That woman who got fired for comparing Michelle Obama to an ape is now going to jail for defrauding FEMA

    In 2016, Pamela Taylor lost her job as director of the Clay County (WV) Development Corporation when she posted a Facebook update that read, "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels." Read the rest

    The army of contractor-linguists who power Google Assistant say they had their wages stolen

    The reason Google Assistant (that's the product you invoke when you say "OK Google" to your device) works reasonably well is that the Pygmalion team -- a small army of linguists -- work long hours handcrafting variations on common phrases ("set a timer for five minutes," "remind me in five minutes," "in five minutes, remind me...") and grammars that allow the system to correctly respond to your queries. Read the rest

    Rumor: DoJ is going to investigate Google for antitrust violations

    According to a widely reported rumor -- first published by the WSJ -- the DoJ is preparing to launch an antitrust probe of Google, though it's not clear on what basis such a probe would proceed. Read the rest

    Stop saying "robots are coming for your job"; start saying "Your boss wants to replace you with a robot"

    Tech reporter and sf writer Brian Merchant (previously) calls our attention to the peculiar construction of the problem statement in articles about automation and obsolescence, in which "robots are coming to steal your job." Read the rest

    Ted Chiang's "Op Ed From the Future": socialized transhumanism vs American oligarchy

    The New York Times has inaugurated its "Op-Eds From the Future" ("science fiction authors, futurists, philosophers and scientists write op-eds that they imagine we might read 10, 20 or even 100 years in the future") with a piece from Ted Chiang (previously) that imagines a future in which genetic engineering of human embryos is commonplace, leading to a well-intentioned attempt at preventing literal speciation into the haves and have-nots by subsidizing "intelligence boosting" genetic manipulation for lower-income families. Read the rest

    Report from the Fed reveals that "economic growth" is a highly localized phenomena, masking widespread financial desperation

    Trump likes to boast about economic growth, and while many have pointed out that many of the policies that produced the rosy figures are leftovers from Obama's policies, it's also important to note that the "growth" is highly localized, with aggregated national figures hiding the incredible economic desperation in the poorest parts of America. Read the rest

    All weekend, California Democrats booed neoliberal would-be presidents who talked down the Green New Deal and Medicare for All

    John Delaney (a finance friendly millionaire) wants to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, and he thinks he knows how to win: "Medicare for all may sound good but it's actually not good policy nor is it good politics." It's an idea so unpopular with California Democrats that it attracted a full minute of heartfelt boos when he assayed it last weekend. Read the rest

    Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

    David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. Read the rest

    Public outcry has killed an attempt turn clickthrough terms of service into legally binding obligations (for now)

    On May 21, the American Law Institute -- a kind of star chamber of 4,000 judges, law professors, and lawyers -- was scheduled to pass a "restatement" of the law of consumer contracts, with the plan being to codify case-law to ensure that terms of service would be treated as enforceable obligations by US courts. Read the rest

    Nobel-winning economist Joe Stiglitz calls neoliberalism "a failed ideology" and sketches out a "progressive capitalism" to replace it

    Joe Stiglitz (previously) holds a Nobel Prize in Economics (not an actual Nobel Prize), and has been an outspoken critic of the rigged economy and austerity. Read the rest

    Google's API changes mean only paid enterprise users of Chrome will be able to access full adblock

    Since January, Google has been pushing for a change to its extensions handling in Chrome; one casualty of that change is ability to block unwanted content before its loads, something that would effectively kill privacy tools and ad-blockers. Read the rest

    Just look at this vintage "banana candle" recipe

    Just look at it.

    (Thanks, Seth!) Read the rest

    Chase credit cards quietly reintroduce the binding arbitration clauses they were forced to eliminate a decade ago

    Binding arbitration is a way for corporations to force you to surrender your legal rights as a condition of doing business, relegating you to seeking redress for breaches and harms by going before a paid arbitrator who is in the employ of the company that harmed you, and who almost always sides with their employer. Read the rest

    Ted Cruz backs AOC's call for a lifetime ban on lobbying by former Congressjerks

    Last year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez successfully challenged establishment Dem Joe Crowley for his seat in the Bronx; now Crowley works as a lobbyist, skirting the restrictions on lobbying by Congress by styling himself a "strategic consultant." Read the rest

    To reduce plastic packaging, ship products in solid form

    There's no one way to solve the plastic waste problem, but in the packaged goods sector, an enormous amount of plastic is used in order to surround and protect simple solutions of some agent dissolved in water, from toothpaste to window cleaner to shampoo. Read the rest

    For the first time since the 70s, New York State is set to enshrine sweeping tenants' protections

    There isn't single county in the nation where a minimum-wage worker can afford to rent a two-bedroom home; and although LA has the worst homelessness crisis in the country, New York state is catching up, with homelessness growing by 46% since the financial crisis -- the fastest rate in the nation. Read the rest

    How Mexican labor unions tried to rescue Freud from the Nazis

    Anar writes, "Writer and scholar Rubén Gallo sheds light on a fascinating, obscure bit of history: After the press reported Freud’s troubles in Nazi Austria — his daughter was briefly detained by the Gestapo and he was under pressure by friends to flee — several activists and Mexican labor unions (including the Union of Workers in the Graphic Arts, the Union of Education Workers, the Union of Metal Miners, and the Union of Mexican Electricians) urged then-Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas to bring Freud to Mexico." Read the rest

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