TIME

Kill Switches on Smartphones Now Mandatory in California

Smart Phone Kill Switch
State Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, uses his smart phone at the Capitol Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Cannella joined fellow lawmakers in approving a measure, SB962 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, requiring all new smart phones come equipped with a "kill switch," that disables the device if lost or stolen. The bill was signed on Aug. 25 by Governor Jerry Brown. Rich Pedroncelli — AP

On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that is the first of its kind in the nation

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

California Governor Jerry Brown signed historic legislation Monday, mandating that every smartphone sold in California after July 1, 2015, be equipped by default with a kill switch, a feature that can render the device useless if stolen.

Proposed by state senator Mark Leno and endorsed by a bevy of law-enforcement officials, the new law — the first of its kind in the nation — is designed to curb cell-phone theft in cities like San Francisco, where more than 65% of all robberies involve stolen phones, or Oakland, where it’s 75%.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” Leno said in a statement. “Starting next year, all smartphones sold in California, and most likely every other state in the union, will come equipped with theft deterrent technology when they purchase new phones. Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities.”

Leno, a San Francisco–area Democrat, and other proponents of the kill switch have argued that if manufacturers are obliged to make these changes for the most populous state in the nation, they’re more likely to alter all devices, in anticipation of similar legislation in other states.

Many of the biggest telecommunication companies, such as Apple, Google and Samsung, agreed earlier this year to voluntarily add kill-switch capability on phones after July 1 of next year. However, the companies did not agree to enable the kill switch by default, so much as make it available as a feature. “The bill requires theft-deterrent technology to come standard on all smartphones sold in California, a departure from the status quo where consumers are required to seek out and enable the technology,” Leno’s office said.

The law will apply to all phones sold to consumers online or in physical stores in California, regardless of where the phones are manufactured. The law does not specify exactly how manufacturers must implement the kill switch, though it must allow a phone owner to remotely “brick” their phone and erase data, as well as turn the phone back on if it should be misplaced instead of stolen.

Officials like Leno have said they’re more interested in seeing the system implemented than dictating precisely how it works.

San Francisco district attorney George Gascón, also a proponent of the bill, previously asserted that carriers and manufacturers were reluctant to install the switches because it could encroach on the lucrative $7 billion phone-insurance market. A wireless association that represents major carriers like AT&T and Sprint, known as CTIA, has said hesitance was due to security concerns, like the potential for phones to be killed by hackers.

On Monday, CTIA said in a statement that their members have already gone to great lengths to protect smartphone users, citing actions like the voluntary agreement made earlier this year, as well as education campaigns. And the association insinuated that such mandated changes may yield costs that are passed onto wireless consumers.

“Today’s action was unnecessary given the breadth of action the industry has taken,” said CTIA vice president Jamie Hastings. “Uniformity in the wireless industry created tremendous benefits for wireless consumers, including lower costs and phenomenal innovation. State-by-state technology mandates, such as this one, stifle those benefits and are detrimental to wireless consumers.”

Advocates like Gascón, however, believe that this is a first step toward a new kind of uniformity. “This epidemic has impacted millions across the nation and millions more around the globe,” he said. “But today we turn the page,” he said in a statement. “Seldom can a public safety crisis be addressed by a technological solution, but today wireless consumers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.”

TIME technology

Taxi Drivers Are Using Apps to Disrupt the Disruptors

Essdras M Suarez—The Boston Globe/Getty Images; Justin Sullivan—Getty Images; Gamma Nine Photography/Uber

Taxis in San Francisco are fighting back through apps, with the city's blessing

Flywheel ScreenshotStanding on the corner of California and Polk in San Francisco, I took out my phone and ordered a ride from Flywheel, an app that’s competing with rival transportation services like Uber and Lyft by leveraging the thousands of taxis already on the road. Like with those services, once I order a Flywheel ride, a map pops up with a car icon, showing me where my ride is in relation to me and allowing me to monitor the driver as he or she gets closer.

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

On this particular morning, as I watched multiple Lyfts go by (unmissable with their trademark giant pink mustaches attached to the cars’ grilles), and a couple Ubers (the black cars now identifiable by small logos that must be placed on their windows), my driver’s icon drifted away from me. After some minutes passed, I called the driver, who assured me he was on his way. When he continued to travel not towards me, I canceled the order and got a new Flywheel, which picked me up and promptly delivered me to the company’s San Francisco office, with my bill and a 20% tip paid automatically through the credit card I stored on the app.

Once at Flywheel, Chief Product Officer Sachin Kansal explained what had likely happened with my misguided driver. “He may have been ride-stacking,” Kansal explained, meaning that the driver accepted my order on the app and then took a street hail, thinking he could deliver the latter before I ever knew the difference. But the moment I canceled my ride, the driver’s plan was foiled. He would be blocked from the system until Flywheel investigated the case, and these did not appear to be circumstances that would yield quick forgiveness from administrators. Kansal made sure I knew how swiftly justice would be dealt, because this is not the kind of mistake companies can afford to treat lightly in the midst of the Great Ride App Wars.

San Francisco has been transformed into a city full of smartphone-wielding guinea pigs, willing beta testers who try out new services and shovel feedback to engineers. But while many transportation startups are busy dreaming up new and unfamiliar offerings, Flywheel and similar companies like Curb and Hailo are trying to breathe high-tech life into the old taxis that have been around for decades. That business model comes with limitations as well as certain advantages—the biggest of which may be that the city of San Francisco is proving a willing ally, and that could in turn prove a model for other metros. (Lyft did not respond to an interview request for this article, and Uber declined.)

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s “position is that there is a public good to having a regulated taxi industry,” city spokesperson Kristen Holland said in an email. “We want to encourage the public to take San Francisco taxicabs by making them aware of the e-hail option and letting them know the benefits of taking a San Francisco taxicab.”

