Roderick on the Line

Ep. 275: "I Want an Adult"


  what are you paying for the place

  exactly where are we staying yeah am I

  staying with you that only happened

  because in that four months she and I

  talked on Twitter with a bunch of other

  people who were also fun and funny all

  day you know by the time she made that

  phone call we knew each other yeah yeah

  and what when would that have ever

  happened before you know so anyway this

  proposal was like why don't we just buy

  it and and declare it a UNESCO site and

  we'll govern it and we won't let Nazis

  and we won't let boobs and butts and we

  will restore it to what it was which was

  like a like a true human accomplishment

  and every was like between a national

  park and a Superfund site right what

  starts as a Superfund site but we'd like

  to eventually turn it into a national

  parks leaves a little bit and it seemed

  it seemed briefly plausible like wow

  right the people at Twitter don't care

  anymore all they want as money they just

  want to get out I think probably most of

  them and give them their money you know

  they made their money gets to keep their

  accounts yeah you guys that's great jack

  like here's some money is that what you

  is that would that make you happy but

  you can't beam back to your home planet

  yeah you can go now go with your money

  human emotions are strange

  I mean emotions and leave it to us give

  it back to us right but that idea that

  every single thing needs to be monetized

  to within an inch of its life that

  Facebook doesn't have enough money and

  that they need a billion more customers

  because they need what to control

  everything right what's your end game

  what's the end game this you'll know

  this will have been super successful in

  what happens when what happened yeah

  precisely and is the stuff you're doing

  now is this the direction that you

  consider moving too

  other success and are we we are nothing

  right we are just we a hundred thousand

  people come and go every second matrix

  batteries we're pod boys yeah I'm saying

  just can't see on Ariz or the garden

  hose in our neck I want to reach out to

  people and say do you have a good idea

  like the guy that had the idea of URLs

  gave it to the world for free I mean he

  just said here you go right I'm not

  gonna copyright dot-com this is a thing

  that needed to happen right and here it

  is like I built it it didn't take that

  much it was like a brainstorm I had and

  it took a couple of little bits to build

  but it didn't you know the idea that

  Twitter or Facebook represent that some

  intellectual property that we we we all

  know was the result of like a one night

  brainstorm and offend a few weeks of

  coding like it isn't the same as

  building the the infrastructure to bring

  water to New York City right it just

  isn't it was some guys in a dorm who

  were like hahaha what if we what if we

  made a website where you could judge

  people's faces and thumbs-up thumbs-down

  I mean it was it was like sick and it

  score from the from the very dawn but

  but Twitter I mean you know you know how

  Twitter got me and you were there like

  it was it was like oh I don't here why

  don't we do this it'll be like an SMS

  for friends and we can say like oh I'm

  going to the taco place and then

  everybody you won't have to text

  everybody individually had a good run

  like that's not a fucking idea that's

  worth a billion dollars it's just a

  fucking idea that you could have had and

  given as much as you a little bit of

  what happens in pharmaceuticals where

  you come up with no like an axiom or

  something they say you come up with

  always the big allergy one like claritin

  you come up with some new formulation

  and you get a patent on it for how

  many years like five years or whatever

  is and then you have to re-up your

  patent so you've got to figure out what

  most of them I think end up doing is

  slightly changing the delivery mechanism

  and getting a patent on that we were

  able to like string this out longer and

  longer bridge like MIT can we Houston do

  we like start giving the clarity in a

  way at prices that are normal for

  everybody it's like well that's not

  really how this model works right we

  move the button yay for us sorry about

  the Nazis yeah you see that a lot where

  where I feel like I've seen that several

  startups that I that I have like sort of

  tangential knowledge of where they had

  15 employees and they felt like they

  needed 50 in order to build the business

  so they hired 50 but then they've got 50

  employees and they need to earn money to

  pay the 50 employees so they need a

  hundred employees to make enough money

  to pay the 50 employees and it's just

  this like this mentality of the

  voracious growth that no one wants to

  run a 15 person company anymore that's

  really good and sleek and makes an

  income for everybody and is stable and

  it's not growing by leaps and bounds and

  you're not gonna sell it for fifteen

  million dollars when you're 28 years old

  it's just a job that you gave yourself

  but that's like pleasing and you go home

  at night and you feel satisfied by your

  work like my mom was talking about her

  brother the other day and she said well

  he retired from you know so hyoe at 50

  and I said he retired at 50 she said

  yeah that's what used to happen you'd

  started a job when you were 20 and then

  50 you'd worked there 30 years and you

  retired with a full retirement I was

  like am I just hearing about this for

  the first time is this what people talk

  about when they say this that things

  have changed what do you mean what did

  he do then oh you know he got a sailboat

  and he did some stuff and I'm like 50

  I'm 50 yeah

  I'm 50 I don't I don't have what are you

  talking about yeah she's like think

  about the people that join

  the army when they're 20 Beirut ISIL

  vote for a retired of forty retired

  because she was rich or been retired

  because she had done twenty years at a

  company and guys she used Excel in the

  Air Force for twenty years twenty years

  she retired yeah from the Air Force yeah

  yeah with with my fears thank you for

  your service freedom you know Mike

  Squires has did did a pretty good stint

  in the Marine Corps really Mike grew up

  in a in a very rural Washington town and

  the and the kind of the writing was on

  the wall about how life was gonna go and

  he decided that he was not gonna go that


  and joined the Marines the family math

  business yeah he was he said you know

  I'm not gonna I'm not gonna take over

  from my from the from the weakest uncle

  as the young younger enforcer for the

  yeah uncle Tony

  sorry pal come take a walk with us in

  the desert the keys to the pickup truck

  you shall wear the crap he joined the

  Marines that he got out he got out of

  his little town he got out of the cycle

  of rural shittiness took the midnight

  train going anywhere

  did the streetlight people and then very

  crucially he did not go back to his

  little shitty town with his duffel bag

  and like hug his high school sweetheart

  he went to Seattle and he bought a bass

  guitar and was like fuck it but what he

  did in the Marines was sat at a

  typewriter yeah and he's got that's a

  lot of people I mean he go

  big biceps and he's got tattoos that say

  like USMC anyway impugning my Corps or

  Marines in general but that's that's

  part of what makes me laugh in a way

  I'll never laugh publicly is like when

  everybody's always just jizzing

  themselves so hard over the troops in

  the first-responder is that it's like

  yeah but you know they also they got

  their education and their pension and

  everything paid for in a way that my

  kids teacher does not the you know the

  the support staff Merlyn is just as

  important as those frontline troops the

  wrestler is important as the notes I am

  mocking Mike just because it's gender

  salutely kick my ass sure even right now

  even as fat as he is you know one of

  those one of those things when I'm

  sitting around not thinking about

  burying shipping containers in the

  desert to put Donald Rumsfeld yeah you

  know a big a big a big idea that isn't

  really even that big is the idea of

  national service that encompasses things

  other than the army and you know the

  Israeli model of 18 to 20 everybody

  serves but you can choose to work for

  the National Park Service cut trail

  leave cut trail he worked for the

  Department of the Interior you work for

  the National Endowment for the Arts you

  you know you do two years of public

  service in one of a million different

  ways but it'd be considered equivalent

  to military service because if you do

  totally agree voluntary work at the at

  the National Endowment for the Arts

  making it easier or you work for the

  Department of Transportation like that

  is that is an equivalent service to your

  country and your people and the idea

  that there you know

  there are there are people risking their

  lives on battlefields but in question

  you know if the person who is driving

  the truck that's bringing the bottled

  water to the people that are doing that

  work on the battlefield

  is as integral to that machine as the

  fighter then the people who are making

  the roads back home work better and the

  people that are making America stronger

  by having a more devoted national

  commitment to the arts are also engaged

  in the same battle my kids my kids

  principal works about 12 hours a day and

  can't afford to live in San Francisco

  yeah she's in East Bay yeah

  and that's that's insane and that is a

  terrible miss allocation of resources

  but also it is it speaks to a like a

  like a core to climb in our values that

  I cannot I cannot yell enough about yeah

  and I think people are both you know

  people people may feel like this is all

  some kind of crusty attitude and that

  that once we turn the next corner and

  we're all wearing heads-up displays and

  walking around with Madame Butterfly

  strapped in our Underpants I think it

  does the cloud is like we are producing

  7 milliliters effluvium hour it doesn't

  waste your check it doesn't moisture

  check - bump it was Nixon that won it

  that took us into China right yeah it's

  affixing yeah and as much as that's a

  Mussolini made the trains run on time

  argument yeah I also feel that it may

  one day be a liberal Democrat or a

  liberal politician that reintroduces the

  idea of a compulsory national service a

  peacetime draft

  but that draft includes a and to work at

  the Department of Transportation is

  considered equivalent to having been in

  the Army because because it is

