Businessweek’s cover story this week is an oral history of “The Rise and Fall of Blackberry,” where a bunch of former employees talk about the early days, as well as some of their more recent missteps, with candor and nostalgia. It is kind of amazing:
When he said, “It’s called a BlackBerry,” people started rolling their eyes. They thought it was a stupid name. This was the height of the dot-com boom. He had this dream of people getting e-mails on the move, and the feeling at the time was, “Why would anyone want their e-mails away from the office?”
Why WOULD anyone want their emails away from the office?
One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone laughed.
I am applying to grad school for the Fall 2014 semester, and therefore am losing / have lost my mind.
In lieu of a nervous breakdown, here is a financial one
Speaking of keeping your day job, The Rumpus has a new podcast called Make/Work, hosted by Scott Pinkmountain (now THAT is a good last name):
Every creative laborer has a different story to tell about how they negotiate their relationship between their creative work and their paycheck and how they balance their lives to sustain their creative practice. In Make/Work, Scott will speak with emerging and established artists working in a wide range of creative mediums about how they survive, how they make a living, and how they maintain their work over the long term.
Fast food workers around the country are striking today, calling for the federal minimum wage to be increased to $15.
Writer and internet person Austin Kleon holds regular office hours over on his blog, and today someone wrote in to ask him for advice about balancing paying the bills and doing creative work.
Has anyone ever been to one? I have not, but apparently it is owned by the brother of Trader Joe, and according to Rebecca Schuman at Slate, it is the best grocery store in America:
Aldi also private-labels (those $1.99 “Millville” Rice Squares are Chex, you guys!), but what makes it a more exciting venture—and even cheaper than Trader Joe’s—is that it has imported the entire German grocery experience (aside, alas, from employees yelling at you if you do something wrong).
If you’ve ever visited Germany, you’ve noticed that a 4-ounce glass of juice at a restaurant may run you $10, while groceries—often of much higher quality than their American counterparts—will be noticeably less expensive. This is in part because of cost-cutting shopping practices whose arrival stateside I greet with a robust “Wunderbar!”
Hmm. This does sound nice but I will remain loyal to Publix until I have more first-hand accounts.
Photo: Nicholas Eckhart
After about day two of buying this tea, the young guy that works at the deli said something like, “Hello my beautiful baby! So you really like this tea?”
“Uhh, yeah!” He walked out from behind the counter and over to the refrigerator where my beloved Amazonian teas were lined up. We both peered in, quiet.
“So, which one do you like best? I’ll make sure we always have it for you.”
Roseanne Cash’s essay about growing up in Tennessee, and leaving, and coming back, and leaving again is really lovely.
Kathleen McLaughlin’s “AIDS Granny in Exile,” profiles the incredible gynecologist and activist Gao Yaojie, and offers a devastating look into how HIV spread through blood transfusions in 1990s rural China — a government-sanctioned crisis that Gao has dedicated her life to shedding light on.
Kat Aaron at the American Prospect has a fascinating/devastating profile of Detroit’s 36th District Court, one of many civil courts in Detroit, and across the country, that are underfunded and failing their citizens. Civil court, as Aaron puts it, “is where the problems of income inequality and unaffordable housing and low wages and unemployment and poor education play out.”
Giving your friends and family things you made with a 3D printer is kind of like giving them something handmade, except instead of making something by hand you plugged a formula you found online into a machine, and then instead of a jar of jam or a picture frame or some clay jewelry (I don’t know what people ‘make’, ok) the thing you give them is a small, useless piece of plastic.
Rachel Swarns’ New York Times series called The Working Life kicks off today, introducing us to Marianne Scarino, a 62-year-old woman who has been laid off twice in her role as a six figure-earning corporate manager and now works as an elementary school aide ($21k/year).
The processes involved with making a t-shirt have long been held as a prime example of manufacturing in a global economy, but what really goes into it? The good folks at Planet Money set out on a quest to illuminate the process first-hand, by selling their own t-shirts on Kickstarter, then circling the globe to document the entire process.
Nevertheless, this article about the revived role of the Vatican Almoner is kind of the best (and the book is short but fascinating if you love Flannery O’Connor!).
The Vatican Almoner, if you aren’t familiar (and…who is?), is a role that originated in the 13th Century, one that traditionally involves giving “one-on-one doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged.” Until recently the job was more of a formality given to pre-retirement diplomats, but Pope Francis has ramped up the position and hired the young-ish, trusted Archbishop Konrad Krajewski as his one-man almsgiver.