Boing Boing

Trump cancels campaign events: is he sick or is he sad?

Amid continued weak polling, millionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump has canceled forthcoming rallies and events in Colorado, Nevada and Oregon. He'll still be attending fundraisers, reports Eliza Collins.

Trump was originally scheduled to make a speech on immigration in Denver on Thursday, but according to The Denver Post the speech has been postponed. The campaign said that his speech was "still being modified." Trump will, however, attend a fundraiser in Aspen, according to the Post.

Nevada’s KTNV also reported Monday that Trump’s Friday rally in Las Vegas was canceled, but his fundraiser in Lake Tahoe the same day is still on. According to KTNV, the campaign did not give a reason for the rally cancellation. He is expected to participate in a roundtable in Las Vegas, possibly on immigration.

Both a rally and fundraiser in Portland, Ore., scheduled for Aug. 31 were canceled, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The Trump campaign cited the Republican nominee’s trip to Louisiana last Friday as the reason his calendar has been changed, according to OPB.

Probably just needs a break; for all the conspiracy theories put out about Hillary having a mysterious illness, Trump is 70 years old and never did release any medical info about himself that wasn't obviously written by himself.

Also, with a new campaign team, maybe radical changes are being made: the nigh-mythological pivot that only ever seems to be a pirouette. That said, his numbers are in such dire shape, you have to wonder if he's decided to coast and focus on what comes after November.

https://twitter.com/Rschooley/status/768065487238369280

5 years after Texas GOP's attack on women's reproductive health, TX leads developed world in maternal mortality

Remember when Texas governor Rick Perry and the GOP state government led an unprecedented assault on women's reproductive health in the name of preventing abortions, using dirty tricks to pass an unconstitutional law that led to a boom in unsafe home abortions and a black market for day-after pills, while ending Planned Parenthood's vital cancer-screening program, before defunding Planned Parenthood altogether? (more…)

Amusing drunk caught on police bodycam wants footage off the net

In this footage, Sgt. Eric Kannberg deals calmly with a belligerent drunk, Cory Counts, using de-escalation techniques even after Counts gets physical. After Kannberg gets a push from Counts and it comes time to haul him to the drunk tank, Kannberg decides not to pursue through a crowd, instead stalking him at a distance until a safe opportunity presents itself. Counts earned a misdemeanor charge and the the ignominy of having the footage posted to Spokane P.D.'s Facebook page. (more…)

5TB desktop external hard drive for $110

Right now, Amazon has a great deal on a Seagate 5TB external hard drive. It's $110 (the same price as the 4TB mode). I've been looking for a way to back up all the computers in my household (with Time Machine) and I might buy this. I think can just create several partitions on it and plug it into the USB port of my wireless access point. Has anyone had success doing it this way?

Halt and Catch Fire: The Most Relevant Show on Television

With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it's drama you crave, but the Hillary v. Trump show is driving you to near-suicide, then the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire is your new best friend. Returning for its third season on Monday, August 23rd with a two-hour premiere, you'll still get your fix of intriguing plot twists, flawed personalities, and high stakes, but without the partisan tantrums and pre-apocalyptic anxiety.

The show's title refers to the computing term (HCF), "Halt and Catch Fire," an early technical command that sends a computer into race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained. The namesake series takes place in the personal computing boom of the 80s, when IBM was dictator, and before "website" was a word. Though HCF is categorized as a "workplace drama," you could say the same thing about Breaking Bad, and you'd be completely missing the point--and the thrill--of both shows.

To "break bad" is a colloquialism used in the American South meaning to challenge authority. Breaking Bad and HCF have three important things in common: obscure, nondescript titles that run the risk of losing potential viewers who need their plot summaries spoon-fed and hashtagged, a committed, forward-thinking home on AMC Networks, and the consistently visionary TV producer Melissa Bernstein.