  ultimately and that if we you know we we

  spend I spent a lot of time in the last

  year talking to people in the military

  and officers in the military and for the

  most part they say the same thing which

  is that they consider themselves


  but that they support the military and

  so they support politicians that support

  the military and those politicians tend

  to be more Republican than Democrats so

  that's how they fall but really right

  they support the military and that is

  their church and when you say to them

  well alright but what about this weapons

  platform that is a hundred times over

  budget has been proved over and over

  again to not work it was designed at a

  time when the mission was different than

  it is now so there's no mission for it

  anymore it's a total boondoggle and if

  they keep crashing how do you feel about

  that and they're like well the billions

  of dollars that we pour into that go to

  the people that work for the military

  and the companies that support the

  military so even though it is a

  shitstorm I believe that in the end it

  benefits the country because it benefits

  the military and that's the point at

  which you realize like oh right they are

  I understand that they're nonpartisan

  but also they should not be in charge of

  that decision mm-hmm because they have a

  they can't be blamed for self-interest

  makes it sound more nefarious than it is

  but they they can't be faulted for doing

  the thing that they think is right that

  happens to support I mean they do yeah I

  can fault them but but i but i but i do

  feel like we have listeners we have less

  producer we should thank the further

  service they love it thank you all for

  your service

  I know we do and I know and I mean I'm

  engaged in this debate with with several

  of them offline but they lady M me and

  they say that thing you said is wrong

  and I say you're wrong and then we have

  a lively discussion because everybody

  loves to start that way but but note

  that that is why we have civilian

  oversight of the military but the

  problem is that if you put into office

  people that get into office by saying I

  will reflexively support the military

  without ever questioning them yeah you

  get into this situation where you know

  the like in Rome I hate to oh my god I'm

  so going to cliche rule was as soon as

  you stepped into Rome as a general or as

  a as a Roman soldier you no longer were

  in the Army in the city of Rome you were

  a civilian you could not enter Rome as a

  member of the army so the armies were

  always outside of Rome

  and the reason was that they were

  worried obviously that or it was a way

  of dealing with the fact that a that a

  general could come back from it from a

  triumphant battle and march into the

  city and get himself elected the Caesar

  in the in the in the frenzy of

  outpouring of joy at the returning

  conquering army so the army would return

  and as soon as they walked in to town

  they were civilians and it kept them you

  know it kept them in check and it's not

  that Roman generals didn't sometimes

  ascend and a couple of notable times

  marched in anyway but that was the that

  was their mentality their way of church

  and stating and we've kind of lost that

  we've lost a crucial element of civilian


  because our civilian our civilian like

  branch of government has abdicated its

  oversight responsibilities it's gotten

  to enthrall you know there are too many

  congressmen that are in thrall of the

  military and there's too much money

  floating around that they don't want to

  miss out on mm-hmm

  they all went to business school so

  they're just looking for business

  they're not they got no there's no

  morality to it anymore

  i-i-i jumped into an online conversation

  and you might help me with this yeah


  hope anyway I can't there was I started

  following a bunch of OPSEC people about

  a year ago because I wanted out of the

  of the thing where people were yelling

  at each other yeah oh god I made a real

  mistake oh my god it's like it's like

  4chan with a CS degree you are poem with

  your intent black hat but at one point

  somebody in the academic CS community

  was sending out tweets to the people in

  their community saying we're having

  we're starting a group like a an online

  pink group where we're discussing ethics

  in CS and we're trying to get a second

  computer science computer science okay

  we're trying to get academics people

  that are working in the field people

  that are you know theoretical about it

  we're trying to get everybody together

  to talk about you know to build a

  framework of talking about ethics in in

  computer science and so you know this

  was an open invitation on the part of an

  organizer to kind of you know come in

  present your CV explain who you are and

  from the basis of that will you know

  will include you in this conversation

  and it was kind of you know it's like a

  typical sort of like who are you how do

  you rank and we're gonna we're going to

  include you in this conversation

  with priority if you teach at Stanford

  versus if you're a 24 year old coder

  right right which made sense but I wrote

  him and said hi I am NOT in computer

  science but I really want to be engaged

  in the conversation around ethics in

  computer science and I humbly submit

  that you could have some civilian lay

  people in this conversation because it

  feels like you guys might get into a

  little bit of a think bubble with one

  another because some of the presumptions

  that you're all operating from maybe are

  the wellspring of some of these ethical

  questions that you're struggling with

  like maybe it's up maybe it's up above

  some of your first presumptions or maybe

  it's just a thing that you never looked

  at this this way because you all think a

  certain way but it seems like some lay

  thinkers might have a have a place here

  I mean in putting it it would be putting

  it strongly to say you'd be the court

  jester but you could be there to be a

  smart person asking a question that

  doesn't come up very often right which

  sometimes might be a silly obvious

  questions and other time it might be

  thought-provoking and help them to

  clarify their thinking on something by

  having to explain it to Adam that's like

  you that's right and and if you you know

  if your explanation to a numbnuts is

  well everybody knows what this is

  and the numbnuts says that's not true

  yeah you do maybe come at things from a

  different from a different way you can't

  talk about ethics in computer science

  without recognizing that you're talking

  about ethics and not computer science

  because if you're talking about ethics

  and computer science and you think

  you're talking about computer science

  then you're going to come to the same

  conclusions you came to before if you're

  talking about ethics you're talking on a

  different discipline and computer

  scientists aren't experts at it you're

  there there's nothing to suggest that

  being good at computers means that

  you're also good at the

  Effects of what computers can and are

  doing that is a separate discipline

  anyway he wrote back and said I agree

  how like how we're not meeting in a

  Convention Center and giving speeches

  we're creating an online community of

  people that are doing this work and

  we're using you know in these short

  burst conversations we're using all the

  nomenclature of our field and we're just

  bippity-boppity-boo pack and forth with

  c++ talky-talk how are you going to

  engage in that conversation with us and

  I said I cannot I cannot engage that way

  with you and if the if the ethical if

  what you're doing is creating like an

  online community where people are

  bounding or bouncing ideas off of each

  other there's no there isn't a place for

  me to tell hop in because nobody wants

  to sit and explain to a layperson

  something that everybody else in the

  room gets in 140 characters right but I

  guess I'm just if you are someone who is

  organizing this community if you're

  impelled to do it

  let me just plant that seed in your head

  that add a certain point other people

  need to be a people that are not in

  computer science or people who are not

  biologists need to be part of the

  bioethics conversation or the computer

  science ethics conversation and you guys

  you know people in computer science need

  to acknowledge that and not have it be a

  thing where you present your paper and

  then a bunch of people are butthurt

  about it and you're like but we did

  everything we try you know why are you

  so mad at us like that because this is

  what we're in and I'm

  get angry letters but this is where we

  are with drone warfare because the

  people that were doing the ethics talk

  we're also the people that were

  procuring and flying those drones and

  there wasn't anybody in the chain that

  was like okay let's let's come up with a

  let's come up with a order of engagement

  here or like a like a let's come up with

  a a way that this is gonna integrate

  into our civilian laws and our civilian

  morals the people that we're doing that

  work were in the military and or were in

  the Congress authorizing the military to

  do what I want and I know they're you

  know I they're they're people in the

  military that I argue with about this

  but it was never it was never put forth

  that's like how there's no monroe

  doctrine about it right in a way it

  violates the monroe doctrine so i don't

  know how to do that other than in places

  like this right yeah i mean you and i

  sit and talk and we do we traipse over

  into computer science ethics and we we

  bumble around and I knock a vase off a

  shelf and you say some things that I

  don't understand and then we bumble you

  know we waltz over into the next room

  and we we yell about business for a

  while and you you talk into your shoe

  but where else are those conversations

  happening hmm I don't know I mean I can

  only kind of argue this by analogy and I

  guess we're like I feel like um cuz I

  don't know anything about any of this

  stuff but I do at least have a wreckin

  like everybody I've got a wreckin you

  know it just seems like there there are

  there are situations where well first of

  all let's take it as read that we're

  looking when you're when you're talking

  about any rapidly evolving an important

  topic in public discourse it is very

  useful to have a lot of Vestas an

  England a lot of boffins you want a lot

  of real smart people who understand the

  history of the problem how we've tried

  to address it in the past how much of

  the way you've just in the past is

  useful in the future

