I got to work this morning feeling pretty good about the world. A new iPhone is on the way. Miley Cyrus continues to be hilarious. But lo and behold, someone had to go and ruin my whole day. In an interview with the Daily Mail, new James Bond author Anthony Horowitz blurted out the kind of inanity worthy of Donald Trump — that Idris Elba is too "street" to play 007:
"For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a colour issue. I think he is probably a bit too 'street' for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah."
Horowitz has been charged with writing the next Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, for the Fleming Estate. As such, it's probably reasonable to assume he knows a little about the James Bond character. But saying any accomplished black actor is too "street" to play a traditionally white role is the kind of thinly veiled racism that makes it so hard to advance any character in pop culture.
Let's put the fact that Elba has stated he's no longer interested in playing Bond aside. Not suave? Are you kidding? What does that even mean? It can't be the iconic sophistication. Just look at him on the cover of Vanity Fair last year.
James Bond material. Is it his performances? Elba can be smooth and menacing at the same damn time:
James Bond material. Is it the affinity for alcohol? Because he already spent a few years as the face of Tanqueray gin:
James Bond material. Is it that Elba seems too rough? Too late; Daniel Craig already plays Bond like a barroom brawler. Particularly in Casino Royale, the movie Horowitz claims to love.
And for heaven's sake, what is "street" about playing a Norse god?
So what does "street" even mean in this context, if Elba exhibits all of James Bond's most iconic qualities? Given the context, Horowitz might have well have said thuggish. Horowitz is suggesting that Idris Elba has a presence that's little too lower class and a little too dangerous to play James Bond. His blackness isn't something white viewers can idealize, but instead comes across as unruly and uncultured — unlike someone like Horowitz's preferred choice, Adrian Lester, who is a fine black actor known for his Shakespearean roles. Horowitz seems to think Elba lacks the respectability needed to play Her Majesty's best murderer.
Horowitz might as well have said thuggish
This is bullshit. Horowitz might as well have hauled off and said, "I'm not racist, but..." which is one of the surest signs that you're, in fact, racist. It smacks of not wanting James Bond to wear a hoodie. That he's some stereotype waiting to besmirch the honor of MI6. And let's make something perfectly clear: casting choices for the next Bond is only a notch above arbitrary, and Horowitz is entitled to his opinion. But couching those preferences in the idea that seeing a large black man do violence is a little too off-brand for a sophisticated killer is nonsense and helps no one.
Stop doing interviews, Anthony Horowitz. Just write your book and pray people read it. I don't want to hear this shit from you again.
As if the onus of being hit with a huge fine (up to £4.3 billion) from the European Commission weren't enough, Google will now have to deal with another, rather unusual threat: the Google Redress & Integrity Platform (GRIP). In essence, GRIP is a website—operated by a public relations firm—that makes it easy for companies, who think they might have been abused by Google's dominant position in search, to squeeze some redress (i.e. reparations or damages) out of the US company. Some might consider this the high-tech equivalent of ambulance chasing.
GRIP is being run by Avisa, a "niche public affairs company," assisted by Hausfeld, a specialist competition law firm. GRIP might sound like some kind of digital crusade for a purer, more upstanding online world, but of course it's all about money. In the wake of the European Commission sending a formal "Statement of Objections" to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the EU's general search market, GRIP aims to help those who think they have suffered as result of this abuse to sue Google for some small, spendable token of its contrition. As its website proclaims: "the idea behind GRIP is not just to seek redress for victims, but to actually get it."
Here's how it works: "As soon as we receive your application, we will contact you to find out more about your story and assess how Google’s conduct may have impacted you and/or your business." Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Avisa, which will pick out those it thinks most likely to win in court. Once past this initial filtering stage, Avisa then refers the case to Hausfeld for yet another assessment of its chances.
Last month, Ars chronicled a Mac app that brazenly exploited a then unpatched OS X vulnerability so the app could install itself without requiring people to enter system passwords. Now, researchers have found the same highly questionable installer is accessing people's Mac keychain without permission.
Genieo acquires this access by very briefly displaying a message asking for permission to open the Safari extensions and then automatically clicking the accompanying OK button before a user has time to respond or possibly even notice what's taking place. With that, Genieo installs an extension known as Leperdvil. The following three-second video captures the entire thing:
A US District Judge in San Francisco has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Uber drivers may continue as a class action, throwing Uber into an uncertain future as it argues its drivers are not employees of the company.
