Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

In 1983, the series finale of M*A*S*H -- Goodbye, Farewell and Amen -- pulled in around 105 million viewers making it the most-watched non-Super Bowl TV broadcast. Given the fervor around (and entertainment value of) the current presidential campaign, it seems possible that the Clinton/Trump debates will be even bigger. It seems even more possible that they will mark a new low in our already lowbrow level of public discourse. Here's The New Yorker's Jill Lepore on how politicians (and the rest of us) debate these days: "Political argument has been having a terrible century. Instead of arguing, everyone from next-door neighbors to members of Congress has got used to doing the I.R.L. equivalent of posting to the comments section: serially fulminating."

+ James Fallows in The Atlantic: When Donald Meets Hillary.

+ Here's a prediction: The most influential moments in the debate will have nothing to do with being president. And this year, that may go for the rest of our election coverage as well. The headline of 2016 so far comes from The Hill: Clinton's reluctance to drink water causing tension with her staff. Politico has responded with Hydrated Hillary: 9 times Clinton quenched her thirst. That one seems like parody, but in this election, you never know for sure.


Median Cool

Here's some very good economic news. According the Census Bureau, the US poverty rate has dropped, and last year's median income level bucked a decade-long trend and rose to $56,500. It's good to see the growth. But there's a bigger story behind the numbers that helps explain why so many Americans are frustrated. Consider this: "The median household income was $57,900 in 1999."


Game of Impeachments

"I declare lawmaker Eduardo Cunha stripped of office for conduct incompatible with lawmakers' duties." Who is Eduardo Cunha? He's the politician (often called Brazil's Frank Underwood) who spearheaded the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.


Shoot or I’ll Stop

"'I told him, 'Put down the gun,' and he's like, 'Just shoot me.' And I told him, 'I'm not going to shoot you brother.' Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it. I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop situation." From WaPo: West Virginia cop fired for not killing a man with an unloaded gun


More Stall Tactics

Springsteen canceled a concert. The NBA moved the all-star game. And now the NCAA has pulled seven championships from North Carolina because of the state's controversial bathroom bill.

+ The North Carolina GOP was not happy: "This is so absurd it's almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men's and women's teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA's logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms." (I'm pretty sure I already saw that movie on Cinemax.)


Ed Cheerin’

"Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things." Obama is down to his last few months in office. The Oliver Stone biopic is hitting theaters. And Edward Snowden is making his big pitch for a pardon.


The Pills That Kill

"In 2014, more Americans died of drug overdoses than any other year on record -- more than 47,000 deaths in just one year. That's higher than the nearly 34,000 who died in car crashes, the almost 34,000 who died from gun violence, and the more than 43,000 who died due to HIV/AIDS during that epidemic's peak in 1995. This latest drug epidemic, however, is not mainly about illegal drugs. It began with a legal one." Vox with a brief guide to the opioid crisis.

+ For an excellent look at the rise of opioids and the pill mill crisis, definitely check out the book, American Pain, by John Temple. Great read.


Like So Not Chill

"A female polar bear spends nights perched outside the station's windows, making it dangerous for the scientists to exit. They have reportedly run out of flares and have lost at least one of their dogs to the arctic beasts." You're part of a group of Arctic researchers cornered by polar bears. Luckily, help is on the way. Unluckily, in this case, on the way means they'll be there in about a month.


Type O Personalities

"The conversation seemed both apt and improbable: when Woods first wrote to Stevens, in 2004, he was serving a sixteen-year prison sentence, in Jessup, Maryland, for breaking and entering." The New Yorker on how a typo in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia led to an unlikely friendship. (If I held an in-person meeting with all the readers who have alerted me to my typos, we could fill an arena.)


Bottom of the News

"When the air was quiet, Honey Bear said, 'In case it's not obvious yet, people, this is not a summer-camp-themed festival. This is f--king summer camp!'" In GQ, Rosecrans Baldwin takes you with him to camp midlife crisis. (Sadly, I'm too busy finishing my adult coloring book to attend.)

+ You're doing the radio call of an NFL game when a fan runs on the field. What do you do? You call the action.

+ "One thing a package does is transform a commodity into an idea, or a bundle of desires. This one is a paradox. We want the bacon to be meaty on the one hand, and fatty on the other. It's an ambivalent package." Bloomberg takes the unusual step of using the words ambivalent and bacon in the same paragraph in order to explain the (pretty damn interesting) story of bacon packaging.

+ They could have chosen anything to protest. And they chose Ryan Lochte's performance on Dancing with the Stars.