Mostly garbage

Reading and ruminating

Hey friends. Back at it again with news you can use (not really at all) and some 🔥🔥 links as per usual.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health and old people/aging recently. I already wrote one longer rant on the former but have more to say, especially with regards to what “tackling stigma” really means. I’ve only touched on the later in passing before but I’ve got one WaPo story linked below that’s been rattling around my brain a bunch (for careful readers the reasons will be obvious). Expect more soon.

  • Watch: Fyre on Netflix. It’s pretty gleefully fucked up. (trailer) I’m planning on watching the Hulu one as well and will report my findings. And beyond the indictment of celebrity, influencer culture, extractive tourism, etc. there’s a lot to be said about what Fyre says about how startup funding works.

  • Subscribe: to Meatspace a “weekly digest of weird/wack/need-to-know tech news.” It’s some tasty stuff.

  • Give a rye chuckle for: a good twete from me:

How PayPal Escaped Dot-Com Obsolescence - Drake Bennett and Julie Verhage, Businessweek

This is a good article on executive shuffles and reinvention at the digital payments giant. But with time, I think it will look overly rosy. PayPal’s salvation is by no means fait accompli. The company has had every opportunity to beat companies like Stripe and Square but moves to slow on each new opportunity, even after getting its independence from eBay. Venmo, their best chance to really push into consumer fintech has floundered under PayPal and they’ve done fuck all on product innovation elsewhere. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m very bullish on Square and Stripe; I’m very willing to bet against PayPal every time.

In the late 2000s, almost a decade after it first went public, PayPal was drifting toward obsolescence and consistently alienating the small businesses that paid it to handle their online checkout. Much of the company’s code was being written offshore to cut costs, and the best programmers and designers had fled the company. The result was a slow site whose rickety infrastructure made updates and new features laborious and rare. […]

The turnaround started with David Marcus, a French-born entrepreneur who came to EBay when it bought his mobile payments startup in 2011. He’d been there less than a year when he was asked to run PayPal, and he quickly set about rebuilding the software platform, replenishing the ranks of programming talent, and softening the corporate persnicketiness about disputes and suspicious transactions. He invited customers to tweet their complaints at him. He also began to push the digital payments processor into new markets. He oversaw the development of PayPal Here, which uses a plastic card reader that plugs into phones and tablets, turning them into digital cash registers. (The idea was pioneered by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s other company, Square Inc.)

Too Many Americans Will Never Be Able to Retire - Noah Smith, Bloomberg

We’re totally fucked without more immigration and/or more support for parents. I vote both.

The U.S. bounced back from falling fertility once before, in the late 1980s. But as economist Lyman Stone has written, there are reasons why history may not repeat itself. High and increasing costs of housing, child care and education show no sign of reversing. The need for ever-higher levels of education in order to thrive in the U.S. job market is causing families to delay childbirth, which results in fewer children. Stone projects that U.S. fertility rates could fall as low as 1.5 or 1.4 — the levels that prevail in Japan and some European countries.

There is one more source of population growth that the U.S. has traditionally depended on — immigration. Low-skilled immigrants make it easier to raise kids by providing cheap child-care services. High-skilled immigrants earn more and pay a lot of taxes, while using few government services themselves, meaning that their fiscal contribution is enormously positive.

Gay Priests and the Lives They No Longer Want to Hide - Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine

Say what you will about Andrew Sullivan generally (there’s a lot to say) but he does a really great job on this feature. Sullivan explains/explores the rich history of gay men in the Catholic Church and how it does/does not relate to the pedophilia crisis. Homosexuality, being tacitly acknowledged but expressly forbidden in the Church, creates the perfect pretext for extortion and blackmail, perpetuating a culture of silence. This article is too long and too nuanced to really be well teased with a blurb that’s not just trolly but I promise it’s well worth your time:

But most had some kind of past incident or failing that could be used against them if made public, even if it were only their identity as a gay man. And so a poisonous kind of omertà took hold, the priesthood acting as a forum of mutually assured destruction. Since many fellow priests know about each other’s sexuality and/or lapses, they all have the ability to blackmail one another. Mundane failings — like a brief affair — can become easily blurred with profound evils like child abuse. If you expose a child molester to his superior, for example, he might expose your own homosexuality and destroy your career.

This dynamic has made the clerical closet — not the fact of gay priests but the way that fact has been hidden — a core mechanism for tolerating and enabling abuse. On top of all this, the vow of obedience to superiors gives gay bishops and cardinals huge sway over their priestly flock. Some, of course, realized this power could be leveraged for sex and abused it.

Black Hebrew Israelites: New York’s Most Obnoxious Prophets - Steven Thrasher, Village Voice

This “retro” (from 2011) read feels timely. The Black Hebrew Israelites were pretty central to the Covington Catholic incident in DC (WaPo) and are a pretty likely candidate to replace the Nation of Islam as the next great boogeyman of the American right wing.

The Westboro Church in Topeka, Kansas, comes to town but once a year. This freak show runs several times a week—and it’s free. If you want death-defying thrills and the possibility of bodily injuries, save the $200 Bono will charge to risk Reeve Carney falling on your head, and instead just ask a Black Hebrew Israelite, “Don’t you think Jesus said that God was a God of love?”

The N.F.L.’s Obesity Scourge - Ken Belson, New York Times

How the NFL punishes bodies even beyond the toll of CTE. I really just don’t think football has a future as a major American sport beyond the next few decades.

After 13 years in the N.F.L., ending in 1989, he had done lasting damage to his back, knees and feet. He had regular headaches, the result of about a dozen concussions. When he retired he took up golf to stay in shape. But the effects of his football injuries added up, limiting his activity. He had four degenerative disks in his back and no feeling in his right leg, and he had sleep apnea. His inability to exercise exacerbated his problems.

“It’s not like I gained 100 pounds right away,” he said.

The ‘Golden Girls’ trend could be a golden opportunity for retirees facing isolation - Adina Solomon, Washington Post

I have a keen interest in co-living and have been thinking about it as being potentially better suited for retirees for some time. I don’t have much more to say for the moment beyond that I really want to explore this idea at greater length. Peep this from WaPo while I ruminate.

The number of people 65 and older who live as roommates is small — just under 2 percent in 2016 — but rising quickly, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In the decade leading up to 2016, the older population grew 33 percent, while the number of older home-sharers jumped 88 percent.

This practice could allow more people to live in walkable areas that support independence and mental health.

“We have a huge issue and problem with elders aging in this country in huge amounts, not living as we should,” said Marianne Kilkenny, founder of Women for Living in Community, an organization that brings women together to create communities for growing older. “We’re wanting the social cohesion, and know that we need to be connected and want to be, but the path isn’t there.”

Also where is the 65+ year-old influencer community? Feel like that’s a huge untapped opportunity.