Hundreds of employees say no to being part of Elon Musk’s ‘extremely hardcore’ Twitter

Alex Heath and Mia Sato:

Twitter had roughly 2,900 remaining employees before the deadline Thursday, thanks to Musk unceremoniously laying off about half of the 7,500-person workforce when he took over and the resignations that followed. Remaining and departing Twitter employees told The Verge that, given the scale of the resignations this week, they expect the platform to start breaking soon. One said that they’ve watched “legendary engineers” and others they look up to leave one by one.


This served as a good reminder to renew my domain registration.


NBC News:

The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world’s highest recorded toll from the virus.

This was reported on May 4 and I barely heard a word about it.


Shawna Chen:

The U.S.’s death toll from the coronavirus crossed 900,000 on Friday, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University.


ABC News:

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 800,000 on Tuesday, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic, given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available practically for the asking last spring.

The number of deaths, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Atlanta and St. Louis combined, or Minneapolis and Cleveland put together. It is roughly equivalent to how many Americans die each year from heart disease or stroke.

The transformative child tax credit included in the American Rescue Plan

Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:

Under the new provision, families will receive $3,600 a year for each child under six, and $3,000 a year for each older child. The money will be paid monthly, rather than the current annual lump sum, easing the burden throughout the year, and it will no longer be tied to any work requirements.

Its impact will spread far and wide. A family like Cochran’s will benefit with $500 a month, no strings attached, doubling her available cash for her grandkids.

Almost 70 million children will be included in the scheme – that’s more than 90% of all American kids. And the impact, social scientists believe, will be transformative.


Amanda Holpuch:

More than 500,000 people have now died from Covid-19 in the US, just over a year after the country detected its first cases of a virus that has wrought almost unprecedented loss.

Deaths breached half a million on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, bringing the total to 500,071 . More than 28 million people have also tested positive for coronavirus in the US.

President-Elect Joe Biden

Philip Rucker, Washington Post:

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

Biden’s victory was the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats and others who resisted Trump, and was celebrated by an emotional outpouring in cities coast to coast. The election took four days to be resolved after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, and was clinched by the state where he was born, Pennsylvania. Later Saturday, Biden was projected the winner of Nevada’s six electoral votes.

New York Times:

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president of the United States on Saturday, defeating President Trump after campaigning on a promise to restore civility and stability to American politics and to expand the government’s role in guiding the country through the surging coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Biden, 77, who will become the 46th president and the oldest man ever sworn into the office, secured 273 votes from the Electoral College after Pennsylvania was called for him, though the race was far closer than many Democrats, Republicans and pollsters had expected.

The result also provided a history-making moment for President-elect Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, who became the first woman, and first woman of color, on a winning presidential ticket.

Parents of 545 Children Separated at the Border Cannot Be Found

Caitlin Dickerson:

About 60 of the children were under the age of 5 when they were separated, the documents show.

Though attempts to find the separated parents have been going on for years, the number of parents who have been deemed “unreachable” is much larger than was previously known.

The new findings highlight the lasting impact of a policy that first came to light with wrenching images of crying children being carried away from their parents at the border and detained hundreds or thousands of miles away. Hundreds of these families, the new filing makes clear, have now endured years of separation.

Brief notes on the new Apple stuff

Homepod Mini

Possibly the right device at the right price. I like the overall idea of the original HomePod, but simply could not justify the price. Now, I can consider eventually getting two to pair with an Apple TV. I just hope it sounds good.

iPhone 12

I’m so glad we’re going back to the squared off sides. The round sides never felt great to me. I think I’ll get iPhone 12 Mini, but Apple should have done better with pricing.

There is much rejoicing for the return of MagSafe, and for good reason. However, Apple should have tossed the cost savings of removing AirPods and chargers from the iPhone packaging towards the customer. Instead the prices have gone up. The advantages to the environment should be clear, but I feel sorry for all of the retail workers who have to deal with angry customers who have to come back to buy a USB-C charger.

NBA up in the air as players protest of shooting of Jacob Blake

Tom Lutz:

The NBA season is balance with the league’s board of governors and players due to meet on Thursday morning to discuss whether to continue with the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks, arguably the best team in the NBA, boycotted their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in protest at the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake, who is black, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on Sunday, apparently in front of his children. His family say Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. The shooting occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 40 miles from Milwaukee. The town has since seen demonstrations, which turned deadly when two protesters were shot dead. A 17-year-old has been charged with murder over the killings.

The NBA subsequently postponed all three games due to take place on Wednesday, and other leagues such as the WNBA, MLB and MLS also cancelled some, or all, of their games on Wednesday. Play at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament was also cancelled for the day. In the NFL, the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Washington were among the teams to cancel their practice sessions on Thursday.

Hurricane Laura, now a Category 4, barreling towards Louisiana, Texas

The National Hurricane Center, via Twitter:

Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes. This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline.

