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Tonight’s Maddow says clearly we‘re going over a cliff in the next weeks. If true, one way to save lives is for NBC and other networks to control the seasonal commercials they run, ones that show families gathering pre-Covid style. Example. Commercials set the mood, everyone knows what Christmas season is, but this year has to be different or lots more people will suffer and die. I had this thought while watching her sobering presentation, followed by one of these feel-good everything's normal holiday commercials.

I like watching Maddow, but every once in a while, usually when she talks about Facebook, I am reminded that she can be as mean-spirited and dishonest as any Fox host, Hannity, Carlson or Ingraham. An example from last night. Trump recorded an unhinged video that they distributed via Facebook. Something anyone can do. You can, I can, anyone. This feature has been used in some amazing ways. A woman recorded her boyfriend being murdered by police in Minneapolis using Facebook's live video. It was remarkable and I think even a journalist Facebook-hater would have to admit, revolutionary. The whole point of everything on Facebook is that anyone can do it. What Maddow said: "Facebook would run it." Technically true, but irresponsibly misleading. She repeated it as she often does, with pauses and a look that was withering in contempt for Facebook. Her implication was that Fox wouldn't run it, Newsmax wouldn't run it, but Facebook, super slime that they are, would. There's an honest way to explore this, the way she does with other things she isn't expert on, have a discussion one night the tradeoffs of allowing anyone to post live video. But -- I what I really resent is that Maddow, who I want to believe is doing the best she can, in this case is misusing that trust and it makes me doubt the stuff she reports where I don't know enough to see through the bullshit.

I've been working on Categories lately, and referred to Radio UserLand for prior art. Radio's blogging functionality supported categories. Here's a screen shot. Radio shipped in 2002, when blogs were still called "weblogs."

For a simple gift for a friend with a taste for spice, try these spicy Wasabi Peas. I can go through a whole can in one sitting!

Our collective approach to the pandemic is very weird.

I need to buy new silverware, everyday stuff, nothing fancy. I've bought two sets from Amazon in the last few weeks, and both were too flimsy to use. They'd never stand up. All I want is some unbendable functional silverware. (Lots of great advice over on Twitter.)

I rearranged my office a few weeks ago so now I have room for a second monitor on my desk, something I had gotten accustomed to when I lived in Manhattan. But when I set up the second monitor, a BenQ, it was depressingly ugly. The text was fuzzy, the color was impossible to get right. On Cyber Monday, on Amazon, I spotted a deal for an HP montitor, the same size, 27 inch, for $170. It arrived yesterday and I set it up this morning, and what a difference! It's a pleasure to look over to the left and see the readout windows I leave over there. Night and day difference.

If journalism is supposedly how we save democracy then I guess journalism isn't doing a great job. In other words, when you hear that hype, go through it. If I sold you a laundry detergent that gets out stains, you'd be right to ask if it actually gets out stains.

This was the ad Coke had to run after the New Coke debacle. It's almost an apology. It certainly is a retraction. Clever. Not enough to erase the scar on the revered brand, which is still there 30-plus years later.

Our political system was hacked in 2016. The hackers got in and were running the show for four years. They installed all kinds of new back doors. So even when we close the front door (took us long enough!) and removed the old bug-infested OS, we are still hacked, and, in uncountable and many as-yet-to-be known ways.

HBO Max is a historic mess

I don't know what HBO Max is. I also don't know what HBO Go or HBO Now was. I do remember HBO. I started subscribing in the late 70s, when I was a grad student. It was a miracle. Home Box Office. First-run movies just after they finished in theaters. No commercials. Uncensored. The really good stuff. Much later they started producing their own shows, but for many years it was just movies. And it was great. Before that home entertainment was so awful, but we didn't know, until HBO showed us how it should really work.

Anyway, for a long time I got HBO with my cable subscription, until earlier this year I decided to cut the cord, and around the same time HBO cut the cord with Roku, the company that makes the operating system that my TV runs on, and at the same time introduced HBO Max and discontinued HBO Now and HBO Go.

