That ‘Black Mirror’ tech bro Jesus moment was unforgivably weird

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Black Mirror is not known for subtlety.  

Most of its episodes can be boiled down to the idea that technology is dangerous in the hands of the wrong people and that most people are, in fact, the wrong people. It’s taken shots at the military industrial complex, online shaming, reality television, virtual reality, and millennials not calling their moms enough. 

Some of those episodes get their points across better than others, but Season 5’s “Smithereens” has the distinction of being the only Black Mirror episode to have no discernible point and to literally deify the CEO of a tech company. 

With “Smithereens,” the show’s previous dedication to saying something, anything about technology and/or humanity is thrown out the window in favor of an absolute clusterfuck of mismatched ideas. “Smithereens” says distracted driving is a menace and rideshares are untrustworthy. It also says social media has more of your data than the government does and privacy is only important up until you die. But the weirdest, most bizarre of “Smithereens” big points is that… tech CEOs are Jesus. 

To describe “Smithereens” simply, it’s the story of a man who really wants to make a phone call. The man is Chris, who kidnaps and threatens the life of an intern at a Twitter-like social media company named Smithereen. The phone call is to Billy Bower, the CEO of Smithereen, whom Chris blames for creating the addictive app he used before getting into a car accident a year before the episode’s events; in the accident, Chris crashed his car and killed both the drunk driver in the other vehicle as well as his own fiancée. He blames himself and Bower for the deaths, and wants a chance to tell Bower his story. 

Spoiler alert: Chris gets his call. Then “Smithereens” gets really weird. When Bower, played by the eternally affable Topher Grace, appears as a character, he’s found meditating alone at an unplugged retreat in the middle of the desert. He’s a serene, slightly neurotic presence — legs crossed, eyes closed, with a strong physical resemblance to the Western idea of skinny white Jesus.

Surely the Christlike imagery around Billy Bower, which includes his immaculate white robes, humble-looking sandals, and his man bun, is meant to lampoon him as an archetype of all-powerful titans of Silicon Valley, but Bower’s place in the story never sufficiently cross over into the satirical realm. Aside from Jaden the intern, Bower is probably the nicest guy in “Smithereens,” so his insistence on performing the miracle of communication with Chris reads as a genuinely good deed. 

Like Jesus, Bower just wanted to connect people and make the world a better place. At the end of the story, he shuts his eyes to grieve for the folly of man. By the time Bower activates “God mode” (yes, really) on his computer to get in contact with Chris, the heavy-handed comparisons are already overwrought and profoundly uncomfortable.

That’s, uh, not a great look for Black Mirror. Bower’s hippy-dippy retreat and alternative appearance remind the audience of real social media CEOs like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, who also has a documented affinity for meditation and wellness. Bower’s upset over the state of his creation also reflects current headlines about Twitter’s lack of control over the hate speech on and ubiquity of his platform. By deifying Bower in all his hand-wringing glory, “Smithereens” lets his real-life analogues off the hook for the actual bad things social media has wrought. 

That Black Mirror, which would toss social media moguls a softball appearance in its narrative, is completely bonkers. 

In case it wasn’t obvious, that’s not how any of this works. The Dorseys and Zuckerbergs of the world have a greater responsibility to the public because of what they’ve made, and with social media’s rampant data leaks, fake news problem, Nazi infestation, and potential for perils yet undreamt of by polite society, they are in reality far removed from the naive and ostensibly benevolent Billy Bower. That Black Mirror, which has so cleverly interrogated humanity’s relationship to technology, would toss social media moguls a softball appearance in its narrative, is completely bonkers. 

Because “Smithereens” refuses to skewer Bower and makes Chris, an actual criminal, the protagonist of the story, the episode proceeds without making a single point. Texting and driving sucks, but the other driver in Chris’s tragedy was drunk. Null point. Social media companies know everything about you, but Smithereen wields that terrible power to help apprehend a kidnapper. Null point. Random people around the world read the news of the episode’s final, fatal moment and seamlessly move on with their lives, but nobody gives a shit about anything in the episode. Who can blame them? Null point. 

