.)

Update: Fox News ran a segment on flag-burning at a Massachusetts college half an hour prior to Trump’s tweet. So it probably wasn’t strategic. He just tweets grotesquely unconstitutional thoughts that pop into his head while watching Fox News.

AP Style Guide on the ‘Alt-Right’ 

John Daniszewski, vice president for standards at the Associated Press:

“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.

Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.

Again, whenever “alt-right” is used in a story, be sure to include a definition: “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism,” or, more simply, “a white nationalist movement.”

Trump’s Lease for His Brand-New D.C. Hotel Forbids Him From Being ‘An Elected Official’ 

Steven L. Schooner and Daniel I. Gordon, reporting for Government Executive magazine:

The Post Office Lease differs from many of Mr. Trump’s other business arrangements. That’s because, in writing the contract, the federal and D.C. governments determined, in advance, that elected officials could play no role in this lease arrangement. The contract language is clear: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom…

The language could not be any more specific or clear. Donald Trump will breach the contract on Jan. 20, when, while continuing to benefit from the lease, he will become an “elected official of the Government of the United States.”

One gets the sense Trump hasn’t thought this through.

James Fallows: ‘A Reflexive Liar in Command: Guidelines for the Media’ 

James Fallows:

Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an outright lie. But in these cases and others, Trump never blinked. As part of his indispensable campaign coverage this summer, David Fahrenthold (and Robert O’Harrow) of The Washington Post offered an astonishing documentation of Trump being caught in a long string of business-related lies and simply not caring.

The news media are not built for someone like this.

Our journalistic and political assumption is that each side to a debate will “try” to tell the truth — and will count it as a setback if they’re caught making things up. Until now the idea has been that if you can show a contrast between words and actions, claim and reality, it may not bring the politician down, but it will hurt. For instance: Bill Clinton survived “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” but he was damaged then, and lastingly, when the truth came out. To close the loop, knowledge of the risks of being caught has encouraged most politicians to minimize provable lies.

None of this works with Donald Trump. He doesn’t care, and at least so far the institutional GOP hasn’t either.

How can the press gird for action? Here are three early indications from the news.

A very good read, including this note from one of Fallows’s readers, on dealing with a narcissist:

The Times got in trouble by trying to make sense of his words. It’s an easy mistake for people in a word-saturated medium to make, but anyone who’s dealt with a narcissist knows you never, ever believe what they say — because they will say whatever the person they are talking to wants to hear. DT is a master at phrasing things vaguely enough that multiple listeners will be able to hear exactly what they want. It isn’t word salad; it’s overt deception, which is much more pernicious.

But the Times fell for it. I’m watching the same mistake get made over and over again, but I don’t know how to help journalists get out of the trap. If we are going to survive the days ahead, someone needs to teach reporters the difference between naming narcissism vs. dealing effectively with a narcissist.

Case in point, The New York Times staff seemed buoyed by Trump’s claim during his interview that he would keep “an open mind” about “pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.” It was bullshit. He was simply telling The Times staff what they wanted to hear.

The Ethical Double-Standard 

E.J. Dionne, writing for The Washington Post, “An Ethical Double Standard for Trump — and the GOP?”:

“If Hillary Clinton wins this election and they don’t shut down the Clinton Foundation and come clean with all of its past activities, then there’s no telling the kind of corruption that you might see out of the Clinton White House,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Presumably Cotton will take the lead in advising Donald Trump to “shut down” his business activities and “come clean” on what came before. Surely Cotton wants to be consistent. […]

“The deals that she and her husband were pocketing — hundreds of thousands of foreign money,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told the Breitbart website, the right-wing outlet once led by the soon-to-be White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Issa added that Clinton wanted her activities “to be behind closed doors” and “did that because she doesn’t know where the line is.”

We can assume that Issa will press the president-elect about the dangers of doing business deals “behind closed doors” and instruct him about where the ethical “line” should be.

My only objection to this column is the question mark in the headline.