Bernstein saw the potential in Breaking Bad, arguably the least commercially viable TV pitch in history--a meth-selling teacher with terminal cancer--and saw it through from start to finish, executing a literally dead-end idea into one of the most lauded TV shows of our time. We knew Walter White was going to die, but that doesn't mean it wasn't thrilling to watch him get there. I asked her if that hybrid of inevitability and possibility was in HCF:

Melissa Bernstein: It's all about the writers capturing specific, compelling, flawed characters that you want to know more about. Breaking Bad has wonderful overlap with HCF. If you find a great journey that's worthy of an audience's time, that's what matters, and both those shows have it. I love the characters, they felt like people I hadn't seen a hundred different times. That felt very fresh to me in a universe that is getting more crowded every day.

On a panel at the recent Brainstorm Tech conference in Denver, Bernstein noted: "It provides some insight into where we're headed, and why. I think looking back will help us look forward. We are now, as a people, disconnected in some ways, but connected in a way that nobody ever could have imagined, and I think this story looks at that, too. So much of what these characters are trying to do is use computers to connect people, and honestly, to find it for themselves, to connect as human beings in a meaningful way with their existence...despite some of their self-destructive tendencies."

As for the inevitability aspect of the plot, we already know the personal computer becomes ubiquitous, we already know the social function of the internet is primary, we already know telephones end up in our pockets. But knowing the outcome of the technology in HCF doesn't make the ride to our "now" any less suspenseful, dramatic, and emotionally riveting, because this is a show about the people who got us there. It took freakishly inventive, insecure, visionary, malicious, humble, compassionate, delusional, brilliant, square peg, devoted, miserable, and optimistically malcontented people to do it. They questioned everything at a time when that was not a desirable workplace habit.

For there to be a tipping point in the 80s, you needed people with one foot in the past and the other in the future, to bridge the abyss between old business and new--people like HCF character John Bosworth, brought to life vibrantly and flawlessly by actor Toby Huss, whose Iowan nativism is hidden beneath his Texan character's accent. While speaking with Huss about the new season, I asked how he would describe the show:

Toby Huss: "In the absence of killing and zombies and such, sure, it's a workplace drama, but it's really a textured, nuanced, and measured look at how people interact, and this specific time in really recent American history, where there's a massive amount of change happening. It's also about how people get along with each other when it's time to work, and how they bounce in and out of each other's lives. These people simultaneously discovered this new technology and new things in themselves they didn't know were there. It's about how these emotionally new, nuanced things they found in themselves smash up against each other. I think that's a pretty potent combination--and it's fun to act."

That's where the possibility aspect of the show comes in: the types of people who shake things up inhabit the world of HCF. They're human progress, personified. These are the type of people who today dominate Silicon Valley, where the setting moves to in season three. It is telling that such a socially awkward demographic was responsible for connecting the world. In the 80s they were on the fringes and struggling to be taken seriously, but they were the ancestors of people like the founders of Google, another popular entity with an obscurely-referenced name, who turned that name into a verb. These are complicated and fascinating characters brought to life.

I learned about people like this firsthand when I had the strange luck of being hired at a San Francisco startup in 2006, by Google's first Director of Business Development, Chris Skarakis. He had just left Google, where his parting project was digitizing the libraries of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Oxford. (Thanks, Chris.) I was just coming out of the first three years of motherhood and had missed an entire leap of technology, when I was hired and brought into orbit with this kind of visionary intelligence.

Suddenly I was immersed in a world of punk rock-listening, Stanford-educated programmers like the ones in HCF. They taught me basic computer code and spoke their mind in sky's-the-limit whiteboard brainstorming sessions. It caught me up quick and changed the way I thought about technology and business. I asked my former boss what kind of people it really took to innovate technology. He shared the story of how Google's company motto, "Don't be evil," came to be:

Chris Skarakis: "I was in the room for that one. A group of us were called together with HR people to come up with the company values and philosophies. Your typical stuff was brought up and listed out. Then one of the engineers, Paul B. said "don't be evil." Initially everyone sort of chuckled and brushed it off, but Paul wouldn't let it go until we all saw the wisdom in what he was saying. It was adopted, obviously, and became iconic for Google."

Technology has transformed the way we get the news, socialize, find work, bank, waste time, shop, date (and how the cowardly break up). Turkey's president recently used the iPhone's Facetime feature to quell a military coup by mobilizing its citizens to resist and take to the streets. They did. What makes the device you are reading this on even possible is the result of the work and vision of extraordinary nobodies with wild ideas, and the leverage and funding of ordinary somebodies who took a measured risk. HCF throws them all together in every shape and size, and watches as they all jockey for position, rarely realizing they have to fit together to complete the puzzle.

