Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem. For years four-star General Keith Alexander has been building a secret army capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it’s ready to unleash hell.
Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem. For years four-star General Keith Alexander has been building a secret army capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it’s ready to unleash hell.
|Spending our weekend on foot allowed|
us the chance to experience the city on
a more personal level
A big problem with conservatives (big and small ‘c’) is that they aren’t, in one respect, very conservative.
Not surprisingly, Paul Krugman:
… fiscal policy isn’t like climate policy, even though some people have tried to make the analogy (even as right-wingers who claim to be deeply concerned about long-term debt remain strangely indifferent to long-term environmental concerns). Delaying action on climate means releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere while we debate the issue; delaying action on entitlement reform has no comparable cost.
More surprisingly, Preston Manning, who argued at last week’s PICS Forum that a carbon tax is an ideal fit for Conservatives: a market-based way of pricing an externality in a way that unleashes creativity and entrepreneurial response. Instead, they’ve opted for a heavy-handed regulatory approach which, when in opposition, they’ve condemned as ineffective and wasteful.
Where are the real right-wingers when you need ‘em?
When I was a kid, I LOVED the show, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Not only was I intrigued with the idea that your father could be your friend, but that there was such a thing as a ‘Best’ friend. Asian families tend to be quite clannish and closed to the outside world, so my social circles consisted mostly of my cousins (and I had a lot of them).
But as you grow older, you realize just what a special place your friends hold in you life. My friends showed me the larger world outside of my Asian Canadian childhood and gave me a sense of adventure and discovery.
And so – I was really thrilled for my friend Colin Johnson, when he told me he was heading up the kitchen behind the new Chinatown sausage venture, Bestie.
The idea behind Bestie is to give a local spin on German street food, with a focus on curry wurst, great beers, and locally sourced and homemade dishes (like freshly baked pretzels). Colin comes from a serious cooking background, with stints that include working for Simon Hopkinson at London’s Bibendum and Andrey Durbach locally. So you knew that there was going to be some serious craftmanship for what most would think of as fast food.
I stopped by a friends and family opening – and I gotta say I really liked the whole vibe of the venture. Low key, effortlessly friendly, and the food was really darned tasty. The whole place was awash with a sense of ethusiastic fun, despite it being a super busy soft opening.
You get the sense that proprietors Clinton McDougall and Dane Brown are not trying to set the world on fire, but are focused on making a corner of Chinatown a little brighter, friendlier, and tastier (and beerier). This is no less noble of a cause, and they have certainly succeeded.
The icing on the cake was seeing my friend so happy – a hardworking family man, making tasty food that genuinely speaks to him, excited to be back on the frontlines of cooking and feeding customers well.
What would my father make of a place like Bestie? He would have been really surpised that a German sausage joint would open in Chinatown, but he would have loved the youthful energy that created it. He’d try a few things, nod approvingly – and then ask to go to Hon’s so that we could top off the meal with a bowl of wonton noodles. This is why, though my father and I eventually became friends later in life – I can’t say that we were best friends. But, he was a pretty awesome Dad.
And so, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day, especially for those fathers who are no longer wth us.
Okay – full disclosure here: because this was a soft opening, I did not pay for the food. I was genuinely there to support my friend who is part of this new venture. But I can honestly also say that I genuinely enjoyed the food and new restaurant tremendously.
Reid Ewing and Keith Bartholomew. Pedestrian and Transit-Oriented Design. Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association, 2013.
Reid Ewing and Keith Bartholomew, both at the University of Utah, have a new large-format paperback offering a concise overview of the basics on Pedestrian and Transit-Oriented design. If you want a good glossary of key urbanist concepts such as imageability and coherence, or you want a good and well-cited argument for local street connectivity, this is your book.
Very usefully, the book is organized as a series of checklists: Here are the features that you must have to be considered transit-oriented design, here are others that are desirable. It's designed to be handy to the time-crunched developer or policy person. In fact, it meets one of the most important standards for an influential book in our distracted age: You can get most of the message by just looking at the pictures and reading the section headings.
If only I'd done that, I'd have found nothing to criticize.
The writing is good, too, clear and with careful attention to explaining and demystefying concepts. With one exception, I'd recommend this as a good reference guide to the key concepts of pedestrian-oriented design.
As for its use as a guide to transit-oriented design, however, it has a fatal flaw: The authors make recommendations that make sense only from a design and development point of view, and that will sound elitist and tone-deaf if you present them to your transit agency. As always, I emphasize sound; I've talked with enough urbanist writers to know how good their intentions are; they are mostly genuinely surprised when their comments about transit backfire. But it's not a hard mistake to avoid. I am going to take apart a critical passage in the book not because it's typical -- it's an unusual flaw in a good book -- but because it illustrates a lingering problem with urbanist discussions of transit in general, one that I hope we are close to moving beyond.
Ewing and Bartholomew lead off their transit discussion with this tired old chestnut:
In the question for efficiency, transit has become dull and utilitarian, part of the problem reather than the solution to today's lifeless streetscapes (Coppe 1991). [p 82]
If this generalization is really about "today," then how is it bolstered by a 22-year old citation? I have been hearing this line from urbanist leaders for just about that long. Obviously it's true to a degree, more in some cities than others, but there has been transformative progress in the last two decades. Fleet, facilities, and technology have been upgraded across the developed world, often with the input of great designers. Do transit agencies get no credit for the evolution in the comfort, openness and access that have happened over the last generation?
Efficiency, as usual in high-urbanist literature, is treated as some kind of distraction. But when working under any fixed budget as transit agencies do, efficiency is the same thing as abundance. (When something called efficiency is genuinely destructive or unsustainable, it should be called false efficiency.)
As for the word utilitarian, it has a technical meaning in philosophy but here it's just a pejorative word meaning useful. Anything that scales to a vast network that's potentially useful to millions of people can be called utilitarian. Most great transit agencies would wear this term as a badge of honor.
But the authors dig themselves deeper. After showing us pictures of charming, highly designed bus shelters in two wealthy communities that can afford them, they write:
In some cases, transit operators might do better by putting fewer buses on the street at times of low demand, and diverting the money they save into bus stop amenities and fleet facelifts.
This, urbanist friends, crosses a bright red line called upward redistribution of wealth.
This book appears at a time when many US transit agencies have been slashing transit service for the last five years, driving away legions of riders. Portland, for example, has had its inner city grid network gutted -- mostly cut to 20 minute frequencies at which the connections on which it relies are almost impossible -- even though frequent transit service is a foundational element in the City of Portland's neighborhood development policies.
Any "low-ridership" services that have survived all that carnage are serving popular and important non-ridership goals. They are not going to be cut to build nicer bus shelters. Doing so could also be illegal in the US if you're using Federal funds: US Title VI legislation (part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act) is designed to prevent exactly this kind of upward redistribution of the benefits resulting from public investment. All US transit agencies that receive Federal funds must do extensive analysis to prove they are treating low-income and minority riders fairly in both service and infrastructure.