It’s pure hypocrisy. And no, both sides don’t do it. There is no precedent for this.

Justin Pot: ‘The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams’ 

Justin Pot, writing for How-To Geek, on top result for “Microsoft Excel” in the Mac App Store:

It’s possible for a collection of templates to be worth $30, and for all I know these are really great. But let’s review:

  • This is the top result if you search for “Microsoft Excel.”
  • The word “template” is not in the name of the product.
  • The word “template” is not in the product’s description.
  • The product’s description outlines several functions that are specific to Microsoft Office, and have nothing to do with what customers will acquire by purchasing a collection of templates.
  • It’s literally impossible to find this product by searching for “templates.”

It’s easy to see that users could be deceived by this, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s not intentional on the developer’s part. Whatever the intention here, people were deceived.

Matt Yglesias on Apple’s Functional, Rather Than Divisional, Corporate Structure 

Matt Yglesias, “Apple May Have Finally Gotten Too Big for Its Unusual Corporate Structure”:

Even Apple’s more popular laptop products show some signs of the same kind of neglect. The latest iteration of the MacBook Pro offers a number of impressive features, but it maxes out at a relatively low level of RAM, doesn’t offer many ports, and isn’t equipped with truly top-of-the-line internal chips. The computer is impressive in many ways — certainly the innovative new TouchBar looks cool — but, like most of Apple’s other products, it appears to be optimized for lightness and thinness rather than for true professional use.

But this all raises a more fundamental question. If GE can build jet engines, tidal energy farms, freight rail data systems, mining equipment, and medical devices, how is it that the world’s most valuable company can’t find the time to make a full line of personal computers and PC peripherals alongside its market-leading smartphones and tablets? The answer goes back to Apple’s corporate structure, which, though fairly common for a startup, is extremely unusual for an enormous company.

It’s an interesting read, especially for anyone who isn’t aware of just how atypical Apple’s functional, rather than divisional, structure is for a large corporation (let alone for the largest, by market cap).

I think it’s almost certainly true that if there were, say, a “Macintosh” division within Apple, that we’d see more frequent updates to all Mac hardware. That doesn’t mean Apple should change its structure, though — and in the long run, I don’t even think that would be good for the Macintosh. Apple’s functional structure is absolutely central to their success over the past 20 years.

I think what Yglesias shows is that Apple’s functional structure is not a panacea — but not that their structure should become more traditional. Like with almost everything else in the world, there are tradeoffs. The Mac going through a years-long period of sporadic (or non-existent) hardware updates is a downside of these tradeoffs. But if Apple had a standalone Macintosh division, there might never have been an iPhone or especially iPad, because the Mac division chief would have been motivated to protect the Mac. We would have had a MacPhone and MacPad instead, and they’d have been lesser products for it.

Also, this problem is not new at Apple. There are certainly growing pains with regard to Apple’s enormous size today. The iPhone’s extraordinary success creates a sort of gravity that has warped the company. But Apple ran into “can’t walk and chew gum” problems even when they were a much smaller company.

Auto Safety Regulators Seek a Driver Mode to Block Apps 

Neal E. Boudette, reporting for the NYT:

The guidelines call on electronics manufacturers like Apple and Samsung to design future operating systems that limit the functionality and simplify interfaces while a vehicle is in motion and to develop technology to identify when the devices are being used by a driver while driving. That would ensure the limits are placed on drivers and not other vehicle occupants.

The new guidelines from N.H.T.S.A. are the agency’s first recommendations specifically for portable devices that are used while driving. The agency cannot force electronics companies to comply, but in the past it issued a set of guidelines for the navigation and entertainment systems built into cars by the manufacturer and carmakers adopted them, for the most part. […]

A driver mode would present a simplified interface and detect when the device is being used by a driver. In this mode, a smartphone would block any video or distracting graphics; eliminate scrolling text; and prohibit keypad use for texting or email. Any social media content or content from web pages like news reports should be blocked as well, the guidelines say.

