Save $1,000 Or More On A New iMac – Part 1: Solid State Storage Blues – Forbes

Upgrade your old iMac without sacrificing space or performance.

Anthony Karcz

The time has finally come. After extending my 2011 iMac’s life years beyond its final end of life (i.e. the time when Apple stops shipping new macOS versions to support the hardware), it’s time to upgrade to a 2019 27’ iMac.

The problem, though, is that my OWC upgrades made my trusty ol’ iMac too good. With 3TB of SSD storage and 32GB of RAM, in terms of day-to-day memory, it’s better outfitted then every base-model iMac in Apple’s lineup.

I could upgrade, but upgrading directly from Apple is a fool’s bargain. Sure, it’s convenient, but you’ll end up paying $2,000 or more for storage and memory you could pick up for less than $1,000.

So obviously, taking the DIY upgrade route is the only way to ensure that you get a new iMac with the specs you need that doesn’t cost you as much as a used car.

But first you have to do a little bit of homework.

Use DaisyDisk To Clean Up Your Hard Drive

If you’re like me, you’ve filled your internal storage to the gills with everything from duplicates of family pictures and movies to the contents of old flash drives from gigs long past.

Before you transfer all that digital cruft over to a new computer, where it will continue to gather virtual dust bunnies, it’s time to cull the herd.

It’s like a map for all the files you forgot you ever had.


DaisyDisk is still my favorite disk management tool for macOS. You can quickly get a visual representation of what’s taking up room on your drives by clicking Scan and waiting a minute (or less).

The resulting map gives you an at-a-glance idea of where you can drill down and start setting files aside for deletion. Look for big segments and double click. Most likely your Users folder (it’s name is different for everyone) will be the one where most of your mothballed data is living.

I hit up the Documents folder first and found roughly 100GB of files that I could instantly send to the trash. What’s nice is that you don’t have to delete in batches. Just drag and drop to the Delete cache at the bottom of the interface. Then, when you’re done digging around for files, click the button and permanently delete all of them at once.

There’s going to be one space hog that you can’t get rid of, though, the Photo Library. For that, we need to get crafty.

Apple’s Sneaky Storage Upgrade Game

Apple has a clever game going on with their configurable systems. If you want an internal SSD larger than 1TB, you have to start with the top-of-the-line 3.7GHz model, costing $300 more than the mid-range 27-inch iMac that’s the usual sweet-spot. If you want more than 2TB, get ready to pay an extra $2,700 for an iMac Pro.

And that’s all before you upgrade the drive.

It costs between $700 to $1,000 to upgrade the 27-inch iMac from its base 1TB or 2TB Fusion Drive (which pairs a standard hard drive with a small SSD drive – they’re a somewhat flawed compromise of performance and cost) to a 1TB SSD drive (the minimum you need to truly be useful).

Want 2TB? Then you’ll need to dish out another $1,100 (on top of the $300 you’re paying for the top-tier iMac model).

Since there’s no option for 3TB, what if you want to go all the way to 4TB? Then you’d better have a beefy credit limit. On top of the extra $2,700 you’ll need to pay for the iMac Pro, you’ll have to pay an eye-watering $2,400 extra.

So for me to keep my 3TB of SSD storage, using Apple’s official internal upgrades, it’s going to cost me nearly $5,000 more than the mid-level iMac I’d budgeted for.

Which, frankly, is insane given there’s an option that will cost me 10 times less sitting in the Apple store already.

Upgrade #1: LaCie Mobile SSD

Thin, tiny, powerful.

Anthony Karcz

Here’s the thing that Apple won’t tell you when you’re specing out a new iMac – you don’t need a giant internal SSD drive.

For $449, the LaCie 2TB Mobile SSD drive is an external USB-C drive with more than enough space for all of your digital files. An Apple Store exclusive, it’s the only drive you should consider when looking to upgrade your iMac.

Because while you might need lots of space, you don’t need ridiculously speedy internal drives. Unless you’re editing large files, like video or graphics, you’re using a Lamborghini to deliver mail. Yes, it gets the job done, but there’s a lot of performance you’re just never going to use.

A pack of cards looks chunky next to this.

Anthony Karcz

External drives like the LaCie Mobile SSD are perfect because they’re reliable, quiet, cool (literally and figuratively) and can last years longer than similarly-sized traditional hard drives (since they have no moving parts).

You’re going to want to hook up the drive to your Thunderbolt 3 or USB port and start copying over files right away, but if you want to use it as the home for your Photo Library, and you use iCloud, you’ll need to take an extra step first.

Reformat All the Things!

That’s right, the first thing you’re going to do with that shiny new hard drive is reformat it. Open Disk Utliity, erase your external LaCie drive, and reformat it as Mac OS Extended or AFPS (don’t use the case-sensitive options unless you know you need them). Otherwise, the Photos app can’t use it as the home for your system library.

So which do you pick? If you’re on a Mac that’s running El Capitan or earlier, then you can only choose Mac OS Extended. If you’ve at least made it to High Sierra (like me), then choose APFS. It’s an indexing option that’s made for solid state drives like the LaCie Mobile SSD.

Leap of Faith

Now comes the part where I tell you to blow away your Photo Library.

Not yet! Once the LaCie drive is ready, find your Photo Library in your user folder under Pictures. Copying it is as simple as dragging and dropping it from your internal drive to external storage.

