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HLG Notebook | July 2015

1. Fraud, Lies, and Errors

Few recent public health movements have enjoyed more success than the campaign against genetically modified foods. But as William Saletan uncovers in Slate, the anti-GMO campaign is little more than deceit and deception:

The anti-GMO movement only pretends to inform you. When you push past its dogmas and examine the evidence, you realize that the movement’s fixation on genetic engineering has been an enormous mistake. The principles it claims to stand for – environmental protection, public health, community agriculture – are better served by considering the facts of each case than by treating GMOs, categorically, as a proxy for all that’s wrong with the world. That’s the truth, in all its messy complexity. Too bad it won’t fit on a label.

Like a series of articles published in The New York Times over the past two years, Saletan exposes how anti-GMO activists dodge the complexities of the issue. But, importantly, Saletan’s piece goes further and reveals that, “the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs.” Henceforth, it will be impossible to have a serious discussion about GMOs, herbicides, food labeling, and food health without reference to this important article.

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 2. Help Wanted for Hackers

This was inevitable. Hacker’s List, a cross between eBay and Monster.com, is a new job site with posts seeking hackers’, uh, special skills. While there is a legitimate need for sophisticated hackers to test security systems, a recent review of Hacker’s List by arstechnicasuggests that the market has something else in mind. A few examples:

“Change my final grade”

“Change degree in english university”

“I am trying to find someone skilled in Hacking social media accounts to hack two facebook profiles.”

“I believe my husband is cheating on me and I have no access to his phone and would someone to hack into his whatsapp to confirm this.”

“My brother in law has been avoiding my sister lately a lot and she is worried…I would like to have a full access on his email.”

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 3. The Summer After Losing the Super Bowl

The Player’s Tribune, a new site founded by Derek Jeter, provides professional athletes with a place to publish first-person narratives. One of the best comes from Ricardo Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks, who describes the lingering impact of losing Super Bowl XLIX to the Patriots on the final-second interception in the end zone:

People would come up to me after we lost and be like, “Well, you know, Malcolm Butler made a perfect play. You just gotta tip your cap to him.” That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying someone shot your brother, but it was a really good shot.

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4. The Case Against Another Tech Bubble

Is the tech bubble about to burst – again? The Economist splashes in the froth of Silicon Valley and announces it is different this time. Here’s why:

Though most technology firms going public today are unprofitable, just as they were in 1999, they have more realistic business models; most are losing money in a premeditated effort to expand, rather than through having no alternative. Last year the average American technology firm that staged an initial public offering was 11 years old and had $91m in sales, compared with an average age of four years old, with $17m in revenue, in 1999.

Buried in the piece is a passing reference to the price of a square foot of San Francisco office space: it has soared 30% in the past few years and shows no sign of slowing down. For a more in-depth understanding of the cost of living in the Valley, see this indispensable article inTechCrunch from last fall, which shows how local politics and crazy ballot initiative rules are making it almost impossible for real growth. Stunning fact: the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas added 114,000 jobs last year, but only 7,000 housing units.

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5. The End of Embarrassment?

What happens when everything is hacked, from State Department cable traffic to the Ashley Madison adultery site? Rebecca Nicholson suggests in The Guardian that we’ve entered “a post-embarrassment world”:

Our lives have been creeping into the public domain for years, and with every new smartphone sold our inhibitions crumble further, taking with them the idea of what it means to be embarrassed in the first place. In time, as each generation subscribes to an ever-widening marker of what is deemed to be appropriate, I wonder if there will be any shame left to hack into.

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6. Worst Movie of the Summer?

The New Yorker assails what could be the worst movie of the summer. A must-read about a must-not-see:

The boxing drama “Southpaw” has the chilling feel of a movie made to fit the requirements of a dictatorship – not a political one but, rather, a bureaucratic one. The creations of the director, Antoine Fuqua, and the screenwriter, Kurt Sutter, seem to have been freeze-dried, cut into card-sized tiles, and laid out sequentially – sustaining only the shallowest definition of character, connected only by the thinnest string of motive, and hermetically isolated from the practicalities among which the action ostensibly takes place.

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The post July 2015 appeared first on High Lantern Group.