I get three newspapers home-delivered daily: The New York Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. While reading them digitally is more cost-effective, I still find pleasure in holding real newspapers in my hands and seeing what the editors of the papers hold out as their most important stories. And daily, newspaper editors do not let me down. Here are three stories that piqued my interest this morning.
1. YOUTUBE AND EXTREMISM
Last week, I spoke with a guy who thought my diet of eating a low-fat, no-salt, whole foods, plant-based diet was “extreme.” He said that our bodies weren’t made to eat only plants and twigs. They need protein from meat. “I bet you watch those extreme doctors on YouTube pushing people to eat tofu and tree moss, don’t ya?”
I smiled and explained that my nutrient-dense diet was filled with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants and thus was healthier for me than eating a Miss Piggy sandwich smothered in mayo.
Then this morning – an article in the Times about extremist videos popping up in your YouTube feed.
A group of academics found that YouTube rarely suggests videos that might feature conspiracy theories, extreme bigotry or quack science to people who have shown little interest in such material. And those people are unlikely to follow such computerized recommendations when they are offered. The kittens-to-terrorist pipeline is extremely uncommon.
And while, yes, videos featuring plant-based doctors DO pop up in my YouTube feed, no one can say that they are “extreme” by any definition of that word. It is like me calling anyone who watches videos from low-carb doctors or supporters “extremist” because they promote the killing of animals for food.
But the idea posed in the article is YouTube can be a conduit for extremists who pose a greater threat to people looking for acceptance of their personal views. So if you watch endless cat videos, you’re not going to get videos popping up in your feed about how to slaughter animals in three easy lessons. But if you’re looking for creative ways to kill animals, well, maybe those animal-killing videos will populate your YouTube feed.
Secondarily, the question of what is Google’s responsibility when it comes to videos they host that are clearly extremist? And who decides what videos are extremist or contain conspiracy theories? Who defines what those words mean?
Honestly, one person’s conspiracy theory is another person’s truth. Take, for instance, the 2020 election. There are people who believe if it wasn’t for Democrats and their supporters stealing the election in Arizona, Georgia, and other states, then Donald Trump would have been re-elected as president. Some would say that the stealing allegation is a conspiracy theory. But what if the “stolen election” people had evidence to prove that certain votes that were cast in those states were illegal? Should the theory be given more weight? And should YouTube or any social media platform take down these ideas or videos because someone believes those posting the idea are kooks?
2. POT PIZZA?
Last week, New Jersey started allowing the legal sale of marijuana throughout the state. Stores had lines out the door as people lined up for hours to get their hands on legal ganja. A store near me on Route 17 in Maywood opened its doors and as expected, the place was packed. However, there was an issue for out-of-staters – if you came from New York, you couldn’t actually take your legal New Jersey pot across the Hudson River with you since it isn’t legal in the Empire State, just yet.
Legalized pot is coming to New York State, and the people are preparing for it. Apparently including the pizza industry.
The pizza industry has been abuzz about pot goods such as cannabis-infused pies, which have the possibility of generating sky-high profits.
Some pizza makers have already begun linking up with marijuana suppliers and experimenting by mixing in cannabis oils in their tomato and pesto sauces. One THC speakeasy, Stone Pizza in the East Village, advertises “gourmet cannabis pizza.”
But the idea isn’t without complications. New York’s law bars anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing cannabis, so pot pizza could not be served to children. Kids should not even be allowed on sites where cannabis-infused food is served, (State Senator Liz) Krueger said.
Pot pizza. And people laugh at me for eating four cups of kale.
God help us.
3. CHICK-FIL-A DRIVE-THRU TRAFFIC
Even before going plant-based, I was never a big Chick-Fil-A person since I was never a fan of chicken sandwiches. Pre-plant-based, I was more of a pizza, hamburger guy.
Yet Chick-Fil-A captured the taste buds of millions because of whatever magic potion they put into their chicken sandwiches and sprinkle on their waffle fries. These fast-food restaurants have popped up throughout the country, including recently in Hackensack on Route 4 East replacing a Hooters. And most of these restaurants have drive-throughs. And neighbors of these restaurants are apparently getting fed up. From today’s Wall Street Journal:
In a 14-page memorandum titled “Traffic Conditions Associated with Chick-fil-A Queuing” sent to (Santa Barabara, CA) city officials in January, Santa Barbara’s chief transportation engineer, Derrick Bailey, wrote that the drive-through snarled traffic for an average of 70 minutes on weekdays and 92 minutes on Saturdays. The backup on the busiest day of the study period was 2½ hours.
City councilman Eric Friedman said he had no idea when he was elected in 2017 that he’d be fielding so many Chick-fil-A traffic complaints. He said he gets a dozen comments a month on the issue, and is often approached by constituents at Trader Joe’s, where he works part time.