A ship sinking in the ocean.

Friday Roundup

On May 27th, 2016 in Quibbles

Y’ALL. What a week! I have spent so much time looking at my feeds sharply inhaling and making sudden utterances to deities, I wasn’t sure I’d have any gasps left for when I catch up on House of Cards.


There was the usual panic over the forthcoming election (and bad reporting which neglects confidence intervals), and how literally no one knows what could happen.

Meanwhile the other options aren’t so hot either:

One is using HIV activists as political stunts.

The other openly flaunts security protocols, which I find amazing since I am constantly nervous about data breaches and the only thing I have in my email is Star Trek gifs. Though, I am forced to wonder how much security protocol matters when the nuclear arms system is run on floppy disks.

At least we can take comfort in the fact that whoever wins is going to inherit a broken system. So, there’s no need to pretend any candidate on either side is going to usher in a golden age of social policy and balanced budgets.

And it’s not just the executive branch that’s broken, it’s the judiciary too! In an attempt to recreate the Justices’ favorite Tom Cruise movie, the court has been using algorithms to assign sentences in order to move the courts into the computer age with algorithmic racism.

Despite this latest example of the glaring blind spots of automation, Facebook has decided to lean into algorithms to deliver more unbiased news to its users feeds.

However, the real kicker in the courts this week was when it was revealed in the NYTimes that billionaire Peter Thiel was using the courts in a revenge plot against Gawker. That was a 100% genuine sentence! What a world!

This speaks to a huge problem of costs of litigation and a vulnerability of the system to manipulation by the extremely wealthy; in other words it’s a huge deal.

But then, this is a man who co-founded a startup named after a magical artefact used by a dark lord to manipulate others, as well as,

“…the Seasteading Institute, which aims to create cities that float at sea, beyond the reach of governments and their laws”.

What’s the origin story of this literal supervillain? Gawker outed him in 2007. Maybe.

To be sure, he is a public figure, his complaints hold little to no water, and this is a disproportionate (and questionably legal) response no matter how you slice it. However, in instances of outing I would err on the side of caution and maybe don’t.

Though, to be fair, there is plenty of casual racism and questionable editorial choices to go around.

Maybe big media will appoint aryan goddess Taylor Swift an EIC as an inclusivity ploy?

But as always, there’s a silver lining: Antibiotic resistant super bacteria have finally arrived so we won’t have to suffer too long on this sinking ship of a society. And we can wear whatever we want on our way out! So, at least we have that going for us.


Happy weekend.