The “Large and Highly Sophisticated” News, 22 March 2018

President Trump’s Day on Twitter



The Markets, Currencies, Commodities, and Bonds



“I love the president and wish him well.” John Dowd, resigning his position as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. (The New Yorker)

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared; or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby, against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.” Stephen Hawking (Ask Me Anything, 2015)

“Both Trump’s confab with video game executives and the clueless media coverage of the ‘link’ with violence miss the point: The rest of the world also plays lots of violent video games but have many fewer casualties from violence. Why? Fewer guns. The whole issue is a distraction.” Jonathan Alter (Twitter)

“For those who like diplomacy but have a sinking feeling about an unplanned, ad hoc Trump/Kim summit, here’s why: the worst case outcome for U.S. is also the most likely- a great, legitimizing photo op for Kim, and no material commitment on disarmament.” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) (Twitter)

“Rumors, misinformation, and bad reporting can and do exist in any medium. But Facebook created a medium that is optimized for fake ness, not as an algorithmic quirk but due to the core conception of the platform. By turning news consumption and news discovery into a performative social process, Facebook turns itself into a confirmation bias machine — a machine that can best be fed through deliberate engineering.” Matthew Yglesias (Vox)



4.5- In the U.S., 64 percent of homicides involve firearms. In the U.K., only 4.5 percent do. (BBC)

11- The percentage of Americans who report they never go online has fallen to 11 percent of the population. Seniors, lower-income adults, and those with less than a high school education are more likely than other groups of people to be offline. Rural Americans are nearly twice as likely as those who live in urban and suburban settings to never use the internet. (Pew Research Center)

20- The 20 highest-performing fake news stories of the closing days of the 2016 general election campaign did better than the 20 highest-performing real ones. (Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed, Vox)

52- At the Pennsylvania Rally earlier this month, President Trump claimed that he received 52 percent of the female vote in the 2016 presidential election. He actually received only 42 percent of women nationally; he did, however, receive 53 percent of the white female vote. (The Hill; Vox)

6,375- The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from 2017. Total credit card debt in the U.S. has surpassed $1 trillion. (Federal Reserve, Experian, CNBC)


Ocean Plastic

The whole story from the BBC is well worth a read.


Reading List: At Least a Million Sub-Saharan Africans Moved to Europe Since 2010 (Pew)  , John Bolton, Explained (Vox) , Trump’s Trade Threats Put China’s Leader on the Spot (New York Times) , The Four Types of Constitutional Crises (FiveThirtyEight)


Dystopian Trivia Game Apps: We’ve come late to the games (the trivia games, har-de-har-har), but we’ve now duly signed up for all the trivia for cash apps out there (that we know of): HQ, Cash Show, The Q, Swag IQ, and Genius. We play them but we can’t shake the Brave New World/Hunger Games aspect. Is this what our future is? Playing a game in seconds, trying to dodge trick questions by thumb, trying to “earn/win” some money (goes straight to your PayPal account!). All of us trivia players, what are we trading for these chances at victory and moolah? (Are our phones mining Bitcoin or Ethereum while we remember which authors were and were not part of the Beat Generation? Are our phones’ data being mined for personal quirks that can be sold to advertisers, Cambridge Analytica style? How do they find the money to fund the prizes?)

Still, we play these games. We love trivia and could use the money.

But not being able to not research things, we found excellent think pieces on all things Trivia App: (1) HQ Trivia is a Harbinger of Dystopia (The Atlantic)  , (2) Is HQ Trivia a Modern Reinvention of the Game Show or a Glitchy Scam? (Vox)  , And, one of the most fun riffs to read, (3)  ‘HQ’ in 120 Years (The Ringer)

It all feels not totally unlike a frenzied dystopian reality show, except that instead of winning a ticket to paradise, you just get a tiny amount of cash with nebulous origins and a shower of colorful digital confetti. And, if you lose, instead of getting killed, you just get a vague sense of annoyance and the consolation of knowing that up to tens of thousands of people just lost at the same time you did.” (Aja Romano, Vox)

The use of quotations and citations does not imply endorsement.

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