Morning Coffee, issue #6

July 11, 2015

My first week as a 32-year-old has been pretty intense as far as worldwide politics are concerned. The Greek crisis seems to be nearing its end, after an agreement was reached on a Tsipras proposal to the Eurogroup, which was then passed by the Greek parliament. Whatever happens, Greece’s fate in the Eurozone will be decided in tomorrow’s EU Summit.

However, Tsipras was forced to give up many of his previously non-negotiable items, like cutting pensions and raising taxes. In exchange for those concessions, he did get a far better deal though, so this is another classic political scenario where everyone gets to go home a winner. Unless you’re a member of the opposition, that is.

To me, the greatest loser in this whole affair was, ironically, Germany. They may have gotten what they wanted from the negotiations, but I suspect the deplorable behavior displayed by Angela Merkel throughout this whole deal, exemplified more than anything by her absolute refusal to grant Greece some form of debt relief, will take its toll on the country as a whole sooner or later. Germany may be the de-facto leader of the Eurozone today, but they would do well to remember that what goes around comes around.

Another hotly-debated topic on the Internet this week was, of course, the matter of advertising on the Web and the rise of ad-blocking technology. But more on that later.

And on the thanks-for-playing category, both Ellen Pao and Joshua Topolsky were “invited” out of their jobs as Reddit CEO and Bloomberg Digital Editor, respectively. I know the official story is that Pao resigned voluntarily and Topolsky’s departure was “amicable and mutually agreed upon”, but still. It’s painfully obvious neither of them are happy with the way things unfolded.

In the absence of any other Earth-shattering news over the past seven days, there was plenty of time for writing, which resulted in yet another flood of interesting pieces for this weekend’s roundup. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Issue #6: on Greece, ad-blocking, women in uniforms, the Persian world of ’ta’arof’, and the relationship between calories and weight loss

Lots of interesting pieces were published during these past seven days. From the political turmoil in Europe to the debate about calories, with a brief stop on the green lawns of Wimbledon along the way, this issue of Morning Coffee is sure to entertain all readers. Enjoy.

Behind Germany’s refusal to grant Greece debt relief | Yanis Varoufakis →

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote a fascinating op-ed for The Guardian this morning:

And there’s the rub. After the crisis of 2008/9, Europe didn’t know how to respond. Should it prepare the ground for at least one expulsion (that is, Grexit) to strengthen discipline? Or move to a federation? So far it has done neither, its existentialist angst forever rising. Schäuble is convinced that as things stand, he needs a Grexit to clear the air, one way or another. Suddenly, a permanently unsustainable Greek public debt, without which the risk of Grexit would fade, has acquired a new usefulness for Schauble.

What do I mean by that? Based on months of negotiation, my conviction is that the German finance minister wants Greece to be pushed out of the single currency to put the fear of God into the French and have them accept his model of a disciplinarian eurozone.

Ouch. Think what you will about Varoufakis, but once thing is clear: he does not mince words.

Content blockers, bad ads, and what we’re doing about it | Rene Ritchie →

At the heart of the ad-crisis this week was one site: iMore. Shortly after this bomb exploded in their face, Rene Ritchie did an admirable job of taking it on the chin with an honest, open and respectful explanation of why things are the way they are, and more importantly, how they’re planning to fix them. Definitely a good read.

Private I: Firefox and others deal with unwanted trackers, whether ads or malicious | Glenn Fleishman →

In this piece for Macworld, Glenn Fleishman goes over the real implications behind Do Not Track technology. Apparently, despite all major browsers implementing the Do Not Track feature, the advertising industry is under no obligation to honor the setting, which has prompted Firefox to come up with their own, more aggressive way of protecting their users’ privacy. There are lots of useful bits of information here about how tracking technology works and what it means for users, so be sure to check it out.

Facebook’s piracy problem | Will Oremus →

Eye-opening piece on how Facebook enables — maybe even encourages — users to steal YouTube videos and upload them as native Facebook videos:

To that end, Facebook has built its own video platform and given it a decisive home-field advantage in the News Feed. Share a YouTube video on Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a small, static preview image with a “play” button on it—that is, if it appears in your friends’ News Feeds at all. Those who do see it will be hesitant to click on it, because they know it’s likely to be preceded by an ad. But take that same video and upload it directly to Facebook, and it will appear in your friends’ feeds as a full-size video that starts playing automatically as they scroll past it. (That’s less annoying than it sounds.) Oh, and it will appear in a lot of your friends’ feeds. Anecdotal evidence—and guidance from Facebook itself—suggests native videos perform orders of magnitude better on Facebook than those shared from other platforms.

I hate autoplaying videos on the Web, especially on Facebook. To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

When woman is boss: Nikola Tesla on gender equality and how technology will unleash women’s true potential | Maria Popova →

Yesterday was the 159th anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s birthday, and this is yet another fascinating anecdote about one of the smartest men the world has ever seen.

