Trump adviser Kevin Hassett: 'Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work'

White House adviser Kevin Hassett said the quiet part out loud just now: “Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work.” Read the rest

Doomsday Preppers are now selling timeshares, too

 

NPR has a bizarrely fascinating new piece about Drew Miller, the owner and founder of Fortitude Ranch, which is essentially a timeshare opportunity for Doomsday Preppers. Unlike the Survival Condos that start at $1.5 million, Fortitude Ranch "seeks to capture a solidly middle-class market." The annual membership fee is $1,000, which gives you access to 10 days at any of their locations.

Right now, there's only one Fortitude Ranch in West Virginia. But the company is already building another one in Colorado, and ultimately plans for a nationwide network of 12 locations, which will each have different recreational offerings, and be conveniently placed so there's always one location within a day's drive.

It's not luxurious; spartan may be a more accurate term. Yet, the properties are in secluded, wild and scenic places that Miller hopes will make the fee worth it for the right customers.

[…]

If the structures of society crumble, Miller envisions each Fortitude Ranch location as a protected community of about 50 people, up to a maximum of 500. Initially, there will be supplies and food on-site to last a full year. However, once members fall into a routine of gardening, hunting and fishing in the adjacent national forest, Miller said, it should be sustainable in the long term.

I'm not exactly sure how large each of these properties is going to be, but 50 to 500 is a very wide range of people, which would require very different accommodations in an apocalyptic scenario.  Read the rest

Wells Fargo's ex-CEO will pay $17.5m in fines and never work in banking again (but he is still very, very rich)

When John Stumpf (previously) was CEO of Wells Fargo, he oversaw a string of scandals including literally millions of acts of bank fraud, and still managed to walk out of the business with millions in bonuses and no criminal prosecutions. Read the rest

Play: Dungeons and Deadlines, "an epic game of work-life balance"

Smarter people than me have pointed out that "work-life balance" says the quiet part out loud, implicitly confirming that you stop living when you're at work. Miles Matrix's Dungeons and Deadlines makes all this much realer with acerbic wit and rockin' chiptunes. My spouse left me after five turns. (via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Frontier, a terrible company, is going bankrupt

Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement. Read the rest

Manhattan: a city of empty luxury condos and overflowing homeless shelters

New York's luxury real-estate market has been in freefall for years, and now the city's super-luxe buildings are sitting empty -- even as property prices in the city remain stubbornly high, prompting 300 New Yorkers to move out of the city every day, and filling the homeless shelters to capacity and beyond. Read the rest

Angelenos! I'm speaking in Culver City tomorrow about the sale of .ORG to private equity

Late last year, the nonprofit Internet Society abruptly announced a deal to sell control over the Public Interest Registry (which manages all .ORG domain registrations) to Ethos, a newly created private equity fund capitalized by three politically connected families of Republican billionaires. Under the deal, ISOC would get $1.135B to spend on various projects, and PIR would have to return a profit to their private equity investors. Read the rest

Rating the 30 most evil tech companies

Slate compiled a list of the 30 most evil companies in tech, starting with Mspy (#30) all the way up to Amazon (#1). I weighed in on Oracle (#17, "It takes a lot to make me feel like Google is being victimized by a bully, but Oracle managed it") and Apple (#6, "Apple won’t spy on you for ads, but they’ll help the Chinese government spy on its citizens to keep its supply chain intact"). Read the rest

Charter/Spectrum sold customers expensive home security systems, then killed the program and left them high and dry

Prior to being acquired by Charter, the cable company Spectrum aggressively marketed home security systems to its customers, inducing them to spend hundreds of dollars on proprietary cameras and other equipment that integrated with their cable networks and offered them remote monitoring and other services. Read the rest

Top tech grads are increasingly unwilling to work for Big Tech, viewing it as a new, unethical Wall Street

About five years ago, I was trying to get a bunch of Big Tech companies to take the right side of an urgent online civil rights fight, and I called an old friend who was very senior at one of the biggest tech companies in the world; they told me that it wasn't going to work, in part because the kinds of people who were coming to tech were there because they wanted to get as rich as possible, no matter what they had to do. My friend contrasted this with earlier eras -- even the dotcom bubble -- when the financial motive was blended with a genuine excitement for the transformative potential of tech to make a fairer, more equitable world. Now, my friend said, the kind of kid who would have gotten an MBA was instead getting an electrical engineering or computer science degree -- not out of any innate love for the subject, but because that was a path to untold riches. Read the rest

Departing Kotaku writers post a farewell message to their private equity asshole boss: "Sup dude. Suck it."

Jim Spanfeller (previously) is the private equity monster whose mismanagement of various former Gizmodo sites (notably Gawker, Splinter and Deadspin) has generated endless bad press from his own employees, who have doggedly reported on every single demand that they shut up and suck it up, has now been publicly condemned in the pages of yet another of his publications -- this time, it's the gaming site Kotaku. Read the rest

Three years after the W3C approved a DRM standard, it's no longer possible to make a functional indie browser

Back in 2017, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) approved the most controversial standard in its long history: Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME, which enabled Netflix and other big media companies to use DRM despite changes to browsers extensions that eliminated the kinds of deep hooks that DRM requires. Read the rest

Explaining the con that is private equity

Emily Stewart's private equity explainer for Vox is a great explainer on how the PE con works: buy up businesses, load them with debt, sell off their assets, slash their costs, then walk away as the house burns, leaving society to put out the fire -- all while enjoying special tax status on your gains. Read the rest

$tupid jewelry: Earring-card earring

This poor gal could only afford half a pair. If only there was another way...

French design house Maison Margiela has a long history of making dumb stuff in the name of fashion. But now they've really topped themselves. Introducing Tag, a single earring made of a pair of gold (well, brass) hoop earrings on a white lambskin card. The cost? Well, it was $305 but now you can get one for just $92 on sale.

It's being called "shoplifter chic":

And it's not the first time it's been done:

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🦋🎄Been getting a lot of attention about this recent meme post by @3.1415926535897932384626433832 and calling out that time @maisonmargiela copied a design earlier this year . Thanks for calling it out and supporting small businesses with authentic design ideas 🌹💕 Merry christmas .

A post shared by GEORGINA TREVIÑO JEWELRY (@georginatrevino) on Dec 25, 2019 at 11:27am PST

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Amazing photos of my design for Artistar Jewels Book, 📷 by Andrea Salpetre #staceyhuang #jewellery #artistarjewels2018

A post shared by Stacey Huang (@stacey_huangg) on Feb 4, 2018 at 5:07am PST

(Neatorama)

screenshots via Ssense Read the rest

One of the world's largest private equity firms just bought one of the world's largest library ebook companies

KKR is one of the largest private equity funds in the world. Overdrive is one of the largest e-lending suppliers to the world's libraries, supplying 43,000 libraries in 75 countries. Read the rest

The 2010s were the decade of Citizens United

Slate has dubbed the 2010s as the decade of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for unlimited, anonymous corporate election spending. In 2010, the year of Citizens United, the largest political donors were Robert and Doylene Perry ($7.5m for Republicans); in 2019, it was Sheldon and Miriam Adelson ($122m). Read the rest

Doctors who take pharma industry freebies prescribe more of their benefactors' drugs

Doctors who accept pharma industry gifts (which can range from free coffees to lavish dinners to six-figure speaking fees) claim that they're not influenced by these bribes/gifts, which is possibly why doctors are taking more pharma bribes than ever. Read the rest

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