Earlier this summer, the city and Flywheel teamed up to get their pro-taxi message across by putting cheeky ads like this on the sides of city buses:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 1.35.15 PM

And this:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 1.35.05 PM

By getting its app adopted a whole fleet at a time, Flywheel now has its system in 80% of San Francisco’s approximately 1,800 cabs and is aiming for 100%. Both the city and companies like Flywheel have a financial interest in cabs doing well—Flywheel through the 10% cut it takes off the base fare and the city through its medallion system, which will yield an anticipated $10 million in fiscal year 2015. Holland says that the city also supports cabs because they’re a known quantity. The city regulates them and decides exactly how the drivers are trained. Questions about insurance and liability, which have plagued startups innovating new transportation systems, have long been answered when it comes to cabs.

Taxi drivers, many bitter that they have to deal with more onerous regulations than drivers for companies like Lyft, have taken to writing down license plate numbers of cars with pink mustaches and reporting them to insurance companies. While cabs are clearly commercial vehicles, Lyft drivers are often using their personal cars to make money, and some insurers have canceled Lyft drivers’ policies after finding out they had only forked out for non-commercial plans.

Using apps like Flywheel is a way for taxis to fight fire with fire instead of tattling, however justified it might seem. Flywheel’s Kansal says that drivers may double the amount of rides they get in a shift through the efficiency that the system provides, matching people who need rides with nearby drivers. “There are weaknesses that others have. There are regulations that they may be breaking,” he says. “But 90% of our energy is spent on making sure this experience always stays top notch. That the experience that you had this morning never happens again.”

While Flywheel can’t turn cabs into fancy black cars or Lyft Plus SUVs, customers who order a taxi never have to worry about surge pricing, premiums that other companies charge in times of high demand. And while Flywheel can’t innovate at the speed of the other companies, given the limitations of what a fleet cab can be, it did just roll out service to airports in San Francisco, Seattle and L.A—something less established fleets still can’t legally do in many cities due to long-standing airport regulations. The California commission regulating the new services like Uber and Lyft has threatened to shut them down if drivers keep showing up at arrival and departure areas without proper permits.

Kansal believes his company can outfit cabs in a way that allows them to disrupt the companies that disrupted cabs in the first place. The fleet model is “very scalable,” he says, though the app is now densely present only in San Francisco and available in just a handful of other cities, most on the West Coast. (Competitor Hailo is the leader among taxi apps on the East Coast and in Europe.)

But the equation isn’t so simple as making lists of pros and cons for new ride-providing companies and app-enabled taxis. After my interview with Kansal, I tried to hail a car through Curb, a rival app that just rebranded itself after previously operating as Taxi Magic. After failing to get a taxi assigned to me before five minutes passed by I went back to Flywheel. A taxi arrived, and I asked my driver Casey Callahan what he thought of using the platform.

“I have mixed feelings,” he says. “You get a lot of business you wouldn’t normally get, and it gives us an edge against Uber, but they take a kind of big cut.” Ten percent seemed too high to Callahan, and that’s the kind of resentment that can fester. UberX drivers protested angrily outside Uber’s HQ in San Francisco earlier this year when the company started taking a bigger cut of the fare, many drivers threatening to go work for someone else. Callahan said the Flywheel app can also have technical kinks, and it remains painful to pass up a willing street hail once he’s agreed to pick up a Flywheel customer, the temptation to which my driver succumbed.

Callahan described all the driver-luring and price-cutting companies are doing to one-up each other in the Bay Area as “cutthroat capitalism at it worst.” But he said that if cab drivers don’t use technology and whatever else they can to fight back, they’re going to go the way of the dodo and the stagecoach. “This is going to be one more thing that’s gone from the American way of life,” he says.

He says he chose driving for a cab company over the new services partly because he doesn’t own his own car and feels that buying one through a company, as some Lyft Plus drivers do, is the equivalent of being an “indentured servant.” Myriad factors could send a driver one way or the other. Long-time cabbies know how much they can make in a shift, while newer companies continue to play with prices and what cuts they take. There’s also the ethos of the job, like Lyft’s requirement that a driver fist-bump each passenger, while a cool distance in taxis is the norm and Uber black car drivers will open your door. There are hours, incentives, pride, rules about where certain companies can go and who they can pick up. And so on.

For those championing taxis, the question is whether cab drivers who long roamed without competition, facing no penalty if they ditched one fare for another, can give their industry the kind of customer-service makeover it takes to convince a San Franciscan to order a Flywheel instead of something from the long menu of other options.

TIME Culture

Oxford Dictionaries Adds ‘Hot Mess,’ ‘Side Boob,’ ‘Throw Shade’

This baby is a hot mess. Blend Images KidStock—Getty Images/Brand X

Oxford's editors have welcomed a new batch of words to their database, validating young people and making life less confusing for old people

Oxford Dictionaries, the arm of the Oxford family that focuses on current English, announced on Wednesday that they’ve added the latest batch of words to their ranks. Put into haiku form, reflections of humanity in 2014 could easily look something like this:

Bro hug. Amazeballs.

Hyperconnected hot mess.

YOLO? FML.

Or this:

Side boob. Cray clickbait.

Second screen. Live-tweet. Throw shade.

ICYMI.

Yes, each of those is a new entry in Oxford’s online database that collects modern uses of words. And that’s just a small sample of the many adorbs (adj., arousing great delight) additions.

For all those who are ready to set their quills to parchment and declare the end of the English language, now that such frivolous terms are getting respect from Oxford, please keep in mind that this is not the Oxford English Dictionary. That arm of the family is more like the serious and intellectual grandfather who constantly withholds his approval from younger generations. In other words, the OED editors require words to have much more historical, significant impact before adding them to that reference.

Caveats made, here is a selection of Oxford Dictionaries’ noobs:

acquihire (n.): buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff.

adorbs (adj.): arousing great delight; cute or adorable.

air punch (n.): thrusting one’s clenched fist up into the air, typically as a gesture of triumph.

amazeballs (adj.): very impressive, enjoyable, or attractive.

anti-vax (adj.): opposed to vaccination.

binge-watch (v.): watch multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession.

bro hug (n.): a friendly embrace between two men.

clickbait (n.): (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

cray (adj.): crazy, but without that time-consuming extra syllable.

