From Wired Magazine –

A FULL HOUR before the sun rose in Washington, DC, Tuesday, President Donald Trump fired off a pair of tweets claiming that Google had “rigged” search results against conservatives. Like so many Trump grievances, the argument seems steeped less in fact than in a roiling stew of personal animus. But in Google News, the latest subject of his ire, Trump may have found the perfect target.

In Trump’s tweets—which he later deleted, then tweeted again, with no substantive changes—you can see the outlines of an attack that can’t be easily fact-checked or dismissed. Charges of bias against Google will stick, because no algorithm is truly neutral. And while Trump’s logic is specious, effectively countering it would require acceptance among his base that mainstream news sources like The New York Times are not, actually, the enemy of the people.

In truth, there’s a lot going on with these two tweets. So much so that it’s helpful to break down what Trump’s claiming, and why, and what he plans to do about it, sentence by sentence:

Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media.

Here, Trump is including not just The New York Times, CNN, and familiar targets under the “Fake News Media” umbrella, but every major media outlet other than The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. We know this because his entire argument appears to be based on this recent story in PJ Media, which claims outrageous bias in Google News results against conservative sites, yet counts everything from Reuters and Bloomberg to the Columbia Journalism Review as left-leaning. (Trump not only cites a specific statistic from the PJ media piece, suggesting strongly that’s his source, but also famously doesn’t use a computer. Googling “Trump News” is not a lived experience for him.)

In a statement, Google rejected Trump’s premise: “Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Google News, if anything, appears to be one of the few places left online that hasn’t devolved into microtargeted filter bubbles. In a study published just last month in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers Seth Lewis and Efrat Nechushtai found that Google News recommendations were in fact largely homogeneous, with liberals and conservatives being shown the same links regardless of ideology. In addition, the top five results for news searches came overwhelmingly from a handful of mainstream sources: The New York Times, CNN, Politico, and The Washington Post.

“Yes, Google News is dominated by mainstream news,” says Lewis, who focuses on emerging media at the University of Oregon. “If you consider mainstream news to be left-leaning, you will have concerns about the results you get from Google News. There’s no question about that.”

It’s that “if” that Trump is leaning on. If you consider everything left of The Daily Caller biased, you’re going to find bias everywhere you look.

In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD.

Google doesn’t “rig” its algorithm against conservatives, or against Trump, at least not in the way that he means here. Whether the stories and news it surfaces are “bad” depends on what happened in the world—like, say, close associates pleading guilty to or being convicted of federal crimes—right before you search. A very simple case in point: If you type “Trump” or “Trump news” right now into Google News, the top results all center around this very tirade. The fourth result in a recent search in an incognito window, which doesn’t factor in search history, came from the reliably conservative Fox News.

Is Google News rigged, though? Almost certainly not, but you’d be hard-pressed to prove it. That’s because Google search, like Facebook’s News Feed and other platforms, derives its power from an algorithm for which no one outside of the company has any specific insight.

“The ways in which right-wing organizations have been able to manipulate Google and Facebook have actually worked in Donald Trump’s favor.”


“Black box algorithms may be kept secret for business and intellectual property reasons, but they’re vulnerable to conspiracy theories,” says Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan. “There’s no way to know what the algorithm is doing for someone outside of Google or Facebook, or whatever tech company you’re talking about. And in some deeper, fundamental way, some of the machine-learning algorithms, even the people working on them don’t fully understand what they’re doing.”

That has very real stakes; a 2015 study showed that the ordering of positive and negative stories in Google search rankings could hold real sway over how people vote. Keeping algorithms closely held does have the benefit of making Google’s systems harder to game, but it also gives Trump a huge amount of runway to make allegations that aren’t easily disproven.

Fake CNN is prominent.

True enough, at least the prominence part. Lewis and Nechushtai found that CNN occupied a slot in the top five rankings for news stories on Google 12 percent of the time. Only The New York Times had more, hitting 22 percent. But relying on mainstream news outlets rather than the fringes has its own societal benefit.

“The argument—that it’s bad that Google leads people to find democratic news organization—is dangerous. What we want is for people to have access to common understandings about what’s happening in the world, and investigative journalism that’s vetted and in many ways credible,” says Safiya Noble, professor at the University of Southern California and author of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. “We certainly want people to have access to multiple news outlets, and search engines often do lead us to multiple voices. It’s just the more powerful voices are often on the first page.”

Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.