You can do this next step on your new iMac or, if you’re like me and you want to use Photos while you wait for your new device to arrive, you can do this right away. To change the target of your Photos app, hold the Option key when you launch the app. Then select your recently-copied Photo Library on the external app.

The last step is to sync everything with iCloud Photos. Go to Settings > Preferences. Click the Use as System Photo Library button, then click the iCloud tab. Select that you want to sync your library with iCloud and that’s it! You can delete the old Photos Library off your iMac’s internal storage and get back some space!

Incidentally, if you’re holding on to an old iPhoto Library, you’ll want to move that to the external drive as well. You’re not using it for anything except a lingering sense of security and it takes up a lot of room. We’ll talk more about how to get your pictures out of it in a future article.

But What About Time Machine?

Now that you’ve successfully transferred your Photo Library, you’ll want to keep it doubly-safe in Time Machine. But Time Machine doesn’t work with external drives, right?

Wrong! In Time Machine Settings, click the Options button. You’ll see your LaCie drive listed in the exclusions list. Select it and click the minus button to remove it from the list. Counter-intuitive, I know, but now, when Time Machine runs its next backup, it will include the external drive as well.

Is That It?

There’s a lot more for us to get rid of and transfer to the new drive. But some of these things require commands that I only want to do once I get the new iMac. As long as you have under 1TB of files and applications on your internal drive, you’re ready.

I’ll be back next week to talk about the mind-numbingly bald-faced lie that is the Apple RAM upgrade.


A Second Judge Says Robert Kraft Videos Cannot Be Released Yet – The New York Times

Robert K. Kraft won a temporary victory on Tuesday when a Palm Beach County judge ruled that videos from his visits to a massage parlor in Florida would not be released for now.

Judge Leonard Hanser noted the conflict between the public’s right to know and the right of a defendant to a fair trial, but ruled in favor of Mr. Kraft, saying the videos could not be released until a jury was sworn in or the case was concluded in one of several possible ways.

The judge wrote that the incident that is alleged in the massage parlor “seems like a rather tawdry but fairly unremarkable event.” He added: “But if that man is the owner of the most successful franchise in, arguably, the most popular professional sport in the United States, an entirely different dynamic arises, especially if the encounter is captured on videotape and the incident is the focus of much media attention and pretrial publicity.”

Judge Hanser said the video could be released once one of these conditions occurs: a jury is sworn in; the case is resolved in a plea agreement; the state drops the charges; or at a time when the judge deems Mr. Kraft’s right to a fair trial is no longer jeopardized.

That judge also delayed the release of the videos last week after prosecutors said they were obligated to release them under Florida law.

Mr. Kraft has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of solicitation of prostitution. In cases like these, most defendants take a quiet plea deal leading to a fine or community service. But Mr. Kraft, 77, who contends he did nothing illegal, has fought the charges and called in legal firepower.

His team has focused on the release of the videos. “What is the interest the public has in seeing it? It’s basically pornography,” his lawyer William A. Burck said this month at a hearing.

Thompson Italian Will Bring Falls Church a Neighborhood Pasta Place – Eater DC

A culinary couple that has helmed kitchens at top Italian restaurants in New York plans to bring their pasta and cannoli-making skills to a new neighborhood osteria in downtown Falls Church.

Thompson Italian, the first restaurant venture from chef Gabe Thompson and pastry chef Katherine Thompson is expected to open in late May in the former Argia space (124 N. Washington Street, Falls Church). There are 100 seats between the bar and dining room, with 24 more in the outdoor patio area.

In NYC, the Thompsons were part of the opening team at Dell’anima in the West Village in 2007. They went on to become chef-partners at a trio of popular Italian restaurants across the city (L’Artusi, Anfora, and now-closed L’Apicio). Before that, Gabe Thompson was at Le Bernardin, and Katherine Thompson was at Per Se.

Gabe Thompson got the executive chef gig at RPM Italian in 2015, so they relocated to the D.C. area — Katherine is from here — with their two kids.

At Thompson Italian, Gabe plans to integrate lots of seasonal ingredients into his pastas, which he says will be the “backbone” of the menu. Think bucatini with ramps, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, or orrechiette with spicy sausage, spring onions, pickled peppers and pecorino. He’ll also insert signs of his Texas upbringing by integrating chorizo and using smoked paprika to season meats.

Desserts under Katherine’s watch will include cannoli with ricotta mousse, dark chocolate, candied orange and pistachios, along with hand-spun gelato and scratch sorbets.

An olive oil cake with raisin marmellata, crème fraiche mousse and Maldon salt.
Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian

The 3,200-square-foot space is getting a complete refresh with plush banquettes, patterned wallpaper, and dark cognac booths, alongside a bar accented with black-and-white flooring, subway tiling, and teal paneling.

The design is a family affair: Gabe is making all of the restaurant’s light fixtures. Michael Lahr, Katherine’s father and a former Arlington County high school art teacher, will provide his paintings to line the space.

Virginia-based Mothersauce Partners are joining the project. Nick Freshman’s restaurant advisory and investment company is behind NoMa’s adult arcade, The Eleanor, along with Takoma Beverage Company and a new all-day cafe landing near Amazon’s new headquarters in Crystal City.

Dinner service is expected to kick off in late May, with lunch and brunch coming this summer.