Deep Web (n.): the part of the World Wide Web that is not discoverable by means of standard search engines.

doncha (contraction): don’t you.

douchebaggery (n.): obnoxious or contemptible behaviour.

e-cig (n.): another term for electronic cigarette.

fandom (n.): the fans of a particular person, team, series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture.

fast follower (n.): a company that quickly imitates the innovations of its competitors.

5:2 diet (n.): a diet that involves eating normally for five days out of a seven-day period and greatly restricting the amount of food eaten on the other two days.

FML (abbrev.): (vulgar slang) f— my life! (used to express dismay at a frustrating personal situation)

hate-watch (v.): watch (a television program usually) for the sake of the enjoyment derived from mocking or criticizing it.

hot mess (n.): a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered.

hot mic (n.): a microphone that is turned on, in particular one that broadcasts a spoken remark that was intended to be private.

humblebrag (n. & v.): (make) an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud.

hyperconnected (adj.): characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity.

ICYMI (abbrev.): in case you missed it.

listicle (n.): an Internet article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.

live-tweet (v.): post comments about (an event) on Twitter while the event is taking place.

mansplain (v.): (of a man) explain something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

mud run (n.): an event in which participants negotiate a course consisting of obstacles filled or covered with mud.

neckbeard (n.): growth of hair on a man’s neck, especially when regarded as indicative of poor grooming.

Paleo diet (n.): a diet based on the type of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans.

second screen (n.): a mobile device used while watching television, especially to access supplementary content or applications.

sentiment analysis (n.): the process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text.

side boob (n.): the side part of a woman’s breast, as exposed by a revealing item of clothing.

side-eye (n.): a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt.

smartwatch (n.): a mobile device with a touchscreen display, worn on the wrist.

SMH (abbrev.): shaking (or shake) my head (used to express disapproval, exasperation, etc.).

spit take (n.): (especially as a comic technique) an act of suddenly spitting out liquid one is drinking in response to something funny or surprising.

subtweet (n.): (on Twitter) a post that refers to a particular user without directly mentioning them, typically as a form of furtive mockery or criticism.

tech-savvy (n.): well informed about or proficient in the use of modern technology.

time-poor (adj.): spending much of one’s time working or occupied.

throw shade (phr.): publicly criticize or express contempt for someone.

vape (v.): inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

WDYT (abbrev.): what do you think?

YOLO (abbrev.): you only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment).

TIME Media

Genius, Mensch, Sad Clown: Dissecting What Robin Williams Really Meant to People

Robin Williams
Peter Hapak for TIME

The words used to describe the icon have a rich history that makes them even more appropriate than people realize

The world has lost a lot this week: a comedic genius, a real mensch, a sad clown. Remembrances of actor and comedian Robin Williams, who was found dead on Monday, have repeatedly summed him up with the same few words.

Some readers were learning the terms that cycled and recycled through the news. After Steve Martin tweeted his reaction to Williams’ death—“I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”—mensch became the fifth most searched word on Google.

But even those who didn’t have to thumb through their dictionaries may be surprised to learn the history behind these suddenly ubiquitous words, much of which makes them even more appropriate for the sad task they’ve had this week.

“Robin Williams, an Improvisational Genius, Forever Present in the Moment”

— New York Times headline on August 11, 2014

genius (n.)

In the Middle Ages, a genius was a supernatural being. In classic Latin, the word referred to the male spirit living in the head of a family, which was then passed into everyone else through him. And in the Middle Ages, genius came to describe an attendant spirit that was assigned to each person at birth, and sometimes two mutually opposed spirits (you know, the good genius and the evil genius). This same root gave rise to the word genie, like the lamp-dwelling one Williams’ voiced in Aladdin, who could be good or evil depending on who his master was.

Because a genius was to accompany people through life, fulfilling their fortunes and then escorting them off the mortal coil, the word came to refer to the essential character of someone and their natural aptitudes for things. And so writers using it now to refer to Williams’ singular talents are also, likely unknowingly, connoting a battle of the selves that geniuses have represented throughout history.

I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) August 11, 2014

mensch (n.)

This Yiddish word is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person of integrity who is morally just. But there is more to the word’s aura than that. Yiddish scholars could argue endlessly about the precise nuances, but mensch is often used to describe someone who is not only admirable but who should be emulated, a willing mentor who thinks beyond themselves in a way that shows strong character, not passivity.

Writer H.L. Mencken described a mensch this way: “an upright, honorable, decent person” and “someone of consequence.” Others argue that a mensch must be approachable and that a true mensch would never call himself a mensch, probably because he’s too busy putting the community above himself.

Like many Yiddish words, this one has been adopted into the American vernacular in a way that is evolving and richly imprecise. But most qualities assigned to the word, however Steve Martin meant it, have been reflected in other words people have recently used to describe what Williams’ was like as a family member and neighbor. The local comedy club in Mill Valley, Calif., where Williams could often be found backstage encouraging young comedians, canceled their weekly comedy night for the first time in 10 years this Tuesday, out of respect for their mensch.

The word’s origins are related to those of mannish. No, not the mannish we use now to refer to hairy or masculine folk, but a long obsolete usage. In Old English, being “mannish” meant one was of mankind, exhibiting humanity itself and human nature. And being mannish is at the heart of comedy, the quality of unspoken truths Williams’ indirectly told his audiences about, and made them laugh about, through his jokes and voices. You know, it’s funny because it’s true.

Robin Williams the ‘sad clown’

— Toronto Sun headline on August 11, 2014

(sad) clown (n.)

