Thursday, March 2nd, 2017


Jeff’d Up

DC is accelerating into full scandal mode following a WaPo report that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador on two occasions last year -- and failed to disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearings or in written testimony. President Trump indicated that he had "total" confidence in Sessions and that he "probably" testified truthfully. Meanwhile, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are calling on Sessions to recuse himself from any Russian investigations, while top Dems are calling on him to resign.

+ As investigators and reporters struggle to open each layer of an increasingly complex Matryoshka doll, here's a refresher on the three Russian scandals being examined.

+ Around the same time as WaPo broke the Sessions story, the NYT reported on the actions taken by members of the Obama Administration in an effort to preserve intelligence related to Russia's election hacking: "Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn't duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators."

+ If you're tired of all the scandal-related stuff, there was also this news out of DC: Newly sworn in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke showed up to his first day of work on horseback. (And no, it wasn't a Russian Trotter...)


Snap’s Kodak Moment

As Snap (which describes itself as a camera company) enters the public market, Time's excellent Joel Stein provides an interesting look at what makes Snapchat so compelling to young people (many of whom use it almost obsessively). "Snapchat is aware that most of our conversations are stupid. But we want to keep our dumb conversations private. When Snapchat first launched, adults assumed it was merely a safe way for teens to send nude pictures, because adults are pervs. But what Spiegel understood is that teens wanted a safe way to express themselves."

+ Today's IPO went well, with the company hitting a marketcap of $34 billion.

+ "As the five-year-old company enters the public market, the enthusiasm is palpable. So is the fear." Nick Bilton: Is Snap The Next Facebook -- or Twitter?


Pressing Matters

Is it important to a democracy to have press that's free to criticize political leaders? That may seem like a question too obvious to even bother asking. But it turns out that there's still plenty of disagreement among Americans. "About three-quarters of Democrats (76%) say the freedom of the press to criticize politicians is very important to maintaining a strong democracy; only about half of Republicans (49%) say the same." (Most people still think checks and balances are pretty important.)

+ I decided to collect a few quotes from notable Americans on the role of the free press.


When You’re Alone

"That's what people don't understand when you try to explain. I'm there for eight years, and in that eight years, they have eight years of experiences. I have one day of experiences. Every day is the same." From Nathanial Penn in GQ: Buried Alive: Stories From Inside Solitary Confinement.


The Boom Bust Cycle

"By the late 1990s, as boomerism really expressed itself, disasters arrived: financial scandals, economic infirmities, mounting debt, unaddressed climate change, a growing entitlements crisis, and more." What went wrong with America? Bruce Cannon Gibney thinks he has the answer. From The Boston Globe: How the baby boomers destroyed everything.


Slippin’ Into the Future

From trucks that drive themselves to brain implants that can reverse paralysis to being able to pay for something with your face, the MIT Tech Review provides a look at ten breakthrough technologies of 2017. (They all sound great until my mom calls and asks me to come over and fix one of them.)

+ Even with all the (sometimes scary) tech, humans still play an important role. Here's an example from The Verge: How a typo took down S3, the backbone of the internet.


The Reel World

"You can sit there and f--ing talk to a guy who will say yes or no because he doesn't have to go through four steps and then wait a month for a bunch of executives to go to Cancun or wherever so they can all sit around singing 'Kumbaya' and looking at tape together like the networks have to do. It's not done by committee at Netflix; it's done by gut." Netflix can act quickly when it comes to approving shows. They can also spend big. And their next move is into reality TV. (Don't blame the messenger...)

+ Netflix is releasing a stand-up comedy special each week for the rest of 2017.


For Those About to Rock

"Right now, in a vault controlled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, there sits a 752-pound emerald with no rightful owner. This gem is the size of a mini­fridge. It weighs as much as two sumo wrestlers. Estimates of its worth range from a hundred bucks to $925 million." Wired's Elizabeth Weil with the bizarre story of the Curse of the Bahia Emerald, a Giant Green Rock That Ruins Lives.


Walk This Way

"Among the changes include the new intentional walk rule, which allows a manager to signal his decision to home plate instead of having the pitcher throw four pitches outside of the strike zone." In an effort to speed up games, you can now be walked in a major league game without the pitcher moving a muscle. That should go a long way towards getting games that are routinely as long as three hours down to around 2:59.

+ Colin Kaepernick has decided that he will stand for the national anthem next season because he believes there's been positive change in America. (It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he became a free agent like five minutes before he made the announcement.)


Bottom of the News

"It's either some place at room pressure, very small, or it just turned back into a gas. We don't know." From Quartz: Harvard scientists shocked the world by turning hydrogen into a metal, but then lost the only sample.

+ "One guy joined and he had really racy-looking cars. I said, 'Those cars--they are really bright red; they are not dull at all.' He said, 'Yeah, but here's my collection of hubcaps.'" The International Society For Men Who Love Being Boring.

+ The Atlantic explains how the chili dog transcended America's divisions.

+ March 1st. The day President Trump finally went a full 24 hours without a false or misleading claim. (Maybe Twitter was down...)

+ Breaking: Garfield is a dude.