  the kind of stuff that you would expect

  I mean if you're gonna if you're gonna

  have a stuff you're gonna have something

  about about medicine across the United

  States it's probably good to invite some

  doctors like um that would never argue

  against that in a million years but like

  there is that dumb liberal arts part of

  me that thinks that well you know it

  would be nice to have some people who

  are doctors slash something's as well

  amoebans people who are not doctors but

  others kind of slash people and because

  you know i think i do feel like a group

  think too strong a word but like i do

  feel like there's this thing of like

  well we're all smart people in this room

  will understand this problem so let's

  get to solving it when like some of the

  most useful stuff that you can have for

  input in an in kind of a group project

  is people who have differing views on

  how we frame the problem right how we

  ask the right questions and i I think

  that I think that there is a fetishism

  for getting the right answer that

  sometimes can skate right past whether

  we ever ask the correct question about

  this absolutely and that that's where I

  think there's a role for people who are

  lay people or nearly lay people is to be

  able to like be the dummy in the room

  maybe in some cases but like I look no

  further than what we've been describing

  for a lot of this episode which is oh

  should I not have done that well why was

  there no one there to say look you know

  I may not be much smarter than the

  average bear that but if you would ask

  me about this and you described it

  accurately what the scope of this change

  to your system would do just as a

  garden-variety user a dummy like me

  could have told you that's a stupid

  shitty idea that's gonna be costly to

  your reputation it's gonna potentially

  expose you to risks that were utterly

  unnecessary for what you're trying to do

  and here I'm talking about stuff like

  these apps that do stuff like pull down

  all your contacts for no great reason

  like there's all kinds of risks to that

  that somebody like me could have gone

  did you did you kind of like just did

  you kind of just you know sniff test

  that with what everybody normal cuz

  anybody normal would have gone oh that

  that does not make me feel good help me

  understand why that's the thing you need

  to do without telling me about it you

  know so I don't know I don't know if

  that goes from medicine I don't know if


  4cs all the time but like you know

  having somebody in there to ask a

  perhaps illogical question not not just

  for the purpose of being the smart guy

  with the pipe who's disruptive but to be

  able to to bring an outside voice and an

  outside opinion to making sure that you

  have provided a good answer to a

  question that needed to be asked I think

  it goes for I think it goes for

  everything and the thing is that if you

  run a North Face store and a guy with a

  really long beard full of sticks and

  twigs comes in and rants yeah for for 40

  minutes about your product you don't

  forget it and you probably send a memo

  to somebody but if enough people do it

  you redesign your product and that's how

  a business interacts with its customers

  but online Facebook has too many

  customers they get a million angry

  emails a day from people saying this was

  a shitty idea and the way you do that is

  by managing the responses in a way to

  seem polite and they seem like you're

  like you're listening when actually

  somebody it's closer in some ways to I

  mean I've mentioned this in other places

  before but this the gig economy

  ride-sharing service that I use has

  never has not only never gotten the

  location of my office correct but

  consistently gets it wrong in exactly

  the same way mm-hmm and I haven't even

  tried to address it because I got a

  feeling I know what's gonna happen

  what's gonna happen is what I'm trying

  to say is I want to essentially file a

  civilian bug to say there's something

  with your system that gets the location

  of my office wrong by a right turn and

  over half a block every time it's

  something repeatable it's a repeatable

  bug but like if I do that it's just

  gonna sound like I'm bitching and I'm

  not bitching I'm trying to say like you

  know this is this is I don't know if

  this is indicative of anything bigger

  but like maybe exploring that dumb

  experience I've had four times now could

  tell you something about your system but

  now I'm already editing myself on that

  because I don't want to be just some

  dingaling when they say thank you you

  know thank you very much for your input

  we're always improving the service

  here's your weekly update

  exactly you're you are literally saying

  let me help you make your product better

  and there is no way to do it I mean I I

  told you I think that I tried to call

  snapchat on the phone about eight eight

  months ago tell me more I want to hear

  this I said listen I I just you know I'm

  saying this to myself I'm saying it to

  the air I have a simple question I just

  need to talk to a certain person I've

  looked online there doesn't appear to be

  a way to reach that person and I just

  need to ask an operator to put me

  through to the person I need to talk to

  you so question click let's have a

  simple question for them yeah and I

  called the phone number and that it was

  snapchat phone number and it said hi

  thanks for calling snapchat if you'd

  like to talk to us just tweet us at

  snapchat beep click and I was like the

  kind of information that maybe you

  wouldn't want to say publicly right what

  if you've discovered a vulnerability

  this happened my friends who work on a

  password management app we're trying to

  send get encryption in place to send a

  critical zero-day exploit bug report to

  a company and they're like hey thanks

  for interest go sign up for our bug

  bounty over here and like no you don't

  understand the fucking red wire now like

  yeah we need to go get in like a skiff

  and talk about this thing that has been

  a problem for weeks or months and you

  didn't know about it like oh that's cool

  thanks glad you're man here's a pin you

  know right tweet us on Twitter and

  that'll be a good thing for you well and

  so and my thing wasn't like clipped the

  red wire now but it was time sensitive

  and it was real and it was solvable by a

  person somewhere well I spent a couple

  of weeks and not just trying everything

  and I tried I mean I did all these like

  go online and backward and look up phone

  numbers and it was it was well I called

  like it was like get human there's one

  where you can go and find the secret

  number from us places yeah I died I

  tried that I tried called the

  California business great Better

  Business Bureau all these different

  things and everything every phone number

  I got funneled me back to that couch at

  the and I could not and so I I tweeted

  and said hi I'd like to talk to someone

  can you contact me and then they wrote

  back two days later and were like yeah

  follow us and we'll DM and I followed

  them and they said hey and I said hey I

  have a question about this and they were

  like oh and I swear to you they said

  call this number right and the number

  was like just tweet us at like it was a

  it was an ultimate there was no way

  through and it was intentional it was I

  mean like that is a word I reserved for

  special occasions it's somewhat Kafka

  esque where it's difficult to understand

  why this is happening and there's some

  level of recursion and repetition where

  like you're in the castle

  what's crazy about science fiction is

  that it that it gets so many things

  right but it often gets things really

  wrong and that was what was so amazing

  about Star Wars or Blade Runner where

  they were the first science fiction

  films that made things look dirty right

  and we were like wow that looks so real

  what Kafka missed he was so right but

  what he missed was that there would be a

  giant yellow smiley face on everything

  great but it wasn't but but it's also

  not clean right you want to think like

  all those science fiction movies were

  there giant giant smiley places on

  everything it's at least clean yeah but

  this is both dirty and smiley face II

  and every interaction I had with

  snapchat was just like hi oh my god

  thank you hey tweet us and it's like

  look I'm not 14 I don't have a question

  about like my boyfriend took a booby

  picture of me and if I did I wouldn't


  tweet you right but I have like a

  grown-up question I want to speak to one

  grown-up anyway eventually and I don't

  even remember how I did it

  I got a phone call from a live person

  there Wow and I don't remember what I

  think it was through their Twitter

  account I said look I want somebody to

  talk to me about I want an adult and and

  it came out of the blue I was not

  expecting it I got a phone call and it

  was a kid who was who said hey hi this

  is Jeremy at snapchat here's my question

  he was like yeah well um hang on let me

  let me call you back

  and then he called me back two minutes

  later and said sure here's the here it

  is here's the number should be arriving

  in the mail it's coming to you now

  anything else and I was like wow yeah

  just one other thing I took me a month

  to get to the point where I could have

  this two-minute conversation where you

  totally solved my problem Wow why did it

  take a month because it's a because to

  me it feels like this conversation took

  a month but it didn't it just took two

  minutes right and I knew it was I knew

  it was a two-minute conversation and I'm

  grateful for your help

  you've done more than I imagined can you

  fucking make that a little bit easier

  for people he's like pop well I'm just

  on the solution team yeah I know you are

  how a good fish taco to dance port

  Jeremy or Jeremy






  hi John hi Merlin how's it going good

  how are you young very well that's good

  so early I do I just got a phone call

  from local public radio station and they

  wanted to know if I would come on a

  panel today to talk about whether or not new bubbles that they built

  in Seattle are gonna be an icon like the

  Space Needle you might need to bring me

  up to speed here I am not totally up to

  date on the what are you the Emerald

  City what do you call Jetson now well we

  were the Jet City that was a very cool

  name yeah and and I think an organic

  name Jet City Jet City once we got a

  fight yeah we made the Jets yeah yep yep

  yep and then once you're always Emerald

  City is that is that that is that organ

  no Emerald City is something it's a