The word clown originally meant something along the lines of “lump.” From there, the word came to describe a clumsy boor or a lout—often some crass hayseed-type with no class or culture. Circa Shakespearean times, clowns evolved as fools who played up their ignorance or cultivated oddity for laughs, either in a court or on a stage. They were servants and sidekicks who might humiliate themselves, and hide their true selves, for others’ pleasure. And they could use that distance to mock more powerful figures by transforming themselves into something grotesque—and funny.

In Europe’s Romantic days, the notion of a sad clown—the type of character whose costume romantically masks inner turmoil—became popular. Part of this comes from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte theater that relied on certain stock characters that cropped up again and again. One of them was a bumpkin that actors began playing as a melancholy clown. Literary types were drawn to the sad clown as a character who was a creative master unappreciated by the public (no doubt because some of them felt that way themselves).

Certainly Robin Williams was appreciated, though perhaps not for the whole artist he might have been, after deviating from the Flubber era into more serious, darker roles. But he came to the American public as a clown. His first big part, as an alien learning human behavior on Mork & Mindy, was a creature weird and unrefined, a figure on the margins of humanity that knew life on this planet in a different way than the rest of us, in all its cruel, lovely sense and nonsense.

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME People

Robin Williams Neighbors Remember ‘Beloved’ Local Legend

People have been rocked by the loss of a pillar in their community north of San Francisco

Outside the Marin County home where Robin Williams was found on Monday after taking his own life, fans and friends had left about a dozen memorial bouquets by Tuesday morning. Some brought closed notes addressed to “Robin.” Others wrote their messages out in the open, like one on a pink, heart-shaped piece of paper that reads: “You’ll be missed! xoxo.”

One of the locals who came by to pay their respects was Agne Correll, the owner of an art gallery in nearby Mill Valley, which Williams had frequented. She brought flowers and her 7-year-old son — whom she said she wanted to teach the tradition of paying respects after someone from your community dies. “I didn’t know [Williams] personally, but I felt like I did. We all feel like we’ve been in his life,” she said of those who lived nearby in the area, which is north of San Francisco.

“‘O Captain, my Captain.’ I will never forget,” Correll said.

Fans and friends leave bouquets outside Robin Williams’ home north of San Francisco, in the small unincorporated area of Tiburon, Calif., on Aug. 12, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Others who knew the comedian and actor, whether as an occasional customer or as a dear friend, describe a humble fixture in the community who didn’t want to be treated like a celebrity. He would pedal his bike around the surrounding neighborhoods and stop at little shops to flip through CDs, they report — the kind of casual shopping an A-list celebrity could easily do on a computer at home instead, if one wanted to avoid the public eye.

Residents also remember Williams as someone who would never bark at the fan who stared at him or asked for a picture. He was, by all accounts, an American icon who was willing to lend his famous name to any local cause he could help.

“He was so beloved by the community,” said Louise Satterfield, who works at Two Neat, a shop in Mill Valley that Williams patronized. Tears welled in her eyes as she recounted a time they were talking about a Southern rock band named Little Feat, and how appreciative he was when she remembered to tell him their CD had come in.

“I knew it was going to be sad to come in here and see that music section,” she said. “We’re going to miss out on so much. But we have what he left us, which is genius.” After news of his death, the store quickly sold out of all Williams’ comedy albums.

Williams moved to Marin County when he was 16, and was voted “funniest,” as well as “least likely to succeed” by his peers. He studied theater at Marin College and was a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants, sometimes rooting for them via a microphone in front of the crowd, riling them up by tweaking one of his most famous movie lines: “Gooooooood evening, San Francisco!” The team also issued a statement after news of his death spread on Monday, lamenting that they lost “one of our greatest fans.” It’s no accident that they expressed condolences both to his family and “the entire community.”

Some locals, like employees at a bike shop where the avid cyclist would shop, refused to speak to the press except to say that Williams was a quiet man who didn’t want publicity. While he may have been a star, he was, to many here, a patch in the town tapestry. One friend of the family referred to the media attention accompanying his passing as “disgusting” and “gross,” an exploitation not of a public happening but a dearly personal, tragic event that befell one of their own. To many, the news coverage looked uglier in Marin County than it does in Manhattan or Los Angeles.

Microphones are piled high at the press conference to address the death of Robin Williams, held in San Rafael, Calif., on the morning of Aug. 12, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Almost every Tuesday, Williams would cross Highway 101, traveling from his home in Tiburon to the neighboring suburb of Mill Valley, to attend the weekly comedy night at the Throckmorton Theatre. On Tuesday this week, the board that would otherwise have announced what was showing had been erased and read simply: “Robin Williams.” More often than not, the Oscar-winning actor was in the green room, rather than onstage, encouraging young comedians, says the theater’s marketing director Julian Kaelon.

On Tuesday this week, the venue owners canceled Throckmorton’s comedy night for the first time in 10 years. They would run a show on Christmas if it happened to fall on a Tuesday, Kaelon says — but not today.

Throckmorton’s doorstep was also lined with flowers on Tuesday. A staff member put on a record of Gregorian chants, as locals wrote notes to the actor on a piece of cardboard taped over a glass poster box. Michael Jeung brought yellow roses and water in a mason jar, which he poured into an antique bowl where he had placed a single gardenia.

“I wanted to bring something that lasted a while and that was a little sweet, because he was so sweet,” Jeung said, recalling a time he helped divert one of Williams’ more insistent fans — an act the comedian heartily thanked Jeung for the next time they met.

Pilgrims to Throckmorton would walk under a big, circular painting on the ceiling outside the theater, a skyscape showing stars that shine bright enough at night to turn the clouds light yellow. The painting is by Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, an artist who became his third wife in 2011 and who is also a respected resident of the town.

This painting decorating the entryway to the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, Calif., was painted by Robin Williams’ widow Susan Schneider. Photograph taken Aug. 12, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Caroline de Lone walked under the painting clutching a box she brought from the bakery where she works, Beth’s Community Kitchen. “He was like a ball of sunshine,” she said. Her mother, Lesley, agreed: “He was a local. Everyone loved him. He was completely unspoilt.”

