Monday, March 13th, 2017


Sign of the Times

"Have you seen the sign in the square? There's a Ku Klux Klan sign in the town square." A few weeks ago, someone hung a KKK banner in Dahlonega, Ga. It didn't take long for the banner to be taken down, but the controversy continues because, in so many ways, times have changed in America. This was a local story that ordinarily would only matter to residents of Dahlonega. But today, local stories like these go viral, and residents are left to assess their broader meaning amidst a swirl of social media and fake news. From WaPo, In Georgia, the reaction to KKK banner is a sign of the times.

+ "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." Compared to many of his past statements, this remark by Iowa Congressman Steve King is actually pretty mild. Not much has changed about King and his idiotic comments. What has changed is where King falls along the political spectrum. The Atlantic's David A. Graham reports on Steve King's improbable ascendance. (There's been a lot of that going around lately...)


The Human League

CNN's excellent Laurie Segall just released a six-part series that tracks many of the uncomfortable questions about our increasingly complicated relationship with technology. I had an advance look at the series, in which some of my friends discussed very personal topics, and I've been looking forward to sharing it with you. I highly recommend it, especially the episode on tech entrepreneurs coping with mental illness. It's a topic that remains taboo, so any discussion of it marks a key step forward. The series is free to stream, whether you have a cable plan that includes CNN or not. Check out Mostly Human.

+ The Guardian: Who are the people that get so angry online? Meet the internet warriors, in their own homes.


Syria’s Children

The international politics surrounding the Syrian war have taken a number of twists and turns. But the storyline for Syria's children has been horribly linear. It's gone from bad to worse, with kids as young as seven being used as fighters and prison guards. According the latest Unicef report, "the past year has been the worst since the crisis began, with children pushed right to the brink -- being recruited at an ever younger age, being used to man checkpoints, being trained to use weapons, serving as prison guards."


Fraction Fiction Friction

Julie Beck provides yet another reminder that facts alone are rarely enough to change a person's false beliefs: This Article Won't Change Your Mind. But the surprisingly limited power of facts isn't stopping those who oppose them from going after yet another target. This time, they're coming for your calculator. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is the target of a smear campaign ahead of the release of its analysis of the new health plan. Vox has an explainer on the CBO.

+ The White House is also suggesting that the Obama administration manipulated jobs data to skew the unemployment numbers. Who would have thought that math would inspire so much creative storytelling?

+ Assuming you're still clinging to the whole arithmetic thing, here's NYT Upshot with the five big numbers to look for in the C.B.O. report on health care reform. (But they're rounding up from 13,999,999.)

+ And just in, the CBO predicts that 14 million fewer people would be insured by 2018 under GOP health care law.

+ Numbers aside, it's extremely difficult to reverse a major program of social benefits once it has taken effect.


Stop or They’ll Shoot

The opioid overdose epidemic plaguing many communities has forced police to act as social workers and drug counselors. According to one Ohio police chief: "Law enforcement has been forced to take the lead on this, and we probably are not the best profession to be doing this because our job really is to enforce laws. I never got into police work thinking I'd watch an entire generation die of drugs."

+ NYT: "A life of farming taught Roger Winemiller plenty about harsh twists of fate: hailstorms and drought, ragweed infestations and jittery crop prices. He hadn't bargained on heroin." 2 of a Farmer's 3 Children Overdosed. What of the Third -- and the Land?


Are You a Robot?

First, you had to fill in a captcha form with a few words or numbers to prove that you were a real person. Then, you could just click a box indicating that you were not a robot. Now, such barriers will be a largely invisible because Google can tell who you are (or at least what you are) from your browsing behavior. (I consider it a point of pride that I'm regularly mistaken for a robot online.)

+ Take a look at the robot that can fold your laundry. Once we create a robot that refuses to fold your laundry, we'll have reached the singularity.


Let the Chips Roll

Intel has long prided itself on being inside your computer. That helps explain why the company just paid $15 billion for self-driving tech supplier Mobileye. Your car is basically becoming a rolling computer. (I've always viewed social media as an outlet for road rage for those times when I'm not driving.)


Sweating to the Oldies

"On the surface, it may seem as if Pandora is very, very late to the streaming game: Apple Music launched way back in 2015 and has 20 million users. Spotify has been around for nine years and has 100 million users. There's Amazon, Tidal, SoundCloud, and even Google already in this game." Pandora is a set to enter the on demand music market. What do they have going for them? Personalization algorithms, the ghost of the great Rdio service they acquired a year ago, and about eighty million users (not necessarily in that order). From The Verge: The original music streaming giant is ready for prime time.


Tapped Out

The latest news on the wiretapping claims made by the president is best summed up by this CNN headline: Trump didn't mean wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping.

+ Buzzfeed: Omarosa Manigault, the gatekeeper.


Bottom of the News

"Once [shoppers] get into the heat of battle, any normal household worries or relationship worries tend to disappear, replaced by the thrill of victory." Alexandra Ossola on the psychology of the sample sale.

+ Ad Age: Heinz taps Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce for a campaign. (Yes, Really)

+ Texas lawmaker ridicules anti-abortion measures by filing anti-masturbation bill. (Looks like I picked the wrong week to be going to Austin...)