Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A spectre is haunting the workplace

Like BC, I too did look in the mirror that night and ask myself if I was up for it, which is something I thought only happened in airport thrillers ...

Seated for more than six hours a day? Better get moving! - ABC News
Deer kills man, injures woman near Wangaratta in north-east Victoria

FLORIDA BUNNY: “Video of an Easter bunny brawl in Orlando is going viral. It is not known who was inside the big, white bunny suit but he looks hopping mad as he is seen in the video throwing several punches at a guy in downtown Orlando near Tier nightclub Sunday night. An Orlando police officer eventually stepped in to break up the fight.”

Would life be happier without Google? I spent a week finding out Guardian. More interesting than one might expect

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population Guardian

Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It)
By Elizabeth Anderson | Princeton University Press | $44.99 | 224 pages
Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable
By Dan Lyons | Atlantic Books | $29.99 | 272 pages
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley
By Emily Chang | Penguin | $26.99 | 320 pages

Most people spend most of their time in slavery. They live in a world of subordination, obeisance and arbitrary decrees; they must endure loyalty oaths, surveillance and the soul-destroying vagaries of dictatorship; they suffer under the burden of potential exile; they are vassals, shunted from fiefdom to suzerain and back again.
Do you recognise this world? You do? Maybe you’re a North Korean dissident, or a refugee who fled Stalin’s Russia. Or maybe you’ve just got home from work.
“Most workers,” argues the American philosopher Elizabeth Anderson in her provocative new book, “are governed by communist dictatorships in their working lives.” When we enter our workplaces we enter a system of private government. And it’s not a pretty sight: the private governments of the past were run by leaders who took power by force or by birth; the private governments of today are run by CEOs.
A spectre is haunting the workplace

Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes

ProPublica: “Did you know that if you make less than $66,000 a year, you can prepare and file your taxes for free? No? That’s no accident. Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know. Intuit and other tax software companies have spent millions lobbying to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a “Free File” product to most Americans — but good luck finding it…”

Michael Abramowicz (George Washington), Tax Experimentation, 71 Fla. L. Rev. 65 (2019):
Random experiments could allow the government to test tax policies before they are enacted into general law. Such experiments can be revenue-neutral, with the tax authority ensuring ex post that average tax revenues received from taxpayers in the treatment and control groups are equal. Taxpayers might thus volunteer even for experiments that would broaden the tax base, for example by eliminating deductions. Continued participation by taxpayers in such experiments would indicate that the proposed reforms are efficient at least if externalities are disregarded. Non-revenue-neutral experiments raise greater concerns about horizontal inequity, but they may be helpful in addressing questions about effects of tax rates and in increasing participation.

NEVER SAY NEVER: I really never thought I’d be praising Kim Kardashian. I’m not a celebrity-oriented kind of Dragon 🐉 .  But her response to the celebrity college admissions scandal is actually praiseworthy: “If [my kids] couldn’t get into a school, I would never want to use privilege to try to force them into a situation that they wouldn’t thrive in anyway.”
Go, Ms. Kardashian!

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Matt Gaetz: Evidence of FBI-media ‘corruption’ coming out before DOJ inspector general report.

LAW ENFORCEMENT AS ORGANIZED CRIME:  Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.

How Grifters Gamed Amazon to Sell the ‘Mueller Report’ Already - The Daily Beast: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on the Trump campaign will be released Thursday, the Justice Department announced Monday. Like all public reports, the document will be free to read. That hasn’t stopped people from trying to sell Mueller report books on Amazon for months. Amazon’s book listings are an SEO cesspool where grifters try to peddle ebooks on every trending topic. In recent months, self-published works on the anti-vaccination and QAnon conspiracy theories have soared in Amazon’s ratings. So as readers clamored to see the full Mueller report, publishing houses and self-published authors rushed to sell books on the still-unpublished document. Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity lawyer and frequent Fox News guest, has not read the Mueller report yet. No one has, aside from Mueller’s team of investigators and Attorney General William Barr. But for more than a month, Dershowitz and the publishing house Skyhorse have been selling a book with the full text of the report, plus a foreword from Dershowitz. “There has never been a more important political investigation than Robert S. Mueller III’s into President Donald Trump’s possible collusion with Russia,” a product description for Dershowitz’s book reads. “His momentous findings can be found here.”…”

Bot attacks costing companies $2M per breach: a growing number of internationally-based cybercriminals are routing attacks through homegrown networks
In its study, Bots Down Down Under – An Australian Market Threat Report, Kasada analysed two specific actionable issues for businesses. The company examined how credential abuse attacks were delivered to companies through customer data as well as bot visibility and whether Australia’s top websites can differentiate between browsers (real  humans) and bots.

Finally, it's Mueller time

The investigation's release promises to be one of the biggest media days of the year — so act accordingly.

