Discover more from Follow Friday
Women are my favorite guy
Also: Chonky whales, Battlebots, and a hack for household chores
Welcome to Follow Friday! Sorry I was MIA last week, but I was heads down on some edits for my clients while also getting ready for a camping trip. Fun fact: S’mores still taste good even in your mid-30s.
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The single best thing I saw online recently: Look, I never promised that this newsletter was going to show you stuff you haven’t seen before. With nearly 8 million views on TikTok alone, you’ve probably seen this clip of “Planet of the Bass,” a Eurodance parody by DJ Crazy Times (a.k.a. comedian Kyle Gordon). But have you seen it … 20 times? I think I have by now; every rewatch yields surprising new delights, like the way Gordon yells “electric! electric!” as his bandmate, Ms. Biljana Electronica, sings. Gordon has since released two additional clips featuring different performers in the role of Ms. Biljana Electronica, a hilarious commitment to the bit. The full song is due out next week.
The best podcasts I’ve heard recently
I’ve engineered several tapings for On with Kara Swisher, and had very good interactions with the production team there. A few weeks ago, one of those producers, Blakeney Schick, died unexpectedly. I figured Kara might address this on the podcast, but I wasn’t prepared for how powerful her tribute to Blakeney would be. She and producer Nayeema Raza spoke to psychotherapist Esther Perel about living through grief, their feelings about death, and what we’re “supposed” to do when we lose someone we work with. It feels right that a talented creator such as Blakeney would be remembered in the context of a brilliantly executed show. I wish I had known her better. RIP.
The Ringer has just launched a narrative miniseries on the feed of The Big Picture called “Do We Get to Win This Time?,” and I’m already obsessed with it two episodes in. Host Brian Raftery grew up begging his parents to let him see R-rated Vietnam War movies like Platoon for educational purposes. It’s a microcosm for the series’ thesis: That Americans’ historical memory of Vietnam is inextricable from how Hollywood addressed it — and, for many years, how it didn’t.
I wrote previously in this space about The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks, Dylan Marron’s miniseries that recently published its sixth and final episode. The whole series is worth listening to, but I wanted to shout-out the show one more time because of the ingenious way the finale unpacks what we — as a society — owe to people like Jar Jar actor Ahmed Best. Even if you — as an individual — were not personally responsible for the online hatred Best received, Dylan explains why we all ought to be willing to take some of the responsibility for doing better tomorrow.
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“The Real Steel future we were promised is already here”
When I was in elementary school, I loved Battlebots. I vividly remember pitching my friends on the playground that we should make our own robot; the design I envisioned was godawful, largely inspired by Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber, and it would have certainly been destroyed by the other robots in 30 seconds if it even could have been built — by people with the engineering skills that we 10-year-olds did not have.
After a year or so of obsessively watching the show on Comedy Central, I moved on to other passions and pretty much forgot about Battlebots. So it warmed my heart to learn from this Mikey Neumann video that “robot fightin’ time” is back & seems to be doing well, and that there’s legitimate reasons one might follow the sport when you are much older than 10. “I watch this show for the hits, sure,” he says. “I am a human. But it’s the stories about the people, year over year, that keep me coming back.”
Which of these headlines would *you* click on?
Using an old-school RSS reader means I sometimes get served the same story back-to-back, from different publications. This happened last week with a series of stories about an ancient giant whale — arranged here in ascending order of how much I liked their headlines.
A few days later, Sabrina Imbler at Defector followed up with a typically excellent headline & story:
If you’re only going to read one, honestly, I’d say just go with Sabrina’s. They efficiently explain what you need to know about the scale of this chonky whale before delving into the speculative, sometimes comical work of paleoart.
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing this week
On the 150th (!) episode of Grit, Joubin Mirzadegan interviewed Box CEO Aaron Levie and venture capitalist Mamoon Hamid, who invested in Box when no one else wanted to. I’ve heard Aaron interviewed several times before, and he’s always interesting to listen to, but having his friend/investor/former board member in the room adds a really fun, different energy. For example: In Box’s early days, the “look” of an online software company hadn’t yet been standardized, so Mamoon constantly nagged Aaron that Box.com needed to appear “open for business” — so much so that Aaron had to ask him to go invest in other companies.
And on Building Better CMOs, Greg Stuart spoke to FanDuel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mike Raffensperger, about the changing role of CMOs within organizations, the challenges FanDuel faces including and beyond legalization of online sports gambling, and why Mike hates the way most companies split up their marketing budgets. I really appreciated the candor with which he rejected FanDuel’s old marketing, which emphasized the remote chance that you could win a small fortune playing. Gambling isn’t for everyone, and no one should do it expecting to get rich.
The best thing I’ve read recently
Journalist Faine Greenwood visited Myanmar several times in the early 2010s, and saw firsthand how Facebook took over the briefly democratic country, becoming the internet for millions of people as they got online for the first time. And there’s no separating Facebook from the disinformation-fueled genocide of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in the northern part of the country. She recalls an “honest-to-god Thomas Friedman moment” from a cab ride in 2013:
… he asked me what I was in town for, and I told him that I’d come to write about the Internet. “Oh, yes, I’ve got a Facebook account now,” he said, with great enthusiasm. “It is very interesting. Learning a lot. I didn’t know about all the bad things the Bengalis had been doing.”
“Bad things?” I asked, though I knew what he was going to say next.
“Killing Buddhists, stealing their land. There’s pictures on Facebook. Everyone knows they’re terrorists,” he replied.
“Oh, fuck,” I thought.
Facebook has successfully skirted responsibility for more than a decade now, but that doesn’t mean we should forget what it did, and its algorithms are still doing to Myanmar’s people. Read Faine’s whole post here.
Palate cleanser: How to get the housework done fast
His laugh at the end kills me.
Trust me and click these:
The best weird Barbie you’ve ever seen (via)
A beautiful obituary of a man who “set out to live quietly”
This video about AI backlash is a thoughtful, thorough rebuttal to internet haters
What if we still had transatlantic accents?
What’s the deal with big, boxy (and IMO fugly) cruise ships?
Rebecca Solnit on the dangers of climate doomerism
Binging With Babish is making food from fake movies now (still great)
And really, trust me, watch this to the end: Where's the dude singing "Hey There Delilah"?