Wired Looks at Ladar Levison’s Secure Email Project

In case you missed it (I did), on Friday Wired published a story about our favorite alliterative email service provider, Ladar Levison. Ladar is currently holed up in a house in North Texas, cranking away on his next project, a super-secure email system called Dark Mail. The Wired story goes into how this new email system will work, but more interesting is Ladar’s collaborator Stephen Watt:

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Clayton Williams Runs For Governor

I sort of remember Bill Clements vs. Mark White in 1986, but the first Texas gubernatorial election to which I paid any measurable attention was state treasurer Ann Richards’ victory over West Texas oilman Clayton Williams in 1990. The GOP wasn’t yet the wholly dominant party in our state, but neither did the Democrats still hold the iron grip they’d maintained politically since Reconstruction.

My memory of the election centers on Williams’ TV ad in which he explained his plan to put drug offenders to work busting rocks in hard-labor boot camps rather than lounging around in luxurious prison cells. Behind him is shown a group of college students who were dressed up as convicts, swinging pick axes and shovels. I was in junior high school and not terribly political at the time, but I remember thinking that this guy was laying on the tough-on-crime schtick a little thick.

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What It Feels Like When You Shutter a Furr’s Fresh Buffet

Perhaps you heard about the Furr’s thing. There was a Furr’s Fresh Buffet off LBJ and S. Hampton. It closed. Councilman Dwaine Caraway is not happy about that. He said:

“That Furr’s was doing mega-business. Mega-business. And it closed out of nowhere. People showed up for work and didn’t know it was closed. And you know I am not happy about it. I am shocked, unhappy and disappointed. I am real ticked about it. We participate and patronized it, and overnight it’s taken away from us. It’s like giving a kid a special computer game for Christmas, and all of the sudden he comes home and it’s taken away from him.”

I feel his pain — but in a slightly different way. Depending on the season and my mood, when a Furr’s closes …

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ACE Cash Express and Its Shameful Acts

UPDATE (9:44) On its website, ACE makes it impossible to figure out who sits on its board. I turned to Bloomberg, which I linked to below, in stating that Rawlings sits on the board. He hasn’t held that position for five years. My apologies for the error.

Jason mentioned in Leading Off this morning that Irving-based ACE Cash Express has agreed to pay $10 million to get the government off its back over the way the company takes advantage of the working poor, using “false threats, intimidation, and harassing calls to bully payday borrowers into a cycle of debt.” Couple of questions. Is Ron Washington still doing ACE Cash ads? He should stop. Next question: when is Mayor Mike Rawlings going to step down from the ACE Cash board? If he’s really sincere about his GrowSouth initiative, he should do it today.

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Leading Off (7/11/14)

How Soon Until Every Dallas Highway Is Tolled? Tomorrow new express lanes will open on Interstate 35E, allowing drivers to pay to bypass the usually congested interchange from I-35E to Interstate 635. Meanwhile some Collin County leaders are pushing back against a Texas Department of Transportation proposal to make the HOV lane on U.S. Highway 75 a managed toll lane. Their counterproposal is to get rid of the HOV lane entirely, opening it up for all traffic.

ACE Cash Express to Pay $10 Million For Illegal Tactics. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the payday lender used false threats, intimidation, and harassing calls to bully borrowers. ACE also took on new loans to pay off old loans, purposefully driving customers even further into debt. The company’s training manual even had a graphic depicting how to keep the vicious cycle going.

Abducted Boy Reunited With Father.  At age 2, Drew Drees was taken by his mother, who didn’t have custodial rights after she and his father had divorced, to India. Eight years later, she returned with Drew and was promptly arrested at DFW Airport after arriving yesterday.

It’s July 11. Free slurpees, everybody.

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The Economist on Downtown Dallas’ Rejuvenation

A correspondent for one of the Economist’s blogs was recently in Dallas for the New Cities Summit, and writes about how downtown has transformed in the last 30 years:

It is clear that the old Dallas is fading into a distant memory. Today the downtown of America’s ninth-most populous city has thriving museums, performing-arts spaces, a green market, restaurants and innovative retailers that are bringing people back to its pavements. Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland may be struggling to reinvent themselves, but Dallas has prospered, not only because of its oil wealth and low taxes, but also because the city and private-sector developers and investors have combined their efforts.

The author gives the Joule Hotel an awful lot of credit for rejuvenating downtown, more than maybe it alone deserves, and things aren’t maybe quite so active throughout downtown as they’re painted, but there is no denying that Dallas has made progress.

Anyway, here’s my favorite bit, in the conclusion:

Thanks to this attitude, the atrophied downtown area from three decades ago that Mrs Forsythe-Lill remembered is being wiped from the memory faster than Sue Ellen Ewing could get to the bottom of a bottle of vodka.