A medley of meatballs at Thompson Italian.
Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian
Gabe and Katherine Thompson co-authored popular cookbook Downtown Italian.
Kelli Scott/Thompson Italian

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Crash Course: How a Small Group of Firms Pivoted and Profited After the Recession | The American Lawyer –

Credit: Egle Plytnikaite.

Before 2008, most law firms could get a piece of the pie without much strategy guiding how they got it. And then the pie was gone.

The Great Recession changed the global economy and the legal industry as we knew it. In the decade since, very few firms have had a solid stream of revenue increases, Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of law firm consultancy Adam Smith, Esq. say.

Leverage the Am Law 100 data with firm comparison and key performance data, exclusively on Legal Compass. Access Premium Content

Since fiscal year 2009, only 27 of the 100 firms on the Am Law rankings have had year-over-year growth in revenue, according to ALM Intelligence data.

The firms that are pulling away share some characteristics, Stanton says. They tend to operate in a more business-like way, which means a focus on profitability, intentional planning, strategic intake and succession planning for leadership roles and client management, she says.

“From the 1980s to 2008, law land didn’t have to do any of these things, so these firms that are pulling away changed their strategy,” Stanton says.

These firms have been able to get it right for nearly a decade, and each had to develop a unique strategy to make it happen. To understand how a select group of firms turned the recession into an opportunity to thrive, not just survive, The American Lawyer spoke with a group of leaders who played a pivotal role in reimagining their firms’ trajectories.

The firms that have delivered year-over-year growth since the 2009 fiscal year include: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Baker & Hostetler; Barnes & Thornburg; Cooley; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Duane Morris; Fox Rothschild; Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Goodwin Procter; Holland & Knight; Jackson Lewis; King & Spalding; Kirkland & Ellis; Latham & Watkins; McGuireWoods; Milbank; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Perkins Coie; Polsinelli; Proskauer Rose; Ropes & Gray; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; and Williams & Connolly.

California Hustle

Joe Conroy became CEO of Cooley in January 2008. In his first address at a partner meeting, he laid out his plans for the Silicon Valley firm’s aggressive growth strategy that included a global footprint and other truisms—or at least what he thought were truisms.

“They didn’t throw rotten fruit at me, but it’s because they didn’t have rotten fruit,” Conroy says. “They weren’t really buying it.”

But he had a fundamental concept he wanted to instill in the minds of the firm’s partners: The recession, for however long it would last, presented an opportunity.

Conroy joined the firm in 1999, immediately ahead of the dot-com crash that “should’ve, candidly, killed a firm that was configured the way our firm was configured,” he recalls.

Joe Conroy

But after the crash, Cooley began rebuilding, trying to dispel the notion that it was simply a West Coast firm. Its strategy—if it had one back then—was to be a better tech firm, Conroy says. It invested in its vibrant emerging companies and life sciences practices and worked with venture capital funds, including fund formation and investment deals. It also looked to invest in its East Coast operations, leading to a 2006 merger with New York litigation boutique Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman that created Cooley Godward Kronish, a 550-lawyer national firm.

The firm was cruising along, with its revenue jumping over 44 percent from 2006 to 2007. But when the recession hit, it hit Cooley, like most other firms, hard. Revenue fell 8.2 percent and profits per partner tumbled 11.4 percent from 2008 to 2009. But as Conroy assumed leadership of the firm, he remained steadfast in his conviction that the firm needed to use the recession to separate itself from the pack.

“For us to succeed, we didn’t need to outrun the bear,” Conroy says. Cooley just needed to outrun its competition.

The recession was the tipping point for bifurcation in the legal industry, and the number of firms that could ably compete for the best business was about to shrink, Conroy says. Cooley developed a strategy of becoming “elite and distinctive”—elite in its finances, branding, clients and geographical coverage, and distinctive in its focus on tech, life sciences and venture capital. And, more important, Conroy adds, it would set itself apart in its representation of high-growth, innovative companies, safe in the knowledge that partnering with the biggest and most powerful companies in the world would allow the firm not only to stay at the forefront of growing fields, but to pedal back as the point of entry into big-ticket work, Conroy says.

That strategy has paid dividends. Since 2009, gross revenue at Cooley has grown nearly 142 percent. Net income has ballooned 168 percent. Revenue per lawyer is up 61 percent. The firm has grown its partnership ranks by nearly half, and still more than doubled its profits per partner in the process.

“This firm is based on hustle,” Conroy says. “We’ve got this business development gene in our DNA and there’s this real affinity for the collective rather than the individual.”

The Wall Street Warrior

Like Conroy, Brad Karp stepped into his role as chairman of New York City-based Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison just a few months before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. But Karp was in a much different position.

Brad Karp. Photo: David Handschuh/ALM.

The firm represented—and continues to represent—several of the largest financial institutions that in 2008 were under siege as a result of the global financial collapse. Its litigation team served as lead counsel to JPMorgan Chase/Bear Stearns in lawsuits stemming from the global investment bank’s collapse. It defended Bank of America in litigation surrounding its $50 billion merger with Merrill Lynch in 2008. And it also represented Citigroup Inc. in subprime- and credit-related cases, as well as the investment bank’s involvement in the Enron and Parmalat fraud cases.

“Our firm had record-breaking levels of activity during the financial crisis,” Karp says. “Our litigators and white-collar defense lawyers, in particular, worked around the clock for years, handling massive investigative matters and litigations for our Wall Street bank clients.”

All that work generated a lot of revenue. The firm took the capital and invested it in its five core practice areas.

