Thursday, August 11th, 2016


Free Speech Impediment

Despite its stock market challenges, Twitter is the de facto platform for sharing public commentary on the Internet. And as such, it's become the central battleground in the conflict between a desire for completely free expression, and the ravages of hate speech -- operating both as a bully pulpit and a pulpit for bullies. It represents microcosm of the way we communicate now; as our lowered standards for what's acceptable online bleeds into our offline discourse. Buzzfeed's Charlie Warzel takes you inside Twitter's 10-year failure to stop harassment. (I wonder if it really can be stopped.) "Despite its integral role in popular culture and in social justice initiatives from the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter, Twitter is as infamous today for being as toxic as it is famous for being revolutionary. And unless you're a celebrity — or, as it turns out, the president of the United States of America -- good luck getting help ... On Twitter, abuse is not just a bug, but -- to use the Silicon Valley term of art -- a fundamental feature."

+ Twitter responded to the story saying it contained inaccuracies. (And they said so really nicely, which seems promising.)


Joint Task Commission

"This decision isn't based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it's not." Many states allow some use of medical marijuana -- and it's fully legal in a few. But the federal government still refuses to reclassify it.

+ At least the US will soon allow more research to happen.

+ Now, some news about drugs that are actually known to be highly dangerous. From MIT Tech Review: The Painkillers That Could End the Opioid Crisis.


Things Fall Apart

"It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story, and to ask our readers to do the same. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read." The NYT Magazine dedicates an entire issue to the story of how things have gone so wrong since the invasion of Iraq: Fractured Lands: How The Arab World Came Apart.


Negative Reinforcement

"Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives -- though, of course, they'll anticipate the opposite." BBC provides some background on why it pays to be grumpy and bad tempered. This article really pissed me off. In other words, I feel better already.


Five Ring Circus

Many Silicon Valley insiders were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Sling co-founder Blake Krikorian. For his brother Adam, coaching in the Olympics at least provides a bit of distraction from the grief.

+ Quartz: China dominates table tennis like no country in any other Olympic sport.

+ Female gymnasts are getting shorter.

+ "You have to understand everyone's body was built to do something. I was built to do something, and that's how I was built. I think the world is realizing we were promoting one body type and there have always been many." Point made. Shot put.

+ The Fiji team is known as the Harlem Globetrotters of rugby. And they are close to bringing home that country's first medal. (I'm known as the Washington Generals of media personalities.)


Bad to Worse

"On other campaigns, we would have to scrounge for crumbs. Here, it's a fire hose. He can set himself on fire at breakfast, kill a nun at lunch and waterboard a puppy in the afternoon. And that doesn't even get us to prime time." Time takes you inside Trump's post-convention meltdown.

+ It's unclear whether it's a meltdown or a strategy. A day after Trump shocked everyone with his comments about Hillary and the 2nd amendment, he said something worse. And this time, there's no need to parse what he meant. He repeated it four times, and stood by it the next day. All of which prompted me to explain why politicians can't endorse him without endorsing this.


Mobile Tech

"The implication is that even apparently complete spinal cord injury might leave some connected nerve tissue that could be reawakened after years of inaction." The Guardian on an extremely promising study that used a brain training technique (with some help from VR technology, an exoskeleton and software) to restore feeling and movement to paraplegic patients.


Speaking Gigs

Edward Snowden has limited movement and is avoiding a lot of people. But in the last year, he still managed to pull in a couple hundred grand, all without leaving his Moscow apartment. (This is remarkably similar to my NextDraft business model.)


Romancing the Phone

"For women with physical disabilities, people with mental health problems, and mothers with young children, the flexibility, low barriers to entry, and high-earning potential all make phone sex a practical choice. Where the safety net of government assistance, charity, and family support falls short, phone sex--and sex work in general--can fill in the gaps." From Pricenomics: The Life of a Phone Sex Operator.


Bottom of the News

If we're reading this bill correctly, Italy is considering jailing parents who make their kids go vegan.

+ The Olympics is a reminder that humans are pretty great at sports. Just not compared to other animals.

+ However, no other mammal has successfully solved a Rubik's Cube while skydiving.

+ Consumerist: 10 Fictional Brands Hollywood Loves To Use In Movies & TV.