Friday, May 30th, 2014


It Starts at the Bottom

"Went down to see my V.A. man. He said Son, don't you understand." Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.

Eric K. Shinseki has stepped down from his position as secretary of veterans affairs "taking responsibility for a scandal in the VA health-care system over excessive waiting times and coverups of what he called systemic problems." But will a change at the top make much of a difference when it comes to the care delivered to military veterans? It's unlikely. From WaPo: How the VA developed its culture of coverups: "When you actually get in the room with a doctor, it's okay. But it's what it takes to get to that point that I think is the problem. You're sick today. Three weeks from now, you're either cured or you're dead."

+ Payouts for wrongful deaths, a doctor forced out after shedding light on the wild over-prescribing of opiates, a chief of psychiatry removed after complaining that staff members "were counseling veterans for as few as three hours a day." The Center for Investigative Reporting has been doing a great job uncovering the challenges soldiers face when they come home. Here's a look at what they found: Returning Home to Battle

+ In other DC news, Jay Carney has stepped down as White House press secretary.


Cracks in the Vaxx

Measles cases in the U.S. just hit a two-decade high. In case you can't already guess why, assistant surgeon general Dr. Anne Schuchat explains: "The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people."

+ Aeon: Polio whack-a-mole: "The great allies of infectious diseases are no longer poverty, nor dirt, but the global anti-vaccination movement."


Weekend Reads

"For a guy who has spent six months and more than $32,000 turning the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment into an old-school video arcade, Chris Kooluris is very put together." From Wired: Arcadia, a Love Story.

+ "Deebo is Lister's Hamlet, his Sherlock Holmes, his artistic avatar. 'It's always that character. That's what they pay to see.'" From Grantland: Say Hello to the Bad Guy, the life and times of Hollywood heavy.

+ Angelina Jolie has the best publicity game in Hollywood. Here's how she does it.

+ D Magazine: The Exorcists Next Door.


Everybody Freeze

A 11 year-old boy stopped on his way to football practice. A 99 year-old man and a 5 year-old boy both deemed to be suspicious. Everyone needs to be considered suspicious if you're going to rack up Stop and Frisk numbers like those achieved by police in Miami Gardens, where more than half the population has been stopped since 2008 (some of them more than fifty times).


Suspicious Minds

Three weeks before he killed six college students, police visited the home of Elliot Rodger. They didn't search his apartment (where they would have found his stash of guns) because they didn't consider him a threat.

+ NYT's Room for Debate asks the question: "Do the laws regarding mental health professionals' duty to warn the authorities of a threat need to be toughened to make them more effective?"

+ The New Yorker: The online life of Elliot Rodger.


Break on Through

During his Harvard commencement address, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Harvard graduates that he's worried about today's academic culture -- specifically as it relates to the banning of certain speakers during this graduation season: "A university's obligation is not to teach students what to think but to teach students how to think. That requires listening to the other side, weighing arguments without prejudice." (Someone should tell that to the Internet.)


Coming Next Season: Clippers Vista

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer served up a record setting (and seemingly winning) bid for the LA Clippers. In summation: Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million and just sold the Clippers for $2 billion.That'll teach him.

+ Two billion is about how much Steve Ballmer has made on his stock since retiring last August.

+ As a kid, Ballmer wanted to be on the basketball team, but ended up as the manager instead. He also regularly escaped "from the Microsoft campus on time to play basketball with his sons."


Wanna Get (More) Away?

The FAA just gave its clearance for Virgin Galactic's space flight service that Richard Branson hopes to officially launch by the end of 2014. More than 500 people have dropped a total of $70 million to reserve a spot in the queue.

+ Step inside Elon Musk's new space machine that can transport humans and "can land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter."



Two teenage boys were named co-champions of this year's grueling Scripps National Spelling Bee. At this point, Spelling Bee contestants should just have to say enough letters until autocomplete takes over.


The Bottom of the News

According to his family, Shri Ashutosh Maharaj died in January. But his disciples at his Ashram insist that he's still alive, and is simply meditating.

+ McSweeney's: Client Feedback on the Creation of the Earth.

+ Breaking: Narcissists are capable of empathy after all. (I don't know what they hell they expect me to do with that information.)

+ The 9/11 Cheese Plate has been removed from the gift shop.

+ 25 words that are their own opposites.

+ (New feature) Popular from yesterday's NextDraft: The fraternity musings of the Snapchat CEO and why this doesn't reflect my views.