To some, the incessant refusal of some of the HCF characters to fit in and play nice might seem too convenient or "written," or clash with others seemingly out of reflex. You see it in both Joe MacMillan, the IBM-expatriate turned mercurial entrepreneur, (played as expertly as a chess game by Lee Pace) and upstart programmer Cameron Howe (an unpredictable and edgy role perfectly cast with Mackenzie Davis), So I asked another former Google friend, Eric Fredricksen, a staff engineer from the early days, what he noticed were the real-life personal qualities critical to bringing on real technological breakthroughs:

Eric Fredricksen: "The key to it all I would say is [Google founders] Larry and Serge's unwillingness to take expert opinions as gospel, which I think is rare. They're smart guys not standing on their egos too much, but when some impressive person told them "this is already figured out, it's this way," they'd puzzle it out themselves, sometimes on the spot, before accepting it, if at all. One blunt-ended example: everyone knew search wasn't worth much, but they--and the staff at Google--figured out how and when and why it was."

That's Joe and Cameron to a tee, and the same is seen to varying degrees in engineer Gordon Clark (portrayed with pitch-perfect neurotic nuance by Scoot McNairy, whom you alternately want to hug and punch), and later, in his wife, Donna Clark (whose potent chemistry of undervalued intelligence, insecurity, and an open heart is incarnated flawlessly by Kerry Bishe). There are no cartoon heroes and villains in HCF. Everyone takes turns being the underdog you're rooting for, and the one who's screwing your future up.

Although HCF is fiction, the heavily-researched show is based on fact. Co-creators, writers, and showrunners Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell (collectively known as "the Chris's") were partly inspired by the Steve Jobs biography, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Soul of a New Machine," by Tracy Kidder. They also did exhaustive anecdotal research, and drew from personal experience. At the Brainstorm Tech conference, they spoke about the show's inception and philosophy (interview by Fortune Magazine's Michael Lev-Ram):

Christopher Cantwell: "The inspiration largely comes from my father. He started working on computers in the mid-1970s, answering an ad off the postboard in his high school, looking for punch card operators. He went to work for a computer company, and kind of graduated from there. By the early 80s things were really taking off in Texas, and he moved my entire family, including me at six weeks old, down to Dallas, and took a job at a firm very similar to [the fictitious] Cardiff Electric. He was a salesman, very much like Joe is, and he worked with sales engineers, very much like Gordon Clark. That dynamic is what informed that relationship early on."

Chris Rogers: "HCF tells you the story you didn't know about the rise of the personal computer--because if you can just google it and get the answer, then that's not a TV show worth watching. We want to bring you new information. That story is usually told through the lens of Silicon Valley, and two companies, Apple and Microsoft. Sure, we knew about the big figures, but there were a lot of people that contributed to the "are you a Mac or a PC" question. As we dug into the research, we looked for stories you couldn't find online, and we got to interview a lot of people who made big contributions to the personal computer, but were forgotten by history. These people were part of something that was not recognized in its time as very important, and now means a great deal, so that's a very fulfilling part of it."

This is not Mad Men with computers and Members Only jackets. The 80s were only thirty years ago, but for people who are never more than a few feet away from their cell phone and spend the bulk of their free time and work time on screens, we are oddly missing much reflection on the history of how we got to the party of now--especially asking who brought the keg and how they paid for it. Turns out it was not your average beer run.

As exciting as the zombies are in AMC Network sibling The Walking Dead, the characters in HCF face the more formidable enemies of real life: ignorance, lack of vision, fear of change, greed, and shortsightedness--including our own. These are more relevant threats to our daily lives than getting our faces eaten off (unless you live in Florida). HCF underscores the reality that it truly was a battle for the future--both internal and external--which is now a present we are experiencing both the fruits and consequences of.

These entrepreneurial renegades--both real and fictional--did not run around free and funded by virtue of their big ideas. It's not just the Teslas and Edison types that deliver the future. There are the nameless and uncredited middlemen, playing by ear, who see potential and connect the Teslas to the J.P. Morgans and the Googles and Facebooks to Sand Hill Road.