Again, it depends on how you define the terms. But this sentence features at least two levels of absurdity.

“The conceptual problem with Trump’s tweets is the idea that an algorithm is only fair if it returns an equally balanced number of stories favoring one side versus the other,” says Nyhan. “Take that to its logical extreme: Imagine if you searched for ‘does gravity exist,’ and Google had to return half of the search results saying ‘actually it doesn’t.’ It’s a preposterous notion, but that’s the implication of the president’s claim here.”

The idea that Google and other platforms have shut out conservative voices is also broadly incorrect. “What we have found over and over again, for a long time, is that the most conservative and racist and misogynist voices are deeply skilled in optimizing content, and have had more than their fair share of control and representation in search. In fact, it was that phenomenon that led to President Trump getting elected,” adds Noble. “The ways in which right-wing organizations have been able to manipulate Google and Facebook have actually worked in Donald Trump’s favor.”


Algorithms can indeed be found to be in violation of the law, according to Salome Viljoen, a privacy fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. But that’s not what’s happening here. If Google’s algorithms did in some way infringe on free speech, that would only be legally problematic if Google were the US government. “You have no constitutionally protected free-speech right on Google. It’s a private platform,” says Viljoen.

Similarly, Google would be in legal trouble if its search algorithm were discriminating against a constitutionally protected class, but the 14th Amendment does not cover political conservatives. Lastly, algorithmic bias could be illegal if it somehow caused someone to, say, be turned down for a loan application, notes Viljoen. But since with news results there’s no information being sold to third parties—for example, banks, to continue the hypothetical—that concern doesn’t apply.

So, to answer Trump’s question in one word: No.

96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.

See above. The 96 percent number comes from the PJ Media story, which defines “National Left-Wing Media” as anything mainstream. Yet a study following the 2016 election actually found the candidate who most benefited from mainstream media bias was Trump, since coverage of Hillary Clinton was found to be overwhelmingly negative, and mainstream outlets paid comparatively little attention to Bernie Sanders.

Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.

This is a new spin on the argument that Twitter was biased against conservatives because it banned several accountsfor abusive behavior. It’s the behavior part that matters. Or in this case, it’s the thousands of signals that Google uses to determine which sites rise to the top of the rankings.

“When it comes to a regular Google search, people still might not realize what that represents,” says Lewis. “There’s preferential attachment for sites that have been around a long time. Sites that have more incoming links are seen as having higher authority. There are certain terms over time where you develop that Google juice, that gives you more salience in the rankings. The same factors that go into Google search go into Google News.”

They are controlling what we can & cannot see.

It’s true! Google does control what people see, in a way that deeply impacts society—especially marginalized voices. “Google search results work in favor of people in power, quite frankly,” says Noble. “What you are more likely to see are vulnerable communities, racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, and so forth, who are often much less likely to have influence over the algorithm or over search-engine optimization strategies and so forth in a major search engine like Google.”

By appropriating this argument to his own ends, Trump also shifts attention from the very real conversations that should happen around algorithms, corporate responsibility, and representation.

“There are very many real concerns about the influence these companies wield. What’s disappointing about Trump’s argument is that it forces people who want to defend freedom of the press into a defense of the platforms, which deserve a lot of scrutiny. They do exert a disproportionate influence over the information people see,” says Nyhan. “The danger, though, is that they will be bullied into political submission” by Trump and other aggrieved conservatives.

That could take troubling forms; look no further than Facebook cowing to conservative pressure and abandoning oversight of Trending Topics, which let unvetted stories run rampant on the platform leading up to the 2016 election. Google News today shows everyone the same stories, projecting a ground-level truth. The alternative: deeply entrenched echo chambers, the kind that have turned so much of the internet toxic.

This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!

It’s not clear what sort of regulation Trump has in mind here. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that the administration was “taking a look” at the possibility—but even the threat has serious implications.

“We should take seriously when political leaders threaten speech and media coverage they don’t like,” says UMich’s Nyhan. “We should worry about not just formal mechanisms of power but informal ones, political leaders bullying companies into their skewing search results or their coverage because of the threat that they’ll be attacked by political leaders, or subject to regulation or other types of scrutiny.”

Facebook failed that test in 2016. Now it’s Google’s turn. But with its algorithm locked in a black box, and an opponent who views any media left of Breitbart with suspicion, it’s going to be an unwinnable fight.