So no more HBO for Davey. I missed it. I tried buying in as part of Hulu, but I didn't like that. HBO is its own thing, not something I want mixed in with all of Hulu's stuff. It would be like having to go through a minor cola brand to get a Coke. There's this institution called HBO. It's like the Statue of Liberty or the Eifel Tower, it's grand and revered, it's not something to be folded in with Hulu, which is great too, but it's just nowhere near the stature of HBO.

Then I saw something somewhere that maybe HBO and Roku are sort of getting it together, and I checked and lo and behold I can subscribe to HBO using the same HBO app that I love, not Go, Now, Pro or Max, just HBO. Maybe they've come to their senses! Okay, no Max but who cares, I never understood what it was anyway (probably because I don't care). Only when I tried to use it on my iPad, it wouldn't accept my login. It said something incomprehensible. I'll let you see if you can decipher it.

So I posted something on Twitter, and they responded, I gave them the info and they did something no company should ever do, they told me to talk to Roku.

HBO can't help you watch HBO. See if Roku cares.

I get it. A really shitty company bought HBO, and they're remarketing it, and in doing so, taking something that once was grand and superior, above the fray, beyond reproach, the gold standard of quality and turning it into schlock and schmutz, a schmatte. We're watching a great brand slowly and deliberately dismantle itself.

One more thing. They should get rid of the Max stuff. Just plain old HBO was great. I don't understand what's so max about it. Maybe it would be better to call it HBO Mess. ??

Today's song: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.

Poll: Should anyone be able to get a blue check mark on twitter as long as the identity of the person can easily be verified?

Interesting comments on yesteday's braintrust query. I've never used Asana -- I don't qualify, but apparently it's used for managing projects the way I described. I have used Trello. What I described apparently is "Agile" -- which, to me, means paying attention to how your product is used and making it better based on what you learn. Scrum is where you apply what you learned when being agile. I've always done this, made software for myself first, paid attention as it was used by myself and then others, and devised methods to get users to tell me more about their experience. Interestingly the BTQ itself is a form of agile, I'm trying to learn how to evolve my outliner to make it better for people doing this kind of work, and to make its advantage more obvious.

I have more ideas than I can implement. It gets worse all the time. When I decided to give them away that's when I started blogging, as a means to give them away.

OK, here's a free idea. I just read an audiobook written by a living author. I loved the book, and think he's a great writer. The author of the book could say what three books he recommends reading after his book and why they would be good choices. Having just read the book, I have an idea of what I'd like to learn about next. And the author's opinion would have a lot of value. I'd just spent a bit of time reading what they wrote. And of course the author could update the list, change which three books they recommend, and why.

What's the top thing you owe your surviving the pandemic to.

The first day of every month is great, because all the paywalls reset, and you can read anything you want, except for a few brutal paywalls that allow zero free reads.

Why no public funding of journalism? 1. The government would have to define journalism. 2. Journalism will be forever frozen as no more than it is now. 3. Journalism is bound to politics. So it can't change either. 4. Neither empowers their user base.

I want to delete all the episodes downloaded by Apple's Podcasts app. I've done it before so I know it's possible. Any clues much appreciated. [On Twitter, the best advice, which I used, was to delete the app and re-install. It saves the subscriptions but throws out the data. I had 31GB of downloaded podcasts. I needed none of them. Podcasts aren't like music, if you don't listen to one after a week (say) the app should just delete it.]

Best journalism of the decade

I've heard it asked who wrote the best bit of journalism in the last decade? That answer is very easy. Evan Osnos in the New Yorker.

In Sept 2016, he wrote a piece about what a Trump presidency would be like. He's the only one who did. It was unthinkable at the time that he'd win.

Why this was the best.

  1. Osnos thought of doing it.
  2. He didn't just dash it off, he thought, really learned about the subject.
  3. The piece was chilling.
  4. The artwork also.

And of course Trump did win, and now we're all experts in what happened next.

Writing about the unthinkable, that's when journalism can be great.

Here's my writeup of his piece, at the time. I called it the missed story of 2016.

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