In theory, this is a great idea that I would support wholeheartedly. Studies suggest that drivers distracted by their phones are more dangerous than those who are intoxicated by alcohol. But how could it work? A phone with GPS can detect when it’s moving at a high speed, but how could you detect that the phone belongs to the driver of the vehicle, and not a passenger?

Blocking everyone — drivers and passengers alike — from using their phones in a moving vehicle is not going to fly. The only solution I can think of is to greatly increase the penalties for causing an accident while using your phone. We greatly decreased incidents of drunk driving the same way — serious legal penalties, combined with making the act socially unacceptable.

Trump Picks El Chapo to Run D.E.A. 

Andy Borowitz:

Just days after picking Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped another wealthy outsider by naming Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In an official statement, Trump said that El Chapo’s “tremendous success in the private sector” showed that he has what it takes to “shake things up” at the D.E.A.

How Serenity Caldwell Drowned Her Fiancé’s iPhone 7 Plus on Vacation 

Serenity Caldwell:

Unfortunately, even if you wind up with a defective model — as we did — Apple doesn’t officially cover water damage in its warranty. You’ll need AppleCare+ not to pay an outrageous sum to replace your device. Thanks to the phone being covered, it was just $99, but you only get two incidents at that price — drown your iPhone a third time, and you’ll be paying half of your original purchase price for a replacement.

The Genius we spoke to did note that one-time drownings were rare; they were sending our phone to Apple’s engineering department to dissect and check on the seals, and if one of the display seals was indeed found to be faulty, we might get our money and AppleCare+ incident back. But that’s a long shot, and not one I’m necessarily banking on.

My general takeaway from the week’s misadventure is this: You can probably use your iPhone in the shower, at the beach, or wash debris off its screen under the faucet with no ill effects. But when you completely submerge it, you’re putting stress on every water-resistance gasket in the phone — and if just one of those gaskets fail, you’re looking at an Apple Store visit and a costly to very costly repair.

How to Fight iCloud Calendar Spam 

David Sparks:

Most of the calendar spam I’ve seen has originated from China. Somebody has a big list of email addresses and sends out calendar invites with spammy links embedded. By default, the Mac looks at these invites and gives them to you via the calendar app along with a notification.

Historically, I’ve really liked this feature. My family uses multiple calendars and we routinely send each other invites. If I need to drive my daughter to a particular event, she sets the event in her calendar and sends me an invite. (We also have a shared family calendar but that includes everyone and in this case it would just be me and my daughter.)

This is what makes me so pissed about calendar spam. It’s taking something I use often and corrupting it. My guess is this is only going to get worse and I really hope Apple intervenes. In the meantime, there are a few steps you can take.

I started getting these last week. Same as a lot of you, I’ll bet: spam for Ray-Ban sunglasses and Ugg boots. Knock on wood, but I haven’t gotten one in about three days as I write this, so maybe Apple figured out a way to stop this? If you’re still getting them, let me know.

Update: A large number of readers report being hit by this spam yesterday and today, so I must just be lucky that it has (temporarily?) subsided for me. The most interesting thing about this is that it’s a way to send completely unauthenticated spam, and it has been just sitting around unexploited until now. This feature has been around for years, but the spammers seemingly didn’t find it until very recently.

Update 2: Apple is “actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.”

Doxie Q 

My thanks to Doxie for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new Doxie Q. It’s a smart new rechargeable document and receipt scanner that flips open to scan stacks of paper automatically — anywhere, with a rechargeable battery, built-in Wi-Fi, and no computer required. Get all the power of a big desktop scanner with the flexibility of being able to scan anywhere. You’ve never seen anything like it.

Best off, Doxie’s lightweight design and elegant Mac and iOS apps make it easy to go paperless. Doxie handles any workflow — save scans to your desktop, share with your favorite apps, or send to cloud services like iCloud Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.

Check out the new Doxie Q here — and, through November 30, every Daring Fireball reader gets a super secret discount — $60 off every new Doxie Q.

