Monday, November 9th, 2015


I Tweet Alone

I finally found something I'm better at than Barry Obama. According to an enlightening NYT piece by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, the president's social media accounts are managed by the Office of Digital Strategy, a team that includes about twenty people (by my count, that leaves each staff member responsible for roughly seven characters of a fully fleshed-out Tweet). I'm proud to say that I write, edit and publish tweets entirely on my own -- although, candidly, that leaves me less time than I'd like for world affairs.

+ The federal government has spent more than $1 billion over the past decade in an effort to move its immigration systems into the digital age. What are the results so far? One form is online. (Maybe 20 people per tweet isn't all that inefficient.)


Burma Superstar

Her 1990 election win resulted in a step away from democracy and years of house arrest. But thirty million voters seem to have changed the storyline this time around as Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party gained an overwhelming win in Myanmar's historic election.


Yada Yada Wada

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) just released a report claiming that Russian athletes are guilty of participating in a systematic doping regime that includes bribery, extortion, and even the suspension of those athletes who refused to dope. And the cheating started at the top: "It would be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities." The authors of the report went so far as to recommend that Russia be banned from the 2016 Olympics.


Missouri Loves Company

"I take full responsibility for this frustration and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred. Use my resignation to heal and start talking again." And with that, University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigned after facing pressure from students who felt "he had not done enough to address racism and other issues on campus."

+ How did a fairly local dispute between students and an administrator gain national attention and result in a quick change at the top? The football team got involved.


College Is As College Does

"Everyone invested in how the elites of tomorrow are being acculturated should understand, as best they can, how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance." The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf on how a Halloween costume controversy at Yale spun out of control and became another example of the new intolerance of student activism.

+ WaPo's Daniel W. Drezner argues that it's unfortunate that the clash between administrators and students went viral: "One of the purposes of college is to articulate stupid arguments in stupid ways and then learn, through interactions with fellow students and professors, exactly how stupid they are. Anyone who thinks that the current generation of college students is uniquely stupid is either an amnesiac or willfully ignorant. As a professor with 20 years of experience, I can assure you that college students have been saying stupid things since the invention of college students." (That's what I love about social media. It lets us adults relive our college days.)


The Gene Hackman

"That raises the possibility, more realistically than ever before, that scientists will be able to rewrite the fundamental code of life, with consequences for future generations that we may never be able to anticipate." The New Yorker's Michael Specter on MIT's Feng Zhang and a powerful (and potentially scary) new technology that enables us to manipulate our DNA more easily than ever before.


Sharing Liability

"Hanging from a tree as casually as baggy jeans, the swing was the essence of leisure, of Southern hospitality, of escape. When my father decided to give it a try on Thanksgiving morning, the trunk it was tied to broke in half and fell on his head, immediately ending most of his brain activity." Matter's Zak Stone: Living and Dying on Airbnb.


Indie Labels

"Consumers are walking away from America's most iconic food brands. Big food manufacturers are reacting by cleaning up their ingredient labels, acquiring healthier brands and coming out with a prodigious array of new products." In the NYT, Hans Taparia and Pamela Koch on the seismic shift in the way people eat. Big food will react, but this is a key moment of opportunity for indie food companies.

+ People who live alone have pretty terrible diets. (Makes sense. It takes both of my kids and my mother-in-law to shove kale down my throat.)

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Katherine Rosman recently wrote an article for the NY Times called How Organic Avenue Lost All Its Juice about a small NYC-based chain of juice stores recently going out of business: Juiced.

+ MoJo: Enough already with the bone broth hype.

+ GQ: The Real-Life Diet of a Vegan NFL Defensive Lineman. (Or the guy who would give anything if he could just skip a meal once in a while.)


Spoke a JJ

"When he first met those movies he was just an apprentice. Now he must become the master." Wired talks to superfan JJ Abrams on directing Star Wars. (I wonder when Disney is going to start really marketing the new Star Wars movie?)

+ THR with a great interview with Damon Lindelof who discusses struggling with depression and why knowing JJ Abrams is a bit of a curse. (Full disclosure: I know Damon and he's awesome. Feels good to get that off my chest.)


Bottom of the News

It's back... The holiday season is here (don't blame the messenger) and that means we're ready for another shouting match about the war on Christmas. This year's battle is starting at Starbucks where the coffee giant is being accused of striking a blow on Christmas with its plain, red holiday cups. (I wonder what was on the side of Jesus' cups at his bar mitzvah...)

+ The Guardian: American Pharoah named to the Forward 50 list of 2015's most influential Jews. (Now I feel less weird about giving my cat a bris.)

+ Trump, Trump, Trump. Forget The Donald, the key moment of this week's SNL was Larry David's return as Bernie Sanders. An instant television classic.

+ NPR: Class Clown or Gifted Student? (Speaking from experience, trust me, Class Clown.)