Why Seattle City Hall Doesn’t Get Amazon

Pretty horrible week for now ex-Mayor Ed Murray, wouldn’t you say? A week ago, Murray’s office responded to news that Amazon is seeking to open a second headquarters in another North American city with a statement that read, in part, “My office will immediately begin conversations with Amazon around their needs with today’s announcement and…

Twenty Years in Seattle with Amazon

I moved to Seattle in September, 1997, to an apartment with a view of the Acacia Cemetery on Lake City Way. I’d often stand at the window with a cup of coffee, watching hunched people sobbing over graves. I’d given up my cool job at a bookstore to follow my girlfriend as she pursed a…

The Return and Conclusion of Twin Peaks

Our realities have been divided, nested, segregated, interlinked, distorted, and fractured. We live in the era of alternative facts, truthiness, false equivalence, and fake news. I assume I’m living in one sort of place and suddenly discover that the world has shifted and what was once familiar appears like a simulation. In a parallel universe…

Dreamers

A little over a week ago my girlfriend Lisa and I took a walk along the beach at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. It was near sunset, the tide was high, and a ferry took its time getting to Vashon Island. A Latino family was celebrating someone’s birthday at one of the picnic stations, and…

Alexa, You Don’t Have to Pretend You’re Human

Driven by curiosity and lured by unlimited streaming music, I bought an Amazon Echo this summer. Using it to play music gives me the vertigo of limitless choice similar to that of using Napster the first time, or the early days of the iPod. I can ask it, “Alexa, play music from 1984” and ZZ…

I’m Pretty Sure I Could Teach a Machine to Write a Novel

There will come a day when we’re enjoying novels and stories written by artificial intelligence. I’ve starting thinking about how this might actually happen. How you feel about this idea probably reveals your particular cultural orientation. If it horrifies you to imagine computers churning out works of fiction, then you’re likely a citizen of the…

Virtual Reality vs. the Apocalypse

Wildfires in British Columbia have blanketed Seattle in a haze the color of nicotine on the hottest week of the year. The irony being that it would be a lot hotter if this persistent cloud of particulates weren’t hovering over Puget Sound. It’s Seafair weekend, which means our annual visit from the Blue Angels, those…

Invest Broad and Shallow, Not Narrow and Deep

Last week’s Seattle’s VR/AR meetup was an opportunity to reflect on how the community is doing as a whole. I always look forward to seeing familiar faces at these meetups and enjoy catching up with people like Andrew Mitrak, Eva Hoerth, Jordan Kellog, Trond Nilsen, Bridget Swirksi, and many others. The same core of people…

How to Not Be a Tech Bro A-Hole

Silicon Valley tech bro culture is getting called out. More women are stepping forward to report harassment, sidelining, and misogyny in general at startups and established companies alike. I take news that such attitudes and behavior are becoming more unacceptable as a sign of progress. Our current historical moment reminds me of the early nineties…

What it Feels Like to Live in Seattle Right Now

I can’t help but think that there’s a connection between the number of construction cranes punctuating Seattle’s skyline and a recent report that various species of North American trees are migrating west. I count cranes every time I’m stopped in traffic within view of downtown Seattle. Sometimes, from the ship canal bridge, I can spot…