Difficult questions about “A message from MIT’s faculty”

Some MIT faculty, led by Roger Levy and Nancy Kanwisher, posted a short message regarding what they believe in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. More than 400 faculty have now signed it. As an MIT alumnus, I read this statement and wondered about the platitudes it contains: why make this statement, and why ask faculty to … Continued

How to deal with schmucks (like the guy Delta Air Lines just banned)

There’s a lot more public nastiness since the election. For example, there’s the passenger who, as a Delta Air Lines flight was boarding, starting shouting offensive stuff like “Donald Trump, baby! We got some Hillary bitches on here?” Delta has banned him for life. Is this the right way to deal with real-life trolls? Here’s part of … Continued

Nordstrom: “We sell what sells, including Ivanka Trump”

Should Nordstrom continue to carry Ivanka Trump merchandise? It sells. So Nordstrom will keep selling it. In its rambling email to employees, it wraps that fact in tissue paper and packing peanuts. Why not have the courage to tell the truth? A friend of mine recently emailed Nordstrom to protest its decision to continue to … Continued

CIA director-designate Mike Pompeo uses passive voice to justify a power grab

Passive voice in opinion pieces is pernicious: it hides who actually is supposed to do stuff. Donald Trump’s choice for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, repeatedly used this technique in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. When you’re advocating surveillance and data collection, we want to know who’s doing it — but Pompeo uses passive misdirection to focus on terrorists … Continued

Who won the Trump University lawsuit? Look at the statements.

The Trump Organization settled fraud suits against Trump University for $25 million, removing the trial from the President-elect’s schedule. But because a settlement is a negotiated solution, you can’t immediately tell who came out on top — maybe $25 million is a lot less than the plaintiffs could have gotten. That is, until you read … Continued

Flummoxed by Trump, The New York Times says “We’re fine, really.”

Trump’s shifting positions, outlandish policies, and tweets criticizing the media that covers him have challenged organizations like The New York Times. After predicting Hillary Clinton would win the election, the Times is having an identity crisis. Now they’ve emailed their subscribers to say “Hey, we’re doing fine.” The letters communicate the exact opposite. The Times asks subscribers … Continued

Mark Zuckerberg’s delusions regarding fake news on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook this weekend regarding the role of fake news in the election. It’s way worse than he says, and he has a lot of work to do to fix it. Ignorance is the biggest problem in our democracy, and Facebook is making it worse. First, let me ask you: was your news … Continued