Wednesday, December 10th, 2014


Lift Us Up Where We Belong

When individual cases of Ebola hit large American cities, entire metropolitan areas were riveted with concern. In the places where Ebola hit hard, there was a state of completely reasonable terror. But still, some folks rushed in. And in doing so, they saved countless lives. We always marvel at those first responders who have the guts to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out. And this was a fire like no other. During a moment when we're hung up on a handful of police officers, CIA agents, and other public servants who many feel let us down, it makes sense to celebrate the doctors, nurses, scientists, and researchers who lifted us up. Time's Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters.


Don’t Table This Issue

"Their rooms crawled with scorpions and bedbugs. Meals were skimpy, hunger a constant. Camp bosses kept people in line with threats and, when that failed, with their fists. Escape was tempting but risky. The compound was fenced with barbed wire and patrolled by bosses on all-terrain vehicles." This might sound like a prison. But it's actually a scene from a Mexican mega-farm, and the second part of the LA Times excellent look at an issue that is as close to you as your kitchen table: They treated us like slaves.



"I was a professor at Lehigh University. I could grade papers and say smart things in class. My son could ride the bus to school and talk to his friends about what his father does for a living. I was someone to be proud of. But I'm not. I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured." In the NYT, Eric Fair explains, I can't be forgiven for Abu Ghraib.

+ Vice sits down with the guy many people think was one of the architects of the torture program. "To me it seems completely insensible that slapping KSM is bad, but sending a Hellfire missile into a family's picnic and killing all their children and killing Granny and killing everyone is OK." (You can disagree with the torture program, but it's hard not to see a little hypocrisy in the entire discussion.)

+ UN officials demand prosecutions for US torture.

+ "[It] damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world." The Atlantic on John McCain and how a prisoner of war feels about torture.

+ ProPublica on the tortured history of the torture report.


Girls of Wisdom

"And I was afraid. I was afraid that no one would believe me. I was afraid other potential partners would consider me damaged goods. I was afraid I was overreacting. I was afraid it was my fault. I was afraid he would be angry. Eight years later, I know just how classic these fears are. They are the reason that the majority of college women who are assaulted will never report it." Lena Dunham in Buzzfeed: Why I chose to speak out.

+ Vox: Two-thirds of sexual assault victims don't go to the police.


White Flight (From Reality)

Recent cases in the news have had to convince many white people that black people are not always treated fairly by police, right? Well, not exactly. The numbers from WaPo: "A new poll includes a surprising finding: The episodes might have actually increased white Americans' belief that their local cops treat blacks fairly."


Head Games

Like many NFL fans (or people on NFL related mailing lists), I just got an email from commissioner Roger Goodell telling me league owners have "unanimously endorsed a revised and strengthened Personal Conduct Policy for all NFL employees." Addressing issues of conduct and safety are paramount for a league facing this reality: Half of Americans don't want their sons playing football.

+ How do you solve the concussion problem? At one college in New Hampshire, the coaches have devised a plan: Practicing without helmets.


The Status of David

Call it the end of an era. Call it late night's D-Day. Whatever you call it, David Letterman has announced the date of his last show. May 20.

+ In a preview of the Oscars and Emmys, the Sag Award nominations are out. And here are the always popular snubs and surprises.


A Lesson in Child Gearing

"If you have a kid, why not run experiments on them? It's like running experiments on a little clone of yourself! And almost always probably legal." Andy Baio decides to make his son play through video game history in chronological order: An experiment in forced nostalgia and questionable parenting. (This kid was already worth a couple billion on paper by the time he got to Space Invaders...)


Your Eggs are Done

OK, you need a happy law enforcement story. So here it is. Grandmother caught stealing eggs to feed hungry children overwhelmed by kindness of police


The Bottom of the News

"Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance." And somewhere between the two, you got the lyrics to your favorite song completely wrong. Maria Konnikova: Excuse me while I kiss this guy...

+ Hallmark apologizes for selling Hanukkah paper covered In swastikas. And Scott Walker will likely apologize for confusing Mazel Tov with Molotov. Oy Caramba.

+ The oral (etc) history of Boogie Nights.

+ The taste of your coffee can be affected by the color of your mug. (That's just one of the reasons I drink mine straight from the pot.)