Thursday, July 28th, 2016


The Wall of an Empire

In 1987, Ronald Reagan gave one of the pivotal speeches of his career. "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Three decades later, the world is still debating the building and tearing down of walls. We mostly hear about the one Donald Trump proposes on the US-Mexican border. But "America is not alone. Across Europe, the politicians with momentum are those who argue that the world is a nasty, threatening place, and that wise nations should build walls to keep it out." The Economist on the new political divide. Farewell, left versus right. The contest that matters now is open against closed.


Even Crack is Impressed

Here's a quick update on the way we live now. Apple just sold its billionth iPhone. Drug cartels wish they had a product that addictive. From Quartz: How the iPhone ate apple.


The Wrath of Con

The world's most famous community organizer, faced with the task of unifying a somewhat divided party, did that and then some with one of the best speeches of his career (and that's just what Republicans thought). You can watch the speech here. "There has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president." (I had no idea that Michelle Obama's husband was such an accomplished speaker.)

+ "I'm a New Yorker. And I know a con when I see one." While Obama gave the best speech of the evening, Michael Bloomberg may have given the most interesting in his case to other independents.

+ Trump, the day after his request that Russia hack until they find Hillary's missing 33,000 emails: "I'm being sarcastic." I actually believe that. But sarcasm rarely plays well on the international stage, and is better reserved for use in tweets and by hilarious news aggregators.


Death Be Not Proud

"May every passer-by curse them and let them not rest in their tombs." As the post-coup attempt crackdown continues in Turkey, authorities there have created a Traitors Cemetery for dead coup plotters.


The Company You Keep

"People want to live in a city. Los Angeles is a diverse city. If you go to a party in Los Angeles, you might meet an actress. But you might also meet someone who works in avionics, a manufacturer. San Francisco is a one-industry town. You don't meet anyone outside of the tech bubble, and that makes it hard to realize what real people want." Stephen Elliot got someone from LA to call SF a one-industry town. For that reason alone, you should read his entertaining piece on the tech scene in Venice. Money, murder and sadomasochism: A journey into the hidden world of the Los Angeles tech boom.


This Town

Maybe geography doesn't matter anymore. We all live in a nation called Facebook. And that nation now has 1.7 billion residents. (Facebook has the same number of users now as there were people alive just a century ago.) And for nearly all those residents, saying happy birthday has been pretty much stripped of all meaning.



"Roger watched everything… and during the day he would say, 'Tits up, hair back.' That was his M.O." In Forbes, Madeline Berg reports on how Roger Ailes used sex appeal to boost ratings, and created a 'toxic culture' for women.


Chill Bill

"The first study quantifying the global costs of sloth was published Thursday in the scientific journal The Lancet, finding what researchers labeled a conservative estimate of the economic burden caused by inactivity." Researchers tried to place a dollar value on your inactivity and came up with this: Americans Blow $27.8 Billion a Year by Being Lazy. We can probably make ten times that collecting the loose change under the cushions of the couches we never get up from.


Pattern Recognition

"When you combine the interactive nature of the Web, increasingly savvy businesses, and the sheer amount of time users spend online, it's a recipe for dark pattern disaster. And after gaining an awareness for this kind of deception, you'll recognize it's nearly ubiquitous." In Ars Technica, Yael Grauer on how interfaces are designed to confuse you and make you sign up for stuff you don't really want.


Bottom of the News

At this moment, I am drenched with sweat in a cafe in an unseasonably warm Truckee, CA. And I know I'm not alone. So it's with some pain that I deliver the following forecast: For the next three months, things are looking toasty.

+ Thinking about having a brainstorming session? You're probably better off just thinking about something on your own.

+ Some of the year's best astronomy photos.

+ Fusion: What Justin Bieber's new male fans tell us about the modern man.