I learned about the venture capital beltway of Sand Hill Road in 2006, when my new tech startup boss, Chris, took me for a burger at a place called Buck's in Woodside, CA. It was an odd little place, with old computers and components serving as decor, along with a stuffed alligator, and scribbled-on napkins commemorating famous deals were displayed behind acrylic. Buck's became famous during the dot-com era for deals and ideas (like PayPal) seeded at these tables, between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

I felt lucky to know someone who was an integral part of building something--like he did at Google in digitizing those libraries--that had literally transformed and unified the world with information in ways that would have enormous impact. All around me were bits of history that impacted the world so much, things I totally took for granted. HCF is like a TV version of Buck's--you need to sit down, tune in, and take a look around.

Besides venture capital, startups in the 80s needed old school business people, whether they liked it (and each other) or not. People like the unexpectedly unpredictable John Bosworth. From the pilot episode where he is the unquestioned boss who hires Joe MacMillan, to the moment he steps on the plane to Silicon Valley at the end of season two, he arguably changes the most over the seasons. His transformation parallels the tech industry's evolution from a top-down management, widget-selling industry to firebrand entrepreneurship peddling the invisible--speed, access, and community--which became the core components of the internet as we use it today.

Innovation and monetizing the invisible is risky, but, like PayPal and Google, can pay off big and maybe change the world. The Hollywood Hills are dotted with lavish houses built on risky ideas. You have to have the skill, guts, and vision to sell products and ideas that are close to inconceivable to investors and the public. We see ourselves in the familiar parts of people like John Bosworth, but how many of us would put our lives on the line in a gutsy bet like he did in season one? He had a lot to lose. Yet his risk--and its failure--was the tipping point, enabling new companies to emerge from the rubble of Cardiff Electric. Those are the kinds of people--and sacrifices--that enable innovation.

Two of my favorite things about HCF are the character's tango with the inevitable and the unpredictable, and the wry but subtle wit peppered perfectly throughout the series. A standout in manifesting this is Toby Huss's Bosworth, whose stern AMC publicity photo doesn't capture the wit and sparks of levity he brings to the role. Part old school Texas businessman out of step with technology, and part prospecting visionary, Huss built a believable and endearing character out of what could have easily become a stereotype--and was almost a short-term role. Huss is that kind of character actor you want to see more of, and the show's producers, writers, and creators thought so, too:

Melissa Bernstein: "We adore his character so much. As written, we did not imagine him this way at all, but when we saw him in Toby's audition, we were all totally taken with it, and it changed everything about that character's trajectory."

Like Bosworth, Huss took a gutsy bet, portraying the no-nonsense boss with wit and charming complexity that may have otherwise been missed. I asked him how it came about:

Toby Huss: "Good old John Bosworth! It's funny, because I had no master plan, but the way the guys wrote it, I think they saw one thing in it, and I saw something totally different. I saw this really textured, sort of nuanced guy, who was really a couple years away from retirement, and then his world exploded. He had to think on his feet like never before. He really had a wonderful arc from the first season to this one. No one saw that arc, I think, until they started mining that territory, but I thought it was a great character that they had. They just needed somebody to come and flesh it out, maybe, and I got lucky enough to do that."

Developing that character differently based on an actor's interpretation also highlights the agility and talent of "the Chris's." They recognize opportunities and take chances--much like the tech industry characters they write about. Sometimes you see it in little ways, like the season three open, where they creatively harvest Toby Huss's experience as an uncanny and satirical Frank Sinatra (from his annual "Rudy Casoni" Christmas Show in L.A.) to perfect effect.

They also take very big chances, which is why HCF is the most feminist primetime drama on TV, without anyone noticing. The very same writing dexterity that brought us Bosworth's unique character is why the series is not a sausage party like HBO's Silicon Valley. That's good news for HFC--it means a longer runway and slower burn rate for the show. Then again, at least people know what Silicon Valley is roughly about.

