Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, wrote an Op-Ed for the Columbus Dispatch about his change in position on gay rights:
I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.
That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.
Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he’d known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage. We were surprised to learn he is gay but knew he was still the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that now we had a more complete picture of the son we love.
This is good news. Some have chastised Portman for only caring once he was directly affected. Really, though, that’s human nature. It is always easier to relate with personal experiences than to empathize with those for whom we are ignorant.
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings:
Kurt Vonnegut’s recently published daily routine made we wonder how other beloved writers organized their days. So I pored through various old diaries and interviews — many from the fantastic Paris Review archives — and culled a handful of writing routines from some of my favorite authors. Enjoy.
Colin Nissan, writing for McSweeney’s
A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.
Michael Schechter, A Better Mess, on setting goals and reaching them:
Sometimes, the problem with achieving a goal set for you by a ten-year-old is that you have no idea what to do at the finish line. The world changed and I missed it. I was an expert and I was tired and bored. For me, the sweet spot of expertise hovered around the 70% mark. Being an expert is boring. While there’s always more to learn and new problems to solve, nothing is so thrilling as problems that make me fail. The moments when I struggled the most were the moments when I was scientist. I was at my best when comprehension was just out of reach.
I can relate with Schechter. My goal was always to obtain a Ph.D. in meteorology. When I got there last December, I felt a little lost. What was next? Luckily, there are always new problems to be solved.
Though many celebrated St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, here’s a re-link from last year that shows how much we love the green day.
The guys at Tools & Toys break down the world of pens:
Digital-shmigidal. Who doesn’t still appreciate quality analog products like a good pen? Here is a look at some of the best fine-tip gel ink pens you can buy.
I like the Zebra Sarasa and Pilot G2.
Jeffrey P. Kahn, The New York Times, on early humans’ necessary and strict social norms - and how those norms were broken:
But then, these same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization.
To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did.
We needed beer.
Jessica E. Lessin, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:
Dropbox is buying the owner of the buzzy Mailbox mobile app, making its first move into products outside its core file-sharing service.
Under the deal, the 13 employees of Mailbox owner Orchestra Inc.–including alums of Apple, Stanford University and Ideo–will join Dropbox. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Admittedly, I was initially surprised by this news. Mailbox, if you are unaware, is a free iOS Gmail app that offers a new way to process email. However, if you take a step back and frame the acquisition within the broader context of Dropbox’s activities, it makes sense.
Dropbox arguably already operates the most popular and trustworthy cloud-based system for document management and syncing. In 2012, Dropbox acquired both the music streaming app Audiogalaxy and photo cloud-storage company Snapjoy. Throw in today’s purchase of Mailbox, and Dropbox now has cloud-based documents, music, photos, and email.
Sound familiar? It’s eerily similar to the offerings provided by Google’s many services and Apple’s iCloud, but with one exception - decentralization. With Dropbox’s focus on a reliable and platform-agnostic service, users aren’t tied to a particular ecosystem. Dropbox isn’t there in full yet, but I think their vision is becoming clear.
Dropbox, a service that was once derided as a mere “feature” by Steve Jobs, is now building a robust company. Jobs was famous for saying one thing and meaning another. I imagine when he tried to downplay Dropbox back in 2009, he saw what was coming and he knew it could pose a problem to Apple.
The acquisition of a mobile mailbox app might seem like small peanuts. Make no mistake, it’s a big deal. Over the past few years, while services like Mobile Me and iCloud have struggled at providing a great cloud-based solution, Dropbox has quietly built brand trust through reliability. Companies like Apple should be worried.
Ben Machell, The Times Magazine, on Gabriele Galimberti’s photography project:
Everyone remembers their childhood toys. The fact that I can recall how most of mine tasted better than I can remember the names of my primary school teachers says everything you need to know about the universe kids inhabit. Indeed, when Galimberti hit upon the idea of photographing children from around the world with their toys, he was not expecting to uncover much we did not already know: kids love dolls and dinosaurs and trucks and cuddly monkeys, and will construct worlds around them before eventually, inevitably, disregarding them for ever. “At their age, they are pretty all much the same,” is his conclusion after 18 months working on the project. “They just want to play.”
My favorite toy at that age was probably a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle1.
Shawn Blanc adds a voice of reason to the news that Google is shutting down its RSS subscription service, Reader:
The sites we read and subscribe to are not going away — it’s just the service we’ve been using to keep our read statuses in sync that is. Over the coming months there will no doubt be several alternatives which begin popping up, and so long as you’ve got your OPML file then you can move your “subscriptions” anywhere you like.
Philip Bump, The Atlantic Wire:
It took tax evasion to bring down Capone. A Native American group hopes that another arcane economic law — trademarks — can do the same to the Washington Redskins.
Later today, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will consider if the NFL team should lose its federal trademark because it violates Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act, which bars any mark that
[c]onsists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute
The idea is that if the team loses the trademark, then third-parties will be free to flood the market with Redskins memorabilia. In essence, it would tank the value of the team, forcing Daniel Snyder to change the name.
I’m not Native American, nor am I familiar with the etymology of the word redskin, but it has always seemed like a rather offensive term. What if the Saints were called the Brownies, or if the Seahawks were called the Yellow Faces? At some point the intent should be outweighed by effect.