And about that final, fatal moment — the episode goes beyond mere pointlessness and becomes pointlessly cruel with its ending. As Jaden tries to save Chris from committing suicide, a police sniper takes a shot at the car and presumably kills one or both of the occupants. Whether Chris, Jaden, or both men die is left up to audience interpretation. So the audience must interpret if a mentally ill, grieving white dude dies or the cops shoot an innocent black man. 

Because that’s what “Smithereens” needed: a coin toss where heads says “random police violence against black people” and tails says “they shot Andrew Scott.” Jesus-Bower reads the news and reacts briefly as if his heart was broken, then climbs back to his glassy desert hut to continue meditating. God closes his eyes on the people, and the episode ends. 

Even the worst Black Mirror episodes have something to say about technology, but “Smithereens” says far too many things that fail to cohere into anything resembling a takeaway. When the most salient part of Black Mirror is a hilariously misguided Jesus metaphor, there’s not much else to say about the thought or quality of the installment. 

Billy Bower does have one good idea, though: Instead of watching the nonsense that unfolds in this episode, just skip out and unplug. Man bun optional. 

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The International Space Station Is About To Become Your Next Destination Vacation

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It was only 58 years ago that Alan Shepherd became the first American to fly in space. Since then countless other astronauts have ventured out of Earth’s atmosphere, but never any private citizens—at least until now.

Sure, Richard Branson and Elon Musk have tried their darndest but space tourism still isn’t a thing. However, it might soon be thanks to NASA, which recently announced it will allow tourists to live at the International Space Station for up to thirty days at a time.

Under the plan, commercial companies will be able to lease time on the ISS. Film companies could shoot advertisements or even whole movies from space. Previously, any ISS venture needed to have an educational or research element. Now, thanks to good old fashion capitalism, all you need is money—and apparently a lot of it.

A vacation on the ISS isn’t cheap at $35,000 a night and a single trip will likely cost over $50 million. Luckily, according to The New York Times, air and water are included. Plus, at this price tag, a night in space is still $5,000 cheaper than the Royal Suite at The Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Though, NASA only plans to allow two of these commercial trips a year for up to one month at the time.

NASA administrators are also considering allowing companies to buy the naming rights to rockets so perhaps it won’t be too long before we see a McDonald’s rocketship flying Speilberg and his crew up to space to shoot a lunar version of an E.T. reboot. Before long, we can expect to see a Dunkin Donuts on every crater and a 7-Eleven on every comet.

Like I said, capitalism is great.

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In the dating game, women are pressured to play the part of a stereotypical ‘cool girl’

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Play it cool. Keep it breezy. Treat ’em mean. Don’t reply straight away. Be aloof. Be distant. Be hard to get. These are the rules you need to follow in order to be “The Cool Girl” — a prevalent dating trope that many women feel pressured to conform to lest they be labelled clingy or desperate. 

The cool girl started out as a stock character born out of male-authored literature and movies. But, the trope has since become so pervasive, the cool girl is now firmly cemented in dating culture, with no sign of disappearing anytime soon. The cool girl is no longer merely a character in a book — she is the acme of female desirability. She is the three-dimensional flesh and bone incarnation of the male fantasy. She is the rejection of the nadir of female behaviour — clinginess. And to many of us, she is a stifling behavioural standard that forces us to hide our true personalities. 

Ever since I started dating as a teenager, I have internalised the notion that I need to to feign indifference and affect cool standoffishness in order to “Get The Guy,” so to speak. Unconsciously, I carried this rule into adulthood — it manifests in my behaviour at the start of relationships, it infiltrates the advice I give to friends, and it fuels my anxiety until the mask slips and my authentic self is exposed. 

In the books I read, the films I watched, the most beguiling and intoxicating female characters were unobtainable and remote — their desirability being inextricably tethered to their silent disinterest and unattainability. Think of Eustacia Vye from Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native, Cecilia Tallis in Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Estella in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

“I kind of feel pressure from the world in general not to be who I am.”

Lately, I’ve begun questioning the suffocating pressure I feel to adopt this role whenever I start seeing someone new. Who told me I need to masquerade as someone else and to literally adopt a different personality in order to be desirable to the opposite sex? 