Melissa Bernstein: "The first season of HCF centered around the Gordon and Joe partnership, but as the story evolved, Donna and Cameron gravitate towards each other, and form a business relationship based on something completely different. It gave us all these opportunities. There's a lot of mutual respect and trust, and that plays out differently than the Joe and Gordon partnership, which came together with a very different power dynamic. How does that work when it's in the vise of the technology world with all the pressures that come with success or failure?"

It would have been foolish of us not to take the opportunity to pursue Donna and Cameron. The writers didn't do it for the novelty of it or because the male leads weren't working, it's that these characters were so compelling, we wanted to spend as much time with them as we did with Joe and Gordon. I think a lot is made of it, and I think a lot should be. There are things still not right in our world between men and women and the inequality of pay, and there are issues that I think we're struggling with as a society. What we see on television and in movies is an important reflection and exploration of that, and we need to figure out a way to get it right.

Cameron's character drives the story forward in unexpected ways, where, at first, she explores complicated work relationship dynamics as the young female tech genius in a male-dominated workplace in season one. Then, as the boss, with Donna as female co-pilot in a world they create as they go along by season two. The differences are fascinating--and telling.

Season three continues the female-driven story, and the Chris's have enough confidence in their writing, the story, and the cast to not need overly-sexualized female leads as only love interests or crutches to hold the audience's gaze. This leaves the series with tons of uncharted territory so often neglected in American television, and they are stories relevant and interesting to everyone.

We don't say that a show is "male-led," or that an all-male rock band is a "guy band." The reverse is not true. HCF does not have token women, inserted in place of men. They are strong, yes, but also imperfect, nuanced, and fully developed characters. As revealed in the strange uproar over the female leads in the rebooted Ghostbusters, somehow the media and entertainment industry feel the need to apologize for or explain stories with prominently female actors, to those who simply don't get it. Coincidentally, Toby Huss had a small role in Ghostbusters, so I asked him about the film's backlash, and if that related at all to how people might perceive Halt's female-driven story. Here's his colorful response:

Toby Huss: "The backlash was so hilarious and so terrible--it reeked of awful mamby-pamby white privilege, just boys crying about more shit. It's all white boys, I guarantee--just dicky white boys whaling on the women, and then they're whaling on Leslie Jones. My lord, it was just crazy and awful."

But these are two very different things, that movie and this TV show. Halt is relatively new. The women are such richly drawn characters, they're acted so well by Kerry and Mackenzie, and the story is so compelling, so, it's a different thing. We're not raping the halcyon days of white boys or however these guys perceived they were being emasculated by women playing the Ghostbusters guys.

In HCF, Donna and Mackenzie--they're never talking about boobs--well, ok, they are sometimes--but they've got really progressive women characters on this show whose lives are not dependent on men. That's another reason why it's a special little show and not like most shows on TV. They don't go to pool parties and wear bikinis all the time. It's kind of fucking refreshing, don't you think?

Yes. Because the female characters were not written gender blind, either. They're not just "male-ish" female leads. Instead, the Chris's are cognizant of the differences in the way men and women think, live in the world, and are treated, and they brilliantly leveraged it into the story. This is why it's a captivating ride. You don't know where this is going, because no one has done it like this before. There is no obvious end point for any of them by the end of season two.

Melissa Bernstein: "I think there's a ton of misconceptions in the entertainment industry about whether people will show up to see stories that star women as much as they will to see stories that focus on a male actor. To my mind, if you tell a great story, it doesn't matter what the gender of the leads is, but we have to keep proving that, which is unfortunate. I'm very much up for that challenge, because I believe it. I think the proof is in the pudding. Season two of HCF is a great answer to that question. Can it be compelling? Hell, yeah! Watch the show."

In season one, engineer Donna Clark provides a simple but critical space-saving computer design element that her husband had been struggling with--so critical that it later gets stolen. Actress Kerry Bishe discusses her progressive role as Donna in a recent interview in Feminist Frequency:

Kerry Bishe: "I almost forget what a gift it is that these characters are so multifaceted that they can't be described in a single adjective. I'm very picky about the kinds of roles I want to play. Representation matters to me. People love to talk about "strong female characters," but that idea is so limiting. I like to think of female characters as complex, whole, and also fallible people. The things that they do badly, their flaws and deficiencies are as important as their skills and positive qualities. Women characters often operate on this single trajectory, but Donna really has had the room to grow and change and make mistakes. It's one of the biggest, fullest characters I've been able to play."