The case will proceed to a jury
The lawsuit focuses on whether Uber's arrangement with drivers in California violates the state's labor laws, with drivers in the case arguing that they should be reimbursed for driving expenses and loss of tips. The case could become one of the most high-profile moments in the long-running debate over whether Uber drivers are "employees" — with all of the legal benefits the title grants — or, as Uber claims, merely "independent contractors" who work through Uber's system.
The case will now more broadly cover drivers in the state, and eventually will proceed to a jury, where the outcome could set some precedent for similar cases in other states across the country. If it does, Uber could be looking at damage to its bottom line when it's forced to pay expenses.
In June, drivers seeking employee status took home a legal win after the California Labor Commission found that one driver was an employee, as Uber was "involved in every aspect of the operation."
Hopefully, by now you’ve recognized Inoreader as your go-to place for regular content consumption. But we know there are many more ways to come across great new content - and we want to help you with that, too. Now you can save pages from all over the web with our new feature, Saved web pages (well, original names may not be our forte, but the functionality is worth it, promise)
So, let’s say you find a great article, shared by a friend via some channel or other, but you either don’t have the time for it now or want to keep it for later reference. You can now just save it to Inoreader and keep everything in one place.
How to save?
You can save pages in several ways:
Paste the URL in Inoreader and save the page:
Use the Add web page button that is visible when you’re in Saved web pages or any of your tags. The second option is especially helpful, as it will not just save the page, but apply the specific tag to it.
You can also right-click on Saved web pages in the menu and add the URL through the pop-up that will appear there.
If you're using one of our browser extensions, you can save pages straight from there. In case you have configured the extension to directly open Inoreader on click and want to save pages fast, you can use our bookmarklet.
Finally, you can also use our new bookmarklet. You can find it under Preferences - Apps and Extensions and drag it to your browser's bookmarks tab.
Then you'll be able to just use the bookmarklet whenever you see something interesting to save. The popup will give you additional options like adding the page to a specific tag:
If you're done with an article and don't want to keep it anymore, you can delete it from your Saved web pages list - just use the dedicated button:
What you can do with Saved web pages?
You can organize and work with your saved web pages just like you do with any other subscription or article in Inoreader - adding tags, broadcasting articles or sharing on social media.
If you want to share your Saved web pages with other users, you can create an RSS feed or embed an HTML clip. This option will be available to users with Starter, Plus and Professional accounts. Just click on the Get RSS feed option that is visible when you right-click the Saved web pages section. This will take you to your preferences for further fine-tuning:
Thanks to Superfeedr, any updates to this feed will be available in real-time to all your subscribers.
With this new feature, you have two main containers for saved articles - Stars are still the place for all content within Inoreader, while Saved web pages holds any external resources you find relevant. You can save any kind of content on the web - articles, tweets, YouTube videos and many more.
There is no limit to the amount of saved web pages you can have, so that you can organize all your important content in one place. Give it a go and let us know what you think!
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 01, 2015 is:
rigmarole \RIG-uh-muh-rol\ noun
1 : confused or meaningless talk 2 : a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure
Rather than go through the annual rigmarole of filling out tax forms, Maureen would rather pay an accountant to do her taxes for her.
"After years of procrastinating, I logged on to my retirement account. Just working my way through the rigmarole of retrieving lost passwords and locating my investments was bad enough." Sendhil Mullainathan, The New York Times, 11 July 2015
Did you know?
In the Middle Ages, the term Rageman or Ragman referred to a game in which a player randomly selected a string attached to a roll of verses and read the selected verse. The roll was called a Ragman roll after a fictional king purported to be the author of the verses. By the 16th century, ragman and ragman roll were being used figuratively to mean "a list or catalog." Both terms fell out of written use, but ragman roll persisted in speech, and in the 18th century it resurfaced in writing as rigmarole, with the meaning "a succession of confused, meaningless, or foolish statements." In the mid-19th century rigmarole (also spelled rigamarole, reflecting its common pronunciation) acquired its most recent sense, "a complex and ritualistic procedure."
The US is undisputedly in the midst of a barbecue boom - there are currently more than 14,000 barbecue restaurants in the country - but African American restaurateurs and pitmasters may be getting left in the dust. Thanks to television and professional barbecue competitions, barbecue chefs have become celebrities with cult followings, but those celebrity faces are largely white.