Writer Katie Tamola, who dates men, told me the “cool girl” ideal has been drummed into her since she was a child. “I’ve just always had people close to me tell me I need to play it cool with dudes,” she tells me. Tamola says family members and teachers have told her to “stop being so emotional and expressive” — especially with men. 

“I kind of feel pressure from the world in general not to be who I am,” Tamola says. “I’ve always been emotional and immensely passionate about things. I often find myself wishing I could be the calmer, cooler version of a girl that I see portrayed in media.”

Student Alex C. (who prefers not to disclose her full name) tells me that “attempting to be the “cool girl” doesn’t just apply to heterosexual dating.” 

“I constantly feel this pressure as a gay woman dating women,” she says. “It definitely seems to be the case that the person who is the least interested and most aloof holds the most power, and will get hurt less if things go south.

“I believe some of the pressure also comes from trying to avoid the lesbian U-Haul stereotype where women get serious way too quickly because nobody is putting on the brakes,” she says. 

Alex explains that she now tempers her expectations and holds herself back from expressing the full extent of her feelings. “It’s a shame dating has come to this because how can anybody feel really excited about a date or know if someone is really interested in them when we’re all suppressing those feelings?”

“The person who is the least interested and most aloof holds the most power.”

The cool girl is everywhere. She’s in the books we read, she’s on our TV and movie screens, she’s in the dating advice we give and receive. From every angle, the pop culture we consume solidifies the cool girl ideal as the zenith of feminine desirability. Perhaps one of the best descriptions of this trope can be found in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Flynn’s summation of this trope hits the nail bang on the head: “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot.”

Dr. Stacy Gillis — senior Lecturer in 20th century literature and culture at Newcastle University —believes the cool girl is rooted in “how women are discursively positioned within patriarchal structures of power.” Gillis views this trope as related to a “predator-prey conquest model” whereby the cool girl is unobtainable until she’s conquered by the right man. “It’s about unattainability, but with the hint that you will be able to be attained,” says Gillis. “With the promise that with the right man, he will be able to break down this woman’s barriers.” 

Research into the ways in which women present themselves on dating apps can also shed some light on the pressures women still face to conform to certain behavioural ideals. Siân Brooke, DPhil researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, has conducted research into how women present themselves on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. 

“‘Coolness’ or ‘being cool’ is a trope that is gendered and often racialised,” Brooke tells me over email. “When used to describe women, ‘coolness’ refers to the adoption of typically masculine ideals of behaviour, such as a liking football or gaming.” Brooke believes the cool girl is a rejection of an antithetical feminine dating stereotype: the clingy woman. 

The 'cool girl' isn't just a fictional stereotype. Women feel pressured to play this role when they're dating.

Image: vicky leta / mashable

“A particularly prevalent idea is that women are ‘clingy,’ which was quite common in research I have conducted both on dating apps and memes,” says Brooke. Clinginess is, per Brooke, a gendered term which pertains to “excessive emotional dependence” — an “undesirable” behaviour in dating culture. 

“Clingy is not just attachment but is specifically associated with men complaining about a woman’s  behaviour and perceived excessive need for attention,” says Brooke. The negative connotations of being branded “clingy” may, according to Brooke, cause some women to choose to act “distant and removed” from a potential partner. “The negative association of feminine behaviour can lead women to adopt masculine traits that they see as making them more desirable in dating, where so-called feminine behaviour is often demonised.”

Brooke says during her research she found that women who use dating apps often choose to feature a selection of images that exhibit common cool girl attributes. “My research has shown that women will populate the images they have on their profiles with items they believe show ‘coolness,’ such as engaging in physical activities in photos where they aren’t ‘made up’ (i.e. hair and makeup),” she says.

So, where does this ideal actually come from? Male-authored female literary characters have historically embodied characteristics like aloofness and unattainability. They are often troubled and in need of taming. Gillis says this trope can be found in popular fiction at the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, but it may well go further back than that. 

“I can certainly think of a few instances of it appearing in 1860s sensation fiction, and this is a longstanding discursive structure,” says Gillis. “It’s very seductive, women are coercively interpolated into feeling that this is how they need to be in order to attract male attention. 

“It’s that distancing come hither look, you see this being written about in popular fiction in the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century, and invariably those women in those narratives end up married,” Gillis continues. “It’s an inversion of the Rochester-Darcy model except that there’s no agency for women behind it because it’s still located within patriarchal structures.”

“We become supplicants, we want the male gaze to come at us so we’ll do whatever it takes.”

Things have arguably moved on a little in society since the 19th century, so why is it that women still feel pressured to adhere to an outmoded concept of female attractiveness? Gillis believes this comes from a “desire to be desired within the patriarchy.” 

“If there’s only certain ways in which you can be desired within the heteronormative patriarchy then you’re inculcated into this position,” says Gillis. “This is how we — as minorities in a patriarchy — are interpolated into these positions whereby we become supplicants, we want the male gaze to come at us so we’ll do whatever it takes.”

In my own infuriating experience, I feel a kind of damned-if-you-do predicament when faced with my desire to rail against this archetype. “The thing is, though,” a female friend recently said with a grimace. “Being the cool girl actually works.” She’s right, in a way. Women are continuously told that this behaviour model works, that it’s a tried and tested trick of the trade, one that you can deviate from at your own risk. 

So, how do we go about dismantling this stereotype? Gillis hypothesises that queer popular culture has the power to upturn these stereotypes that are still a source of pressure for women. “‘Queer popular culture’ is a space in which there’s a playfulness to these tropes and roles, they’re seen as something you can move in and out of,” she says.

“Any stereotype can be dismantled, it doesn’t happen overnight. The challenges to this come from Young Adult and LGBTQ fiction which mocks these longstanding romance traditions.”

In the meantime, I’ve made a vow to avoid playing the cool girl when I’m dating. I can no longer pretend to be someone I’m not just so I can fulfil a rigid stereotype of female attractiveness. I am not the cool girl, nor will I ever be. Take it or leave it.

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Is A5 Olive Wagyu Really Worth $240/Pound? These Guys Try Three Types Of Rare Kobe Beef To See If The Hype Is Real

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A5 Wagyu Beef

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I’m a bit of a ‘meal chaser’ when it comes to rare and over-the-top dishes. I’m not trying to brag at all here, it’s just something I enjoy, eating at a few of the world’s best restaurants each year and sampling the dishes they’re best known for.

I’ve eaten at most of the top steakhouses in NYC but I guess that’s a pretty subjective statement because everyone has their own interpretation of what the best steakhouse in New York is. I have been fortunate enough to sample Wagyu beef on multiple continents. But one cut of beef I’ve yet to taste is the A5 Olive Wagyu.

The ‘Holy Grail of Steak Sandwiches‘ in NYC will run you $85 and is made with the rare A5 Miyazaki wagyu beef but that’s got nothing on this A5 Olive Wagyu if you’re into heavily marbled beef and super high-fat content.

The first time I heard of A5 Olive Wagyu available in America was about a year ago thanks to CrowdCow. Since then, I’ve been wondering if the hype is real. The video team from CNBC went to sample cuts of American Wagyu ($82/pound), Japanese A5 Wagyu ($170/pound), and the rarest of them all, A5 Olive Wagyu. The goal was to see if the hype is real and what they found was actually somewhat on par with what I’d expect.

At $240/pound, you’d be crazy to order a 16oz (full 1-pound) steak unless you were dining out with the express purpose of spending money. The good news is that you REALLY don’t need a full pound of this beef to enjoy it. According to this clip, the overwhelming fat content actually becomes too much after just a few bites.

Now if you want to try A5 Olive Wagyu for yourself then you can do so by either finding a restaurant which serves it or you can pick up individual A4 or A5 Olive Wagyu steaks (or buy in bulk) on Crowd Cow. They are NOT CHEAP but you already knew that.

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Science says empathy is a skill. Here are 5 ways to get better at it

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Empathy is one of those words that, in 2019, can force a person to confront dueling sides of their humanity. 