The big favor Halt and Catch Fire does for us is rightly cast the 80s, not with garish cliche, but as the older brother who knew about the Clash way before you did. Whenever I see that period depicted on TV or in film, it's been a caricature--the fashion, the hairstyles, the music. Noticably, HCF's entire art department elicits the feel of the 80s in a way that I haven't seen on TV yet.

Melissa Bernstein: "We didn't want the era to be a sideshow. We wanted it to feel like real life and never take people out of the story. We want you connecting with characters and what's going on in their heads, the internal drama. It's critical. If you get lost in the cliches of the era, then we're really sending our audience down the wrong path. We worked with our really talented department heads (like Chris Brown, production designer) to make sure that it was all well-researched, and that it felt like real life at the time, from color palettes, to the products themselves, from the computers to the more domestic pieces."

Our costume designer (Kimberly Adams) picked fashion designers who lived through that era, and who have an affinity for it, like it meant something to them, and they really remembered the details of it, and wanted to see them come through in subtle ways, and worked with the cast to specifically reflect their characters in those choices. They did a really nice job.

I agree. When we were in Gordon and Donna's house, I felt like I was back in the home I grew up in. From the kitchen products, vintage computer components, macrame on the walls, and watching Gordon stop at a phone booth to make a call, I see so much familiarity, while simultaneously noticing how much has changed. What Gordon and Donna are behind on in domestic home fashions, they make up for in being far ahead of the curve in ideas--they just don't know it yet.

Melissa Bernstein: "The first two years of the show, the feeling was that Donna and Gordon were not people of the eighties. They were still cruising on the seventies--it takes time. Some people adapt immediately and get the newest iPhone when it shows up, have the newest shoes, and stay totally current, but for most of us it takes a while. Hairstyles and the interior design of your home, that's not something people change every year or two. Season three is a totally clean slate for us from a production design standpoint just because of the setting changing to Silicon Valley, with fresh eyes--production designer Chris Stearns, and costume designer Katherine Morrison."

The 80s delivered our future--in a Members Only jacket and a Gremlin at times, sure, but look what it brought to the party. Quite a feat for a show set in the 80s to be one of the most relevant on television. So why aren't more people watching it?

Ratings-wise, HCF falls under the radar partly because it's not called Computer People, and doesn't feature relationships simplistic enough to be easily portrayed in a still picture on a billboard. But is the new season's promo photo of the cast standing around computers in an office with serious looks on their faces the only alternative? It looks like I'm walking into work late and everyone's mad at me. I don't want to go in there. Who would?

AMC Network's brilliance lies in its committed understanding that characters are the bond that keeps an audience tied to a series. They're not afraid to hang a show on a seemingly commercially unviable premise, like Breaking Bad, because they see great characters. They're adept at recognizing when to give shows more time, as they've done with HCF. But there seems to be a disconnect between the show and its promotion. It's being treated like Gordon was at Cardiff Electric. They didn't realize they had a computer genius in their midst until someone took the time to coax him and give him the attention and resources he needed. Where's Joe MacMillan when you need him?

I live in Los Angeles and pass by all the new show billboards, with dramatic pictures of aliens and international subterfuge. I understand that it's a challenge to promote an oddly-titled show with an internal struggle as dramatic, yet as invisible as the technology it is about. But honestly, is HCF really any different than M.A.S.H.?

It just seems like AMC was stumped by the title, shrugged, and moved on. If the name "Halt and Catch Fire" makes the show the TV equivalent of the impossibly-named band Einsturzende Neubauten, then so be it. They're both still fucking great. The smart ones will find it, but they shouldn't have to look so hard. Yes, it's a challenge to encapsulate HCF in a sentence, tagline or hashtag (or this would be a shorter article), but I think its appeal is more universal and important.

It's ironic, of course, that a show about people trying to innovate in technology would have trouble being innovatively publicized in the world of television, but that's part of what the show is about: sometimes you can be so good, so right, so ahead of the others, but you're still misunderstood, unappreciated, overlooked, your accomplishments ignored, and you're gunning a Mustang in neutral. It's a challenging and frustrating existence, full of drama, conviction and self-doubt. That's why it's so good. Of course, it's even more ironic that it's on the same network that brought everyone's favorite ad man, Don Draper, to life. How would he advertise the show?

