Wednesday, June 28th, 2017


The World’s Least Exclusive Club

"Facebook's rules constitute a legal world of their own. They stand in sharp contrast to the United States' First Amendment protections of free speech, which courts have interpreted to allow exactly the sort of speech and writing censored by the company's hate speech algorithm. But they also differ -- for example, in permitting postings that deny the Holocaust -- from more restrictive European standards." Pro Publica got their hands on a selection of internal Facebook documents that shed some light on how the company (with the help of its algorithms) differentiates between hate speech and legitimate political expression. Why is this such an important issue? It comes down to simple math. Facebook just passed the 2 billion user mark (that's more than 25% of the world's population). In some ways, the platform is becoming the new nation state. But what kind of global village are we building? Since it's owned by a corporation, this one isn't going to be a democracy -- whether you 'Like' it or not.

+ "It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people who haven't spent time thinking about these larger questions." From Quartz: A Silicon Valley engineer explains why every tech worker needs a humanities education. (I was a Humanities major, and I'm still not sure I'm qualified to set the tone for 2 billion people.)


Enemy (Gold)mine

During the latest episode of White House Press Conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders unloaded on CNN and the rest of media for all the "fake news" they've been peddling. It was yet another absurd moment in what looks to be an all out war between the Trump administration and the mainstream media. But this seemingly fraught relationship could be more symbiotic than it appears. Trump is in the Oval Office, and, as Variety reports, cable news ratings are through the roof.


Health Care Check-Up

"Senate leadership has reportedly set a Friday deadline for a new draft of the bill. The Congressional Budget Office could score it next week, setting up a mid-July vote." The vote has been delayed, but the Senate's repeal and replace efforts are far from over.

+ When it comes to public support, there's room improvement. NPR: Just 17 Percent Of Americans Approve Of Republican Senate Health Care Bill.

+ The Atlantic: Why the GOP's Plan for Health Care Hit a Wall.

+ "She's not a paramedic. She's just a teen-adult librarian -- and saved six people since April. That's a lot for a librarian." If we're gonna talk about health care in America, we need to be talking about the opiate crisis. From CNN: The opioid epidemic is so bad that librarians are learning how to treat overdoses.


The Wellness Monster

You're eating wrong. You're sleeping wrong. You're even breathing wrong. Luckily, the wellness industry is here to set you back on the right course ... for a price. In 1979, Dan Rather did a 60 Minutes segment on wellness during which he said: "Wellness, that's not a word you hear every day." Obviously, times have changed and wellness is now a word you do hear every day (if not, you need to have your ears checked too). NY Mag's Amy LaRocca on The Wellness Epidemic.


Jobs Report

In some parts of the country where factory jobs have disappeared and unemployment is soaring, there are many jobs openings that remain unfilled. What gives? It turns out that "the fastest-growing jobs in the American economy are those that are often held by women." As the NYT's Susan Chira explains, the notions of masculinity die hard. And those notions aren't just held by men. One researcher "found that some men who might have been willing to consider lower-paid jobs in typically feminine fields encountered resistance from their wives, who urged them to keep looking."

+ So many modern business and cultural trends are hitting the same places in the same (often deleterious) ways. From the NYT: In Towns Already Hit by Steel Mill Closings, a New Casualty: Retail Jobs.

+ "While coal companies are hiring again, executives are starting to search for workers who can crunch gigabytes of data or use a joystick to maneuver mining vehicles hundreds of miles away." Bloomberg: Looking for a Coal Job? Better Work on Those PlayStation Skills.


One Word: Plastics

In the next minute, a million plastic bottles will be sold around the world. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 80,000 plastic bottles will be purchased. In other words, we're creating a lot of plastic bottles, and the pace is accelerating. The Guardian on the world's plastic binge.

+ These stats make this exchange from The Graduate seem like one of the most prescient scenes ever.

+ "Some of the most disposable things we come in contact with when buying sneakers are all the cardboard shoe boxes that pairs come in and are, shockingly, not recyclable (the coating added to the boxes in the printing process makes them useless for reuse)." FastCo on the man trying to make Nike more sustainable.


Teacher’s Threat

Silicon Valley is currently embroiled in its latest sexual harassment story, and to many, such cases seem par for the course in an industry known for its bro culture. But these situations are by no means limited to tech, or even commercial industries. From Buzzfeed: When professors change jobs, sexual assault allegations stay under wraps.


Honey Baked

"Three hundred feet in the air, Mauli Dhan dangles on a bamboo rope ladder, surveying the section of granite he must climb to reach his goal: a pulsing mass of thousands of Himalayan giant honeybees." Why would anyone make a death-defying climb up to a place where he's certain to get stung by a lot of bees? It's for the honey of course; but not just any honey. This honey is psychotropic honey.


Point and Shoot

InFocus has another collection of photos from NatGeo's travel photographer of the year contest. And as per usual, they don't disappoint.

+ Speaking of photos, I'm just back from Canada where my friend James Joaquin nailed this shot of a bald eagle getting lunch.

+ Want to continue the escape to nature for a little longer? Watch this video of the life that takes place around one tree during one year. And this rather enjoyable video of the fish that got away (after it was on land...)


Bottom of the News

You know that i before e except after c rule? Well, like just about everything else these days, it's fake news.

+ The dad who Photoshops his baby daughter into dangerous situations.

+ The history of Skee-ball.