On one hand, you might identify as an empathetic person, open to feeling another person’s pain. You may worry that we’re losing our capacity as a species to care for strangers amidst intense and sometimes violent political, social, and cultural polarization. Then again, the prospect of empathizing with, say, racists and neo-Nazis who get flattering news coverage is a line you’re unwilling to cross. Perhaps, even if you still believe in empathy, there are just moments when you see someone in need and, for whatever reason, can’t muster a compassionate response.

In other words, trying to be an empathetic person feels at turns gratifying, exasperating, and exhausting. Jamil Zaki, author of the new book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, totally gets it. 

Zaki, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, has studied empathy for the past 15 years, grappling with its many complexities along the way. But a few years ago, Zaki began feeling that people seemed increasingly ready to surrender empathy in favor of anger, judgment, and tribal loyalty. His new book is a scientific exploration of how we can short-circuit that impulse and instead embrace empathy as a skill to be honed.

“The overarching technique is empowering people and getting them to realize the fact that even though empathy is difficult, it doesn’t mean they’re hopeless,” says Zaki. 

While Zaki says The War for Kindness isn’t a self-help manual, it does contain practical insights about how to cultivate and maintain empathy over time. 

No matter how you struggle with empathy, these 5 strategies can help: 

1. Understand that empathy is a skill, not a fixed trait. 

Though humans do inherit a genetic predisposition toward empathy and generosity, Zaki says it’s a mistake to believe that one’s capacity for both traits are permanently stuck at a certain level. In fact, research shows that our experiences influence our empathy. 

Children whose parents display that characteristic tend to show more concern for strangers, act more generously toward classmates, and are more able to perceive others’ emotions compared to children their own age. Meanwhile, causing people pain can make it harder for someone to care about others, but those who experience suffering often become more empathetic. 

The bottom line, says Zaki, is that experiences can boost or decrease a person’s empathy. 

2. Increase your contact with “outsiders.”

This strategy might seem obvious to anyone who’s ever heard a literature professor or actor talk about the virtues of seeing life through someone else’s eyes, but research does indicate that people who spend more time with “outsiders” — those who belong to different groups than you do — harbor less prejudice. Zaki argues that you can practice this by literally getting to know folks outside your peer and social group and seeking out fiction and non-fiction stories that allow you to take a “mental trip” into someone else’s world. 

There are, however, important caveats to keep in mind. Zaki doesn’t believe empathizing with someone means condoning or approving their behavior, actions, or views. Additionally, the act of establishing contact with an outsider — particularly if you’re someone who is perceived as holding more social and political power — can be exhausting for them. 

“People from majority or high-power groups often walk away from these sit-downs with a warmer view of the other side,” writes Zaki. “Minority or low-power individuals, though, often don’t. They already understand the majority’s perspective, because they have to in order to survive.” 

One researcher who studies this dynamic found that programs meant to increase contact, and therefore empathy, were most effective when they “reversed the existing power structure, rather than ignored it,” writes Zaki. 

For example, when the researcher paired Mexican immigrants and white Americans for a storytelling exercise, the Mexican participants felt better about their white counterparts when they could play the role of “sender,” which meant sharing their hardships and hearing their partner summarize them. When the white participants acted as the sender, however, their attitudes about Mexican immigrants improved but their counterparts felt worse. 

So if you’re considering in-person contact as a means of increasing empathy, try to avoid replicating hierarchies that can make someone an outsider in the first place. This can mean listening  in order to understand the other person’s experiences rather than focusing on sharing your own.  

One way to assess your own self-awareness, says Zaki, is to ask yourself why you’re pursuing a certain social interaction. If you’re only hoping to feel like a good person at the end of it, it’s unlikely you’re genuinely open to the experience. 

3. Practice self-compassion. 

“I’m not arguing that empathy is the cure-all or even the right state to be all the time,” says Zaki. “The optimal version of human empathy is not one in which we feel everyone’s pain all the time and deplete ourselves into nothingness.”  

“I’m not arguing that empathy is the cure-all or even the right state to be all the time.”

Such declarations might come as a relief to people who feel guilty when their empathy ebbs and flows. Zaki worries that such shame can actually diminish our desire to feel for others. Instead, he champions self-compassion, which not only provides a tool to modulate empathy as necessary, but also makes it easier to express that emotion. 

