Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016


The Internet Catfight

It makes sense that cats and humans are the two most popular organisms on the Internet since they are also two of the few animals that kill for fun. The bizarre pleasure derived from hurting another creature is at the heart of many Internet social exchanges. For many of us, the tone of this discourse is troubling. For online publications and social networks, the spewing rage can be an existential threat. Can software and design tweaks based on behavioral psychology keep us in line? From The Guardian's Gaby Hinsliff: How the internet is trying to design out toxic behavior.


Git Hubbub

"For many years, it's been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it." With less than a year left in his presidency (and with only 91 remaining detainees), President Obama makes one last push to close Guantanamo.


Saturday Not Alright for Fighting

"The conflict began in 2011, after President Bashar al-Assad ordered his troops to open fire against peaceful protesters during the Arab Spring, and has resulted in the deaths of at least a quarter of a million people and the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War." Will the ceasefire pushed by the Russians and Americans -- and set to begin Saturday -- lead to an end to the nightmare? There are reasons to be dubious. But it's also a rare moment of hope for (what's left of) Syria.

+ The deal doesn't include several groups, including ISIS.


Backdoor Man

Bill Gates said he felt "blindsided" by an article that suggested that he is siding with the FBI in its dispute with Apple over the locked iPhone. But he leaves his position unclear by saying "that with the right safeguards, there are cases where the government, on our behalf -- like stopping terrorism, which could get worse in the future --- …that is valuable." Maybe we need backdoor access into Bill Gates to figure out his actual opinion?

+ The clash between the FBI and Apple is positioned as a battle between privacy and fighting terrorism. But what if we take terrorism out of the mix? After all, there are 12 other iPhones from which the FBI has wanted data extracted.

+ Why did the FBI choose to make this fight public? And why is Apple's reality distortion field losing to the FBI's distortion field. (This is a difficult issue. I haven't even been able to access my own iPhone since my kids changed the password.)


Candid About Cameras

"The rate of shootings by police officers was higher in Houston between 2010 and 2014 than in New York or Los Angeles, and the Houston police killed more people than the Los Angeles police despite having half as many officers" So why haven't you been reading stories about police shootings in Houston? One word: Video. From the NYT: Lack of videos hampers inquiries into Houston police shootings.


White Elephant in the Room

"For the past 10 years, we have quantified disturbing patterns around the lack of media representation concerning females and people of color in film." A study from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism confirms what we can see with our own eyes. It's not that the Oscars are so white. It's that Hollywood is so white.

+ Taylor Swift needed 11. Kendrick Lamar had 17. The Weeknd used 15. Rihanna, 21 and Bieber, 19. Which raises the question: How many producers does it take to win a Grammy?


Life’s a Beach

"We can say with 95 percent probability that the 20th-century rise was faster than any of the previous 27 centuries." Yes, the seas are rising faster than they have in at least the last 2,800 years. Maybe that's true, but on the other hand, blub, blub, blub...


Sports Stories

"When Lawrence got out in the yard, he proned out -- he laid down on the ground to signal to the guards that he wasn't fighting. But the Crip guys took offense. They thought Lawrence should have been fighting." In Bleacher Report, Lars Anderson provides an interesting look at final, fateful days of former NFL runningback Lawrence Phillips.

+ "He was willing to trade a city he knew for one he didn't, to give up his bankable celebrity in the States for a chance at a different life, and to cash in on his reputation by cozying up to the strangest allies he could find. In the process, he very nearly brought an end to the Negro leagues for good. What's stunning even now is Paige's willingness to risk so much. At 30, married and in his sporting prime, he decided to leave behind the world that made him." The Atavist on Satchel Paige: How the best pitcher in the American Negro leagues played for the cruelest dictator in the Caribbean.


Rah-Rah Raw

"There is enough out there for all of us. Why make it so difficult? It's like he has to have 100 percent. He can't be happy with just 95 percent." Inc takes you Inside the the Vicious, Vicious Cheerleader Wars. (I'm pretty sure I once saw that on Cinemax...)


Bottom of the News

"Women must be conventionally physically attractive, while men aren't held to the same standards. And as long as that's a reality, this trope is here to stay." NY Mag on Love and the History of TV's Attractiveness Gap. (Amy Schumer touched upon this topic in her remarks on the movie Zookeeper. "Rosario should get an Oscar for that movie. Let's see Meryl pretend to want to f*ck Kevin James for six months.")

+ From InFocus: The winners of the The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

+ WaPo: The baffling reason many millennials don't eat cereal. (Hint: It's the bowl.)