“Our goal was to develop market-leading practices in litigation, white-collar defense, public M&A, private equity and restructuring. To achieve this, we needed to make some bold strategic investments and wisely deploy some of the capital we had created,” Karp says.

The investment reflected a larger plan implemented by Karp at the beginning of his tenure.

“One of my first actions as chair, back in 2008 and 2009, was to shift resources away from certain niche practices and geographic regions that were peripheral to our strategy and to focus our energies on mission-critical, client-centric practices for a firm centered in New York and Washington,” he says.

The firm was able to do it, he says, because “our profitability was soaring at a time when industry profits were plummeting.”

Growing client demand also allowed Paul Weiss to make strategic investments in its partnership ranks at a time when most other firms were shrinking ranks. Since 2009, the firm has grown its partnership by 25 percent. Over the same time period, its Wall Street peers—Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Sullivan & Cromwell; and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz—have all decreased their partnerships.

“We needed to be certain that we had the necessary resources, especially at the partner level, to handle the work at the highest possible level and impress our clients. This required us to bring in additional talent and invest in the partnership,” Karp says. “Pursuing this strategy, at that time, was unconventional.”

And adding to the partnership in the firm’s core areas has been critical ever since, Karp notes. In the years following the recession, the firm made high-profile additions like top Cravath dealmaker Scott Barshay and Kirkland & Ellis bankruptcy star Paul Basta.

“Our goal is to be the go-to firm, the safe choice, for the most important companies in the world, on their most important matters, where the stakes are highest,” Karp says.

A Southern Success

King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays led off the firm’s year-end partnership meeting reading from a memorandum sent 10 years ago announcing personnel moves made because of the global financial crisis.

“I used that as a caution to say that’s something we don’t want to do again, and we don’t want to be in a position to do again,” says Hays, who took over leadership of the firm in 2006.

Historically tied to Atlanta, King & Spalding was in the midst of transforming into a major national and international firm. Then the recession hit.

The firm’s relatively thin capital compared with debt at that time was a challenge, Hays says. Strapped with $100 million in debt accrued before Hays became chair, the total quickly ballooned as clients struggled to pay their bills.

“You are so closely tied—and should be—to your clients, and that was an absolute nuclear winter for the industry and the whole economy,” Hays says.

Robert Hays. Photo: John Disney/ALM.

Like many other firms staring down the barrel of the recession, King & Spalding was pushed toward layoffs: 37 attorneys and 85 staff. But where conditions may have created mercenary behavior at other firms, King & Spalding’s attorneys and staff rallied behind a common mission, committed to a sense of purpose and direction, Hays says. The firm doubled down on its strengths and tried to be honest and objective about what they were and were not. It resulted in some people self-selecting out of the firm and a portfolio readjustment, he adds.

As industry demand stayed flat for years after the recession, growth became a zero-sum game.

“You had to take market share from other people to grow,” Hays says. “It makes people more entrepreneurial than they were, and it makes you feel like you need to bring in people who are more entrepreneurial. And you need to get with your clients and understand the client opportunities at a level that I don’t think was done previously.”

That planning has launched King & Spalding into the top 25 of the Am Law 100. Since 2009, the firm’s gross revenue has grown 86 percent to $1.261 billion, and its profits per partner have grown 97 percent to nearly $3 million.

Perhaps the most important lesson the firm learned was not to take the business climate for granted and to constantly think for the future, Hays says.

“You say to the people all the time, ‘You’re going to be planting trees but never able to sit under the shade of those trees,’” Hays says. “You’ve got to have a longer-term perspective.”

Creating the ‘New Norm’

As the recession hit, many clients sent letters to their outside law firms.

Robert Couture.

The letters would typically read, “Dear Mr. Outside Counsel. No increases in any rates for the year 2009—and don’t even ask,” recalls McGuireWoods executive director Robert Couture, who joined the firm in 2005 after serving as vice president at IBM, Xerox Corp. and Novell Inc.

“We realized our clients were probably more financially stressed by the recession than we were,” Couture says. “And I know it’s hard to convince a bunch of partners that that’s true, but it actually was true.”

So McGuireWoods went on the offensive. Its attorneys and leadership met with clients to talk specifically about what the firm could do differently. It even built a marketing strategy with various data points about how it could help its clients.

“We thought we had a pretty unique value proposition,” Couture says. “So we used it as an opportunity to expand our market share.”

From those conversations, McGuireWoods saw the need for a slew of alternative financial arrangements, Couture says. The majority were fixed-price deals; some were a bit more creative. More than anything else, the recession motivated the firm’s shift away from strict hourly billing, he says.

“A pretty high percentage of our work today is alternative fee arrangements,” he says. “It was born out of necessity. Our clients needed some assurances and we had the flexibility to do that for them and with them. We knew in the long run that the relationships would endure if we worked with these clients throughout the difficult times, and we did.”

The second thing McGuireWoods did was make management changes. In 2006, ahead of the market crash, the firm set out to inject more management into the firm, more than doubling the number of partners engaged in the business. It went from eight to 17 department chair heads, then added two deputy managing partners.

The plan was met with some resistance and concern that the firm was dedicating too much to overhead, but the firm took the longer view, Couture says. The strategic changes allowed McGuireWoods to maintain year-over-year revenue growth since 2009 at a rate near 14 percent.

“The changes we made stuck,” Couture says, “and that became the new norm.”

