Friday, March 18th, 2016


Flint Sticks and Stones

"I will take responsibility for not pushing hard enough, but I will not take responsibility for causing this problem." That was EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy talking to the House Oversight Committee about the water fiasco in Flint. This is a common refrain we've heard from national, state and local officials. We've had hearings, debates, and nationally televised town halls. What we don't have is a solution for the people bathing in bottled water. In times of war, we can get running water to the deserts of Iraq. But all we can get to Flint is politics as usual.

+ Erin Brockovich: Communities across the country have been dealing with lead issues for years -- but they've always fallen on a deaf ear. Flint is simply the perfect storm.


We Hebben Hem

"We got him." That was a tweet from Belgium's Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration when it became clear that Europe's most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, had been shot in the leg and arrested in a raid in Brussels. Abdeslam is the last surviving member of the ISIS team that carried out the horrific Paris terror attacks.


Weekend Reads

"Philip Johnson's fingers are no longer strong enough to play any violin, never mind one so unforgiving. So he keeps the Strad in a plastic crate. The instrument is the only thing he has of value. It is also his biggest secret." Geoff Edgers on The Violin Thief.

+ For 35 days, WaPo's David Maraniss and Robert Samuels crossed the country to try to understand what voters are thinking during this, the craziest of election seasons. And they found out a lot which they share in the four-part series: The Great Unsettling.

+ "The dangerous culture of male entitlement and sexual hostility hiding within America's national parks and forests." From HuffPo's Highline: Out Here, No One Can Hear You Scream.

+ NYT Mag: An Insurance Salesman and a Doctor Walk Into a Bar, and End Up at the North Pole. )This the only kind of pioneering expedition I can relate to. An accidental one.)

+ And here's part 2 of The Mastermind from The Atavist.


Factory Whirl

"In recent years, factories have been coming back, but the jobs haven't ... the factories they build here are heavily automated, employing a small fraction of the workers they would have a generation ago." FiveThirtyEight's Ben Casselman explains why manufacturing jobs aren't coming back.


Immigrant $ong

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to create the next Unicorn. There's a building anti-immigrant vibe in some political circles. So let's add this stat to a couple hundred years of established history. Immigrants have founded 51% of U.S. billion-dollar startups. (Full disclosure: Two of them founded me.)


War on Reality

"When it comes to drugs, we can continue to live in a fantasy-world if we want -- and we will keep getting the results we've got." Johann Hari with 7 facts about drugs and addiction that will make you question everything you know. (Well, at least it will make you question the war on drugs.)

+ Here's an interesting animation on addiction (and how we've responded to it in exactly the wrong way).

+ Black people were much more likely to get arrested for smoking pot. And now that it's legal in some places, they're much more likely to be shut out of the weed boom.


Follow the Money

"First, he felt excited, then he got worried: perhaps the money belonged to a child heading out on his first trip alone? A friend made him feel better by suggesting that the bill had been dropped by a drug dealer." If you like searching for coins on the sidewalks and gutters of New York, today is one of the best days of the year. From The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson: Coin Drop.


The Puppeteer

"Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face." Buzzfeed's Kyle Blaine on how Donald Trump bent television to his will.

+ "We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it's a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I'm going to report accurately on this country." From a pretty explosive column by David Brooks.


LaRoche to Judgment

Adam LaRoche just walked away from a $13 million contract with the White Sox. Why? Because the team wanted him to stop bringing his son to the clubhouse so often. LaRoche just wrote his own statement on the topic. (Why do I have the feeling my son would rather keep the cash and stay home?)


Bottom of the News

"These models showed the expanding and shrinking organ to be a marvel of hydraulic engineering." The Atlantic's M. Sophia Newman explains what engineers can learn from the design of the penis. (This is another confirmation of my longtime adage: If an engineer is working behind closed doors, knock before entering.)

+ Syndicated from Kottke: Mathematicians have calculated Pi out to more than 13 trillion decimal places, a calculation that took 208 days. NASA's Marc Rayman explains that in order to send out probes and slingshot them accurately throughout the solar system, NASA needs to use only 15 decimal places. How precise are calculations with that number? This precise... (Maybe my wife should work at NASA. Earlier this week, she recited the first hundred digits of Pi from memory.)

+ "It's great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven." Mark Zuckerberg took a run in air-polluted China, and the Internet freaked out.

+ There's a class action lawsuit against Starbucks because their Lattes use too much foamy milk. Maybe the people bringing this lawsuit should take a chill-pill. Or better yet, a Slurpee-Flavored donut from 7-11.