September 6th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The rise of big tech, the hurricane alphabet is souped up, and you're probably spiritual, but not religious...

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss? Not quite. The old boss wanted to sell you a car or learn a bit more about your electronics needs. The new boss wants a permanent place at your work, inside your home, on your wrist, in your pocket, over your eyes, and eventually in your body. The rise of the massive tech company is one of the key storylines of our era — even if no one pays attention to anything but Trump news (and tech is even related to the rise of Trumpism). From John Lanchester: You Are the Product. “Internet companies are working in a field that is poorly understood (if understood at all) by customers and regulators. The stuff they’re doing, if they’re any good at all, is by definition new. In that overlapping area of novelty and ignorance and unregulation, it’s well worth reminding employees not to be evil, because if the company succeeds and grows, plenty of chances to be evil are going to come along.”

+ The Guardian: “While the big banks and pharma giants have flexed their economic muscle in the country’s capital for decades, there’s one relative newcomer that has leapfrogged them all: Silicon Valley.”

+ Ars Technica: Google is losing allies across the political spectrum.

+ “On most culture-war issues, they are unrepentantly liberal. They oppose restrictions on abortion, favor gay rights, support gun control and oppose the death penalty. Now for the twist. The study found one area where tech entrepreneurs strongly deviate from Democratic orthodoxy and are closer to most Republicans: They are deeply suspicious of the government’s efforts to regulate business, especially when it comes to labor.” The NYT’s Farhad Manjoo: Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception.

+ Big tech’s aspirations are everywhere you look. Facebook just bid $600 million to stream Indian cricket matches. Apple and Amazon are bidding for James Bond film rights. But the trends you can’t see (or might not be paying attention to) are the big story. And even people in the industry are worried. I know because I’m one of them.


Alphabet Souped Up

“This storm has the potential to devastate our great state and you have to take this seriously … Remember, we can rebuild your home; we cannot rebuild your life.” That was Florida Gov. Rick Scott who used very serious language to warn his state’s residents about the potential damage that Hurricane Irma could bring. The only people using more serious language are FEMA officials and weather forecasters. Here’s the latest on the “most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean” as it hits islands in the Caribbean and turns towards the US coast.

+ Just look at this video of Irma blasting St. Martin with 185 MPH winds.

+ Irma is coming as Harvey’s victims are still assessing the damage. And Jose and Katia are developing over the Atlantic.


Fire and Flood

While Texas and the east coast are facing hurricanes and flooding, the west coast is dealing with a series of intense fires. During the recent heatwave in the Bay Area, our skies were layered with smoke from various fires, and in Oregon, ash is falling from the sky at levels not seen since the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens.

+ Buzzfeed: Los Angeles is battling the biggest wildfire in its history and the photos are unreal.

+ More photos from InFocus: Wildfires rage across the American West.

+ “I think one important question to ask is, if these people are safe to be out and about and carrying axes and chain saws, maybe they didn’t need to be in prison in the first place.” The NYT Mag with an interesting look at the the incarcerated women who fight California’s wildfires.


Revisitation Rights

“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!” And with that late night tweet, President Trump made a bad situation more confusing. (If everyone in America had to meet the achievement standards of the Dreamers, I’m guessing we wouldn’t be stuck with this mess.)

+ “DACA was far from, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested Tuesday, an ‘open borders policy’ that admitted ‘everyone.’ To the contrary, it was a beacon of hope for a narrowly defined group who crossed our borders before they could have fully understood what a ‘border’ was.” Eric Holder on the Trump administration’s deep misunderstanding of DACA.

+ In announcing the end of DACA, Jeff Sessions wasn’t … exactlyhonest.

+ The Muslim travel ban. Charlottesville. The Arpaio pardon. DACA. You’ve got to give Trump this much: He’s consistent.


Spirit Animals

According to the latest numbers from Pew, more Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious. I suppose I fall into this category. When people ask me if I’m a practicing Jew, I say, “No, I just show up on game days…”


No Pain, No Gain?

MoJo shares the latest numbers from the opioid crisis: “About 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year — a staggering 22 percent increase from the 52,404 in 2015 — according to the first government estimate of drug deaths in 2016. Overdoses now kill more Americans than HIV did at its peak in 1995, and far more than guns or cars do today.”

+ “The crisis can be attributed to many parties — drug manufacturers, drug distributors, unscrupulous doctors, and, of course, drug dealers, smugglers, and users — some of whom are profiting from it. Last month, a group of shareholders of one distributor strove to bring the company’s goals more in line with society’s.” From The Atlantic: When a Company Is Making Money From the Opioid Crisis. (It’s not just what these companies know now. It’s what they knew before this became a crisis.)


A Fiber Rich Diet

Many people spend a lot of time making sure they’re not drinking from the wrong kind of plastic cups. Well, forget the cups. We’re drinking plastic. From The Guardian: Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted.


Happy Ending

“In session after session, I meet people who assure me, ‘I love my wife/my husband. We are best friends and happy together,’ and then say: ‘But I am having an affair.'” In The Atlantic, Esther Perel takes a crack at explaining why happy people cheat. (I’m almost positive it’s related to wanting to have sex with other people…)


Signs of the Times

“In exposing a sign-stealing operation by the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees did not find evidence within the manually operated scoreboard in left field, along the Pesky Pole in right, or in the pattern of the neon lights on the Citgo sign above Kenmore Square. They found it on the Apple Watch of an assistant athletic trainer.” From the NYT: The Ancient Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Gets a High-Tech Boost. (I find it hard to believe that a Boston-area team would be connected to an effort to bend the rules.)


Bottom of the News

This could be the lede of the century. “A woman who threw her poo out of her date’s toilet window because it ‘would not flush’ had to be rescued after she got stuck trying to retrieve it.” And amazingly, they had a second date. (Or, should I say, a date number two…)

+ Several nurses have been suspended for checking out the size of a corpse’s genitals. The oddest line in this story: “The sex organ scrutinizing lasted from March 31 to April 3.” It took four days? Damn, now I want a look…

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