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Archive for Current Events – Page 2

A New Era of Colbert

Tonight is the night! Stephen Colbert takes the reins of The Late Show, marking another impressive feat in an already extraordinary career trajectory. From The Daily Show personality (seriously how many successful careers has that program launched?) to insufferable pundit caricature on The Colbert Report, Mr. Colbert has cemented himself as one of the premier individuals in entertainment—and his legend will only continue to grow.

If you’ve never seen Stephen Colbert eviscerating Bill O’Reilly in this interview—in character, mind you—do yourself a favor and take a couple of minutes to watch. Colbert’s comedic genius is on full display, demonstrating comedic timing and irony that had even O’Reilly’s production team stifling laughter. Or if you’ve got a bit longer, take a look at Colbert headlining the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, delivering a blistering critique of the Bush Administration—to the Bush Administration. It’s 25 minutes of politically salient discomfort.

On The Late Show, Colbert may not need the laser-guided wit and rhetorical devices that launched his infamy on The Report, but he has shown his prowess as an adept and engaging interviewer in other arenas. Frankly, that’s got to be a relief. Masquerading as an exaggerated politico for over a decade had to be mentally exhausting, so the traditional desk-coffee-couch format has to be a relief. But it will also be a test of Colbert’s chops once he sheds the over-the-top persona.

Will America be as receptive to a toned down Colbert? Will the audience be a bit reticent, longing for the “truthiness” of the Colbert of legend? Will he find some way to incorporate “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger?”

It will be an interesting pivot, that’s for sure, but if anyone can make it work—and make it feel seamless—it’s Stephen Colbert.

Fallout From the Ashley Madison Breach

Ashley Madison, the website designed to connect people seeking an affair, was hacked in July—but the scope of the fallout is just now starting to take shape. The details of over 33 million accounts were released to the web—including email addresses, credit card information and IP addresses—and individuals combing through the data are finding some interesting names. From Josh Duggar to Orlando’s own State’s Attorney and Casey Anthony prosecutor Jeff Ashton, some highly visible individuals have been snared in the Ashley Madison leak.

Just more bigwigs who don’t understand the concept that everything you do online can be tracked and monitored, and there’s a chance that information you’d rather keep behind closed doors will end up on front pages.

In a year’s span that included two celebrity photo leaks and a litany of stars being exposed for inappropriate behavior on social media, you would think that these high profile people would conduct themselves in a much more guarded manner online.

Are they operating out of hubris? An overestimation of Internet security? Ignorance? I suppose it does not matter. When sites like Ashley Madison are hacked and its information leaked, celebrities are no longer on their pedestals. They make dumb decisions just like the rest of us.

Solution? Vet each and every site that you use, and each and every piece of data that you send electronically. Acknowledge that it may someday end up in the public domain. Comfortable with that?—Go right ahead. No? Delete, delete, delete.

Rise of the Amabots

When you think of the stereotypical Silicon Valley workplace, you visualize a non-traditional environment brimming with bike-shares, yoga classes and nap pods. The New York Times piece on Amazon’s workplace culture paints a different picture altogether, one of extreme pressure placed employees, Orwellian productivity monitoring technologies and ascribing to the corporate model to the point that you become an “Amabot,” which sounds like borderline brainwashing.

The Times exposé is bad news for Amazon, a corporation that from the outside-in appeared to be an employment oasis—the type of place you’d pencil in under your “dream jobs” list. The article only proves that things are not always as they seem and to be careful what you wish for.

The piece reads more like scenes out of A Clockwork Orange than occurrences at a forward-thinking tech giant’s offices. Employees forced to answer emails after midnight—and receiving text messages when they have not replied in an acceptable timeframe—, coworkers encouraged to essentially spy on one another and report any shortcomings to higher-ups. Frightening stuff.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos released a statement to his employees (and the media), noting that while he denies that the workplace depicted in the article is the Amazon that he knows, he acknowledges that “anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay.”

So how bad is this for Amazon? Time and employment numbers will tell, but tech jobs are always in high demand, so for every candidate avoiding Amazon you can bet there will be five more to take his place.

Google Knows Its ABC’s

When your corporation consists of technological ventures as varied as self-driving cars, YouTube and cloud computing, things can get convoluted very fast. What role does the original company vision play in these new projects? Are you still the same entity? When I purchase shares, where exactly is my money going?

Google provided a resounding answer to these questions, announcing Google Alphabet, a new parent holding company created to allow Google the freedom to continue with their non-conventional business model while allaying any shareholder fears. Imagine if you dropped the $500 plus for one share of stock and discovered that it went directly to the production of Lively. Money well spent? Nope.

Google’s penchant for experimentation is well-documented, leading to some true innovations within their corporate identity. Rapidly expanding from their search engine origins, they’ve designed applications and platforms that have revolutionized the Internet. Sure, Google+ was a flop, but when you’re constantly throwing darts you’re bound to miss the target on occasion.

Alphabet is now the umbrella company under which Google operates, showing that they are ahead of the creative curve in Silicon Valley. Speaking of, their announcement proves they’ve got a sense of humor as well. A global tech conglomerate that appreciates Mike Judge’s HBO comedy? I’ll invest in that.

The World’s Largest Rummage Sale

Billed as Amazon’s answer to Black Friday, Prime Day turned out more like the world’s largest rummage sale. Unless you were in the market for an industrial sized barrel of lube—marked down almost $1,400!—you were certainly disappointed by the utter failure that was Amazon Prime Day.

My dad’s frustrations peaked last week when his search for $75 HDTVs revealed little more than discounted Tupperware sets and assorted tchotchkes. He felt duped by an advertising blitz that promised a shopping day with “more deals than Black Friday.” He puttered about the house muttering four-letter words and threatening to boycott Amazon. It was sad.

He wasn’t alone.

Social media exploded with backlash over Amazon’s attempt to unload their excess inventory on a consumer-based that was deceptively sold on major discounts on electronics, appliances and other valuables. Hashtags such as #PrimeDayFail and #AmazonFail immediately began to trend, lamenting the seemingly false advertising by the online retailer; and as an online retailer, Amazon should have expected the online response to be swift and brutal.

It was.

Universal derision rained down and forced Amazon into a defensive position. If you ever have to defend a blowout sale, things have gone horribly, horribly haywire. Amazon may be one of the biggest companies on the planet, but that does not give them immunity from the repercussions of shady sales practices. If you were hot on the trail for bulk dishwasher detergent or shoehorns, maybe you enjoyed Prime Day. The majority of the world, however, won’t let Amazon of the hook that easy for their bait-and-switch marketing tactics.