‘Orange Is the New Black’ is the only TV show that understands rape | Jada Yuan →

Spoiler Alert. If you’re not caught up with Orange is the New Black, you may want to skip this one. Much has been written about the poor way TV shows generally depict rape — most notably, Game of Thrones. As a society, we can’t afford to become desensitized about such a cruel act, which is why sometimes we need to endure the real horror behind it. Kudos to the show’s makers for not shying away from this.

Social Issues: a woman in uniform →

Another eye-opening piece by an anonymous NYPD officer. I don’t want to spoil this one, so I won’t quote any excerpts here. Just go read it.

In the Persian world of ’ta’arof,’ they make offers that will be refused | Sarah Parvini →

This sounds vaguely familiar:

In the world of ta’arof, the Persian art of etiquette, people fight over who pays the bill, seem to refuse payments for a purchase, pretend they don’t want something to eat when they’re starving. In a culture that emphasizes deference, ta’arof is a verbal dance that circles around respect.

We Spaniards are very similar when it comes to social etiquette. We often insist on paying for a meal, or a round of drinks, particularly when there are foreigners among us. If you have friends in Spain, you could go out for dinner and drinks and come back home three hours later, drunk and completely stuffed, all without having been given a single chance to pay for anything. This cultural heritage has deep roots, and is shared across many different nations. It’s simply in our blood. If you don’t believe me, come to Spain and see for yourself.

Nick Kyrgios is a pantomime villain without a cause | Oliver Brown →

In this super-harsh — but pretty spot-on — criticism of Nick Kyrgios following his elimination at Wimbledon, Oliver Brown makes a good case that fame and recognition in sports need to be backed up by results on the court, and Kyrgios so far has failed to live up to the hype. The young Australian player shows promise, no doubt, but truly great players let their racquets do the talking.

Wimbledon Centre Court mesmerised by enduring wonder of Roger Federer | Owen Gibson →

Tomorrow, Roger Federer will contest an unprecedented 10th Wimbledon final in his quest to win an also unprecedented 8th title at the All England Club. Yesterday, Federer dispatched World No. 3 Andy Murray in straight sets, in one of the finest displays of tennis Wimbledon has seen in years.

Whatever happens tomorrow vs World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the legend of Roger Federer keeps getting bigger.

The problem with “calories” | Conor McClure →

Conor makes a great point that, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, counting calories is not everything and in fact, we may be looking at the problem the wrong way. I very much agree with most of Conor’s post, I just have one small remark about this:

So, how does one reduce fat accumulation if calories aren’t the answer? It turns out that there is but one way for fat to be deposited in your body: the hormone insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas when (and only when) carbohydrates enter the bloodstream (unless, of course, you are diabetic, but that’s another conversation.)

He’s right about the way insulin works, but clearly there’s another way for the body to accumulate fat: by eating fat. That said, this doesn’t take away from the point he was making, which is that we typically get fat when we consume excessive amounts of carbohydrates that trigger an excessive release of insulin into the bloodstream.

All in all, Conor’s piece was excellent and his reasoning solid. I also agree that counting calories tends to create habits designed to achieve short-term goals that are not sustainable in the long run. Instead, we should look at the bigger picture and make lifestyle choices that will pay off in the long term by resulting in longer, healthier lives.

The Fuji X100T review | Marius Masalar →

Another great review over at Tools & Toys. I’ve always been curious about the Fuji X100 series of cameras. They’re not only small and inconspicuous, but they appeal to the romantic side of photography, which is something I deeply enjoy. This amazing review by Marius Masalar makes a great case for the Fuji X100T as a tool for people that aren’t interested in owing the latest and greatest gear, but in taking better photographs. It’s hard to argue with that.


As you’ve seen, this has been another great week for writing on the Web. With pieces like these, your weekend reading needs should be well taken care of.

I’ve been busy, too, if I may say so. Earlier in the week, I published a lengthy article about working with models in photography that, at over 5,000 words long, is perhaps the longest piece I’ve ever published on Analog Senses. The article is intended as a sort of practical guide for those who are interested in working with models but don’t quite know how to approach the issue for the first time. I’ve received some great feedback on this piece, which is why I haven’t ruled out the possibility of publishing a revised version of the article, perhaps as an ebook. We’ll see how it goes but so far, it’s an interesting thought.

Other than that, I’m currently working on my next lens review for Tools & Toys, which should see the light of day on Tuesday. This is one of the first lenses to acquire legendary status in the Micro Four Thirds system: the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4.

I’ve owned this amazing lens for over a year now, and it’s given me some of my favorite shots since then, some of which you’ll hopefully see on Tuesday.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and, of course, thank you for reading.