Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same

“Semantic satiation is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds.” Read the rest

The open-plan office is dead, long live the plexiglass work panopticon

Brian Roemmele writes that a large tech company has "just about zeroed out" the supply of plexiglass and office dividers.

"Had an interesting Zoom today with a group of architects and office planers," Roemmele posted on Twitter. "A nearly 100% sell-out of plexiglass and plastic/cloth office dividers. One very large tech company—just today made an order for ~5000 that just about zeroed our all in the US. 3 month backlog."

The future of more adaptable working arrangements centered on telecommuting, with all the good and bad elements this implies, was always a fantasy. The likely reality is everyone being hauled back into the office as quickly as possible, returning to translucent cubicles and an overwhelming array of theatrical medical-security protocols that boil down distancing, personal surveillance, scheduled movements and no AC into a perfectly soul-deadening nexus of liability management.

The good news, though, is that open-plan offices are dead! Read the rest

Amazon to delay Prime Day over coronavirus

Amazon will delay its annual marketing and money-making Prime Day due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read the rest

Finally, Amazon + Whole Foods workers to get masks, temperature checks

After weeks of workers' complaints they are at risk because of lack of coronavirus protections, Amazon says it will deploy face masks and temperature checks for workers by next week.

The company says it will provide protective gear to staff at all its U.S. and European warehouses, in addition to all Whole Foods stores, by early next week. Read the rest

Peak billionaire: a billionaire tries to purchase a party nomination to outflank anti-billionaires so he can run against another billionaire

The past two years have seen a tremendous shift in the public perception of capitalism and socialism, the character of philanthropy as reputation-laundry rather than generosity, and the nature of wealth as an indicator of sociopathy, not virtue or cleverness. Read the rest

Mexican Walmart employees strike to demand wages

I've spent a lot of time in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It's a beautiful place, filled with friendly people and an insanely low cost of living... if you're from somewhere further north in North America. In my experience, Mexicans are a hard-working people. They want to earn their way. That's not easy to do in a nation where many citizens, when they can find work are forced to work for pauper's wages. In some cases, the only compensation for doing your job in Mexico comes in the form of tips from those willing to help you get by. The folks that bag groceries and other consumer goods in big box stores like Walmart? Nothing but tips, baby. With any luck, at least in Cancun, this could soon change.

From Riviera Maya News:

With the support of la Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC) workers at Walmart stores including Sam’s Club, Bodega Aurrerá, Superama and Walmart demanded a salary for their work.

The workers, who are grocery baggers at the various Walmart outlets, are not paid anything beyond tips. El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional of CROC says that the Walmart chain has refused talks to solve the lack-of-pay issues with its workers.

El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional says the American chain store violates their labor rights. The workers protested outside a 24-hour Cancun Walmart where they demanded a salary and legal benefits for the packers since their tips have drastically decreased due to the ban on plastic bags.

Hard work for a fair wage? Read the rest

Man critical of decision to site two virtually identical tire shops next to same Taco Bell

A man in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, was confused when the Tire Discounters next to Taco Bell refused to honor a quote, then bemused to learn that the place he'd called was actually Discount Tires—on the other side of the Taco Bell.

"What I experienced that day was crazy, funny, yet I'm still mad at the asshole who did this," adds Michael Gearlds.

Gearlds offers a simple but perfectly cromulent critique of the hotelier model of location competition, the hotelling principle of minimal differention, and their spread to other retail segments.

I wanted to see if the restaurant on the other side of the tire shop was a Chipotle, but according to Google Maps it's a Red Robin. Read the rest

What happens when Walmart leaves town

Small towns had business districts. Then small towns had Walmarts. Then small towns had nothing.

For nearly 20 years retailers in downtown Winnsboro, South Carolina struggled to compete with Walmart's cheap products and one-stop shopping. As we reported in 2016, Walmart closed its supercenter there three years ago, one of 154 stores it shuttered across the country that year. NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker returned to see what life after Walmart is like for the small American town.

