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Justin Owings
Atlantan, Entrepreneur, Googler, Father, Husband, Meatza and Toe Shoes Enthusiast.
Atlantan, Entrepreneur, Googler, Father, Husband, Meatza and Toe Shoes Enthusiast.

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I really need to see Ghost in the Shell already... 
One of the more interesting (for me, of course) parts of yesterday's interview on "Ghost in the Shell"

Kirill: There was a fascinating aspect of the outside world in the film for me. There’s a screen showing me ads in the elevator in my office building. There’s a screen showing me ads at the gas station. And another one in my doctor’s office. And another one in the back of the taxi cab when I go to the airport. You take all of that to the extreme, and that’s the urban world shown in “Ghost in the Shell” where the entire city is a sea of ads constantly screaming for your attention. And then Major goes underwater and says that she does that to detach from all the data streams. So that’s the darker side of technology in that it makes us that much more unwillingly accessible to corporation agendas.

Peter: For me it’s especially fascinating as my career started in advertising. That was years ago, before the digital revolution. I vividly remember the first digital opportunities that came about, and everyone felt that while it was nice, it wasn’t going to take off. And au contraire, everything is about digital and mobile now. That’s how the world works.

As you said, it’s a really challenging thing to try to isolate yourself from, especially if you have kids. How do you give them a healthy sense of reality? Not everything is about computers and screens. I just read an article about how companies are trying to come up with technologies that make holographic advertising possible. There is serious research and money going into trying to create something that resembles the world of “Ghost in the Shell”.

I think that it’s inevitable that when somebody comes up with that kind of technology, as much as society would want to regulate it, Times Square and Piccadilly Circus will be smothered in holographic ads. That’s probably the same as the change that happened around a 100 years ago. Some people didn’t have radios, and some still used candles. Parts of a city were blooming and had massive lights. I think that’s going to happen. It’s not going to be very different.

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"The second Facebook goal is to keep you on the site at all costs, since this is where they can serve you ads. And this leads to another problem we can talk about more fully in another post. Your average news story — something from the New York Times on a history of the Alt-Right, for example — won’t get clicked, because Facebook has built their environment to resist people clicking external links. Marketers figured this out and realized that to get you to click they had to up the ante. So they produced conspiracy sites that have carefully designed, fictional stories that are inflammatory enough that you will click."

"In other words, the consipiracy clickbait sites appeared as a reaction to a Facebook interface that resisted external linking. And this is why fake news does better on Facebook than real news."

"To be as clear as I possibly can — by setting up this dynamic, Facebook simultaneously set up the perfect conspiracy replication machine and incentivized the creation of a new breed of conspiracy clickbait sites."

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Put together a little compilation video of my kids playing with our new family pet -- Cozmo.

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Google Chicago has:

- Two types of Kombucha on tap
- a "Teabot," which is like a Coca-cola freestyle machine for brewing loose leaf teas.
- a pretty sweet view (though my photo is not so sweet)
3 Photos - View album

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Go Atlanta! "The quality of life and lower costs have contributed to metro Atlanta growing by more than 1.1 million people since 2000--a 26 percent increase." Here are other accolades for ATL:

- #1 for the city with the lowest cost of doing business
- Temperate weather (Atlanta averages 217 sunny days a year)
- award-winning restaurants (Travel & Leisure in 2015 named Atlanta #4 of America's Best Cities for Foodies)
- Atlanta also has the highest percentage of overall urban tree canopy (47.9%) in the nation
- 80 percent of the entire U.S. population lives within a direct 2-hour flight from Atlanta
- Atlanta is the #2 city for Millennials and currently houses 1.4 million Millennials.
- Since 2011, more than 467,000 private-sector jobs have been added in Atlanta, keeping the unemployment rate at just 5.5 percent

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Via Reddit, I wish we had something like this for every election ... really nails the "lesser of two evils" mental gymnastics people go through every 4 years.

PS And I don't think anyone would "fit" as Batman
PPS Recently rewatched the entire Dark Knight trilogy and it holds up and is better watched as a complete trilogy.

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Just pre-ordered this super cool little Wall-E-ish robot toy. Looks awesomely fun. Probably earliest Christmas shopping of all time. Er ... my daughters ... or me ... thing looks awesome! Cozmo by Anki:

(Pre-orders are on sale, charged on shipping; here is a referral link if you're interested!)

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A fascinating, if not disturbing "hyper-reality" look at what mixed reality could look at -- be prepared for a visual affront. 