So if you follow this book's advice, and tell your transit agency they should cut service and reject lower-income people so as to build nicer bus shelters, it doesn't matter how noble your intentions are. You will sound both elitist and clueless. You will sound especially hostile to the burgeoning environmental justice agenda that is already embodied in civil rights legislation, and that has its own strong nexus with the ultimate outcomes that we call sustainability. If you prevail in guiding the policy of your transit agency, that agency could be exposed to civil rights lawsuits as a result. Do you really want this many enemies?
It doesn't help that in suggesting service cuts at "times [rather than places] of low demand," the authors are just repeating a common misconception. Ridership at different times of day is interdependent, if only for the obvious reason that most transit trips are round trips. If you cut service and thus reject a customer at one time of day, you'll likely lose their business in the other direction as well. The most obvious "time of low demand," the late evening, is also a "guaranteed ride home," which means it affects the overall attractiveness of the product.
More important, a consistent pattern of all-day service (including "times of low demand") is a powerful tool for fostering lower vehicle ownership. That's is why many transit agencies are now committing to a policy "Frequent Network" that guarantees service over a certain span regardless of trip-by-trip ridership. (These policies, important in guiding true Transit-oriented Development at regionwide scale, deserved a mention. Policies in the Portland and Vancouver BC regions could both have been cited. Indeed, the book is silent on the urgent question of how to recognize a suitable site for TOD.)
I love distinctive transit shelters as much as anyone, but not if they are defined as an alternative to the sheer quantities of service that cities need and that ridership would reward. (Canadian midsized cities, for example, generally have about twice the ridership per capita of similar US cities, not becuase their shelters are cuter but becuase they run about twice as much service per capita.)
Distinctive, adorable shelters can still come about in one of three entirely reasonable ways. Either:
Developer-funding (also endorsed in the book) is often the purest nexus of all, but city funding is also a healthy trend. Cities are much better placed than regional transit agencies to make investments that express civic identity and character. Most US cities can also do improvement districts that focus the cost on the landowners who will most benefit. Still, it's usually wealthier communities that can afford to do this, so it's deeply misleading to present these specialized shelters as realistic examples for cities in general, let alone to suggest that cash-strapped agencies should reject existing riders in order to pay for them.
It's hard to even criticize Ewing and Bartholomew for these howlers. As long as I've been in the business, I've heard leading urbanists lecturing transit planners about how they should abandon their obsession with abundant service and focus on aesthetics instead. As someone with serious credentials in the arts, my response is always that I understand the aesthetic values that the urbanist is describing, but that their recommendation is pointless until they own the consequences of the cuts they are implicitly proposing to fund these things.
To be fair, transit agencies have been slow to engage urbanists in their own language, which requires staff with appropriate expertise. This, however, has improved dramatically over the last decade. Working urban designers and architects are responding constructively to transit agency input, and respectful conversations between the fields are happening more than ever. Most urban design and architecture professonals that I deal with are sensitive to real-world transit issues and open to learning about transit agency perspectives, so we can hope for a continued spread of insight on these issues.
Indeed, Ewing's and Bartholomew's book shows how far the urbanist discourse has come in respecting transit and the diversity of its riders. They speak mostly of "transit," avoiding rail vs. bus arguments, and their photos show buses as accepted parts of the urban landscape deserving of attention. This is real progress, still controversial in some quarters. It was partly in the context of this larger sensitivity that the passages quoted above were so shocking.
In the long run, urbanist thinkers who discuss transit will learn to respect transit planning and policy as a genuine experise -- something that's worth learning about before you comment on it. Again, my own experience suggests that the practice is ahead of the literature in this regard. This book -- very useful on all subjects except transit policy -- shows how far urbanists' respect for transit agencies has come since the early days of the New Urbanism, and how much -- or perhaps how little -- remains to be done.
An occasional update on items from the Velo-city.
IT TAKES AN OUT-OF-TOWN EXPERT …
To say something like this:
Canadians are much too modest. I think they need to brag a little more, because it turns out the city of Vancouver has the highest percentage of people who bike to work of any city in North America. The city of Vancouver has the highest percentage of people who walk to work, it also has the best safety rating for walking and it has the best safety rating for cycling.
Full interview with John Pucher here.
HOW CITIES WIN BIKE BATTLES
Because business supports them. As in New York:
Pressure for new biking facilities came also from business leaders who see better biking conditions as an asset for their companies. High-tech executives at 33 firms—including Foursquare, Meetup, and Tumblr—urged (NYC Mayor) Bloomberg to implement the bike share system “as a way to attract and retain the investment and talent for New York City to remain competitive.”
The Hearst Corporation recently announced it will pay employees’ cost to join the Citi Bikes program. “It’s a cool New York thing to do and good for fitness,” says Hearst spokesperson Lisa Bagley. “Our decision is driven by what are employees are interested in.”
More here from Nation of Change.
BIKE PARKING: PROBLEM, SOLUTION
Problem: Not enough of it.
Car-Free Day on Denman
HOW MUCH DO HELMETS HELP?
From BMJ by way of The Dish:
People who are forced by legislation to wear a bicycle helmet … may not wear the helmet correctly, seeking only to comply with the law and avoid a fine.
Secondly, their behaviour may change as a consequence of wearing a helmet through “risk compensation,” a phenomenon [where increasing safety measures will lead people to engage in more risky behaviors]. One study — albeit with a single author and subject—suggests that drivers give larger clearance to cyclists without a helmet.
Vaughan Bell notes how, in general, safety measures may be offset by the behavioral changes they inspire:
Known as self-licensing [this effect] is where people will allow themselves to indulge in more harmful behaviour after doing something ‘good’. For example, people who take health supplements are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours as a result.
A number of service provider cloud services have been vanishing recently and have in some cases left me without the opportunity to retrieve the data beforehand. Take the Mobile Internet Access Wiki that I started many years ago as an example, as it was just turned off without any notice. I think there is an old saying that goes along the lines that one is allowed to make an error once but not twice. Following that mantra I started thinking which other service provider hosted cloud services I use and how to backup my data - just in case.
The most important one is Typepad, who hosts my blog since 2005. They do a good job and I pay an annual fee for their services. But that does not necessarily mean I will have access to my data should something go wrong. Typepad offers an option to export all blog posts to a text file and I've been making use of this feature from time to time already. There are also Wordpress plugins available to import these entries into a self-managed Wordpress installation. I haven't tried the later part so far but the exported text file is structured easily enough for me to believe that importing to Wordpress is something that can be done. The major catch, however, is that the export does not include pictures. And I have quite a lot of them. So what can be done?
At first I searched the net for a solution and they range from asking Typepad for the images to Firefox plugins that download all images from a site. But none of them offered a straight forward solution to retrieve the full content of my blog including images to create regular backups. So I had a bit of fun lately to create a Python script that scans the Typepad export file for URLs of images I have uploaded and that ignores links to external images. Piped into a text file, that list can then be used with tools such as wget to automatically download all images. As the script could be useful for others out there as well I've attached it to this post below. Feel free to use and expand as you like and please share it back with the community.
