“If it wasn’t already, Disney’s now indisputably the most powerful force in Hollywood”

Disney has acquired 20th Century Fox. OK, I know that Disney owning everything isn’t really good news. BUT. The end of this sentence fills my heart with so much hope:

It means Mouse House officially gets ownership of Fox’s catalog of intellectual property — James Cameron’s Avatarfranchise, The Planet of the ApesThe SimpsonsThe X-Files, to name a few — as well as Marvel heroes that were previously under Fox’s corporate umbrella, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four.

I don’t know if or when or how, but please, for the love of Galactus, let Disney make a good Fantastic Four movie, fully integrated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe…!

Disney Is Buying Most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 Billion

“We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”

Nothing to see here, just another former Facebook exec (Chamath Palihapitiya, former VP for user growth) telling us again how awful Facebook is…

He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” said Palihapitiya. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”

Yep. That’s a completely normal thing for a website to be responsible for.

Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

“We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment”

Last week I heaped praise on The Athletic—specifically, the Toronto corner’s Raptors coverage, as well as the enterprise overall. I dig the model and I dig the work they’re doing.

Today, I’m not feeling so good about it, after one of the co-founders had this to say to about his business model to The New York Times:

“We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing,” Alex Mather, a co-founder of The Athletic, said in an interview in San Francisco. “We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment. We will make business extremely difficult for them.”

That right there is some bullshit.

In my post last week, I also recommended Blake Murphy, an Athletic contributor, as a Raptors voice to read. He summed it up on Twitter:

Blake Murphy Twitter

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’ll just add that maybe that Mr. co-founder should remember that pretty much all of his writers come from those newspapers; they undoubtedly all have friends, colleagues and mentors who work at newspapers. And I’d bet 90% of those writers have been laid off or package’d out of a newspaper job themselves, and know how awful it is (raises hand), and wouldn’t wish it anyone, friend or not.

So maybe don’t wish for anyone to lose their livelihood, and just do good work and mind your own backyard, Athletic.

“Social media moderation”

Denise Balkissoon, writing for the Globe and Mail, has been experiencing feelings similar to mine on social media. She makes an effective comparison to food and unhealthy consumption, arguing that self-moderation is the best solution.

…social media is actually more like food than a drug – a broad category of sources with both helpful and harmful possibilities.

Like food, social media can nourish us in the right company. But it can also be addictive – or at least a crutch for our vulnerabilities. Those weaknesses are exacerbated by inequalities of access that leave some people more open to manipulative messages or unhealthy choices.

I think I agree; over the past few weeks, I’ve significantly cut back my social media usage, but haven’t gone cold turkey. I feel better about it, but I also don’t feel disconnected.

Balkisoon’s piece is thoughtful and well worth a read.

Behind the doors of the moonshot factory

The Atlantic published an inside look at Google X, Alphabet’s specialized R&D division, in their November issue. Google X is essentially a think-tank whose mission is to come up with crazy ideas, and either prove or disprove them. I really enjoyed the look into their “culture of failure,” the way they question everything, and try to break everything down in order to find the right solutions to the right problems.

Most people don’t want to do the hardest thing first. Most people want to go to work and get high fives and backslaps. Despite the conference-keynote pabulum about failure (“Fail fast! Fail often!”), the truth is that, financially and psychologically, failure sucks. In most companies, projects that don’t work out are stigmatized, and their staffs are fired. That’s as true in many parts of Silicon Valley as it is anywhere else.

And they seem to be working on some pretty cool problems: renewable energy, high-speed energy for all, self-driving cars, etc. On the other hand, it’s Google, so, you know, I don’t exactly trust their motives. But still, I’m glad someone is out there trying to invent new shit.

Then again, there’s this guy:

Just beyond the drones, I find Astro Teller. He is the leader of X, whose job title, captain of moonshots, is of a piece with his piratical, if perhaps self-conscious, charisma. He has a long black ponytail and silver goatee, and is wearing a long-sleeved T‑shirt, dark jeans, and large black Rollerblades. Fresh off an afternoon skate?, I ask. “Actually, I wear these around the office about 98 percent of the time,” he says. I glance at an X publicist to see whether he’s serious. Her expression says: Of course he is.


ESPN piles on

Yesterday I said,

That the NFL has not unequivocally taken a stance behind its players and supported their first-amendment-protected rights is disgraceful…

Then ESPN went ahead and suspended Jemele Hill for, I don’t know, daring to be a black woman with her own thoughts and the ability to type them, I guess, proving that the NFL isn’t the only organization that doesn’t have the backs of its workforce, at least not when they’re minorities.

Drew Magary nails it:

A decent boss—shit, a decent person—would support Hill and protect her from this horseshit. ESPN didn’t. They shoved her into the wolf cage and locked the gate shut.

I guess the fact that ESPN is one of the NFL’s biggest partners is just another reason not to watch anymore.

“This is what systemic oppression looks like”

A quick follow-up to my football piece from this morning, here’s San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid on Vice-President Pence’s “walkout” stunt:

“So this looks like a PR stunt to me. He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again,” Reid said.

“This is what systemic oppression looks like,” he said. “A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. Based on the information I have, that’s the assumption I’ve made.”

Sounds right to me.

Zach Lowe channels The Wonder Years

Zach Lowe, on the Indiana Pacers’ new jerseys:

The softer blue-on-yellow version, which includes no white or highlighting, reminds of those all-gray uniforms Kevin Arnold and Paul Pfeiffer wore to gym class.

Zach’s the best NBA writer around. His ability to combine hilarious and obscure references with legit basketball insight (almost always  backed up by video examples) is why.

Check out his annual League Pass rankings for more of the former, and read him throughout the season for more of the latter.