MENTAL YOGA SUNDAY / 5 FAVORITE LONG FORM READS THIS WEEK / ISSUE No. 16
The best Sundays are languid, slow motion, sprawling, stretching cats in sunshine kind of days with a good long something to read and a good long silence in which to do it.
INSTAGRAM’S KEVIN SYSTROM WANTS TO CLEAN UP THE &#%$@! INTERNET. (Wired)
"KEVIN SYSTROM, THE CEO of Instagram, was at Disneyland last June when he decided the internet was a cesspool that he had to clean up. His company was hosting a private event at the park as part of VidCon 2016, an annual gathering that attracts social media virtuosos, and Systrom was meeting with some Instagram stars. They were chatting and joking and posing for one another’s phone cameras. But the influencers were also upset. Instagram is supposed to be a place for self-expression and joy. Who wants to express themselves, though, if they’re going to be mocked, harassed, and shamed in the comments below a post? Instagram is a bit like Disneyland—if every now and then the seven dwarfs hollered at Snow White for looking fat.
AFTER THE CHAT, Systrom, who is 33, posted a Boomerang video of himself crouched among the celebrities. It’s an ebullient shot of about 20 young people swaying, waving, bobbing, and smiling. In the lower right corner, a young woman bangs her knees together and waves her hand like she’s beating eggs for a soufflé.
The comments on that post started out with a heart emoji, a “Hoooooo,” and “So fun!” Soon, though, the thread, as so often happens online, turned rancid, with particular attention focused on the young woman in the lower right. “Don’t close wait just wait OPEN them leg baby,” “cuck,” “succ,” “cuck,” “Gimme ze suc.” “Succ4succ.” “Succme.” “Go to the window and take a big L E A P out of it.” A number of comments included watermelon emoji, which, depending on context, can be racist, sexist, or part of picnic planning. The newly resurgent alt-right proclaimed over and over again that “#memelivesmatter.” There was a link in Arabic to a text page about economic opportunities in Dubai. Another user asked Systrom to follow him—“Follback @kevin.” And a few brave people piped up to offer feedback on Instagram’s recent shift to ordering posts by relevancy rather than recency: “BRING BACK THE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER!”
Systrom is a tall, lean man with a modest bearing. His handshake is friendly, his demeanor calm. He’s now a billionaire, but he doesn’t seem to play the alpha male games of his peers. There is no yacht; there are no visits to the early primary states; there is no estranged former partner with an NDA. Systrom’s personal Instagram feed is basically dogs, coffee, bikes, and grinning celebrities. A few years ago, Valleywag described his voice as “the stilted monotone of a man reading his own obituary,” but he’s become much smoother of late. If he has a failing, his critics say, it’s that he’s a sucker: He and his cofounder, Mike Krieger, sold Instagram to Facebook too soon. They’d launched it a few years after graduating from Stanford, and it went into orbit immediately. They got $1 billion for it. Snap, which spurned an offer from Facebook, is now worth roughly $17 billion.
Systrom takes pride in this reputation for kindness and considers it a key part of Instagram’s DNA. When the service launched in 2010, he and Krieger deleted hateful comments themselves. They even personally banned users in an effort Systrom called “pruning the trolls.” He notes that Krieger “is always smiling and always kind,” and he says he tries to model his behavior after that of his wife, “one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.” Kevin Systrom really does want to be the sunny person on display in @kevin’s feed.
So when Systrom returned from VidCon to Instagram’s headquarters, in Menlo Park, he told his colleagues that they had a new mission. Instagram was going to become a kind of social media utopia: the nicest darn place online." - Read Full Story
"The Resomator stands monolithic in the corner of a room in the bowels of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). It's as sterile as a hospital here, but every patient is already dead. This is the penultimate stage of their time under the care of Dean Fisher, director of the Donated Body Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Bodies are wheeled in under crisp sheets for disposal in Fisher's alkaline hydrolysis machine, which turns them into liquid and pure white bone. Their bones will be pulverised and scattered off the coast by nearby Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps Base, where they will float and then disperse, because pure calcium phosphate will not sink. From the coastguard's helicopter it looks like drug lords flushing their stash.
