Monday, December 16th, 2019


You Ain’t See Nothing

"When the decade began, tech meant promise — cars that could drive themselves, social networks that could take down dictators. It connected us in ways we could barely imagine. But somewhere along the way, the flaws of technology became abundantly clear. What happened?" The NYT looks back at The Decade Tech Lost Its Way. (Or maybe it was just the decade we realized we were all full of it when it comes to way we viewed tech.) But as disappointing as tech, particularly social media, has been in recent years, the truth is that most of us don't even see the really bad stuff. The most horrific content is filtered out, usually by humans. If you think what you see in the internet can be a bummer, imagine what these folks are seeing. Casey Newton in The Verge: The Terror Queue. "Every day you watch someone beheading someone, or someone shooting his girlfriend. After that, you feel like wow, this world is really crazy. This makes you feel ill. You're feeling there is nothing worth living for. Why are we doing this to each other?" (Some days I feel that way after all I've seen are a few presidential tweets...)


Dismembers Only

"The trainers separated, revealing a naked corpse face up in the grass. One thrust a machete into the nearest man's hand. 'Dismember that body,' he ordered. The recruit froze. The instructor waited, then walked up behind the terrified recruit and fired a bullet into his head, killing him. Next, he passed the blade to a lanky teenager while the others watched, dumbfounded. The teenager didn't hesitate. Offered the chance to prove that he could be an assassin — a sicario — he seized it, he said. A chance at money, power and what he craved most, respect. To be feared in a place where fear was currency." Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas in the NYT: He Was One of Mexico's Deadliest Assassins. Then He Turned on His Cartel. "They took away everything left in me that was human and made me a monster."


Modi Operandi

"Many of Monday's protests were organized last-minute in solidarity with students in the capital who were beaten by police with batons, and had tear gas fired at them. Videos posted to social media show bloodied students fleeing into a library and a men's restroom." NPR: India's Citizenship Law Triggers Mass Protests And Violence As Modi Calls For Peace.

+ Buzzfeed: "The protests are now in their fifth day as authorities respond with a heavy-handed police crackdown and internet shutdowns in parts of the country. The online blackout comes as the disputed region of Kashmir still languishes in a government-enforced internet shutdown."

+ For some background, Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker: Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India.


One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Garbage

"It actually costs a lot of companies more money to put somebody on the product, to visually eyeball it and say, Is this up to standard, is it up to code? Is this going to get us sued? Did somebody tamper with this box in some way? And is this returnable? And if it's clothing, it has to be re-pressed and put back in a nice packaging. And for a lot of companies, it's just not worth it. So they will literally just incinerate it, or send it to the dumpster." CBC: Returned online purchases often sent to landfill.


Shitting the Bedrock

"The rule of law is the bedrock of American democracy, the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. Every American should demand that our leaders put the rule of law above politics." William Webster in the NYT: I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There's a Dire Threat to the Country I Love.

+ "His cold, calculated actions betrayed the trust vested in him by the American people and the high office of the presidency. The President of the United States looked 270 million Americans in the eye, and lied--deliberately and methodically. He took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this nation, and he violated that oath. He pledged to be the nation's chief law enforcement officer, and he violated that pledge. He took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and he willfully and repeatedly violated that oath." That's Mitch McConnell on the president's high crimes and misdemeanors. Not the current president. That was his take on Bill Clinton. As for Trump? "We all know how it's going to end. There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office." Here's the latest from the impeach pit from WaPo and CNN.


The Years of Living Dangerously

"The 2010s will likely lock down the record for the hottest decade. The 10-year stretch also boasted a wave of historic disasters, from the all-time high temperatures recorded during a blistering heat wave in Europe to the largest US rainfall event in 70 years to many of the most expensive and destructive catastrophes across the globe. This is also the decade when the first mammal went extinct from climate change, coral reefs experienced unprecedented damage tied to warming ocean waters, sea levels rose and islands disappeared, climate pollution spewed into the atmosphere at historic levels, and so much more." Buzzfeed: 6 Extremely Depressing Climate Records We Broke This Decade. Among all the other end of the decade reflections you'll see over the next few weeks, this one could be the most accurate (at least to those on Team Reality). NatGeo: The decade we finally woke up to climate change. (Or how this decade went to eleven.)

+ "Mining companies are going bankrupt, while every year, solar and other renewables get cheaper. Such economic shifts are complex, but one thing is clear: If the transition to renewables is to truly account for the communities and economies it undercuts, it will include programs like Delta High School's solar training." The Atlantic: How Coal Country Becomes Solar Country.


Mistletone Deaf

"Hallmark has apologized for pulling an ad featuring a same-sex couple from the wedding company Zola that the network had felt was too controversial and distracting. The move enraged thousands of people online, including prominent LGBTQ celebrities, and led to calls to boycott Hallmark in the middle of its popular Christmas movie season." (Glaa(a)d they changed this decision. The last thing we need at this point is a visit from the ghost of Christmas past...)


Friends Without Benefits

"Delayed marriage, as well as widespread acceptance of sex, cohabitation, and parenting outside of marriage, have all played a role in making the boundary between 'part of the family' and 'outsider' unclear. Add in the fact that older relatives, whose ideas of what's acceptable might date back to an earlier era, often play gatekeeper at family functions, and the end product is a holiday-season headache for a lot of dating and engaged couples." The Atlantic: When Does a Boyfriend or Girlfriend Become Part of the Family? (On this topic, I tend to be a traditionalist. If they're attractive, they're part of the family.)

+ After two people have been together for a while, every fight they have seems to offer an opportunity to bring up every other fight they've ever had. Which is why I'm guessing that when John and Charlotte Henderson have a spat, it takes a while. WaPo: She's 105. He's 106. The world's oldest living couple celebrates 80 years of marriage.


Sitting Bull

"Approved by the British Toilet Association (BTA), a members organization that campaigns for better toilet facilities, the StandardToilet sits at a downward angle of 13 degrees. After around five minutes of sitting, this will cause strain on the legs, similar to a low level squat thrust." Wired UK on a product that could only be loved by bosses who are worried you're wasting too much time in the bathroom. Introducing the seat that claims to drastically reduce toilet time.


Bottom of the News

"Stock photo memes had a moment in 2017, but none became as big or enduring as the one that became known as 'Distracted Boyfriend.' The photo depicted a man checking out a woman while his own girlfriend glared at him with disgust. It quickly became a meme, though photographer Antonio Guillem told the Guardian at the time he 'didn't even know what a meme [was] until recently.'" Buzzfeed on The 100 Memes That Defined The 2010s. (The fact that the 2010s can be best defined by memes pretty much says it all...)

+ "dogs lick us because they know we have bones inside n they want em." 100 Hysterical Tweets From 2019 That Got 100K Retweets And Kept On Going. (Alternatively, you can just look at my last 100 tweets.)

+ The Least Influential People of the 2010s.

+ The New Yorker: The Year in Stupidity. (Alternatively, you can just replay Devin Nunes from the impeachment hearings...)

+ There were 42 billion visits to P-rnhub in 2019 and 6597 petabytes of data transferred. While I'm sure none of those stats include any NextDraft readers, here's a look at the P-rnhub Year in Review.