Wednesday, July 20th, 2016


You’ve Been Yiannopoulosized

"People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others." That was a statement released by Twitter HQ after the company issued a lifetime ban to one of the Internet's most notorious trolls, Milo Yiannopoulos. The final straw came earlier this week when the head honcho of hate "bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets." This brings up a few interesting issues. First, as any Internet user knows, this hate speech blankets social media -- and increasingly, it invades our other forms of speech, including political. It's hard to imagine that the impact of such verbal rancor isn't bleeding from words into sticks and stones. Second, while this abuse is terrible (if you've never been on the receiving end, it's worse than you think), there's always a risk in silencing voices, even those that make you want to pierce your own eardrums. And I really worry about the optics of drawing a line only when it's hate speech directed at a celebrity. Third, consider that social media is a magnet for the world's biggest jerks. And this dude was able to stand out as the biggest jerk of them all. No one can say that Milo didn't apply himself.


Fruit Preserved

There may soon be an island for misfit produce. Walmart, America's largest grocer, is now selling ugly fruit and vegetables. And some people think that the ugly fruit might be better for you. (I'm pretty sure I tried that line a few times during my college years.)


Purge Surge

Erdogan's purge in Turkey continues. Charges have been brought against 99 generals and admirals, and that adds to a growing list of thousands of people who have been arrested, fired, or suspended. From BBC: Who's the target of Erdogan's purge? (Spoiler alert: A lot of educators and others who had no connection with the coup.)

+ WaPo: Turkey bans all academics from travel in latest post-coup measure.


Syrian Nightmare

While the world's attention shifts from issue to issue, the abject nightmare in Syria continues apace. Here's The Telegraph with the latest disaster: "A US air strike killed nearly 60 civilians, including children, in Syria on Tuesday after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters."

+ And then there was the group of Syrian rebels (supported at times by the US) who beheaded a 12 year-old boy on video after accusing him of being part of a pro-Assad militia (he wasn't).


The Devil’s In the Details

"I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama." A speechwriter takes responsibility for the plagiarized lines in Melania's speech. And Trump tweeted his pleasure over the controversy: "Good news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!" Hard to debate that at this point.

+ NYT: How Donald Trump picked his running mate.

+ As the convention moved on, focus shifted to Hillary Clinton, as Chris Christie got the crowd chanting "Lock her up" and Ben Carson drew a line connecting her to Lucifer. Ben Carson. Wow. Am I right?

+ Hey, where are all the protesters?

+ FiveThirtyEight confirms what we all already know: There's Probably Nothing That Will Change Clinton Or Trump Supporters' Minds. Read that, and then go back to trying to change people's minds. Because you're a sick addict who can't turn away. (Whoops, a couple lines from my diary accidentally spilled into my newsletter.)

+ Yes, it's true the delegate from Nevada got his state capital wrong, but it's also true that more millennials recognize Pikachu than Joe Biden. That will change once Nintendo release Joé Go.


Getting Real in Rio

"The collapse of the ciclovia and the conflicting reactions that followed exposed the gaping divide between the city's elite and those who clean its streets. It said everything about Rio in that moment -- the postcard city with so much pain on its flip side." Stephanie Nolen on Rio, the Olympics, and Broken Promises.


A Close Shave

Unilever just announced that they will acquire Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion. Ben Thompson has an interesting look at what this deal means in the bigger picture. The price seems low to me. (Maybe it's because every dude under 40 has a beard.) I would have paid a billion just for the company's marketing videos.


So Cute It Hurts

"Cuteness has not yet emerged as an independent scientific field – Dale estimates that only a few dozen academics worldwide focus on the topic -- but he is hopeful that it is in the process of happening." The Guardian's Neil Steinberg visits Japan to unearth a new academic field trying to pinpoint what makes things cute -- and how that cuteness obsession might be connected with things less cute. (Related: These are my beagles hugging.)


Meme Buster

If you missed yesterday's blurb about the homeless teen who was camping out when approached by officers, I've expanded it a bit and posted it on Medium. I'm going to tell you a story that will dash your expectations. And you'll thank me for it. Not everything is as it memes.


Bottom of the News

Feeling bad about how distracted you can be when playing Pokémon Go? This video of a player crashing into a police car should make you feel better.

+ And from CNN: Pokémon Go players at risk of landmines in Bosnia. (On second thought, I don't want to level up...)

+ Looking for signs of hope? Watch tennis balls being made.