Over the years Typepad has changed the way uploaded images are embedded in blog posts and also the directory structure in which images are saved. I have detected four different ways ranging from simple HTML code to links to further HTML pages and Java Script that generate a popup window with the image. In some cases the Python script just copies the URL straight out of the text file while in other places the URL for the popout HTML is used to construct the filename of the image which can then be converted into a URL to download the file. Yes, it required a bit of fiddling around to get this working. This has resulted into a number of "if/elseif" decisions in the script with a number of string compare/copy/insert/delete functions. In the end the script was giving me close to 900 URLs to images and their thumbnails I have uploaded over the years.
And here's the full procedure of how to backup your Typepad blog and images on a Linux machine. It should work similarly on a windows box but I leave it to someone else to describe how to install Python and to get 'wget' working on such a box:
Today our first five customers started using Know Your Company, our newest product. We’re hoping to roll out around five new customers every Monday for the foreseeable future.
I thought this was a great time to talk a bit about how we’re building Know Your Company. Not the tech, specifically, but the approach.
From the start, I wanted to approach the development of Know Your Company as if we were starting a separate company inside 37signals, not just building another product at 37signals.
So I went back to 2003. That’s when we originally built Basecamp. Basecamp was basically a new business inside 37signals. I looked back at how we did it.
We had a small team of four – two designers (me and Ryan), one programmer (David), and one person who could help with a variety of things (Matt). We were building something to scratch our own specific itch.
We didn’t have much tech to lean on. We didn’t have Rails, we didn’t have a centralized billing system, we didn’t have a centralized log-in system, we didn’t have much experience launching a product with a new business model (subscription pricing), we didn’t have a server farm (we just had a shared server slice on another company’s machine), etc.
Basically, a lot was very new to us, and the newness was invigorating. It allowed us to approach problems objectively rather than fitting our problems into solutions we’d already built before. Think of it more as a bespoke suit than something off the rack.
Basecamp was a bespoke suit, but just about everything we’ve done since then has been trying to fit into Basecamp’s clothes in one way or another.
I wanted to get away from that way of thinking with Know Your Company. It’s just too easy to continue to lean on the things you’ve done, the decisions you’ve made, and the infrastructure you’ve already built.
So here’s what we’re doing.
We’re starting with a small team of four. Me and Jonas on design. Trevor on programming. And Dan as the multipurpose jack-of-all-trades. I’m also doing sales/demos, which is something we’ve never really done before.
Further, just like when we launched Basecamp, I did all the customer support for the first year or so. That’s what I’ll be doing with Know Your Company too.
As for billing, we’re not using Queenbee, our centralized billing system that powers Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, Campfire, and a variety of other things we sell. Instead, we’re building a bespoke billing system from scratch. Just what we need, nothing we don’t.
This way we don’t have to compromise a business model approach because our billing system is only set up to do things one way. If we have a different idea for how we want to bill customers (or accept payments), I don’t want to be hamstrung by old decisions. I want to have the freedom to make new decisions.
Queenbee also has a bunch of admin tools built in so we could comp accounts, change ownership of an account, look up a customer and update their information, etc. We’ve left that all behind with Know Your Company. Know Your Company has its own custom admin built right into the product. This way we can build specific admin tools to onboard new customers, update accounts, generate invoices, and everything else that’s unique to Know Your Company.
Another thing we’re doing differently this time around is sales and setup. Our default position when building new products is to make them self-service, just like Basecamp’s been since day one. No interaction with us is required to sign up. Just click a button, pick a plan, sign up, and you’re off and running.
That model has obviously been very successful for us. No question about that. But let’s learn something new. Let’s get a feel for what the opposite approach is like. What if we were full-service instead of self-service? What if we were very hands-on, rather than completely hands-off?
So that’s what we’re doing with Know Your Company. There’s no self-service sign-up. If you want to use Know Your Company, we have to give you a personal demo first. Want to sign up? We’ll walk you through it step-by-step. We’ll even load up your employees for you so you don’t have to do any work. And we’ll also populate your account with a specific set of questions so you don’t have to think about what to ask your employees if you aren’t sure what to ask.
Isn’t full-service harder, more time consuming? Yes it is. And wow it’s been worth it. I’m getting to have a nice conversation with every customer we have. I’m getting to learn a lot about their companies, their struggles, and their goals. This is very healthy for us. The product is going to be way better for it – especially in the long-term.
The business model is all new, too. Instead of defaulting to our Basecamp-famous monthly subscription fee, we’re treating Know Your Company more as a one-time investment in each employee rather than an ongoing recurring expense. So instead of charging a monthly/annual fee, we’re just charging $100 per employee one-time. Once you’ve paid $100 for an employee, you never have to pay for them again. You can use Know Your Company with them for as long as they work for you.
Now, we’re not entirely free from the past. There are still a few things we’re leaning on because they aren’t hampering our flexibility.
For one, we’re using 37id – our centralized sign-in system. Know Your Company customers can sign in with the same username/password they use for their Basecamp accounts. That’s easier for them than having to sign up with another username/password.
We’re also using Rails, which we didn’t have the luxury to use when we built Basecamp. And we’re leaning on our sophisticated server infrastructure and the things we’ve learned about email, too. But the load we’re putting on the system is barely a pimple so I don’t feel so bad about that.
And of course we have the reputation and trust build up behind 37signals over the last 14 years.
But as far as our development approach goes, this feels the closest to the feeling we had when we were building Basecamp nearly 10 years ago. Lots of new things, lots of new approaches, a feeling that we can build whatever we need rather than fitting new ideas into old decisions.
If you’re interested in becoming a customer, please review the introduction letter I wrote. If it resonates with you, and you fit the profile, drop me an email and I’d love to show you around and maybe even get you started.
This upcoming Friday, we would love for you to solicit your support towards testing and contributing to the process of qualifying a new developer-release version of Firefox for Android and Firefox on Desktop both on the Nightly channel as part of our rapid release testing cycle. We will be focusing on the process of discovering, using and testing WebRTC.
This QA event, this Friday, is open to all those interested: newcomers, experienced testers, developers, and anyone interested in testing early builds of Firefox on the Nightly channel.
We would like for you to use the new version of Firefox on your Android phone and desktop or laptop machine, and take a close look at the latest Nightly builds in order to assist us in identifying any noticeably major issues found with our WebRTC implementation, and ensure that all feature functionality that is included in this upcoming release is on its way to a feature and testing complete state.
To cover the work throughout the whole day we have created an EtherPad test-plan. Please feel free to read and use it as a companion during the day’s event. There will be moderators at hand in the IRC channel: #testday, to answer any questions you have.
Together with your help we want to make this event a success and ensure the high quality of WebRTC support in Firefox for all of our users world-wide. If you have time on Friday June 21st, 2013, please join us on IRC, we will have Mozilla community and testers on hand to help answer any of your questions.
Your testing and feedback is highly valuable, and we hope to see you attend our test day event.
Starts: June 21, 2013, 1:00 am
Ends: June 21, 2013, 5:00 pm
Columnist Vaughan Palmer in today’s Sun: Tall orders, little wiggle room in premier’s mandates.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone is directed to work with the TransLink mayors’ council to “develop improvements to the governance structure and identify funding options to provide additional resources to fund transit in the Lower Mainland.”
