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 POP LOSER No. 94

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The Epoch of Incredulity

I used to love Apple events. I'd stream them at work and get excited about the products that I'd then buy just as soon as Apple was willing to take my money (which often takes longer than you'd think). But I didn't watch last week's event, or the one before it and I don't think I watched the one before that either. My current phone is an iPhone 6 and I'm eyeballing the SE model when I need to replace it.

I'm not saying any of this to shit on Apple. I think it's me—I'm old now. I think the notch is ugly and I think the price is too high and the facial recognition is gimmicky and dumb. Also, your music is too loud. Get off my lawn.

More likely though, after a decade of iPhones, I'm just taking the miracle slab for granted.

Related: Nav on interfaces and missing his Windows phone.

Unlike the desktop computer, which is mediated through the ubiquitous interfaces of a mouse and keyboard, the object that one caresses 100 times a day produces a bodily urge for a bodily relation. An interface is the meeting point of physical and digital, and its language is a series of muscular movements, memorized swipes and patterns of presses. Over time, one’s interaction with a phone becomes a series of muscle-memory patterns accompanied by visual and aural confirmation that, after a while, become almost Pavlovian. One might talk of interfaces as tool-like, or even ideological, but perhaps at root they are not merely mechanisms of interaction, but ways of channeling affect — of giving shape and process to the psychological and emotional dimensions of information.

CONFUSIONS

Bodega is bad and dumb and bad. I can't see how Bodega isn't dead on arrival, but I guess that's why we play the games. This does seem like an exceptionally terrible idea, though. Still, I can't imagine getting mad about it in a world where Uber is worth $60 billion. Nothing makes sense anymore, is my point.

“You know what this place needs,” I said to myself this morning, as I went into the little store around the corner where I buy my daily coffee, my breakfast sandwiches, my late-night potato chips, and my emergency tampons. “What it needs is less stuff, and to be inside my apartment building, and also to accept Apple Pay.”

No, of course I didn’t say that. If you’re a living human being in the United States who has ever had a dollar in your pocket, you’ve probably been in a bodega — or, depending on where you live, maybe you call it a corner store, convenience store, deli, packie (short for “package store”), or party store. Maybe it’s attached to a gas station. Maybe it is a gas station. For some reason, former Google employees Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan think all of them need to be disrupted.

Related: Juicero, the last company that was always going to fail, has failed.

Also: Toys 'R' Us is bankrupt, though I don't think I fully understand what bankruptcy means.

The retailer, which has 1,600 stores in 38 countries, said its hand was forced after an attempt to restructure out of court sparked a press report about a potential bankruptcy, spooking critical vendors and credit insurers. But it intends to make the best of the situation and reorganize in time to come back in force for the holiday shopping season.


⚱️
Harry Dean Stanton // Grant Hart // Bobby Heenan


It takes commitment to profit from the worst of humanity. 2,300 people identify as "Jew haters" on Facebook and it's really easy to advertise to them directly ain't nobody make a dime off of awfulness like Facebook. So why do we keep going back? Oh, right.

There’s an ideological pattern here. Facebook’s initial mission pledged to “make the world more open,” which it has since revised. Neither purpose nor openness is a virtue in and of itself. Should we be open to racism? Xenophobia? Hate-mongering? Zuckerberg and Facebook both reflect libertarian individualism paired with indifference to values and morality.


Now is a good time to go into magazines. There are a lot of great jobs available, including editor spots at Vanity Fair, Time, Elle and Glamour. Hell, you can even buy Rolling Stone, which, like, I WISH.

As every magazine editor knows, three is a trend. So what to make of four? Ms. Leive’s departure from Glamour would matter in any circumstance. Coming now, it cements a sudden sense that there is an unprecedented change of the guard. Ms. Leive was among a now fairly thin rank of those who were magazine editors before magazines became brands.


The curator is the message. Medium's latest trick is pulling great stories from other sites and asking you to thank (and pay) them for their wonderful "curation." So, probably safe to say they are low on ideas about how to turn that thing around.

These stories are handpicked by Medium editors based on our members’ interests. All of these selections are placed behind our metered membership paywall, so members get unlimited access and can read these stories without ever leaving Medium. That means personalized recommendations based on your interests, popular features like highlights and responses, and — most importantly — no ads, retargeting, or popups in sight.


📺
Trailers for Downsizing and Tragedy Girls.


South Park is still a thing. In the new South Park video game, the difficulty setting changes the colour of your skin. But maybe they get too much credit for being subversive.

Gone are the days when bloviating white male columnists could declare simple answers to complex issues without pushback, and South Park’s all-knowing crassness and moralistic tone today seems as outdated as the New York Times opinion section.


📸
Abandoned places from old postcards // Ghost malls // Dark Stock Photos (@darkstockphotos) on Twitter


Some Hemingway links. Papa has become a big part of selling Cuba to tourists. And it's time we expanded on some of his best advice.

Realize That No Matter How Many Times Your Writing is Denied, You Labored Over This, and You Forged It, Alchemy-Like, From Your Own Psyche, Your Own Creative Engine — Why, You Created Art, Damn It, Art, and Nobody Can Take That Away From You, Drunk

Repeatedly Ask Yourself Who Would Ever Actually Want to Read Your Garbage Sober


So it goes. While putting together a complete collection of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories, five unpublished ones were found. So that's fun! The Atlantic published one in advance of the new book.


💻
Will Robots Take My Job? // Coin // Tabagotchi


Miscellany: People hate that guy from Vine. Remember when Swatch invented internet time and thought we'd all use it? Dorothy Parker's wonderful martini quote and how she probably never said it. I'm sorry I haven't seen your favourite movie. Gamergate is back like herpes.
 

PROPOGANDA

The David Carr Generation // The Atlantic
More than a dozen mentees of the late journalist remember the lessons he imparted.

How Condé Nast Put the Squeeze on New Yorker Cartoonists // Paste
New Yorker cartoonists speak out against changes in licensing and royalties.

Why Pray? // Aeon
Prayer occurs in many faiths. It stays recognisable despite its varied forms. It must be good for something – but what?

Why Happy People Cheat // The Atlantic
A good marriage is no guarantee against infidelity.

The Contentious Physics of Wiffle Ball // The Atlantic
An engineer sheds light on the ball’s much-debated curve.

Jose Bautista Has Made a Career of Taking Shit Like a Champion // Vice
Bautista, who's playing out his final days with the Blue Jays, has been doubted and vilified every step of the way but the polarizing star always stayed true to himself to become one of baseball's great characters.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Charles Dickens



Pop Loser is a weekly newsletter of innumerable confusions collected and written by Tyler Hellard.

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