The Essence of Cuteness, and All the Other News You Missed This Week
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You’ve Been Yiannopoulosized
“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.” That was a statement released by Twitter HQ after the company issued a lifetime ban to one of the Internet’s most notorious trolls, Milo Yiannopoulos. The final straw came earlier this week when the head honcho of hate incited his followers to “bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.” This brings up a few interesting issues. First, as any Internet user knows, this hate speech blankets social media — and increasingly, it invades our other forms of speech, including political. It’s hard to imagine that the impact of such verbal rancor isn’t bleeding from words into sticks and stones. Second, while this abuse is terrible (if you’ve never been on the receiving end, it’s worse than you think), there’s always a risk in silencing voices, even those that make you want to pierce your own eardrums. And I really worry about the optics of drawing a line only when it’s hate speech directed at a celebrity. Third, consider that social media is a magnet for the world’s biggest jerks. And this dude was able to stand out as the biggest jerk of them all. No one can say that Milo didn’t apply himself.
That’s What She Said
Four score and seven years ago (or maybe it was a few days ago), the GOP opened its convention in Cleveland. And by the time the first night was over, almost all of the talk on media (mainstream and social) was about the lines in Melania Trump’s speech that are near perfect copies of those recited by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Dem convention. Earlier in the day, there was a significant anti-Trump revolt on the floor of the convention. So the focus on the speech controversy could be a net positive for the campaign. It’s like I always say. That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
+ Note to Ted Cruz: You’re supposed to express support for the person at the top of the ticket at the convention. Cruz was booed by the arena crowd as he refused to endorse Trump, and instead told people to vote their conscience. Prior to the big snub, Trump had labeled Cruz Lyin’ Ted, ridiculed his wife’s appearance, and suggested that his father was involved in the JFK assassination. And yet, everyone still expected an endorsement. The art of the deal…
+ The Voice: Donald Trump capped off convention week with a speech that painted a bleak picture of modern day America, and in which he positioned himself as the one guy who can fix it. “I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.” For many Americans, he’s decidedly not their voice. (Among other things, it’s way too pitchy, dog.) But he’s tapping into the very real (and justified) anger of many Americans who have been left out of the economic upswing — and the national conversation. As Marc Ambinder explains, the speech wasn’t aimed at everyone. Clinton and Trump are essentially tied in Ohio.
+ While the near civil war on the floor of the RNC shook the GOP, there was even bigger news for conservatives as Roger Ailes, the media’s most powerful person, was forced from the top of Fox News following allegations of sexual harassment.
There may soon be an island for misfit produce. Walmart, America’s largest grocer, is now selling ugly fruit and vegetables. And some people think that the ugly fruit might be better for you. (I’m pretty sure I tried that line a few times during my college years.)
Let’s Break the Ice
This summer, it’s Pokemon Go. A couple summers ago it was the Ice Bucket challenge, “in which millions of people filmed themselves dumping buckets of ice-cold water over their heads, in order to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease.” How will history judge that summer fad? Has it had the impact of an Ice Cube, standing the test of time by evolving from gangsta rap to family-friendly movies? Or will its impact more closely resemble that of Vanilla Ice? Let’s take a look back with James Surowiecki who found that the Internet’s most famous example of slacktivism has had surprisingly long-lasting benefits.
So Cute It Hurts
“Cuteness has not yet emerged as an independent scientific field — Dale estimates that only a few dozen academics worldwide focus on the topic — but he is hopeful that it is in the process of happening.” The Guardian’s Neil Steinberg visits Japan to unearth a new academic field trying to pinpoint what makes things cute — and how that cuteness obsession might be connected with things less cute. (Related: These are my beagles hugging.)
A homeless, black teen who was living in a tent was approached by a couple of police officers in Barnesville, Georgia. If you only view life through the prism of current headlines, you know how this story goes. But I’m going to tell you a story that will dash your expectations. And you’ll thank me for it. Not everything is as it memes.
Everyone Has a Price
Social media affords public figures the opportunity to skip the intermediaries and communicate directly with followers and fans. It also affords them the opportunity to advertise directly to their fans. And in that game, no one is doing better than Selena Gomez. She has a massive following and can earn up to $550,000 a post. (My family once offered me that much to stop tweeting.)
When the Rubber Hits the Road
The Guardian with the latest news on the sport that is consistently the most popular among Olympic athletes: “Seventeen days, 10,500 athletes, 33 venues, and 450,000 condoms. That’s how many camisinhas (little shirts in Brazilian slang) are being supplied by the International Olympics Committee for the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Forty-two per athlete, to be specific, which, even by Olympic standards, is a hell of a lot.” (They give out twice that many at the news aggregator’s convention, and that only lasts a weekend.)
Bottom of the News
“Where ayahuasca retreats typically identify as places for deep healing and spiritual growth, Entrepreneurs Awakening also promises benefits such as ‘a new level of innovative thinking’ and ‘increased tactical clarity.’” In California Sunday Magazine, Chris Colins follows the yellow brick road (OK, it’s actually vomit-colored) to the mountains of Peru, where an ayahuasca retreat is tailor-made for the startup set. In my day, when a techie wanted to puke, they just put on VR goggles.
“The two cannabis entrepreneurs want to sell Americans on marijuana as part of a healthy lifestyle — and to create a signature brand in the process. And like Nike with fancy running shoes and Gatorade with sugar water, they’re turning to sports and athletes to do it.” Can Jim McAlpine and his team of entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities succeed in opening the first chain of gyms for marijuana enthusiasts? Well, let’s roll a joint, grab a few bags of chips, and watch them try…
+ Better take good care of your VCR. The last company that still makes the devices is set to stop later this year. (This is the perfect moment for Betamax to re-emerge and make its move.)
+ Feeling bad about how distracted you can be when playing Pokémon Go? This video of a player crashing into a police car should make you feel better.
+ And from CNN: Pokémon Go players at risk of landmines in Bosnia. (On second thought, I don’t want to level up…)
“Vin Diesel plays it. So do Dwayne Johnson, Drew Barrymore, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers and Jon Favreau, among other bold-face names. Some even built their careers by playing it.” The Hollywood Reporter takes you behind closed doors where A-list stars are playing Dungeons & Dragons. (Wait, having a paying job, an active sex life, and playing D&D at the same time? These celebs are definitely breaking new ground.)
+ Looking for signs of hope? Watch tennis balls being made.
This is a weekly best-of version of the NextDraft newsletter. For daily updates and to get the NextDraft app, go here. (Original story reprinted with permission from NextDraft.)
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