Author Jim Zellmer

Farewell Letter

Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

For reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature.
 If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.
 I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.
 I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.
 I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.
 I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.
 If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.
 To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.
 I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.
 To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.
 I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

Palacio del Gobernador (Merida) Panoramic Images & Fernando Castro Pacheco Murals

Two additional panoramas: Staircase Courtyard.

Wikipedia on Fernando Castro Pacheco:

Between 1971 and 1979 Castro Pacheco completed 27 murals for the governor’s palace in Mérida, Yucatán. These murals depict what some consider the realities of life in the Yucatán after the Spanish conquest as well as images and myths of native Maya tribes indigenous of the Yucatán region. The murals depict scenes of work and torture that the native peoples of the Yucatán endured under Spanish control. The reality of early henequen workers are seen in El henequen. A traditional creation myth of the native tribes is also depicted by Castro Pacheco in his work Hombres de maiz. The murals are oil paintings on large format canvas.

Lonely Planet.

Wikipedia on Merida.

Life Begins at 40

Tom Salt:

To celebrate our VW Beetle’s 40th birthday we decided to take it home. Having been built in Germany in 1972 she spent most of her life in Britain. 40 years later it seemed a fitting celebration to go back to the factory.

“one in which massive venture-capital injections allow money-losing start-ups to flourish”

Kevin Roose:

Yesterday, I ordered lunch from a gourmet meal-delivery start-up called SpoonRocket – a takeout container of sirloin au poivre and roasted cauliflower that was shuttled to my door in exactly 11 minutes, costing me $8. I then took an UberX car to a meeting across town, paying roughly $10 for a 15-minute ride. On my way, I pulled out my phone to see about getting my broken dryer fixed through Handybook, which provides on-demand repairs in the Bay Area for less than a local handyman would charge.
 There are dozens more services like these operating in and around San Francisco – Homejoy for cleaning, BloomThat for flowers, Postmates for courier service, and on and on. Most of them provide cheap, convenient amenities at the tap of a smartphone app. Few of them are profitable on a corporate level. And together, they’ve formed the backbone of a strange urban economy: one in which massive venture-capital injections allow money-losing start-ups to flourish, while providing services that no traditional, unsubsidized business can match. It’s an economy built on patience, and the hope that someday, after the land grab is over and the dust has settled, a better business model will emerge.
 It’s hard to know which of today’s new start-ups are unprofitable. But in some cases, losing money is kind of the point. I have no inside information on SpoonRocket’s financials, for example, but I imagine that the company books a loss of a few cents every time I click the order button. (There’s just no way, short of a supply-chain miracle, that my $8 covers the cost of preparing a gourmet lunch, driving it to my house, and paying all the drivers and cooks and engineers and assorted other costs associated with running their business.) But SpoonRocket doesn’t have to make money, because it’s just raised $10 million in venture capital expressly so it can keep its prices low. The metric its investors care about right now is user growth, not profits. And if, indeed, the company is selling meals for less than they cost to make, those investors are willing to fill the gap.

Via Steve Crandall.

How mobile is taking over the web

Gilles Raymond:

The latest Comscore figures reveal people are using the web less and less. Total Internet audience is stable in the US with 222 million unique monthly visitors. But from February 2013 to February 2014, the average time spent on the web per visitor went down by a scary 17 percent from 35 hours per month (2108 minutes) to 29 hours per month (1741 minutes).
 News Websites are Shrinking. Quickly.
 News websites are especially suffering from this dramatic shift. Yahoo News, the number one news website in US with 73 monthly million unique visitors, dropped by 25 percent to 54 million unique visitors over the last year. Even worse, the average time a user spends on the site went down 14 percent. Usually when the base decreases, the average number of minutes remains relatively constant because the site retains its core users. In this case, both users and time decreased dramatically, signaling a sea change in user behavior. In another example, saw a decrease in users by only 6 percent but the total number of minutes spent on the site fell by 41 percent. What Yahoo! And The New York Times are experiencing is a global trend, as illustrated in the graph below. The web news industry isn’t just losing users, but time spent on their sites at an impressive speed.