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Here comes a few months of calling out Republicans I know on their shifting, justified support of Trump (calling a spade a spade).
As of today, the second seal has been broken and a rider on a red horse has come forth Donald Trump is essentially the guaranteed Republican nominee for president. Let me give some predictions of what's going to happen next:

(1) People will start to argue harder and harder that Trump isn't really that bad, and he doesn't actually mean all the things that he says. Even while you'll never hear this from his campaign, it'll be a major theme among commentators, especially those tied to the Republican establishment. 

The main thing driving this will be cognitive dissonance: if you believed that the American public had just nominated a not-particularly-crypto-Nazi, then you would have to conclude that the people around you are either evil or fools, and that's not something nice to think about. But if he's not really that bad, then it's OK. The second thing driving this will be the underlying urge of many disaffected (white, working or middle class) people to support him and the things he actually says; if you've got a narrative where it's not really that bad, it's fine to vote for this, then you can feel more comfortable considering it. And the third thing (affecting mostly professional politicians and media heads) will be simple professional party loyalty; the cost of defection away from a nominated candidate, in terms of career and so on, is just too high.

(2) You will hear a strong campaign from the Republican establishment (not Trump) that Clinton is the Devil and must be beaten. They won't be able to put together a clear story of why; to be honest, almost nobody ever has been able to. It's become so reflexive to see her this way that people have forgotten where it started. (That's not to say that Clinton isn't deeply flawed, but none of those flaws have anything to do with the weird conspiracy theories that will be circulating) 

This is mostly a way for the people in the establishment, the ones with the most dissonance to deal with, to focus themselves on saying "not Clinton" so they don't have to spend too much time saying "yes Trump."

It's going to be an incredibly nasty campaign, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

(Yes, Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee. I know Sanderistas can come up with arguments until the cows come home about how it's still perfectly statistically possible for him to win 64% of the remaining pledged delegates or somehow convince all the superdelegates to join him but... no. There is no way that actually works. Sanders gets to shift the party platform but he has no serious chance of being the nominee)

And if, God forbid, Trump were to be elected? I suspect that we would find that he is quite an honest man after all, at least insofar as he has no incentive to lie. I suspect that his promises about immigrants will quickly become a priority for him, with a certain amount of reality gating. Things we'd actually see:

(1) Punitive taxes and/or seizure of remittances abroad. This would cause massive economic disruptions all over the world (about $125B per year, most of it going to poor communities) and would probably ultimately be moderated in some way, but not before causing tremendous pain and chaos.

(2) Laws demanding strong proof of citizenship to work, and enforcing severe penalties against employers who violate them. These would cause a different kind of chaos, because a good quarter of citizens don't actually have such strong proof. Presumably offices would be set up to help people get that, and deployment of the law would be staged -- but that assistance would be sharply canted towards white communities. The intent, and effect, of the law would be to cause mass unemployment among Latino and Black communities. This would, indeed, cause many to flee the country, but even more to be dropped into extremely dire straits. I have no idea how this would play out.

(3) Laws enforcing Draconian penalties against anyone who helps people without knowing their immigration status. This would run into actual trouble for Trump once it started to affect better-organized churches; the Vatican may actually end up being a major counterforce, and this might have long-term consequences.

(4) Laws restricting employment of legal immigrants in various ways. Not in service industries, but in places where a demonstration of nativism will be politically useful. This will often be used as a negotiating tactic against businesses.

(5) Actual wall-building might start in a symbolic fashion, but the absurd logistics of it would prevent anything other than a flashy display.

Of course, none of this even starts to deal with his plans to institute trade wars with both China and Mexico (two of our three largest trading partners), or the effects that would happen when the leaders of politically savvy rival countries (e.g., China) realize that he can easily be goaded into foolish moves. Or what might happen if someone else (e.g., Kim Jong Un) tried to rattle sabers; I doubt that he has any deep understanding of just why the US hasn't tried to blow up North Korea in the past. (Answer: we could do it, but in the process South Korea would be turned into rubble, and Japan would probably lose a city or two. And it might escalate into a full regional war.)

So even though I anticipate several months of people telling me how he really isn't that bad, and of the curious experience of seeing a politician's supporters get exasperated and angry ("you're not repeating that old lie again!") when I suggest that their candidate might be honest, I don't think that just because he's the nominee, he's suddenly going to change his white sheets stripes.
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