Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016


Watching the Detectives

"In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom." AP takes a hard look at the kind of data Wikileaks has shared over the past year in the name of a near-religious allegiance to transparency: Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets. It turns out we like it when people leak information about those we perceive as too powerful or generally bad (or those whose sex tapes or private photos we really want to see): Who cried for the Sony execs hacked by North Korea? Who complained when leaked, private phone conversations stripped Donald Sterling of his NBA team? But in the age of transparency (which is apparently now defined as hacked, stolen, reviewed, and distributed information), there are no promises about who will be targeted. That decision is often left up to a band of modern-day thieves.

+ And, to this point, there seems to be very little hesitation in newsrooms about whether to publish stolen information. For a quick overview of that issue, let's look to a guy who was at the center of the world's most famous hack: Seth Rogen.

+ The FBI is now investigating a possible hack of reporters at the NY Times.


Thems the Outbreaks

"Zika is one of those diseases that is always like an iceberg -- you just see the tip." From NPR: How Big, Really, Is The Zika Outbreak In Florida?

+ That question is less of a mystery in Puerto Rico where the answer is ... Big. From The Guardian: "As much as 25% of the island's population could have the disease by the end of mosquito season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and up to 50 pregnant women each day are infected on the island."


One Man Justice Department?

"Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte promised to begin a war on crime when he took office." I guess no one can accuse him of over-promising. "Seven weeks into his presidency, more than 1,900 people have died, more than half of them in vigilante killings." Duterte has also threatened legislators who get in the way of his efforts.


Link Blots

"The researchers found that depressed individuals tend to post images that are bluer, grayer, and darker, and receive fewer likes, than those posted by heathy individuals." From the MIT Tech Review: How an Algorithm learned to identify depressed individuals by studying their Instagram photos. (Facebook thinks I'm pretty well-adjusted. Twitter thinks I'm a sociopath.)

+ The Atlantic: How Artificial Intelligence could help diagnose mental disorders. (This seems like bad news for those who are melancholy about the rise of AI.)


Kill Zone

Aside from race and socioeconomic status, whether one who commits a heinous crime will receive the death penalty (and whether that death penalty will actually be carried out) depends largely on three key factors. Location, location, location. Emily Bazelon in the NYT Magazine: Where the Death Penalty Still Lives.


A Love Emergency

"Kabul's emergency services number has been flooded with calls from lonely men hoping to strike up conversations with female operators." NPR takes a look at the state of romance around the world, from meet markets to covert 911 calls.

+ If none of those options work, you could always just win a few Olympic medals.


Can It, Already

"On behalf of Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network, and four other states are claiming the new federal regulation would force doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children and requested the court to block the federal government from enforcing the regulation." Texas has filed a lawsuit against the federal government because it tried to prohibit discrimination against transgender people. (For the record, anyone is welcome to use my public restroom. Even Ryan Lochte.)


Lost in Rotation

Miss being able to go into an old-school record store and browse around? Wish you could still rent movies by driving to a shopping center and selecting a DVD for the evening? Well then you might want to plan your next trip to Japan. "Globally, 39% of all music sales are physical CDs and vinyl, but in Japan, the figure is double that."


Epic Epi

EpiPens have been around for awhile. They went from being a pretty obscure solution for those experiencing anaphylactic shock to a being a top selling medication. And now that the market has been created and saturated, it's time for the price hike. From Gizmodo: How Congress, the FDA, and Sarah Jessica Parker Helped EpiPen Become a $1 Billion Business.


Bottom of the News

According to some recent stats, people are starting to lose interest in Pokémon Go. But we expected some drop-off considering every friggin person in the world was playing it. These scenes make me think the game still has legs. (Lots of 'em.)

+ Congrats to Boston on their big quidditch win.

+ When a really tall stack of dominoes falls.

+ A lawmaker pushing to take trains public sits on the floor because of over-crowding. A train operator says there were plenty of seats. Welcome to TrainGate. (At least it's not as depressing as Brexit.)