That self-compassion can be cultivated through meditation. When Zaki visits a neonatal intensive care unit to see how the hospital staff cope with unthinkable losses, he notes that one caring nurse, who practices meditation to stay grounded in her own reality, uses the mantra, “This is not my tragedy.” 

Though research on such “empathy tuning” techniques is in its early stages, Zaki believes that being able to mediate one’s emotions is key to sustaining high levels of empathy over long periods or in demanding circumstances. 

4. Use the internet wisely. 

Zaki wants readers to realize that people are constantly pushed and pulled toward or away from empathy thanks to forces beyond their awareness. You can definitely count the internet among some of the most powerful of those factors, which Zaki says can amplify actions and behaviors we aren’t proud of.  

In some cases, the internet can enhance empathy by bringing people into contact with outsiders and their stories, or by helping people build caring connections amongst each other. In other instances, the internet can quickly shred those relationships by elevating discourse and commentary that prompt a vicious cycle of outrage. 

While anger may be warranted and appropriate in plenty of situations, the internet’s persuasive design takes advantage of those instincts with its scrolling features, notifications, and instant feedback. If you feel increasingly ready to engage people in what effectively become digital shouting matches, and find it harder to stay silent or reflect before commenting, chances are the way you’re using the internet is affecting your ability to empathize.  

5. Help build empathetic systems. 

Zaki says that people can channel their empathy into efforts to build “kind systems.” This can mean changing workplaces and public institutions by focusing on ways to make kindness an expectation that’s officially recognized and even rewarded. For example, Zaki highlights a police training program in Washington State that teaches cadets how to act fairly, and he describes how dozens of schools have adopted a “kindness curriculum” for their classrooms. 

“We are not merely individuals fighting to empathize in a world of cruelty.”

“We are not merely individuals fighting to empathize in a world of cruelty,” he writes. “We are also communities, families, companies, teams, towns, and nations who can build kindness into our culture, turning it into people’s first option. We don’t just respond to norms; we create them.”

Such an approach also recognizes that individual empathy can only go so far, and Zaki believes it’s no replacement for fixing big, structural problems like inequality. 

While there are limits to what empathy can achieve, Zaki also knows we can’t abandon it altogether. 

“If we do give up on it,” he says, “we’ll have lost something more than what we could gain through most political victories.” 

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Become a Stadia “founder” with our first collection of games

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Stadia is our game platform that uses different elements of Google technology, from our data centers to our hardware. It brings together people playing games and watching games, and lets you do it from wherever you are. Today we’re announcing the first collection of games coming to Stadia, and we’ll continue to add to this list later this summer.

You can now pre-order the Stadia Founder’s Edition at the Google Store—a limited number are available, so if you want to be one of our “founders,” be sure to get it before it’s gone. The Founder’s Edition packs nearly $300 of value into just $129.99 and includes:

  • A Chromecast Ultra
  • A limited-edition Night Blue Stadia Controller
  • Three months of Stadia Pro (more on that below)
  • A three month Buddy Pass to bring one friend along for the ride
  • Dibs on selecting a Stadia Name
Stadia Founder's Edition

The Founder’s Edition gives our first set of fans the highest quality gaming experience—you’ll get Stadia Pro and the ability to play your favorite games across multiple screens (for those of you with a 4K TV and Stadia Pro,  you’ll get up to 4K HDR resolution at 60 frames per second with 5.1 surround sound). Stadia Pro will include free content, as well as discounts on titles you buy. The first free title is “Destiny 2,” and it comes with the base game, all previous add-ons, the upcoming Shadowkeep expansion and the annual pass. And after your free 3-month subscription ends, Stadia Pro is only $9.99 per month.

If you want to pick up an extra controller for multiplayer games, for your laptop or just to keep a spare in your backpack, they come in three colors—Just Black, Clearly White or Wasabi—for $69.99. You’ll be able to access Stadia at launch this November in 14 countries: U.S., Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K.—and we’re working to expand to additional countries in 2020.