His hands are tied in one critical respect: “Any new funding source would need approval from voters through a referendum no later than the 2014 municipal election.”
Not likely would such a referendum pass.
Really? They why would the Premier insist on it? And why would mayors spend political capital to craft an initiative requiring significant tax increases that will be on the ballot at the same time their constituents have to decide whether they will vote for them? Supportive incumbents would become sitting targets for any competitors who wanted to run on an anti-tax platform.
Or if their hands are tied, if a ballot measure must appear, why would local politicians put their support behind it? Why not take the same distant stance as the Province? ”You decide, voters; we’re neutral.”
If failure is likely, who, in fact, would be behind a yes campaign? Where will the money come from to mount the major media campaign that would be necessary to promote the measure? Will the appointed TransLink Board even take a position, much less allocate the millions needed?
So if failure is likely, why start in the first place? (Which raises the suspicion that the whole point of the exercise is to take transit funding off the table without incurring a backlash.)
That’s why I’m offering these questions for comment. We need some discussion on the viability of an initiative before we even move on to the details of the proposition.
Can a referendum that proposes tax increases for transit be won? Can an agreement be struck, wording crafted and a campaign mounted in 500 days?
If not, then what?
“What I would like to see right now is for people at these internet companies to stand up and say the truth, all of it, about their dealings with the NSA.” – Michael Arrington
[This article first appeared on NSFWCORP]
Silicon Valley is shocked, shocked, shocked.
It is shocked to discover that the National Security Agency has been systematically spying on the phone metadata of millions of Americans. It is shocked that the same NSA has also been demanding that tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Paltalk provide a secure drop box for handing over subpoenaed data. And most of all Silicon Valley is shocked that the executives at those companies, and who knows which others, have so willingly acceded to the agency’s demands.
Will not one tech CEO stand up and tell the truth?
The NSA story of the secret assassination of the Fourth Amendment continues to unfold. Today we heard from Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Page was confused (the title of his post is ‘What the…?’). Zuckerberg claimed the press reports were outrageous. Both made strong denials of specific allegations (‘direct access,’ ‘back doors’). Both were technically telling the truth. Both were also overtly misleading people.
In a follow-up post, he goes even further – imagining a terrifying dystopian world in which… well…
…sitting around the NSA office one day an analyst has an idea. Like, ‘Hey, let’s find Republicans in Wyoming who have Facebook or Twitter friends with someone outside of the U.S. And then cross reference that with concealed carry permits. I think these guys might be gun running. Can I get a high five!?
Our guy fills out a form in PRISM, I imagine, with his query. The damn Twitter doesn’t do Prism and needs a more formal order, probably requiring someone to wake up the secret judge and tell him to get that stamp ready. And then they send off the order in a variety of ways and demand a response in 24 hours or something.
Hey, bring up those Verizon records and see where this guy’s been. Damn, he goes to the range nearly every day. I wonder if he’s complying with every single Federal and state gun law. Let’s send an agent down to chat with him. And if he gives you any shit just show him this picture of his mistress Verizon sent over. That’ll shut him up.
WAIT! Here’s a frickin video! oh man, I’m sending this to myself. No, hold on guys, I’m doing this. Ok, now, show him this video of himself in a compromised position with his girlfriend and ask if we should sent it to his wife at their home address, it’s right here.’
Arrington, along with the rest of Libertarian-leaning Silicon Valley, is right to be wary of the way the government is able to use technology to track our every move. He’s also right to criticize the double-speak of any Valley company that prevaricates on its true level of involvement in programs like PRISM.
The only odd thing is why Arrington doesn’t go even further in connecting the dots fully between Silicon Valley and government snooping.
If we’ve learned anything in the past few days it’s that the NSA does precious little of its own spying, relying instead on companies like Palantir and Booz Allen Hamilton. Indeed, Palantir is just one of dozens — hundreds? — of Silicon Valley companies developing and operating the tools used by intelligence agencies like the NSA. If the dystopian drama that Arrington imagines ever actually plays out, it’ll likely do so using tools created by a private company located within a dozen miles of Palo Alto.
As the Financial Times’ April Dembosky reminds us, the relationship between the Valley and Homeland Security is nothing new. The Internet started out as a government project, designed to keep communication lines open in the event of a nuclear attack. In 1999 the CIA established In-Q-Tel, a venture capital fund to invest in technology companies that might be useful to the folks in Langley or Fort Meade.
A look at In-Q-Tel’s board of trustees shows how close the relationship between the geeks and the sneaks has become. The board is almost indistinguishable from that of a major Valley VC firm: Jim Barksdale former CEO and President of Netscape sits next to Howard Cox of Greylock, sits next to Ted Schley of KPMG… sits across from David E. Jeremiah, the Chairman of Wackenhut Services Inc and AB “Buzzy” Krongard, Former Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In-Q-Tel’s investment portfolio, at least on first glance, also seems remarkably similar to that of a regular Valley fund, with Web 2.0-y names like “illogic” and “Delphix” and “Connectify.” The only difference is that the companies on the list are all “focused on new and emerging commercial technologies that have the potential to give the CIA and broader US Intelligence Community (IC) mission-advantage today and in the future.”
In-Q-Tel’s highest profile investment is Palantir – the data mining firm founded with additional money from Valley uber-Libertarian Peter Thiel – but the venture firm’s entire portfolio includes over 100 companies, all reflecting the CIA’s current big obsessions: “big data,” video surveillance and encryption.
The interest in big data is typified by Cloudera, in which In-Q-Tel has invested twice. According to the Palo Alto-based company’s website:
With Cloudera, businesses and other organizations can now interact with the world’s largest data sets at the speed of thought — and ask bigger questions in the pursuit of discovering something incredible.
“Other organizations.” Emphasis mine.
For video surveillance, the CIA has backed companies like iMove (“Look everywhere / See everything / All the time”) and 3vr (“allows video surveillance systems to reach their true potential”) both of which provide tools to refine and then analyze huge amounts of CCTV and surveillance data for intelligence agencies.
In-Q-Tel’s investment in encryption companies like Mocana, meanwhile, are a conspiracy theorist’s dream: Who better to trust with encrypting the data stored on your smartphone than a company part owned by the CIA?
How is it possible, then that Mr. Arrington is so furious at the NSA, so disappointed by their Silicon Valley enablers but has nary a peep about Valley startups which take CIA money to build the very technology that is taking away (our capital “L”) Liberty?
Let’s do some data mining of our own, shall we?
According to CrunchBase – the technology investor database founded by Arrington himself – Cloudera, iMove, 3vr, and Mocana – all share one additional investor in common: SV Angel, one of the Valley’s most prolific “micro VC” firms. And whose name do we find on the firm’s list of limited partners? One Michael Arrington. (In a neat piece of symmetry, SV Angel’s co-founder, Ron Conway, is an investor in Arrington’s CrunchFund.)
