September 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You Talking to Me?

We all talk to ourselves. Most of us, thankfully, do it alone. But the frequency of that internal dialogue may soon wane along with the notion of ever really being by yourself. Whether you call them digital assistants or computers with a human language interface, their time has come and they will soon be listening and reacting to your every word; even the ones muttered under your breath. As Wired’s David Pierce explains, “the increasingly conversational nature of your back-and-forth with your devices will make your relationship to technology even more intimate, more loyal, more personal.” After what my iPhone has seen me doing, I’m not sure our relationship can get much more intimate. But it’s hard to deny we’re on the brink of a revolution in crazy-smart digital assistants.


Ah, Block

In The Verge, Nilay Patel explains why you should care about the new era of ad blocking, the big battle between tech giants, and the collateral damage that’s “going to include the web, and in particular any small publisher on the web that can’t invest in proprietary platform distribution, native advertising, and the type of media wining-and-dining it takes to secure favorable distribution deals on proprietary platforms. It is going to be a bloodbath of independent media.” (I’m not worried about ad-blockers. Sony. Even as an indie publisher, Coors, I’ll survive. In the end, DraftKings, it’s the content that matters.)

+ Related: For the past year and a half, NextDraft has been generously underwritten by WordPress dot com. Starting in October, I’ll be looking for a new, single sponsor. Let me know if your company wants in.


Chest Thump or Fist Bump

“His opening gambit to ingratiate himself with the West after a year of ostracism began with a singular gesture that Washington could hardly miss: dispatching a pronounced new flow of military hardware to Syria.” The NYT with a very interesting look at how Putin could be looking to improve diplomacy with West by way of Syria.

+ Quartz: The $500 million US effort to train anti-ISIL rebels has yielded ‘four or five’ fighters. (We should have been able to accomplish that with $300-$400 million, tops.)

+ It turns out the Putin/Elton call was part of a hoax.


Word is the Word

“I’m sure my parents think I’m dead. I’m their only son. They’re going to cry so hard when they see me.” In the six months since AP reported on the enslaved, beaten, and often caged fishermen whose catch of day often ends up in our kitchens, more than two thousand of men have been rescued. The power of pen.


Forrest Trump

While I try to keep the sport of politics out of the newsletter, I will make this prediction: We’ve reached peak Trump. But I’m only referring to Trump the politician. Trump the personality is dominating your living room in epic fashion. Consider this: Last night’s GOP debate on CNN drew 22.6 million viewers. To put that in context, the series finale of Breaking Bad had about half that number of viewers. (Maybe the magic is in the facial expressions.)

+ FiveThirtyEight: What went down in the second GOP debate.

+ Vox: The best, worst, and Trumpiest moments of last night’s debate. And here’s a look at the debate in 90 seconds.


Reserve Judgement

After much anticipation and speculation, the Federal Reserve announced there will be no increase in interest rates. “Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term.”


Mind Games

A report indicates that the antidepressant Paxil is neither safe nor effective for adolescents. It also indicates that GlaxoSmithKline delayed access to data that could have made that clear a really long time ago.


Hut, Hut, Bet

If you listen to the radio, watch sports on TV, or generally exist in America, there’s a good chance you’re feeling inundated by frequent adds for fantasy sports platforms. The level of technology has met the demand. And the demand is remarkable. And so far, regulators aren’t calling it gambling. From WaPo: Football has a new advertising king. (If you don’t play fantasy sports but interact with those who do, you probably wish they’d all move to a fantasy island.)


Peak Experience

“Richard Dreselly first hiked to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire in 1941” Big deal, right? A lot of people have done that hike. Well, Dreselly just completed his 18th hike up that mountain. And he’s 90. The Big Picture went along for the climb: Peaking at 90.

+ SBNation: In ultrarunning, addicts find a place where they belong.


Bottom of the News

“Listing the combination of chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise on a bun to create a sandwich is quite plainly not a copyrightable work.” Or is it? Hopes and Fears provides some good lunchtime fodder: Can you copyright a sandwich?

+ How to make a sandwich from scratch. (It takes six months and $1,500.)

+ Check out the new world record for stone skipping.

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