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Why It Matters That the Morning News Failed at Paid Content

When I read this morning that the Dallas Morning News is giving up on its “premium content” experience  (which it launched last fall), my first reaction was to think “they’re still offering a premium content experience?” I have a subscriber’s log-in that I could use to access the site, but many months ago I stopped bothering to do so because the time it took to type in the email address and password wasn’t worth the payoff.

I wouldn’t do as the Morning News’ own story today has done and categorize this experience as a failed attempt at premium content. I’d instead think of it as an “incomplete,” given that there wasn’t anything terribly “premium” about the Morning News experience.

We have to get readers to pay for the content they want. We’re going to have to. I doubt greatly that the Morning News, in ending this experiment, has completely abandoned that fact. They’re just going to look for another means of doing it. In which case, I have a proposal.

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Meh.com Launches! And There Was Much Apathy!

Kickstarter contributors got access yesterday, but Meh.com launched this morning for the rest of us. As Matt Rutledge promised, you’ll find just one deal today. It’s an iRobot Roomba 560, a refurb model from 2007. iRobot sells the things for $249. The Meh price? Just $179. That seems a little better than meh. What I find most intriguing about the site, though, is that it shows everyone its sales figures in real time. As of 9:30 this morning, 13,201 people had visited the site; 836 people clicked the “meh” button (I was one of them); and 28 people bought a Roomba. There’s also a map showing where the buyers hail from. That’s transparency. As for the product writeup, the art at which Rutledge’s old Woot.com excelled so brilliantly at times, this one did not impress. When I was working on my profile of him, Rutledge showed me a writeup they were considering for an upcoming product. It was hysterical and packed with vulgarity — something Amazon would never do. I hope they try it.

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Would You Buy Something From the Site Spite.com?

Surely by now you have read my profile of Woot.com founder Matt Rutledge. Surely. The World Cup is over, so that’s no excuse. (USMNT lost. Same difference.) You know that part at the end where I mentioned a couple of silly e-commerce concepts that Rutledge might possibly explore, including CrapWithFriends.com? That one I explained. But I didn’t explain Spite.com, saying that the notion lay beyond the scope of the article. That was a lie. I was just being lazy. I was approaching my word limit and just wanted to be done with the story. Forgive me.

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Leading Off (7/1/12)

DMN Publishes World-Class Use of the Phrase “World Class.” We are all tired of the phrase “world class,” yes? Surely on this we can agree. We’ve all decided that striving to build world-class stuff oftentimes makes us look more like something less than world class, more like Springfield buying a monorail. We’ve learned that there’s a difference between being a striver and a climber. Right? So it was disappointing to me to read Jacquielynn Floyd’s column today. Perhaps you’ve heard of County Judge Clay Jenkins’ plan to provide transitional care for 2,000 child migrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border. Well, Floyd, after essentially acknowledging that we overuse the phrase, says the plan “is an opportunity to demonstrate world-class compassion.” Listen, I know I’m looking at a tree in a forest. Because I agree with Floyd. This is a chance for our city to make a huge difference in the lives of a whole bunch of kids. And the xenophobia that has sprung up in some quarters in response to their plight is appalling. So why must I bog down in Floyd’s rhetorical device? Just doing what I do.

Clay Jenkins Has Got It Going On. Speaking of the county judge, read Gromer Jeffers’ column about Clay Jenkins. Funny to learn that Jenkins got the idea to bring those migrant children to Dallas from his 8-year-old daughter. But the salient point of the column is that this plan shows just how fully Jenkins has stepped out from under the shadow of John Wiley Price. Strong work.

North Texas Foreclosure Filings Fall by More Than 40 Percent. Good work, people.

Gooooooaaaaaalll! Soccer happens real hard today at 3. Jozy Altidore is available to play, but some people think he shouldn’t. Here’s a preview of the match that predicts Dallas’ own Omar Gonzalez will start. But the preview also predicts that Belgium will win 1-0, which is clearly wrong.

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Tango Frogs Return to Lower Greenville

Have you heard of the Dallas family of frogs that survived a city ordinance threatening their home, and then narrowly escaped a deadly fire and hurricane-strong winds knocking them down to an almost certain death? And in the midst of it all, they were split apart, an emotional heartbreak leaving three in Nashville and three in Hillsboro?

Well, even if you haven’t, thanks to a few kind-hearted Texans, the Dallas half of these amphibious creatures will have happier days ahead of them. And if you drive by Taco Cabana on Lower Greenville today, you can see them, returned to their original home, nearly 30 years later.

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