Palantir: On Business, Cults, and Politics

Byrne Hobart:

Palantir’s relationship to privacy is highly dependent on exactly where you draw the creepy line. They collect data to make inferences about behavior, and in their intelligence work that means collecting data to identify potential terrorists. Their users certainly consume more data than they would with a manual counterterrorism approach, but the outcome is that less of it gets looked at by humans. So the difference is between abstract but extensive privacy violations (your phone/text metadata, financial transactions, and other behaviors all factor into their model) and literal but less common ones (someone manually reviewing the same things to decide if your Venmo transaction with the memo “Dinner at Afghan restaurant” indicates that you might be training with the Taliban.) What’s worse, the possibility of a human manually snooping around your personal information because you got unlucky, or the extremely high probability that an algorithm will review your behavior and flag it as totally innocuous with no human intervention?

Palantir is certainly sensitive to political shifts. They say as much in the S-1, and have said so elsewhere, too. But the picture is not quite what one might expect. They started to generate revenue in 2008. In Obama’s second term, revenue compounded at 37% annually, reaching $466m in 2016. In 2017, growth slowed to just 11%, and their annual growth under Trump has been just 17%.

The way they describe their views—and the way they contrast them with other tech companies—is that they’re ultimately deferring to what voters want. As Alex Karp puts it:

Let’s Compare: Dane & Travis County

2020 Dane County Budget: $593,707,780

Population: 546,695

Spending per person: $1,085.99

County Employees: 2,531.9

2010 Dane County Budget: $460,434,195

Population: 488,081

Spending per person: $943.36

2020 Travis County Budget (Austin): $1,210,176,330

Population: 1,273,954

Spending per person: $949.94

2010 Travis County Budget (Austin): $655,140,525

Population: 1,024,444

Spending per person: $639.51

## I could not immediatetly find Travis County employment data.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Media 2020 Commentary

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Remember this? This was my DNC Convention speech to procedurally nominate Bernie. It was pre-recorded and approved by the DNC, Biden campaign, and Bernie. The DNC provided an advisory to the media DAYS ahead of time that I would be seconding Bernie’s procedural nomination.

This happens at EVERY single convention (Dolores Huerta did Hillary Clinton’s in ’08, etc), and ironically it is considered an important step in UNITING the party by paying respect to the second-place finisher and their supporters and sets up a process so we all come together via roll call in the end.

But how did @nbcnews cover it?

“In one of the shortest speeches of the DNC, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not endorse Joe Biden: “I hereby second the nomination of Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont for president of the United States of America.” “

NBC immediately framed this normal process as “AOC doesn’t endorse Joe Biden” when they KNEW this was normal and were ADVISED that the whole point of my role WASN’T to do that!

But educating people on the process doesn’t generate as much clicks or money, so they framed this as a controversially as possible. The FACT is true – I didn’t endorse Biden in this 60 sec clip – but the STORY was at best irresponsible.

This actually made my life hell in the immediate aftermath. 20-30 million people were watching on convention nights. Floods of people, misled by NBC, directed a ton of abuse my way and I was cast as “going rogue” and harming the party. A lot of moderate Democrats used this as an opportunity to send a lot of hatred, anger, and vitriol my way.

All for fulfilling a 60 second role that I was asked to do. And @nbcnews has yet to apologize.

This stuff happens all the time.

(NBC quietly took down the tweet in the middle of tonight after it already went viral)

OK so first things first: journalists & members of the press are people with jobs that are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. So I’m not here to dump on them because they deal with enough. I respect them a lot and admire those who conduct their work with integrity.

But the institutions and incentives in media overall is absolutely incentivized towards conflict and drama, because that ts what generates clicks, views, and revenue. That said, when you see a FACT that is reported, cited, and verified by several reputable outlets, 99.999% it’s going to be true.

HOWEVER! there is a BIG difference between a fact and the STORY. And the STORY (often the headline) that’s told surrounding the fact is frequently stretched, mischaracterized, or dramatized to get you to click. Sometimes the STORY is so misleading that even though it contains FACTS it is told in such a way that people will walk away thinking the wrong thing, or just getting angry about something that’s actually not a big deal. And that creates lack of trust in media & institutions, and overall polarization.

I will give you an example:

My tips for consuming media & staying informed:

– Don’t rely on only one source. every outlet has their own biases and habits, even if they don’t want to admit it. Read multiple outlets to determine VOUR perspective.

– Get an idea for each outlet’s slant / vibe / perspective/ whatever you want to call it. Media bias rarely shows up as “this outlet is out to get X politician” (though there are some hacky, 2nd/3rd tier outlets or websites that are that way), but it’s more often a bias towards a certain class perspective that’s out of touch, or it’s a bias against context they DON’T have ie race. For example, a lot of newsrooms don’t have enough empowered BIPOC journalists, so their coverage can be really tone deaf towards race, or gender, or class, etc.

– Identify journalists whose work you respect and trust. They often specialize in topics you are interested in, from politics to gaming. Follow them. I find that to be a lot more illuminating than just blanket loyalty to an outlet.

Take a beat. Many headlines are designed to trigger an emotional response. So if you have the inclination to get angry, pause.

– Also: many journalists are not responsible for the headlines above their work. Which I find really sad, bc they will put in a ton of work on an article just for an editor to put in a horrible headline that undercuts th work they just did. I believe digital headlines should be held to higher editorial standards to preserve people’s trust.

I believe we should hold headlines accountable too.

via instagram story screenshots: one two three four


Nicholas Sandmann on being canceled:

Speaker 1: (00:00)
On a class trip to join thousands for the annual March for Life. These Catholic young men traveled from Kentucky to stand up for what they believed in, but what happened was something very different.

Speaker 3: (00:13)
Crackers with a Make America Great hat on. You little, dirty (beep) crackers. Your day coming. Young Klansmen. Look at that Make America Great Again hat.

Speaker 1: (00:33)
Social media, the news, and even celebrities launched a campaign of persecution that was completely false against a boy in a Make America Great Again hat.

Speaker 4: (00:33)
The MAGA hat carries a certain connotation that provokes a conditioned reaction.

Speaker 5: (00:39)
I blame that (beep) kid. What a little prick.

Speaker 6: (00:42)
Everyone that sees that smug look wants to punch that kid.

Speaker 1: (00:43)
Nicholas Sandman received death threats and his school was forced to close. Tonight, Nicholas tells his story.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (00:55)
Good evening, everyone. My name is Nick Sandman and I’m the teenager who was defamed by the media after an encounter with a group of protesters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last year. Before I begin, I’d like to thank President Trump for the opportunity to share some of my story and why it matters so much to this November’s election.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (01:16)
In 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where I demonstrated in defense of the unborn. Later that day, I bought a Make America Great Again hat because our President, Donald Trump, has distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents in the history of our country, and I wanted to express my support for him, too. Looking back now, how could I had possibly imagined that the simple act of putting on that red hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and cable news networks nationwide.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (01:54)
Being from Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, my classmates and I visited the Lincoln Memorial. I found myself face to face with Nathan Phillips and other professional protestors, looking to turn me into the latest poster child showing why Trump is bad, while the media portrayed me as an aggressor with a relentless smirk on my face. In reality, the video confirms I was standing with my hands behind my back and an awkward smile on my face that had two thoughts. One, don’t do anything that might further agitate the man banging a drum in my face. And two, I was trying to follow a family friend’s advice, never to do anything to embarrass your family, your school, or your community.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (02:43)
Before I knew what was happening, it was over. One of Mr. Phillips fellow agitators yelled out, “We got him. It’s all right here on video. And we won, Grandpa.” What I thought was a strange encounter, quickly developed into a major news story complete with video footage.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (03:03)
My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without researching the full video of the incident, without ever investigating Mr. Phillips’ motives, or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do you know why? Because the truth was not important. Advancing their anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that mattered. And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky, well, so be it. That would teach him not to wear a MAGA hat.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (03:44)
I learned what was happening to me had a name. It was called being canceled, as in annulled, as in revoked, as in made void. Canceled is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated, or even threatened. And often the media is a willing participant. But I would not be canceled. I fought back hard to expose the media for what they did to me and I won a personal victory.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (04:19)
While much more must be done, I look forward to the day that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news coverage. I know President Trump hopes for that too. And I know you’ll agree with me when we say that no one in this country has been a victim of unfair media coverage more than President Donald Trump.

Nicholas Sandmanm: (04:40)
In November, I believe this country must unite around a President who calls the media out and refuses to allow them to create a narrative instead of reporting the facts. I believe we must join a President who will challenge the media to return to objective journalism, and together, I believe we must all embrace our first amendment rights, and not hide in fear of the media or from the tech companies or from the outrage mob, either. This is worth fighting for. This is worth voting for. And this is what Donald Trump stands for. Thank you all for listening to me tonight. And one more thing, let’s make America great again.

transcript via

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Duckduckgo

Nicholas Sandman: Duckduckgo

2018: The State of Local Journalism 2018.

2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Posted in Uncategorized.

“From my standpoint, the marketing is great, but we have to actually convince people,”

Micki Wagner:

“From my standpoint, the marketing is great, but we have to actually convince people,” Entwistle said. “There’s the process, and there’s benefits to doing it, but we’ve got to make that happen because what I’m seeing just socially is people who have lived in New York for a long time are literally giving up their apartments in the city, and they’re moving to the suburbs right now. There’s a mass exodus that can be damaging unless we can turn that around, and when people leave the city, and when companies don’t have their employees coming into buildings, then the revenues start to go down…It’s a big challenge but there’s ways to work through it over time and, again, if you have that ability to draw from other resources, even the government, even the State of New York, for the time being, if there’s a place to access that liquidity to get through this rough patch, everybody will be fine in six or 12 or 24 months, I would imagine. That would be my bet.”

“I think we need to make our cities wonderful places to live,” Butler-Adams added. “They need to be amazing; they need to be free. They need to be gorgeous. You need to open the door and the children charge out. You need to make the people live in it. At the moment, the people are getting out of the city because they’ve been stuck in a tiny flat for three months, and this isn’t the end of the coronavirus…We need to rethink how we live our cities and make them wonderful places to live, vibrant, interesting, artistic and draw people in, draw the young in, draw the talent in and make people feel welcome. Stuffing a city full of metal boxes, stress, anger, air pollution, that’s not the way to have a city. They’re where most of us live. Cities need to be the most beautiful places to live, full of culture and diversity and richness, and that’s what we need to think.”

Streaming Is Laying Bare How Big ISPs, Big Tech, and Big Media Work Together Against Users

Katherine Trendacosta:

For the record, HBO Max is a streaming service from AT&T, which owns Warner Bros. and, of course, HBO. HBO Go, by contrast, is the app for people who subscribe to HBO through a cable or satellite provider. And HBO Now is a digital-only subscription version of HBO. HBO Max is, somehow, not HBO. It’s a new streaming service, like Disney+, offering both the back catalogs of HBO and Warner Bros. and new exclusives. The name, which emphasizes HBO and doesn’t alert people that this is a service where they can watch Friends, has been a marketing problem.

But the marketing problem, while hilarious, is not where the biggest concerns lie. The real problem is with AT&T offering HBO Max for free to customers with certain plans, not counting it against data caps for its mobile customers, and launching without support for certain TV devices.

