Archive | Misc.

On the Charleston Shootings and the Confederate Flag — and Some Links for Following the Debate

2015 06 24 flag

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Monday that the Confederate flag should be taken down.

That comes, of course, after a white man, in a racist attack last week, killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Photos uncovered later showed him embracing the Confederate flag.

That banner — which South Carolina hoisted in 1961, in the middle of the civil rights movement — represents to so many of the state’s citizens racism, hate, violence and subjugation.

What about those who say the flag symbolizes pride in the South’s history, that it represents “heritage, not hate,” as the saying goes?

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that South Carolina’s secession from the union — which kicked off the Civl War, of course — was centered on the very institution of slavery. In the state’s own language at the time:

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

Many are saying now that it’s time to move on, at long last.

In Columbia, a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate are required for the flag to be taken down. The (Charleston) Post and Courrier quotes Haley as saying that if the two bodies don’t debate the issue summer, she’ll call them back into session to do so.

Now, following the shootings, an issue that for years has seemed settled — that the flag will continue to fly — is up for debate. And things seem to be moving quickly.

Just yesterday, The Post and Courrier reported:

Proponents of removing the flag could have an uphill climb. A Post and Courier survey of state lawmakers — predominately Republicans who control the House and Senate — found there is no consensus that the flag has to go, with many saying it’s too soon after the tragedy to act.

And today:

A Post and Courier poll shows the state Senate is within striking distance of having a majority in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. Support appears strong in the House, as well.

Here are a few sites to keep an eye on as things develop.

In a feature I love for its simplicity, the Post and Courrier is asking every member of the legislature where they stand on the flag, and posting the results in real time.

Meanwhile, in the Lowcountry, the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet is collecting statements from Beaufort legislators:

While five local legislators have come out in support of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, three others have remained quiet on the issue.

In Columbia, The State newspaper has also been covering the issue.

Stay tuned.

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On the Importance of Kindness at Work

Longtime Facebook employee Andrew Bosworth tells the story of how he learned he needed to be more respectful of others:

So why was I being sidelined? I demanded answers. Dustin did not disappoint.

He gave me a single sheet of paper. On it, in a dull monospace font, were anonymous quotes about me from my coworkers.

“Boz is one of the better engineers at Facebook” one read, and then the next “I would have a hard time working with him.”

These two statements struck me as incongruous. If I was a good engineer, why would it be hard to work with me? Of course that question was the very foundation of my problem.

“He is most interested in the truth…but more inhibited members of the team avoid any discussions with him.”

The realization hit me hard. In short, I thought my job was to be right. I thought that was how I proved my worth to the company. But that was all wrong. My job was to get things done and doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. If you are right but nobody wants to work with you, then how valuable are you really? How much can you realistically expect to accomplish on your own? I was “winning” my way out of a job one argument at a time.

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Newley’s Notes #13 Just Went out to Subscribers

In this week’s edition: The New Yorker profiles Marc Andreessen, Benedict Evans on the power of the mobile Internet, beautiful notes for commentating on soccer matches, noisy CrossFit gyms and more.

You can read it here.

Be sure to sign up to receive future dispatches.

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The Best Story You Will Ever Read about Iceland, Coffee, International Trade, and Culture

Adam Gopnik, writing in the The New Yorker:

There’s this:

The account of a richly complex foreign culture, based on a two- or three-day trip–beginning with the taxi from the airport, including the meeting with the minister of economics (always surprisingly young, and always with a degree from Harvard or Stanford)—is one of the least attractive of all American journalistic modes.

And this:

When my wife, Martha, recites the names of her grandparents to curious Icelandic strangers, they nod appreciatively and wrinkle their brows, rather as someone might who shares a common background in a small town in Wisconsin: if I don’t know them, I know folks all around them. Indeed, she and our children were referred to throughout our trip as “Western Icelanders,” not, as I’d assumed, because her family had originally emigrated from the west of Iceland but because “Western Iceland” is the Icelandic shorthand for Canada.

And this:

She has a fetishistic relationship to coffee, which she drinks in an impossibly thick brew from early morning until shortly before she goes off to a sound sleep at midnight. After dinner, she timidly asks if anyone wants coffee, real coffee—and, despite the hysterical rejections in this age of frazzled nerves and pervasive decaf, makes a pot, from which she drains a cup or two. In this, she is exactly like her mother, the only person I have ever met who would order a cup of coffee before dinner at a good restaurant, just to get in the mood.

