I think I’m done with the Pebble Co. pocket notebooks.

I am barely halfway through the first of the two Pebble Stationery Co. pocket notebooks, and I have already had to tape the spine where it has started to split:

taped up notebook

I really wanted to like this notebook, but I will not be buying any more of them. I likely will not even be using the other one I already have.

My use-case for pocket notebooks is to carry one around in my back pocket for jotting down random thoughts and ideas that occur to me throughout the day. I generally use a fountain pen for writing in them, but also sometimes a Uni-Ball Micro 0.5mm pen, or failing that, whatever random pen or pencil happens to be lying around.

Besides the spine-taping, I have run into a few other problems with the Pebble Co. notebooks, mostly due to their use of Tomoe River paper. This paper is usually great, but I have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely the wrong choice for my use-case. The main problem is that, due to its sheen, the ink takes longer to dry. That is usually not a problem, but when I am taking a quick note, I don’t want to have to wait to close the notebook and put it back in my pocket.

The other problem is how the pages are. When I pull the notebook out of my pocket, I want to be able to flip immediately to the next blank page and start writing. With this notebook, I find that I have to carefully turn each page and that they often stick together.

These gripes seem petty and very particular as I write them. However, they happen nearly every time I use the notebook, generally 10-15 times per day, and the aggravation adds up.

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Paul Waldman:

To that end, here are just some of the most important things that have become clear, laid out as simply as I can:

  • The Russian government very much wanted Donald Trump to win the 2016 election, and in order to make it happen they mounted a comprehensive effort that involved both social media manipulation and the hacking of Democratic email accounts.

  • As a result of this investigation, five Trump aides—his national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, a foreign policy adviser, and his personal lawyer—have been convicted or pled guilty to crimes. Dozens of Russian nationals have been indicted for their part in the scheme to help Trump get elected.  

  • On the campaign trail, Donald Trump publicly implored Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That very day, they attempted to do so, without apparent success.

  • Russia did, however, successfully obtain emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, which it released through Wikileaks to coincide with key events in the campaign to maximize the assistance it would provide the Trump campaign. In the last month of the campaign, Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in public, drawing maximal attention to the Russian government’s efforts.

  • While Trump was running for president, he was pursuing a spectacularly lucrative hotel deal in Moscow. He lied about it repeatedly, claiming he had no business interests in Russia; when the lie was discovered, he said, “There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?” At the same time as he was pursuing this deal, Trump called for cuts to U.S. sanctions on Russia.

  • When Trump’s son Don Jr. was approached by an acquaintance suggesting a meeting with a group of Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” he eagerly agreed and assembled Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to join in.

  • When the infamous Trump Tower meeting was revealed, Trump personally dictated a false statement about it to deceive the public, claiming it was for the purpose of discussing adoption of Russian children. When that lie was discovered, he claimed that “most people would have taken that meeting,” which is false.

  • During the campaign and transition, “Donald J. Trump and at least 17 campaign officials and advisers had contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries,” adding up to over 100 contacts in all.

  • According to former FBI director James Comey, President Trump asked him to go easy on Michael Flynn, who was being investigated for lying to FBI agents about Russia. Trump later told both Lester Holt of NBC News and the Russian ambassador and foreign minister that he fired Comey in order to make the Russia investigation disappear. (“I faced great pressure because of Russia,” he told the Russians. “That’s taken off.”)

  • Trump reportedly also asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene with the FBI to quash the investigation of Flynn.

  • Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the almost universally accepted conclusion that Russia attacked our electoral process in order to help him become president, most vividly at a shocking press conference in Helsinki in which he took Vladimir Putin’s denials at face value.

The fact that Mueller decided not to pursue a prosecution of the president changes none of this.

