Billionaire Beach Villain Vinod Khosla has a thought concerning Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Vinod Khosla is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who chose to define his legacy through a spectacular legal battle to block access to the public part of a beach area he owns in California.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, whose openly progressive positions (especially a proposal to tax rich people's incomes at 70% after the first $10,000,000 a year) have shocked conservatives into an all-consuming hysteria. Moreover, she's very good at Twitter.

Political analyst Anand Giridharadas remarked, this weekend, that the right's condescension and sneering at "AOC" threatened to expose its parochial instincts:

"If you think a freshman congresswoman who actually connects with people and actually understands new technology is the problem with America," Giridharadas wrote, "it may be that you are the problem with America."

Vinod Khosla, however, doubled down on the condescension.

"That is assuming she understands basic economics, actual humans and technology. I doubt if any of those are true."

This would be an unremarkable sentiment if its author had 22 followers and an 8-digit number in their Twitter handle. But in this case it's one of America's richest men. It's so wrong at each turn it only illustrates the hapless self-regard for which The New York Times mocked him as the "beach villain" this generation deserves—and an obvious proxy for the Valley's broader culture.

That is assuming she understands basic economics

Ocasio-Cortez holds a degree in Economics from Boston University and worked 18 hours a day to fend off a bank's attempt to foreclose on her family home. Khosla has a plan to 3D-print little houses for homeless people.

, actual humans

Ocasio-Cortez deposed the leader-in-waiting of the Democratic Party, was elected the youngest congresswoman in history, and instantly became America's second-most discussed politician. Khosla struggles to understand why blocking access to a popular public beach has made him unpopular.

, technology

Khosla is a successful tech investor, but his public endgame encompasses Twitter rants about the Times, defending his trade's record on sexual harassment, and saying mean things about women and "liberal bigots". AOC quotes Alan Moore to the men who say she should be reined in and crafts the laws that govern us. In this is a generational distiction – technology as a road, technology as abode. Who, here, lives with technology?

I doubt if any of those are true.

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
— William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Photo: Shutterstock

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reaches more people on Twitter than the press and establishment Democrats

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Twitter ninja, whose Twitter interactions far outstrip any establishment Democrat (including powerhouses like Kamala Harris and Barack Obama) as well as media outlets from CNN to the New York Times. Yeah, she trails Trump, but he tweets three times as much as she does and also gets a baseline of attention thanks to the presidency. Naked Capitalism's Jerri-Lynn Scofield reveals ACO's secret: "She’s preaching popular, common sense, underexpressed messages. But honestly, would a new member of Congress be so dominating the national conversation, if other Democrats were either less clueless or less beholden to their donors?"

Create flawless front-end designs with this UI / UX bible

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The Complete UI & UX Design Master Class Bundle is now $39.

Listen: HP Lovecraft's "The Outsider" and "The Hound" read by Roddy McDowall

On this 1966 LP, British actor Roddy McDowall -- later known for playing Dr. Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes films -- delivers a wonderful reading of HP Lovecraft's classic short story "The Outsider." First published in Weird Tales in 1926, this nightmarish gothic-inspired tale is arguably one of Lovecraft's finest pieces of psychological horror.

The B-side is a reading of Lovecraft's "The Hound" (1922) featuring the very first mention of the infamous Necronomicon:

(via r/ObscureMedia)

Pioneering punk print 'zine Maximum Rocknroll is ceasing publication after nearly 40 years

Maximum Rocknroll, the seminal punk print 'zine launched in 1982, is ceasing publication of its paper edition. This truly marks the end of an era in punk culture and underground media. According to today's announcement, MRR will continue its weekly radio show, post record reviews online, continue its archiving effort, and launch other new projects that will keep the unbreakable Maximum Rocknroll spirit alive. From MRR:

Maximum Rocknroll began as a radio show in 1977. For the founders of Maximum Rocknroll, the driving impulse behind the radio show was simple: an unabashed, uncompromising love of punk rock. In 1982, buoyed by burgeoning DIY punk and hardcore scenes all over the world, the founders of the show — Tim Yohannan & the gang — launched Maximum Rocknroll as a print fanzine. That first issue drew a line in the sand between the so-called punks who mimicked society’s worst attributes — the “apolitical, anti-historical, and anti-intellectual,” the ignorant, racist, and violent — and MRR’s principled dedication to promoting a true alternative to the doldrums of the mainstream. That dedication included anti-corporate ideals, avowedly leftist politics, and relentless enthusiasm for DIY punk and hardcore bands and scenes from every inhabited continent of the globe. Over the next several decades, what started as a do-it-yourself labor of love among a handful of friends and fellow travelers has extended to include literally thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of readers. Today, forty-two years after that first radio show, there have been well over 1600 episodes of MRR radio and 400 issues of Maximum Rocknroll fanzine — not to mention some show spaces, record stores, and distros started along the way — all capturing the mood and sound of international DIY punk rock: wild, ebullient, irreverent, and oppositional.

