August 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Think everyone else is a jerk. That might suggest something about you...

“Picture the world through the eyes of the jerk. The line of people in the post office is a mass of unimportant fools; it’s a felt injustice that you must wait while they bumble with their requests. The flight attendant is not a potentially interesting person with her own cares and struggles but instead the most available face of a corporation that stupidly insists you shut your phone. Custodians and secretaries are lazy complainers who rightly get the scut work. The person who disagrees with you at the staff meeting is an idiot to be shot down. Entering a subway is an exercise in nudging past the dumb schmoes.” Are you surrounded by fools? (Um, yeah!) Are you the only reasonable person around? (You know it!) Then maybe you’re the one with the jerkitude. (Oh…) From Aeon, an article that seems well-timed, and provides a decent way to kick off the weekend: A theory of jerks. (If you read my headline and thought this article was going to be about a certain person, that’s on you. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.)


Crop, Crop, Fizz, Fizz

“Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked.” From Fortune: California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farmworker shortage.

+ Reveal: No sanctuary, fewer farmhands: How Dairyland suffers under Trump agenda.

+ Vice: American workers are learning that shrimpin’ ain’t easy. “This year, captains only managed to fill a quarter of the low level positions normally held by Mexicans and Nicaraguans during the summer. And the grueling work leads many inexperienced new hires to quit, forcing the boats to turn around.”


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: I’ve been digging Dear White People, the Netflix series, in which “students of color navigate the daily slights and slippery politics of life at an Ivy League college that’s not nearly as ‘post-racial’ as it thinks.” The show is insightful, entertaining, and has a very unique storytelling structure. Give it a try.

+ What to Stream: SF hosts the latest summer music festival. You can stream some of the acts from Outside Lands. Look for my face in the crowd on Saturday during performances by NextDraft-approved bands, Royal Blood and Cage the Elephant. (I’ll be the old guy trying to dress and act like a young guy.)

+ What to Scratch: In celebration of the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip hop, Google has replaced its logo with a pair of working turntables and a crate of records to scratch and mix. And Tim Carmody made an intro to hip hop playlist on Spotify.

+ What to Read: “Ten years from now, a lot of these alt-right concepts are going to be very mainstream in white people’s minds. Look at feminism. It started as a fringe movement. Now it’s mainstream, left and right.” In Harper’s, Seyward Darby reports from the frontlines of the women’s alt-right movement: The Rise of the Valkyries.


Verbal Remedies

Fire and Fury. Locked and Loaded. Dumb and Dumber… It’s been a long and stressful week of increasingly heated rhetoric (that threatens to weaken the unanimously-backed sanctions) when it comes to the US and North Korea. But as AP reports, beyond the bluster, the two sides are in contact.

+ Interesting analysis from WaPo: If Trump wants a nuclear attack against North Korea, his military advisers have few other options.

+ “The North Koreans will never give up their program. This is an impoverished, authoritarian country, and this is their insurance policy. At same time, they will never use it. They know it will be the end. And they’re not suicidal.” Robin Wright: The Way Out of Trump’s Ad-Lib War with North Korea.


That’s (Not) All, Folks

“In the U.S. alone, more than 116,000 people are waiting to receive a lifesaving organ transplant, while only 17,157 transplants have been performed this year.” But gene editing has opened up new (and near-term) possibilities for transplants using pig organs.


Can We Talk?

“The move came after some of its employees expressed concern over online harassment they had begun to receive after their questions and names have been published outside the company on a variety of largely alt-right sites.” On Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai canceled an all-hands meeting about the gender controversy due to employee worries of online harassment. In a way, this seems like the best way to stoke the fires of trolls and lunatics. But think about it. If Google employees are afraid of a social media backlash, imagine how regular Internet users feel…

+ “When a legitimate and fundamentally important debate breaks out, and the company’s employees try to come together to understand its nuances, to find a path forward …..To threaten those engaged in that conversation with physical violence? That’s f#cking terrorism, period. And it’s damn well time we called it that.” John Battelle: No. This Cannot Stand.


Initial Public Obfuscation

“We were clearly wrong in our estimate of the logistical challenges of this transition and its ability to reaccelerate customer growth and engagement.” Just six weeks after its IPO, lead underwriter Goldman Sachs has downgraded Blue Apron. Morgan Stanley pulled the same stunt four months after taking Snap public. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson here for investors.


The Disinformation Age

“The new so-called hyperpartisan sites mix with long-standing outlets to create a new, huge online partisan news ecosystem that is taking over people’s timelines and creating alternate universes in which your side is always right and the other side is always wrong.” From Buzzfeed: Inside The Partisan Fight For Your News Feed.

+ Nautilus: The story behind the birth of the information age.

+ For an interesting look at how we’ve used information through the ages, check out Alex Wright’s book, Glut. “Today’s ‘information explosion’ may seem like an acutely modern phenomenon, but we are not the first generation—nor even the first species—to wrestle with the problem of information overload.” (One of my ancestors was responsible for compiling a list of the day’s most fascinating hieroglyphics.)


I Must Be in the Front Row

The NYT has a photo collection that shows you the performer’s view from stage as they gaze down at their most passionate devotees. (This is basically how I picture you reading NextDraft.) The Front Row.


Bottom of the News

“It’s no longer in your imagination. You’re not pretending that the doll is talking to you, the robot is literally talking to you. So there are similarities: you’re still choosing the appearance, you’re choosing different capabilities, you are shaping what you want you sexual partner to look like, and to act like, and to be. But now it’s much, much more sophisticated.” Quartz: Humans and robots are on the cusp of a sexual intimacy we may never reverse. (And I’m not sure we’d want to…)

+ Starbucks is now facing some serious competition. From other Starbucks.

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