Monday, October 4th, 2021


The Engagement Is Off

I'm glad we now have a new whistleblower explaining that Facebook values user attention and growth above all else. But did we really learn anything that wasn't already blatantly obvious? We all already know the truth. The question, as always, is whether anyone will care. The market has, and will continue to, reward Facebook's model. Users have now been bombarded with years of stories about what Facebook's goals are. And Americans just watched Facebook's engagement-fixated algorithm help push democracy to the edge. You think we were all just waiting for one more person to put their lips together and blow? The big problem with Facebook is how big they are. It's not that Zuckerberg makes the wrong decisions for democracy. It's that one unelected boy king has that kind of power in the first place. From 60 Minutes: "Frances Haugen says in her time with Facebook she saw, 'conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook.'" (Yeah, I hear those kinds of conflicts of interest are going around these days...)

+ Meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram were down on Monday morning (which, at this point, is like saying, a global superpower can't be located at the moment). Maybe you guys got Zuck so mad that he turned it off. It definitely appears to be some kind of attack as Facebook's domain records were listed for sale. And even Jack Dorsey took notice.


Ozy and Harried

The first giveaway that Ozy was making it all up was that they were a media company that was doing well. "The story behind the story is about the elite investors who plowed millions into a media dream without much due diligence, persuaded by the charm of Ozy's head, Carlos Watson." Ben Smith, whose coverage in the NYT helped blow down Ozy's media empire house of cards in under a week, on the cheat and the cheated. (Gift article of ND readers): What They Saw in Ozy. (I'm still waiting for my blood test results from Ozy...)

+ Ozy Media CEO claims his scandal-ridden company will reopen, but doesn't explain how. "He added that over the weekend, the company had 'good conversations' with investors and advertisers." (There is zero chance that statement is true.)


Pandora’s Boxcutter

"The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world's richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history. Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands." (And, um, South Dakota...) Pandora papers: biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful.


Mail Pattern Boldness

"Postal customers can now redeem paychecks in Washington, Baltimore, Falls Church, Va., and the Bronx, for Visa gift cards topping out at $500, an agency spokesperson said. Postal officials expect to expand the pilot into a fuller study with more locations and financial products, such as bill-paying services and ATMs." WaPo: USPS is trying out a new business, which could transform how millions access cash and pay bills. (This could be huge if it could squeeze out the evil payday lenders. But the hedge funds and private equity firms who back those payday lenders know that. So expect a massive fight and a whole lot of lying.)


Crude Awakening

"A 2012 plan prepared by the pipeline's operator Beta Offshore and obtained by NBC News said that a full cut in the pipeline three miles from shore could release roughly 3,000 barrels, or 126,000 gallons, of oil. It described such a situation as a 'worst case' scenario that could cause 'significant and substantial harm to the environment' because 'of its proximity to navigable waters and adjoining shoreline areas designated as environmentally sensitive.'" Oil spill off California coast closes pipeline, prompts warnings of ecological disaster.

+ NPR: A massive oil spill in the Pacific Ocean has reached the Southern California coast. (This is going to be a big story.)


Pace Yourself

"Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco surgically implanted a battery-operated, matchbook-sized device in Sarah's brain — a 'pacemaker for the brain' some call it — calibrated to detect the neural activity pattern that occurs when she is becoming depressed. It then delivers pulses of electrical stimulation to stave off depression." NYT (Gift Article for ND readers): A ‘Pacemaker for the Brain': No Treatment Helped Her Depression — Until This. (It's like I always say, 220, 221, whatever it takes.)


Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Feelings

"Humans' abilities to sense heat, cold, pressure and position are vital for perceiving and reacting to our surroundings. Understanding how they work is critical for treating chronic pain and other conditions." 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Awarded for Discoveries in Sensing Temperature and Touch. (This is a total burn to the other contenders.)


This One is Personal

"Safari 15 for Mac is a tragic own goal — a de facto gift to Chrome and its growing browser hegemony. The option to turn off "Show color in tab bar" is an admittedly appreciated glass of ice water in hell. But true relief from the boiling hot sun of these craptacular 'tabs' is just a download away." John Gruber on The Tragedy of Safari 15 for Mac's ‘Tabs'. (And the tabs aren't even the worst part. The Reading List, which I use to gather stories for NextDraft, doesn't hold state in the left sidebar. So every time you open the sidebar, you need to re-select Reading List. Oh, the browser also quits randomly when saving book marks and when you opt to "re-open" it, it opens a Terminal window. It's actually unbelievable a company as big as Apple would release a product this bad and then just stick people with it for days...)


Graham Crackers

"Well, I'm glad I got it. Ninety-two percent of people in hospitals in South Carolina are unvaccinated," before he was drowned out by shouts of 'false!' and 'not true!'" Republicans Shout Down Lindsey Graham for Pushing Vaccine. (It's a lot easier to fill convince people of rabid, deadly lies than it is to reel them back in.)


Bottom of the News

"The issue first gained traction when New York-based comedian Youngmi Mayer tweeted out that the context of the translation was largely incorrect. She said, in part, 'I watched Squid Game with English subtitles, and if you don't understand Korean you didn't really watch the same show.'" Apparently Netflix's English Subtitles on 'Squid Game' Make It an Entirely Different Show. (It turns out it's actually a romantic comedy.)

+ William Shatner will fly to space aboard Blue Origin rocket. (If George Takei has anything to say about it, it will be a one way ticket.)

+ Your auto insurance will not cover you for spreading an STD while having sex in your car. (Then who's gonna pay to get that rash off your bumper?)