Needless to say, the landscape of the punk underground has shifted over the years, as has the world of print media. Many of the names and faces behind Maximum Rocknroll have changed too. Yet with every such shift, MRR has continued to remind readers that punk rock isn’t any one person, one band, or even one fanzine. It is an idea, an ethos, a fuck you to the status quo, a belief that a different kind of world and a different kind of sound is ours for the making.

These changes do not mean that Maximum Rocknroll is coming to an end. We are still the place to turn if you care about Swedish girl bands or Brazilian thrash or Italian anarchist publications or Filipino teenagers making anti-state pogo punk, if you are interested in media made by punks for punks, if you still believe in the power and potential of autonomously produced and underground culture. We certainly still do, and look forward to the surprises, challenges, and joys that this next chapter will bring. Long live Maximum Rocknroll.

Trump chose a thin-skinned, blowhard ignoramus as ambassador to Germany, and now no one will talk to him except Nazis

In many ways, Richard Grenell was the perfect pick for Trump's ambassador to Germany: a longtime Fox News pundit and John Bolton protege whose vanity and narcissism cause him to lash out constantly (and undiplomatically) at the nation he's meant to be charming, and whose thin-skinned insecurity sends him into spirals of misery and approval-seeking a the first hint of criticism. (more…)

Did the ‘National Enquirer’ finally get one right with its sensational exposé of Bezos’s affair?

“The World’s Richest Man Caught Cheating!” screams a National Enquirer special edition devoting 11 lurid pages to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and his alleged marriage-wrecking affair. You can loathe the tabloids for their flagrant disregard of facts, their rampant dishonesty, flights of fantasy and mean-spirited personal attacks, but one thing they undeniably do well is stalk celebrities.

And while it’s highly debatable whether such intrusion into the deeply personal life of a private businessman is morally or journalistically acceptable, there is no denying that it was the impending publication of a special edition of the Enquirer revelations that prompted Bezos to issue a public statement confessing his marital split.

“The cheating photos that ended his marriage,” promises the Enquirer cover. “Text sex and wild romps on his private jet! How he stole another mogul’s wife!” Just in case you’ve been living in a sensory depravation tank for the past week or been locked in a pitch-black bathroom for a month to win a $100,000 bet, Bezos and his novelist wife of 25 years MacKenzie have announced their separation after the Enquirer claimed that he has been cheating with TV reporter Lauren Sanchez, who happens to be married to one of Hollywood’s most powerful agents, Patrick Whitesell.

The Enquirer boasts that it spent four months pursuing Bezos’s secret romantic trysts across America, traversing five states and 40,000 miles, and claims to have the photos to prove it. There’s Jeff and Lauren arriving in Los Angeles on October 18, 2018 after a “Miami getaway.” There they are boarding his private Gulfstream jet in Boston on October 29. They’re there again exiting his jet in Santa Monica, California and dining at a nearby restaurant on October 30, 2018.

Enquirer photographers were alongside when the couple arrived at Sanchez's Santa Monica home on November 26, and watched Bezos depart at 1pm the following day. Three days later the Enquirer was there yet again as Bezos and Sanchez enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant, and followed them to the Beverly Hills Hotel where Bezos had rented a private bungalow.
The Enquirer boasts that its photographers caught the lovebirds “doing the dirty on their unsuspecting spouses together no fewer than six times in 14 days.”

But how “dirty” dd the couple actually get? In fact, the “photos that ended his marriage” all show Bezos and Sanchez walking, dining or driving together without the slightest show of affection. After its four-month investigation there isn't a single photo of Bezos and Sanchez so much as holding hands, let alone kissing or hugging.

Their romantic dinner in Santa Monica on October 30? They were joined by two friends, so it was hardly a secret romantic tryst. That night Sanchez reportedly stayed at Bezos’s Los Angeles mansion and departed around noon the following day – but the Enquirer has no way of knowing whether Sanchez actually shared her host’s bed or stayed in one of his many guest bedrooms.

“Explosive photos" of their arrival in Bezos’s jet at California’s Burbank airport on October 18 are billed as “plane raunchy!” But in fact these snaps merely show Bezos and Sanchez standing near one another, barely touching, with Sanchez seemingly focused on her phone, not on Bezos. Another secret liaison? Not exactly, since they were accompanied by Sanchez’s sister and assistant.