"National press is infatuated with white, male hipster BBQ," writes Robb Walsh on the blog First We Feast. "Believe it or not, blacks, Latinos, and women are involved in the barbecue biz too."
The trend continues when it comes to new restaurants opening around the country.
"New barbecue joints generally are run by white men. That just seems to be the trend," says Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. "The movement that gets troubling is the, 'I'm a chef, I'm bored, I want to find my soul, so I'm going to go into barbecue now. That's going to be my culinary fling.'"
White ownership is, of course, not in and of itself troubling. But the assumption that the faces on television reflect the totality of successful pitmasters does trouble John T Edge, author and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance. That point came into sharp relief after a recent article was published on the Fox News website, entitled "America's most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities." Of the dozen named chefs and writers, not a single one was African American.
"This shows no historical awareness of the central role that African American people and other people of colour have played in the most primal of American foods," he says. "I'm not saying it is a racist act. By way of its omission it is racist."
In some of its earliest days in America, barbecue was plantation feast food. Whole hogs were cooked in wood burning pits to celebrate the end of the summer growing season. While white plantation owners may have partaken, it was the black slaves who were in the pits working.
"Barbecue is long, hard, hot dirty work. When given an option, particularly in the south, that's not the work white people did," says Lolis Eric Elie, author of the classic barbecue tome Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country.
When the enslaved African Americans got pigs of their own, necessity inspired nose-to-tail consumption, as well as the ingenuity to create dishes to make the pig's least pleasant parts edible. Those culinary skills were vital after the end of slavery, when black men and women needed to go into business for themselves.
"An African-American man - or woman, but less often women - could literally dig a hole in the ground on the side of the road, lay on some bed springs, shovel in coals and start a business," says Edge. "Barbecue was a food with low cost of entry. It was the food truck of the 19th century."
Regional barbecue styles are distinct in cooking methods, sauces, specialties and the sides that are served. Below is a very brief overview.
St Louis - mainly pork, with a heavy tomato-based sauce
Kansas City - often slow cooked. A variety of meats are used, with a thick, sweet sauce.
Carolina - Pork based. "Eastern style" Carolina barbecue is dressed in a vinegar sauce, "Lexington" has a tomato-based sauce.
Texas - Much of Texas barbecue is beef-based. "East Texas" style involves beef or pork, chopped, in a sweet, smokey tomato sauce.
As the nation's highway system developed, the roadside stand was born. Black men and women began leaving the south, and their barbecue traditions went with them. Renowned pitmaster Mike Mills from 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, Illinois, recalls that the barbecue stand in his town was run by an African American man named Mr Whitt. Mills says Whitt taught him everything he knew, and when Mills was broke, Whitt let him pay for his food with whatever game he caught that day.
"I can still taste his barbecue today," say Mills. "He was my idol. He was my mentor."
The 1960s and '70s saw the development of brick-and-mortar restaurants, where black chefs had the time and space to become true pitmasters who refined their techniques and built their reputations. Edge says this is where many of the regional styles we have today may have gotten their start.
"There's a big strong argument for African American expertise in how those styles developed," he says. "That [pitmaster's] style is copied by family, that style is copied by neighbours, then it becomes how you define barbecue in that place. It's based on what that one community did emulating that family."
Ed Mitchell, one of the most famous whole-hog barbecue masters in the country, recalls that roasting his first hog into the wee hours of the morning was a "rite of passage" in his family. He got his start barbecuing just to help keep his family's store afloat.
"African Americans have a tremendous cultural attachment to barbecue, as if we were Italians who came in and introduced pasta to our country," he says.
Part of the erasure of African American pitmasters from popular culture may have to do with rising barriers to entry. Competition barbecue events - often the ticket to fame in this culinary world - have expensive entry fees, and leaving the restaurant may not be an option for chefs of lesser means. Mitchell also points to the pricey modern barbecuing equipment, like smokers that go for tens of thousands of dollars, that are ever more popular and in some cases necessary in order to comply with modern fire codes.
"What we had were old barrels, or we dug a hole," he says.
And - as Daryle Brantley experienced - black-owned businesses have always received fewer federal loan dollars. That is especially true after the most recent recession. A Wall Street Journal assessment found that pre-recession, black business owners received 8.2% of Small Business Administration loans from the federal government. Post-recession, that figure was down to 1.2%, compared to 4.7% for Hispanic business owners and 20% for Asians.
