Sugar Knight

"Perhaps the obese get that way not because they eat too much or exercise too little, but because they have elevated levels of insulin or their fat tissue is excessively sensitive to the insulin they secrete. Perhaps the relationship between obesity and Type 2 diabetes is not one of cause and effect, as doctors have said for years." Let that sink in for a second. In his latest book, Gary Taubes is essentially arguing that we've been looking at the obesity epidemic all wrong. And maybe consuming more calories than we burn is not the key problem. Maybe something else is to blame. Here's a taste of Taubes' take on a potent toxin that alters hormones and metabolism and sets the stage for epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes: The Case Against Sugar. (You might want to hold off and read this one after the holiday weekend...)

+ And for further reading, here's The Atlantic's Daniel Engber on The Sugar Wars. "I mean if it was a criminal case, you would have enough to indict but not to convict because all the research has holes in it." I'm no scientist, but I can predict one thing. The impact of sugar on our health will be one of the top stories of 2017.


Nukes, Spooks, and Kooks

"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." That was a tweet from the president-elect on Thursday. What exactly does he mean? Is he really looking to reverse a multi-decade course? His aides say no. He says yes. Sort of. Well, wait. It's confusing. (I just nuked in my mouth a little bit...)

+ "'Trump understood the mood of the people and kept going until the end, when nobody believed in him,' Putin said, adding with another wry smile, 'except for you and me.'" Putin offers up some advice about the meaning of the hacks and the importance of losing with dignity. Trump cheers a "very nice" letter he got from Putin: "His thoughts are so correct."

+ Let's have an honest discussion about what exactly was hacked during this election. (Actually, like most things on the internet, it's going to be a monologue masquerading as a dicussion.) From me: Go Hack Yourself.


Weekend Whats

What to Review: In each Friday edition of NextDraft, I share some tips on what to watch, what to stream, what to documentary, what to check out, etc. Here's a collection of what I recommended in 2016.

+ What to See: NYT: The year in pictures. And also, from The Guardian: The best photographs from across the US.

+ What to Read: The sixteen most-read New Yorker Magazine Stories of 2016.

+ What to Everything: Digg has a bunch of top ten lists compiled from other top ten lists. Hence, it goes to eleven.


The Truck Stops Here

"One of the officers requested his identification. Amri responded by pretending to fish in his backpack for documents. Instead, he pulled a gun, shooting one officer in the shoulder ... The second patrolmen -- trainee Luca Scatà -- fired back, killing Amri." Italian police killed the Berlin truck attacker in a shootout after a traffic stop.

+ The Berlin incident has the far right in Europe calling for closed borders. What will Muslim immigrants to the US face? That depends on which person on the Trump team you ask.

+ WaPo: "The Obama administration on Thursday took the unprecedented step of creating obstacles to a widely-anticipated but poorly understood plan by President-elect Donald Trump to establish a Muslim ban or registry -- by dismantling the registry system that already exists."

+ "Now, along with tens of thousands of civilians, the credibility of the powerful countries and institutions that could have helped them, but didn't, lies in Aleppo's rubble and blood." The New Yorker's Ben Taub: Aleppo's 'evacuation' is a crime against humanity. (But crimes are only punished if someone is held to account, and that seems increasingly unlikely.)


Topping the Charts

Poverty, health, freedom, literacy... Wait, it's not what you think. For the half of America that thinks 2016 couldn't get much worse, here's proof that life is getting better for humanity, in 5 charts. (Prediction: In 2017 they're gonna take away our charts...)


A Holiday PSA

"Individuals with less social connection have disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent." And in another one of the ironies of the Internet age, "the percentage of American adults who say they're lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent." From NYT Upshot: How Social Isolation Is Killing Us.


NC’s State

"Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place. When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy." Andrew Reynolds (an expert on such matters) explains why North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy.


Stephon Switch

"There is a statue of him holding up the 2012 Chinese Basketball Association trophy above his head outside the home arena. He is in another statue celebrating the first title along with two of his teammates outside of the practice arena. There is a Marbury museum about five kilometers from Tiananmen Square showcasing his entire basketball career, filled with old trophies, jerseys and other hoop artifacts as well as a gift shop.
There was a Broadway-type musical centering on his life that he actually acted and danced in for 11 nights. He is acting as the lead in My Other Home, a Chinese film based on his life that is expected to debut in 2017 with cameos from Allen Iverson and Baron Davis. He also has a Chinese postage stamp." Things didn't end well for Stephon Marbury in the NBA. As you can tell from the above, he's enjoying some success in China.

+ Long before he even played college basketball, Marbury was featured in one of the better sports books. The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey.


Sage Advice About Thyme

"The quest for increased personal productivity -- for making the best possible use of your limited time -- is a dominant motif of our age." Oliver Burkeman explains why time management is ruining our lives. (I've never wasted more time than I have searching for the ideal time management software to solve a problem I didn't even know I had.)


Bottom of the News

"Our moisture-wicking Microfiber Hoody will keep out the chill as you sink your ice-axe into a frozen waterfall -- or as you stand paralyzed by indecision before your open freezer, debating whether to bake fish sticks or reduced-fat taquitos for your children's dinner." From McSweeney's: Patagonia catalog copy revised to better reflect my lifestyle.

+ Hamilton meets Hanukkah.

+ The Radio City Rockettes are performing at the inauguration. But they're not happy about it. (At least they'll already be in town for the million woman march.)

+ As Oprah's weight goes down, the price of Weight Watchers stock goes up. (I need to find a way to tie my diet goals to my portfolio performance...)

+ Have a great Chrismukkah weekend. Happy holidays to you and yours from all of me at NextDraft.