On October 27, when Bezos and Sanchez stayed at the Intercontinental hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, the Enquirer admits that she stayed in a separate room, and only saw them both leaving the hotel the following day – without any way of knowing what went on behind closed doors. The Enquirer has never needed facts to leap to conclusions, so it was an easy leap of faith for them to link the dots and decide that Bezos and Sanchez were lovers.

Flying in his private jet together? They must have joined the “Mile High Club,” the Enquirer assumes. Having dinner together with two friends? They must be playing “footsie,” says the Enquirer. Armed with a plethora of suspicion and supposition, the Enquirer confronted Bezos with its allegations on January 7 – and Bezos blinked.

Two days later he issued a public statement announcing the break-up of his marriage, and the assurance that he and estranged wife MacKenzie remains friends. But he made no mention of Sanchez, and there is still no proof – only circumstantial evidence – linking the two romantically, though it seems highly likely that the Enquirer finally got one right.

Was it guilt that pushed Bezos to confess, even though he has not admitted any affair? The clincher for the Enquirer seems to have been a series of gushing and sexually-charged text messages allegedly sent by Bezos to Sanchez – and yet their provenance and content seem dubious.

“I want to breathe you in,” he allegedly wrote. “I want to hold you tight . . . I want to kiss your lips . . . I love you . . . I want to kiss you right now and tuck you in slowly and gently.” Bezos reportedly sent Sanchez photos of himself posing shirtless wearing only a towel, along with “a below-the-belt selfie too explicit to describe in detail.” And that’s what sets alarm bells ringing, because the Enquirer has never found anything too explicit to describe. In fact, they rejoice in publishing such photos, albeit with some discreet pixilation.

The iPhone displays of Bezos’s text messages are not actual photographs, and a discreetly hidden small-print caption reveals they are only “text re-creations.” How much confidence does the Enquirer have in the accuracy of its text message trove? Rather than quote them elsewhere in its 11-page exposé as proof of Bezos' supposed love for Sanchez, the leading article states: “We can reveal Bezos has been telling a confidant that he’s ‘in love’ with Sanchez, that his ‘heart never felt safer . . .'"

Why would the Enquirer choose to quote an unnamed source when it supposedly has Bezos’s own declarations of love from his text messages? Because they don’t believe them, or seriously doubt the texts' accuracy. Not that the Enquirer is lacking for named sources: it brings us an interview with Bezos’ aunt, Kathy Jorgensen, who assures us that abandoned wife MacKenzie Bezos “will take him to the cleaners . . . She knows the dirtiest secrets about him . . . they’ll probably settle and add in the agreement she can never discuss what she knows about Jeff.”

Would it be churlish to point out that Bezos was two years old when his parents split and he was raised by his mother, so that his father’s side of the family – including aunt Kathy Jorgensen – has not seen Bezos in 53 years, since he was just out of diapers? And that’s what qualifies as a great source in the Enquirer universe.

The Enquirer claims that Bezos, when confronted with its suspicions, “mused to one source: ‘Could I buy the story from them?’” From past experience, it’s perhaps surprising that the Enquirer wouldn’t have leaped at this opportunity to cash in, while maintaining leverage over the world’s wealthiest – and most influential – men. Ultimately, the Enquirer ended its "four-month investigation" – which only appears to have covered a period of less than three months – with a collection of photos showing Bezos and Sanchez together, often with other friends and colleagues accompanying them, but nothing catching them in flagrante delicto.

Circumstantial evidence was enough to push Bezos to confess the end of his marriage – but will he admit an affair with Sanchez? “Enquiring minds are first to know the truth,” concludes the rag’s investigation. Only time will tell.

A celebration of the indie, DRM-free Audible alternative that helps your local bookseller (with giveaway!)

(Neither Boing Boing nor I have received any compensation for this post: asked me to post this and I did so because I want to see them succeed -Cory) (previously) is an independent audiobook store that sells all the same audiobooks you can get on other platforms like Audible, Google Play, Apple, Downpour, etc, but unlike the industry leaders at Audible and Apple, they are DRM-free, and unlike all of their competition, they work with independent booksellers. (more…)

SpaceX laid off 10% of its employees

Elon Musk's SpaceX let go 10% of its 6,000 person staff today. In May of last year, the company stated that it has had "many years" of continuing profitability and in recent weeks raised $273 million so far in a planned $500 million funding round.

"To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell wrote in an email to employees. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team..."

From the Los Angeles Times:

SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.

The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a “hopper test” of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month...

SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email.

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