Kontra, on Google’s motivation:
Above all, despite many examples to the contrary, Google appealed to manifest impartiality: its search results were algorithmically derived, untouched by human biases and thus fair. The list of grandiose promises and statements made by Google that turned out to be false and hypocritical is uncomfortably long.
David Yanofsky, The Atlantic, on living conditions in Hong Kong:
But according to the Society for Community Organization, 100,000 of the city’s laborers live in sub-divided apartment units averaging 40 square feet. The Hong Kong based advocacy organization commissioned and released these photographs, depicting the living conditions inside these apartments from the only vantage point able to capture the entire unit—directly above.
The photos are stunning- perhaps not surprising though given that Hong Kong has a population density of over 16,500 people per square mile.
Jason of Frugal Dad:
Read on to discover the case for responsible beer drinking, as well as some helpful tips on food pairing and optimal serving temperatures. In my opinion, if you slow down and enjoy it fully, at the right temperature and with some nicely complimentary food, you’ll be far less likely to enjoy it in excess, and far more likely then to reap the positive benefits of beer.
Be sure and check out the nice infographic that details beer and food pairings.
(via: Brian Bridges)
Patricia Vollmer, Wired, with a message for The Weather Channel:
I’m not sure how many people share my views on the long form programming or the habit of naming the winter storms, but I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’d love for you go to back to good old fashioned weather forecasting…I might be in the minority wanting this, and I’m sure the business model prohibits 24 hours of pure science these days, but it’s right there in your name: “The Weather Channel.” Let’s stick with the weather.
Look Patricia, I agree. But this is America - science doesn’t sell.
Jim Dalrymple, The Loop, on recent calls for a kid mode on iOS devices:
I can understand how some parents would be upset if Apple didn’t have some kind of controls to limit the use of the iPhone and iPad, but the fact is they do.
I read Sarah Perez’s story on TechCrunch “Apple’s iPad Needs A Kid Mode. Like, Yesterday” and was kind of amazed at how much blame was put on Apple.
I read Sarah Perez’s article and many points raised could be alleviated by a parent actually paying attention, monitoring their child, and putting a foot down even if it makes little Johnny upset. As Dalrymple goes on to note, iOS has a wide variety of parental controls in place.
In defense of the kid-mode option, I do wish Apple would offer support for multiple user accounts. If a family has one iPad, for instance, it is cumbersome to turn on all restrictions for a child and then disable them again when a parent resumes use. That said, inconvenience is not an excuse to blame others for your inaction.
M.G. Siegler, TechCrunch, looks back on a very braggadocios blog post in 2010 from Microsoft’s Chief of Communications, Frank Shaw:
My point here isn’t to rag on Microsoft — well, at least that’s not the only point. The point is to show that numbers worth touting one year may come back to haunt you in the future — especially if you’re focusing on comparing yourself to your rivals. And if you’re going to get cute in calling out your rivals, it’s probably best to make sure that your body can cash the checks your ego is writing.
I think Microsoft was still in denial about their lack of innovation in 2010. Now they are finding out how hard it is to play catch-up.
Fraser Speirs, on arguments regarding traditional PCs versus the iPad:
As I’ve written before, the question what you want to do with your computer has never had more impact on exactly the device you should buy. Therefore, it’s still relevant and worthwhile to ask the question of the iPad: what are you capable of, and what are you best at? Further, as the iOS ecosystem has developed, another question: if I add these accessories to you, what can you do now?
Still, I feel that the consumption/creation split is far too simplistic a curve to grade these devices on. It recognises almost nothing about the user’s task beyond whether it’s an input task or an output task. There’s far more subtlety that we can reach for.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions since Steve Jobs declared the advent of the iPad as the “Post-PC Era” is that iPads are designed to completely replace PCs. Subsequent arguments have revolved around consumption versus creation. The implication is that the iPad is only useful for consuming material - that you can’t do “real” work.
This line of thinking is flawed for several reasons. First, it’s just untrue. From the iPad, I can work remotely on supercomputers, edit and run code, write articles, create artwork or music, and so much more. Most importantly, the comparative distinction is overly simplistic. The “Post-PC” era isn’t about one device to rule them all, rather it is about selecting the device for a given task such that we maximize our efficiency. Speirs smartly notes this difference and presents an interesting chart that illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of today’s popular device categories - phones, tablets, and PCs.
Linus Edwards, VintageZen, with a cool bit of history about Matt Groening and Apple:
The story that The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening once illustrated a brochure for Apple back in 1989 has been making the rounds of the internet for awhile now. However, in addition to that brochure, Groening did other artwork for Apple around that same time period.
As Edwards notes, the same year that Groening did work for Apple, the Simpsons launched. I wonder if either side thought the other would still be around in 2013?
Dominique Brossard And Dietram A. Scheufele, writing for The New York Times, about the comments section on websites:
IN the beginning, the technology gods created the Internet and saw that it was good. Here, at last, was a public sphere with unlimited potential for reasoned debate and the thoughtful exchange of ideas, an enlightening conversational bridge across the many geographic, social, cultural, ideological and economic boundaries that ordinarily separate us in life, a way to pay bills without a stamp.
Then someone invented “reader comments” and paradise was lost.
If you want to weep about society, read any comments section following a news story.