Toby Huss: "We all love the show, and we love doing it, and we're all so invested in it, just because it's a great thing. It's one of those rare shows, and we all know that it's a privilege to work with these kinds of people, and the crew is really wonderful. You just want more people to watch it. I think people are starting to online. HCF is like a kid on the autism spectrum. It's a special child, and he needs a little special attention. You can't just put him in gen-pop and hope everything works out."

The members of the online community around HCF found each other organically, so technology's gift of social media is where you find the devotion of HCF's fans is in action. There they are, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and fan blogs with titles like "Save Halt and Catch Fire" started by fans fearful of the show being canceled. Innovation always comes, it just depends on who gets to it first.

As kids scurry back to school, and adults list their annual regrets for their never-got-to-it summer plans, we're all wishing to be immersed in other realities, lives, and eras--our news can be too brutal, our politics too loud, our own lives too small. We may wonder how it all got this way. That's why I love HCF. It reverse engineers our everyday lives, spooling back to before computers and the internet went on their first real date. It takes our current technology, parsed into its components, and with impeccable acting, smartly attaches human context and story to each one. Though we know what is at stake, and which technology eventually wins out, the characters don't.

They don't know that in our present, we watch a man die as his girlfriend live streams the incident on Facebook, or that, in the unrest that ensued, more people died. They don't know that the image of a Syrian boy, pulled from the rubble, is instantly transmitted around the world and gets the attention of millions of Americans about a tragically overlooked conflict, and may impact decisions on military actions. I wrote this long-ass article about a television show because I think it's a really important series, raising important questions about our relationship to technology, to each other, the differences between the way men and women run things, and how that could be used for good, instead of, well, evil.

What are you reading this on--a computer or a phone? How do you know how much money you have in the bank? How will you tell your friend you're running late because you spent too much time on Facebook? Text? Email? Where do you spend the bulk of your social life? Online or with your friends and family?

We changed technology and technology changed us. The evolution of both changed our world. It begs the question of whether or not we are really more connected. Can we make the world a better place with technology and connection? These people thought so. That's the heart of this show, and why I think it's the most compelling and relevant show you could watch this year.

The series makes me wonder if we can be better stewards of the possibility they gave us, or do we have to type in (HCF) and start from scratch? The future is eternally determined by what is behind us. The series has an ongoing, permanent cliffhanger: what will we do with technology and what will it do to us?

Toby Huss: "You can't really be a citizen in the world, make plane reservations, go to dinner, do things, hang out, send text messages, and make phone calls without using a massive amount of technology every day. It's a great thing, but I still shut the phone off and go meandering on two lane roads. That's great to me, too. Not having information available is really nice--I like not knowing things, I like not being reachable all the time."

Is there anything else you'd like to say to people about the show?

Toby Huss: "Yeah, why aren't more fuckers watching this?"

#WhyArentMoreFuckersWatchingThis

Halt and Catch Fire returns Tuesday, August 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT with two back-to-back episodes. New episodes will air in the series' regular time slot of Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT beginning Tuesday, August 30. Seasons One and Two are available on Netflix, AMC.com, Amazon, or on DVD and digital download.

Dancers in the house

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

A roving. shifting company of dance and performance artists is nudging its audiences to think about home differently -- by bringing one-off, site-specific performances to houses, live-work spaces and tiny apartments all over the Los Angeles area. Meet homeLA.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #5

The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club reading of the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons continues onwards. On this week's "Mugs, Thermoses, and Tea Cups," Ivan and Red cover Samwell I (AFFC 6), Jon II (ADWD 8), and Arya I (AFFC 7). They discuss Sam Tarly's manga collection, the Watch's method of handling managerial disputes, and the best Arya scene to not make the show.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.

Six cool things from Recomendo

Here's the new Recomendo newsletter, which has recommendations for six cool things, selected by Kevin Kelly, Claudia Lamar, and me.

