In this corner: A Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. In the other corner: A statistics whiz and founder of the data journalism site, FiveThirtyEight.
If that matchup sounds like the driest, most staid battle imaginable, well, it kind of is. And it's one that's been playing out ever since Nate Silver left the Times for his own venture. To condense the tiff: Silver said many columnists were "worthless" and predictable; Paul Krugman suggested FiveThirtyEight erred in vaunting numbers as infallible, accusing the site of "sloppy and casual opining." In the latest, weirdest salvo, Silver wrote a tongue-in-cheek analysis categorizing Krugman's references to FiveThirtyEight as either favorable or unfavorable, purportedly to show that Krugman has mysteriously turned on him and his work. There's even a chart.
The headline — "For Columnist, a Change of Tone" — is a nice joke on the Times' stylistic inclinations. But in racing to needle his former colleague with snark and numbers, Silver is exemplifying the exact criticism Krugman and others have made, that the site is cherry-picking data to reach preconceived, sometimes flawed conclusions. (As others have pointed out, Silver's latest broadside misses some key variables.) Worse though, the spat, which started as a couple of mild media critiques, has now completely devolved into a petty, personal slap fight between two very smart people. At this rate, the next round in the imbroglio may well be a Krugman article titled, "I know you are but what am I?" followed by a Silver analysis of metaphorical rubber and glue.
For such respected analysts and writers, is this really the best work they could be doing? Jon Terbush
Infidelity website Ashley Madison wants you to know it's doing just fine, OK? That massive data breach exposing account information of the site's 37 million users is totally old news. Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison's parent company, touted the website's recent growth in a blog post Monday:
Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated. The company continues its day-to-day operations even as it deals with the theft of its private data by criminal hackers. Despite having our business and customers attacked, we are growing. This past week alone, hundreds of thousands of new users signed up for the Ashley Madison platform — including 87,596 women. [Avid Life Media]
In particular, the company took issue with a Gizmodo report asserting that virtually no real women used the site and calling Ashley Madison "a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots."
Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman stepped down Friday in a move the company said was in its best interest. Canadian police are reportedly investigating potential cases of extortion, hate crimes, and suicides linked to the data breach.
Nope, nothing to worry about here. Julie Kliegman
Iconic horror director Wes Craven died on August 30 at age 76, leaving behind a long string of legendary scary movies (including the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises). Decades after he launched his career with The Last House on the Left, what did Craven hope would be his legacy? In an interview for the home release of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Craven delved into an appropriately horror-tinged topic: what he'd like on his gravestone.
"Somebody once — when I was first starting in films, in New York — says, 'If you want something on your gravestone, and you're in the film business, I think the best thing is filmmaker. If you can honestly say that, that's all you need to say.'"
"And that, I think, I would like that on my gravestone. Along with, 'Whatever you do, don't fall asleep.'" Scott Meslow
As Vice President Joe Biden continues to toy with the question of whether or not to throw his hat into the 2016 ring, a former top adviser to Obama contends that there's probably one big question rolling around in the veep's mind: "'Why does she feel entitled to [run] and I can't?'" Although Biden and Hillary Clinton have always been friendly, they haven't exactly been friends, Politico reports, and now that the two may very well meet in a 2016 face-off, sources report that Biden's "undercurrent of resentment" for Hillary is starting to simmer.
While Biden reportedly "really likes [Clinton] personally," Politico reports that he has long "felt she viewed running for president as a 'burden.'" As Biden watches Clinton's stumbles on the campaign trail, the vice president's sense of resentment and "innate competitiveness" seem to have been stoked.
The 2015 MTV VMAs were a night where Justin Bieber crying on stage wasn't even a highlight. With an accidental shot of Miley Cyrus' nipple, Kanye West announcing a 2020 presidential run, Taylor Swift making an "Imma let you finish" joke, and Nicki Minaj taking on Cyrus for calling her "not too kind" (and a whole lot else) in The New York Times, it didn't even matter that there wasn't an adorable Blue Ivy Carter moment to get us through the evening.
Pretend like you actually watched the VMAs by catching up, below.
Kanye does Kanye:
Justin Bieber cries:
Nicki vs Miley:
And the reaction shot...
Taylor Swift makes an "Imma let you finish" joke:
Video of the year — Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar – "Bad Blood"
Best female video — Taylor Swift – "Blank Space"
Best male video — Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – "Uptown Funk"
Best hip-hop video — Nicki Minaj – "Anaconda"
Best pop video — Taylor Swift – "Blank Space"
Best rock video — Fall Out Boy – "Uma Thurman"
Artist to watch — Fetty Wap – "Trap Queen"
An end-of-August Quinnipiac University poll shows that 2016's presidential candidates are playing to a tough crowd. A full 71 percent of American voters are unhappy with the way things are going in the nation today, with 41 emphasizing that they are "very dissatisfied," results show. A sliver of the population, only 2 percent, are "very satisfied" with the state of the U.S.; another tiny 2 percent of the population trusts the government "almost all the time," with over a third of voters trusting the government "hardly ever."
At least they're consistent? In a similar poll last August, 76 percent of Americans said they had no confidence that their children's lives would be better than theirs — a record.
"Most American voters sing sadly, along with The Rolling Stones, that they are unable to find any satisfaction with the way things are going in the nation or with the federal government," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said of the results. Jeva Lange
The Obama administration is developing economic sanctions to impose on Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from the thefts of U.S. trade secrets, The Washington Post reports. The White House has not yet decided whether to implement the unprecedented response to cyber-espionage, but administration officials say it could come within two weeks, and could even coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping's first state visit to the U.S. next month.
The White House would not comment on specifics, but, according to former White House cyber official Rob Knake, the sanctions would be an "even stronger move" than indictments previously issued, The Washington Post reports. "It’s really going to put China in the position of having to choose whether they want to be this pariah nation — this kleptocracy," Knake said, "— or whether they want to be one of the leading nations in the world.” Becca Stanek
The world just got a rare glimpse inside Russian President Vladimir Putin's estate, thanks to a rather, well, odd video of Putin working out with his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, on Sunday. Putin and Medvedev were in Sochi to watch a martial arts tournament, and the video shows them pumping iron together at Putin's Bocharov Ruchei residence, with the cameras clicking away as they watch and encourage one another.
"Later the politicians rewarded themselves with a barbeque, which they prepared without any help," says RT. Their drink to accompany their steaks was apparently tea. Putin is known for inviting the press to watch his feats of strength and heroic sportsmanship. Why did he want this workout session recorded? Who knows. But you can enjoy the spectacle below. Peter Weber