Thursday, May 12th, 2016


It’s Like News

Facebook's role in choosing all the news that's fit to like continues to be a hot topic in media circles and beyond. And according to The Guardian: "Documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its 'trending module' headlines. For what it's worth, the stories currently in my trending module include Johnny Depp's views on a potential Trump presidency, Rob Zombie's defense of Babymetal, and the launch of a Mac client for What's App. This controversy is not a warning of something dangerous. It's an ad for NextDraft.

+ FastCo: Social network algorithms are distorting reality by boosting conspiracy theories.

+ The New Yorker: Why Do We Care If Facebook Is Biased? (If the first place you turn for unbiased, hard news is Facebook, I don't think Facebook is the problem.)


Middle Classic Rock

It's easy to write off the widening income inequality gap as just another part of a normal economic cycle. But it's really not. The numbers are way outside the norm. For one thing, the middle class is the new classic rock. It's disappearing just about everywhere: The latest "report by Pew Research Center found that the share of the middle class fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined from 2000 to 2014, including major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which saw a relatively sharp drop in its middle class."

+ An interactive map from Pew: Who is in it, and who is not, in U.S. Metropolitan Areas.

+ "One of the great ironies in modern America is that the less money you have, the more you pay to use it." From Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic: The privilege of buying 36 rolls of toilet paper at once. (At Costco, the 36 roll set is known as the Small Batch Forest to Bathroom Artisanal Pack.)


Brazilian Whacks

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff will face a potentially lengthy trial following the Senate's vote to suspend and impeach her. This was supposed to be a time of celebration in Brazil, a country that recently had a surging economy and is set to host the Olympics. Instead, they've got Zika, a recession, and political chaos. Here's NPR on Brazil's perfect storm.

+ Michel Temer is Brazil's new acting president. And he's accused of many of the same indiscretions as Rousseff (and some other ones too). As PRI points out: That means the new acting president could be impeached, too. Yeah, seriously.


Kicking the Cancer

"The final, critical decision was made against medical advice: Esther and Dan's resolution to stop treatment and let Andrew die. Had they permitted more chemotherapy, the treatment would have killed Wills's cells, which were what ultimately enabled Andrew to live." As part of a series on the new anatomy of cancer, the NYT Magazine looks at the miraculous case of one young patient: When do you give up on treating a child with cancer?


You Down with GOP? Yeah You Know Me!

"The scene outside Republican National Committee headquarters, shown live on cable news for the last couple of hours, resembled what viewers are accustomed to seeing at a high-profile jury trial, with demonstrators hoisting signs and throngs of reporters waiting for the principals to emerge bearing news. You could be forgiven for thinking the pope had returned to town." WaPo on the media's coverage of the day Trump came to Washington.

+ The report from inside the meeting between Paul Ryan and Trump: "We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there's a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal."

+ Oh, and about that total ban on Muslims entering the country -- the one that seemed to stir up so many primary voters ... Trump now says it was "just a suggestion."


Do You Accept the Charges?

"Depending on states, calls from prison can be exorbitantly expensive." For example, by the time you had a chance to this blurb aloud, you'd be close to $4 in call time from a North Dakota prison. From The Verge: Prison phones are a predatory monopoly. One family fought back -- and won.


Flirting with Disaster?

"For centuries, there have been stories of men who fall in love with androids. Over the past decade, the idea of creating AI you could love has moved from the realm of science fiction and into that of commerce and research. As AIs get better at games like chess and Go and Jeopardy, investors have poured resources into the study and development of 'affective' or 'emotional' computing: systems that recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human feelings." From Moira Weigel in TNR: Flirting With Humanity.
The search for an artificial intelligence smart enough to love. (I already feel a deep, human love for my Macbook Air. It's sitting on my lap right now...)


Talking Points

Alexa, Siri, Viv, and Cortana, I'd like to introduce you to someone that's just arriving from Google. Meet Chirp. It's only a matter of time before all of them start talking behind our backs.


Polaroid Rage

"It has gotten to the point that people won't even say hi to me or recognize me as a human. I feel like a zoo animal, and I wanna be able to keep my sanity." Justin Bieber explains why he won't be taking any more photos with fans. On Instagram.


Bottom of the News

"I do want to know what the goddamn goo is, what kind of crooked obstetrician monsters get paid off to peddle infant acting jobs in the post-natal unit, and what terrible things are done behind the scenes to make these babies cry so hard for birth scenes." Kathleen Hale on the secret lives of movie-star newborns: who are they, and what is all that goo?

+ Syndicated via Kottke: Photo retoucher Jordan Lloyd took old photos of famous buildings and monuments being built and colorized them.

+ Ripple: It takes 3170 hours to hide condoms in an adult movie. (Phew, I thought I was the only one who spent that much time with this material...)