Donald Trump Lost Most of the American Economy in This Election 

Jim Tankersley, writing for The Washington Post:

In the modern era of presidential politics, no candidate has ever won the popular vote by more than Hillary Clinton did this year, yet still managed to lose the electoral college. In that sense, 2016 was a historic split: Donald Trump won the presidency by as much as 74 electoral votes (depending on how Michigan ends up) while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 1.7 million votes and counting. [Note: It’s now over 2.2 million votes and counting.]

But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the election outcome, but it tells us something important about the state of the country and its politics moving forward.

The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.

I will say it flatly: Trump voters are ignoramuses, bigots, and/or fools. But time is not on their side. This is their last gasp.

David Remnick: ‘Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency’ 

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, had extraordinary access to Barack Obama both before and after this election. Regardless of your feelings on Trump’s election, this is a sharp and insightful take on Obama’s perspective:

Even in the midst of what he can only see as a disastrous turn of history, Obama retained the uncanny capacity to view his quandaries as if he were drafting a research paper. “A President who looked like me was inevitable at some point in American history,” he said. “It might have been somebody named Gonzales instead of Obama, but it was coming. And I probably showed up 20 years sooner than the demographics would have anticipated. And, in that sense, it was a little bit more surprising. The country had to do more adjusting and processing of it. It undoubtedly created more anxiety than it will twenty years from now, provoked more reactions in some portion of the population than it will 20 years from now. And that’s understandable.”

How did he speak with his two daughters about the election results, about the post-election reports of racial incidents? “What I say to them is that people are complicated,” Obama told me. “Societies and cultures are really complicated.… This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop… . You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”

If you read only one thing this Sunday night, this should be it.

Democrats Won the Most Votes in the Election. They Should Act Like It. 

Ezra Klein:

More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. More Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates than for Republican Senate candidates.

So why aren’t Democrats acting like it? Why aren’t they trying to force Republicans, the media, and the emergent Trump White House to act like it?

This is not an argument that the election was rigged, or that Trump’s win is somehow illegitimate. The president is chosen by the Electoral College. The Senate is built to favor small states. Gerrymandering is legal. America does not decide national elections by simply tallying up votes.

But the will of the voters still matters, or at least it should. Thus far, Democrats have slipped comfortably into the position of minority party. They aren’t demanding that Trump put forward compromise candidates for key posts. They aren’t laying out a proactive agenda that would serve as their basis for negotiations with Trump and the Republicans. And they aren’t, in their public messaging, emphasizing that most voters opposed Trump’s agenda, and that both Democrats and Republicans need to take that seriously.

We lost the election, but we’re the plurality. That’s the truth. It doesn’t change the results, but it’s so uncomfortable for Trump that he’s just making shit up that he somehow actually won the popular vote.

Adam Geitgey: ‘The New MacBook Pro Is Kind of Great for Hackers’ 

Adam Geitgey:

But in some ways, the new MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made. They are trusting their pro users to wade into murky USB-C waters in search of the holy grail of a universal, open standard for moving data and power between devices.

I’m not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.

One of his observations: it makes life easier for high-end Android users, because it uses the same port.

White Nationalists Exult in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’ 

Joseph Goldstein, reporting for the NYT:

Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

These are neo-Nazis, and they now think they are the establishment. This is not normal; this has nothing to do with the pre-Trump partisan divide — deep though it was — in the U.S. Neo-Nazis weren’t pulling for Mitt Romney or John McCain, and they didn’t celebrate George W. Bush’s election.

If you think this is no big deal, you are either with them, or you are in denial regarding a grave crisis.

