Cartels, Hackers, And Jazz : See / Read / Listen To This: Issue #7
Recently I’ve been getting more and more into jazz music – if you have any album/artist recommendations, shoot me an email!
Cartel Land (Documentary | Netflix)
This Oscar nominated documentary follows vigilante groups on either side of the Mexican border as they battle, at times violently, against the drug cartels. It provides rare insight into the ground-war being waged by average citizens of both the US and Mexico, and some of the footage is difficult to believe. The director, Matthew Heineman, is a madman, continually putting the camera (and himself) in danger’s way in order to get the best shot possible. Watch this one all the way through, as the lines between good and evil begin to blur in fascinating ways.
Brushfires in California Timelapse /The Giant Machine that Digs Traffic Tunnels / The Thousand Hand Guan Yin Dance (GIFs)
In most issues of this newsletter so far, the most clicked-on links are the GIFs, so I’m going to start including a few interesting visuals in each email. Hopefully you enjoy these three entirely-unrelated-but-entirely-awesome little GIFs.
The Fermi Paradox – Where Are All the Aliens? (6 Minutes | Youtube)
Brilliant animation which asks, and poses a few potential answers to, a simple question: where the hell are the aliens? To borrow from the video’s description: “The universe is unbelievably big – trillions of stars and even more planets. There just has to be life out there, right? But where is it? Why don’t we see any aliens? Where are they? And more importantly, what does this tell us about our own fate in this gigantic and scary universe?”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (TV Show | Netflix)
For fans of one-liners, 30 Rock/Parks and Recreation, and great theme songs, I highly recommend Tina Fey’s latest Netflix show. It’s a slightly absurd comedy which tells the story of a cult survivor new to the big city, and if you like sitcoms with a little bit of heart, you’ll almost certainly enjoy it. The second season was just released (all at once, of course) last night, so it’s the perfect time to binge watch.
How to Make Pittsburgh a StartUp Hub (~8 Minutes)
I, like almost all Pittsburghers, love this city, so I was thrilled to see that Paul Graham, founder of the prestigious startup accelerator Y Combinator, thought so highly of it too. Granted, he’s a former Pittsburgher, so he’s likely a little biased as well. In any case, he delivered a talk recently and laid out a persuasive argument for why Pittsburgh is so attractive right now and how it could further its growth as a city.
How to Hack an Election (~15 Minutes)
This is a profile of a political hacker who (believably) claims to have hacked and influenced elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela. His methods include wiretapping, straight up hacking, and controlling more than 30,000 fake twitter accounts to create the appearance of popular support for politicians and policies. The hacker himself is currently in jail (solitary confinement with a bulletproof blanket to protect against retaliation) and hopes this confession will get him out early.
If you’re not interested in business models, technology, or the future, skip this article. However, if you are interested in that kind of stuff, this is fantastically insightful writing. Drawing upon a variety of ideas (including disruption theory, bundling/unbundling, the law of conservation of attractive profits, Nassim Taleb’s Black Swans, and Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm), this article provides a framework through which one can think about the future of business. It’s a bit jargon heavy at times, but the whole series of four articles is quite rewarding if you make it through.
As I struggle to learn how to play jazz piano, I’ve been listening to a lot of Bill Evans. He was the pianist on the Miles Davis album “Kind of Blue” before he left to lead his own groups. His playing is melodic and incredibly emotive, so the songs are easy to fall into. Other jazz that’s been recommended to me lately that I’ve been enjoying: Robert Glasper, Horace Silver, and Dave Brubek.
David Simon – WTF with Marc Maron (Podcast)
David Simon is the genius behind The Wire and Show Me a Hero, two of my favorite HBO shows. In this lengthy interview with Marc Maron, he talks about how his time as a journalist in Baltimore affected his work as well as the necessity of changing the US’s terrible drug crime laws. Be warned also that Marc takes up the first 12 minutes or so with ads and commentary about his own life which you should feel free to skip over.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler
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