James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

From Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic:

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

In case you don’t remember General Mattis, he was the Marine general who resigned from his role as Secretary of Defense in 2018 due to Trump’s pullout of Northern Syria without any warning. He, like so many of us, are shocked to see our greatest fears about Trump’s antidemocratic tendencies come to fruition.

I’m hopeful that people like Mattis speaking out will give more oxygen to other Republican leaders who are looking for permission to speak out against the president. A statement like this is likely to make a dent in Trump’s support in Washington, the traditional conservative media, and possibly the armed forces. Will it affect normal folks who have seen everything that’s happened since 2017 and thinks “yeah, I’d like 4 more years of this”? Not so sure.

Forget Dragon, the Falcon 9 rocket is the secret sauce of SpaceX’s success

From Eric Berger at Ars Technica:

Over the course of the decade, she said, SpaceX has used the Falcon 9 rocket to not only capture the commercial satellite launch market, but NASA’s cargo and crew programs, some of its science missions, and, increasingly, military contracts. The Falcon 9 rocket first stage also is the foundation of the Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful booster in the world. “SpaceX has really demonstrated that vehicle as being very adaptable,” she said. “It has quite a record.”

Around the world, companies and countries are struggling to compete. In America, United Launch Alliance is retiring its Atlas and Delta rockets in favor of the more competitive Vulcan booster. Japan’s H3 rocket was inspired by a need to reduce prices. Russia is phasing out its storied Proton rocket. Arianespace is retiring the venerable Ariane 5 rocket in favor of a lower cost Ariane 6. It remains to be seen whether any of these boosters can catch up to the Falcon 9, because SpaceX is always moving, Christensen said.

A great story of the Falcon 9 rocket, which has pretty much single-handedly turned around the USA’s space fortunes in the past 10-15 years.

Biden Is the Politician America Needs Right Now

From Franklin Foer at The Atlantic:

But in Philadelphia yesterday, Biden delivered perhaps the most thorough-going and hard-hitting critique of American racial inequities ever uttered by a major presidential nominee. Certainly, no nominee has ever proposed such a robust agenda for curbing the abusiveness of police, and with such little rhetorical hedging.

What makes Biden unique (and maddening if you are far left or far right) is he lack of hyper-partisan politics and desire to make a “deal”. More often than not, that means he’s open to working with both parties and all people to push the country in the right direction. It’s likely you’ll disagree with some of his positions, but you’ll feel heard and understood. Biden will attempt to represent and govern all Americans, not just one party or race or interest group.

SpaceX’s 1st Crew Dragon with astronauts docks at space station in historic rendezvous

From Space.com:

SpaceX launched Behnken and Hurley into space Saturday on a test flight, dubbed Demo-2, that lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their Crew Dragon docked itself at the station 10:16 a.m. EDT (14216 GMT) as both spacecraft sailed 262 miles (422 kilometers) above the border of China and Mongolia. 

“Dragon, arriving,” NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy said from inside the station as he range a traditional ship’s bell. “Bob and Doug, we’re glad to have you as part of the crew.”

It was so amazing to watch this with my family this weekend. It’s been over 9 years since the USA could launch our astronauts into orbit and the entire SpaceX portfolio is so fascinating to me. It’s nice to have some good news these days.

100,000

From BBC News:

No country has had more deaths, more infections. Anywhere else, so far, is not even close.

Heartbreaking, embarrassing and infuriating. We deserve better.

Donald Trump’s move against Twitter factchecking could backfire 

From The Guardian:

But the regulation could backfire, at least in terms of creating the internet Trump desires. By barring social media companies from using the nuanced forms of moderation they currently employ, the executive order could force them to resort to heavy-handed actions: deleting posts, or blocking users, rather than simply factchecking or reducing the reach of the worst material.

Similarly, removing section 230 protections entirely from a technology firm would be unlikely to force it to act as a politically neutral “mere conduit”, since any moderation at all – even simply deleting the vast quantities of automated spam that hit platforms such as Facebook and Twitter each day – would then open them up to lawsuits about the content they had left up.

I feel like this kind of sums up Trump’s presidency. He’s been flailing from one self-induced blunder to the next with no real strategy in mind. Rather than, you know, acting presidential and posting ideas that are truthful, he’s getting emotional yet again and will potentially create a situation that compels social media to disallow or fully censor the sort of hate, lies and misinformation he’s so well known for.

To be clear, I don’t think that a more tightly regulated social media landscape is an overall good thing. However the irony of the President issuing an order that makes it more likely to have his posts outright deleted does bring me some joy.

Apple’s butterfly keyboard failed by prioritizing form over function

From Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge:

But the deeper issue isn’t that the butterfly switches often break; it’s the flawed design goals that led Apple to make a bad button in the first place. Apple chose to make an entire keyboard full of buttons that resulted in a more aesthetically pleasing design with shorter travel and a thinner overall laptop, rather than making ones that are mechanically functional. And it nearly wrecked an entire generation of Apple’s laptops.

Apple is a massive company that has a ton of stakeholders but I honestly believe that one of the biggest mistakes Tim Cook made was to give the reigns to Jony Ive with no real counterweight. With a lot of the other voices in the room silenced or gone (such as Scott Forstall), Apple leaned way too hard into form over function, and many of their products have suffered as a result. iOS 7 was a mess and many of the hardware products from 2015-2020 were also way too focused on how something looked rather than how people used them.

Ive was a visionary in a ton of ways and he’s not completely to blame for many of the issues Apple have had with their hardware and software design in the last half decade. But with strong leadership at the top, a team of rivals approach tends to get better results. Let’s hope the next 5 years are more focused on users and their needs as opposed to just making things as thin as possible.

Spotify Finally Removes 10k Song Limit

From Felipe Carvalho on Twitter:

After today, you can add as many songs as you like to your Liked Songs on @Spotify I’ve been working with a small team on the refactoring necessary to pull this off for a while now. Very happy to see this finally out.

This definitely falls into the Finally™ territory, as I’ve been complaining about this for years now. Really happy they finally listened to users who hit the cap a long time ago and have had to come up with creative ways to get around it.

A little too late for me though as I recently moved back to Apple Music and have been very happy there.

Square announces permanent work-from-home policy

From The Verge:

“We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive,” a company spokesperson told The Verge. “Moving forward, Squares will be able to work from home permanently, even once offices begin to reopen. Over the past several weeks, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes for people to effectively perform roles outside of an office, and we will continue to learn as we go.”

Another one.

More and more tech companies seem to be moving in this direction. Very interested to see what it means for commercial real estate, tech company salaries and the future of Silicon Valley as the “hub” for a lot of these companies.