Twitter feigns interest, bans QAnon

Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny:

Twitter announced Tuesday that it has begun taking sweeping actions to limit the reach of QAnon content, banning many of the conspiracy theory’s followers because of problems with harassment and misinformation.

Twitter will stop recommending accounts and content related to QAnon, including material in email and follow recommendations, and it will take steps to limit circulation of content in features like trends and search. The action will affect about 150,000 accounts, said a spokesperson, who asked to remain unnamed because of concerns about the targeted harassment of social media employees.

The spokesperson said that as part of its new policy, the company had taken down more than 7,000 QAnon accounts in the last few weeks for breaking its rules on targeted harassment.

It has taken them years to make to make this decision, all while people around the world were subject to relentless abuse from groups stirred up by coordinated misinformation campaigns and attacks.

Twitter didn’t just fail to take responsibility, it avoided taking responsibility, and that is inexcusable.

Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so

In an op-ed for Washington Post:

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.

I quite enjoy the directness of his prose.

Inside a Deadly American Summer

Sobering piece by Mitch Smith of the New York Times:

During the unofficial summer season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states. One massacre followed another, sometimes on the very same day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for change, but little concrete action.

This is perhaps the most defining issue of our time. People will look back on our inaction with sadness, confusion and anger. Rightly so.

Kuo: All Three iPhones Coming in 2020 Will Support 5G

Juli Clover at MacRumors:

The three iPhones expected to launch in 2020 will feature support for 5G, according to a new note to investors shared today by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo originally said that two of the three new iPhones coming in 2020 will support 5G, but now believes that Apple will offer 5G in all models to better compete with lower-cost Android smartphones that will support 5G. Kuo also says that following Apple’s acquisition of Intel’s smartphone modem chip business, Apple has more resources for developing the 5G iPhone.

I wonder if they’ll name this one “iPhone 5G”. They obviously didn’t do an “iPhone 4G” or “iPhone LTE”, but with all the buzz around 5G, it might be a decent way to get away from this awkward numbered naming pattern.

Raspberry Pi 4

This is just delightful. Not only is it the long-awaited update we all wanted, but the company boldly calls it “Your new desktop computer”:

The speed and performance of the new Raspberry Pi 4 is a step up from earlier models. For the first time, we’ve built a complete desktop experience. Whether you’re editing documents, browsing the web with a bunch of tabs open, juggling spreadsheets or drafting a presentation, you’ll find the experience smooth and very recognisable — but on a smaller, more energy-efficient and much more cost-effective machine.

Dual-display support, up to 4GB of ram for $55, with the 1GB RAM model starting at the classic $35 price point.

I wonder if they should have limited their options in favor of a singular model with, say, 2GB of RAM. The iPhone XR reportedly runs 3GB of RAM, though they’re obviously two wildly different devices.

There’s no point being speculative here. I just love that the Raspberry Pi exists.

Apple pushes firmware update to discontinued AirPort Extreme

Juli Clover at Macrumors:

Apple promised to continue offering service and parts for AirPort Base stations for the next five years, which includes firmware updates to address security issues.

I had a Linksys EA7500 with all the dual-band, 1.9Gbps MU-MIMO WiFi features. It would often stop working, forcing me to perform a hard reset and the wait for it to inevitably crap out again. It’s last firmware update was 8/29/18, and it’s not comparable with Open-WRT.

The last time it stopped working, I gave up and set out for a new router. I live in a small apartment and don’t need anything fancy. Most of my devices are wired via Ethernet, with my phone and iPad using WiFi.

A local buy/sell/trade store had a stack of 2011-12 Airport Extreme’s for $10 with a 30-day return policy. I took the chance and got the newest one they had. It’s been working like a champ since I got it, and it just received a security update! Amazing.

Tim Cook: Technology companies need to take responsibility for chaos they create

CNBC reporting on Cook’s speech at Stanford:

“Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility,” Cook said. “We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”

He continued: “It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.”

John Stewart Opening Statement on 9/11 Victim's Compensation Fund

A powerful monologue:

As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting healthcare and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.

Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it is a stain on this institution. You should be ashamed of yourselves, for those that aren’t here, but you won’t be. Because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.

YouTube decides that hate and abuse is bad

From YouTube’s official blog:

Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status. This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.

It’s absurd that it’s taken so many years for YouTube (and Twitter and Facebook) to finally make a move like this. This is basic stuff, yet these companies have spent roughly a decade showing an utter lack of understanding of the effects the rampant spread of misinformation has had on society. It’s lead to survivors being abused online or in person. It’s even gotten people killed.

They should all be ashamed of themselves, and so too should we all for spending our time on their services while this literal tragedy played out before our eyes.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that we’ll look back at this era of misinformation as an embarrassing folly of humanity.