Rodney Scott, another extremely well-regarded pitmaster of Scott's Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, South Carolina, remembers the day that a banker told him he would never make enough money to buy a home. He intentionally saved the man's business card.
"I put it on my refrigerator. I used it as inspiration every time I passed that refrigerator, I thought, 'I'm going to show you.' I built my house, I still have his business card," says Scott. "It's hard for a black business to gain or move up."
At least in Texas, there is evidence that there is a shift happening in barbecue restaurant ownership. Using data from the research firm CHD Expert, Vaughn wrote in a recent blog post that among independent establishments, the number of sit-down restaurants with servers, is growing.
"Overall, barbecue is much more popular than it was five years ago," he says. "But if you look at the number of independent-owner, counter-style - the traditional barbecue joint - there are actually fewer of them now than five years ago."
Full-service restaurants are far more expensive to open. And as barbecue grows more popular, so do the expenses. Even cuts of meat like brisket are rising in cost.
Elie agrees that the ranks of the tiny, black-owned operations may be eroding.
"What we find then as integration becomes reality, many of these black restaurants who were successful are telling their kids to go into other fields, to get an education and out of the hot, dirty work of the kitchen," he says.
That's what Ryan Mitchell, Ed Mitchell's son, says he experienced first hand. He was helping in his father's restaurant from an early age, but then left for college on a football scholarship and then pursued a career in banking after that. He says his initial reluctance to get into the family business had everything to do with painful history. He remembers listening to his grandmother's stories about working on a plantation.
"Growing up working in the restaurant, a lot of our customers were people that she had formerly worked for. It was still that resentment that I'm serving people who didn't necessarily like my family," he recalls. "So relating that to the actual restaurant business, it felt like I was doing the same thing. I was serving people even though we were entrepreneurs."
But Mitchell has since returned to the business and is helping his father with the opening of their next restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. He hopes to continue building on his father's success, and to "get him in a position where he's just kind of enjoying the fruits of his labour."
Ryan Mitchell has this in common with C&K's Jamila Brantley. Both have the same big dreams their fathers had, to grow the names and franchises, and achieve a level of financial success that may have eluded their parents' generation. It will be up to restaurateurs and pitmasters from their generation to diversify the ranks of the most well-known American barbecue stars.
"My dad started the business for his family and the plan was that we would have something of our own. We would have jobs and we would take it over," she says. "Now I want to take it to the next level and have something for my children."
Not only is there a Spongebob Squarepants musical in development, with Tina Landau and music supervisor Tom Kitt on board, the music will be composed by David Bowie (who voiced the character Lord Royal Highness on the show many years ago), as well as several other musical artists with names you’ll likely recognize: Cyndi Lauper, They Might Be Giants, John Legend, the Flaming Lips, Dirty Projectors, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, T.I., Jonathon Coulton, Panic! At The Disco, Plain White T’s, and Lady Antebellum.
So, the soundtrack for this Broadway-bound musical will run the gamut from punk to twang to pop to nerdcore to rock n’ roll to hip-hop? Yes. Awesome. The show will debut in Chicago in June 2016, then head for the bright lights of New York City after that.
THE HEAVENS—His gaze shifting from the terrestrial planet out to the expanse of the universe and then back, The Lord Almighty, Our Heavenly Father, reportedly wondered aloud Tuesday just how far He could throw the Earth. “Oh, yeah, if I got a really good windup I bet I could chuck it four or five thousand light-years,” said God as He eyed the third planet from the Sun, adding that He could probably toss it right into the Pleiades star cluster with His eyes closed. “This thing weighs, what, 6 sextillion tons? With a running start, there’s no way I couldn’t get it past the Crab Nebula. Probably farther.” At press time, the Lord was loosening up His arm by lobbing Mercury and Venus into the nearby A0620-00 black hole.
NEW YORK—Surveying the piles of wrappers, old newspapers, and empty bottles scattered around the playing surface during his pre-match warmups, world No. 2–ranked tennis player Roger Federer expressed utter disbelief Monday over the sheer amount of trash on the U.S. Open courts. “Look at all this—it’s disgusting,” a visibly repulsed Federer said while using his racket to swat a crumpled McDonald’s bag away from the baseline, pulling his shirt collar over his nose to block the court’s putrid stench that had only grown worse in the afternoon sun. “There’s broken glass all over the backcourt, and I stepped on a used condom when I was walking by the net. I’m pretty sure someone went to the bathroom over by the opposite service line too, because it absolutely reeks of piss over there.” Federer added that, despite the repugnant conditions, he is ...
