Wednesday, July 10th, 2019


Are You Sure?

Are you sure you want to post this? It's a simple question that could change everything (or nothing). Instagram is launching a tool that gives users a chance to have second thoughts about what they're about to publish. "The new feature uses artificial intelligence to screen content and notify users if their post may be harmful or offensive. Users will see a message: 'Are you sure you want to post this?' They will then have the option to remove or change the comment before anyone else is able to see it." Maybe we should take the AI and content screening out of the mix and just ask everyone if they're really sure before they post anything. (I'm not even 100% sure I should be sharing this with you this right now.)


Private Parts

You won't read Google's privacy policy, but you should read this NYT look at how Google's 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the Internet. "The late 1990s was a simpler time for Google. The nascent company was merely a search engine, and Gmail, Android and YouTube were but glimmers in the startup's eye. Google's first privacy policy reflected that simplicity. It was short and earnest, a quaint artifact of a different time in Silicon Valley, when Google offered 600 words to explain how it was collecting and using personal information. That version of the internet (and Google) is gone. Over the past 20 years, that same privacy policy has been rewritten into a sprawling 4,000-word explanation of the company's data practices." (Like other platforms, Google went from wanting to give you access to the whole world to wanting to be your whole world.)


Trafficking Jam

"I think that one of the things that we're hoping comes to light and that people are able to connect the dots between the Epstein case and child sex trafficking all across this nation is that it's often very powerful men with means taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of some of our most marginalized young women and girls, oftentimes, kids who have experienced extreme childhood sexual abuse, kids who are from the child welfare system, runaways and homeless youth, and exploiting there vulnerabilities." PBS Newshour: The Epstein case is not an outlier.

+ The Daily Beast: Alexander Acosta, Who Cut Deal With Epstein, Tried to Slash Anti-Trafficking Program by 80 Percent. (Yes, you read that right.)

+ AP: Facing calls for resignation, Acosta defends Epstein deal. "Facts are important and facts are being overlooked." (Acosta deserves to be on the hot seat. But just as the trafficking story is bigger than Epstein, the coverup and enabling story is bigger than Acosta...)

+ "Sometimes a story deserves a new look. There were all of these puzzle pieces that were out there, and when you put all of these puzzle pieces together, with the passage of time, there was this really damning story." We're damn lucky to have investigative reporters like Julie K. Brown who don't give up on these kinds of stories, even after it seems everyone else has. NYT: The Jeffrey Epstein Case Was Cold, Until a Miami Herald Reporter Got Accusers to Talk.


You Are Correct, Sir

"Theresa May said Sir Kim's departure was 'a matter of deep regret' after the ambassador said it was 'impossible' for him to continue." BBC: Sir Kim Darroch: UK ambassador to US resigns in Trump leaks row. (Trump finally met a Kim he didn't love...)


Tube Stakes

Combined, Netflix and YouTube take up about a quarter of the internet's global bandwidth. In other words, we basically invented the internet so we could watch more TV. That fact hasn't been lost on those in the TV (now, internet) business. NYT on The Great Race to Rule Streaming TV. "One big question is what all this means for us, at home, fishing in the cushions for our remotes: If even a network as seemingly sacred as HBO can be pressured by corporate bosses to crank out more shows in order to better compete with smartphones, what new era are we entering." (An era with a lot of great TV, even more bad TV, costs that will reach and even surpass the cable dominant years, and when finding a show you're looking for will be almost as hard as finding the Apple TV remote.)


Nomad Max

"When you spend weeks on end traveling the strip malls and big-box stores of America, you start to appreciate small differences in what can seem like archipelagos of sameness: the way the Targets get cleaner as you approach corporate headquarters in Minneapolis; the novelty of an unusually small Walmart in Indiana; the McDonald's in Pomeroy, Ohio, that served pizza, the remainder of an abandoned experiment in the '80s." The Verge hits the road with some Amazon nomads: To stock Amazon's shelves, merchants travel the backroads of America in search of rare soap and coveted toys.


Kidney Shot

"President Trump on Wednesday announced an executive order on a topic rather far afield from his usual concerns: improving care for patients with kidney disease. That might seem like an obscure topic, but it's a crucial one. A shortage of kidneys for transplant kills about 43,000 people every year. (Compare that to car accidents, which kill 40,000 people a year, or homicide, which kills fewer than 20,000.)" Vox: A new Trump executive order on kidneys could save thousands of lives.


Read it and Weep

"What if the medicine we have been prescribing is only making matters worse, particularly for poor children? What if the best way to boost reading comprehension is not to drill kids on discrete skills but to teach them, as early as possible, the very things we've marginalized—including history, science, and other content that could build the knowledge and vocabulary they need to understand both written texts and the world around them?" In The Atlantic, Natalie Wexler argues that we're not doing a good job of teaching kids to read (and actually understand what they're reading). Elementary Education Has Gone Terribly Wrong.


The Tale of the Ticker Tape

Massive crowds. Clear weather. No tanks. July 10th is the new July 4th. The US Women's Soccer got the ticker tape parade they deserved. Here are some photos from NYC, and some of the highlights from SI, and more from CNN.

+ Megan Rapinoe, addressed the crowd: "This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We gotta listen more and talk less. We gotta know that this is everybody's responsibility."


Bottom of the News

From NPR: "In Philadelphia, 30 parks and recreation centers are outfitted with a small speaker called the Mosquito. It blares a constant, high-pitched ringing noise all night long — but one that only teenagers and young adults can hear. Anyone over age 25 is supposed to be immune because, basically, their ear cells have started to die off." (I don't need to be able to hear it to know this sounds like a pretty bad idea.)

+ WaPo: They finally built a better ketchup bottle. And soon it's going to be everywhere. (The bottle, not the ketchup.)