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Why Arya’s Game of Thrones sex scene was a perfect character evolution –

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’ eighth season, was a mostly fun and enjoyable piece of table-setting and fan service, a moment of harmonious stillness before the impending battle against the White Walkers begins.

But it also provoked a bit of unexpected debate, thanks to Arya Stark’s decision to lose her virginity to her longtime best friend Gendry, in a scene where she declares her intention to have sex before she dies and enlists him as her partner, much to his delight.

Many fans supported Arya taking control over her sex life, lauding Game of Thrones’ approach to consensual young adult sex and expressing happiness that Arya/Gendry, a popular fandom ship, had finally come to pass. But others weren’t so comfortable with sexualizing a character who’d started out on the show as a child.

15 and 17 at the start of Game of Thrones’ first season, when she was married off by her brother to Khal Drogo without her consent and raped on her wedding night.

By contrast, Arya’s scene is fully consensual; she initiates the encounter and makes it clear to Gendry that she wants to experience sex before she dies, in the classic vein of countless teens facing impending death by apocalypse.

Arya’s sex scene reflected her character in a number of ways. Because she’s one of the characters we’ve watched literally grow up on Game of Thrones, she’s also one of the characters who’s evolved the most over time. We’ve watched her go from being a rambunctious, spoiled tomboy to an outcast, disguised as a boy and struggling to survive, after a series of political events tore her family apart. After that, she channeled her love of swordfighting into a quest for vengeance, famously illustrated by her ritual of falling asleep every night by reciting all the names on her kill list.

Arya has largely been an active player who’s able to fight, defend herself, and outwit much bigger and tougher opponents. (In the books on which Game of Throne is based, one of her nicknames is Arya Underfoot, a moniker that indicates her tendency to literally slide between the legs of opponents and beneath obstacles that are larger than she is.) Now, as an adult who’s crossed off several names on her list — frequently in horrifically violent and sadistic ways — she seems to have learned to relax a bit and focus on supporting and protecting her family instead of automatically exacting bloody revenge on every enemy she runs across. But she’s still completely in charge of her own actions.

The scene in which she proposes to have sex with Gendry is true to Arya’s character in this regard: After a few scenes in which she openly flirted with him — by teasing him about his weapon-making ability and sharing banter-laced callbacks with him to their very first interactions in season two — she goes to him, proceeds to disrobe, and informs him that she wants to know what sex is like before they both die (probably soon, sob). She’s straightforward and direct, and she stays in control the whole time. (She even tops.) In this sense, it’s one of Game of Thrones better sex scenes, entirely about her character rather than objectifying her for the viewer.

Viewers, however, were still weirded out.

Fans of Game of Thrones had lots of mixed feelings about this development, and many were quick to express those feelings on social media.

Some were supportive of Arya getting to have sex like any other young adult — especially with the guy many of them had shipped her with for several seasons:

Others were uncomfortable, because they had watched Arya grow up onscreen, after all, and it was disturbing to suddenly see her in this light:

Some pointed out that her sexual awakening seemed out of the blue:

And some also pointed out that Arya’s life experiences up to this point have undoubtedly left her traumatized, noting that it’s not necessarily great for her to be having sex in that state:

Meanwhile, plenty of people observed that a lot of the hysteria over Arya having sex smacked of hypocrisy and sexism. After all, no one really seemed to care back in season five when Cersei’s son Tommen, whom we also watched grow up on the show, had sex with his wife, Margaery, when she was 21 and he was just 13 or 14.

Granted, Tommen was a minor character; fans were far less invested in him than they are in Arya, who has always been a main character and one of Game of Thrones’ most popular. But the show has also utilized a similar trajectory for Arya’s sister, Sansa, and it suggests that maybe the way we receive different sex scenes on this show has a lot to do with the gender dynamics surrounding different female characters.

Sansa was about 17 in season five, when she was brutally raped in another forced marriage. Though Sansa’s rape may be Game of Thrones’ most notorious and controversial scene, few complained about it due to the age of the character, instead focusing on the overwhelming prevalence of sexual violence on the show overall.

It’s arguable that Sansa, who has seemingly internalized the experience of her sexual assault and physical trauma while adapting a strategy of wielding soft power to stay alive, represents a more conventional depiction of women onscreen than Arya does — so when we see her adapt to physical trauma by becoming guarded, chaste, and introspective, it fits a social profile of victimhood.

Arya may be equally a victim of emotional trauma, but she has always wielded violence and strength, not softness. She’s always been ruthless and direct about taking what she wants, as opposed to Sansa, who has relied on more traditionally feminine ways of operating. Sansa’s character arc, on one level, is, arguably problematic, in that she learns to endure deeply misogynistic punishment in order to survive. But Arya’s character arc — in which she spends literal years disguised as a boy — is about her repudiating and subverting gender roles and expectations.

The handwringing around Arya having sex on Game of Thrones suggests that, while it may have been deeply jarring to see Sansa — as the show’s more traditionally feminine character— undergo a horrific rape, it is equally jarring to see Arya be as confrontational and empowered about sex as she is everything else. That, in turn, suggests that no matter how respectful Game of Thrones has tried to be about sex scenes and other types of violence since the Sansa rape scene, social expectations about gender still color how we read these characters and their sexualization.

