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Remembering September 11, 2001 — 20 Years Later

If you only read one article published for the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I recommend Jennifer Senior’s story in The Atlantic, What Bobby Mcilvaine Left Behind.

Heart wrenching.

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Osama Bin Laden Brought to Justice: An Oral History

I’ve only been to New York City once1 but this was before the September 11th attacks and so I was lucky enough to see the World Trade Center buildings while one still could.

New York (1997)

Because of that trip though, the attacks on September 11, 2001 resonated on a more personal level. It was a place I had been inside. I didn’t know anyone that died but I know people that do.

My brother called moments after the second plane crashed and when I found out, I instantly jumped out of bed and glued myself to CNN for the rest of the day.

This blog didn’t exist then and I always felt bad that I never wrote anything about how I felt that day nor how I felt when the successful raid on Bin Laden’s compound was announced. Perhaps someday I’ll put some thoughts down about it but for right now, I just want to recommend the fascinating retrospective put together by Politico about the time before and after the raid in Abbottabad — as told from the people who were involved. It’s a long and intensely worthwhile read.

Osama Bin Laden’s Death — a White House Oral History.

(via One Foot Tsunami)


  1. Not including a quick stop at the airport on my trip to Israel.↩︎

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Apple article

Apple Considers Paid Subscription Podcasts?

A slew of recent articles1 claim that Apple is creating a new paid subscription service providing premium podcasts. According to these reports, Apple thinks they need to start shelling out cash for big name podcasts in order to compete with Amazon and Spotify. This is the same Spotify that was recently downgraded from neutral to sell by financial group Citi because Spotify hasn’t seen the kind of returns they would like on the hundreds of millions they spent locking down premium podcast providers such as Gimlet Media, Joe Rogan, and others.

From fortune.com:

Apple has been the dominant distributor of podcasts in the U.S. for more than a decade, offering the programs for free. […] But the company now faces significant competition from two of its biggest rivals: Spotify and Amazon.com Inc.

So let me get this straight, Apple has been offering podcasts for free for almost 20 years and NOW they suddenly face significant competition to their FREE offering?

It’s not crazy that Apple may feel they are leaving money on the table. It’s not uncommon for Apple to discuss ways it could improve growth and it makes sense to explore the idea of bringing in top tier podcasts as an additional draw to Apple Music, but Apple does not care one iota about Spotify’s attempt to monetize podcasts. If anything they chalk it up as a win when people use their hardware more often regardless of the service they are using.

From The Information:

“Apple—long considered the sleeping giant in the podcast space—is waking up. The company, which runs the most widely used podcasting app in the industry, is discussing launching a new subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Apple has plenty of “discussions” about all kinds of ideas. Don’t go to print until at least there is a hint that they’ve decided on something.

Here’s my Claim Chowder: There will be no premium podcast subscription service from Apple. If there is any truth to these rumours, it’s about Apple giving a little more love to their Podcast app (which has also been rumoured). If Apple were to offer “high quality”, “paid” podcasts, it will be tied into users’ existing subscriptions to Apple Music.

Update: They did it. Apple is now offering subscription podcasts. What I didn’t understand when I called down the idea was that they wouldn’t pay upfront for finished shows or personalities but would facilitate podcasts adding a subscription and then take a cut of the proceeds.

1. Apple Is Ready to Invest in Its Own Original Podcasts, Apple Developing Podcast Subscription Service to Better Compete With Spotify, Apple Plans Podcasting Subscription Service in Threat to Spotify, Apple Mulls Podcast Subscription Push Amid Spotify’s Land Grab.

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article humor

The Case for War

By Someone Whose Kids Won’t Die Fighting in It

McSweeney’s makes the case for war with Iran.

As one of the most important writers at one of the most important newspapers in the country, it’s my job to inform my readers why they should uncritically support the United States government’s most recent war. I understand that many of you might not want to get into another drawn out, costly conflict in the Middle East, particularly if you were one of the thousands of parents who had their kids die needlessly in the last few wars. But as someone whose kids won’t die fighting in the war, it’s important that you understand the flimsy, morally bankrupt justifications for war, and why it’s vital for you to throw more of your children’s lives at this one.

(via)

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article ethics

Facebook Abusing Your Contact List

As if you needed more reason to despise Facebook, Kashmir Hill reports on Facebook’s truly garbage practise of violating your contacts information without disclosing that’s what they’re doing.