  nickname that came about as the result

  of a like one of those let's take

  suggestions from the audience

  title now things where they're like hey

  what should we call our city and people

  I think we're like we're out we already

  have a name Jet City and they were oh

  let's call it Emerald City and it's like

  who said that you know hey you in the

  back stand up whoo why did you say that

  they're like I don't work for a

  publicity firm don't mind me at the name

  of the odds place yeah oh that's not

  good yeah giant Seattle biospheres yeah

  Oh God and are people gonna live in them

  or they just oh they just green houses

  don't I say just green houses I new to

  this so so I yeah a few years ago I was

  I was downtown I had a I have a friend

  that works at an architecture firm and

  he was he invited he invited us to come

  by and see the see what's going on and

  they're a big big company that are

  making big big things

  and one of the things that have they had

  on their drawing board were these giant

  very organic looking spheres and I was

  intrigued because they were pretty

  cool-looking on the on the design table

  and he said yeah Amazon wants us to

  build these but like in the center of

  downtown and I thought that'll never

  happen first of all but wouldn't that be

  cool if you built like a big thing like

  that like a public space business yeah

  look like I mean looks like if you've

  seen the Polish or movie biosphere

  they're big round and they they have a

  kind of a who's the guy with the who's

  the guy with the geodesic domes the guy

  show about him you know that one guy

  with the name it's HR guy culture it's

  like the HR HR Pufnstuf HR snuffleupagus

  these are the appear to be three

  tripartite of three big interconnected

  bubbles with what looks like green trees

  inside and they look pretty big right

  they're super big and they are

  Buckminster Fuller oh that's it Bucky

  Bucky balls yeah they're there and

  they're built unlike bucky balls which

  are built with regular sort of

  triangular components these are made

  with very organic like the type of the

  type of shapes that you'd see inside of

  an actual but like a soap bubble or

  something swirling they kind of feel

  like to serve irregular patterns it

  isn't like I'm just seeing a bunch of

  triangles right and I hate to keep

  referencing the movie avatar but it

  feels like something the movie Avatar

  yes yes yeah so anyway I was and then

  they started building him and I was like

  I never expected that they would

  actually go through with this very

  ambitious idea to build these orbs in

  the center of town and what a what a

  bold move for a company that I think of

  as being pretty culturally conservative

  within themselves

  you know Amazon is not

  very has not typically been like we love

  everybody they're much more like their

  typical tech company that hides behind

  security keys and everything you know

  it's like harder to get into to or to Microsoft in downtown

  Seattle it's harder to get in than it is

  to get into the White House you know the

  there's so many different levels of

  security and it's like security I mean

  what do you guys got in there like like

  gold bars what are you so scared of but

  but they they started building when they

  built them for a long time and they

  screwed up traffic in both directions

  downtown for ever and they built two big

  office towers on either side which are

  also interesting architectural II

  interesting but then as they got closer

  to opening these bubbles they were like

  oh we were never gonna let any one go in


  oh no Snorks allowed right oh no these

  are just for us oh boy it seems like

  that's kind of thing you wanna mention

  yeah well but even I mean they didn't

  mention it because they never considered

  that it would be something to the public

  and so here you have this this like

  basically yeah Space Station Earth I'm

  seeing like a anytime you look at the

  right thing here it looks like a like a

  side what do you call that it that's so

  early it looks like a slice the edge off

  you show from the side one like yeah

  yeah yeah I mean like we need to show

  the fantastic for building one or two

  three four five stories yeah okay

  anything you got about ten feet in the

  story plus you got a little bit of

  overhead so these things are probably

  like at least like what 80 100 feet tall

  they're big they're big and they take up

  the space between of a block well and

  they've already on either side they have

  big office towers so the whole thing is

  a is you know it's a whole city block

  for this campus

  and they've done you know they they put

  these buildings in they hired 10,000

  people and on the ground floor of their

  buildings they have a fat belly sandwich

  shop and a Thai restaurant and a cool

  burger place that puts lavender on their

  burgers and you know all this stuff and

  if you have a key card I'm sure you can

  go in and just charge your food but the

  campus did not it you know it's not

  built there are so many different eras

  of like downtown architecture fashion

  and we've both lived in cities San

  Francisco is a real example of this

  where a building gets built and it has a

  very kind of open unfriendly sun-baked

  Plaza with some cements in there that

  you could suppose I guess maybe sit on a

  shake I mean no it's just it doesn't

  want to go away it's really tough and

  and that was the I that was an idea that

  was supposed to be that was supposed to

  engage people you know these big plazas

  and it just they didn't think through

  how actual people want to be this campus

  really I mean those bubbles really draw

  you you you you come to them and you

  look at them and you're like I want to

  what is the first thought you have I

  want to go in mm-hmm because there's

  there's trees in there it looks like it

  Scott probably it's playing like tubular

  bells or music for airports like all

  right it's it's like the future I want

  to go in and then you get the kinda like

  giant Christmas ornaments like they're

  very I mean have to say they're I don't

  mean this is too much of a compliment

  but they're very attractive as you say

  like if you saw is Hugo what is that and

  how do I get inside yeah how do I get

  inside and you know the other public

  buildings that have a similar effect in

  Seattle are the downtown library which

  was just look for that right now

  oh it's modern

  but it's like somebody got tired of

  folding a box it's really i keep since

  the day it was opened i described it as

  a spaceport on a minor planet it's just

  like oh that's it huh I mean that there

  are buses that used to be pretty popular

  yeah it was like a mining planet like

  six millenia ago and that's the space

  board and it's a typical of contemporary

  architecture like at some point not that

  long after it opened the escalator

  stopped working then pretty soon there's

  somebody there with some scaffolding and

  a sign that says no access trying to fix

  it but they're not working that hard and

  then the other example is the EMP which

  was you know which was a again a folly

  of a rich person and and and when you

  saw it on the drawing board you were

  like wow we're gonna get a Frank Giri

  right in the middle of town and Frank

  Gehry designed it but because Paul Allen

  owned it Paul Allen got involved and was

  like I know that you built this that you

  designed this to be all silver but what

  if it was red white and blue and green

  and yellow and Frank Gehry was like well

  no I don't I don't want that that's not

  what I am building and Paul Allen was

  like yeah but don't you think that

  colors would make people like it more

  kind of psychedelic huh

  and Frank Gehry was like no I don't

  think that and then Paul Allen said and

  we're gonna need some meeting rooms in

  there like square boxes with chairs big

  big long chair rooms and Frankie was

  like that's not what what I was building

  and then he said and then you know on

  the outside there should be some some

  things where we can put posters that

  like advertise upcoming shows and so if

  you go to Frank Gehry's website I guess

  he's got a website but if you look at

  stop hearing Hervey let's say he does

  not acknowledge the EMP he washed his

  hands he's like I did well and more on

  it he doesn't make any money from the

  probably oh yeah he's like take my name

  off of the credit mm-hmm

  no I'm sure he took the money yeah but

  but but what Paul Ellen did was he he he

  got this here he got this thing built

  but it was but he needed it to be

  something that wasn't that you know but

  he was thinking in terms of the big like

  key card buildings in the suburbs that

  he came up in it sounds like a fairly

  classic design problem or an

  anti-pattern in design which is you know

  I it's probably easy to overstate this

  but one problem for people who are

  outside of design and don't approach it

  from a certain point of view is to think

  that it's really it's it's a coat of

  paint it's wrapping it's maybe you know

  branding but you haven't really thought

  about how the space is going to be used

  and so when you that is revealed when

  somebody says stuff like yeah yeah so

  basically what we want to we want a

  fancy building the cool people will like

  but we want the inside to be pretty

  pedestrian and we want to put posters

  outside mm-hmm and and we should you

  know and it when you look in from

  outside like so that's what they did

  with these amazon bubbles if you look in

  from outside you see oh inside these

  incredibly organic structures there are

  wisely them all white walls right

  squared off with no windows and doors

  and inside I'm sure there are like AV

  equipment and PowerPoint stuff and ports

  and I'm sure there's a folding table out

  front where you get your lanyard and it

  they just built a convention center that

  no one is allowed in and and so that you

  know the idea that you would build

  something like that and then not let

  people come is is an example of the kind

  of like the kind of tech tone-deafness

  that goes with this this new idea in in

  big companies that you're going to

  locate your campus in the center of

  downtown and that's gonna be appealing

  to employees because they're they're not

  going to be out at some suburban campus

  they're gonna be right in the heart of

  the action and Seattle is a cool city


  there and get your coffee and people and

  you know I'm sure in their in their

  brochures when they're trying to attract

  the prospective employees there's like a

  picture of a girl with pink hair and

  there's somebody throwing the fish at

