A few things of note from around the Internet this week.

Week of December 10, 2018

A bit different this week, several Netflix shows that I’ve watched recently and greatly enjoyed.





Week of December 3, 2018

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Rabbit Hole

Jenny Odell's investigation into a particular corner of the strange, spammy Amazon clickbait landscape, and the equally weird drop-shipping empire that is behind it.

Recently, one of my students at Stanford told me a strange story. His parents, who live in Palo Alto, Calif., had been receiving mysterious packages at their house. The packages were all different shapes and sizes but each was addressed to “Returns Department, Valley Fountain LLC.” I looked into it and found that a company called Valley Fountain LLC was indeed listed at his parents’ address. But it also appeared to be listed at 235 Montgomery Street, Suite 350, in downtown San Francisco. So were 140 other LLCs, most of which were registered in 2015.


Incentives matter:

Amanda told Mader that while there was no way to accept the loss of her brother, she and the family were heartened that the last person Williams had spoken with was Mader — someone, she said, who had seen the man’s despair and done his best not to worsen it.


Again, incentives matter. Frederic Filloux on the populist revolt going on in France:

Facebook is the most threatening weapon to democracies ever invented. Over the last two years, the hijacking of the social network by populist groups or parties has tainted about a dozen election processes across the world and brought to power a string of populists leaders that will have a profound effect on their countries.

Week of November 26, 2018

After an unplanned absence for a couple of weeks; a few things of note from around the Internet this week:


An incredible exploration and comparison of Apple’s new maps.


I like this perspective. Not everything is zero-sum, sometimes everyone can win.

In the longer term, there is nothing in physics to stop the economy from growing forever. It’s not just that more and more of the economy will consist of services, though that is certainly the case, and more and more of them will be digitally provided by computer ‘bots’. The physical sectors of the economy will trend towards becoming entirely circular: material efficiency and recycling will improve indefinitely; the extraction of materials and production of pollution will first peak and then asymptote to zero. We will use unlimited knowledge and clean exergy from solar or nuclear power to drive endless improvements in human wellbeing and flourishing.

The open question – for each country, or for groups of countries working together, to decide – is how much of their natural ecosystems they want to see preserved as this process runs its course. I hope they choose wisely, because, while the cost of preservation will be modest, the wrong decisions will be irreversible.



I think we’re at the beginning of a movement toward data sovereignty for each individual on the Internet.

But, my bet is that, despite the convenience of Google knowing I should have the bisque and saving me from the club sandwich, we are coming up to a shift in control points whereby the next control point is going to be around personal empowerment of control over personal data and authorization.


From the man that brought us the Barkley Marathons: a much, much more devilish race.

“It’s not a hard trail. They can physically do it, but they lose belief,” Cantrell told me. “When we came up with this format, I thought people would run until they could stand no more, but in fact, people drop when they no longer believe they can win. There’s no reason to continue to suffer if you no longer believe you can win. If you don’t believe you can win, and you’re going to quit at 180 miles, why not quit at 160?”


When Michelle Alexander speaks everyone should listen.

Many reformers rightly point out that an ankle bracelet is preferable to a prison cell. Yet I find it difficult to call this progress. As I see it, digital prisons are to mass incarceration what Jim Crow was to slavery.

Week of November 5, 2018

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:


Nothing to see here 🤷🏼‍♂️

While the ONC confirmed it had sited the Chinese devices within its network, it declined to provide any information about them or say how they might be used. The Chinese institute was equally reticent, and while the Canadian foreign ministry acknowledged the receipt of a request for comment it did not immediately reply. The US state department said it had “nothing to say” on the matter.


Josh Brown (@reformedbroker) delivering a dose of economic wisdom a few days before the midterms.

The constant lying has been a boon to the President, during his campaign and pretty much throughout his entire life. Supporters of his policies see it as a means to an end, so they’re certainly not going to turn on him. He promised to run the country for the benefit of the one third of America that loves what he’s doing and he keeps that promise every day. There’s never been a betrayal or a compromise or an apology for anything, they feel that they are getting exactly what he said he would give them – if not now, then soon enough.

In the meantime, the bloodless verdict of the market is beginning to call bullsh*t on his economic claims. The economic expansion is good, not great, and starting to slow down thanks to the rising cost of money (spurred on by tax cut stimulus) and the cyclical slowdown around the world. It turns out that tariffs are an impediment to everyone’s economy, not just Mexico’s, China’s or the European Union’s.


If you want to feel warm and fuzzy about social media (an increasingly difficult proposition) then don’t follow Jonathan Albright.

J0nathan A1bright@d1giI've gotten several questions from journalists today re: "are platforms doing better combatting propaganda & disinformation?" I said maybe. Then I pulled another you-know-who mention network (graph) from Instagram. It's not just bad, it's #offthechain


This essay is a little difficult to get through but it’s worth the effort.

For Trump is in love with chaos and seeks union with it. His most bizarre announcements express perhaps the innermost truth: Trump has given himself to absurdity, has so deranged matters that the POTUS has willingly become Nebuchadnezzar, crawling on all fours but, unlike the accursed Babylonian, this status has taken on a form of inverted beatitude whereby god, blinded with rage by the darkness stares for eternity into the whirlwind. A god’s highest expression at its lowest level.


A powerful and raw essay from former NBA player Darius Miles.

When you pop out the womb in East St. Louis, it’s guns, drugs and danger, from start to finish. And I’m not saying that to brag or nothing. It’s just what it is. It’s the murder capital. And the thing about it is that it’s only 89 blocks.

So no matter who you are, or how much you try to keep your head down … there’s nowhere to hide. You’re in it. There’s no choice. Fact of the matter is, I had a lot of cousins who were street pharmacists. A lot of my people were Streets Disciples. It was what it was. You heard gunshots every night. Routine. You don’t know any different. But that’s the thing ― you might read about those kinds of places, or see them on TV. I don’t think the average person reading this in Montana or whatever understands what it’s like to be a kid in that environment.

You don’t have any dreams. You’re just thinking about survival.


This is rather depressing and, unfortunately, affects us all (some more than others).

As predicted, the results showed that those who scored low on political knowledge were also the ones who overestimated their level of knowledge. But that wasn’t all. When participants were given cues that made them engage in partisan thought, the Dunning-Kruger effect was made even stronger. This occurred with both Republicans and Democrats, but only in those who scored low on political knowledge to begin with.

These findings are fascinating but equally troubling. How do you combat ignorance when the ignorant believe themselves to be knowledgeable? Even worse, how do you fight it when America is becoming increasingly polarized, which certainly increases the salience of partisan identities?


This infrastructure map is incredible.

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