APP:

I’ve had a lot of fun in the past few days playing with a new iOS app that creates a mosaic of video, still images, and sound, and into which you can also paste code to create animations and actions. They are cool post-gif loops. You then share and follow others who are creating. Still in beta, it’s called Universe. Follow me! — KK

THING:

Last year I started using a Salux Japanese Nylon washcloth (reviewed on Cool Tools), and I won’t ever go back. No other product has made me feel this clean before. It exfoliates, but it’s not as rough as some gloves or loofahs I have tried, and I use the one labeled “super hard.” — CL

WATCHABLE:

A series I am binging on is Silicon Valley. I know all these people and every detail of their lives and situations is pitch perfect right on. The producers get the tiniest details exactly right, from the technology to the mannerisms, as well as their bigger narrative. I haven’t laughed so much is ages. At the same time, it’s a remarkably fantastic advanced class in what technology companies are *really* like; whether you want to work in one, or start one: watch this series. — KK

WEBSITE:

Reddit’s Futurology subreddit features news stories that point to our future. “New antibiotic found in human nose.” “Singapore Scientists Grow Mini Human Brains.” “Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a person?” I visit it daily. — MF

GAME:

I recently bought the Junior Game Inventors Kit to build with my soon-to-be stepson. We had a lot of fun creating a board design and brainstorming “consequence" and “reward” cards. We didn’t get a chance to finish and play the game, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves. Very reasonable price for a kit that inspires creativity. — CL

SERVICE:

Truecaller is a free, ad-supported smartphone app that blocks telemarketers’ calls. When a call from a spammer comes in, your phone will display a red screen that says “Identified as Spam.” And if a telemarketer slips through, you can easily add the number to Truecaller’s database. — MF

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Formica Forever celebrates the sleek century-old material and its indestructible beauty

See more sample pages from this book at Wink.

Formica Forever
by Formica Corporation
Metropolis Books/Formica Corporation
2013, 408 pages, 6.5 x 9.4 x 1.2 inches (softcover)
$37 Buy a copy on Amazon

This handsome book on Formica is really a love letter written to itself. Formica Forever celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Formica Group with interesting histories, rich visuals, a little chemistry lesson, and cleverly excerpted quotes from literature all in a witty format designed by Pentagram. You’ll learn of Formica's origins as an industrial material developed as a synthetic electrical insulator (substituting “for mica”), its evolution to a durable and decorative finish material in ships, trains, and, most famously, its use in post-war American homes. That’s when and where the “wipe-clean world” reached its pinnacle, with Formica saving mankind from eons of grime, crud, germs and smells – and looking great, too, due to its indestructible beauty. The spectrum of colors, foils, wood grains, patterns and finishes are well represented in these gorgeous graphics. As a bit of an inside joke, the images of ads, ladies magazine photo spreads, pattern sample chips and endless uses of Formica are printed on pages that have been perforated, just like a tear-out catalog or sample book.

I’ll leave it to you to pick your favorite of all the images of Formica in action. I loved Lee Payne’s giant Neapolitan ice cream and Frank Gehry’s illuminated fish sculpture. Sprinkled throughout are short quotes (printed on the back of Formica “sample chip” cartouches) from famous authors who have used Formica in their writing: John Updike, Sue Grafton, Ian Flemming, Harlin Ellison, and Margaret Atwood. Formica is everywhere!

America's taste in kitchen countertops has largely moved on to marble, but these classic Formica ads and colorful swatches are still a treat for any fan of mid-century modern design or Americana.

17 flowers that look like something else

Here's a gallery of flowers, mainly orchids, that look like monkeys, Darth Vader, naked men, human lips, dancing girls, laughing bumble bees, swaddled babies, parrots, human skulls, flying ducks, tiger heads, happy aliens, angels, doves, ballerinas, egrets, and moths.

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Gentleman attempts to hide from police using senior citizen makeup

Police in Hyannis, Massachusetts were on the lookout for 31 year old Shaun Miller, who was wanted for drug trafficking. Officers went to a house were he was believed to be staying, and when they encountered an "elderly man" there, the "officers determined that the ‘elderly man’ was in fact Miller, and at that point, officers pulled off Miller’s realistic disguise and placed him under arrest," according to a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office.

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