  the market and they're like come to

  Seattle don't you know don't move out to

  Mountain View California right but what

  the city what the company isn't doing is

  repaying the city for all that cool

  culture that they're using to attract

  employees by adding anything back

  they're just like yeah come to Seattle

  and we'll just we'll just really I mean

  I stating facts are these really

  actually this is actually true they

  actually are not gonna have like a lot

  of this is a place that somebody's it

  was kind of pitched as a public project

  but it's actually not going to be such a

  public project is that true I I do not

  believe it was ever pitched as a public

  project I think it's a tale in here are

  they've got that means that retail only

  frame is long people but boy I don't

  know about that I my sense of it is they

  stop you at the door and if you want to

  arrange a tour a small number of people

  per year I guess like civic leaders I'm

  sure I'll get a tour right I'm sure that

  I'm at some point someone will say hey

  we're going to the get an Amazon thing

  you want to come and it's gonna be

  because it's specific leader but like

  your regular person who came here from

  st. Louis to spend a week in Seattle

  because they've always wanted to

  whoo-hoo were like yeah we should go

  look at the Amazon orbs and they walk

  down there and you look at them and then

  you walk over to the door and you're

  like can we get in and no and then you

  pull your camera out and then somebody

  with a earpiece is like no pictures I

  mean you know that I'm exaggerating that

  but but that's about it

  right that's a family look so hard a

  part of it is deliberately open belting

  a good sign this is a headline from a

  week ago today is that there will be a

  visitor center and mics

  it's places that have a visitor center

  are not open to everybody right you can

  get tours you can get like a full

  90-minute Amazon HQ tour you go to oh

  their visitor centers called the


  no Discovery exhibit yeah okay it's

  gonna have 300 endangered plant species

  in it but it says you know there's a

  there's an article in geek wire in a

  couple of years Amazon employees Amazon

  employees will be able to walk on a

  suspension bridge over a forest land and

  settle into a nest perched within a

  mature tree for a brainstorming session

  and it's just like like three-quarters

  of that sentence is really appealing but

  what it really is saying is Amazon

  employees are gonna have brainstorming

  sessions in this place and Amazon

  employees you know like and and the

  brainstorming session is probably gonna

  happen you know within for like inside

  an organic skiffs no I don't think so

  I think they're their meeting rooms

  inside oh geez maybe you can go sit in a

  hammock but you know my experience of oh

  I went and toured the medium offices a

  couple of times huh and they had they

  had a bunch of sleeping cubbies have you

  been there

  no there were like little pods like

  built into the wall and and they had

  curtains on them and you could pull the

  curtains back inside there was like not

  just a mattress it was like a Japanese

  hotel room how often do they clean him I

  well so I didn't ask that my first

  question was how often do people go in

  and you can take naps in here what is

  what is the highest level inside the

  organization of someone who uses this at

  least weekly and the answer was no one

  has ever used these to take a nap

  because if you went in and took a nap

  yeah you would be looked at like someone

  who was trying to take a nap during the

  work day you could probably you could

  probably smoke weed in the office and

  get less kickback then if you went and

  slept took a nap during work but there

  are the facilities there for six people

  to be sleeping simultaneously

  and I said do people ever like go in

  here and fucking the eat at night uh-huh

  it's like no no no one ever goes in

  there why would you go in there it's

  creepy it's like you know I don't know

  how and probably they're cleaned every

  day probably they have a dedicated

  cleaning person to clean them but as far

  as I could tell pulling the employees of

  medium no one had ever gone in those

  pots and I was like if I worked at

  medium I would be in that pot ever I

  would work from there

  oh absolutely and the bring an iPad and

  recline are they yeah I'd be in there

  the reply was well you wouldn't work a

  medium for that for long T and so tell

  me yeah right I mean you could go down

  to Amazon orbs and sit around and have

  brainstorming sessions but to really

  like sit in sit in a hammock and watch

  the endangered butterflies fly around

  you have to be a vice president or

  higher anyway it's so it's so it's like

  this it's an incredible missed

  opportunity that is that from from

  inside their their hive mind I'm sure

  they're because because you can already

  feel it this was this radio show was

  about like Amazon wants this to be a

  tourist destination they thought of they

  were thinking that when they built it

  like we want people to come see this we

  want people to wear t-shirts and to be

  like oh Seattle that you mean the Orab

  City you know they had that in mind but

  but they couldn't they didn't make the

  leap to think if we're gonna build this

  it's gonna be an incredibly attractive

  nuisance to everyone like okay so it's

  got these endangered species you can't

  just open it up to everybody to just

  come through like a like a mall but you

  gotta have a way to pay $15 at least to

  go in and and and sit around I mean you

  know the Space Needle is not free right

  but there you pay money and you go in it

  something you know some way for the city

  to access it and whatever the retail is

  I'm sure that it's a I'm sure that it's

  like fifty square feet on an understory

  that's selling you t-shirts that have

  the orbs on

  you know there's no like that's not

  there's not gonna be a Fendi store in it

  well I thank God for that

  yeah I'm looking at images here of the

  blight of my own city which is this

  Salesforce tower you seen that you mean

  the largest tower in San Francisco is

  visible from every Japan town that's

  what they say oh shit it's the Tower it's like if if

  Darth Vader made a water rocket I was

  like not like this style of architecture

  personally it looks good in London but I

  don't know if it's so much here Utama

  orbs well no i'm talking here about the

  tower but i guess my question is this is

  all brand new to me i've known about

  this for now for 20 minutes and 30

  seconds are you opposed to the bubbles

  differently than you would be for

  another kind of building that was mostly

  not meant to be public like you don't

  have this do you have the same feeling

  about the towers that are astride the

  bubbles as you do about the bubbles

  themselves do you think he gets a lot of

  different bill of goods here well I do

  think that if if Amazon wants to like

  the the libertarianism that is at the

  heart of the way that that company

  interacts with Seattle suggests that

  they don't owe us anything right they

  built their company from the ground up

  they built it they brought good clean

  jobs to town

  yeah they built it themselves and their

  only obligation to us is that they're

  bringing young people and they're paying

  them a lot of money and those people

  increased our tax base and whether or

  not they created a traffic fuckup and

  whether or not this like the sewers and

  infrastructure in downtown is built were

  built to accommodate 50,000 new people

  who are all flushing their toilets at

  the same time whether or not any of

  those things any of those larger

  questions of how we interact with each

  other like they will do the minimum to

  be in compliance

  but they don't think of them they don't

  think of themselves as integrated

  they're their thing they built it the

  money belongs to them and they bought

  that land and they can do what they want

  with it

  and if Bezos wanted to erect a glass

  penis 80 stories tall he wouldn't be the

  first rich guy to build a glass penis in

  downtown Seattle there literally is a

  building that looks like a penis and

  downtown's it's a green penis which is

  the which is a bad color for a penis

  that's what most farm fresh peas are

  full of green penis I'm not a doctor if

  your penis is green it may be a side

  effect yeah but but so so the

  combination of like like ego and hubris

  that would allow a company to say we're

  doing this in the center of your city we

  have the right to do it because we get

  to do whatever we want because money

  we're not obligated to you in any way

  shape or form to make it I mean we have

  to make it accessible because that's the

  code we have to make it like you have to

  be able to walk through it but we have

  no further obligation to make it to have

  it interact with you at all if you don't

  have a lanyard you know you're barely

  welcome at the fat belly sandwich shop

  which is ostensibly open to the public

  because they don't have a capacity to

  use their cash registers don't don't

  accept money or whatever but at the same

  time they want to be loved

  and that's the thing that that's the

  cognitive disconnect they don't

  understand why people are mad at them

  they feel hurt and put upon when people

  complain well I'm also like this seems

  like there's this kind of cereal like um

  this feeling of being oh we're so you

  know we're so misunderstood yeah yeah

  you guys you guys describe all of this

  evilness to us that is not only not

  factual but it's just just unfair and

  like we take such a beating from the

  public you know especially given all the

  good that we're doing yeah look at all

  this stuff we've done look at what we've

  done for you but you know this time an

  aggrieved ad thing

  it's an aggrieved ad yeah and when you

  think about it like all right well you

  just you know you've got 50,000 people

  now that you brought into town nobody

  can move you didn't think of that

  because that's not your problem because

  as soon as they leave the door of your

  building it's not your problem anymore

  yeah but it is your problem where it's

  our problem and I mean I I'm definitely

  the idea that they sell they sell

  working in Seattle as a big part of

  their compensation package because it's

  the old argument they used to make to us

  and rock and roll like oh you know

  you're so lucky you get to play rock and

  roll and it's like oh man it's my job

  I'd like to also get money but part of

  the money has got to be just but I'll

  say yeah I mean it is and I'm saying

  fairness but like you know Silicon