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Josh Marshall:

On the broader question of the 2016 election, we need to see the report. Based on the publicly available information, the President betrayed his country and serially lied about his involvement with Russia and his knowledge about the Russian interference campaign. We know that despite all denials, throughout the campaign the President was trying to land a multi-hundred million dollar real estate deal that required the assistance of the President of Russia, one that required the end of sanctions. We know his campaign manager was handing over campaign data to a man the FBI judged was a Russian intelligence asset. We know his campaign had a back channel to Wikileaks and appears to have coordinated the timing of the leaks. We know that his top campaign officials had numerous contacts with Russian officials and intermediaries offering campaign assistance and welcomed the assistance. Finally, we know the transition worked with Russia to undermine the sanctions intended to punish the interference campaign.

By any standard, simply these known facts are profoundly damning and constitute a massive national betrayal. The Trump campaign knew about, profited from and encouraged Russian assistance. Putin also appears to have been dangling a massive payoff in front of him the whole time. Russia helped Trump; Trump helped Russia; they were in contact via intermediaries throughout the campaign.

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Luke’s “Who are you?” questions to Rey remind me of Ambassador Kosh.
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I’m glad to see more museums refusing to take the Sacklers’ money.

You know who should take the Sacklers’ money? The US government.

The Sackler fortune should be confiscated and used to finance a massive treatment and recovery program for the millions of people affected by the opioid epidemic.

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This shop is a dangerous place:

Typewriter shop

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Joe Rogan’s podcast is an essential platform for freethinkers who hate the left.:

We are living in the dumbest period of modern American history, where our centering institutions have destabilized, our governing social norms seem unenforceable, and our fast-food restaurants routinely insult one another on Twitter. Into this breach have stepped myriad articulate charlatans, aggro-provocateurs, and other confident dullards who seek to capitalize on the end of authority by using the internet to proclaim their own truths. Their goal is to convince the world’s least-informed people that they are actually the most-informed people, and they are very good at their jobs.

These grifters, who include the president of the United States, profit by obscuring facts for personal gain. They are working an angle, all of them: the health gurus and conspiracy theorists, the life hackers peddling easy solutions to difficult problems, the IDW stalwarts who sneer at “PC culture” and “identity politics” as a means of reassuring cisgender white males that they are not and have never been the problem.

I have never listened to Rogan’s podcast, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of Peters’ characterization.

However, I agree completely with his description of our current era, and particularly of the prolific word-salad dilettantes who clutter up the media, online forums, and our public discourse in general. These are the people who show up in friends-of-friends’ Facebook discussions spewing bile and obnoxiousness, and then try to laugh it off with “I’m just putting the info out there”-style defenses and then disappear when more sensible people pile on.

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We did it!

Front page of the Recorder

My town’s library is 112 years old and we are in dire need of a new building. Plans for a replacement have been in the works since the mid-1990s.

We now have a $10 million grant from the state of Massachusetts to cover half the cost, and after much consternation and activism by the community, the City Council finally voted last night to authorize the borrowing authority necessary to accept the grant.

This is a huge deal for my town, and I am super-excited about it.

For anyone interested in the details, you can read more over on my other site.

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The social platforms’ claims about the benefits of connection and scale are bullshit. These companies need to be broken up.

Opinion | We’re Asking the Wrong Questions of YouTube and Facebook After New Zealand – The New York Times:

The volume of the uploads is staggering — for what it says about the power of the platforms and our collective desire to share horrific acts of violence. How footage of the murder of at least 50 innocent people was broadcast and distributed globally dredges up some deeply uncomfortable questions for the biggest social networks, including the existential one: Is the ability to connect at such speed and scale a benefit or a detriment to the greater good?

That question is easy to answer. The ability to connect at speed and scale is a clear detriment to the greater good.

We need to find ways to break up platforms like Facebook, Google, and YouTube. I am skeptical that it is possible to break them up in the traditional way, despite plausible arguments that they are monopolistic.

The best bet is probably via data privacy laws and regulations. Giving users explicit and unequivocal ownership of their personal data and the use thereof might introduce enough friction to break the business models of these companies and kill them off.

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