The Download: conservative book bans, and restricting crypto

The Download: conservative book bans, and restricting crypto

Conservative facebook groups that rate and review children’s books are being used to advocate for certain books being removed from school libraries or restricting their use.

A spreadsheet of books that Matt Krause, a Republican member in Texas’ state legislature, created last year has been used as a template for conservative groups across the nation. They are rating books and flagging those they feel children shouldn’t be allowed to read in schools.

Anti-book-ban activists say the groups aren’t objective and are doing harm. However, Facebook groups that are dominated by conservative parents are becoming more influential in deciding which books will be kept on school shelves. Read full story .

–Tanya Basu

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The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The White House is considering a policy push to restrict crypto
A series of new reports are warning of its financial risks, especially those posed by stablecoins. (WP $)
It wants to set standards to reduce energy usage to reduce emissions. (CoinDesk)
Elsewhere, the US dollar is going from strength to strength. (Economist $)

2 A new x-ray method for detecting explosives could also identify tumors
A deep learning algorithm was able to find explosives hidden inside a hairdryer. (MIT Technology Review)

3 How contraceptive companies are navigating a post-Roe world
The volatile legal landscape is making it increasingly difficult to plan for the future. (BuzzFeed News)
The cognitive dissonance of watching the end of Roe unfold online. (MIT Technology Review)

4Meet the teachers fighting back against misinformation
Teaching children to think for themselves is key. (NYT $)
Google examines how different generations handle misinformation. (MIT Technology Review)

5 What photon rings can teach us about a black hole
Its symmetry could hint at its inner structure. (Quanta)
Life in the universe is still extremely hard to come by. (The Atlantic $)

6 Humans aren’t ready to live in an oblong city in the desert
That hasn’t stopped Saudi Arabia from trying to build one anyway. (The Guardian)
The smart city is a perpetually unrealized utopia. (MIT Technology Review)

7 The electric vehicle revolution is well underway
But it’s scooters and three-wheelers, not cars, that are leading the charge. (Rest of World)

8 TREE(3) is the universe’s biggest number
The problem is, it’s so big, we can barely comprehend it. (New Scientist $)

9 TikTok is shining a light on the shady world of banking
Its graduates and other young employees are cutting through the PR spin. (Bloomberg $)

10 The iPhone has a cool problem
Once everyone has something, is it still desirable? (The Atlantic $)
Maybe satellite connectivity can help? (IEEE Spectrum)

Quote of the day

“Criticizing scams is not being mean.”–A user of Buttcoin, a Reddit community dedicated to mocking bitcoin and the crypto industry, defends their position to the Guardian.

The big story

What if aging weren’t inevitable, but a curable disease?

August 2019

Since ancient times, aging has been viewed as simply inevitable, unstoppable, nature’s way. “Natural causes” are often blamed for the deaths of the elderly, even if they die from a recognized condition. Galen, a medical writer, argued that aging is a natural process in the second century AD. Since then, his view has been dominant, namely that one can simply die from old age.

But scientists are questioning the fundamental concept of aging. What if you could alter your death, or even prevent it entirely? What if the slew of diseases that we experience in old age were symptoms and not causes? What would happen if we considered aging itself a disease? Read the full story.

–David Adam

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. Have any other ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me. )

This account compiling celebrity book recommendations is great inspiration for your next read.
I had no idea all the characters in Pingu were voiced by one man.
How much honey is too much honey?
A tiny desk concert starring the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble? Sign me up
Dolly Parton‘s pet merchandise collection sounds delightfully unhinged.

Read More