  Valley San Francisco superscooper costly

  even if you're making pretty good dough

  New York City you know tough to get an

  apartment that's bigger than a closet

  you could have a quality of life in

  Seattle with a similar kind of job with

  a big growing company that's you your

  quality of life is gonna be higher than

  it would be if you're living in some

  kind of a hovel in Mountain View oh

  absolutely I mean the the argument that

  they're making is not wrong my my

  argument is that is taking like you're

  sucking from the city but you're sucking

  thing from the city that nobody owns

  like you can't pay anybody for the cool

  artists that are loafing around you're

  certainly not going to pay them for

  their art but you you're you don't feel

  a responsibility to you're bringing your

  people in who don't have culture right

  there 24 and they have computer science

  degrees and they don't know and they

  live in an apartment with nothing on the

  wall like they like having access to

  like good saw and like that yeah they

  like you good they look good good

  restaurants they like to go to you know

  they're learning to go to shows that's

  wonderful I mean Seattle will

  enculturate the people that work here

  because they will if they if they allow


  I'm sure Amazon has programs where it's

  like hey come to a show with us or you

  know like like after work groups of

  people that go do things how you see it

  you see them you see a group of people

  show up at a thing and you're like oh

  look it's a bunch of young Amazon people

  all in a herd with one another like and

  that is the process of the culture how

  the culture of a city works but what

  they don't acknowledge is that that has

  a cost on the people that are already

  living in the city who are making the

  thing that they're that they're selling

  which is like an intact culture where

  there's a music scene and where there

  are you know there's room for artists

  that don't have a lot of money to live

  this is the thing about San Francisco

  that when I'm down there and talking to

  musicians I did this show while I was

  there last week where we covered the

  music of a couple of Wes Anderson films

  Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums and it was

  you know they were probably 30 to 40

  musicians and most of them were either

  old San Francisco people like the flamin

  Groovy's were there Wow and who did

  these days what would you do I ended up

  doing Judy as a punk and I did a song

  yeah which was super fun and I did

  the Rolling Stones tune

  I am waiting mm-hmm which is not one of

  their greatest tunes but but the band

  behind me was really great and Kelly

  Stoltz was there who's a friend of mine

  Stoltz I know that name can we stole to

  the San Francisco in her though Kelly

  Stoltz was mobbed up with that the kind

  of like the Oringer kind of groups yeah

  yeah yeah yeah okay yeah he's a great

  musician and he hilariously covered the

  the echo and the Bunnymen to the seminal

  whichever one of their records people

  consider seminal he covered that record

  in its entirety early last year they

  heard it and came to him and said we

  need a rhythm guitar player oh shut up

  you already know all the songs he's in

  the bunny was a Russian train the record

  I guess it must have been I'm not I'm


  it's not that I'm against them my face

  among them kissing the tour toys show

  it's good ass good s record I bet it is

  mm-hm sounds like The Killers but but so

  Kelly is in the echo and the Bunnymen

  and he's out there you know those guys

  are they're very old and crusty last

  time I saw him when he's okay did I

  didn't tell you the story I open no I

  opened for them oh yeah okay and he came

  off the stage he was you know III tried

  to interact with them a couple of times

  and he very definitely was like boy I

  wanted Beauregard atarid are like

  completely unintelligible and I think he

  knows that he is and he talks throughout

  the show into the microphone dark hair

  no bugger

  I was loving it but he got off the stand

  I'm standing by the backstage stairs he

  gets up the stage people are like yeah

  somebody throws a towel around his

  shoulders and then there's an EMT a

  medic standing there he comes down the

  stairs and the medic hands him an oxygen

  mask somebody do that from me and he

  takes like four big drafts of this like

  just just big big lungfuls of pure

  oxygen and then he's like locked by a

  very rare and off you want what lights a

  cigarette and walks off and I and then

  the EMT is packing up his stuff and I'm

  like hey is that a real thing

  and the guy's like no no that's not

  gonna do anything for you but he wanted

  it and I was here and had oxygen and

  they hate whatever the extra hundred

  fifty dollars is and he said like I

  think it's just kind of a like boosts I

  mean like a maybe get a little head rush

  but I think it's more like you feel like

  I got off stage and got some pure oxygen

  I don't think and then he's kind of like

  me which I thought was cute and funny I

  was founded eight years after the

  Beatles broke up and the time from

  forming echo and the Bunnymen until now

  is 40 years so that feels pretty good

  did you read the thing that as of a

  couple of days ago the Berlin Wall has

  been down longer than it was up I reject

  that that's very great that's very

  troubling to me this is that night oh my

  goodness we've had an entire Cold War

  and all we've been doing is yelling

  about sleeping pods in San Francisco


  that Salesforce tower that's handsome so

  you have you been in it doesn't shower

  allow you to go Eva and I rock behind

  avoid downtown these days

  but yeah I don't know you know it's the

  other part of its that's weird again I'm

  just I'm just I'm not reading anything

  much while we're talking I'm going about

  what you're saying but it what you're

  describing also the let's say the

  obvious thing it's it is what what some

  of these companies do is weird and at

  the least tone-deaf but also they're

  like this kind of shocked surprised that

  people don't like what they're doing

  once they're kind of clocked doing what

  they're doing you know like whether that

  stuff with your data or you know stuff

  with your other data or building a

  bubble there's this whole sense of like

  oh what do you mean like we're just

  we're just making tech techniques like

  why you guys getting all mad at us like

  like the fact that like you know I

  didn't realize we had to like ask

  permission to make your city good look

  at us making you're making your stupid

  fucking town into a destination for the

  most desirable men in America like Wow

  how dare you get mad do we put some

  ferns in a pot downtown oh man there

  wasn't a Jimmy John's downtown before

  and now there is one song right yeah so

  thank you you know I mean it's I guess

  you could overstate this but like you

  know it's kind of got the meme of like

  oh you know should I not have done that

  where it's like oh that thing we're like

  you this app downloads your entire

  contact list and uploads it to the clewd

  supposed to do that makes people

  frustrated that we now collate all that

  data against these perma cookies from

  facebook is that weird that is that bad

  and you're like yeah man that are bad

  like you know if you not only should you

  have asked about that but you shouldn't

  have done it you shouldn't have done it

  and needed to ask but doing it and not

  asking is mega gross I don't know if

  this has happened to you oh you don't

  have a Facebook account or ever go on

  there I have a deactivated Facebook

  account that I have to use sometimes to

  log into something but I don't post

  there or read there right

  and now so I try not to talk about it

  but if you ask I will tell you I think

  III I am one of the OGS at knowing that

  place is a fucking garbage fire your

  welcome it in my case I yeah but what

  what what happened the other day was I I

  got a DM last time I heard about you

  getting a DM it was that you hadn't

  gotten somebody free tickets for a show

  fast enough

  uh-huh that's the last one I remember

  cuz that's where you go you go to

  Facebook and you go past for somebody

  that they hadn't given you a free thing

  fast and I get the MS people give me the

  MS and and I don't I don't mind him I'll

  take you DM sure um you know don't do it

  all the time I don't want I don't want

  to hear about things I don't want to

  hear about but if you've got something

  you want to tell me it is literally

  something private you know there you go

  I mean it isn't private that you're

  showing me your pictures your family cuz

  I don't know you yeah that's not a thing

  that needed to be private but but if you

  have a question or you want to talk to

  me yeah

  so anyway I got a DM and I did what I

  often do which is I went and clicked on

  the thing to see their profile because I

  want to know who I'm talking to because

  a lot of times somebody will be like

  yeah and I'm like do I know you and then

  I go on their Facebook page I'm like I

  do know you like you're the guy that I

  went on that long road trip with I

  wouldn't have remembered your name but

  you and I are friends

  yep so I got as opposed to being for

  example a public relations person who

  acts like they know you

  exactly not that cuz that's the thing

  that this person comes on the thing and

  they're like hey hey what's up man or

  something in it and you know usually you

  know when it's a bot or when it's a

  patrol but this was just it's just

  plausible enough like did I tell you I

  started getting emails from ben shapiro

  do you know who that is yeah and and

  these emails started coming into my

  inbox and the problem is I know eight

  people whose names are some combination

  of Ben Shapiro

  sure sure sure sure I know like are they

  also the future of the conservative

  movement yeah no they're not right I

  have a lot of friends that are like I

  have a lot of friends that are named

  Shapiro I have a lot of friends that

  whose names you know are in the in the

  larger family but but not the larger

  family event just the smaller family I

  have 40 friends named Ben so I was

  getting these emails and I would open

  them because I'm like Oh Ben Shapiro's

  got a question or oh yeah ben shapiro

  wants me to and then i would open and

  i'd be like ah sticky on you yeah and so

  anyway this facebook DM was from a

  person that seemed plausible and I went

  to click on their thing and I and I

  couldn't get to their profile it was

  like uh you would click on and it would

  say you know actions a thumbs up delete