Let’s go through what’s happening here piece by torturous piece. First: HBO Max is free if you are a subscriber to certain AT&T plans—high-speed home Internet, unlimited wireless plans, and premier DirectTV plans, to name a few. But Americans pay more for worse Internet than their peers in Europe and South Korea. With high-speed home Internet, most Americans have two or fewer choices. The most meaningful choice an AT&T home Internet subscriber in the U.S. makes is between expensive low-speed service or very expensive “high-speed” service.

Cellphone Data Shows How Las Vegas Is “Gambling With Lives” Across the Country

Marshall Allen:

A new analysis of smartphone data, conducted at ProPublica’s request, shows how interconnected the country is with visitors to Las Vegas — which heightens concerns about the limitations of interstate contact tracing. The companies X-Mode and Tectonix analyzed travel to and from Las Vegas during four days, a Friday to Monday, in mid-July. In compliance with privacy laws, X-Mode collects data from smartphone users, mainly those using fitness and weather apps that track their location. The data represents about 5% of the smartphone users in the United States. Tectonix analyzed the data and visualized it on a map.

During the four-day period, about 26,000 devices were identified on the Las Vegas Strip. Some of those same smartphones also showed up in every state on the mainland except Maine in those same four days. About 3,700 of the devices were spotted in Southern California in the same four days; about 2,700 in Arizona, with 740 in Phoenix; around 1,000 in Texas; more than 800 in Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland; and more than 100 in the New York area.

The cellphone analysis highlights a reason the virus keeps spreading, said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist and chief program officer with the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “People have been highly mobile, and as a result, it makes sense why we see the continuation of the surge.”

The “Joy” of Cloud Computing: Adobe and Canon Edition

Mark Wilson:

Canon has explained what went wrong when its cloud service,, went down last week – and it’s not good news for the affected users.

The site went offline on July 30 and only returned on August 4, following an investigation from the camera giant into what went wrong.

On the plus side, Canon has confirmed that “we found no unauthorized access to” and that “the incident caused no leakage of images”, which means it’s an entirely separate incident to the major ransomware attack that also hit the company last week.

But unfortunately for the users affected by the earlier incident, Canon also said “there is no technical measure to restore lost video images” and that “still images can be restored, but not with original resolutions”. In a statement on the homepage, it added “we offer our deepest apologies to affected users”.


As noted by PetaPixel, complaints surfaced on the Photoshop forums on Monday, shortly after the update was released, followed by similar reports on Reddit and Twitter.

Affected users lost photos, presets, edits, watermarks, and more. One user on Reddit said that he lost two years of edits, and there are dozens of similar complaints from people who lost important data. The problem affected users who were using local storage without having uploaded that content to Adobe’s cloud storage service.

Many of those affected were using Adobe’s free service, which has limited cloud storage, but some paid users were also impacted and lost thousands of photos.

Monica Chin:

For the past two days, photographers have been posting in a panic across Twitter, Reddit, and the Photoshop feedback forums. They’d downloaded Adobe’s latest update for Lightroom’s iOS app, and suddenly their photos and presets were gone. Adobe has now confirmed the issue, and it’s also said that the data is gone for good.

“I’ve talked with customer service for 4+ hours over the past 2 days and just a minute ago they told me that the issue has no fix and that these lost photos are unrecoverable,” complained one Reddit user, who says they’ve lost over two years’ worth of photo edits. The complaints were spotted by PetaPixel.

“This is literally the worst,” tweeted another customer, who said they’d lost not only 800 pictures but hundreds of dollars worth of paid presets.
““These lost photos are unrecoverable.””

Adobe representative Rikk Flohr acknowledged and apologized for the snafu in a forum post yesterday. Per Flohr, the company has released another update “to prevent this issue from impacting additional customers.” However, the photos can’t be recovered, according to Flohr. The update won’t help anyone who’s already been impacted.

“We sincerely apologize to any customers who have been affected by this issue,” Flohr wrote.