The baked goods were not for the memorial but for the executive director of the theater, Williams’ close friend Lucy Mercer. In a statement, Mercer asked people to remember Williams this way:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Robin, we have a simple request. Honor his appreciation of humor by laughing everyday. Honor his modesty by staying curious and willing to make mistakes. And please — hug someone today in honor of the greatest friend in the world Robin Williams.”

While some gave hugs in Marin County, many also turned to flowers. By Tuesday evening, the dozen bouquets outside Williams’ house had turned into nearly 100. Behind them, two statues of monkeys flanked the walkway leading to the front door, as they had before the tragedy but perhaps with new significance. The sentries’ small, stone faces were frozen in toothy, permanent smiles, and their hands held instruments just in front of their lips, forever almost ready to amuse the next passersby. They were playful and grotesque, fitting symbols for the day after the world had to face the loss of a sad man who made so many people happy.

TIME celebrities

Robin Williams Hanged Himself, Police Say

Robin Williams before his performance at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk
Robin Williams before his performance at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 28, 2009 Jay Paul—The New York Times/Redux

Confirming reports he committed suicide

Robin Williams died because of asphyxia from hanging himself in his California home, police said Tuesday, confirming a day after the actor’s death that he had committed suicide.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Office also said Williams, who was 63, suffered “acute superficial” cuts to his wrist, and that a pocket blade was found near his body. A forensic examination showed no signs of a struggle, and toxicology results for Williams, who had long struggled with substance abuse and depression, won’t be available for about two to six weeks, police said.

Williams was last seen by his wife at 10:30 p.m. local time on Sunday when she went to bed. Williams’ personal assistant became concerned the next day when the actor failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door. Upon entering, the assistant found Williams “clothed in a seated position, unresponsive, with a belt around his neck,” Lieutenant Keith Boyd told reporters during a news conference. He was pronounced dead shortly after noon on Monday.

Fans of the late comedian and actor gathered near the news conference in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday.

“It surprises me that someone who was so loved felt so alone,” said Leigh Carliglio of Contra Costa County. “He was loved, he was wonderful. This is devastating.”

She particularly remembers Mork & Mindy and then quickly adds Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin. “All of them.”

She was surprised to find out how he died. “We need more care for mental-health patients. We don’t understand how deep depression runs.”

Other fans filmed the news conference with their cell phones, lamenting how “a whole generation” grew up with Williams’ character in Mork & Mindy.

Outside Williams’ home in nearby Tiburon sat flower bouquets and notes address to “Robin.” A few fans lingered. “Anything he was in, I would go see it,” one said. “It’s just devastating. I have depression in my family.”

— Katy Steinmetz reported from San Rafael and Tiburon, Calif.


TIME Drugs

These Are the First Edible Pot Products Sold in Washington

Rethinking Pot Edibles Safety
In this June 19, 2014 photo, freshly baked cannabis-infused cookies cool on a rack inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets, in Denver. Brennan Linsley—ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stringent rules delayed sales of edibles for a month after the first legal marijuana sales took place in Washington state

When the first sales of legal recreational marijuana took place in Washington state this July, there were no edible products in sight. Due to a stringent oversight process put in place by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, no kitchens had been approved for churning out legal pot brownies or THC-infused oils or other green goodies.

That changed at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night when Al Olson, the marijuana editor of CNBC.com, purchased the first approved edibles, spending about $200 on products like Green Chief “Crazy Carnival Nuts,” “420 Party Mix,” and “Twisted Trail Mix,” as well as one vaporizer pen and “vape” pen battery. The historic sale took place in Bellingham, Wash., at a store called Top Shelf Cannabis, which was also the first to market with marijuana leaf sales.

The Board, put in charge of implementing the legal marijuana market, had the benefit of watching Colorado start up its marijuana market first. The state experienced issues with children accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles and then proposed more stringent rules about label packaging at the end of July. If approved, rules like putting certain edibles in child-resistant packaging will go into effect Nov. 1.

In June, the Washington Board adopted emergency rules requiring its approval for every edible product, including its packaging and labeling, before being put on store shelves. Products containing more than one serving had to be marked to show serving sizes, a rule Colorado is also considering to help combat accidental overconsumption by inexperienced THC consumers.

“Knowing the rest of the country is scrutinizing every move Washington makes in the space, there was no way this process could have been done quicker,” said industry expert Ata Gonzalez, who makes products like cannabis-infused chocolate at GFarmaLabs in California.”It’s great way the industry, and state laws allowing marijuana use, can display a certain level of responsibility in such a volatile environment.”

TIME 2014 Election

Republican California Dreaming: Candidate For Governor Neel Kashkari Charts New Course for GOP

California Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari Interview
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari pauses during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Kashkari, former head of the U.S. Treasury's bank bailout program, discussed his decision to run for governor in California. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

TIME sat down with the candidate to talk about his stint as a homeless man and how the GOP is going to stop their decline in California

Neel Kashkari is not yet a name most Republicans would recognize, and he holds policy positions many Republicans abhor. But the former banker who spearheaded the 2009 bank bailout may also be the Republican Party’s best hope for salvaging its brand in the nation’s most populous state.

In June, Kashkari came in second in the California governor primary with 19% of the vote. That makes him the single man standing between Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who won 54%, and what is assumed to be Brown’s impending, unprecedented fourth term. Kashkari, however, says he refuses to let Brown coast to victory again. “He thinks he’s entitled to the governorship because his daddy was governor,” Kashkari told TIME, when asked about Brown. “It’s like a coronation. So, okay, this is a democracy. I’m gonna make him answer.”

A native Ohio son of two immigrant parents, Kashkari is not a typical Republican, which may prove to be his most threatening feature in the increasingly blue Golden State. He’s a fiscal conservative, and a former Goldman Sachs financier, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but has also been endorsed by Mitt Romney, whom he strongly supported in 2012. The 41-year-old has never held an elected office, unless you count being elected to lead the finance club at Wharton Business School (which he, half-jokingly, says was a very stiff competition). With coffers dwarfed by Brown’s $22 million war chest, and $2 million of his own money already sunk into the race, Kashkari has been finding creative ways to win the spotlight.

