2016's last few pieces of reading

Sunday is the worst possible day for a holiday. I suspect many people have been celebrating the back-to-back three day weekends, but the combination of the random days off and the slow week in between has played havoc with my schedule. My writing hasn’t been a total bust — Woden worker Moriah Kofsky had the great idea for everyone on our team to do a year-end “best of” reading list. And while I haven’t been posting, I’ve still been reading (this past week notwithstanding):

Philly’s Halal truck boom
I eat from the Halal cart more than any other lunch place. Terrible as the beloved white sauce might be for me, you can not beat $5 for a heaping plate of lamb, rice, salad, and a soda. I had always assumed the ubiquitous carts were owned by some shady conglomerate, but the real story of their migration from New York City and independent nature is far more riveting.

Start-up culture is killing real entrepreneurship
A few months ago, I posted an article from MIT about how businesses designed to be ongoing concerns were declining. This article from the Telegraph lays the blame squarely at the feet of startup culture: more companies are beginning purely for the purpose of a quick exit, without any consideration to building a viable businesses. The glamor of building a company quickly and selling it for millions of dollars is distracting people from the more practical goal of creating a self-sustaining business, something which is both more realistic and more valuable to the economy.

Star Wars killed a universe to save the galaxy
The greatest gift of the original trilogy was not the three movies of canon: it was the expanded adventures they inspired in legions of fans everywhere. By setting the Star Wars films in a wider universe with one-off references to unseen events, it encouraged fandom to create their own backstories to explain these events. And by embracing these fan-driven stories as canon, Lucasfilm encouraged this improvisation and kept the Star Wars brand alive even in the absence of new films. That left Disney with the unfortunate need to kill off the entire expanded universe if they were going to make room for a Marvel-style shared film world. 

Sinbad’s awesome genie movie
Ah, the power of false collective memory. Apparently there is a huge community of people who are absolutely convinced (despite his own protestations) Sinbad starred as a genie in a mid-90’s kids movie. 

Apple is losing its focus again
And Steve Jobs isn’t here to fix it. The new MacBook line has been beyond depressing (especially single I wanted to upgrade), and it’s weird to consider that the fastest-growing line of Apple products are dongles and connectors. Great companies do a few things, and deliver on them exceptionally well. Apple has wandered off into a strange realm where it seems to be desirous of being all things to all people — at the risk of losing the focus and lack of compromise that once made it great.

Democrats need to win elections
The aftermath of the 2016 election has been stunning in the Democratic Party’s willingness to absolve itself of absolutely all blame related to losses. As many fingers get pointed at the Russians or James Comey, the fact is no one forced the Democrats to nominate the most unpopular, corrupt presidential candidate possible without any competition. The party has been getting wiped off the map at all levels by the GOP, yet has kept all their congressional leadership in place, rejects the need for a modified message, and instead has determined their efforts are best spent trying to flip electors to defect from Trump. FiveThirtyEight rolls in with the blunt truth here: Democrats need to win elections, especially at the local level, and should prioritize that over all else.