Facebook is not content to use the contact information you willingly put into your Facebook profile for advertising. It is also using contact information you handed over for security purposes and contact information you didn’t hand over at all, but that was collected from other people’s contact books, a hidden layer of details Facebook has about you that I’ve come to call “shadow contact information.” […]

Facebook is not upfront about this practice. In fact, when I asked its PR team last year whether it was using shadow contact information for ads, they denied it. Luckily for those of us obsessed with the uncannily accurate nature of ads on Facebook platforms, a group of academic researchers decided to do a deep dive into how Facebook custom audiences work to find out how users’ phone numbers and email addresses get sucked into the advertising ecosystem.

The researchers also found that if User A, whom we’ll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we’ll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number, which I call “shadow contact information,” about a month later. Ben can’t access his shadow contact information, because that would violate Anna’s privacy, according to Facebook, so he can’t see it or delete it, and he can’t keep advertisers from using it either.

The lead author on the paper, Giridhari Venkatadri, said this was the most surprising finding, that Facebook was targeted ads using information “that was not directly provided by the user, or even revealed to the user.”

You’ve got to read the whole Gizmodo article. As John Gruber put it, “[…] Facebook [is] a criminal enterprise. Maybe not legally, but morally.”

(via DF)

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article

Football, dogfighting, and brain damage: The New Yorker

I just finished reading (and loving) Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers, and I highly recommend it. I’ve just now had a chance to catch up with his New Yorker articles, the latest of which asks the question, what do football and dogfighting have in common? The answer: somebody’s getting hurt for somebody else.

“They cleared me for practice that Thursday. I probably shouldn’t have. I don’t know what damage I did from that, because my head was really hurting. But when you’re coming off an injury you’re frustrated. I wanted to play the next game. I was just so mad that this happened to me that I’m overdoing it. I was just going after guys in practice. I was really trying to use my head more, because I was so frustrated, and the coaches on the sidelines are, like, ‘Yeah. We’re going to win this game. He’s going to lead the team.’ That’s football. You’re told either that you’re hurt or that you’re injured. There is no middle ground. If you are hurt, you can play. If you are injured, you can’t, and the line is whether you can walk and if you can put on a helmet and pads.”

Football, dogfighting, and brain damage : The New Yorker.

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My Photos in Alberta Views Magazine

My friend Shannon Phillips is a freelance writer and journalist. When she asked me to take some photos for her new story, I jumped at the chance. I’m happy to say, the editors at Alberta Views used two of my images for the October edition article.

My Photo in Alberta Views

You can read Shannon Pillips’s full Alberta Beef article ON ITS LAST LEGS?.

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article Music

Paul’s Not Dead Yet

Paul McCartney on the “Paul is dead” rumours:

Paul McCartney says rumours that he had died, which surfaced more than 40 years ago, are “ridiculous” and an “occupational hazard” for a member of one of the world’s biggest bands. “It was funny, really,” McCartney told MOJO music magazine, “people make up a story and then you find yourself having to deal with this fictitious stuff.”

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article economics psychology

Cocksure

Malcolm Gladwell’s new article, Cocksure, is about the psychology of overconfidence. In it he postulates that the brashness of experts caused the current financial crisis.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis, there have been two principal explanations for why so many banks made such disastrous decisions. The first is structural. Regulators did not regulate. Institutions failed to function as they should. Rules and guidelines were either inadequate or ignored. The second explanation is that Wall Street was incompetent, that the traders and investors didn’t know enough, that they made extravagant bets without understanding the consequences. But the first wave of postmortems on the crash suggests a third possibility: that the roots of Wall Street’s crisis were not structural or cognitive so much as they were psychological.

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article documentary

Is the Future Free?

Yesterday I listened to a bit of the CBC radio documentary News 2.0: The Future of News in an Age of Social Media, (The mp3 is here) about changes to our understanding of ‘journalism’ now that anyone can create, report and publish news.

Chris Anderson, editor in chief at Wired Magazine, coined the term the Long Tail to describe the niche business strategy of selling a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. He translates this model to the news industry, invoking a new kind of reputation economics, implying that monetary rewards are not the only incentives for those reporting the news. He believes “free” is the future of business.

[Anderson] believes that low-cost digital distribution has reduced the break-even price of many products (movies, books, music) to near zero. As a result, giving your product away for free has become a viable economic model.

For example, a musician might decide to give recorded music away for nothing, knowing that the widespread distribution of the latest CD would give a considerable boost to ticket sales for the next concert. The profit is made in the concerts, not the music. And in case you were wondering, no, Chris Anderson will not be giving copies of his latest book away for free.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks Chris Anderson is wrong about the future of free. In his new article in The New Yorker, PRICED TO SELL, Gladwell rebuffs Anderson’s idea that free journalism is the future of news, and that despite a growing trend of technology and other goods becoming “too cheap to meter”, it’s unlikely the future cost of our commodities will actually be free.

Update: Chris Anderson Responds to Gladwell’s criticisms.