The Milo Yiannopoulos whine is the endpoint of a troll’s lifecycle

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Milo Yiannopolous is a provocateur. A British national stirring up American politics, a gay icon of the alt-right, he takes hateful positions on race and politics that have earned him wrath and protests wherever he appears. He advocated for sex with 13-year-olds. He cheered on Gamergate’s harassment of women. As a result, now, his life … Continued

Why does everyone admire John McCain? Because he was a leader who knew how to argue.

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I have been struck by the overwhelmingly positive and admiring comments about John McCain from people at all points on the political spectrum, including not just Republicans but the likes of Bernie Sanders, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.There’s a lesson here in leadership for today’s politicians, on how to argue on principle. You … Continued

Don’t come between a social commenter and his Pecker

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The Boston Globe published an AP story about David Pecker, CEO of the parent company of The National Enquirer, who kept the secrets of Donald Trump and other media figures in a safe as leverage. This kind of story is catnip to the mostly liberal Globe readers, but there’s a problem — the Globe’s content … Continued

Facebook is secretly rating your trustworthiness. Excellent!

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According to the Washington Post, Facebook is rating your trustworthiness on a zero-to-one scale. Not only that, they won’t tell you how they rate people. Here’s why that’s a necessary first step in squashing the spread of fake news. First, let’s get this out of the way. Facebook is biased. All social media and search … Continued

Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, and the risks of analytical optimism

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True analysts cannot afford optimism. To make an accurate prediction, you cannot let what you want to happen color what is likely to happen. But that’s exactly what I’ve seen in the wake of the conviction of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the guilty plea from his former lawyer Michael Cohen. Trump-haters are … Continued

Pope Francis is passively sorry about priests abusing children

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In the wake of the grand jury report on Catholic priests abusing over a thousand children in Pennsylvania, the Pope sent a message to his flock. His passive language is emblematic of how you write to escape responsibility. The words “I’m sorry” and “It was my/our fault” are incompatible with being the infallible leader of … Continued

When is it ethical to write and let others take credit?

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Is it wrong to write a paper for a student? This seems like a black-and-white ethical issue, but having now seen some comments from people with a very different cultural perspective, I’m trying to think about it more carefully. This occurred to me when I saw that the Pakistani tech journalist and entrepreneur Hira Saeed, … Continued

My problem with books

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I have a books problem. My parents read Dr. Seuss books to me when I was a child, and that was where it started. Every weekend they would take me to the library. It started with the books on science and astronomy. Once I had read them all, they introduced me to the grownup side … Continued