Here’s a quick look at what you should be reading this Friday morning instead of trying to figure out ways to duck out of work early.
1. Player Hatin’
Here’s a shock: Anthony Weiner’s poll numbers are plummeting in direct correlation with his likability and anyone’s willingness to trust him as far as they can throw him. One of the best public back-and-forths over the subject of whether Weiner’s personal life should have any bearing on whether people feel like they can vote for him has come from Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates. As expected, both make great points but I’m firmly in Coates’s camp on this. His take is that Weiner has quite simply destroyed his public image and in politics you need that to operate from a position of strength, otherwise you can’t do your job effectively.
By the way, entertaining little sidebar: I found out yesterday that Weiner’s sexting pal, 23-year-old Sydney Elaine Leathers, was actually, unbeknownst to me, a Facebook friend of mine up until she scrubbed her account completely a couple of days ago.
And before you even ask — no.
2. Rise of the Machines
Go ahead and mark your calendars and remember this day — the day the end began for us. Researchers at Google say they’re kind of baffled at what one of their algorithms did recently, the one used to sweep and clean the web giant’s “AdWords” advertising program of spammers and scammers. Apparently the program that’s designed to regularly check for online ads aimed at ripping you off began flagging car ads in China and it wasn’t until the program’s creators began putting the pieces together that they discovered the algorithm had figured out, on its own, that the ads were being used in car theft scams taking place not online but in the real world. The program somehow collected millions of pieces of data from around the globe and across the internet, collated it, and reached a conclusion that even the human beings ostensibly running it hadn’t thought of. As one of them basically said recently, “I can’t even begin to tell you how it did what it did.” It learned on its own what was being done with the cars it was spotting in some online ads — ads that to programmers didn’t look the least bit suspicious — and updated its own protocols to include a sweep for these kinds of ads so that they could be flagged. Next stop, self-awareness. Then, Judgment Day.
3. Countdown To Unemployment
In case you haven’t been following closely, Keith Olbermann got a new show on ESPN, the first network he was ever unceremoniously booted from thus beginning a long and proud tradition. Originally, it was reported that Olbermann’s ESPN 2 show would revolve mostly around — duh — sports. Then came word that any subject would be fair game on the show except for politics, which was expressly forbidden. Well, Olbermann has put that report to rest by saying that not only is political talk permitted but he plans on making it a healthy part of the show, even going so far as to bring back his infamous “Worst Person in the World” segment, in which he would rage against whoever had pissed him off that day (as any mature and respected middle-aged millionaire television anchor would). Olbermann is a brilliant broadcaster — really he’s as good as they come and if he approaches this 18th chance to redeem himself with humility and grace then it’ll honestly benefit everyone who appreciates smart television. If his leviathan ego descends like a toxic cloud over the ESPN offices, though, choking out anyone and everyone until the whole place looks like the army research lab at the beginning of The Stand, then, well, everything returns to normal.
4. Lost in Space
Like anyone whose entire life has essentially been a series of jumps from one personal catastrophe to another, I’m plagued by a lot of weird, mostly irrational fears and anxieties. Some of them are shared by many: being buried alive, being adrift alone in the open sea, falling through thin ice and not being able to break through again to stick my head up to breathe. Some, though, are solely the domain of my personal subconscious, which if you could see it in physical form would look like the Isla De La Munecas as reimagined by H.R. Giger. For some reason I’m terrified at the thought of grabbing onto the skid of a helicopter as it takes off — or the mooring rope of a hot air balloon or blimp — and not jumping off before it ascends to a point where doing so would kill me, hence I’d essentially be doomed to fall to my death if I didn’t have the strength to climb to safety. I also find myself having flashbacks of the time I was stuck in an elevator next to Nancy Grace and she called me “cutie” — it really did happen — but that’s another story altogether. As you can see, I need professional help.
Along the lines of being stranded at sea is, of course, being stranded out in space — floating in the vast emptiness with nothing but the knowledge that eventually you’re going to run out of air. Apparently that’s one of those shared anxieties because every description I’ve heard of Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming movie Gravity describes it as absolutely terrifying. Maybe you’ve seen the trailer already, but now two new clips have been made available. Watch, try not to involuntarily catch your breath, and admit to yourself that this is one you’re absolutely going to see in IMAX 3D.
Happy Friday, kids.