Tuesday, May 31st, 2016


Gorilla Glass Houses

When I first heard about the killing of a beloved Gorilla after a child plummeted into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, I immediately published this tweet: "It was an unfortunate series of unintended events that left officials with no option but to make one terrible choice to avoid another horrific outcome." OK, you probably know I'm lying for two reasons: First, that's eleven more characters than Twitter allows. And second, no one ever has an even-handed social media response to a controversial event. Some blamed the team that made the decision to shoot and kill Harambe (because we're all experts at making quick decisions with lives on the line). Most blamed the parents of the 4 year-old boy who fell into the enclosure (because we're all totally awesome parents who have never had an off moment). And others blamed the parents of the zookeepers for raising people who thought it seemed like a good idea to keep a gorilla in an enclosure in the first place. But here's the bottom line. A decade ago, this event might have told us something about the complexities of parenting, zoos, animals, and first responders. But thanks to social media, this story mostly tells us something about ourselves. And it's not pretty.

+ Vox: Harambe the gorilla: the zoo killing that's set the internet on fire.


Better Off Ed?

In a recent interview, Former Attorney General Eric Holder argued that Edward Snowden needed to face a trial and be held accountable for his actions, but also acknowledged that Snowden performed a public service. "We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made."

+ And as you might imagine, Edward Snowden was listening.


Serf’s Up

"Situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception." That's how the Walk Free Foundation in Australia defines slavery in their latest report. And according to that report, there are more than 45 million people living in slavery. From BBC: What does modern slavery look like?

+ Quartz: India has 18 million slaves.

+ "Archived posts say the rooms were filthy, the taps broken, the food inedible. Many reviewers complain about the staff, describing them as overwhelmed, unskilled and incompetent. What the guests didn't know was that what they had experienced was not poor service, but modern slavery." From The Guardian: A slave in Scotland. (I wonder if we're not better off dropping the word modern and just calling this Slavery.)


Getting Away with Murder

Over the holiday weekend in Chicago, 69 people were shot. Six of them died. And if recent history is any indicator, very few of the perpetrators will ever even be arrested. From The Daily Beast: Chicago's Invisible Shooters Wreak Havoc.

+ The remarkable damage done to societies where killers are not brought to justice is a key point put forward in Jill Leovy's book, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.


Passing the Sniff Test

The federal government has tried to use technologies to mimic their effectiveness, but as Ron Nixon explains in the NYT, when it comes to sniffing out the chemicals that can be used in a bomb, nothing quite beats the nose of a dog: "Dogs can detect a teaspoon of chemical in a million gallons of water — nearly enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools. They perform at a really high level. They're like the Peyton Mannings or Brett Favres of canines."

+ I'm sure Ron Nixon was entirely unaware of this post before making the analogy above: Here Are 15 Dogs Who Look Like Two-Time Super Bowl Champion Peyton Manning.


Pill Boxing

"The consultant, Andrew Kornfeld of the Recovery Without Walls clinic in Mill Valley, Calif., was carrying a small amount of buprenorphine. Nicknamed 'bupe,' it is also known by several commercial names including Suboxone." The LA Times with the story of the folks who were trying to get a controversial drug to Prince before his death. Some doctors think it's the most effective tool to beat opioid addictions. Others think it creates and addiction that's just as hard to kick: Prince's death casts spotlight on anti-opioid addiction drug. In some ways, this is the ultimate big pharma story as the industry responds to the danger of a drug it has wildly over-prescribed by prescribing another drug.


The Delete Button

The European Union released a new set of guidelines to limit the spread of illegal hate speech online, and Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are getting behind the plan. "The companies vowed to review most valid requests for removal of illegal hate speech within 24 hours and to remove or disable access if necessary."

+ A former Miss Turkey was given a suspended sentence of 14 months for sharing a satirical Instagram post about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Rules Out For Summer

"From 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that's ours.You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown. If you do, there will be problems, and you won't see him there very long." The warm, humid summer weather is already invading Manhattan, and that means the soft ice cream wars are once again upon us. From the NYT: A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee's Turf. (Full disclosure: When in NYC, I will only consume soft ice cream from Mister Softee. I just don't think any of the other frozen chemicals taste as good as their frozen chemicals.)


Friends Like These

"If I were to become president of the United States, I would only have an inkling of the scrutiny that she experiences. I have the exact same three people interested in me; I'm related to them. She has helicopters following her." That's Jesse Eisenberg on his co-star. From Variety: Kristen Stewart Lets Down Her Guard. It gives you some idea of the kind of pressure these young stars are under when talking to yet another publication is considered letting one's guard down.


Bottom of the News

"The sweet stuff is now being offered at day-time raves and dance parties that do not serve alcohol." It turns out that Chocolate is the new party drug.

+ It's getting harder and harder to stay on the front edge of hipsterdom as big brands become fast followers. Starbucks is now set to serve Nitro Cold Brew.

+ "Customers said a group entered the cafe wearing sausages around their necks and carrying slabs of meat on skewers, before attacking customers and staff." The Guardian with the weird news of an attack on a vegan cafe. (I am a life-long vegetarian and if these folks need some backup, my hothouse cucumbers are fully-loaded and ready for action.)

+ Has there ever been a more ominous lede than this? "Golfer who shot video thought it was big enough to possibly be two guys in an alligator suit."