Links of Interest, 9-21-16: The Digital World and its Consequences

I read and watch a lot of stuff on the Internet. A lot of stuff. Here are things I found most interesting today.

Amazon’s Algorithms Favor Amazon’s Business. Big Surprise? ProPublica has studied Amazon’s storefront and concluded that the search engine puts a higher priority on Amazon’s business interests rather than cheap prices. Consumers can find themselves spending more for a bottle of glue if they don’t spend the extra time comparing prices, especially if they think Amazon’s done that for them already.

Margaret Sullivan Says Edward Snowden Should Be Pardoned. Oliver Stone’s Snowden movie brought the exiled NSA whistleblower back into the media spotlight, and the editorial board of The Washington Post made waves the other day when it declared he should be prosecuted… even though the Post won accolades for revealing and reporting his leaks. Sullivan, a media columnist for the Post, disagrees with the editorial board.

Fox News is Facing a Demographic Hurdle in the Future. Fox News has built a niche for itself as a conservative news source, but that limited niche may be its downfall as the newer generations abandon cable in favor of online offerings.

Password Protection is Important. This comedy skit examines what happens when everyday computer problems occur in a military setting.

Reading Recs, 9-20-16: Lies, fraud, bias, and more lies.

Every day I read a lot of stuff on the Internet. A lot of stuff. Below I share what I consider to be the most interesting.

Trump, Clinton, and the Media: The researchers at DataFace took 19,637 news articles written about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns between July 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016, and fed those into a computer to examine the adjectives and determine the tone of coverage. The results are quite interesting: for instance, they find that “conservative” and “liberal” media tend to agree on Donald Trump!! (HT to The Washington Post)

Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems: David Fahrenthold at The Washington Post has spent months digging into Trump Foundation records, and he keeps coming up with evidence of misuse, abuse, and even illegal dealings. Here’s the latest.

Wells Fargo Faces the Senate Banking Committee: As a Wells Fargo customer myself, I’ve been horrified to learn of the fake accounts and fraudulent activities committed by the bank and its employees. I haven’t been personally affected, as far as I know- I pay close attention to my account (and my credit score) online, but I can’t imagine what other people must be going through, finding out there was a credit card in their name they never authorized amongst other things! The Los Angeles Times has a run-down on the scandal.

Columbia University settles a fraud case for $9.5 million: One of the few times Retraction Watch covers something not related to bad science, per se, but still corruption by money. The university was conducting research off-campus, but claimed it was on-campus so they could get a higher rate of federal funding. A whistleblower brought it to the authorities’ attention.

Stephen Colbert Tears Into Trump Over Final Birther Comment: I’ve been watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (well, their YouTube channel, anyway) for a couple months. Here, in my opinion, Colbert is honestly angry, though he hides it behind comedy gags… and is forced to hide it behind CBS censors. But it’s great fun anyway to watch Colbert take Trump down.

And yes, three of the links today are Trump related. Bleh. I can’t wait for this election to be over.

Force Friday plus Humble Bundle equals Star Wars Audiobooks

Okay, I know the last post was about Humble Bundle’s Tom Clancy video game bundle, and two Humble Bundle posts in a row may strike some as somewhat repetitive. Plus, this particular bundle has been available for over a week, so I’m late. However, it’s “Force Friday” because of a Disney marketing strategy to sell toys that retailers apparently understocked on (I am so glad I stayed home today). The bundle is available for four more days. I haven’t spread the word about it. That equals three good reasons to talk about it, according to me. Oh! AND this bundle is audiobooks instead of video games, and it’s Star Wars instead of Tom Clancy, which make two more additional reasons, so let’s do this thing! Continue reading “Force Friday plus Humble Bundle equals Star Wars Audiobooks”

The newest Humble Bundle is offering several Tom Clancy video games plus multiplayer beta!

Tom_Clancy's_Rainbow_Six_Siege_cover_artAs a writer, video game fan, and connoisseur of action titles (both in print and video form), Tom Clancy has always fascinated me. He’s one of the few people I’ve heard of who managed to establish name recognition in all three of those areas. Reading his books is one of the items on my bucket list, though to date I’ve only read Patriot Games. I would love to know what it’s like to have my name become a brand, setting the titles with my name apart from all the other titles that lack… such a distinction, regardless of whether or not I actually played an active role. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Tom Clancy was a prolific writer, which I am going to jot down as “Step One in My Quest of Financial Security and Name Recognition”, but he didn’t play much of a role in a number of the books, nor video games, that carry his name.

To drive that point home, a new Tom Clancy game is coming out in October, even though he sadly passed away in 2013. Continue reading “The newest Humble Bundle is offering several Tom Clancy video games plus multiplayer beta!”

Amusing Coincidences in My Life: Shadowgate, Empire’s End, Monuments Men

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You can almost taste the sarcasm.

So THAT’S where that music is from!

For several years I, from time to time, have had this haunting piano tune enter my head. I’ve heard it somewhere before… but I couldn’t place where. The other day, I was randomly browsing my Steam account, and decided that my wishlist of 45 games needed to be cleaned up. I go over there, and discover- hey! One of the games I want is on an 80% sale, so it’s only $3! (This sale is now over- sorry. But Steam is always doing awesome sales, so it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.) It’s the new Shadowgate game that was released about a year ago. I randomly click on a few of the trailers, and… that haunting theme starts playing! Turns out it’s the death / game over theme from Shadowgate. Mystery solved! Continue reading “Amusing Coincidences in My Life: Shadowgate, Empire’s End, Monuments Men”