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Kevin Durant on the KD11, His Past with Nike and Speaking His Mind

Slam Online

There’s a group of high school kids running full court at Nike’s NYHQ. A few of them are extra bouncy, winding up for one-handed windmill dunks and tomahawks that might dent the rim. Their coaches, who are only a few years older than them, are emphatically screaming over the music that’s playing, shouting out defensive instructions and talking a little bit of trash.

Kevin Durant’s off to the side of the court shooting the photos that you see below. He’s a two-time NBA champion, more than a decade older than these hoopers, with an Olympic Gold Medal and four scoring titles to his name. But he can’t stop watching the action. Every single second that he’s not posing, his eyes are on the court to his right. He’s not being a diva about it, either. He’s laughing and fooling around with our photographer, cheesing and mean-mugging. But this dude is legitimately obsessed with the game—that much is clear.


He stops for a moment to speak with the young bulls. “Y’all know me, I just hoop,” he says, almost like he expects the same from them. Just go and play.

He gifts the kids with KD11s and daps up a few of them. A little bit later he takes a moment to watch them get after it. He’s got this mini-smile curling up the entire time he’s peeping game.

On this day, it’s a month since Durant tore down the Cavaliers in a monumental Game 3 performance, capped by a clutch three-pointer from the left wing that effectively won the Finals. There he stood, for a beat. No smile. Centerstage with venom radiating off him. Eyes motionless. A cold-blooded killer.

Durant’s at the height of his powers and people are mad about it. Real mad. From talk shows to Twitter, there’s nobody in the League that receives the amount of hate that comes his way. And he knows it. He’s quick to snap on foolish Twitter users or ill-informed journalists, forever trying to guard himself against the hostility.

But there’s no denying his greatness anymore. It’s time to recognize: he’s one of the most gifted scorers the game has ever seen. And when he’s not being constantly attacked, he’s just tryna chill.


Durant’s friendly and a little quiet at our shoot. He’s being trailed by a squad of people but he doesn’t carry that hectic vibe. His energy is way more Cali than it is New York.

He has the KD11 in-hand and on-foot throughout our time with him. The Swoosh officially linked up with him a few weeks after he was selected with the second pick in the ’07 draft. He had been wearing Nike and Jordan Brand for years by that point. A two-high school product, he played in the Air Jordan XIV at Montrose Christian (MD) and then in the Jordan Melo 1.5 at Oak Hill (VA). He then wore the Nike Air Max Enforcer for most of his one season with the Texas Longhorns.

His relationship with Nike dates back to his time in Virginia when he met a Nike rep as a high school sophomore.

“I fell in love with wanting to have my own shoe, wanting to have my own brand and that grew for me as I grew as a player,” Durant remembers. “Once I got out of college I had a couple of options on the table and I was like, No way I’m going with anyone but Nike. Then as I got closer to being an NBA player, it became a reality and it’s just a dream come true.”

He’s one million miles away from that rookie who was wearing the Nike Air Flight School silhouette in Seattle. Now he’s a certified, first ballot Hall of Famer with two championships and the potential to add more. He’s evolved into way more than the bucket-getter he’s been since his time in the Lone Star State. His game has become fluid. He swims his way over to block shots from the weak side. He melts defenses, opening up passing lanes, distributing pinpoint passes from within the arc. He glides around the court, using that left to right crossover to sink opponents.

Then when it’s time to get points on the board, there’s no one better. Two-dribble pull-ups in the midrange, extended lay-ups at the front of the rim, fadeaways from the post, dead-eye accuracy on his catch-and-shoot three-pointers.

Durant’s got an arsenal that stays reserved for the elite. He’s earned his way to the top. One of his favorite quotes is “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” And he’s building up his sneaker portfolio to match the success of his on-court résumé.


The 11 has a state-of-the-art design and it could become one of the defining silhouettes of the KD line. It features a brand-new cushioning setup that makes use of two different technologies. Leo Chang, Design Director for Nike Basketball, hit the 11 with the Swoosh’s React technology, Nike’s newest midsole foam, lighter, softer, bouncier and more durable than anything else they’ve put out. He combined that with a full-length Zoom Air unit, their basketball’s cushioning staple. React, shaping up to be a powerhouse, has only made it to the NBA hardwood in the 2017 Hyperdunk and the Jordan Super. Fly 2017, making the KD11 a pioneering sneaker.