A Nepotistic Kook for National Security Advisor 

Nicholas Kristof, writing for the NYT:

The announcement that Trump has recruited Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser is particularly alarming. Flynn is smart and knows the world very well, but he was fired from his last government job for incompetence. Worse, he today is regarded by many Republican and Democratic foreign policy specialists as a kook. […]

Indeed, for an intelligence officer, Flynn seems to have trouble distinguishing truth from falsehood. Earlier this month, he tweeted an obviously fake story claiming that the police had found emails linking Hillary Clinton to sex crimes with children. When he was in government, subordinates had a special name for his delusions: “Flynn facts.” […]

For his chief of staff, Flynn chose his son, who is a looney on social media, calling President Obama a communist and fascist, tweeting racially insensitive comments and sharing absurd conspiracy theories.

Follow the link to those tweets. This is Jack D. “sap and impurify my precious bodily fluids” Ripper stuff. No national security advisor should be hiring one of his own children as chief of staff, let alone one who by all appearances lost his mind five years ago.

Now Is Not the Time to Criticize the Galaxy Note 7 

Wen Powers, writing for McSweeney’s:

Here’s the thing though, we did choose, and you should all stop protesting against it. Yes, more of you voted for the iPhone, but you also seem to forget that the mail room staff liked how the Galaxy Note 7 has such fun games, and their votes count more. That’s the system that we have always used, that’s the system we will always use. Get used to it.

Jony Ive and Marc Newson Create Room-Size Christmas Tree for Claridge’s 

The whole installation is the project, not the unlit, undecorated tree itself.

Bloomberg: ‘Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers’ 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

Not surprising, given that their current hardware hasn’t been updated in three years. Apple used to refresh its AirPort routers frequently, to keep up with the state of the art. They often weren’t first to adopt new standards, but they never sat still for three years.

The question is, are they really out of the router game (and will start selling Belkin or Eero routers in their stores), or are they working on something new, a HomeKit hub, that will include the functionality of a router?

Just seems like Apple is abandoning a lot of stuff without having replacements ready these days.

Victory: A Charting Library for React.js and React Native 

My thanks to Formidable for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Victory, their data visualization library for React.js and React Native.

Simple question: are you building custom charts? Victory is used by companies like Airbnb, FiveThirtyEight, and speedtest.net. Victory makes it easy to get started without sacrificing flexibility. Use the same API to create charts for web and mobile devices. And the results are gorgeous. Seriously, even if you’re not a web developer, you should go check out their website and see how beautiful these charts are. And not in a show-y off-y bullshit way like using “3D” for two-dimensional data. No — Victory lets you easily create charts that are gorgeous in the sense of traditional graphic design and serious data visualization practices. The documentation is alive — you can play with the charts just by clicking and dragging.

Victory is created and supported by the open source team at Formidable, free use under the MIT license. There is no catch here. It’s an open source library that you can just use.

The Talk Show: ‘Fork the Universe’ 

Jason Snell returns to the show to talk about the new MacBook Pros and the Touch Bar, and Apple’s new book chronicling the last 20 years of their industrial design, Designed by Apple in California.

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‘Quite Literally’ 

Michael Jurewitz on why kakistocracy is even more apt a description of Trump’s incoming administration than I thought.

The Right Way to Oppose Trump 

Luigi Zingales, writing for the NYT:

Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.

Perfectly applies this very morning. Twitter is full of people talking about Mike Pence getting booed by the audience at Hamilton last night. Now Trump himself is tweeting about it, focusing news media on the incident. Booing is not meaningful opposition. But it has served to distract from a legitimate scandal: Trump settling a fraud lawsuit for $25 million yesterday. The smart opposition is focused on that today.

And the real news — what is happening this week that will have serious repercussions — is that the Trump administration is being filled with cronies, fools, and white nationalist bigots. Trump just nominated an avowed racist to head the Department of Justice and we’re talking about Mike Pence getting booed at a play? If you’re truly opposed to Trump, get serious and stay focused.

Kakistocracy 

Ryan Lizza, writing for the New Yorker:

Seven days may not be enough time to fully assess any new leader, especially in the case of Trump, whose first week was marked by seeming chaos in his efforts to put together an Administration. But what we’ve learned so far about the least-experienced President-elect in history is as troubling and ominous as his critics have feared. The Greeks have a word for the emerging Trump Administration: kakistocracy. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as a “government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.” Webster’s is simpler: “government by the worst people.”