In July, he spent a full week living homeless on the streets of Fresno, playing out an experiment wherein he tried his best to find work and failed, sleeping in parking garages and eating at homeless shelters. It was an attempt to point out that things could be better in California, and he made a video to prove it.

This week TIME sat down with the candidate. Here is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

The California GOP seems to be on the decline. There are fewer than ever registered Republican voters. A Republican hasn’t won a statewide office in eight years. The legislature is controlled by Democrats. Where did the party go wrong?

I can’t point to any one thing and say this is where they went wrong, or where we went wrong. I think it’s been a gradual decline. But that’s part of my mission. California is obviously a unique state, right? And probably the most diverse in the whole country. And I don’t think our party has done a good job reflecting that diversity, which is why I feel I have such a great opportunity to show the state, and show the country, that there’s a Republican party, a Republican candidate, that can reflect that diversity and reach out into the diverse communities and unite everyone.

So there’s embracing more diverse groups. Is that just one prong in a larger reinvention that needs to happen for the California GOP?

I don’t think it’s reinvention. One of the things that the Republican party has done a lousy job of nationally is explaining how our economic ideas help regular families. That’s part of why I did what I did a couple weeks ago in Fresno … We’re down to 28% registered Republicans. That data is right there. We’re not going to win another election if we just win the 28% of registered Republicans. So we have to grow our party. And what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half is reaching out into Latino communities, African-American communities, Asian communities and learning, What do you want? And you know what they want? A good education for their kids and good jobs.

Do Republicans at large need to be embracing the LGBT community more?

Absolutely. A few weeks ago, I marched in a gay pride parade, and the LGBT press said it was the first time a Republican gubernatorial candidate had done that. And my reaction was, Well, why wouldn’t I? They’re an important part of California, and I want to help them achieve their dreams. And you know what their dreams are? They want good jobs and they want good education for their kids, the same as everybody else. I’m working extra hard to reach out into every community, especially ones that have historically come to believe that Republicans don’t care about them.

Do you support same-sex marriage or believe, from a libertarian perspective, that it simply should not be banned by the government?

To me it’s the same thing. I support same-sex marriage. And I think the government shouldn’t be getting into any of our business. People should be free to live the lives that they want to lead, as long as they’re not hurting anybody else. I was asked about reparative therapy recently, which I think is absurd. The idea that you’re going to convert a gay person to a straight person. You’re as likely to convert me to being gay … People should be allowed to marry whomever they want.

There’s been a lot of controversy about the law banning reparative therapy in California. There’s also been controversy over a new law that allows K-12 transgender students to access sports teams and bathrooms that align with their gender identity. What’s your take on that?

My issue with that law is not the substance. My issue is the way it was done. There was never a discussion statewide. Parents were, frankly, not consulted. And all of a sudden this is passed, seemingly in the middle of the night. This is a real issue, and kids need to be protected from bullying … [But] we’re 46th out of 50 for education. This is the biggest issue that the governor and the legislature is focused on in education? We’ve got this Vergara case that just happened in June, finding that the civil rights of minority kids are being violated. To me, it’s a question of priorities. Let’s go fix our schools so that every kid—gay, straight, transgender—every kid gets a good education.

In the California GOP platform, unnecessary spending on social programs is derided. Are you prepared, when you’re addressing these issues of homelessness, poverty, lack of jobs, to spend money on social programs?

We’re spending a lot on social programs today. Those, in my view, are meant to be a bridge, a bridge to a job. But when you just push social programs, social programs, social programs, and there’s no destination at the end of the bridge—it’s a bridge to nowhere—you accomplish nothing. And that’s my big beef with both the policies that the Democrats and Jerry Brown have pursued and, frankly, President Obama has pursued nationally. Unemployment benefit extensions, more food stamps, more welfare. But to what? To what end?

Where does inequality rank in terms of California’s problems?

It’s an output. Income inequality and poverty are products of a failure in our policies, education policies and economic growth policies. If we get a lousy education, stuck in a failing school, we get left behind when the economy grows. And income inequality just expands. More people get left behind in failing schools. And that’s why this Vergara case is landmark. Because finally a judge has said education is a civil right, and we need to look at it through the lens of civil rights.

In a way these are issues that have been around since Proposition 187, and before. What are your thoughts about what happened then and how it relates to now?

To me, that’s old news. I always go into every community with the same message. I want your kids to get a good education. I want you to get a good job. And people say to me, Well, what about immigration? I say, Look, I’m the son of immigrants. I believe immigrants add tremendous value to our country. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we need to embrace immigration. But we also need to update our laws to provide the workers our economy needs. In Silicon Valley, they need engineers. Farmers need farm workers. Let’s prioritize those workers that we need. And then we need to enforce the law. There’s no point to having any laws that are utterly unenforced, whether it’s gun laws or immigration laws.

To drill down on one specific point, what kind of public services should undocumented immigrants have access to?

I don’t have a laundry list in my head of ‘These are what’s appropriate, and these are not.’ I don’t think that people are coming to this country or coming to this state in pursuit of such services. I think they’re coming here in pursuit of jobs. And the more we can grow the economy, the better off everyone is going to be.

It’s easy to draw a comparison with some former GOP candidates, like Meg Whitman, who came into the race with a fortune of their own. Is there a disconnect between talking about poverty so much and coming from a background that was relatively privileged?

Compare my background to Jerry Brown’s. My parents were immigrants. I grew up middle class, mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Jerry Brown grew up in the governor’s mansion. He’s worth way more money that I am. I said, Okay Governor, you want to talk about who’s rich? Let’s release your taxes. You want to do one year? I’ll do one. You want to do five, I’ll do five. You want to do 10, I’ll do 10. Do you know what he’s said since then? Nothing. So if I’m not allowed to talk about poverty, and he’s not talking about poverty by choice, who’s going to talk about it?

