Friday, August 5th, 2016


Talk Dirty To Me

You may have noticed that the tone of political discourse has changed in America during the current election season. And with that change, many major news organizations are easing standards for when it's OK to print a bad word. The WSJ outlined its policy: "As you might have noticed, we now allow the printing of most vulgarities if they are in direct quotations and our news judgment is that the quotation is important to include because it gives insight into how the person communicates, his or her depth of feeling on a subject, or character. Thus, an executive referring to a 'shit storm' or a politician (guess who) vowing to 'bomb the shit' out of Islamic State's oil operations." (Because of email content filters, I have to save my best stuff for my internal monologue.)


Small Finger, Big Trigger

The NYT examines a question that's been raised a lot lately: "Is there any check on a president's power to launch nuclear arms that could destroy entire cities or nations? The short answer is no." (Sadly, the long answer is Nope.)

+ It's not quite the nuclear option, but The New Yorker's James Surowiecki shares some takes on the perils of executive action.


Weekend Whats

What to Festival: It looks like it's gonna be a foggy opening to the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco. That's one more reason to stream it from home. AOL (yes. AOL) is doing the honors this year. (Some artists are balking at free streams of their live shows, so not everyone will be shown, but definitely enough to fill in the slow spots in the Olympics coverage.)

+ What to Doc: Last Chance U is a six-part Netflix series that chronicles a season (that turns out to be quite controversial) for one of the best teams in junior college football. It's the off the field stuff that you'll remember.

+ What to Read: ProPublica and The Atlantic take a look at today's most talked-about voting block: "Poor white Americans' current crisis shouldn't have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has." The Original Underclass. Also, from the always excellent California Sunday Magazine: The Ballad of Rocky Rontal. How do we forgive the unforgivable?

+ What to Dave: "If you're a journalist, creating a false equivalency among people or events that are wildly different is not being unbiased. It's sucking at your job." In response to some reader feedback (and a broader discussion), I wrote: I Think, Therefore I Am (Biased). Also, I gave Clint Eastwood a piece of my mind (from a safe distance of course): "While political correctness is bad, if you stand up to overt racism, prejudice, misogyny, or xenophobic nationalism, you're not a pussy. You're an American." Talking Dirt With Dirty Harry. (Yes, I just linked to two of my own pieces in Weekend Whats. Being the Internet's managing editor has its perks.)


Like Heroin, But Worse

"By all appearances, this was just another fatal heroin overdose -- something that happens more than once an hour in a country awash in opioids. But it wasn't heroin that killed DJ. It was fentanyl, an opioid manufactured in hidden laboratories to be up to 100 times more powerful than heroin." From Stat: Dope Sick: A harrowing story of best friends, addiction -- and a stealth killer.


Five Ring Circus

Mary Lou Retton described her as the top gymnast in history. Tonight Rio opens the games that could be Simone Biles' olympics.

+ "Hundreds of analysts, law enforcement and special operations personnel are already on the ground in Rio de Janeiro." Let's hope they leave with a gold medal.

+ Controversies, mosquito-transmitted viruses, sewage in the water. This might sound like bad news for Rio. But it's been great for NBC.

+ And don't miss the video look at Rio's favelas from Epic and Google.

+ I'm pretty sure The New Yorker already won the opening ceremonies.


Stakes on a Plane

In a rare backtrack, Donald Trump has admitted (via Tweet) that he never saw a video of plane delivering a load of cash from the US to Iran. No one is denying that such a delivery was made. But it wasn't "ransom." Here's Vox with a detailed look at what actually happened.


Stock Buyback

"Expense reports reviewed by Bloomberg show contractors bought back jars of Just Mayo from Safeway stores. Former workers say Hampton Creek also purchased its own products at Kroger, Costco, Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods locations across the country." Apparently, the mayo wasn't the only thing Hampton Creek faked. The company reportedly bought up a bunch of its vegan Mayo in an effort to boost sales prior to a funding round. I hate to share negative stories about a startup, but I felt this was something my 43 million subscribers deserved to know.


No Sweat

"She ran. Slowly at first, conserving her energy. More quickly as she realized that, while many racers slowed down or walked uphill, she could pass them and not feel tired. "I remember thinking, This is pretty awesome ... I could push a lot harder than the people around me." Some people are just better natural athletes than you are. Their participation might be a bit of a downer on race-days, but what makes them great could one day make you feel better. From the excellent Maria Konnikova: "One scientist is on a quest to find the genetic mutations that make athletes elite -- which may lead to new treatments for the rest of us." The Superhero Genes. (Where was this guy when I completed half a pull-up in the Presidential Physical Fitness test?)

+ Nautilus: How Woodpeckers Will Save Football.


Rat Chance

"When one rat was placed near another jailed rat, the free rat would open the hatch for a rescue -- something it wouldn't do for a toy rat." Brian Resnick takes you inside the decades-long quest for an answer to an interesting question: Do animals feel empathy? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha. (Sorry, I was just thinking about my cats.)


Bottom of the News

Think the stories about the wild popularity of Pokémon Go are overstating things? Think again. In the two weeks following the release of the game, sales of smartphone backup batteries went through the roof.

+ InFocus has another great collection of traveler photos.

+ Meet the first food stall cook to get a Michelin Star.

+ And a reminder to readers in Philly: Stop swimming in dumpsters. But still try to have a good weekend.