Finally.... a weapon to surpass Groverhaus
Read to the end to see what true swag looks like
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A CEO Writes An Opinion Piece
On Thursday, the Washington Post published a piece written by Cathy Merrill, the CEO of Washingtonian Media. It’s currently titled, “As a CEO, I worry about the erosion of office culture with more remote work.” Its original title, however, was “As a CEO, I want my employees to understand the risks of not returning to work in the office.”
In her piece, Merrill says that many small-business owners she knows are concerned about workers continuing to work remotely. There’s a lot of pretty wild stuff in the piece, but this paragraph in particular is some very galaxy brained thinking:
I estimate that about 20 percent of every office job is outside one’s core responsibilities — “extra.” It involves helping a colleague, mentoring more junior people, celebrating someone’s birthday — things that drive office culture. If the employee is rarely around to participate in those extras, management has a strong incentive to change their status to “contractor.” Instead of receiving a set salary, contractors are paid only for the work they do, either hourly or by appropriate output metrics. That would also mean not having to pay for health care, a 401(k) match and our share of FICA and Medicare taxes —benefits that in my company’s case add up roughly to an extra 15 percent of compensation. Not to mention the potential savings of reduced office space and extras such as bonuses and parking fees.
Just to really write out what Merrill seems to be arguing here. If an employee is not willing to come into the office — amid a pandemic that is still very much happening — and regularly perform duties beyond what they’re paid for, they should be converted into contractors and no longer have healthcare.
Merrill doesn’t leave it at though. “So although there might be some pains and anxiety going back into the office, the biggest benefit for workers may be simple job security,” she writes, closing out her piece. “Remember something every manager knows: The hardest people to let go are the ones you know.”
*~luv 2 threaten my employees in a Washington Post article~*
Well, I can’t say Merrill’s management techniques are traditional, interested to see how this works out for h— oh, what’s that? Her staff all immediately stopped publishing? Whoops.
The Daily Beast’s Max Tani has both a statement that Merrill put out this morning, along with screenshots of the email she sent staffers. In the statement, she wrote, “I have assured our team that there will be no changes to benefits or employee status. I am sorry if the op-ed made it appear like anything else.”
Hilariously, Merrill, in her piece wrote, “While remote working is certainly industry- and job-dependent, and the future employment scene will probably be some type of hybrid, the CEOs I have spoken with fear erosion of collaboration, creativity and culture.” I’d say, based on the collaboration I’m seeing on Twitter, her employees have a great office culture!
StumbleUpon Is Back (Sorta)
This was shared in the Garbage Day Discord by lesspopmorefizz. So, first, most importantly, Stumbled isn’t ACTUALLY StumbleUpon. The StumbleUpon you remember became an app called Mix.
Stumbled is an app created by Kevin Woblick, a developer from Berlin. I took Stumbled for a spin this morning and I found some really cool stuff! Like this project that takes geolocation data and spits out facts about music listening behavior.
It’s sort of hard to believe how massive StumbleUpon used to be. When I first started blogging professionally, it was the app you wanted to get your article on. There were StumbleUpon traffic reports! And then, suddenly, it was gone. And it’s worth thinking about what that switch actually meant.
On StumbleUpon, when you browsed content or shared it, it wasn’t really a reflection of yourself. Originally, there weren’t a ton of incentives for users beyond just a love of the game-type setup. The site became more gamified over time. Nowadays, it’s basically impossible to share content without some kind of clout mechanism — likes, retweets, shares, views, traffic. The whole internet is a series of slot machines and I think that shift really started when publishers started optimizing for Facebook. What kind of content would you share if no one knew or cared it was you that was sharing?
A Conversation About Spotify
Yesterday, I put out an Extra Garbage Day for paying subscribers. It was a conversation with activist and musician Evan Greer. She’s the deputy director for digital human rights nonprofit Fight For The Future and she just put out an EP called Spotify Is Surveillance. I had a lot of questions for her about why Spotify is largely left out of conversations about platform monopolies and radicalization. Here’s what she had to say about how Spotify compares to Facebook:
We've seen how Facebook's algorithmic recommendation of content, based on an algorithm that's maximized for engagement, has started to distort reality. It has started to undermine democracy and amplified really harmful ideologies like white supremacy and white nationalism. And you can already kind of start to see this.