Then there’s the suggestion that anyone complaining too much about Arya’s sex life instead of her tendency to expressionlessly slit people’s throats may have their priorities in the wrong order:

Not to mention that, uh, weirder things have certainly happened on the show!

There’s another argument to be made for Arya’s right to have sex now that she’s an adult, however, and it has everything to do with her overall characterization in this episode.

Arya and the Mountain chat.
It’s hard to tell with these two, but trust us, they’re having fun.

Overall, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a great episode for both Arya and for fans of the character. We got to see the continuation of her season premiere reunions with Gendry and the Hound. We also got to witness her schooling Gendry on just how talented she is with a blade, in a scene that clearly straddled the line between flirting with your crush and lowkey terrifying them with a threat about how you could easily murder them at any moment. That’s our girl.

But we also got an important glimpse of a softer side of Arya — in a scene that seemed to show her letting go of her long-held quest for vengeance, at least to some degree.

In the season eight premiere, we saw Arya’s conflicted reaction to seeing the Hound again. He was on her kill list for years, but then they were thrown together for several seasons as unlikely companions, relying on each other to survive. And yet she still left him for dead at the end of season four, in one of her coldest moments.

But in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” true to Maisie Williams’s prediction after season seven that Arya has grown up and is now ready to let go of her kill list, the character chooses to join the Hound for a brief moment of camaraderie on the Winterfell castle battlement. It’s a clear signal that Arya, as both she and the Hound prepare for what may be their last battle, has completely put her enmity with him to rest.

Moreover, while she’s hanging out with the Hound, they’re joined by another guy who was once on her kill list — Beric Dondarrion. The two met way back in season three, when Beric was leading the Brotherhood Without Banners. Beric, who worships the same deity as Melisandre, the Red Witch, had sold Arya’s best friend Gendry to Melisandre so the Red Witch could torture him for some spellwork. Arya was devastated and, unsure that Gendry would survive, put Beric on her kill list, in an extremely dramatic moment in which she informed him that the only god she worships is — we’ll give you one guess, here:

Complicating matters was the fact that a friend of Beric’s back then, Thoros, was a priest who happened to possess the very handy gift of being able to perpetually bring Beric back to life if he died. Thoros also landed on Arya’s kill list for helping Beric sell Gendry, but was later dispatched by a zombie bear. Hey, it happens.

So perhaps Arya is now satisfied because Beric has been helping her family, specifically her half-brother Jon Snow, in the fight against the White Walkers. Or perhaps she’s aware that since Thoros died, Beric is finally out of lives, and this one will be his last. In any case, when Beric joins Arya and the Hound on the wall, he apologizes for selling Gendry to Melisandre, and when the Hound bemusedly asks if Beric was on her list, too, she replies, after thinking about it for a second, “For a little while.”

(“That’s all right,” Beric replies genially, clearly failing to understand what a lucky escape he’s just had.)

Look at our little sociopath, all grown up and ready to forgive and forget. This is a side of Arya we rarely see, but one that Game of Thrones has revealed more of over throughout season seven and the start of season eight. We’ve watched her put her childhood rivalry with Sansa aside and form a more loyal, adult relationship with her sister based on mutual respect. (Although her willingness to ruthlessly kill people in Sansa’s name probably doesn’t hurt either.) Now, we’ve watched her do something similar with the Hound and Beric.

Not only is this a reassuring sign that Arya is probably not an irredeemable serial killer, it’s also a reminder that, now that she’s back in Winterfell, finally reunited with her remaining family members after years apart, she is trying to heal and seek out warmer relationships.

With that in mind, nothing makes more sense than for her to turn to Gendry — who she’s had a crush on since they first met in season two — to orchestrate a positive sexual experience. She’s been through so much in her short life that she, perhaps more than any other Game of Thrones character, deserves to have a real, affectionate connection with someone she trusts.

Gendry, after all, is one of the few people on the series who Arya has never thought about killing — and judging by his reaction to her dagger-throwing abilities, he definitely seems to realize how lucky is to be her friend rather than her enemy. That’s one of the things that makes him a great choice for Arya’s first sexual experience: Unlike just about everyone else, he’s never underestimated her.

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is an overall testament to Arya’s maturation, as is her decision within the episode to seek out Gendry once she’s decided to lose her virginity. If Arya were recklessly falling into bed with some random person she’d just met, perhaps the alarm on social media would feel a little more warranted.

But she’s known Gendry for many years, he’s reliable and dependable, and he’s one of Game of Thrones’ few remaining characters who’s truly morally unblemished. And hey, have you seen those blacksmith’s muscles? He’s a catch even before you learn he’s the son of a king. Arya’s choice to have sex with him is perfectly in keeping with her character development and a lovely grace note on her fantastic arc.


A’s clear key hurdle in push for Howard Terminal ballpark –

OAKLAND — It’s been almost three years since Chris Bassitt had Tommy John surgery. Although he did return to the majors in 2018, the A’s right-hander never quite felt fully healthy.

Until now.

“To say that this is the best I’ve felt would be an understatement,” Bassitt said Monday night, after he threw five scoreless innings in his season debut, a 6-1 A’s win over the Texas Rangers. “My [velocity] is back, everything is kind of back. To be honest with you, tonight I was not really built up, and conditioning-wise wasn’t that great, but I mean, yeah, I’m back.”

The 30-year-old struggled a bit with his control at the Coliseum, issuing four walks, but he allowed just two hits and struck out seven.