The machine emits a low hum, like a lawnmower several gardens away. The cadavers awaiting grinding sit in blue plastic containers at the back of the room, identities anonymised by numbers and dog tags. The chalky bones are soft enough to destroy by hand: touch a femur and it falls apart." - Read Full Story
The untold story of QF72: What happens when 'psycho' automation leaves pilots powerless? (The Sydney Morning Herald)
"Booooom. A crashing sound tears through the cabin. In a split second, the galley floor disappears beneath Maiava's feet, momentarily giving him a sense of floating in space. Blood rushes to his head as he, the off-duty captain and his wife are propelled into the ceiling, knocking them out.
Flight attendant Fuzzy Maiava was slammed into the aircraft's ceiling during the nosedives. He relies on visits to the gym to cope with his physical and psychological injuries. Photo: Chris Skelton
In the cockpit, Sullivan instinctively grabs the control stick the moment he feels the plane's nose pitch down violently at 12.42pm (Western Australia time). The former US Navy fighter pilot pulls back on the stick to thwart the jet's rapid descent, bracing himself against an instrument panel shade. Nothing happens. So he lets go. Pulling back on the stick does not halt the plunge. If the plane suddenly returns control, pulling back might worsen their situation by pitching the nose up and causing a dangerous stall.
Within two seconds, the plane dives 150 feet. In a gut-wrenching moment, all the two pilots can see through the cockpit window is the blue of the Indian Ocean. "Is my life going to end here today?" Sullivan asks himself. His heart is thumping. Those on board QF72 are in dire trouble. There are no ejection seats like the combat jets Sullivan flew in the US Navy. He has no control over this plane." - Read Full Story
"The town of Nocona, located some 100 miles northwest of Dallas and named after a Comanche chief (hence the Native American-in-headdress logo on Nokona gloves), developed a reputation as a leather-goods hub.
The company’s name is spelled with a “k” because it was told in the 1930s that the town’s name couldn’t be trademarked. Today, Nocona is home to about 3,000 people and a few stoplights. “God Bless America” banners line the street, and locals wish you a “blessed day.”
Founded in 1926, the company originally made wallets and purses. It was a former Rice University baseball player named Roberts Storey who steered Nokona into ballgloves.
In the early days of baseball, it was considered unmanly to use a glove. Broken bones were common. The first mass-produced gloves had little padding and no fingers. In the 1920s and ’30s, companies started producing gloves with a web between the thumb and forefinger, to create a pocket.
The shift to Asia in the 1960s nearly put Nokona out of business. Storey wouldn’t budge. “It hit him all wrong that we would have to go to Japan,” said his grandson Rob Storey, now the company’s executive vice president. “One of his favorite sayings was: ‘If I have to tell my employees we’re closing up and they don’t have jobs any more, I may as well get a bucket of worms and go fishing’." - Read Full Story
A 2:15 Alarm, 2 Trains and a Bus Get Her to Work by 7 A.M. (The New York Times)
"Sheila James starts her Monday, and the workweek, at 2:15 a.m. This might be normal for a baker or a morning radio host, but Ms. James is a standard American office worker.
She is 62 and makes $81,000 a year as a public health adviser for the United States Department of Health and Human Services in San Francisco. Her early start comes because San Francisco is one of the country’s most expensive metropolitan areas. Ms. James lives about 80 miles away in Stockton, which has cheaper homes but requires her to commute on two trains and a bus, leaving at 4 a.m.
Plenty of office workers get up at 5 a.m. or a bit before, but 2:15 is highly unusual.
“Two-fifteen is early enough that some people are still having their evening,” she said on a (very) early morning. But she likes to take her time and have coffee. She keeps the lights low and the house quiet and Zen-like. “I just can’t rush like that,” she said.
When the second alarm goes off at 3:45 — a reminder to leave for the train in 15 minutes — her morning shifts from leisure to precision." - Read Full Story