On The Campaign Trail With John McAfee

The anti-virus software guy wants to be the next President of the United States.

New York City, May 5, 2016

★ Was it dark again? It was dark again. Was it raining? Did the blowing drizzle count? Was it possible even to care about whether the blowing drizzle would amount to rain? Even in the windowless bathroom the weight of the darkness seemed to be pressing down. Outside, the drizzle seemed to stop. The wind was  gusting harder than it had been gusting on other days. That was a difference, a tiny one but a real one; the pavement was genuinely dry. How small could an improvement be without becoming a mockery of an improvement? Here was the four-year-old, running furious laps through the kitchen and living room. He could go downstairs in this and burn off energy, at least, scrambling up over encrusted bird droppings to jump off the low brick wall. Someone could enjoy it a little.

You're Cooking Your Mushrooms All Wrong

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

For something so elementary, mushrooms are shockingly easy to fuck up. It is, usually, an issue of water content: you’re battling liquid leaching from a fungus while trying to cook it in oil, trying to sear or crisp or darken its outsides while its insides gush. (Remember this: crowding leads to steaming!) They rarely taste bad, of course, if you employ enough salt and fat, but you’ve had really good mushrooms before; you know these are not them. You know there’s something you’re missing. You want soft and lush and earthy and you’re only maybe seventy percent of the way there.

Enter: oil poaching. It’s a technique most commonly used to cook fish, whose delicateness benefits from gentle, low-temperature cooking. Duck confit is another classic example, albeit with a different form of fat. But oil poaching may be the easiest way to successfully make your mushrooms great, whether they’re the wallet-emptying farmers market sort or brown buttons from the bodega.

Oil poaching is often employed in Spain’s Basque country, among other places. In her new cookbook, The Basque Book, out this month from TenSpeed press, chef Alexandra Raij includes a recipe for setas confitadas—essentially confited mushrooms, poached slowly in oil until all their squeaky chew is gone.

In the recipe’s headnote, Raij explains that the Basques use this as a way to preserve wild mushrooms, whose season is short but hotly anticipated. The Basques always have large stores of oil on hand, the way cooks in the American south keep bacon fat in a recycled can next to the stove. They use and reuse their olive oil, to poach mushrooms and then potatoes, maybe, for tortilla española. They treat it with reverence but they’re never stingy. Perhaps the most important advice you’ll find in The Basque Book is this: “I strongly recommend buying oil in the largest container that makes sense for your family. You won’t be treating it as a precious thing to be used sparingly, and you’ll end up paying less if you buy it in larger quantities. Use it and then reuse it.” Oh, also: buy the good stuff.

“The good news is that with Mr. Trump heading for the general election, news organizations will get a second chance to rethink how they approach the race still to come and see how they can avoid the problems of the primaries.”
—Oh my God, THANK YOU Jim Rutenberg! With this endless parade of gray skies I worried that I would never laugh again. But, man, I will be chucking about this for days. DAYS!#

Kenneth James Gibson, 'The Evening Falls'


Normally I would use the morning’s music selection to provide you with something energizing in an effort to counteract the stultifying effects of the pervading atmosphere of torpor in which we now go about our lives, but I have come to the conclusion that there is no point. We will never see the sun again. Relieve yourself of any hope you have that things might get better; there is nothing left to you but foreboding and gloom. Also, if you are one of those people who has been bragging on Twitter about how you actually like this weather, go fuck yourself. Sit on a rusty umbrella and open it. Seriously, get the fuck out of here with your “Oh, I love the lack of light! Grim and despondent, that’s what works for me!” crap. Take your pathetic lies to one of those shitty-ass cities in the Pacific Northwest that we only hear about here when one of our fancy magazines decides to write an article about them. “But I think the rain is so beautiful!” I think you shutting the fuck up is so beautiful, okay? This weather is irredeemably awful. None of us likes it. You sicken me. Anyway, here’s a continuous mix of Kenneth James Gibson’s new album The Evening Falls. Evening, you might remember, was what we used to call the period when the sun went down, back when there was actually a sun that came up. Enjoy.