Look for this headline in your newspaper, in your Twitter feed or at the bottom of your favorite cable news network: “Mueller report clears president.”

Or it might be this one: “Muller report finds president obstructed justice.”

Which one will be right? Maybe neither. But it won’t stop news outlets from trying to figure out, as quickly as possible, what the report says so they can wrap it up in one succinct headline and then set the day’s narrative.

The rush to definitive answers might satisfy the bloodlust of the audience, but quick hot takes almost assuredly will be a disservice to that audience. It seems impossible that 400 pages of complicated legal and political matters can be boiled down to one sentence in a matter of minutes.

University of Southern California Gould School of Law professor Orin Kerr sums it up well:

That falls in line with what Frank Sesno, director of George Washington University’s media school and former CNN Washington bureau chief, told Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan.

“Put the reporters up front and put the opinionators to the side for a good long while,’’ he said.

News outlets need to put accuracy ahead of attitude, prudence ahead of posture.

Get it right, even though that might mean taking valuable time deciphering the report. As Sullivan writes, “That’s why it will be important for journalists, in the initial reporting, to be open with their audiences or readers about what they don’t know — to say, in essence, ‘we just got this and we are reading it in real time and trying to figure it out.’”

News outlets need to control their excitement and resist the temptation to hype the report beyond necessity or appropriateness.

My Poynter colleague Al Tompkins writes to journalists: “What the report does or does not show, you should resolve now to limit the adjectives you use to report this story on Thursday.”

Tompkins suggests journalists pledge to not use adjectives such as “explosive” and to carefully go through the report, maybe even with a spreadsheet, to see what’s what.

Think of it this way: When you were little and got a brand new board game, you had two choices. You could read the directions and learn to play the game properly. Or you could be one of those kids who said, “Let’s just start playing and we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Learning on the fly is fine when you’re playing Candyland. It’s not fine when you’re talking about a report that is investigating the President of the United States.

Don’t call it a paywall

HuffPost is offering, instead, a "membership program."

“Our membership program is not a paywall,” HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen wrote, “because we believe our journalism should remain freely available to everyone — not just those who can afford to pay.”

Polgreen, right, writes that the HuffPost will have three levels of membership:

  • Free registration so readers can sync their bookmarks and manage newsletters.
  • A $5.99 per month membership that includes access to members-only newsletters and other features.
  • An annual membership of $99.99 for superfans, which comes with an exclusive limited-edition “People Before Power” T-shirt.

This King is a queen

Time magazine's six covers honor the nation's influencers.

Time magazine has published six different covers this week to commemorate its list of the
“100 Most Influential People.” One of the covers features “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King. (Other covers feature singer Taylor Swift, actors Dwayne Johnson and Sandra Oh, politician Nancy Pelosi and soccer star Mohamed Salah.)

In the essay about King, film director Ava DuVernay writes, “What most don’t understand about Gayle is that this perfected proximity to others is a superpower that the best journalists possess. To be present, but not centered. To observe. To bear witness.”

King is listed under the “Titans” category with the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; athletes LeBron James, Alex Morgan and Tiger Woods; Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, and architect Jeanne Gang.

More bad press for Alden

The hedge fund finds itself under the scrutiny of The Washington Post — and the federal government.

Stephen Linder of The Denver Post during a rally against the paper's ownership group, Alden Global Capital. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell reports that Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that controls more than 100 local newspapers including the Denver Post and Boston Herald and is trying to buy Gannett, is under federal scrutiny. The reason: an unusual move where it transferred $250 million of employee pension savings into its own accounts. The Post said that Alden is being investigated by the Department of Labor for management of pensions, although the specific investigation is unclear.  

Hospital bills get Voxed into a corner

You have to ask how much their coverage impacted this hospital's about-face.

A year ago, 24-year-old Nina Dang was in a bicycle crash and rushed to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. She didn’t know the ER there did not accept her Blue Cross insurance plan. She received a bill for $20,243. After Vox ran a story about it, the hospital reduced the bill to $200.

Now the hospital is overhauling its billing policies. It will no longer charge those with private coverage “any more than they would have paid out of pocket for the same care at in-network facilities, based on their insurance coverage.”  

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and compelling media.

  • Why couldn’t fact-checkers contain misinformation about the fire at Notre Dame? Poynter’s Daniel Funke explains.
  • Does your idea of a good time include watching Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo lose her stuff on air and watching a bunch people argue about taxes and capital gains? Then this is for you.
  • The Pulitzer board gave a special citation to The Eagle Eye, the student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The New York Times’ Patricia Mazzei tells their story.
Richard Broinowski, via John Menadue
Nick Warner’s value-judgement observation casts doubt on the objectivity of the information he gives ministers, says Broinowski.