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Real time harassment

In this surreal moment, at the same moment when they were talking about Trump on twitter, Trump tweeted and may have earned himself another article of impeachment for threatening a witness. Did he walk into a trap? Surreal.

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Current Events

Impeachment Bon Mots

David Holmes had a front row seat to a follow up phone call between Ambassador Sondland and the President. Here is a selection from his testimony,

The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off to our sides. At first, the lunch was largely social. Ambassador Sondland selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us, and we discussed topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business.

During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of “Gordon Sondland holding for the President.” It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistants. I then noticed Ambassador Sondland’s demeanor change, and understood that he had been connected to President Trump. While Ambassador Sondland’s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President’s voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President’s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.

I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain that he was calling from Kyiv. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelenskyy “loves your ass.” I then heard President Trump ask, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Ambassador Sondland replied that “he’s gonna do it,” adding that President Zelenskyy will do “anything you ask him to.” Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made. I believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Sondland was speaking with the President.

David Holmes testimony, November 15, 2019

Trump was speaking so loudly, Sondland had to hold the earpiece of his phone away from his face, that is why David Holmes could overhear Trump say, “So, he’s gonna do the investigation?”

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Current Events

Impeachment Bon Mots

Ambassador Taylor had to reach for his water before dropping this one.

Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about “the investigations.” Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

Ambassador William B. Taylor, Opening Statement – 11-13-19

Imagine how loud the President must have been talking into his phone for someone sitting nearby to be able to overhear and recognize not only his voice but the words.

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Current Events

Finding Balance

Jeff Sessions visited Northwestern University to give a talk. There were protests. In one, students forced their way into the room and broke some things. Northwestern Daily, the school paper, reported on the event and interviewed some of the protestors and the reporters shared some of their photos.

Some people got mad. Said their privacy was violated. Said they could be kicked out of school now that they’ve been identified.

The editor apologized for publishing names and photographs of the protesting students. “Going forward, we are working on setting guidelines for source outreach, social media and covering marginalized groups.” Said they would try harder to adhere to the SPJ Code of Ethics (a very concise and well-written guide btw.)

Other people got mad. Said that there was no need to apologize for doing what any journalist should do, journalism.

Into this fracas Charles Whitaker, the Dean of the School of Journalism, published a statement which starts out formally but wraps up with this wonderfully folksy appeal that strikes just the right balance, inviting participation amongst the students and telling the adults to respectfully let the kids work things out for themselves.

So to our student activists, I say let’s have a dialogue about what journalism is and what you might expect when you hold a protest in a public setting. Feel free to critique the coverage. That’s what The Daily’s opinion pages are for. Better yet, join the staff. The Daily is not and should not be the lone provenance of Medill students. I assure you, your input would be welcomed. But waging war on our students on social media—threatening them both physically and emotionally—is beyond the pale. Our community deserves a more civil level of discourse.

And to the swarm of alums and journalists who are outraged about The Daily editorial and have been equally rancorous in their condemnation of our students on social media, I say, give the young people a break. I know you feel that you were made of sterner stuff and would have the fortitude and courage of your conviction to fend off the campus critics. But you are not living with them through this firestorm, facing the brutal onslaught of venom and hostility that has been directed their way on weaponized social media. Don’t make judgments about them or their mettle until you’ve walked in their shoes. What they need at this moment is our support and the encouragement to stay the course.

Charles Whitaker, Dean, Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism

We are living in different times. The sooner we can let the kids work things out, the sooner they can teach us how things have changed.

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Current Events

A lifetime in two minutes

It’s been awhile since I’ve used the advertising tag to highlight ads that cross over that line to something more than just marketing. This two-minute commercial from Renault qualifies.

“Many things have changed in those thirty years,” added Dave Monk, Executive Creative Director at Publicis-Poke, who produced the ad. “While technology, design, attitudes and culture will always shift and change, one thing will always stay the same as long as humans have hearts. The love story. This is a simple and universal tale of two souls on their own enduring journey of life, love and passion.”

Out
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Current Events

A night at the museum

Stopped by the Oakland Museum of California on the way home from work yesterday to check out the Burning Man block party. All the Burner Royalty were there with folks dressed to the nines. Lots of families but also many older folks that dusted off their old playa gear (furry coats, top hats, scarves, lights, and goggles) to show up for a celebration of their culture.

The Fire Dancers from The Crucible were there,

There was a temple,

Bliss was there as well, under a full moon,

Truth is Beauty by Marco Cochrane

There was this crazy gamelan band that sounded like Thai monks on speed. They were doing this funny dance/performance with these Tibetan cymbals that sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

Gamelan X

Finally there was a funky brass band that sounded like a you feel when you’re running really fast on the top of a ridge, just barely in control.

