Thursday, August 17th, 2017


Hey! You! Get Off Of My Cloud

For a long time, Civil Rights groups have been urging tech companies to kick hate groups off of their networks. And, after Charlottesville, several key Internet players are starting to clean up their neighborhoods. Facebook is doing it. Twitter is doing it. Apple Pay is doing it. Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are doing it. Even Spotify is doing it (yes, there are hate bands too). This all seems like good news. We're cleaning up the Internet, right? But what happens when one of these few, powerful companies kick someone off the network that you think deserves to be on it? We have the mechanisms to block groups. But do we have an agreed upon rulebook?

+ Earlier this week, a company called Cloudflare terminated the service for a hate site called The Daily Stormer. The tech company's CEO didn't shy away from thorny nature of the decision: "Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I'd talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet ... It was a decision I could make because I'm the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company. Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous."

+ Nick Bilton: Tech leaders still have no coherent vision for how to police hate speech without becoming tyrants, themselves.


Father Knows Best

"He carried his doubts and disappointment across miles and decades, from childhood to adulthood, and finally at the age of 48 to the kitchen table of a modest house outside of Buffalo. There, he would ask an elderly aunt and uncle to help him answer the question that had troubled him all his life: Why had his father always seemed to dislike him so much?" The Boston Globe's Spotlight team with a two-part series on the children of Catholic priests who live with secrets and sorrow.


Barcelona Attack

"The vehicle sped along the pedestrian area, mowing down people and sending others fleeing for cover. Police are treating the incident as terrorism." In yet another brutal vehicular terror attack, at least 13 people were killed and many more injured when an attacker drove a car into a crowd in a heavily-touristed section of Barcelona.

+ A witness said the driver was "weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible."

+ There has been an arrest following the incident. Here are the latest developments from The Guardian.


Curing Peanut Allergies in a Jiff

"It's thought that combining the probiotic with the immunotherapy gives the immune system the 'nudge' it needs." Researchers in Australia are sharing details from a small, but promising, breakthrough in the treatment of peanut allergies in children.

+ NPR: Probiotic bacteria could protect newborns from deadly infection.


Monumentally Unstable

President (and renown history buff) Trump chimed in, yet again, on the debate around the Confederate monuments: "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can't change history, but you can learn from it." Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi and Cory Booker are pushing for removal of Capitol's Confederate statues.

+ The great grandsons of Stonewall Jackson: "While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument."

+ NYT: Trump Comments on Race Open Breach With CEOs, Military and GOP.

+ Steve Bannon on the white nationalists: "Ethno-nationalism--it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more ... These guys are a collection of clowns." From the American Prospect: Steve Bannon, Unrepentant.

+ Don't buy the angle that Trump's view on race were sparked by his presidential campaign and fueled by Bannon. From WaPo: Trump and race: Decades of fueling divisions. And from Vox: Trump has been saying racist things for a long time -- and it's never caused him a real loss.


Crowd Control

"Pretend for a moment that you're walking through your neighborhood and notice a line of people wrapped around the block outside a newly opened restaurant. Local food bloggers haven't written about the venue, so you assume the trendy-looking crowd must be the result of contagious, word-of-mouth buzz. There was a time when that may have been undoubtedly true -- when you could trust that a crowd of people was, in fact, a naturally occurring mass of individuals." But these days, there's app for that. From WaPo: See the cool kids lined up outside that new restaurant? This app pays them to stand there.


Live Work Space

"Sheila James starts her Monday, and the workweek, at 2:15 a.m. This might be normal for a baker or a morning radio host, but Ms. James is a standard American office worker." A lot of people who work in cities like San Francisco can't afford to live there. Or any place even near there. The NYT on the long commute.


Spry Lingual

"A new study reports that working out during a language class amplifies people's ability to memorize, retain and understand new vocabulary. The findings provide more evidence that to engage our minds, we should move our bodies." The NYT's Gretchen Reynolds on how exercise could help you learn a language. (See mom, I wasn't running out of Hebrew school class, I was just trying to better absorb the material.)


Startup Excelerator

"It sounds incredibly dull, yes, but the teens -- surrounded by their administratively adept peers, a short monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom -- were downright giddy." The Verge takes you inside The Microsoft Office World Championship, where
once a year, kids from around the world gather to compete at high-speed spreadsheets.


Bottom of the News

"I'm aware of the defendant and I hate him." Harper's shares some of the responses from potential jurors who were not selected in the trial of Martin Shkreli.

+ Throwing out the first pitch before a baseball game often goes wrong for the person doing the throwing. But it rarely goes wrong for someone else (and perhaps, never this wrong.)

+ Bonnie Tyler will sing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart' during the actual eclipse.