  block and I'm like stuff I don't want to

  do any of those things I just want to

  see who this is that's trying to talk to

  me and I click on it again I click over

  here I click on the little wheel I click

  on the on the widget I click on the flag

  and it's like would you like to add this

  person to your contacts would you like

  to save this conversation options would

  you like to give them a wave would you

  like to give him a poke a little little

  pat on the fanny and I'm like no no no

  no no I want to see who the fuck this is

  couldn't do it and and dedicated five

  minutes to a 5 frustrating minutes to

  trying to figure out why I couldn't see

  who this was uh-huh well a day or two

  later I read a thing that says Facebook

  has decided to incur open up messenger

  their shit EDM platform to people that

  don't even have Facebook pages because

  they want their DM program to to be the

  new SMS oh it's like as a green bubble

  text yeah

  I know right I mean somebody from

  outside the ecosystem you

  right but because China I guess won't

  allow Facebook but they don't want to

  miss out on the on the a billion

  customers they've figured out a

  workaround which is now you can just use


  well what they've done is they've

  introduced now into the system the

  possibility that some spammer comes out

  of nowhere and I don't even I can't

  verify their Facebook's bug slash

  features was you had to prove that you

  or you equals equals zero that your name

  is you I thought that too but now

  there's this person and now subsequently

  they've come back a second time and been

  like wave hi mmm

  but it's a spam because they haven't

  said anything they're not asking me

  anything I don't want to just like be on

  there waving at you whoever you are but

  like there's still the possibility that

  the third time they're gonna write me

  they're gonna say hey don't you remember

  you know because it's like don't you

  remember me they might actually be

  somebody that I know right no I I I'm

  you're explaining this just fine I know

  exactly what you're talking about

  but you have to determine is this an

  actual person if this is a person can I

  judge what their intent is because I'm

  so fucking sick of being punked out by

  PR people and robots that it has made me

  suspicious and a little cynical about

  that and it's sort of like the way that

  anybody who ever knew me mostly would

  not call me on the phone like you've

  called me on the phone I pick up it says

  it's John I pick it up but like but like

  it's a pretty good sign that it's not

  anybody I know or want to talk to you if

  they if they call me on the phone and my

  various spam filtering apps on iPhone

  tell me that like the vast majority of

  phone calls I get are garbage it just it

  says it right there and at a certain

  point you know you have to we have a

  permissive model of communication that

  used to be a really good idea which is

  that whether you're talking about a

  telephone you're talking about email the

  democratizing force of that was that

  anybody can reach out to anybody and

  like it's it is it's a great

  democratizing idea but like now we're at

  a point where when you reach a point

  where most of the inbound communication

  is harassment or junk maybe that's a

  model that we need to flip around and

  until that model is flipped around I go


  do I spend 15 minutes on due diligence

  before 30 to spending 30 seconds saying

  thanks for the note yeah right because

  that's just how my fucking broken brain

  is it's like I don't want to get in a

  conversation with a PR person and and

  feed them stuff that makes them think

  that they are cleft onto me and can

  count on me to go you know promote their

  energy drink or whatever just I'm just a

  tired of that it's just blue so you but

  I was sitting thinking about the

  internal logic at Facebook where they

  have one of the largest media companies

  and tech companies in the world although

  they said I'm not a media company and

  they are worth billions and billions

  everybody there is richer than Croesus

  said are you saying I don't think I know

  the reference well it's fun then is this

  bleeding over from your other goddamn

  show I think I just learned about the

  fenestration that was a very good

  episode crease did you like it you know

  you want me to tell you the truth yes I

  absolutely was not super into it

  for the two or three episodes I listened

  to and I thought this calculation for

  John I don't like this show that much

  and then I listened to more of them and

  I've come to really enjoy it and I think

  I think some episodes are way better

  than others in a way that will

  eventually balance out but your

  chemistry is actually really good and

  ken is genuinely fucking funny yeah I

  think the bouncing checks joke is the

  stupidest the smart joke I've ever heard

  and he had it ready he wrote it the

  night before anyway yeah I just I give a

  thumbs-up I'll go listen to I'm the

  bus's it's a good show there were the

  first couple were pretty stiff we were

  trying to figure out how to do it yeah I

  think that Ken he's so funny and I and

  I've been meaning to he's so funny and

  fast and I can you know why I like him

  because I you know you start to like

  somebody when they make the joke that

  you would have made and I'm like oh this

  guy's good fast I think I just want to

  empower him to interrupt me more you

  know he's very polite right and vice for

  doing a podcast with you that a lot of

  people could take yeah yeah I want him

  to I want him to say yeah I want him to

  say his joke mm-hmm you know he's got

  the joke and he's being he's like a

  little microphone shy like he doesn't

  want to jump in

  is my step on you yeah but but we were

  sitting across from each other at a

  table so I can see him so if he's gonna

  like jump in it there it'll be visible

  on his eyes then it went you know if you

  listen to that show it's not really very

  edited we just don't talk over each

  other because we're looking at each

  other and but yeah I'm proud of it I

  think it's getting better all the time

  well good for you I'm glad I'm glad

  you're doing it yeah thanks I don't

  think it's Croesus I think it's Croesus

  mmm but but it doesn't I liked those

  names it sound like it might be somebody

  from ancient Greek Greece or Rome or it

  could be somebody from West Virginia

  Cletus well Croesus was very rich King

  Croesus and when you say richer than

  Croesus you're saying that that's a way

  of describing you are describing someone

  as being rich I'll save that barometer

  okay thank you but but so thinking about

  internally in Facebook uh-huh there the

  business culture that if that is saying

  rather than saying let's improve the

  user experience for the billion people

  who are using our platform let's make it

  better for them let's make it a better

  environment let's make it a better

  product their mentality is how do we get

  another billion people to use this and

  if getting another billion people to use

  this makes it worse for the billion

  customers we have that's not our problem

  like we need to just keep patching the

  holes in in our program because people

  are you know they got nowhere else to go

  if they want to show pictures to their

  grandma but what we want is a is a

  billion more users that's our business

  model and that's so different from what

  the attitude of business was up until

  recent times you know the attitude of

  business back when it was the customer's

  always right what you want to do is get

  a customer for life and keep them happy

  and that person will will tell their

  friends and come back and use your

  buying tires this time they'll be back

  in a few years

  right and

  he contrasts that with now which is just

  like well you know you have to use our

  product cuz we're because we bought all

  the competitors and we're just you know

  you're not gonna like it but you can't

  log in to any of the other things you

  want to do on the web without using us

  now because because basically we've made

  it so that either you one click into

  this this new thing through Facebook or

  you spend 15 minutes filling out a form

  and it's like okay you're right yet my

  laziness and my like my my laziness is

  my culpability but it's just it's so I

  don't I don't know we you and I both

  have many many many many opportunities

  on our various shows to talk about how

  disappointed we are in the Internet but

  but this this situation or Amazon has

  built some orbs now I just got a letter

  just as we were sitting here from radio

  station and they're saying they don't

  need me on the show they're gonna have

  some architects come on instead and the

  the woman Amana who I was speaking to

  and I kind of ranted at her for a while

  about this she says I guess Amazon does

  have a few ways to let the public see

  the spheres limited but they have a

  visitor exhibit section and they do

  cooperate tours that's nice but you have

  to schedule them and they are only on

  Wednesdays so I guess technically the

  public if they plan in advance can

  interact with them a bit but I still

  think it's an interesting conversation

  thanks for your time oh and I don't mean

  to mock her she's trying to do a radio

  she's got a job to do but bringing in

  architects I mean you know you know what

  the generals run the war you know I'm

  saying that's right

  gonna be like well I think Barbara for

  um there's not enough electrical outlets

  but but so Amazon is covering their ass

  and anybody that's listening to this

  show that works at Amazon that is a

  partisan is gonna say you can go on

  Wednesdays yeah I mean it's you know

  it's booked through March of 2024 but

  get your name on a list yeah yeah yeah I

  guess it's it's you know I don't know

  it's easy to there's so many things to

  be outraged about these days for good

  reasons and there's so many things to

  outraged about that statement I'm sorry

  Philip bug there's so much stuff that um

  just kind of Royals inside of you and

  like so for me like I just don't talk

  about Facebook anymore because I don't

  want to be that guy who's like yeah well

  no you're just figuring that out boop

  boop I hate that guy on the Internet

  stop being that person on the Internet

  oh oh you didn't notice that till no you

  know it's like oh god just don't do that

  so I don't do that because I don't think

  there's anything that fruitful in me

  going see I told you Facebook was bad

  and dumb but there's also this that's

  too much called a lobster trap but not

  too too much but there are these kinds

  of things where you're like well well I

