Object Lessons: HQ2 Edition

The Real Real got hit with a $5 million law suit because, according to the complaint, TRR “systematically inflated the total weights of small uncertificated gemstones knowing that the average consumer would have no way to know that the weights were inflated.”  I’ve read rumblings about problems with TRR’s authentication process, but the allegation the company is actively defrauding buyers is stunning. Given my own bad experiences, I’m resolved to steer clear.

This public defendant is a friggin’ saint: when being a good lawyer means dressing your client.

My Money Blog deconstructed Charlie Munger’s life and turned it into a financial independence blueprint. Munger’s approach–building up to 10x annual living expenses through saving his salary and then pivoting to more aggressive investments– seems like an appealing alternative to sticking it out with a job until I’ve reached 25x. I’m not a real estate investment sort of person, so I’d have to think of another type of business that’s scalable.

Seventeen states introduce right to repair legislation. Good, I say! The fact that only Apple can replace batteries on their laptops and mobile devices is absurd and anti-competitive.

Amazon announced their candidate cities for HQ2. Not to be a major NIMBY about it, but I really hope it doesn’t end up in my metro region. The recent immigration of highly-paid tech workers (myself included) is pushing local housing costs to their limit. The current rate of housing development already can’t keep up and is hollowing out the city’s middle and working class households. Not to mention my generally iffy feelings about Amazon and the absurd tax breaks cities are offering. For instance, Chicago proposed letting Amazon keep tax revenue generated by its employees. Bonkers! Is your city on the list?

After demonetizing a bunch of LGBTQ and mental health-related content last year, YouTube has decided to up the ante and cut money going to smaller vloggers by raising the standards for ad eligibility. Meanwhile, after years of pushing brands to pivot to video, Facebook overhauls their news feeds algorithm to, you guessed it!, “de-prioritize videos, photos, and posts shared by businesses and media outlets”. It’s almost as if these huge online platforms don’t care about their content creators at all.

Not all technology is bleak though. For instance:

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Object Lessons: Semiotics of Robot Fashion Edition

Nobody has ever confused me for a Bitcoin bull– the ever-increasing energy consumption of transactions and non-fiatness of the currency has always had me wary. But even supporters, and especially new speculators, should keep in mind that the Bitcoin market is unregulated, shallow, and can be heavily influenced by a handful of investors.

What happened to the legacy premium fashion brands? I bought a Tommy Hilfiger sheath dress a decade ago, wear it weekly, and it still looks brand new! I wonder if clothes from the current class of premium brands– Everlane, Cuyana, DSTLD– will have the same longevity? I expect this new wave of brands will cut quality to lower production costs, particularly during the next recession (thereafter losing their hardcore followers). Everlane’s clothing has rapidly declined in quality over the past few years as they’ve expanded. Maybe that’s just the lifecycle of a premium brand.

When people tell me robots will take all our jobs, I read stuff like this bot-generated Harry Potter chapter and feel a lot more secure.

Speaking of robots, Racked explores how we design and dress female androids reflects whether we’re building artificial intelligence or artificial subservience. (Hint: it’s the latter).

Crinolines: an agent for asserting feminine sexual authority and busting class barriers. Who knew? “Crinoline-clad women, in the reactionary cartoonist’s imagination, crushed men beneath their expanding skirts or caged them within steel frames.” Which kind of reminds me of the women crushing things under their heels trend from the past few years.

In case you haven’t noticed, reality is collapsing into a cheap supermarket tabloid: This article from the NY Times on a secret government U.F.O. research program is the best too-bizarre-to-be-fake news this country needs.

I ❤ Kristen Wiig:

Object Lessons: Capitalist Overlords Edition

From Bloomberg: “Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. say they’ll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, undercutting President Donald Trump’s promise that his plan will create jobs and boost wages for the middle class. The president has held fast to his pledge even as top executives’ comments have run counter to it for months. Instead of hiring more workers or raising their pay, many companies say they’ll first increase dividends or buy back their own shares.”

Everything I know about capitalism I learned from this paperclip game. (Warning: do not engage unless you’re looking to kill about six hours.)

Should law enforcement need a warrant to get your phone location data from service providers? I think the answer is clearly no, but it’s interesting to contemplate an alternate world where companies didn’t collect our metadata in a centralized fashion by default.

Jeff Bezos wishes there were a trillion people in the solar system because then “we’d have a thousand Einsteins at any moment.” Personally, I’m way more interested in all our “lost Einsteins“– bright kids from low income and minority backgrounds whose talent is being left untapped.

I just discovered thegeneraleconomy Instagram and it’s the most refreshing “commerce” site I’ve seen in a while. It’s like Poshmark meets minimalism, minus the seller’s fees. Could definitely be dangerous if I got back into the clothes shopping game.

I was once into lifelike doll-sized architectural replicas, so this Buzzfeed video in which producers cook tiny food with a palm-sized working stove speaks to a special place in my heart:

 

Object Lessons: Can You Buy Love? Edition

Can you appropriate your own culture? As a mixed-race person I feel this ALL. THE. TIME. It’s weird being in a place where I don’t feel like I can express either side of my ethnic heritage without “faking” it. At the same time, I’m not sure I entirely fit into American culture either.

Revanche thinks this guy’s ongoing gig– pretending to be the father of a young lady at the behest of her mother— is kind of horrifying. And I completely agree! Also, if you’re supposed to be stealthily pretending to be another person, why have your face and real name published in a major publication?

Clearly, this explicit pay-money-for-emotional-labor thing is not just a quirk of Japanese culture though. See, e.g. this American lifestyle hacker, who is offering $10k for someone to set him up with a long-term girlfriend.

Racked did a special series on free swag in the beauty and fashion industry. It has really made me rethink how much vlog/blog-based marketing has manipulated my fashion tastes over the years (here’s looking at you Everlane).

This quote from Sheryl Sandberg in her When to Jump interview has given me a lot to chew over: “One of the most important times I see people not jump when they should is about changing either industries or functions. […] There are so many times I’ve seen people not make that jump because they’re afraid they’re– and I’m doing this in air quotes, you can’t see me but— ‘move backward.’ […] If you can financially afford it, and you’re going to work the next, I don’t know, thirty years… who cares about going down?”

I tend toward simple basics for most of my wardrobe but I am crushing hardcore on this phoenix print dress from Relax Baby Be Cool (sold at Bomb Petite).

Me explaining my creative ideas to friends: