Tuesday, September 20th, 2016


The Inhumanity of it All

"A large chasm has opened between the fates of young liberal-arts majors and their peers in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields. The former are struggling to find work that pays, at least before their late twenties. The latter are mostly finding lucrative work after they graduate." (This actually gives me some good fodder for conversation next time my parents come down to the basement for a talk.) The Atlantic's Derek Thompson on the millennial unemployment crisis that's really a liberal arts unemployment crisis: Fear of a College-Educated Barista. Right about now, I could use a Venti coffee with room for irony.


Getting Away with Murder

The headlines keep coming. More murders in Chicago. A weekend of shootings. A summer of killings. But as the excellent Alex Kotlowitz explains, "one issue is rarely raised: year after year, the vast majority of murders and non-fatal shootings in Chicago go unsolved. Last year, the police charged individuals in just twenty-six per cent of all murders. Of the nearly three thousand non-fatal shootings, only ten per cent of the assailants were charged, which means that you have a pretty good chance of shooting someone in Chicago and getting away with it." From The New Yorker: Solving Chicago's Murders Could Prevent More.

+ Jill Leovy's book Ghettoside is focused on exactly this point (and is a must-read): "This is a book about a very simple idea: where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic."

+ And in Tulsa, another police shooting of an unarmed black male has a police chief promising an investigation and the DOJ coming to town.


Getting Notified is the New Getting Deputized

Benjamin Wallace-Wells on the text alert sent to people in New York and New Jersey as the suspected Chelsea bomber was on the loose: "The alert also suggested a new role for its recipients, as temporary auxiliary police. 'Remain vigilant,' de Blasio said at the news conference, even after Rahami had been captured, and then in almost the same breath the Mayor said that he'd got a call from President Obama, who had praised New Yorkers for remaining calm amid the crisis. Perhaps there is no contradiction in these sentiments, and universal vigilance is now a feature not just of an emergency but also of more ordinary days when everyone is going about their business."

+ The Verge: A dystopian future or a natural evolution?

+ Jack Shafer: Was the Terror Coverage More Explosive Than the Bombs? (This is not merely an academic question for media insiders. Many experts believe media coverage could be a motivating factor for bad actors.)


Bank Shots

"I accept full responsibility for all unethical sales practices .... I apologize to all of the American people and our customers, and I will make it right." Those were comments from CEO John Stumpf who was taking major heat from the Senate Banking Committee over the millions of bogus accounts opened in customers' names.

+ Senator Elizabeth Warren didn't pull any punches: "You should resign. You should give back the money you took while this scam was going on and you should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission."


Another Disaster in Syria

"The United Nations has been forced to suspend aid convoys as a result of this outrage. The humanitarians delivering life-saving aid were heroes. Those who bombed them were cowards." In what is a sad metaphor for the whole fiasco, humanitarian aid has been cut off to Syrians following the bombing of an aid convoy. How ineffective is a ceasefire when you can't even keep the aid workers from getting killed...


The Slow Driver in the Left Lane

"As technology races forward, the government could sit back and play catch-up down the road, or we can keep pace with these developments, working to protect public safety while allowing innovation to flourish." The federal government throws its backing (and soon its requirements) behind the oncoming self-driving revolution.

+ Of course, they're already way behind. The cool kids have already moved on to self-driving boats.


Waste Case

"The most important thing to know about the e-waste recycling industry is that it is not free to recycle an old computer or an old CRT television. The value of the raw materials in the vast majority of old electronics is worth less than it costs to actually recycle them." So it probably shouldn't surprise us that a lot of e-waste recycling is a complete sham.


Rat a Tat Tat

"Wherever humans go, rats follow, forming shadow cities under our metropolises and hollows beneath our farmlands. They thrive in our squalor, making homes of our sewers, abandoned alleys, and neglected parks. They poison food, bite babies, undermine buildings, spread disease, decimate crop yields, and very occasionally eat people alive. A male and female left to their own devices for one year -- the average lifespan of a city rat -- can beget 15,000 descendants." But that was all before someone came up with the idea of rat birth control. From The Guardian: Man v rat: could the long war soon be over?


The Ties That Bind

"And after 28 years of brainstorming and 11 years of R&D, after many false starts, delays, and blown deadlines, after the vanquishing of internal skepticism, after innumerable prototypes, iterations, and redesigns, Nike's automatic electronic self-lacing shoe is scheduled to ship to stores this holiday season." Wired takes you inside the secret lab where Nike invented the power-lacing shoe of our dreams. (I can't wait for this shoe. I'm so sick of calling a Task Rabbit every time I need my laces tied.)


Bottom of the News

Donald Trump Jr. hasn't had a great social media month. And it may have hit a new low when he tried to explain the Syrian refugee threat by sharing a candy analogy. "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?" (If your dad wins, I'll eat the whole bowl.)

+ While the silliness of the analogy stands on its own, matters were made worse when Skittles responded. You know you're having a bad day when candy hates you.

+ But wait, there's more. It turns out that the photographer who took the photo of the bowl of Skittles shared by Trump Jr. was a refugee as a child.

+ The stupidest thing about the whole Skittles thing is that everyone knows illegal aliens eat Reese's Pieces.

+ "Norman would walk into a tournament, and it was awe-inspiring to watch. Everyone knew he would win in the left, right and over all. At that point, all the guys knew they were only shooting for second place, at best." As the NYT reports, Arm Wrestler Norman Devio is now 75. And he's still kicking ass.