Wednesday, October 6th, 2021


You Had Me at Hell No

Three or four times a day, my kids hear me on the phone saying things like, "Oh, I'm so glad you called. I work for the FBI and I've been waiting to hear from you. Can I get your address?" Or "Dave Pell was brutally murdered in front of me five minutes ago. Can I take a message?" We all have our coping mechanisms when it comes to the scourge of scam callers, a problem that, at least on my phone, has become relentless. Aside from my mom and the occasional ring from one of my kids' frazzled teachers, scam calls are basically the only calls I get. And a good percentage of the calls I get from my mom are in regard to the latest scam call she got. It's a problem. At least some people are having a little fun with it. Who scams the scammers? Meet the scambaiters. "Police struggle to catch online fraudsters, often operating from overseas, but now a new breed of amateurs are taking matters into their own hands." (I swear, as I was writing this blurb, I got a recorded call from "Rachel with Dealer Services.")


Zuck Blows a Logic Circuit

Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the whistleblower's claims. It's best if you read this use the voice of Mr Spock from Star Trek: "The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content." He also claimed that a "false picture" of the company has been manufactured and that, "at the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritise profit over safety and wellbeing. That's just not true." (So he's saying that the whistleblower is using her public platform to spread fake news???) Bottom line, we have a he said, she said situation going on. It would be nice if some other Facebook employees would step forward and settle the debate.

+ While we'd like this to be a simple issue, it's pretty nuanced. For one thing, most tech companies (not just FB) error on the side of engagement and share prices. And some of the data might be less clear than we think. NPR: Facebook's own data is not as conclusive as you think about teens and mental health. (My teens don't even know what Facebook is...)


Ceiling Our Fate

"We just can't wait to the last minute to resolve this. We are, simply put, playing with fire right now, and our country has suffered so greatly over the last few years. The human and the economic cost of the pandemic has been wrenching, and we don't need a catastrophe of our own making." So said Citi CEO Jane Fraser as business leaders met with Joe Biden to explain the importance of raising the debt limit. (They're talking to the wrong side. This is a ridiculous and craven delay on a pro forma move driven by those who consistently put party over people.)


Get This Out of Africa

"Children across much of Africa are to be vaccinated against malaria in a historic moment in the fight against the deadly disease. Malaria has been one of the biggest scourges on humanity for millennia and mostly kills babies and infants. Having a vaccine - after more than a century of trying - is among medicine's greatest achievements." Historic go-ahead for malaria vaccine to protect African children.


Knockin’ on Haven’s Door

From WaPo (Gift article for ND Readers), an intersting look at how the super-wealthy buy influence. Secret Trove Illuminates the Lives of Billionaires. "While cash may be the traditional means of providing untraceable gifts to politicians, the very wealthy often turn instead to the offshore world to produce an alternative currency: companies registered in secrecy havens and stuffed with valuable assets." (This data comes at a good time. My wife's got a birthday coming up.)


A Missing Grain of Truth

"The grain elevator exploded on a cool April morning in 1987, six years before I was born. My father was testing a clay sample in a lab two miles away when suddenly the dial jumped. He ran outside, thinking that a car had smashed into the building. My mother, doing yard work at home, assumed that the nearby ammunition plant was testing a new explosive ... For the people of southeastern Iowa, knowing that The Hawk Eye was investigating this fiasco was a source of comfort. The paper's reliable attention made us feel like our little part of Iowa mattered and that we did, too. This is what The Hawk Eye gave us. Back then, we took it for granted." Elaine Godfrey in The Atlantic: What We Lost When Gannett Came to Town. "We don't often talk about how a paper's collapse makes people feel: less connected, more alone."


I’m Not in a Bind

"If there's a particular book you've got your eye on for the holidays, it's best to order it now. The problems with the supply chain are coming for books, too." I am a victim of this issue. My book has been delayed for a week due to a "bindery issue." I'm pretty sure that means that the amount of awesomeness in my book couldn't be held by traditional materials (they should have used hemp). And for those of you who think I'm only linking to this story to prompt you to buy my book, I'll have you know that's only 95% of the reason. The other 5% was the hemp line.


Molecule Aid

"Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing 'an ingenious tool for building molecules' that is also cheap and environmentally-friendly." (Maybe someone can put these guys on book binding efficiency...)


The Squid and the Fail Whale

Squid Game is getting big and getting bigger. A bloody South Korean drama about deadly games is exploding on Netflix and beyond. It's so big that a Korean broadband provider is suing Netflix for the over-usage. (This is why I keep NextDraft in text-only format.)


Bottom of the News

"Polls have closed in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve, and the fattest bear of the year is... 480 Otis, a three-time champion of chonk. A dozen of the largest brown bears on Earth faced off during Fat Bear Week, an annual battle of bulk that rewards their pre-winter-hibernation gains." (They should hold this competition for humans before and after the baseball playoffs.)

+ 21 Fun Salute: According to a recent study out of Harvard, Men Should Ejaculate at Least 21 Times a Month To Slash Their Prostate Cancer Risk. (This is the only time I can honestly say that I do a pretty good job watching my health.)

+ A 2,700-year-old toilet was found in Jerusalem. Holy shit.

+ Hall and Oats and Nine Inch Nails. Trust me.