Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Inside the two years that shook Facebook — and the world

At Wired, Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein report: One day in late February of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg sent a memo to all of Facebook’s employees to address some troubling behavior in the ranks. His message pertained to some walls at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters where staffers are encouraged to scribble notes and signatures. On at least a couple of occasions, someone had crossed out the words “Black Lives Matter”

As the U.S. weakens protections for wilderness, Peru moves to protect ‘one of the last great intact forests’

The New York Times reports: The remote rain forests in Peru’s northeast corner are vast — so vast that the clouds that form above them can influence rainfall in the western United States. The region contains species, especially unusual fish, that are unlike any found elsewhere on Earth. Scientists studying the area’s fauna and flora may gain insights into evolutionary processes and into the ecological health and geological history of

Just 3% of Americans own more than half the country’s guns

Paul Ratner writes: Americans are not as gun-obsessed as some would like their countrymen to believe. Linking gun ownership to the identity of being an American has been a successful sales tactic that is more myth than reality. The numbers show that a small, unrepresentative, but disproportionately vocal portion of the American population, aided by self-serving politicians and a powerful lobby organization, has enacted its agenda over the majority of

Music: Matt Bianco ft. Basia — ‘Golden Days’

 

Zeynep Tufekci: We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

 

How New Zealand became a new Ararat for Silicon Valley’s misanthropic billionaires

Mark O’Connell writes: Early last summer, just as my interests in the topics of civilisational collapse and Peter Thiel were beginning to converge into a single obsession, I received out of the blue an email from a New Zealand art critic named Anthony Byrt. If I wanted to understand the extreme ideology that underpinned Thiel’s attraction to New Zealand, he insisted, I needed to understand an obscure libertarian manifesto called

Mass shootings highlight nexus between masculinity and gun violence

Laura Kiesel writes: The year 2017 brought the deadliest mass shooting in modern history to the United States, which has become home to more gun massacres than any other country in the world. The response offered by many of our political leaders, both Democrat and Republican, has been to focus on the role of mental illness in such shootings. The day after Stephen Paddock took to a hotel room in

As climate change intensifies droughts, Cape Town’s water crisis may signify a new normal

Laura Poppick writes: Last June, Piotr Wolski began transforming his Cape Town swimming pool into a water storage tank for his home. By September, he had directed all gutters from his roof to flow into the pool and had installed a pump to transport water into the house where he lives with his family of four. Wolski works as a hydrologist studying regional rainfall patterns at the University of Cape

Music: Jazzanova — ‘Behold These Days’

 

Quinn Norton and how anti-fascists are helping bring fascism to America

How fascism is coming to America: It’s happening when people decide the ideal society is one where everyone thinks the same way. And it’s happening when people who know better, kowtow to the dictates of social media instead of doing the right thing. I didn’t know the New York Times hired Quinn Norton until I saw news they’d parted ways. Without question, this is a greater loss to the Times

Cosmopsychism explains how the Universe became fine-tuned for life

Philip Goff writes: In the past 40 or so years, a strange fact about our Universe gradually made itself known to scientists: the laws of physics, and the initial conditions of our Universe, are fine-tuned for the possibility of life. It turns out that, for life to be possible, the numbers in basic physics – for example, the strength of gravity, or the mass of the electron – must have

Why people love animals

  When Yashar Ali tweeted this elephant video recently, the comments it solicited bemoaned the lack of love that humans show one another. Pets, on the other hand, are generally experienced as fountains of unconditional love. Is this why people love animals: because, to some degree, they make offset a love deficit? No doubt that’s part of the picture, but just as important is the role animals have in allowing

Music: Arve Henriksen — ‘Groundswell’

 

Paleolithic parenting and animated GIFs

The creation of the moving image represents a technical advance in the arts comparable with the invention of the steam engine during the industrial revolution. The transition from static to moving imagery was a watershed event in human history, through which people discovered a new way of capturing the visible world — or so it seemed. It turns out, however, that long before the advent of civilization, our Paleolithic forebears

We’re killing our lakes and oceans

Eelco Rohling and Joseph Ortiz write: On January 5, 2018, a paper published in the journal Science delivered a sobering message: The oxygenation of open oceans and coastal seas has been steadily declining during the past half century. The volume of ocean with no oxygen at all has quadrupled, and the volume where oxygen levels are falling dangerously low has increased even more. We’re seeing the same thing happen in

On the need for viewpoint diversity