Read the rest

Apple doesn't give a shit about your kids

Apple doesn't give a shit about your child's education. But then, neither does any other tech company: they only care about what they can sell to schools and parents.

This likely isn't news to anyone reading this, but I feel like it needs to be said.

This morning Apple held an education-centric event at a high school in Chicago. They released a new iPad. With the exception of a processor bump and the fact that it supports Apple Pencil, it's very much like the last iteration of the iPad. They're selling it for $329 or, if you're a student or educator, it can be had for $299. Need an Apple Pencil? That'll be an additional $99. Let me reframe this for you: One of the most lucrative companies in the world thinks it's a grand gesture to knock $30 off the price of their hardware for anyone involved in book learnin'. But, if they want to make full use of the iPad's capabilities, it'll cost them another $99 to do so.

This, at a time when when parents are running crowdsourcing campaigns for classroom supplies and to keep schools heated during the cold months of the year.

The real reason that they've shaved a sliver of fat off their pricing is because they're getting bled to death in the education sector by companies churning out less expensive Chrome OS hardware. Google's Chrome OS might not be able to boast the wide assortment of quality apps that an iOS device does, but the operating system doesn't need high-end specs to run on. Read the rest

Monopoly: Cheaters Edition is indicative of our times

"A recent study conducted by Hasbro revealed that nearly half of game players attempt to cheat during Monopoly games, so in 2018, we decided it was time to give fans what they've been craving all along - a Monopoly game that actually encourages cheating," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Hasbro gaming told Insider.

The object of the game is still to be the player with the most money at the game's end, but it may be a little tougher to accomplish. The Cheater's Edition will ask players to get away with cheating as many times as they can during game play. That means players can skip spaces, try to avoid paying rent, and slip a few extra bills from the bank when no one's looking.

Yes, it comes with handcuffs too. Read the rest

Crunch: game development hell

In the New York Times, Jason Schreier reports on the game industry's cult of crunch: the pervasive practice of making workers put in 20-hour days, resulting in one met deadline and a many lines of low-quality code.

“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.” Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil ... A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers. “Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.

Hey, ever met a geeky computer programmer with a bottomless need to prove his own competence and a political ideology perfectly tailored to capital's needs? Read the rest

The richest person in every state, by industry

You might think every American state is overrun with tech billionaires, given the amount of press they get, but Forbes shows that the richest person in each state is more likely to have made their fortune in fashion, retail, finance, or investing: Read the rest

Real-estate advertisement for a $100m house "Makes Me Want To Be A Socialist"

Julia Wick found a cinematic trailer for a Opus, a "$100 million "state of the art dream home" currently for sale in Los Angeles." The creators "wanted to do something really high art," she quotes a spokesperson mercifully left unnamed. [via JWZ]

The video was created by the Society Group—a luxury public relations firm whose "mission is to spark authentic conversations in society by intersecting the worlds of art + architecture + lifestyle"—along with a "celebrity developer," a high-end realtor, and "a french director who specializes in marketing luxury brands." We spoke to the Society Group's Alexander Ali over email for some more information.

It's all so Trumpian. Read the rest

Individually-shrinkwrapped potatoes are why we must destroy capitalism

Read the rest

Most Americans under 30 "do not support capitalism"

A Harvard University survey found that among adults between 18 and 29 years of age, 51 percent "do not support capitalism." 42 support it, reports The Washington Post. A third say they support socialism as an alternative.

The survey is "difficult to interpret" due to the simplicity of choices and their lack of definition, say pollsters.

Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking. All the same, that a majority of respondents in Harvard University's survey of young adults said they do not support capitalism suggests that today's youngest voters are more focused on the flaws of free markets.

Read the rest

Sheer variety of Oreos sells Pope Francis on capitalism

The Onion proves that it's still got it (and that you can distill the entire joke to a single headline if you have the right shooping skills): Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos. Read the rest

Mobile game of the week: Little Inferno

Sometimes you just want the world to burn, especially when it's ending. In Little Inferno, a wintry apocalypse has engulfed the Earth, and you're sitting by a fireplace throwing everything in the flames.

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