And if you don’t need 4K quality resolution, you can still play your favorite games on virtually any screen with instant access and no downloads, updates, or patches. Coming in 2020, Stadia Base is how you will play games you purchase in up to 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second without an active subscription to Stadia Pro. Stadia Founder’s Edition is the first way to get Stadia in November, and we’ll be announcing even more games later this summer. Please visit stadia.com/faq or tweet us @GoogleStadia if you have any questions—we’d love to hear from you.

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How to Quit Your Job

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Human ResourceAdvice for navigating the modern workplace. Send your career-related questions to humanresource@lifehacker.com.  

You’re ready to move on, and it’s time to break the news to the boss. What’s the proper protocol for going out on the right note?

Dear Human Resource,

I have decided to start looking for a new job, but I have one burning question. My direct boss works in a different part of the state than I do, and I only see him about once a month because of travel times.

When I do get a new position, if it’s after I have seen my boss for that month, what is the best way to handle giving notice? Do I interoffice my resignation letter, or is email acceptable?

Actually, I suspect your best bet is to use the phone.

To explain why, I need to address quitting decorum more broadly. Your dilemma touches on the basic questions that have to be sorted out in a wide variety of quitting situations.

Think ahead

First, what is your preferred future relationship to this employer? If you are quitting in a rage over shabby treatment and offensively bad management and hope never again to cross paths with any of these sorry bastards, then, sure, shoot off an email. And try to restrain yourself from smashing office equipment as you storm out.

Even then, bear in mind that you might cross paths with one of these sorry bastards some day whether you want to or not. That’s why I’m not a fan of the nasty kiss-off resignation letter. However cathartic that genre may be, it will likely have zero impact, and risks branding you as a malcontent.

It doesn’t sound like you have any ax to grind. So if you are explicitly counting on a good reference from this boss/employer in the future, it’s best to as respectful about the process as possible.

In general I’d say: Giving notice in person is more respectful than doing so over the phone, the phone is more respectful than a letter, a letter is more respectful than an email, and please don’t text a resignation. It’s possible that some kind of video call option might fit in here somewhere, but unless that’s a really routine part of company culture, I’d skip that; it’s just too fussy a process. (N.B.: There may be exceptions to this ranking that depend on timing; see below.)

Finally, think about whether you are actually open to, say, a counter-offer from your current employer. If so, you’re definitely better off breaking your news orally.

Timing is everything

The other big factor in your situation is more related to when than how. In every case I can think of, management will want to know as soon as possible that you’ll be leaving, so they can get busy replacing you.

And if this situation were reversed, wouldn’t this be your top priority, too? I once had an out-of-town client wait until I made an annual in-person visit to inform me my contract was being dropped—a decision they’d made at least a month earlier. They seemed ever so proud of themselves for bravely breaking it to me in person. I would much rather have known sooner, by any medium necessary.

So as you suggest, you certainly don’t want to wait until this manager visits again. But a phone call is both personal and more or less immediate. If you want, you can also send a formal resignation letter, and tell your boss it’s coming through interoffice mail. But unless your company has a policy about this, that letter is more for your records than for your employer. So just stick to the relevant facts, and keep it short.

Of course, there’s a caveat to all this: While your employer wants as much notice as possible, you might prefer tighter timing for reasons of your own. I’ll address that issue below. But this basic framework ought to guide you whether you’re keeping it to a strict two weeks, or giving extra notice.

Update: On Giving Notice—And Getting Fired

A few weeks back, when I answered a question from someone who reported giving two months’ notice and was promptly terminated, some squabbling broke out in the comments.

“Why would you ever give 60 days’ notice?” one reader demanded. “Two weeks is industry standard for professionals and non-professionals. If I was the employer, I would ask the employee why. Are they only half-serious about quitting?”

This is a reasonable question! And multiple perspectives were offered in the comments, from suggesting that sometimes this professional courtesy is appropriate, to insisting that it’s crazy to give anything beyond the minimum notice, since that’s how your employer would likely treat you in the reverse situation: “The company will not give you 60 seconds notice when you’re being down-, right- or out-sized,” as another reader put it.

I generally lean in the latter direction: Stick to the minimum. When workers give too much notice, it’s often because they overestimate their own indispensability, and underestimate how unpleasant a drawn-out goodbye can be. Let go and move on.

