Recent Writings: Millennials So Millennial That Millennials Start to Hate Millennials

AirSmug city.

Quick link over to Big Think where my latest piece analyzes Airbnb’s disastrously tone-deaf San Francisco ad campaign. Put simply: the residents of SF are about to vote on whether or not to restrict the short-term rental market, which is Airbnb’s bread and butter. The ad campaign’s ostensible purpose was to persuade folks to vote against the measure by detailing all the good things SF does (or can do) with Airbnb’s generated tax revenue. Unfortunately, as you can see from the image above, the tone they opted for was “simpering, smug-ass douchebag.”

The rest of the piece delves into some other recent Silicon Valley PR snafus and basically says this:

The Ubers and Airbnbs of the world are a source of great pride for many millennials because they (we?) see themselves and their own values embodied in them. The recent Silicon Valley boom does feel like a new world order; young ideas are taking hold and (some) young people are thriving because of it.

The problem: These companies too often operate with a snotty sense of entitlement that leads to the belief that they’re above rules and decency. Remember when Uber execs were threatening journalists who dared to investigate the company? Stuff like that isn’t just because Uber’s CEO is a douche. Entitlement and swagger are important pieces of these companies’ cultures — for better and for worse.

The crux of these pieces is this: Sooner or later, the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world are due for a reality check.

Off-topic update — Since I went a few months without posting here I’ll note a few life changes:

-Recently switched jobs from Studio Theatre to the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Still living in DC. Still a House Manager. Still writing for Big Think, obviously.

-Have put myself on hiatus w/r/t playwriting as I focus on knocking down my student loans from undergrad. Tough to work 2 jobs and still put your all into writing when you’ve got other important commitments as well. I’m hoping to maybe re-emerge for Fringe 2016.

-I’m going to miss Donnie Baseball but managers are hired to be fired and life goes on.

Carry on.

Recent Writings: Back to the Future Day


Zemeckis, you lying bastard.

Brief update: My latest at Big Think is relevant to today, 21 October 2015, because it’s the day Marty McFly traveled to the future and forever cursed a generation with unfairly high expectations of the future.

Not only do we not have hoverboards, a bunch of Nike executives apparently LIED like a bunch of BIG FAT LIARS about self-lacing shoes. Also the Cubs are on the brink of elimination and they’re facing an almost-certainly insurmountable 3-0 deficit to the Mets. Daniel Murphy is definitely Griff/Biff in this awful alternative timeline.

Maybe the biggest bummer? Where are the retro 80’s diners? The 80’s are to us what the 50’s were to the 80’s yet cultural nostalgia for Elvis and milkshakes trumps nostalgia for Depeche Mode and Donkey Kong. It’s not right, I tell ya.

There’s probably a deeper post somewhere in that thought germ but it’s not happening tonight.

Adiós, Tita Ali

Ali, Robert, y Robbie

Noticias tristes: Mi tía Alicia murió anoche. Ella era una mujer cubana con mucho pasión. La vamos a extrañar mucho.

As most of you know, I’m a first-generation Cuban-American on my dad’s side, yet for myriad reasons my parents didn’t raise me bilingual. It’s the biggest regret of my life; mi Español es mierda.

But when I was around Tita Ali, just as when I’m around my grandparents, it’s straight up Flowers for Algernon with me and my Spanish. She instilled confidence in me, a confidence that I don’t always feel around other people. Outside of the elders in my family, I don’t really have much cultural connection to my heritage. I’m afraid of what it’ll mean when they’re all gone. Part of being a model minority is assimilation, but I can’t help but feel something vibrant is slowly being extinguished each and every day I move further from where I came from.

Tita Ali died in her sleep last night. She was a fiery, powerful woman who didn’t take no shit from no one. She was the family wit, armed to the teeth with a quick and biting sense of humor. She loved Coca-Cola and Cuban coffee. She was the pickiest eater you’d ever meet. Meghan, my dad, and I got to go on vacation with her earlier this year and she was always so full of life. It’s shocking to think that she’s just… gone.

