The Google Bus Debate and Other Fascinating News on the Web

January 22, 2014

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  1. Throwing the Bus Under the Bus

    After several protests and a contentious city hall gathering, Google has agreed to pay a dollar each time its corporate shuttle uses a San Francisco bus stop (the city really should have held out for equity). This will not end the controversy over the buses from Google and other companies that transport tech workers to their Silicon Valley offices. But wait, don’t the buses reduce the traffic and emissions associated with additional cars on the road? And if some SF residents who take one kind of bus are protesting against other SF residents who take another kind of bus, don’t the people who take limos win? As Kevin Roose explains, the bus wars have never really been about Google buses: “For concerned locals, the shuttles symbolize their collective fears about the rise of the tech sector — that rents are spiking, that long-time residents are being pushed out by coddled 22-year-olds with Stanford BAs and venture funding, that a great American city with a rich countercultural history is turning into a staid bedroom community for Silicon Valley.”

    + There are also reports that protestors showed up at the doorstep of the Berkeley home of Google’s Anthony Levandowski who helped develop Street View and Google’s self-driving car.

    + So what exactly happens when gentrification comes to town? The longtime residents of changing neighborhoods are squeezed out, right? Maybe not. According to NPR, a series of new studies suggest “that gentrifying neighborhoods may be a boon to longtime residents as well — and that those residents may not be moving out after all.”

    + Full disclosure: I invest in Internet startups, including one that provides bus services for commuters from several Bay Area companies. That said, I only take public transportation when my drone is in the shop.

  2. Peace Talks, Fighting Words

    “No one has done more to make Syria a magnet for terrorists than Bashar al-Assad. You cannot save Syria with Bashar al-Assad in power.” So said Secretary of State John Kerry as the highly contentious Syrian peace talks kicked off in Geneva.

    + An archive of 55,000 photos taken in the secret jails of Syria’s president are said to show widespread torture by Assad’s government.

  3. Spies Like Us

    In an interview with The New Yorker, Edward Snowden called suggestions that he is a Russian spy “absurd” and complained about the media’s role in spreading that notion: “It’s just amazing that these massive media institutions don’t have any sort of editorial position on this. I mean, these are pretty serious allegations, you know? The media has a major role to play in American society, and they’re really abdicating their responsibility to hold power to account.”

    + Booz Allen is the company that hired Edward Snowden to work as a contractor for the NSA. That didn’t go terribly well. So now the government needs to hire people who can identify and catch leakers. Which company is doing the hiring? Booz Allen.

  4. The T-Square is Mightier Than The Sword

    “As in any fight between longtime friends, there are raw emotions, tarnished memories, tears. And now, silence.” The friendship between two distinguished architect couples has been cracked at its foundation as one couple’s museum expansion design plan calls for the demolition of a museum designed by the other.

  5. Aristotle Goes Viral

    With a hat tip to Aristotle, The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova takes a look at what it is about content that makes you want to share: The six things that make stories go viral will amaze, and maybe infuriate, you. (And yes, her story is going viral.)

  6. Get Up, Stand Up … Pay Up

    How do you update the story of the Jamaican bobsled team for these hip, modern times? You have them qualify for the competition again, but this time, they need crowdfunding to pay their way to the games.

    + Interested in going to watch the Olympics? There are still tickets available. A lot of tickets.

    + Norway’s Curling team is dressed for success.

  7. Like Minds

    “As bizarre as it sounds, a lot of people who watch my channel know me better than my family does.” One of the best things about the Internet is that it enables people who feel like they’re alone to realize that they’re not. From Emily Alpert Reyes of The LA Times: YouTube is a lifeline for transgender young people.

  8. Crushing Candy

    King, the creator of the massively popular game called Candy Crush Saga, has trademarked the word candy. And they’re not all that cool with other companies using the word saga either. They could trademark the word game, and it still probably wouldn’t provide much protection from fickle gamers looking for the next cool thing.

  9. Hacking for Love

    “The script would search his target demographic (heterosexual and bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 45), visit their pages, and scrape their profiles for every scrap of available information: ethnicity, height, smoker or nonsmoker, astrological sign — ‘all that crap.'” From Wired: How a math genius hacked OkCupid to find true love.

    + Quartz: Master online dating by thinking like an economist. (This really is the wrong era to be a humanities major.)

    + Why do romantic comedies use songs by The Cure?

  10. The Bottom of the News

    Looking for someone to blame today? This guy is as good as anyone. Meet the man responsible for Donald Trump’s never-ending presidential campaign.

    + I can see you typing. The most awkward part of online chat.

    + “My dad had given me a screenwriting program and I started the script just as an exercise to see if I could write a screenplay. Swingers is what came out.”

    + This photographer really, really doesn’t care that people are falling as they cross an icy Fifth Avenue in NYC.