It’s the type of innovation that takes some getting used to. Durant’s previous two sneakers both had similar midsole tooling, operating with Zoom Air units. He’s very particular about his footwear, often beating the same pair into the ground. He wore the “What The” KD10 for the last 11 games of the 2018 playoffs. So he was initially skeptical of the React and Zoom.

“I can’t lie, it was a little uncomfortable because for the last two seasons I wore the same kind of sole and it felt great,” he says. Both of those shoes also featured Flyknit uppers. “I’m comfortable in something I like, to stay candid. So when I first threw the 11s on, it took me a while to feel comfortable in my new ride. But now it feels great. It’s really bouncy, real comfortable when I throw them on. The shoes I had in the past, the reason why I stayed in them so long is that it would be uncomfortable when I first unboxed them and tried to play in them. I threw these on for the first time and worked out in them and they just feel amazing.”

Chang laughs when asked about KD’s first reaction to the 11.

“Definitely, he was a little skeptical at first,” he says. “It’s a fairly drastic change on the Zoom that we had on 9 and 10. So it just takes some time, but he loves it now.”

The rest of the 11 was also majorly switched up. The Flyknit pattern was updated to be plusher than the ones that appeared on the 9 and 10. It’s been built specifically for Durant with yarn that makes it feel like a down blanket. The silhouette was heightened, losing that low-cut that had been standard in the KD line since the 6. There’s a big heel counter in the back and a pull tab, too.

“It’s just centered around everything that goes into getting up and perfecting my craft,” Durant says of the 11. “I think just the mindset that I have as I look to get better as a player is what I try to tell through my shoes.”

Durant, on the low, has been interested in films and storytelling for a minute now. He took an acting class in college, had a digital video series during the lockout called “Kevin Durant’s 35th Hour,” starred in a feature film, appeared in a Nike Air Mag short video and now has his own YouTube channel. With everything that’s going on around him, with all the toxicity that follows him, the 29-year-old is trying to share his story, his way, through sneakers or any other medium he can.

“Different forms of expression have always been my thing and I think I say a lot about myself and who I am when I play, but it’s kind of hard for people to translate that into words,” he says. “I just try to give back stories and experiences that I’ve been through and hopefully it relates to someone and it helps. I guess that’s just my main goal out of everything, to always put back good energy, inspiring energy. Hopefully, it sticks.”

We ask him to share the story of when he saw his first signature sneaker.

“Man, Leo brought me a sample during my rookie season, toward the end of my rookie season, and I was pumped to see it, you know? Your first one, it always has to have that original Nike feel, the big Nike check. I feel like everybody’s first shoe is that basic and I saw mine’s and it was just the next one in line.”

There goes that little smile again.

“There’s depth there,” Chang says about both KD and his sneakers. “There’s that purity to his game. That pure form of basketball we wanted to capture. That purity with the simplicity.”

Durant hits up Dyckman Park when he dips from our shoot at Nike NYHQ. Basketball doesn’t get much more pure and authentic than the park. He gets a few shots up and poses for an endless stream of selfies when he arrives. Then he sits down at halfcourt next to Quinn Cook, his teammate from the Warriors, to catch the game. He stays seated for most of his time at the park but he pops up when a one-on-one battle gets heated. With each passing bucket, the crowd at Dyckman gets louder, hungry for another. Durant and Cook ended up on the asphalt by the time the back-and-forth isolations have stopped. The reigning champs leave a few moments later when the crowd has calmed down.

Durant hadn’t been to Dyckman since he played there in 2011, in the middle of the NBA lockout. He was touring the country that summer, playing in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C. and even going international, to China. He was lacing up the KD3 for a while that summer and then he unveiled the KD4, which many consider being his best sneaker.

The 4 just received a retro release, decked out in a Thunder-blue-and-white colorway, as part of the “Art of a Champion” pack. Chang plays it off when asked about bringing other pairs back.

“Our Nike Sportswear team handles a lot of the retro stuff so there may be some stuff in the future but you never know,” he says. “We’ll see. Honestly, I don’t know what their plans are.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Durant says with more enthusiasm. “I wanna retro the ‘Creamsicle’ 2s. Those joints were probably my favorite ones to wear and the color was just so dope. I wanted to see if we could throw those back out there. But we’ll see what happens.”

Durant posts a video to Instagram the very next day. He’s back at Nike NYHQ, in the KD11, getting his work in with Cook and Rod Strickland, who played in the League for nearly 20 years. Because through all the hate and the criticism, two things remain true. One, KD’s the champ until someone knocks him off the top of the mountain. That’s just a fact. And secondly, he’s obsessed with the game of basketball.

Hate all you’d like, but you’ve gotta respect it.

Max Resetar is an Associate Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Photos by Atiba Jefferson, Nike, and Getty.


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‘I can think of nothing more American’: Beto O’Rourke responds to question on NFL protests

I saw this on facebook.com in my feed yesterday and thought that I had to share this on my site for me personally. This candidate spoke out on a subject that others are still and silent on. This is the type of person we should want in our government speaking for us. The old guards need to be moved out and progressive thinkers that have everyone’s interest in mind moved in.

I thought he answered the question perfectly.

Arthur Poston Jr.



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Emotional Currency

We as men really need to guard our hearts for the relationships we are in; there shouldn’t be an area of our lives that we are afraid to share with our spouses. If we can get to a place in our lives such as this we can finally become the man that God intended us to be.

Many of us get busy with different things in our own personal lives and forget that we have entered into an emotional contract with our spouses when we said: “I Do”. Having a career and other outside interest is great but it doesn’t replace the people that you have vowed to protect and love.

How will use your emotional currency today? Will, you hide behind a job or career or will you step and be a light to those who are looking up to you for guidance?


Arthur Poston Jr.


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With Whom Do You Gather?

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

With Whom Do You Gather?

For where two or three are gathered . . .
there am I among them—Matthew 18:20

We men often find it hard to gather with other men in Christian community. Calendars are full: “I just don’t have time for one more thing.” Pride is high: “I’m good . . . I’m doing fine on my own.” Aversion to vulnerability is strong: “Oh, man . . . I’m just not that good at opening up.” If we are followers of our King, Jesus Christ, though, we must gather—“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25).

But . . . why? Why is community so important for men? Well, a couple reasons. “Two are better than one,” Scripture tells us—we are stronger, less vulnerable,together (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Even more important, though, Jesus tells us that he is uniquely present when we gather in his name (Matthew 18:20). You see, God the Holy Spirit dwells within each follower of Jesus. (John 14:17) Therefore, when we gather, the power of the Spirit flows from one to another and back. When we gather, the work of God is done: confessions are made; sins are repented; love and compassion are expressed; hearts are healed; encouragement is given; lives are transformed. Men are lifted up, up out of sin and rebellion, into life and identity and calling. Work is done that just cannot be done in isolation.


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Light It Up . . . Right Where You Are

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

Light It Up . . . Right Where You Are

You are the light of the world—Matthew 5:14

The strongest evidence that we are where God wants us—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities—is simply that we’re there. God Almighty knows where we are. He sees us (Luke 12:6-7). He is with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is a plan. King David sang to God, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). So, where we are—right now—is no accident. And until further notice (which may come), we’ve got to assume that where we are is where he wants us to be . . . for specific reasons, for his specific purposes.

High on that list of God’s purposes is that we’re his light in our existing regions of influence and impact (Matthew 5:14). Jesus tells us to not hide the light that radiates from us when we follow him: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our lights dim, however, when we get too comfortable with the cultures of the places where we find ourselves—in our jobs, in our careers, in our cities. We must, therefore, resist adoption, whether conscious or subconscious, of the prevailing beliefs, codes, or values of those places. We follow Christ. We believe him. That’s our code. Our values are his values.


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Refocusing the Drive

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

Refocusing the Drive

greatest among you become as the youngest
. . . leader as one who serves—Luke 22:26

We men devote so much of our mental attention and hard work to our own greatness. We plan for advancement; strategize next moves; put our heads down and grind. Deep in our inner machinery there’s something that drives us on toward securing greatness . . . of some kind or another . . . for ourselves. Maybe it’s on a small scale. Maybe on a large scale. Maybe in our work, maybe in our communities, maybe even in our faith. The drive is just there.

The twelve Apostles—men, human men—had this drive. In the upper room, a dispute “arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (Luke 22:24). But Jesus stopped them and taught them (and us) that this drive must be refocused. “But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). That’s our blueprint. His life is the blueprint for our lives. We must follow it and no other. We must reject all blueprints drawn by our pride, or envy, or selfishness.

Refocusing this drive, away from lifting ourselves and toward lifting those around us, is one of the most important things we can do, as men. It moves us into true masculinity—where we lend our strength to others, who need it, rather than use it solely for our own gain. We must trust that this is a better way to live . . . better for God, better for us, and better for those we are to love and serve.


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