Angry Robot

Bernie Sanders an extremist? Only in America

permalink

he would be a mainstream Liberal or NDPer in Canada

We Are Hopelessly Hooked by Jacob Weisberg

permalink

Hooked by smartphones, the internet, the manipulation of our natures by scheming app designers. According to one of the books in this review, there is the risk of a lack of empathy, and various other social dysfunctions among those who grow up with their social lives mediated by digital tech. The proposed solutions are so obviously not up to the challenge that it’s almost laughable (Gmail should ask how long you want to use it for?)

Anyone with more than an incidental knowledge of anything like meditation, mindfulness, or Buddhism will suspect that the answer comes when we learn how to direct our attention, to control our crazy li’l monkey minds – and it’s far from a new problem, although it sure seems amplified these days.

Colby Cosh: Bernie Sanders — the unlikely sex symbol of American politics

permalink

Some good points, if mistakenly assuming that a) Sanders is a radical and b) if people like him, there must be something wrong with them. Hold on a sec, I have a complementary link…

Spotify / Apple Music

I signed up for Apple Music when it came out and have been using ever since. I first tried Spotify about a year ago but didn’t pay for it; didn’t love it. I went back and started a trial of the pay version a couple weeks ago.

Streaming music is a tradeoff. On the one hand you get basically ALL MUSIC for cheap. On the other hand you don’t own any of it. That last part was a hangup for me as I am literally and figuratively very invested in my music collection. However I have tried to sidestep the issue by contemplating music’s fundamentally intangible quality. It’s, like, not really there and shit, so can you really own it anyway? Man?

You can certainly rent it from one of these two services.

I really enjoy hunting down music, so I wasn’t looking for any assistance with “music discovery”, but indeed that’s what impressed me right away about Apple Music. Like predecessor Beats Music, its claim to fame is its “curation” by “humans” and at first those hand-picked playlists were fun to explore. There weren’t really enough of them though. However, there are also algorithmic album suggestions which I found were quite good. Amusingly they often suggested albums I already had in my library; also amusingly, I actually found that useful.

Apple Music has huge problems, however. Firstly, on the Mac it’s grafted onto the aged iTunes, which is best imagined as an ancient, rickety donkey which has already had a whale, lion and giant squid grafted onto it. All of its knees have exploded and been put back together with duct tape.

Secondly, both iTunes and Music on iOS are buggy AF. I often try to go to an artist page only to get a completely blank one. Or, a song just stops playing halfway through (especially infuriating in the car or when my hands are in a sinkful of water). Or, some tracks are just greyed out for some reason on some days. Who knows. It’s like the back end just isn’t into it, like it’s being run by a bunch of sullen teens who keep on getting distracted by Snapchat or whatever.

But Spotify? Damn, son.

I didn’t like Spotify using the free version – poor sound quality plus ads every four songs or so made for a crappy experience. But once you pay up you’re good. If the “discovery” was good with Apple Music, with Spotify it is almost too good. I am finding a new, awesome artist like every day, and that seems constrained by my available attention bandwidth. Score this round to the machines.

I also like that I can make a playlist, that it is default public, and people can “subscribe” to it. On Apple Music it’s like only all-powerful yet anonymous genius types who can present you with playlists, but on Spotify anyone can “curate”, including your friends – which would seem to offer more value anyway, and be more analagous with the real world.

My only real complaint is that Spotify hasn’t bothered to get the “AllMusic”:http://allmusic.com licence. I stumble upon some new artist and I want to know a bit of background, and I keep on jumping out to Google. But that’s living. A++, highly recommended, would listen to again.

My Little Sister Taught Me How To Snapchat Like “The Teens”

permalink

This is terrifying

Tired of being tired? Turns out we're not as sleep-deprived as we think

permalink

Hunter-gatherers stay up late too. My guess is that human sleep patterns are a lot more variable than we seem to want to allow.

Two to Three

Was talking to a fellow dad at a party once and he asked how old my child was, and she was like 20 months at the time. He said that was an amazing age, between 18 months and 3 years. I had never heard that before. You hear about terrible twos, or that threes are actually worse, and that babies are horrible, etc. etc. (No, babies are not horrible, but they won’t sleep through the night for the first three months, and they won’t really acknowledge you for like six months or so.)

But the age he was talking about was so great because so many systems are coming online and develop at an incredible pace. Mobility and language are the big ones; the child has probably just managed to walk, but does it shakily at 18 months. Likewise it can string some words together, or maybe just lay down individual words. But by three this kid is going to be running, jumping, and motormouthing on and on, and seeing those skills come together is someting else.

I love when they don’t quite say things right. Yesterday I was tired and got sign-off on a nap. My daughter hadn’t gone down for hers yet. She looked at me, sighed and said, “okay, I’ll show you where your bed is.” She went up to the bedroom, started turning off the lights, and said, “I’ll turn the dark on for you.”

What Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have in common

permalink

Here's how Twitter's new algorithmic timeline is going to work

permalink

St Patrick's Square

Blogathon update: I don’t have much time today and I’m not feeling particularily content-generational so I went looking through my archive of draft posts and found this one from last summer about one of my favourite parks. I’ve added a little to it but it still doesn’t feel finished, but so be it.

The square is hidden, almost. It’s at the centre of a bustling downtown block, but it’s not visible from the street. You walk between two buildings, or down an alley, and there it is. It’s small, more a parkette than a park. But it is well-used by the groups that know about it: office smokers, the homeless, and birds. Occasionally a gaggle of newcomers will notice it from the market building that abuts its southern edge and abscond to the square to eat their lunch. I like to think they are bound to return.

