Following the path of a stolen passport

An eye opening story from Buzzfeed News on how the wars in Syria and elsewhere have effected Turkey, and even unsuspecting tourists that get their passports stolen.

Neher had been surprised at how little of all this he saw. Istanbul buzzed with its regular charm, the captivating city that welcomes around 10 million tourists annually. Yet the moment he lost his passport he was drawn into the conflict — or the passport version of him was, at least.

From the thief who stole it, the passport traveled into an underworld, fueled by Syria’s war, that pulses beneath the city most tourists and residents see.

In this world — one of smugglers, criminals, refugees, and spies — stolen passports are a valuable commodity. Syrians die by the crowded boatload trying to reach Europe’s shores, but a Western passport offers a chance at salvation far removed from the dehumanizing journey by sea. With a passport like Neher’s in hand, a Syrian whose own identity has been shattered in the conflict can take on a new one, for a few hours, and board a plane. Though the scheme doesn’t always work, the hope that it will can fetch a steep price.

This is one of the more enlightening, and sad, things I’ve read in a long time.


The most common job in every state

While reading a fascinating article about the imminent disruption of the trucking industry — thanks to driverless cars — I found a fascinating map that lists the most common job in every state.

I was surprised to see that four states’ most common job is software developer: Washington, Virginia, Colorado, and Utah.

Looking at the trend over time, the map highlights how technology has consistently disrupted staple American jobs. From farmers, factory workers, and secretaries in years past, to truck drivers now: technology has consistently disrupted enormous industries.

Interestingly, as the article on the trucking industry notes, driverless vehicles will take over a profession where there is simultaneously a large shortage.

Meanwhile, software developers are becoming more common. I’m sure it’s not a direct correlation (the number of software jobs likely won’t replace all of the jobs technology disrupts), but there is no denying that learning to code and manage software is a pretty good field to get into right now.

Of course, software development too can be disrupted.

A senator’s faith — and humility

The intersection of faith and governance is an interesting one.

He understands that many are skeptical of faith, both because “religion [has] come to be so closely associated with right-wing politics” and because the Bible “has been used as a document, as a foundation, to justify discrimination.” The revered text is, to some, “the basis of intolerance, based on outdated teachings and moral codes and has been a source of pain and distance and discomfort for many.”

If Coons had left it at that, this would have been another in a long series of Washington speeches in which a politician tells his allies how much he agrees with them. But as “a practicing Christian and a devout Presbyterian,” Coons had a second message.

Early on, he quoted the very Bible others find offensive, noting that Jesus’s command in Matthew: 25 to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned had “driven” him throughout his life.

A new friend sent me this. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind for a long time. I think there is a lot of hypocrisy on both sides of the isle and both sides of the religious spectrum. It’s refreshing to see a U.S. Senator willing to discuss the gray areas between harsh ideologies.

NYT Now what?

This morning I got my monthly invoice from the New York Times for $39.60, which offers me full digital access as well as the Sunday Times delivered to my house.

I only get the Sunday Times delivered because it was (initially) cheaper than just all digital. Since then, I’ve grown to enjoy the physical magazine inside the Sunday edition of the paper.

However, my primary consumption of the Times is through the NYT Now app, which they’ve just made free.

I wonder, is it really worth me keeping my subscription when 90% of the Times articles I read are from what is now a free app? Likely not.

Unless, of course, they cheapen the app content.

They recently started putting other sites’ content in the NYT Now app, which I don’t love but I don’t mind either. I have other good curation sources, so sometimes it’s unnecessary, but they are pretty strict curators so I usually enjoy the articles whether from the Times or not.

Starting this morning, the app showcases a big sponsor link, so I guess that’s how they plan to monetize it. Furthermore, I presume they anticipate they can get folks addicted enough to want full access — and of that goal, I am quite skeptical.

I rarely have time to read enough to need more than what NYT Now offers, which is a limited selection of, “the best of the Times.” Its biggest downside is that it doesn’t have categorized sections like the primary app, but for free — versus $40 a month — that’s a limited downside.

I know they have struggled getting adoption of the app. But as others have noted, those that use NYT Now tend to have very positive reviews. I am one of those positive reviews. I much prefer the NYT Now app experience over the primary app. But I’m not sure I can justify my subscription any more now that the app I use most is free.

I have little doubt that the New York Times publishes as much high quality journalism as anyone else. But I feel like they are risking losing young, energetic, and (importantly) paying subscribers by making the NYT Now app free. Is it worth it to get more people reading, if none of them are motivated to pay?

Not too interested in the Apple Watch

This is pretty much why I have little desire for an Apple Watch. Mel is more patient than I am. The lighting up while eating, the notification madness, the constant charging: none of that sounds fun.

From my very first look at the Apple Watch previews, I couldn’t believe how much junk they were putting on it. I really think putting full featured apps on it was a mistake. I understand it being a notifications center (if notifications can be tamed, especially), but full on apps? Ugh.

The Pebble looks way more attractive to me, at least while the Apple Watch is first generation.

Source: A week with my ????⌚️ | Choyce Design

The Bus Station

What’s so special about a Greyhound station? The one in Huntsville, Texas, isn’t much to look at — but is remarkable to thousands of inmates being released from prison each year. It’s the first place they go as free people. NPR spent two days there taking photos. Here’s what it’s like.

Sad statistics in this photo essay by NPR, but I like that it helps humanize America’s devastatingly large prison population.

Twitter Needs New Leadership

Ben Thompson makes a compelling case that Twitter needs a leadership change to find success on Wall Street.

I love Twitter, and use it for hours per day (it’s a primary source of news for curating Post Status). I don’t own Twitter stock. I dislike Facebook for the most part, but own Facebook stock.

My stock decisions have turned out to be pretty good ones (to own Facebook but not Twitter). Similarly, LinkedIn has done pretty well on Wall Street but isn’t exactly a joy to use.

I’m not sure a better Twitter on Wall Street would mean a better Twitter for me.

I’d rather see a subscriber model versus an advertiser (only) model, that means revenues go up as subscribers go up. That’d keep me happy as a user, even if it’d be unlikely to be sustainable enough to keep Wall Street happy.

$450,000 in a year as a self-published author

Building an audience who loves your product — whether it’s for a book, an app, a game, or a widget — is tough, time-consuming and expensive. Once you’ve got them hooked, give them something else to buy from you. As you choose your next project to work on, make sure it’s something that will appeal to your existing audience.

That’s just one of the lessons from Mark Dawson. This is a fascinating story on an author that’s crushing it by self publishing on Amazon.

I have to admit, just reading about his success makes me want to read his books.

Recycling the family business

One man’s junkyard is the next generation’s modern recycling center.

This is a good story on The Distance about running a family business in a less-than-sexy industry: automative recycling.

With a new generation, they are adapting to a new environment.

“It’s not a sexy business,” Kyle says. “And what we’ve been finding over the years…is that as the older generation either wants to retire or dies off, the younger generation does not want to get into it. More and more yards are being sold.…When I got involved in the business 25 years ago, there were something like 20,000 automotive-recycling yards or junkyards in the United States. And now that number is closer to 8,000. [But] it’s a great business. If any of you guys are listening, it’s a great business. Don’t go into the technology field. Believe me, you’ll like this business.”

I love good longform stories like this. Thanks to Ryan Sullivan for putting me onto The Distance.