“I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that I can drink 800 Dutch students under the table.”
A new study of 800 Dutch students has concluded that neither drinking water nor eating fatty foods helps significantly ease hangover symptoms after consuming alcohol, emphasizing that the only way to avoid suffering a hangover is to drink less. What do you think?
WASHINGTON—Emphasizing that these projections necessitate immediate action, a report released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that global climate change will force humans to double the speed of their ice cream consumption by the year 2050. “Should greenhouse gas emissions rise according to our current forecasts, the entire global population will need to adapt their ice cream eating habits to the resultant higher temperatures, or risk exposing themselves to sticky hands, faces, and clothing as scoops begin dripping with unprecedented quickness,” said the report’s lead author Amy Ellison, explaining that, within a single generation, humans will have no choice but to eschew any sort of cone and instead opt for a cup and spoon to better contain the faster-melting treat. “Unless we take the necessary steps to reduce CO2 emissions on a global scale, our fate is sealed: ice cream will have to be eaten hastily and ...
'Los Angeles is New York’s antithesis: a mystical, sun-soaked realm of ... reasonable rent'
stupid fucking everybody involved
Then, out of nowhere, Mazda came to the rescue. The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive MX-5 — known as the Eunos Roadster in Japan and the Miata in the States — was an instant hit. "Mazda has resurrected those barnstorming sports-car times in one spectacular, up-to-date package," Car and Driver gushed in its September 1989 road test. "We feel like cheering. Feel free to cheer right along with us."
The Miata graduated from a car to an institution
Over the next quarter century, the Miata became the best selling two-seat sports car ever made, graduating from a car to an institution. Like the Beetle or the Mustang, the model’s legend grew larger than the company that made it. And other entry-level roadsters followed Miata’s lead: the Honda Civic del Sol, the Toyota MR2 Spyder, the Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky. The roadster, it seemed, was saved.
But 2015 looks a lot like 1989: once again, the Miata has no natural competition. The S2000 went out of production in 2009; Toyota retired the Spyder in 2007; and the Solstice and Sky died with the companies that gave them birth. Other roadsters exist — BMW’s Z4, Audi’s TT, the Porsche Boxster — but they are machines of another order: heavier, more expensive, faster.
So, can the 2016 MX-5 revive the economy roadster for a second time?
In late July, I traveled to Westlake Village, a posh Southern California community nestled at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains to test drive the fourth generation of the Miata, now available as a 2016 model.
The dorky smile is gone
Part of the original Miata’s appeal was its character — you didn’t just want to drive it, you wanted to befriend it. Its big, guileless pop-up headlights sat above a wide, mouth-like air intake, giving the car a dumbstruck grin. Seen in a rear-view mirror, the Miata looked like Kermit; it looked like Nemo; it looked like anything but 2,000 pounds of metal and rubber. The second and third generations lost the retractable headlights, but the cues were the same: this was a cute and eminently approachable car.
One look at the 2016 MX-5, and it’s clear that Mazda has had a change of heart. Where the design of the second and third generation were evolutionary steps from the first, the fourth is a species of an entirely different genus. It sits low and wide, its wheels pushed to the very corners of the frame. The car faithfully embodies the "Kodo" design language Mazda introduced in 2010: the long curves, extended hood, and exaggerated fenders. The dorky smile is gone, replaced by a Joker-like smirk. The Miata is no longer laughing with you, it’s laughing at you. And your friends. And maybe your mom.
Up until now, each generation of the Miata has been slightly bulkier than its predecessor — a little longer, a tad wider, marginally heavier, and occasionally more powerful. That progress fed customer expectations, but it also created a nagging sense that the Miata had contracted a case of bloat. Between Miata’s first (1989-1997) and third generation (2005–2015), the car packed on almost 500 pounds. Richard Hammond called the last generation of the Miata "more chunky, and more muscular" than its progenitor — a barbed compliment for a car that’s always prided itself on being svelte.