Bands have kind of started to figure out like, “oh, all of our songs that sound kind of like this do super well with the Spotify algorithm, let's just make more songs like that.” And you can't fault the band for doing that. There's so few opportunities for bands to make a living from their art at this point. But it terrifies me to think about a future where music is created to please some cold-blooded algorithm. And there's just like something uniquely gross about that to me, when I think about how music is something that humans have been making for literally 1000s of years. It's something that's sacred, and, you know, not to pretend that it hasn't been commodified in a variety of different ways for decades, or maybe even centuries. But this feels like a new frontier. That type of automated commodification of something that should be about humans and not robots.
A Good Tweet
Somebody Actually Finally Green Screen Zoomed From A Car
A few weeks I was going to write about this very funny TikTok that appears to show a guy secretly driving while on a Zoom call. (Here’s a Tumblr mirror for readers in non-TikTok countries.)
I ultimately didn’t write about it because the user who posted it, @payduhman, does a lot of prank videos and I figured this was probably not real. Which seemed to cheapen the whole thing.
But, luckily enough, someone actually did actually try this!
Gizmodo’s got a good writeup. This wasn’t just any random guy who was Zoom driving, it was Ohio state senator Andrew Brenner lol. Best of all? The meeting he was car Zooming into was to discuss a bill that would create bigger penalties for distracted driving.
Here’s 50 Seconds Of Pure Psychic Violence
A wildly grim COVID update on this classic from Phil Jamesson.
Another Good Tweet
A Good Bidet Ad
Let’s say you were a bidet company. You want to be a hip cool bidet company, so you give yourself some fun millennial branding and you sell all kinds of cool and interesting and body positive toilet accessories. But, it’s a pandemic, and you want to make sure you use your bidet company to raise awareness for the importance of getting vaccinated. So, the question is, how would you do that? How could you reach your customers best?
Well, Tushy, a company just like the one I described, figured out a very interesting way of doing just that! They launched a page called “Can We Eat Ass Yet?” This is what it looks like:
Let’s Check In On My Favorite Twitter Account
I am a huge fan of the @jigsaw_quotes Twitter account. It’s just really really funny! It’s definitely blown up over the last few months and apparently it got big enough to catch the eye of Lionsgate, the studio behind the Saw franchise. @jigsaw_quotes appears to be helping the studio market the new Spiral: From The Book Of Saw movie that’s coming out next week. Earlier this week, the account posted this:
But wait, that wasn’t the end of this. Yesterday, @jigsaw_quotes posted an update:
Then (just in time for Twitter’s new long crop feature), this image appeared on the official Spiral Twitter account:
The Spiral account then quickly posted another tweet:
Which was then quote-tweeted by the @jigaw_quotes account:
Honestly, as groan-inducing as a lot of branded stuff on Twitter is, I love this. Good for @jigsaw_quotes. And good for hunky Jigsaw.
New Groverhaus Dropped
This photo of an absolutely CURSED McMansion was sent to me by a reader named Erika. The longer I look at the house, the more it hurts my brain. If you’re confused by the “Grovehaus” reference, it was an infamous DIY housing project that was documented on Something Awful by a user named Grover. You can read more about it here. Also, in February, a Something Awful user started trying to build a tiny home in a truck that was quickly nicknamed Grovertruk.
We spent a while talking about this new Groverhaus on my podcast this week and I am very excited to say that I think I found this house on Zillow. It’s in Kansas City and, I shit you not, there are another 11 windows (at least) on the left side.
P.S. here’s what true swag looks like (Tumblr mirror).
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
I've been pruning internet and social media out of my life after leaving Twitter and other spaces, but this newsletter keeps me updated with everything I actually want to know about. I look forward to this every week as a buffer between the weird stuff happening and myself. Ryan, thank you for doing the lord's work and thank you for telling me all about the ripped and oiled-up Saw nightmare thing.