Monday, June 5th, 2017



Members of the group "sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children ... Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child 'piñata time.'" Sadly, the sharing of this kind of content is hardly a surprise on today's Internet. What makes this particular exchange a story is that it was shared in a private Facebook group populated by students who had recently been accepted into Harvard's freshman class. After some of the content leaked to administrators, at least ten acceptance letters turned into rejections. On one hand, the material shared in the group ("Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens") was clearly over the line. On the other hand, you can be sickened by the content, but still be wary of a world in which private teenage conversations can have a dramatic effect on your future. And on the other hand, while some punishment may be called for, what these kids obviously need is an education (in using your brain on social networks, and in general). Yes, that was three hands. I didn't get accepted to Harvard undergrad either...


The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Sane

"Hired a year earlier, Mr. Sutter was the first science teacher at Wellston to emphasize climate science. He happened to do so at a time when the mounting evidence of the toll that global warming is likely to take, and the Trump administration's considerable efforts to discredit those findings, are drawing new attention to the classroom from both sides of the nation's culture war." The NYT's always excellent Amy Harmon takes you to a high school class where a teacher tries to teach climate science in an era where everything is politicized: Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students.

+ WaPo: How to teach kids about climate change where most parents are skeptics.

+ For starters, maybe these students should check out this XKCD timeline of earth's average temperature.


London Calling (a Wrong Number)

British authorities have released the names of some of the London Bridge attackers who killed several people during a terror rampage over the weekend. Vigils are also being held across the city. Here are the latest updates on the London attack from The Guardian.

+ "While the absolute number of attacks is down, the lethality of terrorism has risen sharply in the past two years." The New Yorker's Robin Wright: How Different—and Dangerous—Is Terrorism Today?

+ President Trump responded to the incident with a series of remarkably offensive tweets (even if you're grading him on the Trump tweet curve). From WaPo: "With his London tweets, Trump embarrasses himself -- and America -- once again: "His behavior no longer surprises us, but it should offend and disturb us, first, that he remains the face and voice of America in the world and, second, that his fans hoot and holler, seeing this as inconsequential or acceptable conduct." And from the New Yorker: Trump's London Tweets: How Low Can He Stoop? And for those who find those pubs too left-leaning, here's the lede from the AP: "President Donald Trump can't be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad."

+ The London attacks justifiably drew a ton of nonstop coverage by media outlets. But it's worth putting the violence into context. Here are a couple attempts to do that: From the Chicago Tribune: 35 people shot, 8 fatally, in Chicago over weekend. From The Telegraph: Baghdad ice cream parlour reopens days after bombing kills 16. And just today, Orlando gunman kills five people in workplace shooting.


Box Qatar

"Six Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Yemen—severed their relations with Qatar on Monday over its alleged support of terrorism." This is a big deal. From The Atlantic: What Just Happened With Qatar?


Summer Breeze

"For Baby Boomers and Generation X, the summer job was a rite of passage. Today's teenagers have other priorities." Bloomberg on the decline of the summer job: Why Aren't American Teenagers Working Anymore? (Out here in the Bay Area, it's because they've already sold their first couple startups, so they're taking a little time to focus on philanthropy and honing their Ted Talks.)


Capitan Marvel

"This is the ‘moon landing' of free soloing." Alex Honnold just completed the world's most dangerous rope-free ascent ever. It took him four hours to become the first person to free-climb up the side of El Capitan.

+ "Honestly even now I feel like I could go do another lap right now. I feel so amped." NatGeo interviewed Alex Honnold shortly after the climb. (After that, he went back to his training. Seriously.)

+ "He lost his left eye while testing a surf leash prototype during the 1970s and wore an eye patch for the rest of his life. With a thick beard and a slew of swashbuckling proclivities (including stints as a long shore fisherman and a biplane pilot), he literally became the face of his products." Outside: Wetsuit pioneer, 'affable pirate,' and surf industry legend Jack O'Neill died on Friday.


Of Statues and Stature

"The strangest part about the continued personality cult of Robert E. Lee is how few of the qualities his admirers profess to see in him he actually possessed." As more confederate statues get taken down, The Atlantic's Adam Serwer provides a very interesting look at The Myth of the Kindly General Lee.


Bigly is Out, Grande is In

"The benefit concert was described invariably - and correctly - as a night of joy, unity, solidarity and defiance." Ariana Grande returned to the scene of last week's bombing (this time with a lot of famous friends), and put on a concert called One Love Manchester. (Based on their responses to terror in the UK, it's clear that Ariana Grande should take over Trump's Twitter account.)

+ Here's Grande and Chris Martin performing a cover of Don't Look Back in Anger. And here are a bunch of other performances from the concert.

+ Ahead of the concert, 10,000 people falsely (and pathetically) claimed to have been at Manchester attack to get free tickets to the event.


In Pod We Trust

If the Internet seemed a little quiet this morning, it was because all the nerds were fixated on the latest Apple Keynote. The company is updating several software packages, previewed new iMacs, and introduced their hotly-anticipated speaker to compete with Alexa, the HomePod. Here are the 8 biggest announcements from Apple WWDC 2017. (The presentation lasted more than two hours. It might be time to introduce the iEditor...)


Bottom of the News

"You watch more. There's a video of her interviewing a basil plant and two of her reading out loud from the Bible. In one, her nose spontaneously starts bleeding. All of her videos are like this: unsettling, repetitive, sparse. Imagine anime mixed with a healthy heap of David Lynch, a dash of Ariana Grande, and one stick of bubblegum. There are a few characters who appear in the videos besides Poppy -- one of her recurring guests is a talking mannequin." It's harder than ever to stand out as being weird on the Internet. But it's not impossible. From Wired: Welcome to Poppy's World.

+ The Leftovers was a rare TV show in that it got better during each of three seasons. And it got fantastic in its series finale, which was one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen (thanks to great writing and the other-worldly talent of Carrie Coon). Here's Quartz talking to Damon Lindelof, who explains that the show was a love story all along. In addition to being a superb writer and good guy, Damon is a most-excellent dresser.

+ A man who mowed lawn with tornado behind him says he 'was keeping an eye on it.'"

+ Politico: How the World's Most Interesting Man Befriended the World's Most Powerful Man.

+ OKCupid data proves June is prime casual sex season. Good, I was getting tired of waiting around in my tuxedo.