Saturday, August 17, 2019

Slow Saturday Special: A Short Time Ago in a Galaxy Not Far Away

We lack a government that really works in our interests. The living conditions facing youngsters nowadays are harsh, and they feel a lack of ownership over their hometown, both economically and politically.”

It isn't a parallel universe, is it?

"Glossier opens pop-up village in Seaport, part of a new model for selling makeup" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff, August 9, 2019

They came in droves.

The young people who crowded into the blush-colored pop-up storefronts in the Seaport for the opening of Glossier wore crop tops, high-waisted jean shorts, and thick framed glasses. They had bleached blond hair, persimmon-colored lips, and dewy pink cheeks — and they were all there for makeup that doesn’t actually look much like makeup at all.

Unless of course you want to look like you’re wearing makeup. That’s fine too, because Glossier, the billion-dollar Instagram-driven brand that created this buzz, is all about inclusivity, and last week, its team of pink jumpsuit-clad “offline editors” were more than happy to feed the seemingly insatiable customer demand for its line of Boy Brow gels and Milky Jelly Cleansers.

“I just want to live here,” said Cleveland Khun, 24, who came to survey the sheer moisturizers and glimmery Lidstar shadows before taking a selfie in front of the brand’s enormous G logo.

Whether Glossier is a makeup brand you’ve never heard of or a makeup brand you cannot live without depends largely on your demographic. (Are you under 35? Do you follow brands on Instagram and buy products through its ads? Then you’re the target.)

Glossier (rhymes with dossier) started on the web in 2014 as an extension of the Into the Gloss beauty blog. Its 34-year-old founder, Emily Weiss, has been hailed for making makeup more accessible by crowdsourcing the kinds of skincare products her fanbase wanted.

Not only am I tired of the mixed messages regarding #MeToo, but I'm $ick of the $elf-$erving $will pa$$ing it$elf off as journali$m.

Weiss arrived at an opportune moment: Department stores that once dominated beauty sales were seeing revenues plummet, while makeup meccas that let shoppers play with products were skyrocketing, but even the latter still largely overlooked younger consumers. By treating its 18- to 35-year-old customer base like besties and responding directly to their desires, Glossier soared to a $1.2 billion valuation in just five years.

Its prices are only slightly higher than drugstore cosmetics — mascaras are $16, and its Balm Dotcom salve is $12 — and its reported revenue more than doubled last year, reaching $100 million. Glossier also touts that it sells a Boy Brow eyebrow gel every 32 seconds.

It now has brick-and mortar stores in New York and Los Angeles, and recently hosted pop-up stores in Miami and Seattle. Its Boston pop-up launched Wednesday and will be open through Oct. 4.

The company’s meteoric rise reflects just how rapidly the beauty galaxy is expanding.

In the era of the selfie, and buoyed by Kardashian contouring videos and YouTube and Instagram tutorials, beauty and skin-care sales have been booming: to $532 billion globally in 2017, according to OrbisResearch, and projected to hit $806 billion by 2023.

Although much of the traditional retail industry has faced a reckoning, sales of beauty products are growing because they hit a sweet spot for shoppers, said Tiffany Hogan, an analyst at Kantar Consulting. Fast fashion fanatics want the same variety in the beauty aisle, she said, and more broadly, consumers are embracing wellness and skin-care regimens.

Moreover, the cosmetics industry is becoming more inclusive, with brands such as Rhianna’s Fenty Beauty widening the palette of skin tones available to consumers, and Mac’s unisex makeup extending its reach beyond the strictly feminine market.

The result, Hogan said, is “there are so many more niches and trends right now that people are buying into that it creates more demand.”

Where consumers buy their mascara, however, is changing faster than you can bat an eyelash.

Although online sales still make up only a fraction of the beauty market, Glossier is using pop-up stores to spread brand awareness and to position itself to grab a larger slice of the pie.

The company’s head of marketing, Ali Weiss (no relation to Emily Weiss), said the beauty industry has long been built from the top down, relying on celebrity endorsements while making consumers feel as if they were dependent on the brand’s expertise. In contrast, Glossier got its start “by sitting on the bathroom floors and edge of the bathtub,” she said, showing consumers how to use products and featuring real people in its ads, with peer recommendations driving much of its growth, but the clamor for glamour might be stalling.

Do I need even say it?

Makeup amusement park Ulta Cosmetics announced in late 2018 that it was pulling back on its rollout of stores, and, after a surge in sales, the makeup line from model Kylie Jenner, launched in 2015, may already be losing some of its sheen. Last month, L’Oreal announced that its sales fell short of estimates. Meanwhile, Amazon launched a makeup line with Lady Gaga, a signal the e-commerce giant is prepared to go big and push out the competition.

Weiss believes Glossier’s relationship with its often zealous fans will help maintain its edge.

Lauren Beitelspacher, a marketing professor at Babson College, said one of the drivers for Glossier and other digital-first cosmetics lines, such as Drunk Elephant and Winky Lux, is the  feeling younger generations want brands of their own.

“The legacy brands assumed they could follow a previous model: a mom would take the daughter to buy the same product she used, but that model doesn’t exist anymore because these kids can reach out and create their own relationships with brands,” Beitelspacher said.....

That it is not only gro$$, it carries with it the feeling of dirty old men and pedophelia.


Apparently, "Sephora and Ulta Beauty have seen blockbuster growth over the past few years, while Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s and other struggling department stores are giving their beauty sections face-lifts, letting shoppers lounge and pamper themselves, and drugstore chains are also bulking up their beauty aisles to let consumers test and experiment with brands."

That would be the local CVS.