New York City, May 4, 2016

weather review sky 050416[No stars] Again the drizzly wind was blowing under the still-gray sky. The drizzle kept coming, falling on the people trudging out the door from the fire drill and around the corner and back upstairs. A tour bus went by with an inverted and broken umbrella sticking out the open top. The drizzle thickened into something more than drizzle. Passing tires dragged damp streaks along the roadway. Little puddles gathered at the curbs. Hoods went up. The clouds got darker, with more visible thick parts. Conditions would change only enough that they couldn’t be ignored or taken for granted.

None of you are grasping the deeply awful repercussion of this tweet, which is that people are now going to be making bad food jokes on the basis of stereotypes of race, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. Enjoy your timeline!

#

3D Printing The Void

572b870d8da2b164085435

Nine months ago, MakerBot’s future seemed tentatively optimistic: the company had just opened a 170,000 square foot factory in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams spoke at the factory’s grand opening, holding up a 3D-printed nut and bolt as he waxed philosophical on the virtues of “a technology that will move the entire globe.” The press release for the event proclaimed, “‘Made in Brooklyn’ will continue to be inscribed on the back of MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers for years to come.”

Last week, the company announced that it will begin closing that factory, with future production outsourced through Florida-based manufacturer Jabil and most likely offshoring to China. Johan Broer, Director of Public Relations at MakerBot, gave the transition an expected timeframe of roughly six months, saying, “we need to embrace a more flexible manufacturing model that allows us to more quickly scale production up or down.” Current trends suggest down as the more likely of the two directions: MakerBot’s parent company, Stratasys, recently released a financial report that revealed a fifty percent drop in MakerBot’s sales from 2014 to 2015.

This comes on the heels of a difficult year for the company, which severed its relationship with maverick co-founder and former CEO Bre Pettis, cycled through a revolving door of top-level leadership, and suffered two rounds of massive layoffs. Johan Broer cast these changes in an optimistic light, saying that the company had “reshuffled the team […] to position us better for the future.” It’s not difficult to read between the lines: the future looks worryingly uncertain for this once-spunky Brooklyn startup.

As the longtime poster child and one-time presumptive standard-bearer of small-scale “additive manufacturing”—the technical name for the process of 3D printing, which adds rather than strips away material—MakerBot’s rapid rise and equally blistering crash has mapped closely onto the public’s expectations of the technology. The desktop 3D industry is far from dead, but MakerBot’s difficulties are rooted in a broader contraction of the consumer market. The gatekeepers of viral tech-hype have largely stopped trumpeting consumer 3D printers as a revolutionary technology. Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the MakerBot saga, it seems like a good time to ask: what was all the hype about?

On The Campaign Trail With John McAfee

9399-07

Photos by Simon Zachary Chetrit

I was waiting in the lobby of The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel when I got a phone call from John McAfee. “Zach, I’ve decided that we’re no longer going to the Libertarian Party debate,” McAfee said in his low, Southern cadence. “It’s far too boring. Instead, we’ll be going to a strip club.” I didn’t know yet how seriously McAfee took his presidential campaign, so I grinned, stuttered a bit, and said “Okay.” There was a pause. “That was a joke,” McAfee said. “I’m sending my bodyguard down to get you.”

This was my second day with the eccentric software developer. The day before, in another hotel, booked under a different name by a third-party—McAfee is famously paranoid—we talked for an hour. He wore sunglasses the entire time and sat with his back to the wall, except for when he’d wheel his rolly chair over and jab a finger in my face to make a point. “The number one problem in the world today,” he said, “is America’s decline in its cybersecurity.” According to McAfee, we’re in a cyber war with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians, and our technology is twenty years behind.

“I think this is the greatest danger that America has ever faced,” he said gravely. “In a cyber war, the first thing we’re going to lose is our power. A month and a half ago, two fifteen-year-old boys hacked into the Ukrainian power grid. Do you think the Russians and Chinese cannot do the same thing with us? And without power, what happens? We have no power, we have no food.” McAfee’s voice rose in the middle of sentences, brimming with energy. “Half of us would survive a nuclear threat,” he said forcefully. “But no one would survive a cyber attack. No one. And if we do, we’re going to be in tatters on the street eating rats.”