The market building used to be an actual market which included a butcher that hung chicken corpses in the window. That space is now occupied by a bubble tea house and a bakery that sells cronuts. There are a couple other fast food-ish places – jerk chicken and somalian food – but much of the space is empty. It was much busier a decade ago, when Big Stan’s burger house and The Lunch Box lured in visitors, but the landlord raised the rent drastically and all of the tenants were forced to move. Apparently the landlord owns a club or two and is much more interested in those properties. He stores some surplus kitchen equipment in an unused portion of the market, which would be better used maybe on seating for the restaurants’ customers but oh well.

The jerk chicken restaurant occupies the space closest to the square and the smell of jerk dominates the air. It’s called The Jerk Joint and it is excellent. The chef gets in at 5:30 every morning and starts a laborious yet nose-pleasing series of smokings, rubs, and marinations. If you bring your jerk chicken to the square to eat you will surely be visited by wasps, and birds will gather about you eagerly. There are flocks of pigeons and sparrows in the rather ample canopy of the square – so much so that you should watch where you sit. A frosting of bird shit coats many of the benches and many parts of the concrete retaining wall that skirts the square.

There is a condo building on the western edge, next to the design store Umbra, and a strip of row houses to the east, which are largely split into rental apartments. In the north there is the butt end of a public pool building. Along the alleys that demarcate the edges of the park prowl infrequent service vans, cars pulling out of the condo parking, and the odd Mercedes belonging to a Queen Street restaurant owner.

Smokers descend from their creative-class office buildings and chat in groups, or pace while on the phone. If you’ve quit smoking but have temporarily relapsed, this is the place for you, away from the judgmental eyes of your co-workers. You can take a break and observe the migratory patterns of the birds or the homeless. The park tends to house only one or two homeless people at a time. There are more later in the day, but it usually sleeps only one or two. Last summer there was a masked transgendered homeless who slept in the middle of the open area of the park. She had a friend stay with her for a few days, and then he was gone, and then she was gone. This summer there is an old man on a bike, who sleeps on one of the benches in the shady area at the south end. He is very polite, and collects bottles from the condo recycling bins.

The park has a dense tangle of trees, landscaping, paths and benches in its south end. Its middle is largely open, a sun-trap mini-field that gets little play in the summer. The north end by the pool building has a ring of seating and if it has a primary use, it’s weed smoking. The concrete mini-wall along the edges of the park means that there’s almost always somewhere to sit.

If you’re ever around Queen and John and you need some refuge from tourists, shopping and nose rings, wander north-east a touch. This could be the place for you.

Amanda Chantal Bacon Food Diary - How the Founder of Moon Juice Eats Every Day

permalink

Most of those are pretend foods right?

Life Tags

OK I’m heading into this one blind, totally blind, so it’s probably gonna be shit. Back story: I’m doing a blog post a day. Links don’t count. YouTube videos don’t count. I have to write something.

I have a bunch of topics, there are always topics. Here is a tag cloud that swirls around my life: preschooler dad Leslieville Toronto Canada US-election 501-streetcar transit tech apple movies games gadgets home-reno modern-design cities coffee food slow-cooking music memories the-future the-past 40something regret love family nesting farts

I could go on. I am amazed, frankly, at the tags above that I have never posted to. Nothing about Leslieville? About my family? About the peculiar and wonderful habits of children? Yet how many posts about tech apple movies games and gadgets?

To cut myself some slack, I don’t ONLY write here. I write a journal, or rather a weekly writing exercise that often doubles as a journal. The more private things tend to get worked out, or not worked out, there. And I write a lot of posts that never get finished or published. A lot of those are tech posts where I stop caring enough to actually polish and post the thing.

I’m out, but before I go, here are the tags I wish described my life: ninja kickpunching heroic-rescue professional-jazz-drummer warrior-poet master-chef backflip space-travel giant-robot eye-lasers independently-wealthy

Note: Not sure whether this “project” applies to every single day of the month or only every weekday. We’ll find out tomorrow, I guess.

Bob Marley weed launches in a cloud of controversy

permalink

Another sign I’m living in the future

The Dirties

My post today is an endorsement of The Dirties, the first film by Matt Johnson, the dude from the interview I posted yesterday. I liked what I read, and I respect the opinion of Radheyan Simonpillai, so the missus and I checked it out last night. It’s the best Canadian film I’ve seen in a while (since Incendies maybe? Room and Brooklyn don’t count), one of the best found-footage movies I’ve seen, and the most refreshing directorial debut I’ve seen since Primer. It approaches a tough topic (school shootings) with a unique tone. It’s on iTunes and YouTube. Here’s the trailer.

Magic Leap Just Landed an Astounding Amount of VC Money

permalink

$800-million. This is a secretive VR company with Neal Stephenson as its “chief futurist”. VR is really blowing up right now. As a sci fi fan it feels great to write that.

An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton

permalink

Why Matt Johnson is taking Operation Avalanche to Sundance instead of TIFF

permalink

Frank talk about issues with the Canadian film system. This interview is amazing.

Pass or Fail: Toronto Maple Leafs' new logo to get behind

permalink

I’m not sure “has 17 veins” is a bragging point, never mind the secret butt

This is how Vive beats the Rift: Games and packed-in motion controls

permalink

This stuff sounds pretty amazing.