Listen: Inspiring commencement speech from Astro Teller, X's captain of moonshots

Astro Teller is the head of X, the "Moonshot Factory" that first launched as an R&D division of Google. iHeart Radio invited Astro to be part of a fantastic podcast series of virtual commencement speeches for 2020 graduates (and the rest of us) that they collected from the likes of John Legend, Bill & Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, George Lopez, Mary J Blige, and several dozen more. I've recently been working with the folks at X, and their celebration of weirdness, radical creativity, and urgent optimism is very real. And it's infectious. Listen to Astro's speech above. From his blog post:

On the one hand, this is an incredibly daunting time. On the other, we have a once-in-a-century opportunity to hit the reset button, let go of conventional ways of thinking, and rebuild the world in radically better ways. This shift in perspective might feel difficult, even premature. However, the alternative — to try to claw society back towards an old normal that wasn’t working that well in many ways — is far worse. And counterintuitively, those of us who are newer and fresher in our fields, like the Class of 2020, may have some of the strongest tailwinds as we search for new approaches to the world’s most pressing problems. We’ve seen many times over the years at X that strategic naivete is actually a superpower.

One of my messages for graduates is to not worry that they don’t know the answers. The mental freedom and flexibility they have, and their willingness to learn and experiment, is going to be a secret to success in a world where there are no ready answers and no playbook.

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Here's the new "Water and Wine" video from X

35 years ago the band X released their final album with the original lineup. (They put out a couple of albums after that but they don't count because they didn't include guitarist Billy Zoom.)

This month they released a new album called Alphabetland. The music is as good as ever. They just posted a video for one of my favorite songs on the album, "Water & Wine."

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Listen to X's Alphabetland right now

Nothing more punk than releasing your first album in 35 years — during a global pandemic — by surprise. You can stream X's Alphabetland now in this very post:

“When your heart is broken you think every song is about that. These songs were written in the last 18 months & it blows my mind how timely they are,” explained John Doe. “We all want our family, friends & fans to hear our records as soon as it’s finished. This time we could do that. Thanks to Fat Possum & our audience.”

Stereogum:

Today happens to be the 40th anniversary of Los Angeles, the classic debut album from the great California punk band X. And with absolutely no advance warning, X’s reunited original lineup have chosen today to release Alphabetland, their first studio album in 35 years.

This cover art sure does look like the work of Wayne White

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X releases their first album in 35 years and it's great

I'm listening to X's new album, released today on Bandcamp, and it's amazingly good -- loaded with energy and Billy Zoom's mind-warping guitar. It's the original line-up and the band's first album in 35 years. It's called Alphabetland and the cover is by artist Wayne White.

From Rolling Stone:

In interviews, the band members have expressed mixed emotions about making a new album. All of them except for Zoom said they would want to make a new one in a 2017 Rolling Stone profile of the group.

“Families are complicated,” Doe said at the time, carefully choosing his words. “There’s certain … Yeah, I’m not gonna go there.”

“It wouldn’t work,” Zoom said. “The chemistry wouldn’t be right. [Some band members] are in different places and stubborn, and I don’t want to go into detail, but it wouldn’t sound like an X record.” The band has yet to explain the change of heart.

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Design fiction, speculative design, and "creepiness"

In "design fiction" and "speculative design," designers and science fiction writers create fictional products and services, which go on to inform real engineering and product design processes. Read the rest

Trump plans ban on laptops in the cabins of flights from Europe

Unnamed "officials briefed on the matter" told Reuters that the Trump administration is planning to ban travelers from bringing their laptops -- and possibly tablets -- in their hand-luggage on flights from Europe, expanding an existing ban that covers 10 middle-eastern airports. Read the rest

Senate staffers issued ID cards whose "security chips" turn out to be just pictures of a chip

Senator Ron Wyden [D-Equestria] sent a letter to the chairs of the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration asking why Senate staffers have been issued ID cards whose "security chips" are just photographs of a chip. Read the rest