‘Bulbs’ 

Extended version of Apple’s commercial for the new MacBook Pros. Captures the Mac at its heart.

Nikkei Asian Review: Apple Is Looking Into Assembling iPhones in the U.S. 

Debby Wu, reporting for the Nikkei Asian Review:

Key Apple assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, has been studying the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Apple asked both Foxconn and Pegatron, the two iPhone assemblers, in June to look into making iPhones in the U.S.,” a source said. “Foxconn complied, while Pegatron declined to formulate such a plan due to cost concerns.”

I have a really hard time believing this could happen.

The person added that one view among the Apple supply chain in Taiwan is that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may push the Cupertino, California-based tech titan to make a certain number of iPhone components at home.

I had a really hard time believing this could happen.

Firefox Focus 

New iOS app from Mozilla. The app itself works as a super-simple totally private web browser, and it offers a system-wide content blocker focused mostly on privacy invasive trackers.

Doug Adams on Sal Soghoian 

Doug Adams, of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes:

Before we get all crazy, it is Sal that is no longer at Apple. The technologies remain. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Sal is a great guy. I’ve met him and chatted with him numerous times. He’s been evangelizing AppleScript since the System 7 days when he caught the AppleScript fever through his desktop publishing work with Quark. He always paid thoughtful attention to me and my site. He once told me he would make a point of showing my site to Apple engineers as an example of the power and public popularity of AppleScript.

Meanwhile, I am optimistic about the future of desktop automation on the Mac. I guess I have to be.

Sal Soghoian Departs Apple 

Sal Soghoian:

Q. I hear you no longer work for Apple; is that true?

A. Correct. I joined Apple in January of 1997, almost twenty years ago, because of my profound belief that “the power of the computer should reside in the hands of the one using it.” That credo remains my truth to this day. Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons. Consequently, I am no longer employed by Apple Inc. But, I still believe my credo to be as true today as ever. […]

Q. What does the termination of the position of Product Manager of Automation Technologies mean for the future of user automation in macOS?

A. Ask Apple. Seriously, if you have any questions or concerns about the future of user automation, ask Apple. If user automation technologies are important to you, then now is the time for all good men and women to reach out, speak up and ask questions. The macOS user automation technologies include: UNIX CLI (shell, python, ruby, perl), System Services, Apple Events (JavaScript, AppleScript, AppleScriptObj-C, Scripting Bridge), Automator, Apple Configurator (AppleScript, Automator), and Application scripting support in Photos, iWork, Finder, Mail, and other Apple applications.

This sounds ominous. Just this week in my review of the new MacBook Pros, a huge part of my argument for why I feel so much more productive on a Mac than an iPad revolves around the automation technologies that Soghoian’s group developed. I have the impression that Soghoian was a bit of a rebel within Apple, fighting the good fight to keep advancing the Mac’s automation tools. If they had simply fired him, that’d be one thing, but the fact that they’ve eliminated his position is another. This is shitty news. I find this to be a profoundly worrisome turn of events for the future of the Mac. I hope I’m wrong.

On a personal note, I’ve known Sal for a long time. I first met him at a WWDC in the early years of Daring Fireball. I didn’t expect him to know who I was, I just wanted to thank him for his and his team’s work. But it turned out he was a fan of the site, and he thanked me for my posts about AppleScript tips and tricks. You’ll never meet a warmer, nicer, more gregarious guy.

Putting the Price of ‘Designed by Apple in California’ in Context 

Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews:

While you may disagree with me that the price is appropriate, let us remember that this is not some book you will bring into your bathroom to read on the toilet. It is intended to be a collectible piece of art. You don’t evaluate the value of a Picasso painting by adding up the cost of the ink and canvas. This is a collection of Andrew Zuckerman photographs meant to be appreciated beyond raw materials.