Once you start digging into the data, the connections get really entertaining: Arrington is also an LP in Benchmark, which invested alongside In-Q-Tel in data-storage company Decru. And in Andreessen Horowitz, which co-invested with In-Q-Tel in Silver Tail Systems and Platfora. CrunchFund also invested in Facebook, which boasts Palantir’s Peter Thiel as a board member, and from where former data team leader Jeff Hammerbacher left to head up technology at Cloudera.
Data mining is fun!
Of course, as a limited partner in SV Angel and the rest, Arrington almost certainly didn’t get to choose the companies in which to co-invest with the CIA. The fact that he stands to profit, perhaps handsomely, from their success is just a happy coincidence for the man who last week railed against spy technology which “kills liberty and freedom on a scale never seen before. It’s not a way to stop terrorism. It IS terrorism.”
For a more direct example of Arrington embracing the technology he calls on others to resist, you have to look to a company called Skybox Imaging, which raised $70 million from a number of major Silicon Valley investment firms including CrunchFund. Skybox plans to put 24 satellites into orbit in order to “empower commercial and government customers to make more informed, data-driven decisions that will improve the profitability of companies and the welfare of societies around the world.”
If that line about improving “the welfare of societies” didn’t creep you out, the company’s list of advisors certainly will. Step forward Jeff Harris, Former Director of National Reconnaissance Office and Lt. Gen David Deptula, Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Closer to earth, CrunchFund is also an investor in the gloriously named Prism Skylabs, which debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt, the startup competition founded by Arrington (and – another disclosure – twice hosted by me). Prism negates the need for costly satellites by allowing companies to tap into existing CCTV technology to detect patterns of behavior which might be, well, interesting. Interesting to whom? Perhaps Mr. Arrington could ask the CIA-backed 3VR who just signed a partnership with Prism Skylabs to increase integration between the two services. Or he could speak to Prism Skylabs CEO Steve Russell who, before founding Prism, was founder and CEO of 3VR.
Honestly, though, I’m being unfair in singling out Michael Arrington here. Really the only remarkable thing about his involvement with CIA-friendly big data companies is his hypocrisy in attacking those Valley luminaries who won’t admit to exactly the kind of spying his portfolio companies help facilitate. (In the hypocrisy stakes, though, Arrington comes a distant second to Ron Paul who this week told Fox Business, “I’m worried about, somebody in our government might kill [Edward Snowden] with a cruise missile or a drone missile,” after Snowden exposed the mass government surveillance facilitated by companies like Palantir. Last year Ron Paul received over $2.5 million in donations from his biggest single donor… Palantir’s Peter Thiel)
Pick any even moderately prolific Valley investor, and I’ll show you in three degrees of Kevin Bacon how they back — and profit from — at least one company that works closely with the CIA to spy on us. And why not? The CIA is not the only one interested in “big data” – the collection and analysis of huge amounts of information which can be filtered and analyzed to tell us everything there is to know about everyone on earth.
Big data is a nerd’s dream: turning human behavior into measurable, understandable graphs, in the same way the big data experts at Netflix claim they can tell viewers who enjoyed “Sneakers” whether they’ll also enjoy “Enemy of the State.” And who has access to more big data than the federal government? Can you really blame the folks at Palantir or Cloudera or Prism Skylabs from getting wet around the lips at the idea of getting into America’s phone records or every instant message we’ve ever sent. Think of all the patterns! Imagine the possibilities! And also: ka-ching!
And therein lies the truth, and the hypocrisy, of Silicon Valley’s outrage over government snooping: The only people who love big data more, and who care about our privacy less, than the NSA are the outraged Libertarians of Silicon Valley.
Sure, they’re furious when they’re the ones being spied on, but when a company comes to pitch them a piece of software that will see and analyze our every thought, hope, and dream — well, sign me up boy! This shit is super awesome! And if the CIA wants to throw in a few million dollars, in exchange for being able to use that technology to read our emails or watch us from the heavens well… we’re just investing in tools. It’s really not our problem what the evil government does with them. It’s not us doing the spying, ferchristsake – we have a chief privacy officer… and… hell, software doesn’t spy on people, the NSA spies on people. And… and… look over there! Is Mark Zuckerberg really building a drop box for the feds? Can you believe that guy?
It’s like the man said. So…much…false…indignation.
[*Disclosure: Several investors mentioned in this post, including Peter Thiel, SV Angel, Greylock, Marc Andreessen and CrunchFund are investors in PandoDaily]
Image credit: Brad Jonas for NSFWCORP.
Look at this great update to the Expo Line footage from TransLink! On the left side, 27 years ago, supplied by TransLink. On the right side, footage from this year by CelGen Studios. Look at Burnaby and New Westminister and all the new developments, especially New West Station at the very end.
Thanks to former Vancouver resident Stephanie V. for pointing it out to us.
Ulises Mejias, June 14, 2013
I’m building a service that uses a bunch of heuristics to, given an email address, figure out which Identity Provider (IDP) you should try to use to log that address in. I’m doing it in Go. Here’s why.
You can read about about the whys of the thing in Project findIDP. But here’s the how:
You get an email address.
You do a whole bunch of network retrievals; glance at the domain’s MX record, try WebFinger, ask some well-known providers whether they host the domain.
People can go online and select their own IDP for email addresses they control. There’s a dorky little 3-column database for that.
It’s protocol-independent; I would hope to support lots of IDPs and flavors, probably via Backbone.js.
So logically it’s pretty easy, except for: The database might have a lot of records, the query load might get really high, and the logic is all asynchronous and concurrent.
My thinking went like this:
Life is too short for server-side Java.
I’ve done my last few in Ruby, and I’m fine with that but it’s time to broaden the horizons; also I’m a little worried about scaling if this thing catches on.
Python would be fine but if I’m going to learn something new, I want new and different.
I would love to do this in Erlang, or even better, Elixir. But...
The things that life is too short for include sysadmin shit, so I don’t want to think about server instances and subnets and that whole trail of tears. I want something I can run on a mainstream commercial PaaS cloud.
And since I work here, I can probably avoid, you know, paying.
So I started poking around early last week and had the service running four days later, just checking the MX and WebFinger so far. Except for there’s no WebFinger out there to check. Whatever.
I haven’t fallen in love with Go the way I did when I started using C in the Eighties or Java in the nineties or Ruby last decade. Yeah, I’m that old. I have a list of Go things I like and others I dislike and I’ll write about them. But pretty clearly, it’ll be OK for this job.
I’d never seen Go before. So life is pretty good when you can wade into the swamp of unknown infrastructure and get a result the same week.
But here’s the real happiness: I have choices! I’m dead sure that this could’ve been made to run just fine using at least one other PaaS combo. And if I were willing to become a cloud sysadmin, lots more choices.
Choices are good on the data side too. I have simple flattish tuples, and I haven’t for a moment considered going relational. Whatever hosting option I picked, there’d be a decent post-SQL data store; probably more than one.
There’s never been a better time to be a developer.
Dear Firefox testers,
Help us make a more secure web! The new Mixed Content Blocking feature will help ensure that users who wish to access secure sites are not compromised by non-secure resources. This feature will block insecure network requests for active content and warn the user about the safety of the site they are visiting.
The UI for blocking Mixed Active Content appears to the left of the URL bar as a small shield:
Read more about mixed content blocking in Tanvi Vyas’ blog post here.
This feature may cause some sites to break. Our goal is to find as many affected sites as possible. We will file bugs and instruct site owners how to make their content HTTPS-compliant. Surfacing these problems as soon as we can will help sites fix their broken content and keep users safer.
Testing this feature is very simple and can be done with the sites you use every day. Some tasks that we’d like you to help with:
More details are available on an Etherpad that we have created just for this event. Read the page and choose an area that you’d like to work on. There will be people in the channel to help you throughout the entire testday.
With your help, we can make this testday a success, and improve the safety and quality of Firefox for all of our over 400 million users worldwide. If you have time on Monday, July 1st, please join us on IRC at #testday.
When: July 1, 2013.
This is a regular post focusing on the status of the Firefox Marketplace.
Some specific changes of note:
We also do a weekly “show and tell” of things that people have done in the Apps group every week. This is a summary of some of the things that have been shown there.
command-shift-rrefreshes but also clears the application cache.
We were also joined on the Marketplace team by Mathieu Pillard. Welcome to the Marketplace team Mathieu.
I’ve been leaning in so much lately I’m in danger of falling over.
As regular readers know, my own biological clock and career trajectory have coincided with an interesting time in women’s employment rights. Just as the debate has raged over whether or not the paucity of women entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley is some deep, dark sexist plot, various women have weighed in on your own likelihood of having it all. Sheryl Sandberg has offered advice on navigating an unfair system. Meanwhile, everything Marissa Mayer does as a new mom and a high profile tech CEO seems to be a noisy Rorschach test for America’s views on working moms.
I last wrote about this topic as the controversy around Sandberg’s book “Lean In” was reaching a zenith. My take in a nutshell: This is all highly personally and situationally dependent, and anyone who lets another woman tell her what she can or can’t have doesn’t deserve any of it. At the time, I was expecting my second child imminently. I’ve now had about 10 weeks on the other side of labor and delivery.
No real surprise: It hasn’t been easy.
Everyone says that two feels like way more than two. Particularly two under two. (My son is 21 months old, and PandoDaily was born in between them.)
Add to the chaos the fact that the two months after I gave birth have been PandoDaily’s biggest traffic months in the history of the company — by a significant margin — and last month, we doubled our revenue, outperforming our own ambitious goals. We’ve just hired our first director of sales (some six months later than I’d hoped), and I had to revise the sales goals up several times during the negotiation, because our contract sales team was just selling so damn much.
That may sound like I’m bragging to anyone who hasn’t built a company from scratch. Mo’ revenue is great, but it also creates a lot mo’ problems when it comes to servicing all that revenue. Simply put: At the exact moment I welcomed my second child into the world and my son neared his terrible twos, my company’s growth dramatically accelerated.
Not enough to juggle?
In the 10 weeks since we’ve become a family of four, the four of us have been in the same city for about three weeks. My husband is finishing an MFA in photography and working on an ambitious two-year photography project in downtown Las Vegas. Add in a PandoMonthly in LA, two in New York, and two conferences since Evie’s birth, and we’ve been criss-crossing much of the United States in endless combinations. Me and Evie and the night nurse. Eli and our nanny and my husband. Me and Evie and Eli and the Nanny. Me, Eli, Evie, my husband, and the nanny. And my least favorite combo: Just me and the breast pump. Every once in a while a Paul Carr is thrown into the mix.
Then there are the trips — like my recent one in New York — where it’s just me and the newborn, and all attempts to hire child care on the ground come up empty. Last Thursday’s PandoMonthly was particularly absurd, when my crying newborn was rocked and soothed by a combination of my staff and the CEO of our event’s sponsor, Smartling. That’s right: He paid us money and then babysat.
A lot of parents have a day when things go wrong, and they have to take a kid to work with them. It just doesn’t usually happen when you’re interviewing Fred Wilson in front of a beyond sold out crowd of 200 people. It’s well beyond Sandberg’s advice to have a 50 percent-50 percent marriage. My whole company, Fred Wilson, and our audience were all in on my parenting journey that night.
And yet, here’s the thing: It’s all still totally doable. Yep: Even if my highly specific, absolutely insane personal case of work-life balance that few women will ever be crazy enough to mimic, I am building a company (quickly) and am a very engaged mom to two young kids. The world isn’t just “letting” me — the world is helping me. On the other side of baby No. 2, I can say two things with more conviction than ever before: You can absolutely have a career and a family. More surprising: You can do this precisely because most people actually want working moms to succeed. Yes, even white men controlling way too much of the world.
I have been nursing or pregnant every day I have run this company. A media company, by the way, that has a 90 percent male audience, highly indexed to be single and childless. I have raised $3 million in capital — $2.5 million of that with a newborn in the room (sometimes crying) and another $500,000 of that weighing some 200 pounds, uncomfortably late into my third trimester. I couldn’t scream, “NOT A 20-YEAR-OLD PROGRAMMER WHO CAN DEVOTE EVERY SECOND TO RETURNING YOUR CAPITAL” louder even if I were to actually scream it. And yet, we’ve quickly closed funding at higher valuations than I expected with some of the best investors in the world, nonetheless.
And no one — not a single one — has warily asked if I was done having kids, if I could get a male co-founder, or if I was really at the right stage of my life to build a company. On the contrary, when I returned to posting the week after giving birth, several of my investors reached out privately to encourage me to take more time with my family.
What about my team? Not only has everyone at this company joined knowing full well that I have small children, they spent nine months preparing for me to be gone from the company when I went into labor. Over the last two months everyone on the team has stepped up dramatically, without complaining, making our company considerably stronger as every metric since the beginning of April shows.
And our community? Rather than getting a load of tweets complaining about my crying baby backstage at two PandoMonthlys, I’ve gotten dozens of notes of “You Go Girl!” style encouragement. My somewhat messy integrated life appears to have won me more fans than it has detractors. When people were filing out of PandoMonthly last week, many of them stopped to peek at and say goodbye to Evie on the way out, several high-fiving Paul for his epic (and surprising) baby-soothing abilities.
In my experience, people — at least those in our community — root for working moms for the same reason they root for entrepreneurs. Those who haven’t done it find it unimaginable, and those who have done it remember the pain and empathize. I’m not the first person who has built a company while raising small children, I’m merely one of the most public about it for one big reason: I want to erase the FUD that this is all somehow impossible and that women have to chose between starting a company and raising kids. Is it messy and chaotic when I do it? Yes. But I am doing it nonetheless, and I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled.
And here’s the thing: I am not a millionaire. Nowhere remotely close. You can make that somewhat unfair knock on Sandberg and Mayer, but you can’t make it on me. I work on a startup salary with razor thin savings.