And this:

One might even see the Icelandic coffee cult as one case of a too-little-touched-on aspect of the human comedy: our tactical amnesia about trade.

And this:

Iceland has rebounded, in large part, one senses, because Icelanders are accustomed to sudden switches in destiny—the politician in the three-piece suit who represents the city of Reykjavík at a reception for foreign authors turns out to double as the bass player of a metal band called HAM—and are also accustomed to displaying coöperative behavior in the world’s least coöperative circumstances.

And this:

Culture counts, but a culture is never a reduced essence of something indigenous. It is whatever particular recipe of cosmopolitanism its people have produced. In America, the recipe is so multipartite that it produces Kosher Thai restaurants. In Iceland, it’s one part coffee to one part anything else.

And finally, this:

Going to a beautiful, remote place reminds us, above all, how relentlessly interdependent the world is and always has been in supplying pleasures that are, almost by definition, imports. Hope, Emily Dickinson says, is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. Civilization, one might say, is the thing over there at the corner table, drinking coffee in a cold climate.

Heck, just read the whole thing.

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Newley’s Notes #4 Just Went Out to Subscribers

In this week’s edition: The Etsy IPO, Hillary’s emails, #WeaselPecker, dangerous fajitas and more.

You can read it here.

Be sure to sign up.

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Subscribe to My New Email Newsletter, Newley’s Notes

2015 02 19 email1

Last Sunday I sent out the first edition of my new email newsletter*, called — you better believe it — Newley’s Notes.

You can read that dispatch here.

To be added to the list, enter your email address here.

I’ll use the brief dispatch, probably sent every Sunday, to:

  • Share links to my recently published WSJ stories
  • Highlight notable technology industry news, especially concerning tech in Asia
  • Point out other interesting stuff related to books, sports, music, science, journalism and more — much like the material I link to in my periodic links posts.

Note that the newsletter will not simply be a regurgitation of what you see on this site. It’ll point to some Newley.com items but will mostly link to other stuff.

*Long-time readers will recall that I’ve blogged about email newsletters several times in the past — as long ago as January 2002, in fact! — so I’m excited to be kicking off one of my own at long last.

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Everything You Need to Know about Personal Finance in 833 Words

For his last Sunday WSJ column, Brett Arends provides some simple rules on personal finance:

Smart money moves aren’t more complicated than you think. They’re simpler.

Cut through all the jargon and pontificating and technical stuff, and everything you really need to know about personal finance fits into less than 1,000 words—no more than three to four minutes.

Click through for his 23 tips.

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An Album You Must Listen to: Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’

I first heard about Sturgill Simpson on the NPR “All Songs Considered” best of 2014 podcast.

You just have to listen to his album that came out this year, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (It currently has 282 ratings on Amazon, 248 of which are five-stars.)

Here’s NPR’s take:

In case you need a clue as to where Simpson is coming from, the title comes in handy: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music nods to the genre-expanding Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and tells you he’s going to fold country’s conventions over on themselves as if he’s trying to create some kind of musical space-time portal. He shows up on the cover in a photo that looks as if it had been pulled out of a Civil War-era locket, with long hair and untrimmed mustache. The background, of course, is outer space. Here’s a list of the jobs held by the eight people Simpson thanks in the album’s credits: molecular biologist, psychonaut, science-fiction author, astronomer, theoretical physicist, psychopharmacologist and computer programmer. The way Simpson is gunning, he’s going to freak some people out.

The funny thing is, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is absolutely country, from the roadhouse-ready “Life of Sin” to the lonesome-skyline blues of “Voices” to the revival-tent call-and-response stomp of “A Little Light.” The two covers on the album are of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line” (which appeared on both Charlie Moore & Bill Napier’s Truckin’ Favorites and Aaron Tippin’s In Overdrive) and When in Rome’s 1988 hit “The Promise,” which appeared in the closing credits to Napoleon Dynamite. Both would sound at home at the Ryman.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Life of Sin.”

I’ve also heard good things about his first album, “High Top Mountain,” but haven’t checked it out yet. I will soon, though.

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