A few personal notes:

  1. 18,000 + images in my case (backed up on local drives, thankfully)
  2. Lightroom on iPad has been generally impressive, other than a curious inability to copy / paste white balance adjustments between raw images consistently.
  3. I am a paid Lightroom subscription user and am surprised that a company with Adobe’s size and experience has created this disaster.
  4. Canon, similar to other industries, faces competition from firms where software is their game. They make terrific lenses….
Posted in Uncategorized.

Ignorance About Covid-19 Risk Is ‘Nothing Short of Stunning,’ Research Report Says; Huge Age Variance

Mark Glennon:

Americans have been “blinded from science,” according to a recent research report about their understanding of COVID-19. And it’s not about the controversial aspects like treatments and lockdown policies. It’s about ignorance of fundamental, undisputed facts on who is at risk.

A leading financial firm, Franklin Templeton, figured that people’s behavioral response to the pandemic will play a crucial role in shaping the economic recovery, so they teamed up with Gallup, the polling outfit, to find out what people know and don’t know.

“These results are nothing short of stunning,” concluded the firm. “Six months into this pandemic, Americans still dramatically misunderstand the risk of dying from COVID-19.”

That’s no exaggeration, and the implications go far beyond the economic behavior Franklin Templeton was interested in.

Here is what they found:

First, the Franklin Templeton-Gallup survey found that the general population has a little understanding how heavily the pandemic is focused on the older population. It is not broad-based. From the report:

• On average, Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.

• Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30% of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7%.

• Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40% vs 80%).

Monopoly Power Lies Behind Worst Trends in U.S., Fed Study Says

Craig Torres:

The concentration of market power in a handful of companies lies behind several disturbing trends in the U.S. economy, like the deepening of inequality and financial instability, two Federal Reserve Board economists say in a new paper.

Isabel Cairo and Jae Sim identify a decline in competition, with large firms controlling more of their markets, as a common cause in a series of important shifts over the last four decades.

Those include a fall in labor share, or the chunk of output that goes to workers, even as corporate profits increased; and a surge in wealth and income inequality, as the net worth of the top 5% of households almost tripled between 1983 and 2016. This fueled financial risks and higher leverage, the economists say, as poorer households borrowed to make ends meet while richer ones shoveled their wealth into bonds — feeding the demand for debt instruments.

“The rise of market power of the firms may have been the driving force” in all of these trends, Cairo and Sim write in the paper. Published this month by the non-partisan Fed Board staff, which doesn’t reflect the views of governors, it’s the latest in a series examining the risks that weaker competition poses to a market economy.

That issue is increasingly prominent on the agenda of both America’s main political parties. Democrats said in a recent summary of policy priorities that they’re “concerned about the increase in mega-mergers and corporate concentration across a wide range of industries.” The Department of Justice under President Donald Trump is probing large technology platforms.

Forward Fest 2020: in a Park

Madison’s Forward Fest 2020 is largely online, which is a big change and in many ways unfortunate from previous years.

Thinking different, Eric Lynn and I hosted a small event on “Brand Building: 2020+” at the obscure but serene Harvey Schmidt Park.

Eric kindly shared his brand, experience and collaborative work in the retail and digital bike space via RideSpot.

I mentioned a few post covid brand experiences:

  1. The consistently great digital shopping and fulfillment experience that Menards has managed to pull off.

  2. A retailer friend struggling with massive process changes from physical store sales to online and other channels.

  3. Generally terrible healthcare interactions.

An impressive designer shared several tales on brand building for restaurants and churches, including a fascinating segway on menu aesthetics and how the approaches differ between physical and digital experiences. We also discussed the utility of text and visual content.

Yet – for perspective – three cranes enjoyed the beautiful day along with a fisherman perhaps 20′ away.

P.S. The menu discussion reminded me of Nicholas Lander’s interesting book: “On the Menu. The worlds’ Favorite Piece of Paper”

Forward Fest

Menards iOS and Android apps.

Airdrop trumps $40B Taxpayer Medical Record Subsidies

Posted in Uncategorized.