Here is someone who once looked good:

"I chased details about Rosie Ruiz’s life; she outdistanced me" by Bryan Marquard Globe Staff, August 8, 2019

She faked a Boston Marathon victory in 1980, and from almost the moment Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line, reporters at the Globe and other news organizations found holes in nearly every claim she made, including on non-marathon topics such as her birth name and whether she had finished college.

In life, she had what might gently be called a troubled relationship with truth, and she eventually tired of answering reporters’ questions, slipping out of the public eye during her later years.

In death, if indeed she is dead, she’s having the final word, which so far is no word at all.....


They ran that same day Epstein was murdered (if they didn't switch out and fake it, that is).

You have to love the hypocrisy, too. The fake newspaper has a troubled relationship with the truth, but they were poking holes in the story early on. 

This stuff has become so insulting it has become a useless endeavor.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope:

"In rare media briefing, Pentagon officials seek to depoliticize massive military cloud project" by Aaron Gregg The Washington Post, August 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — In a discussion with reporters Friday in the Pentagon’s media briefing room, two of the Defense Department’s highest-ranking technology officials sought to depoliticize the JEDI cloud effort, a controversial cloud computing project that could be worth up to $10 billion.

The briefing follows several weeks of relative turmoil for the small Defense Department team in charge of the project, in which President Trump and three US senators have lobbied newly confirmed Defense Secretary Mark Esper directly on the matter.

Esper faces the challenge of moving forward with a long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress.

Newly confirmed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (left) faced the challenge of moving forward with the long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress.
Newly confirmed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (left) faced the challenge of moving forward with the long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Getty Images)

On Friday morning Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, a former JP Morgan executive, was joined by Lieutenant General John ‘‘Jack’’ Shanahan, who leads the Pentagon’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Deasy insisted the president is playing no role in selecting which company wins the contract. He said the long-awaited contract would not be awarded until Esper has had enough time to make a decision, and that they had scheduled a series of educational sessions in the coming weeks to fully brief him on the matter, and they made a strong case for why the Defense Department needs to move forward with the so-called ‘‘enterprise cloud’’ as soon as possible, alluding to a not-so-distant future in which robots and algorithms could define how wars are fought and won.

The sickos are preparing a Terminator future, and what is a banker doing over at the Pentagon?

In a possible reaction to the president’s interest, China was at the center of their pitch. ‘‘We don’t want to waste any time moving forward, because our adversaries are moving ahead at their own pace, whether it’s with Alibaba, Baidu, or Tencent,’’ Shanahan said, referring to China’s big tech companies. ‘‘With the level of investment and the amount of people [China] is throwing at the problem, they are moving forward at a very rapid pace.’’

The contract, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure or ‘JEDI,’ has attracted intense interest from four of America’s West Coast tech giants: Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. The opportunity could be worth up to $10 billion over a 10-year period, giving the winner tremendous influence moving forward. Defense Department officials have insisted on the need to give the contract to only one provider, and have thrown out initial bids from Oracle and IBM.

It heralds the rise of the robot

So how long will it take them to do the Kessel run?

DOD also hopes the project will bring order to a sprawling worldwide information network in which sensitive intelligence is stored in hundreds of mainframes and smaller clouds, often walled off from deployed troops who could use that information.

‘‘We have a bunch of siloed solutions we have built, we work with a lot of vendors currently, but we have never stepped back and tried to create an enterprise cloud,’’ Deasy said.

I thought they stopped scooping up that stuff.

Deasy said there has been ‘‘no pause’’ in the work of evaluating the two remaining proposals, a highly technical process that is expected to conclude in ‘‘a number of weeks.’’ Esper’s JEDI review is part of a parallel process, Deasy said. He said there will be no contract award until Esper’s review is complete, and declined to estimate when it might conclude.

Oracle and IBM have sharply criticized the Pentagon’s winner-take-all strategy for JEDI, arguing that approach will hamper innovation. They have charged that the process is rigged in favor of Amazon Web Services, and have unsuccessfully sued to block the award. Amazon executives have praised the single-award approach, arguing that such an approach will allow the Defense Department to move more quickly with its limited tech workforce.

For 18 months, that dispute played out mostly in closed-door hearings at the Government Accountability Office and Court of Federal Claims, which handle disputes over federal money, but in recent weeks the contract has seen a level of political scrutiny that is exceedingly rare for procurement matters. Trump recently asked Esper, during his first days on the job, to reexamine the process because of concerns the contract would go to Amazon. Esper said in an interview last week he was ‘‘taking a hard look’’ at the contract, and confirmed that he had heard from the administration as well as lawmakers from both parties.

In response to a Washington Post article detailing the president’s intervention, Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Jack Reed of Rhode Island wrote a letter to Esper, expressing concerns Trump may have acted inappropriately.


Oh, right, they are all off in Israel.

‘‘The integrity of our federal procurement process rests in large part on its insulation from undue political influence, so that sound technical and business judgments can be used to make data- and evidence-based decisions,’’ the two senators wrote, adding: ‘‘The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense.’’ The letter notes that DOD contracts ‘‘must focus on cost, quality, performance, and other considerations directly related to promoting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment.’’

I gue$$ that means no more campaign contributions and lobbying loot, huh?


Also see

"The Defense Department’s inspector general has assembled a team of auditors to evaluate the Pentagon’s handling of its largest cloud computing project, a massive contract that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. The review presents yet another hurdle for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as JEDI, which has been mired in controversy and costly litigation for more than a year. The matter was referred to the inspector general by members of Congress and through the agency’s complaints hotline, said Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. “We are reviewing the DoD’s handling of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” Allen said. “In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.” President Trump recently instructed new Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to reexamine the contract over concerns that it will go to Amazon, a move that some observers characterized as an inappropriate incursion into the Pentagon’s business. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)."

Always in motion is the future....