Heck, some design and art students may want to buy it for college. If you haven’t bought a college textbook in a while, please know that $200 or $300 is not out of line.

A better comparison would be to high-end coffee table books, particularly those from Taschen. I bought their James Bond Archives book for $200, and The Stanley Kubrick Archives was about the same price, but the collector’s edition version of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was $1,250, and Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon was even more than that.

Taschen came out with lower-priced editions of those books eventually, but $200/300 is not out of line for a premium book like this. I just think Apple would have been better served allowing someone like Taschen to do it for them, in terms of optics.

My guess is that Apple doesn’t care about the optics — Jony Ive wanted to do this, so of course they were going to do it their way, creating new papers and inks and photographic processes.

And here’s a devil’s advocate take: imagine if Apple had created this exact same book, but only made it available to Apple employees. If that were the case, I suspect there’d have been a clamor today from people begging them to sell it to everyone.

No, Apple Probably Should Not Have Bought Harman 

Larry Dignan, in a piece titled “Why Samsung’s Harman Purchase Will Be Seen as Apple Blunder Decades From Now”:

Samsung’s purchase of Harman is strategically sound, worth the $8 billion, and positions Samsung well in the connected car market. Meanwhile, Samsung diversifies from a saturated smartphone market.

The deal makes so much sense you have to wonder why Apple didn’t buy Harman.

There has been an argument floated for months if not years that Apple should use some of its cash to acquire Harman. The crux of the case, outlined by Jim Cramer repeatedly, is that Apple could diversify and become the hub of the connected car.

I disagree. Arguing that Apple should have bought Harman is arguing that Apple should evolve into a conglomerate. It might make perfect sense for Samsung, because Samsung is a conglomerate — a company that makes everything from washing machines to refrigerators. They used to make construction vehicles. Samsung makes phones because there is money to be made making phones. Apple makes the iPhone because they love making personal computers.

Jacob Kastrenakes Reviews the MacBook Pro With Touch Bar 

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

I know a lot of people are concerned about how shallow the new keyboard’s keys are — I was, too; I’m pretty picky about keyboards — but this keyboard isn’t a problem at all. I don’t even mean that in an “it’s an acceptable compromise for the size” kind of way; this is simply a great keyboard with nice, clicky keys. I didn’t need to adjust to it at all, and in the moments I’ve gone back to type on my old Pro, I’ve found myself missing the new one. (The keyboard is also much improved from the similar one introduced on the 12-inch MacBook last year.)

After reading a slew of these reviews, Kastrenakes seems to be a bit of an outlier in terms of just how much he likes the keyboard. But the consensus seems to be “I don’t like it as much as the old MacBook Pro keyboard, but it’s not bad”.

I’m hearing from friends and DF readers who’ve already gotten theirs that they do think the keyboard is too loud. And one friend who thinks the clicking sounds “cheap”. Obviously a lot of subjectivity involved.

Andrew Cunningham on the New MacBook Pros With Touch Bar 

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:

When you hook one of LG’s 5K monitors to one of the new MacBook Pros, what you’re actually seeing on the screen is two pictures stitched together to make a single seamless image. This is because the version of the DisplayPort spec supported by Intel’s GPUs and almost all monitors these days — version 1.2 — doesn’t have enough bandwidth to drive a 5K display at 60Hz all by itself. This will change with DisplayPort 1.3, which is right on the cusp of going mainstream, but it’s not here yet. Apple is actually pushing two DisplayPort 1.2 streams to the monitor over the single Thunderbolt 3 cable.

These kinds of workarounds were common in the early days of 4K displays before the DisplayPort 1.2 spec went mainstream, although you’d typically actually need two physical DisplayPort cables to make it happen. Apple actually uses a variation of the same idea for the 5K iMac’s internal display.

There’s nothing wrong with this method, except that it cuts down on the number of external displays your computer can support. Intel’s integrated GPUs can drive a total of three displays, but you use up two of those three streams to drive one 5K monitor and one of them to drive the laptop’s internal display. AMD’s GPUs support up to six displays, so you can use two of those connections for one 5K monitor, two of them for the other 5K monitor, one for the laptop’s internal display, and still have one left over for yet another monitor if you really wanted to use one.

