Thursday, December 20th, 2018


Trust Busters

Scheduling Note: NextDraft will be off next week and through the new year.

"What is the price of trust? Or, to put the question another way, what is the cost of becoming known for doing things that don't match your words?" That question could easily apply to America in 2018. But in this case, The New Yorker's Evan Osnos is referring to a much larger nation state in which billions of us are citizens. And it's been a long year for that global empire. Which brings us to another question: How Much Trust Can Facebook Afford to Lose? It's a question of trust, but it's also a question of how much the average user cares about Facebook and other tech companies playing fast and loose with their privacy. In 2018, we confirmed that Facebook treats privacy like an obsolete value and that journalists view privacy as a vital interest. In the coming year, we'll find out what Facebook users think.

+ I've written about this topic before, but it seems more pertinent than ever: This is The Only Privacy Policy That Matters. In this piece, I explain how it's clear that Mark Zuckerberg knows whose privacy policy matters (spoiler alert: not yours). The question is, do you? Do you care that your privacy has been, and will be, repeatedly invaded — and that anything you share (willingly or otherwise) on the internet can and will be used against you? It's been an open question for a long time. It's going to come to a head in 2019.

+ You may not care about your privacy. But the DC attorney general does. He just slapped Facebook with a lawsuit for "allowing data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to improperly access data from as many as 87 million users." (So DC will subpoena Facebook execs and Facebook will probably figure a way to sell access to that subpoena to its top advertisers...)

+ Wired: The 21 (and counting) biggest Facebook scandals of 2018. (Even the Trump Family Foundation thinks that sounds like a lot of scandals.)


Wall Brawl

Will the government shutdown in the next two days, or will Trump sign the stopgap spending bill passed by the Senate? It's up in the air right now. And once again, it's all about the wall. Here's the latest from CNN.


Premature Evacuation

"The decision must have stunned the President's most senior advisers at both the Pentagon and the State Department. It's an about-face that leaves Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah as the major players in the geostrategic center of the Middle East and on the border with five pivotal U.S. allies." Robin Wright: Is Trump's Plan for Syria a Withdrawal or a Surrender?

+ Here's Putin's reaction to the move, which really says it all: It's "the right decision."

+ An equally disturbing line from WaPo: Mattis, once one of ‘my generals,' loses his influence with Trump.

+ And (perhaps) related: Trump Administration to Lift Sanctions on Russian Oligarch's Companies.


Stop Watch

"The epidemic has killed more people than H.I.V. at the peak of that disease, and its death toll exceeds those of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq combined. Funerals for young people have become common. Every 11 minutes, another life is lost. So why do so many people start using these drugs? Why don't they stop?" The NYT tries to explain with this interesting visual journey through addiction.


Idiot, Proof

"The airport initially had its flights suspended at 9PM on Wednesday evening after the drones were spotted, and although it briefly reopened at 3AM, it was forced to close once more 45 minutes later after the drone flights resumed." The Verge: Idiots with drones have shut down the UK's second largest airport. (This is one of those cases where you're hoping the drone operators are just idiots.)



"A scathing report from Attorney General Lisa Madigan finds the number of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse against children in Illinois is much higher than previously acknowledged." Chicago Tribune: More than 500 priests accused of sexual abuse not yet publicly identified by Catholic Church. We've become desensitized by the vast number of these stories. But keep in mind, we're talking about the number of perpetrators. The number of victims is much, much higher. And we're talking about one state. This is an ongoing crime of historic proportions for which almost no one has paid a price.


Rear View Mirror

"The images here compel us to look closely, look twice, look slowly. And in doing so, we can ask ourselves: How do we react to what we see — not only in the moment we look at it, but in our daily lives? How does that reaction prepare us for the way we will face the future?" The NYT: The Year In Pictures 2018. I've linked to a few of these. This one is essential. In the age of the selfie, it's more important than ever to open our eyes to what's happening around us.


I’ve Fallen and I Can Get Up

"Parkour isn't just about jumping, though. It's also about knowing how to land—or, said another way, knowing how to fall. And as more of America's 76 million Baby Boomers hit retirement age—with 10,000 turning 65 every day—some parkour groups are introducing a modified version of this trendy urban movement practice to keep older adults active, and to teach them instincts that could save them from death or serious injury during a fall." CityLab: Can Parkour Teach Older People to Fall Better? (I know I'm a little early with this, but I am RSVPing no...)


Vet the Dog

"This was no ordinary dog. Dyngo, a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been trained to propel his 87-pound body weight toward insurgents, locking his jaws around them. He'd served three tours in Afghanistan where he'd weathered grenade blasts and firefights. In 2011, he'd performed bomb-sniffing heroics that earned one of his handlers a Bronze Star. This dog had saved thousands of lives. And now this dog was in my apartment." Smithsonian: I brought a seasoned veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan into my home—and then things got wild. (I have two beagle brothers in my house, so this dog sounds like a cakewalk...)


Bottom of the News

With all the crazy news in 2018, you may have missed some of the fun viral videos. Luckily, Jimmy Kimmel and his staff have been collecting them all year.

+ Movies That Bombed So Impressively Hard They Bankrupted Their Studios.