What do you think about the sort of anti-politician stance Brown’s been taking in recent months?

I think it’s the height of arrogance. He thinks he’s entitled to the governorship because his daddy was governor. It’s like a coronation. So, okay, this is a democracy. I’m gonna make him answer.

Have you interacted with Brown or met him?

No.

In other interviews, you’ve acknowledged that in some ways the state is better off since he took office. Unemployment is down, though still not ideal. Exports are up. The economy is growing. How bad are things in California now compared to when he took office?

Look at how bad things are now in an absolute sense. I went to Fresno for seven days looking for a job. I did not see a single ‘Help Wanted’ sign. But virtually all the fast food restaurants now accept food stamps. It’s in the windows. If you want to just hang out in the Bay Area, you’re right, things are great. But if we travel around the rest of the state and see where most of California lives, a lot of people are struggling.

Your stint of homelessness has gotten you a lot of national media attention. What was that like on the ground?

It was literally seven days, six nights, of walking miles and miles and miles each day, going into diners, hardware stores, auto dealerships, saying, ‘Hey, I just got into town. I’m looking for work. I’ll wash cars, wash dishes, pack boxes, anything.’ And the closest I got to a job was with one woman, who runs a Mexican restaurant, who said she was looking for a cook. And I said, ‘Great, I’ll be your cook.’ And she said I needed at least a year’s worth of cooking experience for Mexican food. I didn’t know what I’d find. I didn’t know if after two days or a day, maybe I’d get a job and then I’d spend four or five days living as a working poor. Or I didn’t know if after one or two days this might be so hard, I run out of money, I run out of food, that I have to pull the plug. But after three or four days, when I was running out of money, it was other homeless people who said, ‘Oh, you can go to this homeless shelter.’ So that’s what I ended up turning to for food.

What has Jerry Brown failed to do to address homelessness and poverty that you would do?

Here’s a Democratic governor with a Democratic super-majority in the state senate and the state assembly. And he’s making incremental changes. He’s tinkering around the edges. He should be Nixon going to China. He should be the guy saying, ‘You know what, as governor, I’m going to go fight for the civil rights of poor kids. And I don’t care if my union bosses are mad at me for it.’ That’s what a bold leader would do. Is he doing it? No. He doesn’t want to upset the apple cart. The thing that angers me the most is if anybody in California has the power to make big changes, it’s Jerry Brown. He’s not lifting a finger … In the face of record poverty, schools that are near the worst, and unemployment that’s near the worst, he does what’s politically expedient for him. That’s a hell of a record.

Now that you’re a few months out of the primary and 20 points or so behind Brown, and he has a huge war chest, what do you think your chances are of winning?

I was at 2% in March. And all the press said I was done. It was over. And we won the primary with 19% on June 4. And we’re now at 33%. So we’ve come a hell of a long way in just a few months. So Jerry doesn’t want to debate. We’re having the debate now without him. Jerry’s gonna hide under his desk. Let him keep hiding.

Have you heard back about debates?

We’ve received four or five different debate requests from media outlets around the state, and we’ve accepted all of them. And he’s hiding. Look, if my legacy were 24% poverty [a number that comes from an alternative analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data], I wouldn’t want to debate either. He thinks he can just cruise, not have to talk about poverty, not have to talk about education, not have to talk about jobs, and get away with it. Because it’s the coronation of Jerry.

In a lot of ways the bailout can be considered a success. A lot of people, of course, hated it, seeing it as the regular guys bailing out the rich guys. Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently with the bailout or that the government should have done differently?

We hated that we had to do it. We wanted to let all the banks fail. Because they deserved to fail. So for a year, they had been calling us, saying they’re in trouble. And we said, Flush the toilet. You made a lousy investment. You own it. Nobody owes you anything. But when we faced the Great Depression scenario, that’s when ultimately we said we didn’t have a choice. We’re gonna step in. There are lots of little things I wish we could do differently with the benefit of hindsight. But in the big picture, the collective actions that we took were the right things to do.

So you’ve obviously been getting creative with your tactics of late, crashing a Jerry Brown event and living on the streets of Fresno. What else do you have up your sleeve?

I can’t tell you. [Laughs.] The issues I’ve been talking about since the first day of this campaign are poverty, lack of jobs, failing schools, income inequality, canceling the high speed train because it’s a big waste of money, and investing in water instead. Those are the issues we’re going to keep talking about because those are the most important issues facing the state. We’re going to come up with every creative way we can. … And I’m going to make Jerry Brown answer for his silence.

TIME

Tile Me More! 6 Scrabble Tips From Top Players

Scrabble "A" lettered tiles are displaye
THOMAS COEX — AFP/Getty Images

In advance of this year's national championships, TIME asked experts to let their secrets out of the bag

If you like watching other people be really good at word games, then a most exciting time of the year is upon you. On Aug. 9, the National Scrabble Championships will begin in Buffalo, N.Y., and won’t conclude until a player is deemed supreme.

To celebrate this annual battle of the tiles, TIME reached out to top players and asked them what secrets they might share with the masses. Here’s what they said.

“Players of all levels should try to keep their thoughts two turns ahead.”

This nugget comes from John Chew, co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association. Each play, he says, should lead to a player being ahead in points not after the current turn but after the following one.

“Look for common prefixes and suffixes.”

Separating out groups or pairs of letters often found at the beginning or end of words can help you make sense of what’s left, says Chris Cree, also co-president of the Association. Take a scramble of letters like: EGINRTY. Throw the -ING suffix on the right, place the RE- prefix on the left, he says, and you’ve got RETYING all straightened out.

“STUDY.”

If you’re serious about playing Scrabble, top female player Robin Pollock Daniel says that hitting the books is the way to go. This not only helps you spot sanctioned words, she says, but helps you brilliantly challenge missteps among your opponents. Studying, for instance, is likely the only way you’re to learn that M-B-A-Q-A-N-G-A (a style of jazz-influenced popular music) or Q-U-I-N-Z-H-E-E (a snow shelter) are both totally allowed. The latter, incidentally, is among new words just added to the official Scrabble dictionary.