“Effectively wild, I guess,” Bassitt said, with a laugh. “It was kind of just fill the zone up with everything and hope for the best.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin concurred with that assessment.

“He can be a little bit on the effectively wild side, where he walks a couple of guys, he hits a guy, he goes 3-0 on you, and comes back and strikes you out looking,” Melvin said. “It’s really tough to figure out where he’s going to throw the ball. One’s moving, one’s cutting, [he has] a real slow curveball. He can kind of slow you down and speed you up.

“He’s got a lot of movement, and as the game progressed, he got more and more confidence.”

Bassitt hoped to begin the year in the A’s rotation, but he suffered a bruised shin when he was struck by a batted ball during one of Oakland’s exhibition games in Japan. He recorded an ERA of 3.27, with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings, in three minor-league starts this season.

Now, Bassitt has his first major-league win of the 2019 season. He heaped praise on catcher Josh Phegley for guiding him through Monday’s outing and helping him overcome his erratic control.

“It’s definitely not fun to walk that many guys because you put yourself in awkward situations a lot,” Bassitt said. “But I give a lot of credit to Phegley, just because I don’t think I shook one time. Not only that, it was just more so in between innings talking to him and [him] saying, ‘Listen, this is what we’re going to do. Trust it and let’s go get ’em.’ “

[RELATED: A’s clear big hurdle in Howard Terminal ballpark push]

Despite keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard, Bassitt was frustrated he couldn’t pitch deeper into the game to spare Oakland’s bullpen. But Melvin was more than content with the outing.

“He gave us what we needed,” the manager said. “He came out with a zero on the board and the lead. That’s about all we could ask from him today. …

“It was a great start for him. I know he was excited about his start and wanted to get off to a good start, and he absolutely did. So I know next time out, he’ll have a lot of confidence.”


A week with the Samsung Galaxy Fold – TechCrunch

I know, I know.

I will say this about the Galaxy Fold, however: it has been a hell of a conversation piece. I’ve had a LOT of dialogues with strangers since I started using it as my day-to-day. And let’s be honest, that’s a big part of being an early adopter.

The Galaxy Fold is also the most polarizing device I can recall to have used. Everyone who sees the thing wants to play with it, but reaction has been very mixed. I was at a FedEx store the other day and ended up handing it off to two of the four employees during the five minutes I was waiting to get a package.

Interestingly, they all seemed to be aware of the screen issues. Foldables have captured the public imagination like few recent consumer electronics. That’s going to be a mixed bag for Samsung. On the upside, it means a larger potential user base. On the downside, more people are looking on as the company figures out what to do with a malfunctioning product.

On the whole, people at the FedEx store and the various TSA/airline employees I’ve interacted with have been impressed by the product. One said it was smaller than she expected, which took me back a bit, after so many have commented on how bulky it is. I suppose she was expecting me to unfold an iPad.

Some of the TechCrunch writers/editors were a bit less impressed when I had the product with me at our robotics event last week. Tough crowd, obviously.

I’ve fallen somewhere between the two. The fold is undoubtedly an impressive bit of engineering when it’s working. For now, it seems our early suspicions that the device wasn’t ready for prime time appear to have been on the mark, as the company has shifted from “a limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples” to pushing back the launch indefinitely.

It opens up the field to a number of other already announced foldable devices (assuming they don’t experience similar problems). Of course, Samsung’s product lines, it should be noted, have bounced back from worse.

Anyway, this marks the end of my daily notes. I still plan to have a review this week, in spite of, well, everything.


How a Catholic priest and nun’s secret romance led their son to Cleveland –

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Rev. William Grau was a black Catholic priest. Sister Sophie Legocki was a white nun. And in 1955, they fell in love, had a child and gave up their baby for adoption.

Sound like the makings for a good book? It is.

Recently the couple’s son, Joe Steele, traveled back to Cleveland to meet his father’s family and promote the memoir called “Forbidden Love,” written by author Lisa Jones Gentry.

(clockwise, beginning top left) Sophie Legocki, Father William Grau, Florence Steele, WIlliam Steele. Joe Steele is center. (Provided).

(clockwise, beginning top left) Sophie Legocki, Father William Grau, Florence Steele, WIlliam Steele. Joe Steele is center. (Provided).

The book is based on Steele’s retelling of his conversations with Legocki, pictures of Grau and his time in the military and information from Steele’s childhood growing up in Cincinnati. Everything in the book happened, but the narrative and dialogue was written by Gentry.

While here, Steele and Gentry spoke with

“This book personifies something so many people are struggling with now, between people of different sexual orientations, identifications races or ethnicities,” Gentry said. “There’s so many ways that people differentiate themselves, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the right to love.”

Grau and Legocki met at a church in Lackawanna, New York. Grau was the first black priest for the Diocese of Buffalo. Legocki taught at a nursery school at a mainly black and Latino parish on the shores of Lake Erie.

Grau started helping Legocki shovel snow in the mornings. The relationship unfolded slowly, with both unsure about the other’s feelings and the racial and religious boundaries keeping them apart.

“The courage is just phenomenal,” Steele said. “They really saw this as blessed in the eyes of God despite the church.”

Legocki eventually left the order and moved in with Grau under the guise of being a housekeeper, Steele said. They were together for nine years, until Grau died. Their relationship remained a secret, until Steele reconnected with his mother in 1991.

