Monday, February 27th, 2017


PriceWaterhouse Bloopers

OK, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. As just about the entire world now knows, an Oscars envelope snafu led to the wrong film being named as Best Picture. Somehow Warren Beatty got the wrong envelope (we might need a new Warren Commission to figure out exactly how that happened). He paused. He showed it Faye Dunaway (to show her it was a mistake) and she, not realizing Beatty's intent, announced the wrong winner; thus overshadowing what was actually an excellent telecast led masterfully by the pitch-perfect Jimmy Kimmel. Here's a minute by minute breakdown of the breakdown. (Sunday night might have been the first time in his life that Warren Beatty wanted to change the subject to Ishtar.)

+ The La La Land team accepted the Oscar for Best Picture and then had to immediately hand their trophies over to the producers of the actual winning picture, Moonlight. (See, that's what's wrong with society today. Everyone gets a trophy!) Let's look on the bright side. Every kid who's been getting a nonstop lesson on being a bad sport just got a lesson in being a good one from Jordan Horowitz. Let no American ever dispute the truth of this news: Jordan Horowitz, Mensch.

+ PriceWaterhouse Coopers issued an apology and vowed to investigate the error. (Remember when we thought 2016 was weird?)

+ "Even without the on-stage mix-up, it would have been a shocker for the history books." The LA Times on Moonlight's unlikely win.

+ Here's a list of all the winners.


Surgical Strikes

"When you visit a doctor, you probably assume the treatment you receive is backed by evidence from medical research. Surely, the drug you're prescribed or the surgery you'll undergo wouldn't be so common if it didn't work, right?" Sadly, that's wrong. The Atlantic on medicine's epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatments: When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes.

+ "Pitchforks have their uses, but crafting health-care policy calls for more delicate instruments." Atul Gawande on the tricky part of changing Obamacare: Americans don't want to lose the benefits they have gained.

+ Trump said his team is nearly ready to unveil a new plan, and added: "Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject ... Nobody knew health care could be so complicated." (Editor's note: Everyone knew.)


A Chill in the Air

"Posted in one of the grayest of the Soviet satellites, Putin entirely missed the sense of awakening and opportunity that accompanied perestroika, and experienced only the state's growing fecklessness. At the very moment the Berlin Wall was breached, in November, 1989, he was in the basement of a Soviet diplomatic compound in Dresden feeding top-secret documents into a furnace. As crowds of Germans threatened to break into the building, officers called Moscow for assistance, but, in Putin's words, 'Moscow was silent.'" In The New Yorker, Evan Osnos, David Remnik, and Joshua Yaffa provide an excellent look at Trump, Putin, and The New Cold War: What lay behind Russia's interference in the 2016 election -- and what lies ahead?


Carlos’ Danger

"Ask residents of this coal-mining crossroads about President Trump's decision to crack down on undocumented immigrants and most offer no protest. Mr. Trump, who easily won this mostly white southern Illinois county, is doing what he promised, they say. As Terry Chambers, a barber on Main Street, put it, the president simply wants 'to get rid of the bad eggs.' But then they took Carlos." From the NYT: He's a Local Pillar in a Trump Town. Now He Could Be Deported.

+ "Inside the White House, the president's advisers are concerned that he has repeatedly referred to Dreamers, many of whom are in their 20s and 30s, in such sympathetic and politically loaded terms. ''Our immigration folks are like, 'Stop calling them kids,''Mr. Spicer said." Also from the NYT: The White House insiders and Trump supporters who are furious that he's shown some sympathy for Dreamers.


Sanford and Sun

"In low-earth orbit, space debris travels at velocities approaching 5 miles per second -- roughly 18,000 mph -- which gives even the tiniest bits of junk enormous destructive energy." We're just beginning the process of commercializing space. But we're already pretty far along when it comes to polluting it. From Bloomberg: Earth's Orbiting Junkyard Threatens the Space Economy.


Party of None

These days, George W. Bush rarely comments on political matters. But he veered from that course to make the following (somehow controversial) remarks on the importance of a free press: "I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere ... It's kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent free press when we're not willing to have one ourselves."

+ On Friday, Trump announced that he would be the first president in 36 years to skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Here are my 12 takes on what should happen at the stupid event made even more stupid this year (and why the caterer is the big loser in all this): Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner?



"So many ordinary objects and experiences have become technologized -- made dependent on computers, sensors, and other apparatuses meant to improve them -- that they have also ceased to work in their usual manner." Yes, yes, yes. Keep your touch screens and give us back our damn knobs! Ian Bogost explains why nothing ever works anymore. (I don't want to have to take an online course to figure out how to work my car's air conditioner.)

+ Speaking of knobs and buttons, Nokia is bringing back an old phone.


People Find Some Reason to Believe

"[The] tape of the ruse made its way to The Tonight Show, where Johnny Carson-- who harbored great disdain for charlatans -- exposed Popoff 's technique. The Tonight Show exposé made national news, and in 1987 the Peter Popoff Evangelistic Association filed for bankruptcy. He seemed done for." Peter Popoff was publicly humiliated and exposed as a fraud. So you'd figure that would mark the end of his career as a high-earning televangelist. Well, unless you've been paying attention. From GQ: Peter Popoff, the Born-Again Scoundrel.


Hello From the Other Side

"If you ask your senator to co-sponsor a bill on mud-flap dimensions or to propose a change to the bottling requirements for apple cider or to vote in favor of increased funding for a rare childhood disease, you stand a decent chance of succeeding. This is not a trivial point, since such requests make up the majority of those raised by constituents." Does calling Congress really achieve anything? (Short answer: It depends.)


Bottom of the News

"Asked earlier this month about the most important person in her life, Ginsburg, who was widowed in 2010 and lost a close friend with the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia, responded, 'My personal trainer.'" Politico on the country's most important trainer: I Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Workout. It Nearly Broke Me.

+ The worst possible response to a troll is to give that troll a wider audience. But sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to respond. There could be a solution. Chris Long of the New England Patriots may have just saved the Internet -- and saved you from yourself.

+ You can now order a wedding off the menu at the Taco Bell in Vegas. (Te quiero ... Taco Bell.)