“Learn from people who play better than you.”

True Scrabble players, Daniel says, have learned how to check their egos at the church basement door. Studying other people’s games, in person, and online, is one of the best ways to make your own game better.

“Play different word games—don’t just play Scrabble over and over!”

Fully exercise your nerd muscles with a round of Boggle, Quiddler or Word Yahtzee, says Will Anderson, currently ranked #6 among Scrabble players in North America. You can even use your Scrabble tiles to play another game, like Pirate Scrabble, a.k.a. Anagrams, a.k.a Grabscrab.

“Stop, look some more.”

When you find a word you want to play, Daniel says, don’t be rash and throw it down all willy-nilly-like. Reset your brain box and see if you can find another word. “Sometimes it will be your original choice,” she says, “but more often than not, you’ll find something superior.”

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME Internet

Teen Girls Describe the Harsh Unspoken Rules of Online Popularity

Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

In a survey released exclusively to TIME by the social networking site We Heart It, young women open up about bullying, peer pressure, and online drama

Most teens live, at least in part, on social media, the virtual platforms that shape their real worlds–places where they joke, flirt and seek constant, elusive validation from their peers. Most of what goes on isn’t easily visible to adults, but a new survey reveals what teenage girls think of the darker, more anti-social side of this universe, in their own words:

“Bullying is constant.”

“I just feel like I don’t fit in.”

“There’s a lot of bad things that grown ups don’t see.”

“I hate seeing perfect people because it makes me want to be perfect.”

“People think it’s okay to make fun of others, that it’s just a game.”

“No one understands me. They call me fat and ugly. I wanna kill myself.”

“Sometimes I just feel like I don’t exist, like I’m invisible to everyone, I pretend it’s okay, but it hurts.”

These are just a few ways females from ages 13 to 24 described their negative experiences in a survey released exclusively to TIME by social networking site We Heart It. In research conducted through their site, many young women expressed versions of the same complaints—that they felt unseen or insulted, that other people didn’t understand the consequences of their actions. One clear lesson: while social media may be a place to make fun connections, it can also be just another way to feel isolated and insecure.

In a focus group conducted with 12 users and non-users of We Heart It, young women were asked about how they used social media sites like Instagram, a world apparently governed by an exhausting set of unspoken rules. If their feedback were written up into a list, it would look something like this:

  1. Have lots of followers.
  2. Have more followers than people you follow.
  3. But don’t look like you’re trying to get followers by hashtagging too much, etc.
  4. Don’t serial post. (“You only want to post one Instagram a day.”)
  5. If you do post multiple things per day, they’d better be amazing. (“You can post multiple tweets a day, but they can’t be stupid or not interesting.”)
  6. If you game the system, don’t get caught. (“She [my friend] probably has 20 fake accounts where she goes and likes her own pictures.”)
  7. Remove photos that don’t get enough likes.
  8. Be witty. (“Cute and clever captions are important. People judge you if they’re weird.”)
  9. Time your posts for optimal like-getting. (“There’s a lot of social pressure to get likes, so you have to post it at the right time of day. You don’t want to post it during school when people don’t have their phone.”)
  10. Facebook is for photos that weren’t good enough for Instagram.

And so on.

We Heart It, a site you’ve probably never heard of, is a social network based on uploading and “hearting” images. As Facebook has become more widely adopted and lost its in-group shine, this is one of the lesser-known places where young women have fled to interact without Aunt Sally looking over their shoulder. To date, the site has more than 25 million users, about 80% of whom are under the age of 24 and female.

In a survey on social media, conducted on We Heart It in December, 66% of roughly 5,000 respondents said they experienced bullying on Facebook, followed by 19% on Twitter and 9% on Instagram; 59% said they felt like they didn’t fit in on Facebook, compared to 32% on Twitter and 30% on Instagram. Just over 80% said they’d gone through drama with their friends on Facebook, 22% on Twitter and 12% on Instagram. Lower percentages said the same of We Heart It, but there is clearly a self-selection factor among respondents, given that all of them were active We Heart It users voluntarily taking the survey on that particular medium.

That said, the site does make bullying more difficult in at least one respect: there is no comment function. We Heart It is built as a visual medium where the only words allowed are essentially one-word tags on pictures, one-line bios, and one-liners on images. And a user’s number of followers is hidden a click away from the user’s primary profile page, which the company says is part of building an anti-competitive space. The gist, President Dave Williams says, is for people to arrange images into collections “to build a visual playlist,” something like a modern mix tape that other people can “heart” but not make fun of.

The site was started by a young male graphic designer who built an “I Heart It” page to gather pictures that inspired him. He didn’t intend for it to be a business, but his friends liked the idea, and the site soon became We Heart It. The company capitalized in 2011, and creator Fabio Giolito has taken a role as lead designer, handing the business reins to startup veterans like Williams, who previously worked for music service Rhapsody.

Spending time on the site, it’s hard to imagine that the users of We Heart It don’t also feel some of that oppression of imperfection, despite the positive formatting. Users post images of unicorns and painting nails, flowers and people holding hands—but also oodles of models in skimpy jean shorts and crop tops. It’s also easy to understand how simple it is to use, speaking only through pictures. Scrolling through hundreds, even the dour posts have some element of solidarity: “Girls fake smiles,” one image reads. “Guys fake feelings.”

Some of the descriptions of negative social media experiences from We Heart It’s survey also get at why it’s never going to go away.

“It’s just teens being teens.”

“People can suck.”

“Without having to face them in real life … that makes it easier for people to be rude.”

And the latter speaks to at least a few productive ideas: interacting with people face-to-face when you can and only doing things on Facebook, et al., that you would do in the flesh. Teens adopting that across the board is a dream, of course, but one worth promoting.

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