Joe Steele and Sophie Legocki meeting for the first time in 1991. (Provided)


Joe Steele and Sophie Legocki meeting for the first time in 1991. (Provided)

Steele, adopted by a family in Cincinnati, did not seek out his birth parents as an adult. But when his brother pushed to find out more about his own adoption from the Catholic Charities and adoption laws changed in Ohio, the information about his mother basically landed in his lap, Steele said.

“Fortunately, she was actually waiting for that phone call,” he said.

Legocki’s family didn’t know about Steele until her funeral in 2007. Grau’s family, based in Cleveland, didn’t know until after the book came out.

“That’s part of the cost of forbidden love – there’s those pressures to keep it a secret,” Steele said. “It leaves you wondering, was it worth it? … (Legocki) did not share any regret from making that decision, which meant a lot to me.”

The trip to Cleveland was Steele’s next step in exploring his identity.

Steele and Gentry held a book signing at Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights. They met the Grau family, who knew Father Grau as “Uncle Bill,” the oldest of nine children.

Gentry and Steele toured where Grau went to school and church, and where his mother – Steele’s paternal grandmother – is buried.

“My father & I had book-end experiences,” Steele said. “I was adopted and raised in a black family in Cincinnati and my father was raised with his birth mother and stepfather in an all-white family. Meeting my father’s white family here in Cleveland was a real opportunity for me because it wasn’t an experience I grew up with up with — that other part of my racial identity. Having it be so affirming meant a lot.”

You can find the book in bookstores or online here.


Kevin Ollie vs. UConn: The latest in a battle between the school and former coach – Hartford Courant

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Would You Want to Learn With a Personalized, Online Learning Program Instead of a Teacher? – The New York Times

Imagine your school has started a new method of teaching and learning. Instead of being led through lessons by teachers, you and your classmates now use a personalized, web-based learning platform. This program is tailored to your individual abilities, needs and interests and you can complete it at your own pace. Your teacher no longer directs the class, but acts as your personal “mentor,” helping you with assignments as needed and meeting with you for 10 minutes a week to check on your progress.

How similar does this scenario sound to the way your classes function right now? Is this a program you would want at your school? Why or why not?

In “Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion,” Nellie Bowles writes about a similar platform backed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg that was introduced in two Kansas high schools:

The seed of rebellion was planted in classrooms. It grew in kitchens and living rooms, in conversations between students and their parents.

It culminated when Collin Winter, 14, an eighth grader in McPherson, Kan., joined a classroom walkout in January. In the nearby town of Wellington, high schoolers staged a sit-in. Their parents organized in living rooms, at churches and in the back of machine repair shops. They showed up en masse to school board meetings. In neighborhoods with no political yard signs, homemade signs with dark red slash marks suddenly popped up.

Silicon Valley had come to small-town Kansas schools — and it was not going well.

“I want to just take my Chromebook back and tell them I’m not doing it anymore,” said Kallee Forslund, 16, a 10th grader in Wellington.

Eight months earlier, public schools near Wichita had rolled out a web-based platform and curriculum from Summit Learning. The Silicon Valley-based program promotes an educational approach called “personalized learning,” which uses online tools to customize education. The platform that Summit provides was developed by Facebook engineers. It is funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician.

Many families in the Kansas towns, which have grappled with underfunded public schools and deteriorating test scores, initially embraced the change. Under Summit’s program, students spend much of the day on their laptops and go online for lesson plans and quizzes, which they complete at their own pace. Teachers assist students with the work, hold mentoring sessions and lead special projects. The system is free to schools. The laptops are typically bought separately.

Then, students started coming home with headaches and hand cramps. Some said they felt more anxious. One child began having a recurrence of seizures. Another asked to bring her dad’s hunting earmuffs to class to block out classmates because work was now done largely alone.

“We’re allowing the computers to teach and the kids all looked like zombies,” said Tyson Koenig, a factory supervisor in McPherson, who visited his son’s fourth-grade class. In October, he pulled the 10-year-old out of the school.

In a school district survey of McPherson middle school parents released this month, 77 percent of respondents said they preferred their child not be in a classroom that uses Summit. More than 80 percent said their children had expressed concerns about the platform.

“Change rarely comes without some bumps in the road,” said Gordon Mohn, McPherson’s superintendent of schools. He added, “Students are becoming self-directed learners and are demonstrating greater ownership of their learning activities.”

John Buckendorf, Wellington High School’s principal, said the “vast majority of our parents are happy with the program.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— How much classroom time do you spend learning online? Do you enjoy it and wish you had more of it? Or would you rather spend more time offline, working with your teachers and classmates? Why?

— What do you think about Summit Learning? Would you want to learn with a personalized, online learning program instead of in a classroom led by a teacher? Why or why not?

— What specific concerns would you have about using a program like Summit? What aspects of the program do you think you would find most beneficial? In your opinion, do the potential benefits outweigh the drawbacks? Why or why not?

— What do you think of the community’s reaction to Summit Learning in their schools? Do you think they are just being resistant to change, as Diane Tavenner, Summit’s chief executive, suggested? Or are their concerns legitimate? If Summit Learning came to your school, do you think parents, teachers and students would embrace it or reject it?

— What are your thoughts on Silicon Valley’s efforts to “remake American education in its own image” — that is, an institution heavily reliant on technology? Are programs like Summit Learning the future for public school students? If so, what potential impact might this new method of teaching and learning have on society?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.