Monday, February 13th, 2017


You Can’t Handle the Truth

Three weeks into the tenure of the Trump administration, we know one thing to be demonstrably true: The president lies. You can debate whether these lies are merely strategic, or that they're evidence of some deeper personality disorder. But at this point, one can no longer credibly argue that the leader of the free world is not a habitual liar. In NY Mag, Andrew Sullivan argues that it's part of a deeper issue: "Then there is the obvious question of the president's mental and psychological health. I know we're not supposed to bring this up -- but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him?" I'm curious as to what impact the lying and other bombastic media tactics are having on those of us on the receiving end. Sullivan addresses this factor as well: "Somehow, he is never in control of himself and yet he is always in control of you."

+ "Researchers have found that familiarity can trump rationality -- so much so that hearing over and over again that a certain fact is wrong can have a paradoxical effect. It's so familiar that it starts to feel right." Wired on how to make a lie seem true: Repeat it over and over.

+ Meanwhile, the media has come up with a slew of ways to avoid calling a lie a lie. My favorite so far is this headline from the NYT: Trump Says Refugees Are Flooding U.S. in Misleading Allusion.


Scoring a Half Grammy

I'm glad I let my kids stay up until the end of the Grammys so they could see the final speech from Adele. Grace and humility are in rare supply these days. Adele went above and beyond as she argued that Beyoncé deserved her award. "I can't possibly accept this award. And I'm very humbled and very grateful and gracious but the artist of my life is Beyoncé, and the album to me, the Lemonade album, Beyoncé, was so monumental." That's what we saw on television. After the broadcast, she actually split her Grammy in half.

+ Everyone is saying the Grammys wasn't political. No one lied. It was diverse. Winners showed grace and humility. These days, that's political. Here's a full list of the winners. And the snubs and surprises included some big names: Beyonce Goes Two-for-Nine as Kanye West, Rihanna, Justin Bieber Shut Out.

+ The evening had its share of good performances. My favorite was Lady Gaga and Metallica (even with the broken mic). Rock is nothing new to Gaga. She was once in a Zeppelin cover band.

+ My kids' favorite moment was Twenty One Pilots accepting their Grammy in underpants (which was, somehow, oddly touching). Here are some the best and worst moments.


A Total Shot Show

The photo of Mevlut Mert Altintas shouting after he shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey is striking image, and just earned World Press Photo of the Year. But it was far from the only memorable shot in a tumultuous year. InFocus has a collection of the winners of the 2017 World Press Photo Contest.


Meet the Flynn Stones

"The knives are out for Flynn." Mike Flynn is under increasing pressure as more questions emerge about the timing and content of his discussions with with Russia's ambassador.

+ "Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump's Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleague." From the NYT: Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down.

+ Flynn is not the only White House player who is feeling the heat.

+ "It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. The Prime Minister Abe of Japan huddles with his staff and the President is on the phone with Washington DC. the two world leaders then conferred and then went into another room for hastily arranged press conference. Wow.....the center of the action!!!" That was from a Mar-a-Lago member who watched as the President got news of a North Korea missile launch and discussed it at the dinner table. From WaPo: "Trump turns Mar-a-Lago Club terrace into open-air situation room." (We knew country was not bigger than party. Now we know country isn't even bigger than dinner party…)


The Big Start Up

"Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service. And I love that. it's super-motivating for us." FastCo's Noah Robischon explains why Amazon is the world's most innovative company.

+ How will Amazon's innovations be received and potentially change habits? For answers, head to Seattle. The city has become a retailing petri dish.

+ I still think Bezos is secretly messing with my mind.


Scalp Massage

"Seven years after his Los Angeles office was raided by shotgun-wielding FBI agents, Lowson told me he's switched teams. Now, he's out to expose the secrets of the ticket industry in a bid to make sure tickets are sold directly to their fans." If it sometimes seems impossible to score good tickets to see your favorite performer, that's because it is. And Ken Lowson is here to help us fix the system. He might know how do it, since he was really good at breaking it. From Motherboard: The Man Who Broke Ticketmaster.

+ Bloomberg: How the Flash Crash Trader's $50 Million Fortune Vanished.


A Woman’s Place

"On Friday night, after four years of CYO basketball together, the nine boys and two girls on the St. John's 5th grade team had to make a decision: Play without the girls or give up the rest of the season." A CYO hoops team defied an archdiocese order to kick girls out, and forfeited their season.

+ "Most striking, women have become significantly more likely to work into their 60s and even 70s, often full time, according to the analyses. And many of these women report that they do it because they enjoy it." More woman are working across different age groups. And many of them are having too much fun to retire.


Jerry and Son

An already depressingly sick story is taking a turn for the worse. Jerry Sandusky's son Jeffrey just got arrested on child sex charges.


Life in the Fast Lane

We have short attention spans. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that people speed up podcasts and online learning videos. Can we really absorb the data that fast? I have no idea. I didn't read past the first paragraph of this article.

+ "Rumors of Apple's next iPhones coming with wireless charging are looking more believable now that the company's officially listed under the Wireless Power Consortium's members list." (I wonder if I can still return the 10,000 foot extension cord I just bought.)


Bottom of the News

"Worldwide, 46% of Netflix users admit they've watched a TV show without their significant other, specifically, watching ahead of them, despite explicitly promising not to do that very thing." Are you a Netflix cheater?

+ NYT: A researcher in Australia has outlined a three-step process for effectively getting ketchup from a glass bottle.

+ Oh, butter is now good for you. (I don't know if this will hold up, but I'm going to see how many cubes I can consume before we find out...)

+ The secret history of the LaCroix Label.

+ In addition to writing NextDraft, I also invest in tech startups. I just put up my new investing site (with a logo from Bryan Bell). But from here on out, don't ever ask me about my business.