  guess we got to where we are now and how

  do we feel about that and it's like the

  the Menino one the now discredited myth

  but the still useful analogy of the frog

  in boiling water where it becomes a

  question of well if we need to get

  another billion users and we need to get

  this adoption to move up if it's bad I

  think that's a huge issue for Twitter

  where they're not growing anywhere near

  where they need to for their valuation

  so then you get into this thing and

  saying like well you know we can just

  keep moving these buttons around and now

  you can thread tweets and there's all

  this kind of stuff even though I mean of

  course the chorus the response that is

  well what about what about the abuse and

  Nazis is that a thing you're gonna make

  a button for cuz that's really upsetting

  to a lot of people who've been here from

  the beginning but you have to you end up

  doing this kind of funny calculation in

  your head of saying like oh okay if

  you're saying if they want to get

  another billion users or whatever it is

  on Facebook or on Twitter then it

  becomes this weird I guess it becomes a

  balancing act of how many people will

  tolerate those changes for how long

  or that just goes somewhere else at the

  time when you and I you know during the

  full full fruition of our relationship I

  feel like the big thing was MySpace and

  there was a time when everybody thought

  there's no way anything will be bigger

  than myspace it was such a juggernaut

  and then I think Facebook you know kind

  of took that over and myspace still has

  its demographics and localities where

  it's very popular but I don't know I

  don't have a smart opinion about this

  but like as somebody who is outside of

  the boiling pot I'm a frog outside the

  pod I I do think it's interesting that

  people using Facebook seem to bring to

  it the approximate joy of draining a

  wound near their eye it's the same way I

  felt I never saw anybody look happy

  using a blackberry and these days I

  never see anybody happy there's nobody

  who's excited about Facebook anymore as

  a veteran user that's might maybe not

  entirely true but people have been using

  it for five or more years I think by and

  large they will all tell you that they

  do it out of this grudging sense of

  obligation now maybe it's because of

  their family and they need to post

  photos there maybe it's because of their

  work but you know I mean if who looks

  forward to using LinkedIn like who's

  excited about you know what I mean and I

  don't know I mean I don't I don't know

  where the inflection point comes maybe

  some of the improvements they make that

  attract another billion people are also

  good for the people who are already

  there but and that's kind of the

  interesting balancing act is that the

  kinds of things that make the system

  more permissive are generally the kinds

  of things that make other people feel

  more exposed when you make it easier for

  randos and new accounts to get to me

  without any way for me to control that

  like that's not good for me that's not

  good for anybody and I'm a fucking 51

  year old white guy I have the easiest

  thing in the whole world but did you for

  example did you see the New York Times

  article yesterday I believe it was about

  buying followers did you see that

  article no followers huh

  can you still buy Paul oh absolutely but

  this I'll leave it to you to go go look

  it up at your leisure but I thought it

  was everybody's been talking about it a

  lot especially on political Twitter the

  last couple days because they used some

  data visualizations data analysis that's

  extremely interesting

  long story short this particular company

  that sells followers for one thing they

  are basically taking in some cases

  acquiring the accounts of real people

  and like like those the the zombie the

  zombie that eats out an ant's brain like

  it turns your account into one of their

  follower accounts now that they can

  deploy but it leaves a fingerprint you

  can sometimes see that there are these

  changes or these new accounts that are

  all happening at roughly the same time

  and when somebody buys X number of

  followers it's it's a thousand

  fingerprints are left behind of like

  this certain pattern that is very almost

  easy to detect because a lot of hard

  work went into it but when you look at

  it it's it's staggering how similar the

  pattern is so you see these these these

  nerds at the New York Times do this

  great work and then you think like man

  first of all Twitter it was the

  Twitter's very good API to let them do

  that analysis they have a very

  permissive API that's fairly powerful

  for doing data analysis that's super

  cool but jesus fucking christ how hard

  would it be for them to do that how hard

  would it be for them to go in and look

  for patterns that are just blindingly

  obvious this for a long time was the

  boobs and butts problem where every time

  time you post something a picture of a

  boob or a butt would favorite it and I

  think that's kind of gone down the part

  that astonished me about that though was

  there was such a similarity to every one

  of the accounts you don't even need to

  have deep learning to go like Oh are

  there boobs in this picture just the

  very way there was always a pin tweet

  that was about this kind of subject


  they're always these kinds of things in

  the bio there's always you can even look

  at the links to the like dot are you

  sites or whatever it's just kind of shit

  we're like I don't even barely know how

  to use fucking Excel and I could see the

  pattern if I had if I had if I had two

  months of Perl I'd be able to write

  something that would be able to identify

  plus or minus twenty percent probably

  thousands of these accounts so that's I

  mean now I am fucking ranting but that's

  the part that's frustrating is like this

  is their party guys this is their this

  is their house this is your couch dude

  you're letting everybody come in and

  shit on and then like we're at work

  she's expected to sit there and go wow

  that was a really good shit yeah that

  was awesome great like why don't they

  use some of that firepower they've got

  when I mean and a cynical person would

  say well I'll tell you why

  there's a reason they they don't do

  anything to try and curtail the most

  extreme voices and it's the same reason

  that clickbait headlines get lots of

  comments every comment and every comment

  is at least three page views every time

  we're outraged and reload we are

  engaging at a level that is exactly the

  kind of metric that they are selling

  right now so you know it's like that old

  thing was that

  what's-his-name says about like you know

  never expect anybody to understand

  something that you know jeopardizes

  their job that's the frustrating part

  and then they just play it off legit and

  go yeah we're trying real hard here's

  our update like sorry for all the Nazis

  I mean I when I say that the old

  business model was customer's always

  right I know that there are there's a

  lot of eye rolling about my 1940s idea

  of what capitalism is but this isn't

  better and it isn't an evolution it is a

  very a very narrow idea of what business

  is and it's you know the narrow idea of

  people that have only studied business

  and they have not I mean it's the in

  some ways the rise of the business

  school because it used to be that you

  went to university and you studied

  things and then you went and you started

  a business and if you go to business

  school and you study business you are

  studying you know in a lot of ways a

  very kind of culty discipline where

  things are in fashion and out of fashion

  and just but you're also you're starting

  with these infrastructural things that

  without regard to what it is that you

  are quote unquote selling they're just

  very very foreign to someone like you or

  me like you didn't get into music by

  saying hey what what what kind of music

  should I be recording to sell the most

  records right or how can I sell t-shirts

  what's a good way to sell t-shirts I

  know I'll make some band music yes right

  like you know they're going to business

  school with no novel idea they're not

  going there because they built a better


  and they want to sell it they're going

  there just like I'm going to get into

  business and then they learn business

  and then are frantically casting about

  trying to find a way to have something

  to do a business about yeah to do a

  business mm-hm and and so some of them

  think like oh I'm gonna you know I'm

  gonna go out and talk to inventors and

  some and a lot of them are just like

  what what can I get that will attract

  attention to me long enough that I can

  cash out and then there are these models

  like Twitter there was a there was a

  proposal and I forget exactly who made

  it and I thought and I responded to it

  kind of like this is amazing why don't

  we do this and I know that it is a

  flawed premise but also it's it was a it

  was suggestive of a way of thinking

  which was why don't we put together a

  like a multinational entity to buy

  Twitter that is the current valuation

  and make it a non-profit because it is

  in its older version was such a benefit

  to the world honestly I think it was you

  know it did fulfill the promise of like

  what would happen if everybody could

  just talk and you know so many of my

  friends came from Twitter like people

  that I know in real life who changed my

  job if it hadn't been for Twitter I

  would have not I mean I done podcast

  before but I mean real talk if I had not

  been on Twitter I would not have met

  Scott and Adam I would not have done you

  look nice today and I would not have

  seen podcasts as a thing that I could do

  as something like my job right stop if

  it weren't for Twitter and favor that

  would have happened

  me too right I would never have I mean I

  met Amy man after a show and she was

  like you covered my song and and you did

  it wrong and I was like I know but I

  didn't practice that much and she was

  like yeah well pretty good kid keep it

  up and I was like loll you're Amy man

  high five but then the next day she

  followed me on Twitter

  and I was like wow you know shit and so

  I followed her back and I was like hey

  what's up and she was like loll and I

  said and and then within four months she

  said will you fly back to having never

  seen her since she said will you fly

  back to New York City and do a show in

  Central Park with me

  where we cover Simon & Garfunkel and

  Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are going

  to be there and I said only happen