This is why the 13-inch Pros can only use one 5K Thunderbolt display and the 15-inch Pros can use two of them, and it explains why Apple chose to go with AMD’s GPUs across the entire 15-inch lineup. It’s difficult enough to explain the differences between the $1,499 “MacBook Escape” and the model with the Touch Bar; imagine how much more complicated that becomes if you’re selling some 15-inch models that can drive two 5K monitors and some that can only drive one.

If you’re looking for a review with a thorough set of benchmarks — CPU, GPU, SSD, and more — this one is it. There’s quite a bit about the new MacBook Pro with function keys that’s different from its Touch Bar equipped siblings — the “MacBook Escape” feels apt.

Gizmodo: ‘Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Was Undercut by Fear of Conservative Backlash’ 

Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo:

According to two sources with direct knowledge of the company’s decision-making, Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging review of products and policies earlier this year, with the goal of eliminating any appearance of political bias. One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds. According to the source, the update was shelved and never released to the public. It’s unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it to be scrubbed.

“They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company. The source added, “there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and that “a lot of product decisions got caught up in that.”

Paul Krugman, two years ago:

“The facts have a well-known liberal bias,” declared Rob Corddry way back in 2004 — and experience keeps vindicating his joke. But why?

Not long ago Ezra Klein cited research showing that both liberals and conservatives are subject to strong tribal bias — presented with evidence, they see what they want to see. I then wrote that this poses a puzzle, because in practice liberals don’t engage in the kind of mass rejections of evidence that conservatives do. The inevitable response was a torrent of angry responses and claims that liberals do too reject facts — but none of the claims measured up.

Just to be clear: Yes, you can find examples where some liberals got off on a hobbyhorse of one kind or another, or where the liberal conventional wisdom turned out wrong. But you don’t see the kind of lockstep rejection of evidence that we see over and over again on the right. Where is the liberal equivalent of the near-uniform conservative rejection of climate science, or the refusal to admit that Obamacare is in fact reaching a lot of previously uninsured Americans?

Facebook can stay above the political fray, or they can filter out false news. They can’t do both.

Jason Snell on the New MacBook Pros 

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

But what really surprised me were the animations. The Touch Bar is an animated interface through and through. Items don’t just fade in and out, but also slide smoothly back and forth. The arrow pointing from the Touch Bar to the Touch ID sensor during a request for an unlock grows and shrinks, practically begging you to put your finger down. There’s a lot more personality here than I expected.

Another aspect of the Touch Bar that I hadn’t really thought about is that every label can now provide context in a way that a fixed key can’t. Yes, there’s a volume button on the Touch bar, but the number of sound waves radiating out from the speaker on the volume’s icon indicates the current volume level. When you tap the Mute button, the sound waves disappear from the volume button. The Play/Pause media control button isn’t a Play/Pause button — it’s a pause button when audio is playing, and a play button when it’s paused. When you’re editing text and you tap the Bold style button, the button remains lit up as long as you’re still within the bold style.

“More personality than I expected” is my take too.

Good observation here:

While I appreciate the idea of the Now Playing Control Strip item, I don’t particularly like the way it’s implemented. When I expand it while playing audio from iTunes, there’s an iTunes icon, a very large scrubber, and playback controls. I can appreciate the iTunes scrubber as a fun demonstration of alternate interfaces on the Touch Bar, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how often I’d want to scrub through the contents of a song. I’d rather have volume control, the name of the song and artist, and a shuffle/repeat control.

I think it’s a sign of just how new the Touch Bar is, conceptually. Developers, even those within Apple, are only beginning to understand how best to use it. There will come to be a “Mac-like way” to use the Touch Bar, but we’re not there yet. Snell has a nice video review, too, which shows the Touch Bar in action very well.

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