With the fourth generation, Mazda is attempting a return to form: it’s significantly lighter, smaller, and even less powerful than the model it replaces. Talk to Mazda’s engineers and they’ll eagerly discuss how each bolt, brace, and panel has been meticulously trimmed to take off a pound here, a gram there. But the Miata has never been a numbers car. As Bob Hall, the automotive journalist-turned-engineer who concepted the first Miata, is fond of saying in one interview after another, this isn’t a car to be measured in MPH or MPG, but in "SPG" — "Smiles Per Gallon." It’s a groaner of a line, but Hall is right: the true test of the Miata is how it feels on the road. Luckily, Westlake Village is just 45 minutes away from a city that loves its cars, Los Angeles.
I come from a long and proud lineage of people living in New York who wish they lived in Los Angeles — and according to The New York Times, our clan is growing. Just this year, Beyoncé and Jay Z, the man behind "Empire State of Mind" himself, made the move. And if there’s one thing Mrs. Carter, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Zelenko share in common, it’s an appreciation of the fact that Los Angeles is New York’s antithesis: a mystical, sun-soaked realm of leisure, reasonable rent, and edible Mexican food. It’s also an ideal testing ground for a new Miata.
Mrs. Carter, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Zelenko have one thing in common
Over the course of my three-day trip to LA, I zoom-zoomed down Highway 1 between the sandy cliffs of Malibu and the Gatorade-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. I carved up, down, and across the picturesque Santa Monica Mountains so many times that I felt like I’d gotten lost inside a car ad. I uncovered spooky, inexplicable patches of 1AM traffic on the 110. I picked up a friend and drove her to get her marijuana license renewed. Out of curiosity, we drove to, and then quickly away from, the Church of Scientology. I swam in three different pools; I swapped celebrity gossip. One afternoon, I spent nearly $40 on cold-pressed, organic juice. I took a shot of a dark, smoky concoction that contained 87 different minerals and — I was assured — had played a significant role in rendering an infertile woman pregnant. I had a very LA weekend.
The Miata comes in three trim packages: the Sport, the Club, and the GT. Mazda lent me a bright red GT, the most luxurious of the three, with a six-speed manual transmission. If you’re seeking decadence, look elsewhere. Sure, the leather-trimmed seats and the Bose audio package are nice, but there are also subtle reminders that you’re still driving an economy sports car — the Bluetooth system that worked practically all of the time; the cup holders that pop in and out willy nilly; the vanity mirrors that look and feel as if they were pulled from a Power Wheels.
In the end, though, none of that matters. It may have been the jet lag, but over the course of my trip I woke up bright and early each morning with the giddy energy you feel when looking up at a roller coaster — that tangible sense that you’re in for a hell of a ride.
The 2016 MX-5 is the most fun car I’ve driven in recent memory. Everything from the flick-of-the-wrist gearbox, to the immaculately responsive steering, the perfect 50-50 weight distribution, and the driver’s positioning adds up to a remarkable sensation: you’re not nestled deep inside a steel cocoon as you would be in say, a Mustang or Challenger; instead, you’re riding atop a magic carpet. Swivel your head from the driver’s vantage point and you can see all four corners of the car as clearly as your own hands and feet. That, combined with the car’s weight and grip, gave me the confidence to push the car at every opportunity — on tight curves, on long straightaways, down the street away from the Church of Scientology. On the freeway, I felt like a whippet weaving through a herd of elephants.
I felt like a whippet weaving through a herd of elephants
Unless you only have one friend, the Miata is an impractical car — a second ride or weekend cruiser at best. If you live anywhere it snows, the rear-wheel drive set-up is a nightmare; the ragtop offers scant protection from the elements; and even for a two-seater, it’s a tight squeeze (at 6 feet tall, I fit fine in the driver’s seat but our 6 foot 3 inch cameraman had to methodically fold himself into the passenger seat).
But those caveats aside, the Miata may be the ideal gateway sports car: unapologetically frivolous, ready to conquer a twisty canyon road or a beachfront highway. On the last day of my trip, a snow-white Porsche 911 4S — a $120,000 car, mind you — pulled up alongside me on the 101. The driver slowed down, matched my speed, and gave the Miata the once over. $90,000 separated his car and mine, but we were one of a feather. Just before he sped off, he gave that knowing nod: "Welcome to the club."
With the fourth generation of the Miata, Mazda has no doubt pumped new blood into the iconic roadster's dynasty. In an age when cars are as much about infotainment systems as they are about driving, the Miata is a wonderful reminder that the road can still be a fun place to be. Depending on the car’s success, we may see more such economy roadsters to come. Already later this year, Fiat plans to preview the 2017 124 Spider roadster (which is built on the MX-5 platform), and rumors abound that Honda’s S2000 — a car with a devoted following of its own — may soon rise from its grave.
