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Links: March 2017

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking

While assessing the significance of Flynn’s and Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak, an ambassador, consider this:

The label ‘intelligence official’ is not always cleanly applied in Russia, where ex-spies, oligarchs and government officials often report back to the intelligence services and elsewhere in the Kremlin.

What Is Race?

A good crash course on race from Whit Taylor.

Pissed Jeans: Why Love Now

I’ll probably have this on repeat for most of the weekend.

Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist

I think “Comic Sans helps dyslexic people read. Cool, right?” might be better than “Fuck you for not liking Comic Sans” but what do I know?

Trump’s new travel ban still won’t keep out anyone from countries responsible for deadly terror attacks in the U.S.

There have been 10 fatal attacks tied to Islamist extremist ideology or otherwise deemed international terrorism since 2001 and the people behind those attacks are from none of the banned countries.

Refugees from the countries included in Trump’s ban weren’t responsible for any attacks in the U.S. between 1975 and 2015, according to a report published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. The report examined 154 people described as foreign-born terrorists who carried out attacks during that period; 20 were found to be refugees, and the only three who successfully carried out deadly attacks were Cubans admitted before the Refugee Act of 1980.

“Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security,” the order states. “Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States.”

It offers two examples for this, one of which involves refugees from a country — Iraq — that was on the overall ban list for the original order and removed from the new version.

How to Beat the Robots

A nice roundup of policy proposals to help the increasing share of the workforce being displaced by automation.

Coroner confirms George Michael died of natural causes

For two truly fascinating seconds, this headline led me to believe a Swiss thrash metal band had unique insight into George Michael’s death.

Why It’s So Hard For The GOP To Agree On Health Care

Authors of the Affordable Care Act, for example, have sometimes referred to the “three-legged stool,” where the legs can be thought of as affordability (the government helps people pay for their insurance if they can’t afford it on their own), access (people can get health care even if they have a pre-existing condition) and cost control (there’s some mandate or incentive to ensure that healthy people sign up for insurance, avoiding the death spiral that can result when the proportion of sick people in the insurance pool is too high). If one leg of the stool wobbles, the whole thing might collapse; removing the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, for instance, would reduce access. But if sick people sign up for insurance and healthy people don’t, that could trigger a death spiral.

Miniature Retro Papercraft Synthesizers by Dan McPharlin

You had me at “miniature retro papercraft synthesizers.”

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

I liked the right better when they were Luddites.

Mercer invested in Cambridge Analytica, the Washington Post reported, “driven in part by an assessment that the right was lacking sophisticated technology capabilities”.

There are two things, potentially, going on simultaneously: the manipulation of information on a mass level, and the manipulation of information at a very individual level. Both based on the latest understandings in science about how people work, and enabled by technological platforms built to bring us together.

The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.

I hate the phone. My guy friends seem to share my feelings, because our phone conversations seem to naturally last about five minutes before someone says, “All right, I’ll catch up with you later.” Dudes aren’t going to maintain a bromance that way, or even over a once-in-a-blue-moon beer. We need to go through something together. That’s why, studies have shown, men tend to make their deepest friends through periods of intense engagement, like school or military service or sports. That’s how many of us are comfortable.

White House Says Trump’s Wiretap Claim Was Meant More Broadly

Ms. Conway clarified on Monday that she was not accusing the former president of snooping via a kitchen appliance

please stop the ride i want to get off

Tillerson Leads From State Dept. Shadows as White House Steps In

The biggest concern among diplomats and many in Congress is that when Mr. Trump talks about bolstering America’s commitment to its national security, he does not have diplomacy in mind. Longtime diplomats often cite — or email to reporters — a line uttered four years ago by the new defense secretary, Jim Mattis, when he was in charge of Central Command.

“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition,” Mr. Mattis said at the time. As one diplomat who has met frequently with Mr. Tillerson since he took office noted recently, “Rex clearly agrees with that. He just won’t say it.”

Returning to the March for Life

Reminder: Planned Parenthood is mostly preventative care. Defunding will likely result in more abortions, not fewer.

Why does Donald Trump demonize cities?

It’s difficult to predict who will bear the downside burden of disruptive innovation — it could be Rust Belt autoworkers one day and educated, urban members of the elite mainstream media the next — which is why dynamic economies need robust safety nets to protect citizens from the risks of economic dislocation. The denizens of Trump country have borne too much of the disruption and too little of the benefit from innovation. But the redistribution-loving multicultural urban majority can’t be blamed for the inadequacy of the safety net when the party of rural whites has fought for decades to roll it back. Low-density America didn’t vote to be knocked on its heels by capitalist creative destruction, but it has voted time and again against softening the blow.

Uranium Club: All of Them Naturals

Working late, starting to fade, when this sonic coke bump appears out of nowhere to deliver the necessary jitters.

Ex-Boston Drummer Sib Hashian Dead After Collapsing on Cruise Ship

Sad we lost Sib, but glad he went out doing his thing. RIP.

Want a New Emoji? Good Luck.

A crash course on the history of Emoji, the Unicode Consortium, and how Emoji expansion could be democratized.

Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

And in a particularly cruel irony, women’s contributions to open-source software are accepted more often than men’s are, but only if their gender is unknown.