Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


Justice Just Ain’t

There are two types of people. Those who can be surprised about a jury decision. And those who have served on the jury. But in the case of the Ferguson non-indictment, the grand jury decision was actually more predictable than most. Yes, it's true that "U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them." But it's also true that there's an exception: Cases involving police shootings.

+ And while this story has, for various reasons, grabbed our attention, it is anything but rare. "Since 2004, St. Louis County police officers have killed people in at least 14 cases. Few faced grand juries, and none was charged."

+ Slate: Why Darren Wilson was never going to be indicted for killing Michael Brown.

+ Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker: "What transpired in Ferguson last night was entirely predictable, widely anticipated, and, yet, seemingly inevitable." Chronicle of a Riot Foretold.

+ This is not a local problem. From The Salt Lake Tribune: Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides.

+ And, for a counter opinion, here's Doug Wylie, the editor of a site called PoliceOne, explaining why Darren Wilson wasn't indicted. My take is that we shouldn't just get bogged down in the details of this particular case. The big theme is that too many black kids get killed and no one gets punished.


Can I Get a Witness?

WaPo has an excellent overview of what we think happened that night in Ferguson. I'm not an expert on this case. And I wasn't there. But this is one of the longest running storylines in American history.

+ Another sad truth to surface in this story. Witnesses often give wildly contradictory evidence.

+ Want a closer look at the evidence? Here are the documents that were considered by the grand jury.


Night Moves

From Jeffrey Toobin: "A decision not to indict, which was always possible, even likely, would have been sure to attract protests, even violence. Crowd control is always more difficult in the dark." And yet, Ferguson officials chose to release the information at night.

+ InFocus has a photo collection of scenes from violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri. And here are some images from the protests that erupted across the country.

+ LA Times: Live updates from Ferguson.

+ And finally, leave it to The Onion to summarize our communal state of mind: "Nation doesn't know if it can take another bullshit speech about healing."


A Taste of Reality

This Thanksgiving weekend brings with it an even greater sense of urgency when it comes to ingesting mass amounts of food and alcohol. The FDA has released broader rules when it comes to displaying the calories contained in our favorite snacks, from movie theater popcorn, to booze, to items in vending machines.

+ These calorie labels have the biggest impact when the number comes as a big surprise. And people basically have no idea how many calories are in their food.


Please Walk Your Drone

One of my son's good friends just got a drone for his birthday. We better get over there an test it out quick. According to those in the know, the FAA is considering regulations that will require you to have a pilot's license to fly a drone.



Now I know why Apple introduced such big phone. They needed a screen wide enough for the digits in their market-cap. The company just set a record with a valuation that surpassed $700 billion.


Abba Dabba Do

"Do you like Swedish pop music? The answer is probably yes, even if you can't name a single artist born in Sweden." Sasha Frere-Jones on how the Swedes took over the pop charts.


The Unclaimed

Did you by chance lose a suitcase holding a full set of armor on a recent flight? Well, you can likely find that and more at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. From the NYT: A place where lost luggage gets another shot.


Saturation of Church and State

At least when it come to symbols, there is very little separation of church and state. Consider this: "A third of the world's 196 countries currently have national flags that include religious symbols."


The Bottom of the News

One of the lines in my kids' favorite Tom Petty song, American Dream Plan B, includes the aside: "I can't dance for shit." This morning, in my 6 year-old daughter's energetic rendition, every line in the song ended with that word. For those scoring at home, that adds up to about 40 expletives before 7am. From Slate: What to do when your kid starts swearing. (My advice: Just sing along.)

+ Pilgrims did not wear buckled hats. That's just one of the little known facts about Thanksgiving.

+ If you want to truly understand the history of Thanksgiving, you have to understand celery.

+ Will people stand in line for hours in their underwear just to get some free stuff? (Spoiler Alert: Of friggin course.)