In Case You Missed It: August 2016
Countdown to November
Conservatives took to Medium to make their positions on the presidential race known. Writer and radio host Erick Erickson shared what speaking up against Donald Trump means to him and his work, and conservative national security analyst and commentator John Noonan posted his Tweetstorm describing the danger behind Trump’s attitude toward nuclear arms. Former White House press secretary and current Fox News contributor Dana Perino warned against calling into question the accuracy of pre-election poll results. And the Harvard Republican Club refused to endorse their party’s political candidate for the first time in 128 years.
Democrats, independents, and unknowns declared powerful stances this month as well: Patrick J. Kennedy praised Hillary Clinton’s mental health care plan through the dual lenses of his politics and his personal battles with mental illness and addiction. Michael Moore made the case for why Trump might actually be sabotaging his own campaign, and Arianna Huffington wrote about the eerie similarity between Donald Trump and the dementors that haunt the Harry Potter novels.
Discussion veered in the direction of alternatives to Trump, too, as two other candidates made their cases to the public: former national security advisor Evan McMullin in a letter addressed to the United States, and Gov. Gary Johnson with a post of his own.
In global politics, former president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff published her senate speech, in which she urged her government to vote against her impeachment. Former (and hopeful) president of France Nicolas Sarkozy revealed his decision to run again in 2017.
And progressive publication Think Progress has made its home on Medium.
Read on for more on politics on the platform.
The business of tech
Self-driving truck company Otto announced its acquisition by Uber. Also in the world of auto(mated)mobiles, Ford CEO Mark Fields broke the news that the company plans to have autonomous vehicles operating commercially by 2021. Google self-driving car engineering lead Chris Urmson revealed that he’s stepping down as the project’s CTO and shared memories and milestones from his time with the team.
Elsewhere in tech, venture capitalist Hunter Walk penned a manifesto on his TakeOffElectionDay Campaign, through which he has successfully encouraged more than 100 tech CEOs and founders to encourage their teams to take the day off to vote. Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen wrote in praise of the Xerox Alto, a 35-year-old computer that inspired him and other early tech pioneers to innovate.
A few less-than-celebratory posts made waves on Medium and in the tech world: Former head of marketing for the publicly ailing startup WrkRiot Penny Kim exposed shocking details behind her short tenure at the company in a viral post breaking down her story. Pokévision co-creator Yang Liu posted an open letter to Pokémon Go developer Niantic and its CEO and founder, John Hanke, explaining why he created the alternative in-game tracker and why he thinks Niantic is making a mistake by failing to embrace it.
Voices from tech’s future echoed on Medium as well: WNYC announced the launch of their open-source Audiogram Generator, a tool that allows audio producers to easily share audio via social media as dynamic video files, and Sara Solow, domestic policy advisor to Hillary Clinton, shared details about the campaign’s tech policy with The Backchannel Team’s Steven Levy.
Writers on heaven and on earth
Authors took August to peek beyond the pearly gates. Acclaimed short story writer and debut novelist Lara Vapnyar penned an essay on the “virtual graves” created by social media users’ post-mortem presences online. Author, book columnist, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency editor John Warner wrote as Ronald Reagan’s ghost, emerging from his grave to endorse Hillary Clinton.
In the book world down here on earth, journalist and author Luke Dittrich responded to MIT’s widely discussed allegations against his work, Patient H.M., which criticized the late neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin’s treatment of a famous patient who was operated on by Dittrich’s grandfather. Scholar, editor, and bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb made his Medium debut with a piece on the philosophical explanation behind how a society’s moral values evolve at the hands of minority viewpoints, rather than through majority consensus.
Comedians went viral with powerful(ly funny) takes on womanhood: Sara Schaefer caricatured a day in the life of a feminist with a full schedule, while Sara Benincasa responded to a man who’d written her to ask why she gained weight.
In entertainment publications on Medium, ETonline launched ETonline Longreads, a publication dedicated to in-depth stories in entertainment and celebrity news. And as HBO’s The Night Of came to its much-discussed conclusion, the television show continued to use its publication to post about important cast members and intricate scenes.
In sports, The Players' Tribune launched a standalone publication on Medium, striking gold early with photographer Jed Jacobsohn’s favorite images from the Rio Olympics. And in music, former contestant on The Voice Dia Frampton told the story of her entry into and almost-exit from the entertainment world. Barack Obama and Vice President Biden shared their summer picks in music and literature.
As the Zika virus made its way north, Hillary Clinton responded to a March post about why and how the United States should combat it, addressing the presence of the virus in Miami and reasserting why Congress needs to handle the issue urgently. (She also wrote to young people who are undocumented, promising to address immigration reform within her first hundred days in office.) Christy Turlington returned to Medium to share her efforts alongside Every Mother Counts and Commonsense Childbirth to spread knowledge to Orlando’s women about Zika.
Secretary of State John Kerry reviewed his recent trip to Nigeria and detailed how the United States is helping to fight violent extremism there. On World Elephant Day, Paul G. Allen shared simultaneous hope and distress regarding the preliminary results of the Great Elephant Census’s survey of elephant populations in eighteen countries, and ecologist and bestselling author Carl Safina explained his approach to defining and differentiating intelligence in humans and other animals. Back on the West Coast, Kate Vershov Downing resigned from Palo Alto’s Transportation and Planning Commission, citing the diminishment of affordable housing in the city and the disparity between jobs and housing in the Bay Area at large.