Facebook for Android and Why Zuckerberg Now Owns Your Ass

Danny Brown:

The Calendar I’d seen on previous Permissions, and the Calls (while annoying) I’m pretty sure had been there too. But check out the exact wording of the SMS/MMS Permission, and that of the Contacts one.
 Doesn’t that alarm you as a user? Read that wording again, especially this statement:
 This allows the app to read all SMS messages, regardless of content or confidentiality.
 Wow. Just… wow. Not even my wife gets access to my SMS messages (and no, Jacki, I have nothing to hide!). What honest and useful reason can Facebook have to get access to my texts? Seemingly they’re running with the “It will help us target better” message.

The Financial Vulnerability of Americans

Atif Mian & Amir Sufi::

Excessive household debt was crucial in explaining the severity of the Great Recession. So where are we now? Have households strengthened their financial position since 2009? Are household balance sheets strong enough to prevent another massive pull back in spending if there are significant job losses?
 To answer to these questions, we look at evidence from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study by FINRA. (We are grateful to Annamaria Lusardi, an expert on financial literacy, for pointing us to the data used in this post.) This survey is a representative sample of 25,000 individuals who were asked mostly qualitative questions about their finances. The survey was put into the field three years after the worst of the Great Recession.
 The survey responses are shocking, and should put fear into all of us about the financial vulnerability of U.S. households.

A messy legacy: Lawrence in Arabia

William Dalryample:

Lawrence of Arabia is one of those figures, like Mahatma Gandhi, who tends to generate biographies more or less every year. With the centenary of the First World War already upon us – and with the anniversary of Lawrence’s Arab Revolt in 2016 – Scott Anderson’s gripping new study, subtitled War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, is only the forerunner of what is likely to be a very long caravan of new Lawrence books to come lolloping over the desert horizon over the next couple of years. Anderson’s version of the story is a brilliantly pulled-off piece of narrative history that demonstrates both why Lawrence continues to grip our imagination and why he can be a deeply problematic lens through which to examine the tensions of the Middle East.
 At the time, Lawrence’s dashingly cinematic raids on the Hejaz railway and his camel-borne attacks on Wejd and Aqaba during the First World War were regarded, as Lawrence wrote, as “the sideshow of a sideshow”. All eyes were on Ypres and the trenches of the Somme, where half the youth of Europe were being slaughtered on the Western Front. But the desert campaigns have become as iconic as they are because Lawrence provides a familiar face with which historians and biographers can tell one of the most complex and important stories of the war: the tale of the break-up of the Ottoman empire and the creation of the ongoing political train crash that is the modern Middle East.
 For it is Lawrence’s eastern theatre that has left by far the more important and messy legacy of that war. It is a legacy that we are still trying to contain today as Egypt undergoes its multiple revolutions and counter-revolutions, as Syria burns, as Israel remorselessly settles Palestinian land and as the Palestinians displaced in 1948 continue to rot in refugee camps.

America’s democracy is fit for the 1 per cent

Edward Luce:

America was forged in opposition to the aristocratic corruption of Europe. Today, inherited wealth is more entrenched in the US than it is in almost every corner of the old world. So too are legacy places at Ivy League universities that were once such wellsprings of US meritocracy.

Today, inherited wealth is more entrenched in the US than it is in almost every corner of the old world

In politics too, dynasty has rarely been more entrenched. It would be little surprise were the 2016 election to turn into a contest between Hillary Clinton and Mr Bush. Seven of the past nine presidential elections have featured a member of the Bush or Clinton families. Next time could make it eight out of 10.

Both families benefit hugely from the networks of donors they have cultivated over the decades. It goes without saying that their donors have done pretty well too. The story continues. George P Bush, Jeb’s son, is running for land commissioner in Texas. Many believe Mrs Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, is preparing the ground for her own future in US politics.

Of course, dynasty is not only about money. In a celebrity-driven age it also brings valuable name recognition. Moreover, money is not enough on its own to change election outcomes. The infamous Koch brothers, Charles and David, who own the second-largest private corporation in the US, spent tens of millions on the 2012 presidential without avail – as did Mr Adelson. And US democracy is still capable of extraordinary upsets, notably Mr Obama’s emergence from nowhere to dislodge Mrs Clinton in 2008.

TV Circa 2014

An “awesome” photo of our time by Kate Zellmer. Students watching the NCAA tournament thriller: Arizona vs. Wisconsin via their iPhones.

Ben Thompson reflects on how TV has changed over the years.

“Only 12% of 18-29 year olds said TV would be hard to give up: view the internet, cellphones as essential” – Pew Research.

“Broadcast Audience Older Than Ever Ratings hold up while viewers continue to age out of the demo” – Anthony Crupi.