But whether the Miata can maintain the roadster tradition going through the coming years of Uber, autonomous technology, and millennial buying behavior is another question — one that Rod McLaughlin, Mazda’s vehicle line manager for the MX-5, says keeps him up at night.
"There’s convenience and transportation — and then there’s driving"
As the Miata’s target customers, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, age out, they’ll be replaced by a generation less romantic about the driving experience. The company’s current ad campaign, anchored by the tag "Driving Matters," feels like an incantation, or else an effort to convince us of something drivers intuitively knew just a decade ago. "There’s convenience and transportation — and then there’s driving," McLaughlin told me at the Westlake Village event.
"There’s a generation of people who haven’t driven a roadster before, and they don’t know what they’re missing. It’s like, how do you explain skydiving to someone who’s never jumped out of a plane?"
Getting younger customers to fall in love with the Miata the way their parents did — not as a method of transportation, but as a celebration of the driving experience — will be key to the Miata’s success. In fact, the car’s next 26 years depend on it.
Bickford’s former girlfriend Janet Conforto (Janice Rule) tracks him down and reveals that Bickford is actually a train robber known as Kid Blue. Bickford returns to his old ways and plots a crime. The ending is a total surprise as Preacher Bob helps the kid escape Mean John in a manner you would not expect.
Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games have suffered another design setback.
After scrapping architect Zaha Hadid’s design for its new Olympic stadium in July, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO, Toshiro Muto, announced today (Sept. 1) that the committee will also scrap the games’ four-color logo, amid allegations by a Belgian graphic designer that it was copied from his work.
“We’re certain the two logos are different but we became aware of new things this weekend and there was a sense of crisis that we thought could not be ignored,” said Muto in a press conference in Tokyo.
Graphic designer Olivier Debie has filed a lawsuit to bar the Olympics committee from using the design, pointing out the direct similarities of its design elements with the logo he designed for Théâtre de Liege in 2013.
Debie has even created a gif to demonstrate his case:
Following the announcement, the BBC reports that Debie was surprised by the organizing committee’s decision to withdraw the logo, since its members publicly defended the logo and its Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano just days ago.
But some Japanese officials expressed frustration. “I want Mr. Sano to provide an explanation,” said Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe. “I feel like we have been betrayed.”
Since Debie’s allegations emerged, Sano has vehemently denied the plagiarism accusations in public. “I take a lot of time with every design, nurturing them like children. For this kind of talk to emerge is really unfortunate and kind of sad,” he said last month. “I’ve never been to Belgium, nor seen the logo even once.”
Sano, who operates the studio Mr. Design Inc., did admit however that his design team has in the past copied materials, in a beer promotion for Suntory.
Since the logo was launched on July 24, the design has been widely disseminated and used in promotional activities, including a campaign by Japan Airlines. The Olympics organizing committee is now holding emergency meetings to determine how to proceed.
The Sept. 1 update to the Amazon Prime Video app on iOS and Android includes the ability to download download movies and television shows from the Prime Video catalog for later play. The new feature sets the streaming service apart from its closest competitor, Netflix, by cutting the very last cable holding cord-cutters back.
Amazon Prime is a $99 annual subscription service that allows for free two-day shipping on 20 million Amazon products, free music streaming from Prime Music, unlimited photo storage as well as other benefits. In recent years, Amazon has made a big push into the video space, including access to the Prime Instant Video library with exclusive television shows not found on Netflix. The monthly fee comes in at $8.25.
By comparison, Netflix offers its monthly streaming subscription for $8.99.
Earlier this year our friends at The Verge put together a nifty little tool to help determine how to cut the cord yourself, while still getting the channels and programs you need and staying under budget.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the host of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, said late Monday that it has suspended 381 accounts or "socks" that it claims accepted or charged money "to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation." The foundation said that it believed that activity from so-called "sockpuppet" accounts "were perpetrated by one coordinated group."
"The editors issued these blocks as part of their commitment to ensuring Wikipedia is an accurate, reliable, and neutral knowledge resource for everyone," Wikimedia said in a statement.
Top: The old Google logo. Bottom: The new Google Logo.
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Google has a new logo!
