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Powerful Gatekeepers are Taking Control of the Internet

The emergence of powerful internet institutions, particularly in the area of search and semantics, is subverting the once vaunted democracy of the internet.

“Unfortunately, the promise of a free internet without gatekeepers is fast proving to be yet another mass delusion, a very potent opiate utilized by societal elites to appease the malcontents in society,  thereby suggesting that democracy exists where none can be found.


In fact, the internet today is dominated by powerful gatekeepers  and they utilize their increasing dominance either in service of promoting individuals/institutions, or ostracizing them. 

The most formidable gatekeeper happens to be Google, the internet colossus that  determines search result information concerning any topic.   No better example of Google’s power to censor or exclude can be found in the fact that Google search results concerning  any topic often are 50%-75% fewer in number than might be found on other comparable search engines.

Another notable gatekeeper is Wikipedia, comprised of volunteer 'experts' who collectively render judgments about who and what should matter in our world today.  Recently, Wikipedia formed a search result alliance with Google, thus further impairing the purported 'democracy' of the internet.  Ask the Church of Scientology about their feelings concerning internet freedom: when Wikipedia felt that info concerning the Church was excessively favorable, it simply  banned edits of the Scientology topic emanating from IP addresses thought to be associated with the  Church.   If that is not the reaction of a gatekeeper, then I need a refresher course in Semantics.

Essentially, in all matters pertaining to corporations, if it smells like a monopoly or oligopoly, then rest assured, it probably is.”

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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CRISPR-edited babies born in China may have enhanced brain functions

The brains of two genetically edited babies born last year in China might have enhanced memory and cognition, but that doesn't mean the scientific community is pleased.

YouTube
Surprising Science
  • In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui reported that he'd used the CRISPR tool to edit the embryos of two girls.
  • He deleted a gene called CCR5, which allows humans to contract HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
  • In addition to blocking AIDS, deleting this gene might also have positive effects on memory and cognition. Still, virtually all scientists say we're not ready to use gene-editing technology on babies.
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Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
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What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth.

Could this former river island in the Indus have inspired Tolkien to create Cair Andros, the ship-shaped island in the Anduin river?

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • J.R.R. Tolkien hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
  • But a fantasy realm can be inspired by a variety of places; and perhaps so is Tolkien's world.
  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
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Surprising Science

Giant whale sharks have teeth on their eyeballs

The ocean's largest shark relies on vision more than previously believed.

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