Oddly enough, when I was a young woman in my 20s in this industry, I was struck by how many people I didn’t know wanted me to fail. As a woman nearing 40 with two kids, I am stuck by how many people who don’t know me want to succeed. And thanks to social media, this isn’t really a “feeling” — there’s pretty good data to back both sentiments up. Maybe the haters have simply grown tired of hating me. Perhaps as I’ve aged, I’ve become less objectionable. Or more likely, maybe there is something that’s so universal and hard-coded into us about respecting motherhood that it changes whether people root for you. “Having it all” may not only be doable, it may come with actual advantages.
I have already said I hate the over abundance of advice on “having it all,” but for what it’s worth, here’s mine:
Don’t think about it. I’m a fan of the Wile E. Coyote school of running off a cliff and not looking down. I know there’s nothing underneath my feet, but If I don’t look down I can still keep running in mid-air. When people have asked me how I’m doing it, I’ve simply responded, “I have no idea, because I’m not thinking about it.” This post is probably the most introspection I’ve given the topic in the last two and a half months. Doing and thinking about doing both take time and energy, and I just don’t have any of that to spare.
Let people help you. When people offer help, they want to help you. Let them. Let it take a village. That’s how it’s supposed to be. No child needs all of its needs met by one person. I have no idea when I last did laundry, and yet I have clean clothes. That’s so much better than either of the alternatives.
Avoid making promises. If I’m not sure whether I can make a dinner or not, I say that I’ll try. I made no pronouncements about maternity leave. Instead, I said I’d do work when I could. Promises box you in, and life with two small kids and a company is constant improvisation. There are already so many things you have to do; try not to commit to those that aren’t absolutely necessary. The last thing you need is to feel like you’re failing because of an unrealistic promise you made that other people didn’t demand. And that includes unrealistic promises you make yourself. Three people have asked me when I’m due since I gave birth. That is incredibly depressing. But it took nine months to put weight on, and it’ll take a while to take it all off. That’s just reality.
Thank everyone and be gracious. While you shouldn’t expect you can do this alone, you also aren’t entitled to have a village help you just because you got pregnant. Be grateful that anyone gives a damn about your kids or your vision enough to help you be the best at raising both of them. (Even if you pay them to help you. In fact, be even nicer to the ones you pay.) Hell, I’m even grateful you are reading this.
It all boils down to accepting that you aren’t Superwoman and that this is going to be messy and chaotic. But just like any stage of life or business, it won’t last forever. I drink lots of coffee and grab naps in those rare moments the kids are all asleep. Nothing is melting down; emails are all answered; and there’s already 15 stories on the site.
Am I luckier than most women? In many respects, yes. While my salary is less than half of what I would have made staying in my last job, the ability to raise funding meant I could pay myself a decent enough wage to afford an excellent nanny. Our company got enough traction early on that I was able to hire a team that takes initiative and doesn’t need me to micromanage them. I have a very engaged husband who doesn’t balk at being alone with two small kids. Indeed, we actually have debates over which one of us gets to take our toddler on a business trip. I also had a fantastic role model in my own mother — a teacher who had five kids.
But one of the things that I’m the most grateful for is that entrepreneurial stubbornness that tells you that you are somehow different, that you can do the impossible if you just work hard enough: Whether that’s balancing work and family or upending an established industry. No one hands you either opportunity. It’s up to you to tune out all rational thought and take it.
Morsi has such problems confronting him in Egypt that he is sabre-rattling, fulminating about going to war with Ethiopia as that upstream country is proceeding with plans to build a hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile. In principle, damming the river for hydro-power shouldn’t lead to long-term diversion of water, but the energy-starved Ethiopia might start to divert water to local uses — like cash crop food production — which could impact Egypt (and Sudan, by the way), 85% of whose water comes from the Blue Nile.
Thomas Friedman, Egypt’s Perilous Drift
The headline news in Cairo last week was Ethiopia’s construction of the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa, on the Blue Nile. As the reservoir behind the dam is filled up, the water supply to Egypt is likely to be reduced, and since Egypt’s 85 million people get 97 percent of their fresh water from the Nile, this has become a huge issue. Some senior Egyptian officials speak of possible military action to prevent the dam from being completed. President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, on Monday declared publicly of Ethiopia: “We are not calling for war, but we will never permit our water security … to be threatened.” Egypt, he said, will keep “all options open.” Ethiopia has responded with defiance, with its prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, saying “nothing and no one” would stop construction.
The horrible lesson of the past is that countries with dwindling resources, economic challenges, and lots of unemployed young men and teenagers often turn to war as an outlet for powers greater than their political leaders to control. It becomes a ‘riding the tiger’ problem, where dismounting means the end of the regime.
Morsi is treading the verge of this field, the field of nationalist war. And Ethiopia is not the only nearby source of water. Don’t forget the huge reservoir in Libya, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, which has five times the water of the Great Lakes. (Yes, five times). Egypt has a population of over 80 million, more that 15 times Libya’s 6.5 million, and the two countries fought an inconclusive war in 1977.
Read the original post at Father’s Day reminds us what’s at stake in parenting.
If you have young kids, Father’s Day preparations in your house probably look a lot like they do in ours: shopping for a present, lecturing the kids to let Daddy sleep in, and surreptitiously assembling various Dad-themed school projects (I am never more grateful to my kids’ teachers than when I realize they’ve spared me the nightmare of nagging the kids to make a gift.)
I look at Father’s Day as the one day when I am pretty much guaranteed to stop and give one Rob Cottingham the celebration and credit he is due for being, truly, the world’s most fantastic father. I know there are lots of you out there who would contest that assertion, but as anyone who has seen Rob with his kids can attest, he’s pretty extraordinary. Yes, he does the cool fun dad stunts like cartooning pictures of the kids or switching into some crazy character for hours on end, but he is also the parent who makes sure that they actually get fed and go to sleep. Wow.
Father’s Day is so completely defined for me by Rob that it is only once I see people updating Facebook with joyful memories and wishes of their own fathers that I remember, hey, I had a dad too. I was raised almost entirely by my mom, which is why Father’s Day didn’t seem like it had a whole lot to do with me until Rob and I started our own family.
But I did in fact have a father, although one I never lived with, and only saw intermittently while I was growing up. He was an unusual man: a brilliant academic who published many books and taught himself Chinese as a retirement project, but who also loved to spend his days on a tractor, tending to the farm that was his great passion. Even more unusual was his family life: he was married four times, with a total of nine different kids, and had very different relationships to each of us.
For most of my life, his relationship with me was a great disappointment, which is why Father’s Day always catches me by surprise in a slightly painful way. Thanks to about a decade of therapy and a lovely novel by Stephen McCauley, I had more or less accepted that disappointment, and didn’t expect much to change.
But about ten years ago, my dad began the process of building the relationship we had never had. (A large part of the credit for this goes to his fourth wife, who is now a very dear friend.) He started calling me regularly, and actually remembering my birthday, and even came out to Vancouver for a visit. He started talking to me about how his life and our relationship had unfolded, and about the life choices that had shaped that path.