The new design keeps Google's primary color theme but switches to a sans-serif typeface. According to Fast Company, the new font is Google's own creation, called "Product Sans." We first got a glimpse of it in the Alphabet logo.
The last time Google updated its logo was in 2013, when it dropped the shadowing for a flatter look. This sans-serif design is the biggest visual refresh in the company's 16-year history.
FOXBORO — A suspended transit police officer named in a civil rights lawsuit for allegedly assaulting a woman at a bus station is now facing charges of assaulting her wife outside a country music concert at Gillette Stadium.
Jennifer Garvey was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty Monday in Wrentham District Court to domestic assault, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.
Prosecutors say she shoved her wife Friday night at the New England Country Music Festival.
Portland startup Cozy, which provides Internet services to help landlords manage their rental properties, said Monday it has raised $3.4 million in new funding.
New backers include Bend-based Seven Peaks Ventures and Stewart Butterfield, who cofounded the online collaboration tool Slack. Prior investors General Catalyst and Social+Capital Partnership invested additional sums.
Founded in three years ago in San Francisco, chief executive Gino Zahnd and his team moved the company to Portland in 2013 where, he said, he found it easier to hire software engineers. Cozy had previously reported $6.5 million in funding, including a $5 million round two years ago.
'Details of what happened hadn't been determined other than that "shortly after that, within a matter of moments, gunfire took place," Alexander said. The homeowner was shot in the leg and was being transported to a hospital.
"A lot is yet to be determined here as to what [happened] and when shots were fired, how the officer received injuries, how the homeowner received injuries," Alexander said. "But we did respond to the wrong residence tonight."'
In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 2016 federal agency funding bill that came with instructions to the Internal Revenue Service to vastly expand the paperwork for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
This buried provision adds a layer of red tape for which the tax-preparation company H&R Block has lobbied heavily for more than a year, in letters and hearings. H&R Block and other tax-prep companies stand to benefit handsomely, while taxpayers who are unable to navigate the complicated new forms will face two costly alternatives: Pay a tax preparer to parse the forms, or give up the EITC, a crucial tax break for low-income families.
In 2013, more than 27 million working families and individuals received the EITC. It gives households making less than a certain annual income (ranging from $39,000 to $53,300) a bigger tax refund, based on a formula that takes into account marital status and number of children. Numerous studies have shown that the EITC reduces poverty, improves health and incomes, and diverts people out of social welfare programs.
In several lettersto Congress over the past year, H&R Block has pushed to expand the Schedule EIC—the form required to claim the credit—as a backstop against tax fraud and improper payments. The new form would go from one page to five, and it would incorporate most of a 30-question eligibility checklist that only paid preparers, as opposed to self-filers, are currently required to submit. The Senate incorporated the proposal into its 2016 funding provisions, which require the IRS to use an expanded Schedule EIC next tax season.
In its letters and hearing testimony, H&R Block encouraged lawmakers to add similar paperwork to claims for other refundable tax credits. Again, the company was successful: The Senate bill adds paperwork to the Child Tax Credit; the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which reduces taxes owed for tuition-paying college students; and the Premium Tax Credit, which helps families pay for health insurance.
"Along with undercutting the EITC's basic purpose…by discouraging eligible working families from filing for it, the committee's proposed directive is unnecessary," writes Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That, he says, is because self-filers are already inundated with eligibility information: The rules are covered extensively in five pages of EITC instructions appended to tax-return forms, and in a separate 37-page IRS pamphlet.
"This seems to me like a fairly naked attempt by Block to get its market share up by basically driving a lot of people away from self-preparing," Greenstein told Politico Pro. (Greenstein was not available for comment on this story.)
H&R Block said in a statement last week that "this is not about competitive business interests. It's about reducing fraud and protecting the future of the EITC."
H&R Block has used the threat of fraud for years in arguing for a more complex tax filing system. In fact, studies have found that the majority of EITC overpayments are the result of unintentional error, not fraud—and research suggests that self-filers are already pretty good at getting it right. As Vox points out, a 2014 IRS study found that EITC claims filed from 2006 to 2008 by paid preparers were more likely to result in overpayments than self-filed claims.
CBPP's Greenstein also notes that there's a double standard when it comes to tax-preparer companies' advocacy around fraud. The Treasury Department estimates that $16-19 billion was lost in 2014 from EITC overpayments. But the underreporting of business income cost $122 billion in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available) and is the single largest component of uncollected taxes.