December 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Experts on their biggest worries (and reasons to hope), top news photos of the year, the Bush funeral, and reading between the redacted lines.

“Automation is likely to upend wages, jobs, and entire industries on an unprecedented scale, but lawmakers seem unwilling to acknowledge the problem the way wizards were afraid to say Voldemort.” That’s Emily Crose, cybersecurity expert and former NSA analyst, who was one of more than a hundred experts asked by Motherboard: What worries you most about the future?

+ As you might imagine, several of the answers included concerns about climate change. And the latest numbers suggest humanity isn’t gonna pivot. “Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.” WaPo: We are in trouble.

+ But wait, before you get too bummed, Motherboard also asked the question: What gives you hope about the future? Most of the answers focused on kids. (Sadly, they grow up.)

+ OK, I’ll play. As managing editor of the internet, I’m constantly worried about what the next five minutes of the news cycle will bring. But what worries me the most? Three things that are closely related: The widening economic divide, the growing contempt between people with different political views, and the increasingly obvious signs that fascism in on the rise in many parts of the world. I’m also quite worried about how today’s political climate will impact my kids. Those of us who have been around for a while like to preach the refrain: This isn’t normal. But my kids are ten and twelve. This is the only political environment they’ve ever known. To them, it’s normal. What gives me hope? That topic is not really in my wheelhouse, but I’ll give it a shot: First, I think lot of people in my generation thought that the trajectory towards progress on issues like racial and gender equality was a given. The last few years have been a reminder that nothing is a given. Everything is political. Everything takes work. It feels like people have been awakened to that reality and are re-engaging in the fight. And second, these seem like crazy times. But we’ve faced worse. A lot worse. We got this.


Photo Finish

It’s impossible to narrow down a year to a handful of photos. But Alan Taylor always does an excellent job coming up with the list of the top news photos of the year. With the pace of 2018’s news cycle, some of these photos feel like they’re from five years ago…

+ Reuters: Photos of the year.


Bye, George

All the living US presidents and many other dignitaries gathered to pay their final respects to George H.W. Bush today. A few outtakes. Historian and biographer Jon Meacham: “The George Herbert Walker Bush who survived that fiery fall into the waters of the Pacific three quarters of a century ago made our lives and the lives of nations freer, better, warmer, and nobler. That was his mission, that was his heartbeat.” Former Senator Alan Simpson: “He loved a good joke, the richer the better, and he’d throw his head back and give that great laugh. But he never, ever could remember a punch line. And I mean never.” George W Bush: “We’re going to miss you: your decency, sincerity and kind soul will stay with us forever. … The best father a son or daughter could have. And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”

+ “When the President noticed members of his protective detail shaved their heads in solidarity for the 2-year-old, who was undergoing lifesaving treatment, he joined in without hesitation.” From a former Secret Service agent: Why we loved Timberwolf.

+ And yes, things were a little awkward. (But these days, a little awkward seems like a big relief.)


Read Between the Redacted Lines

“The special counsel wrote that Flynn has provided information for several ongoing investigations — participating in 19 interviews with federal prosecutors and turning over documents and communications.” WaPo: Mueller seeks no prison time for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing his substantial assistance.

+ What did Flynn give up to Mueller? For now, we’ll have to read between the thick, black lines. Much of the sentencing memo was redacted: Flynn sentencing memo hints at how much Mueller knows that we still don’t.

+ Vox: 4 takeaways from Mueller’s sentencing memo.


Unrequited Gov

What do you do if your party loses the governor’s race? You weaken the power of the governor’s office. That’s the strategy being (successfully, so far) deployed in Wisconsin. AP: Wisconsin GOP votes to weaken Democrat who defeated Walker.

+ The Onion nails it: Wisconsin Legislature Weakens Incoming Democratic Governor By Restricting His Access To Food, Water, Shelter.


A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall

Mashable’s Laura Byager on what it takes to make it big on Spotify: “If you want to be one of the most streamed artists on the planet, there’s one thing in particular that you apparently need. That thing is a penis.” Like 2017, Spotify’s most streamed artists of the 2018 are all dudes.

+ Apparently, if you want to be one of the most well-reviewed artists on the planet, you’re better off with a vagina. Every one of the top ten artists on NPR’s best music of 2018 list is a woman.


Auto Biography

Alexis Madrigal ponders the future in the back of Waymo’s self-driving car. “When Alphabet, GM Cruise, Uber, and other companies investing in autonomous cars evangelize the technology, they present it as a way to escape the tedious, dangerous moil of driving. But encountering the technology in the field, on actual city streets, doesn’t trigger the exciting pang of future freedom. Instead, it produces a stranger feeling: discomfort that an ethereal intelligence inhabits the human world.” (That reads almost exactly like a NextDraft testimonial…)

+ “No ultimately successful major technology company has been as deeply unprofitable for anywhere remotely as long as Uber has been.” Yves Smith makes the case that Uber Is Headed for a Crash.

+ Bloomberg: Almost Every Electric Scooter in the World Comes From This Chinese Company. (And that’s a lot of scooters…)


Phones Flip

“Over the last five years, the replacement cycles of smartphones in the U.S. has has increased from an average of 20.6 to 24.1 months.” That’s one reason why NY Mag says, We’re No Longer in Smartphone Plateau. We’re in the Smartphone Decline. (I’ve been in a decline since the day I got my first smartphone…)


These Pipes Are Still Clean

“What it failed to generate in profits, the film reaped in scabrous critical sentiment; in his D

+ pan, former Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman opined, “Elliott wears his loathsomeness like a cardboard crown. Few comedies have worked this hard to make everyone on screen look this dumb.” Elliott would go on to earn a nomination for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star, and the film would go on to become, as Resnick puts it, “shorthand for a bad movie.” But come on, it’s been 25 years. So they can all finally admit they loved Cabin Boy. The Ringer: This Is Just So Sh**ty, We Gotta Watch. (The line, “These pipes are clean!” is right up there with “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” “Follow the money,” “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “May the Force be with you,” and “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”)


Bottom of the News

“On Netflix, the artwork is personalised based on your viewing history. An Uma Thurman fan will see the classic Pulp Fiction poster showing Uma, but a John Travolta fan will be shown a different image.” That is just one of many very interesting tidbits on Tom Whitwell’s list of 52 things I learned in 2018.

+ Kevin Hart is hosting the Oscars.

+ This one hits a little too close to home… Hate lugging cat litter? Don’t make us Amazon warehouse workers do it.

+ The Wu-Tang Clan’s Tiny Desk Concert. (No, really.)

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