And most painfully, but also most helpfully, he talked about his regrets, and the choices he wished he had made differently. Particularly once he was diagnosed with the cancer that ultimately killed him, he worked hard to be candid with both me and (much harder) with himself. It was extraordinary to witness someone look back at his life, and realize that he had truly hurt people who mattered to him.
Seeing his regret didn’t make the disappointments of my childhood go away, or magically heal the various parts of my personality that will always reflect his absence. But it helped me realize how profoundly I would feel my strengths and shortcomings as a parent. We have a relatively short window in which to do right by our kids, and a relatively long period in which we live with the knowledge of our success or failure.
While failures can’t be erased, they can be redeemed. The fact that my father actually tried to be a father to me, however late, was one of the happiest surprises of my life. I’ll still never be one of those people who thinks of Father’s Day as being about my dad — it is, and will always be, about my kids’ dad — but I’m grateful to have happy memories of my father, and to feel some sense of peace around our complicated relationship.
What I really want to say is this: if you’re not the parent you want to be, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to be a better father, or a better mother, even if you don’t think you’ll ever be the parent your kids deserve. Even if your kids are grown. You may still fall short, but better is better.
In fact, you’re guaranteed to fall short: I don’t know one parent who would tell you that yeah, they’re doing it perfectly. What matters is to actually try. Because if there’s one thing I learned from my Dad, it’s that you don’t want to live with the knowledge that you didn’t.
Read more about better living with social media by visiting Love your life online
|mkalus shared this story from Today I Found Out.|
King Louis looking fabulous with his long hair, intricately patterned dress, tights, and high heels.
Today I found out men wore high heel shoes long before women.
The first high heel wearers are believed to have been Persian horseback warriors sometime around the ninth century. The extended heel was reportedly developed specifically for riding, to keep the rider’s foot from slipping out of the stirrups. It also helped to hold the rider steady when standing up in the stirrups and shooting arrows.
A group of Persian diplomats visited Europe in 1599 to recruit allies to help Persia defeat the Ottoman Empire. A craze for Persian culture developed as a result and Persian-style high heeled shoes were adopted enthusiastically by Western European aristocrats.
The shoes became a status symbol and the heels were extended to make the men look even taller. (This is thought by many etymologists to be where the term “well heeled”, meaning “wealthy” originally came from.)
Just as the 1980s had notorious shoe collector Imelda Marcos, the 1600s had a rabid shoe collector and trend setter in Louis XIV of France. While he was a powerful leader, his height left something to be desired at five feet, four inches tall (1.62 m), which was slightly below average in his day. (The average height for men in France at the time, in modern international units, was 5 ft. 5 inches or 1.65 m. Note: Contrary to popular belief, Napoleon was not short; he was two inches taller than the average in his day.)
A king being slightly shorter than average wasn’t ideal for his ego, so Louis took measures to make himself look taller, sporting four inch heels, often decorated with elaborate battle scenes. Eventually, he switched to having red heels on all his shoes and decreed that only the upper echelons of society could have matching red heels. It became a simple matter of looking at the color of a man’s heels to see if he was in the king’s inner circle.
Not to be outdone, women of the 1600s started wearing heels as a way of showing their equality. Elizabeth Semmelhack, curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and author of Heights of Fashion, a History of the Elevated Shoe, says the rage of that period in parts of Europe was for women to dress and act like a man. (It should be noted, though, that at the time men’s outfits by today’s standards were extremely effeminate, a-la King Louis XIV’s photo above.)
You had women cutting their hair, adding epaulettes to their outfits. They would smoke pipes, they would wear hats that were very masculine. And this is why women adopted the heel — it was in an effort to masculinise their outfits.
As usually happens, high fashion is adapted into more affordable versions and filters down to the less fortunate. The lower classes started to wear high heels. The elite responded by making their heels increasingly higher to maintain the distinction of being upper class- the higher the heel, the more expensive the shoe typically was. They also began to differentiate heels into two kinds- fat heels for men and skinny for women.
Eventually, men got away from the heel almost completely to show their distinction from women. Since the late 18th century, men’s shoes have had primarily low heels, except for cowboy boots and some shoes worn by rock stars, who occasionally have a propensity to wear effeminate garb similar to before the “Great Male Renunciation”, when men switched from wearing jewelry and elaborate outfits with highly decorated cloth to drab, darker colored simple clothing. Basically, when Western men on the whole stopped trying to beautify themselves, starting at the tail end of the 18th century.
For a time, women also drifted away from the heel as it truly wasn’t practical, particularly on old muddy or cobblestone style streets where heels were nearly impossible to walk in. They weren’t gone long, though. The heel came back into fashion in the mid-19th century with the advent of photography. Why? As seems to happen often when new technologies are introduced, pornographers are always among the first to take advantage and they were among the first to embrace photography. This pertains to high heels in that they often dressed models for risqué post cards and other photographs in nothing but a “modern” (for that time) version of the high heel.
Since then, high heels have come in and out of fashion repeatedly, except for in the porn trade, where they’re seemingly a constant. Lower heels were preferred during the late 1960s and early 70s. In the 1980s and 90s, high heels made a popular comeback. Various styles of heels have taken their turn on the runways as well, such as the block heel of the 70s, the mule and the famous stiletto that’s been popular in the 50s, 80s, and today.
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Richard Clark, Why you should worry about the NSA
Clark tears apart the tissue of lies about NSA domestic spying.
An occasional update on items from the Velo-city.
PETITION FOR A SAFER CAUSEWAY
If you haven’t seen the HUB petition to the BC government and the Vancouver Park Board about making the Stanley Park Causeway safer for cycling, please check it out and sign here.
If you ride through Stanley Park and want to see improvements, please consider also writing an email to:
Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes plans to introduce a motion to make the Stanley Park route safer, but the rest of the Park Board needs to be convinced and also the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Canadian designer Greg Papove has launched his latest project in Vancouver, entitled ‘whoopdeedoo’. By breaking the daily routine of commuter cycling in a fun and spontaneous way, Papove implements a series of ramps onto a pre-existing bike path, creating a sense of destination for two-wheeled transportation.
As Vancouver’s 2040 transportation plan encourages citizens to use multiple forms of transportation to reduce vehicle traffic, the ‘whoopdeedoo’ project promotes cycling as a fun and alternative form of traveling with bikes.
CYCLISTS ARE LAZY
I rode my bicycle because I am lazy.
I step outside my front door and hop on my bike because I’m too lazy to go downstairs in the parking garage to get the car. I pull my bike up to the front door at my destination because I’m too lazy to drive around looking for a parking spot then having to walk from the car to the building.
I ride my bike instead of taking public transit because I’m too lazy to go to the store to buy bus tickets, and I am far too lazy to dig for loose change under my couch. I am also too lazy to transfer from the bus to the subway to the streetcar, preferring to ride directly to my destination without transfers.
Instead of walking 15 minutes to my destination, I ride my bicycle there in 5. Yes, I ride there because I am too lazy to walk.
I ride my bicycle past dozens of cars at rush hour because I’m too lazy to be stressed out sitting in traffic and too lazy to explain why I’m late all the time.
WHY CECILY CYCLES
From Vancouver Cycle Chic: