Monday, June 1st, 2015


This is Not a Threat

"There's one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts." Are those words (as part of a similarly ominous series of posts) enough to to convict a person of making violent threats? According to today's decision from the Supreme Court, the answer is: not necessarily. The justices threw out the conviction of Anthony Douglas Elonis and indicated that "the government must do more than prove that a reasonable person would find the postings threatening."

+ The Elonis case is representative of the ongoing struggle of our legal system to navigate the blurred line between our online and offline selves. In another much more prominent case, Silk Road leader Ross Ulbricht asked a judge to show mercy during sentencing: "I've had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age." The answer he got was life in prison. Meanwhile, a key agent who was working undercover online to build a case against Ulbricht was recently arrested as the Justice Department found that he "developed additional online personas and engaged in a broad range of illegal activities calculated to bring him personal financial gain."

+ If you haven't read it yet, don't miss Josh Bearman's two part piece on the rise and fall of Silk Road. It's an exciting read, and it also surfaces issues of identity that are certain to be recurring themes in courts of law and public opinion.


Just Retuning Your Call

Sorry I haven't returned any of your calls for the past few years. I was waiting for the Patriot Act to lapse. At least for a while, the US government can no longer spy on every US citizen at once as Congress allowed parts of the Patriot Act to expire on Sunday night.


The Culture War

"Today the country is not involved in the military war but it is involved in political, economic and security wars -- and, above all, the cultural wars." That was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reflecting on a movement among Iranian youth who are "curious, wired and desperate for normality." In FT Magazine, Roula Khalaf shares a very interesting report on Iran's Generation Normal.

+ From The New Yorker's Amy Davidson: The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian has been in a Tehran prison for nearly a year, without being publicly charged. Why?


Joe and Beau

"Well, I didn't want to hear anything about a merciful God. No words, no prayer, no sermon gave me ease. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry." That was Joe Biden following the 1972 car crash that killed his first wife and his 13 month-old daughter. One of the survivors of that car crash, Beau Biden, died of cancer over the weekend. Evan Osnos on We Bidens, An American Family.

+ WaPo's Paul Kane: Family losses frame Vice President Biden's career.


The Anti-Social Network

"Among other things, it's my job to recruit people, and I'm really good at my job. You can trust me. You'll be really well taken care of here. You'll be important. And if you agree to marry me, I'll treat you like a queen." From The Guardian: Skyping with the enemy: I went undercover as a jihadi girlfriend.


The (Ja)Red Wedding

They have 43,945 shops. They were the first ones to sell the idea of healthy fast food. But as they celebrate their fiftieth birthday, Subway is in danger of being overtaken by its emulators. Fresh is meeting fresher. The rise and fall of Subway, the world's biggest food chain.

+ From NY Mag: This Is the Story of the Hamburger.

+ "He has even conducted a time study of how the structure of xiao long bao changes upon leaving the steamer and starting to cool in a bid to determine the ideal window in which to devour the hot little pouches before the skin thickens too much." Christopher St. Cavish has developed a Shanghai Soup Dumpling Index, which could be the nerdiest food guide ever.


Whine Into Water

"We were in a situation where we were very, very close to someone opening a tap somewhere in the country and no water would come out." That was a few years ago. But today, Israel has no water problems. And that has a lot of California officials looking to the land of milk and honey to understand how desalination, recycling and reuse keeps the water flowing in the desert.


Face the Face

"During the day, the animals stay hidden in your follicles, feeding on oils naturally secreted by your glands. At night, they use their stubby legs to climb to the surface to find mates." From Vox: Don't freak out, but there are thousands of mites living all over your face.

+ And from the NYT: New tactics for battling head lice. (In my experience, even the joint forces of the Night's Watch and the Wildings don't stand much of a chance.)


Be Afraid

"There are these huge organizations that turn out a lot of people with good intentions but who have no barriers and will scare the hell out of you. If you're facing a 3-year-old, don't hover over them, get down on your knees. If they scream, go away." Times have changed for a funny business turned sour. And as NY Mag's Benjamin Wallace explains: Boswick the Clown doesn't understand why adults are so scared of him.


Bottom of the News

If you're drinking your coffee first thing in the morning, then you're doing it wrong. For maximum benefit, try to down a cup of joe at 10am or 2pm. (But never at dusk.)

+ George Zimmer got booted from the Men's Wearhouse board. But now he's back with a new play in the clothing space. It's Uber for Tailors.

+ MentalFloss: 25 facts about Jaws for Its 40th anniversary.

+ Harriette Thompson just completed a marathon. She's 92.

+ And you may have heard, Caitlyn Jenner made her debut in Vanity Fair and on Twitter.