Since she had no inhibitions about cracking jokes, I feel comfortable making mention that it’s a funny coincidence the U.S. and Cuba re-opened full diplomatic relations in the hours prior to her passing. I suppose if you told her that we were going to bury the hatchet with Fidel, she would have said something like, “¡Coño! Over my dead body.”

We’re gonna miss you, Tita Ali. Thanks for everything.

Aunt Alice and Meg

Returned 04 July 2015


Anna and I returned a couple days ago from our European vacation.

Reykjavik, Munich, Salzburg, Cochem, Bonn.

Photos are on my Facebook and Instagram, the latter linked below.

It was extraordinary.



Recent Writings 6/3/15

Beauty (R) and the Beast (L)

Beauty (R) and the Beast (L)

My last post in this space ended with “I hope to begin posting with more frequency in the coming days.” That was 71 days ago. Straight up presumptuous Robert setting himself up for the big time no-go right there.

Within this span I’ve flown on three planes, rode on one really big boat, left the country, returned, went to Miami (which is like another country), and returned. I also embarrassed myself by bungling a commission, trudged through 2.5 George R.R. Martin books, learned about Jesus and the Tsars, peeled a sunburn from my back, and quit my job…. somewhat in that order.

Time for the brief aggregation.

The below is a brief aggregation of recent blogging work authored by yours truly, craftily curated for your perusal, scrutiny, and/or the fulfillment of duties pertaining to loyal readership:  

Big Think

Meet the Tweeting Pothole That Annoys the Local Government – This was, as far as I can tell, the only thing I’ve ever written which was subsequently retweeted by a pothole.

What to Take Away From Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht’s Life Sentence – In which I talk about a guy who probably isn’t as scuzzy as he seems, except he might actually be scuzzier.

When Good Laws Go Bad: How One Professor is Experiencing McCarthyism in the 21st Century – In which I offer my take on the ongoing Laura Kipnis saga. It’s basically The Crucible meets Catch-22, set at Northwestern University.

Internet Trolls Have an Unlikely Ally: The Supreme Court – In which I unfortunately do not detail Samuel Alito’s proclivity for pwning n00bs in Halo, but rather present information relevant to the intriguing case Elonis v. United States.

Here’s What We’ve Learned After Obama’s First Week on Twitter – In which I make fun of the poor president for striving so unavailingly to be America’s cool dad.

Cinco de Mayo is an American Holiday –  In which I accurately explain that Cinco de Mayo as we know it is far more American than anything else, particularly because of how the mid-century Chicano movement appropriated it to emphasize and celebrate Mexican-Americanism.

Tesla’s Worst-Kept Secret Has Become Power Companies’ Worst Nightmare – In which I bring in ten times the pageviews versus everything else I write. Decent research as well.

I promise I’ll update more in the near future.

So see you in a few months.

Recent Writings 03/24/15


The below is a brief aggregation of recent blogging work authored by yours truly, craftily curated for your perusal, scrutiny, and/or the fulfillment of duties pertaining to loyal readership:

Big Think

The World Should Not Tolerate Modern-Day Slavery in Qatar – In which I call FIFA chief Sepp Blatter many mean names and lament the sad state of affairs surrounding the already-tarnished 2022 World Cup. We’re seven years out from this confounded tournament and the whole thing’s already a grade-A categorical cock-up. Beyond the pig-faced corruption and portended poor playing conditions, we’re somehow sitting here in the year 2015 and Qatar is harnessing straight up slavery to build infrastructure for a major international event. If our leaders are really as dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery as they like to think they are, the 2022 World Cup needs to become a more major battlefield in that effort.

In The Tinder Age, Even Bad Dates Can Be Useful – In brief, technology allows for people who go on dates to increase the scale of their dating to the point where a reasonable sample size of events can be collected and analyzed in a relatively short amount of time. This means even the worst dates can still be treated as building blocks for introspection and analysis. I should note someone on Facebook said there was a How I Met Your Mother episode about this but I wouldn’t know anything about that. Nor do I know all that much about Tinder dating outside of the enjoyment derived from treating it as a leisurely spectator sport. The late Greg Giraldo had a great routine about online dating that applies well to Tinder, though not vis-a-vis yours truly as I’m rather pleased with my current relationship status. I imagine the routine rings true though to many who got hitched pre-Tinder:

Tinder and modern online dating are pieces of a greater trend in which, as mentioned, broader swaths of data allow for keen and precise analysis. Ever since I got into baseball sabermetrics, the idea that seemingly unquantifiable elements could be condensed to a string of integers has astounded me. High school mathematics would have been so much more fascinating if we had presciently conjured up analytics rather than drill binomials. I think in the shower a lot about how my math teachers could easily have hooked me if they had just thought to explain the why.