Mission Delirium

Definitely had a good time – always worth it taking the long way home!

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Current Events

Headline Spectrum

So interesting when you lay the headlines along a spectrum. You can pick up quick a bit from just a headline.

  • Trump caves, says he will release whistleblower complaint, IG report
  • Schumer will press resolution to force administration to release whistleblower complaint to Congress
  • Trump caves to Congress — will release full whistleblower complaint and IG report
  • WH prepares to release whistleblower complaint to Congress
  • White House preparing to release whistleblower complaint to Congress
  • Trump to release whistleblower complaint to Congress: report
  • White House preparing to release whistleblower complaint
  • White House will release whistleblower complaint to Congress: official
  • WH to release document showing intel community watchdog found whistleblower had ‘political bias,’ official says
  • Whistleblower’s legal team, in statement, supports releasing full complaint to lawmakers
  • White House Preparing to Release Whistleblower Complaint
  • White House reportedly moving to release full whistleblower complaint
  • White House to release document that shows findings of ‘political bias’ by whistleblower
  • Report: White House Planning To Give Whistleblower Complaint To Congress Within Days

These come from a new feature that SmartNews launched called the News From All Sides slider. You can read more about it on TechCrunch.

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Current Events

Revving up the Election

Guess who’s running for congress and ready to kick some ass?

Things are starting to heat up.

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Current Events

XOXO 2019

My visit this year was abbreviated because of other commitments but I am grateful that I did get to spend at least some time at one of my favorite gatherings. It was also fun this year because I got to introduce XOXO to my colleague at work, Vincent Chang, who has a side gig as a game designer.

Vincent’s game is available at a local bookshop

I was happy to hear that the organizers decided against a repeat of last year’s experiment to hold the conference in the cavernous Veterans Memorial Coliseum and returned to the more intimate grounds of Revolution Hall. I applaud their attempt to be more inclusive with the larger venue but, ultimately, something is lost when you host intimate talks in a cavernous hockey rink.

This was my third XOXO (post from 2018). Each time I go, I gain a deeper appreciation for what Andy & Andy are building. I confess that I do not feel marginalized as some of the presenters but, as an Asian-American, it is helpful to learn about the struggles described in some of the talks. Empathy comes from understanding and I thank all the presenters for being so brave to share their stories and the audience in being so collectively supportive.

Against the backdrop of fascinating talks about the etymology of Ms. and the hegemony inflicted upon us by culturally one-dimensional restaurant reviewers , this year I focused on the attendees and their interesting And varied backgrounds. We were encouraged to spend 80% of our time listening and 20% talking. Moving beyond the standard conference introductions such as, “Where do you work, what do you do?” and spending time to uncover a person’s inner fire was immensely rewarding.

Some people I met included

  • a couple that was deep into Japanese Pro-Wrestling as an art form. They turned me on to Hoodslam, a world I’ve never heard about, taking place right in my backyard.
  • a recent migrant to San Francisco who was now working on a secret VR/AR project
  • a woman who took the last year before she turned 31 to take advantage of Australia’s Working Holiday program
  • I also learned more about anxiety and had an open conversation with those that experience it, what it is like and what are things that I can say that can help someone having a severe anxiety attack. I learned about Box Breathing.

Video

Estelle Caswell (Earworm) showed her video exploration into the male falsetto in popular music and answered questions about the process to make the video presenting her findings. FYI: she made a Spotify playlist.

Conference

I was only able to attend Saturday’s talks but each one was excellent.

Tracy Clayton reminded us Not only of the importance and value of a diverse workplace but also underscored that Diversity isn’t the same as Inclusion. Tracy grew up on Twitter and drew strength and support from her network but the same thing that was keeping her alive was also hurting her emotionally. She shared her struggle to reconcile those two forces and find hope. “Hope leads to motivation, motivation leads to action, and action leads to change.”

Emma Kinema shared her experience as a labor organizer for the video game industry drawling a line from the IWW in the 1930s to the present day struggles of video game developers. Organized labor as something that can unite people in our politically divided world was a theme all weekend both in and outside the conference. The labor movement is strong in Portland.

YouTube personality hbomberguy shared the story of his epic 57-hour Twitch stream in which he raised over $300k for the British Trans Rights charity Mermaids. At hour 56, AOC showed up.

The charming couple Rekka and Devine make up the Hundred Rabbits team. They shared their adventures of moving their life on to a 33-foot sailboat Pino and making their way across the Pacific to Japan. Life on the water lead to extreme self-reliance and radical simplification. 11GB XCode updates and Adobe Creative Suite connectivity are unacceptable on a satellite phone connection so they were forced to build alternative solutions. Just as open source tools lead to more efficient solutions for their technology, they also have open-sourced their lifestyle to help others live off the grid.

Photo by Arnaud de Bock

Black Belt Eagle Scout shared stories about her life as an radical indigenous queer feminist from the Pacific Northwest and sang her song You’re Me and I’m You.

Soliel Ho confronts East Coast media ignorance of Boba

Soleil Ho, one of the hosts of the Racist Sandwich podcast that covers the race & politics of food. Here’s a link to Episode 14 which talks about the politics of food photography. Soleil has now become one of those she used to rail against as the new food critic at the San Francisco Chronicle. In her words, “Representation in media is a powerful thing but you must beware of commodification.” This is her new challenge.

Caitlin Doughty shared her career path to a mortician and how she started her “death-positive” movement. I learned a lot about things that are not normally talked about.

Arcade

Wild at Heart beta tester

I chatted with one of the developers at Moonlight Kids, a game studio that is halfway done with, Wild at Heart. They expect it will take their small team two years to complete. The team is completely distributed and the festival was one of the rare times that the team were together. I asked how they coordinate their work schedules and maintain momentum towards deadlines set by their publisher. One thing they try and do every week is open an hours long conference call, not with any set agenda but just as a way to connect, to keep the lines open for quick questions and to be there for each other.

Tabletop

I wish I could say more – it was fun but a bit overwhelming as I’m not much of a game player. Vincent and I played Mechanica while the one of the designers of the game patiently walked us thru the mechanics. It had something to do with making vacuum cleaners.

Vincent was really in his element and he signed us up for a “Super Secret” playtest of a game called The Adventure Zone. Our round was led by Keith Baker who is someone really famous in gaming circles. He was really nice and took an interest in Vincent’s game which made him very happy.

Story

Everything is Alive

Saw the tail end of a live performance of Everything is Alive, the podcast where they interview inanimate objects. In this episode they interviewed a chainsaw.

The Allusionist talking about singular they

Finally, I enjoyed the exhaustive breakdown of the Ghostbusters theme song by Ray Parker Jr., and learned about the history around the lawsuit(s). I’ll never not be able to hear Ray’s “Bustin’ makes me feel good!” line again.

Wrapping up, Demi Adejuyigbe made an announcement that he was finishing the season (and moving on from the show) and threw down the most amazing dance routine to a mashup of all the songs covered in the season. Here’s just part of it.

Greater Portland

Vincent and I explored several places around Town.

We ducked out for dinner at McMenamin’s Kennedy School located about 6 miles outside of town but well worth the trip. The complex is a restored 1915 school with each of the rooms converted for alternative uses. There’s a speakeasy in the “Detention Room” and a Beer hall set up with crazy pipework art in the “Boiler Room” – well worth the trip but bring your bathing suit as I hear the soaking tub is quite nice too.

The Boiler Room

Back in the late-80s I visited Portland for the first time to see my sister who was attending Reed College at the time. Late one evening she and her friends took me to a cafe. All I remembered about it was that there was one table in the room that was rigged up with a pneumatic lift that ever-so-slowly would push the table upwards and downwards. They always left the table open for out-of-town visitors so that the unknowing visitor would at some point realize that what was once a normal table was now up around their chin, would let out a yelp and the rest of the room would giggle and welcome them to Portland. Vincent promptly googled and found the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, right around the corner from the conference!

Other spots visited:

If you’ve read this far, thank you for indulging me. XOXO 2019 was a rich experience that I will reflect upon many months afterwards. Thank you Andy x Andy for making all the arrangements – I’m spiritually recharged with a renewed sense of optimism for the potential of a connected humanity.

Resources:

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Current Events

Pete Buttigieg & Structural Change

While it’s important to talk about the issues, they are all just ideas and plans until we have a debate about the structure of our political system – that is what is limiting our ability to make real changes that will stick.

Here’s Mayor Pete from last night’s debate:

[This is] the conversation that we have been having for the last 20 years. Of course we need to get money out of politics, but when I propose the actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference — end the Electoral College, amend the Constitution if necessary to clear up Citizens United, have DC actually be a state, and depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform — people look at me funny, as if this country was incapable of structural reform.

This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn’t drink and changed it back because we changed our minds, and you’re telling me we can’t reform our democracy in our time. We have to or we will be having the same argument 20 years from now.

via Pete Buttigieg had the most important answer at the Democratic debate