Weekly output: World Central Kitchen, Mint renewal, social media vs. Trump (2x), Struum

Last Sunday feels like two weeks ago, but an attempted coup at the Capitol by a violent mob will do that to a seven-day span of time. This afternoon, I biked over to Capitol Hill and saw a changed place, locked down inside fences decorated with the occasional flower.

1/5/2021: The tech that keeps World Central Kitchen cooking in times of disaster, Fast Company

This was one of the last pieces that I filed in 2020 (unless you count today as Dec. 41, 2020). I very much enjoyed a chance to tell a story of how hard-working professionals use technology to help other people eat.

1/6/2021: Here’s Intuit’s plan to get Mint back on track after years of neglect, Fast Company

When Intuit PR got in touch in early December offering a heads-up on these changes, I thought they would involve more at the start than a rewritten iPhone app, so this post reveals a certain amount of disappointment from my perspective as a Web-first Mint user. Note that the copy you see now differs slightly from what we posted Wednesday morning, reflecting a correction of one spelling of a product manager’s name as well as a few other changes to add context about some privacy issues. (I wrote more about this post’s backstory for Patreon subscribers.)

1/7/2021: Social-media platforms limit Trump, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on (overdubbed) to talk about Facebook and Twitter moving to quarantine President Trump’s accounts.

1/7/2021: This Startup Wants To Sell You Hipster A-La-Carte Streaming TV, Forbes

The Wall Street Journal got an exclusive on the launch of a new startup called Struum, but I was able to advance the story in one way: by clarifying how you pronounce that moniker. (“Stroom” or, if you prefer diacritical marks, “Strüm.”)

1/9/2021: Social media platforms banning Trump, Al Jazeera

AJ had me back on after Twitter permanently banned Trump. The two big points I made: Twitter and other social networks may need to reconsider “world leader” policies that give more leeway for incitements to hate or violence to people with the biggest followings, and Trump can get a massive audience anytime during his last days in office by walking over to the White House Press Briefing Room.

Journalistic accountability for seditious legislators

Wednesday’s attempted coup in Washington, as clumsy and stupid as it often looked, gave my city its most frightening day since 9/11 and left our country with sights we should never unsee so we can never forget: a mob of rioters addled by Donald Trump’s lies breaking into the Capitol, attacking police officers (one of whom died Thursday), flaunting fascist and neo-Nazi imagery, prancing around with the Confederate battle flag, looting offices, and posing for sedition selfies.

Photo of the front page of the Jan. 7, 2021 Washington Post with the headline "Trump mob storms Capitol"

It’s also left us with the so-called lawmakers who, hours afterward, continued to support Trump’s attempt to stage a self-coup by somehow persuading both the House and the Senate to reject the electoral-college votes of enough states to punt the election into a state-by-state vote in the House. Eight Republican senators and 139 Republican representatives joined this doomed effort to ignore the decision of American voters as expressed in what federal officials judged the “most secure election in American history” and which dozens of state and federal court rulings upheld as properly run.

These 147 politicians–including all four of Virginia’s Republican representatives–deserve expulsion from public life for this stunt, but instead we are stuck with them until they lose an election. Which, considering some of their districts, may never happen.

Some of these people are also likely stuck in my coverage of tech policy. In particular, Sens. Ted Cruz (R.-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R.-Mo.), the duo that led Trump’s attack on democracy in the Senate, regularly figure in it for their uninformed rants about alleged social-media mistreatment of right-wing voices and dubious proposals to regulate tech companies. Hawley, who saluted pro-Trump protesters with a raised fist before they became pro-Trump rioters, also has a habit of misstating basic facts about tech policy–my introduction to him was seeing this Yale-educated lawyer lie about the plain language of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The next time those two or any of their 145 Trump-cult colleagues denounce tech companies as dangerous for democracy, do I skip past their own willingness to abandon it to keep an autocratic president in power over the will of voters? No. It would be obscene to do that.