Monday, July 11th, 2016


You Won’t Believe Your Eyes

"It is the most surprising result of my career." So said Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr, who crunched the numbers and found that while there is a racial bias when it comes to the use of police force, there is no clear bias specifically when it comes to police shootings. As the NYT points out, "the result contradicts the mental image of police shootings that many Americans hold in the wake of the killings (some captured on video) of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; Laquan McDonald in Chicago; Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Walter Scott in South Carolina; Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati; Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La.; and Philando Castile in Minnesota."

+ Even this study needs to be viewed in the broader context of other numbers related to race and law enforcement. From WaPo: Aren't more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.

+ Of course, such chasms between the numbers and our perceptions (driven by images, soundbites, and preconceived notions) are far from rare. Compare the numbers reflected in this headline to the popular view: "Intentional attacks on police officers are at historically low levels under President Obama."

+ For some perspective, consider that in Chicago, there have been 2,100 people shot this year. Related to all of this, I shared a few reflections on America's long week.


Oxy Not Clean

"The doctor began prescribing the opioid painkiller OxyContin -- in extraordinary quantities. In a single week in September, she issued orders for 1,500 pills, more than entire pharmacies sold in a month. In October, it was 11,000 pills. By December, she had prescribed more than 73,000, with a street value of nearly $6 million." How did the sometimes deadly Oxycontin become so widely available to those who abuse it? The LA Times follows the pills and explains how more than 1 million OxyContin pills ended up in the hands of criminals and addicts. They also ask the question: What did Purdue Pharma know about the people who doled out their addictive product like Tic Tacs?

+ Congress appears set to pass a bill to combat painkiller abuse.


David Cameron’s Last Hummer

"Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it." So said Theresa May, who will become the UK's second female prime minsister after another weekend of political wrangling. She'll take over the role on Wednesday. I wish our elections were this quick.

+ NPR: Why is Britain getting a prime minister who'd like to stay in the EU?

+ BBC: Who is Theresa May?

+ And there's no better way to celebrate British politics than this moment when a resigning David Cameron is caught humming a jaunty little tune into a live mic.


Carrying On

"Twenty to 30 of the marchers showed up with AR-15s and other types of military-style rifles and wore them openly, with the straps slung across their shoulders and backs." That's what Dallas police were confronted with when a sniper targeted them. The NYT on how Texas open-carry laws blurred lines between suspects and marchers.

+ Dallas Chief to Lawmakers: Do Your Job.


It’s a Dry Heat

"A lot of things caused Susie pain: scented products, pesticides, plastic, synthetic fabrics, smoke, electronic radiation ... car exhaust made her feel sick for days. Perfume gave her seizures." The Guardian's Kathleen Hale pays a visit to Snowflake, Arizona, a desert refuge for people who are allergic to everything.


Last Meal in a Slow Cooker

The death penalty is dead. At least it has been for the past two months, a period during which not a single one of the 3,000 inmates on death row was put to death. Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner: Practically Speaking, The Death Penalty Is Disappearing In The United States.


Looking for a Poké in Muskogee

Why, you might be wondering, have so many tech addicts taken the unusual step of venturing into the great outdoors? The answer: A wildly popular, game called Pokémon Go, "a new augmented-reality game that invites players to hunt for digital Pokémon on their smartphones, placed using GPS and an algorithm by the company Niantic Labs." It's already more popular than Tinder (an app which does not require one to leave their house, or even their room.)

+ Vox: Pokémon Go, explained.

+ Pokémon Go has added nearly $11 billion to the value of Nintendo since its release. Strange days indeed...


Cage Snatch

I know why the caged fighter sings. The UFC, which was last sold for about $2 million, just got acquired for $4 billion. That transaction is a real kick in the pants, and head, and neck, and stomach.



It is 7-11, which means you can get a free Slurpee at many participating outlets. From Mental Floss, here are 11 brain-freezing facts for Slurpee's 50th birthday. One dude invented the ICEE and the Slurpee. And even he wishes he had invented Pokémon Go instead. (I've had the jingle "Seven Eleven's Got Slurpee Rock Cups" stuck in my head since junior high.)


Bottom of the News

The New Yorker's Gregory Crewdson takes a crack at understanding the allure of the show Naked and Afraid: "At its core, the show is about the search for meaning." (I always thought of it as a search for one's pants.)

+ Timeline: How stationary bikes went from curiosity to cult.

+ Buster Posey has really, really good aim.

+ How do we know we're not in a tech bubble? Because if we were, this headline definitely would have popped it: Elon Musk tweets he might unveil 'Top Secret Tesla Masterplan' this week.