That said, the reader who wrote in with that question dropped me a line after reading the comments. “I’m a doctor in a rare medical specialty,” she explained, “and 60 days’ notice is considered standard” in the field. Fair enough. It’s usually a good idea to hew to the standard procedure, no more and no less.

Meanwhile, she also had an update on her general situation (which involved a dispute over unemployment benefits). “I started a new job April 1st, and I’m really happy with my new circumstances,” she reports. “I’m choosing to just let the whole unemployment situation go and move forward with a clear head.”

I always advocate spending more effort on fixing the future rather than obsessing over injustices of the past. So this sounds like a happy conclusion to me!

Send your work-world questions to humanresource@lifehacker.com. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

 

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The Ferrari Aliante Barchetta was designed for lovers of nostalgia

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It’s difficult to find a car in 2019 that has a complete fuel-powered drive, with a manual gearbox and no electronic driving aids. Looking at the glorious past for inspiration, the conceptual Aliante Barchetta (Italian for gliding boat) is a taste of fond Ferrari glory of the yesteryears. In the modern age, the Aliante Barchetta is designed for nostalgic petrolheads, with a naturally aspirated flat 12 engine with independent throttle bodies, manual gearbox, and the absence of any electronic driving aids. However, it takes on a classic-meets-contemporary approach on the outside, with a couple of cues taken from Ferrari and Pininfarina’s design language through the 2000s, and a complete departure from the edgy, faceted design language of modern-day supercars. The Aliante Barchetta comes with a carbon fibre monocoque with integrated seats, big scoops, no doors, no windows and no roof. Designed by a supercars-of-the-heyday fanatic, the conceptual 2019 Aliante Barchetta clearly is a hat-tip to the glory of automotive design from the good old days… and as designer Daniel Soriano rather eloquently states his design brief, “Modern hipsters will hate it”.

Designer: Daniel Soriano

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Kodak Launches a Blockchain-Enabled Document Management System

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Kodak’s pivot to blockchain is coming into focus as the legacy camera brand announced its new blockchain-based document management system at a two-day conference in Rochester, New York. Unlike previous Kodak-blockchain announcements, Kodak Document Management Platform is not under license to a third-party and is an actual Kodak product.

The platform, launched under the name Kodak Services for Business, is intended for businesses and governments to store and manage sensitive documents. Kodak Document Management Platform relies on blockchain to provide efficiency and security, according to the company.

The company also claims that the blockchain platform will lead to 20-40% cost savings through automated workflows and decreased human management of content, information, and documents.

Kodak’s beginnings as an information solutions provider can be traced to a 2013 statement, which said the firm “has transformed into a technology company focused on imaging for business.” To that end, “Kodak serves customers with disruptive technologies and breakthrough solutions for the product goods packaging, graphic communications and functional printing industries.”

Taking that message and running with it in recent years, Kodak has embraced blockchain technologies or at least lent its name to companies involved in such schemes.

In January 2018, a third-party licensed the Kodak brand name for KODAKCoin, which was designed to work with a blockchain developed to track image copyrights online. Following the initial announcement, Kodak’s stock price jumped from $3.10 to a high of $13.28 the next day in heavy trading.

Between the project announcement and launch, polarized voices proclaimed the move as either a great reinvention for a 130-old firm, or just another scam. Ultimately, the currency was delayed– a day before the planned ICO — though the project is still under development with a scheduled July 1, 2019 launch.

“In light of the increased worldwide regulatory interest in ICOs, RYDE Holding, Inc. is taking the necessary measures to ensure that our offerings comply with all applicable securities and other laws,” the parent firm said.

Though the coin is not yet trading, RYDE Holdings in conjunction with ICOx Innovations has built the database of image rights under Eastman Kodak’s name. KODAKOne has reportedly generated more than $1 million in licensing claims — while in beta — by photographers who had monetized their work.

“Kodak is synonymous with trust and quality,” said Alejandro Castano from IKNO Colombia, in a statement.

Eastman Kodak’s current stock price is $2.30. Despite Kodak’s baptism by fire into the world of digital assets, smart contracts, and blockchain the company’s stock is up on announcement. (Kodakcoin is still defunct.)

Kodak image via Shutterstock

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