How People Analytics Can Kill Pointless Meetings – Staying for now within the subject of analytics, a piece focusing on a brand of analysis that seeks to optimize work methods and company policies. The folks behind VoloMetrix (which sounds like the sort of analytics company a Bond villain would run) glean insight from a data pool consisting of over 1 billion work meetings. That’s an astounding number of meetings. Think of all the bored people. That’s billions of bored people. Billions. Bless their forsaken souls.

Beginning soon I’ll start posting more regularly. This will include some book reviews and other basic updates that I hope you find, at minimum, readable. I begin work on a first draft for a new musical parody (check the Now Playing page for more info) and I think it’d be fun to keep readers informed of how that process goes, so perhaps keep an eye out for that too. RM

Recent Writings 03/18/15


The below is a brief aggregation of recent blogging work authored by yours truly, craftily assembled for your perusal, scrutiny, and/or the fulfillment of duties pertaining to loyal readership:

Big Think

Congressional Politics Threaten NASA’s Mission – In which I compare NASA and other mission-based government agencies to an unfortunate child caught amid the incessant squabbles of two warring parents. Except these parents hold the purse strings that determine whether we visit Mars and/or learn how to deal with the effects of climate change. The unfortunate child is an $18.5 billion space agency.

You’re More Likely to Visit the Moon Than Pick a Perfect March Madness Bracket – In which I relay information compiled by many authors pertaining to calculations made by DePaul professor Jeffrey Bergen. The gist: Even in an alternate universe in which Warren Buffet is still offering $1 billion for a perfect bracket, Alternate Universe You isn’t going to win so don’t bother getting too excited. Actually, now that I think of it, there may very well be an alternate universe in which you do win because there may very well be an unfathomably large number of alternate universes out there, in which case you should still stave off excitement because you’re stuck in this one. Sorry.

Calm and Confidence Will Slay the Toxic People in Your Life – A riff off this article by a psychologist who astutely sums up the uncomfortable bind one is in when targeted by unhelpful, overly critical people. I don’t have anything particularly funny to say about this one. It’s just an intriguing thing to think about.

Words of Wisdom: Henry Becque and the Hypocrisy of Equality – I procured a nifty dictionary of quotations from a Little Lending Library this weekend, which is something that is both 1) an insufferably hipster sort of anecdote that I apologize for bringing up and 2) rather fortuitous considering my Words of Wisdom responsibilities rely far too heavily on random scouting on Wikiquote. Within said dictionary was the following quote by the somewhat-obscure 19th-century French dramatist Henry Becque:

“The defect of equality is that we only desire it with our superiors.”

I take that as pretty accurate.

Becque, who sort of looked like the dude who always gets held up in cowboy movies, was a pioneer of French naturalist theatre who somehow managed to avoid playing a major role in any of my assigned reading during grad school. It’s said that he wasn’t very popular in his day but served as an influence for the Ibsens and Shaws to come. I imagine there’s probably a lot more written about him in French on account of he’s French.

It was a slower week on the output front due to the celebration of this writer’s 26th birthday and the sad fact that this writer spent his 26th birthday, as well as the remainder of the weekend, sicker than the proverbial dog. On the bright side, I got to spend some quality time with the loving girlfriend who nursed me back to life. Making her the beneficiary for my work-issued life insurance policy has apparently not turned her heart against me. Score one for love.

Under Construction

Thanks for visiting my website. Sorry it’s in such crummy condition right now. It’ll get better, I promise.

Pretty soon I’ll have a blog here. The ABOUT and NOW PLAYING pages are up and ready for your perusal. See, it’s getting better already!

Keyboard Cat will entertain you in the meantime: