Tuesday, March 14th, 2017


Screenage Wasteland

I'll be speaking at SXSW in Austin on Thursday, so NextDraft will be on hiatus for a few travel days.

Psst. Hey, kid. Wanna score a few bars of smartphone connectivity? Trust me, it's good stuff; totally loaded with apps, a camera on both sides, and enough battery life to keep your buzz going all day long. All your friends are doing it. Here, you hold it for awhile. That's it, try a few instagrams. Given our obsession with phones, it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch to imagine someone dealing them on a street corner. It's also worth noting that, among teens, the rise of the smartphone culture has been mirrored by a drop in drug usage. According the NYT's Matt Richtel, "researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?" (Let's hope they don't try both at the same time. That's grown-up stuff...)

+ The rise of screen culture among young adults has come at time when there are fewer industrial jobs. A connection is seen in this area as well. "It looks as though some small but meaningful share of the young-adult population is delaying employment or cutting back hours in order to spend more time with their video game of choice." From The Economist: Escape to another world.


The Ghost (Under)writer

"In Lancaster, the transition from stability to chaos seemed to happen fast, in about three decades, so many can still recall when the city was prosperous and predictable for people like the Plant 1 workers. In those days, the biggest criticism of the town was how boring it was. Lancaster was a cohesive community—a trait not lost entirely, thanks to the devotion many local people still feel—where social classes mixed and executives, from the founders to middle management, all lived in town. Their kids went to school with the factory workers' kids." From The Atlantic's Brian Alexander: "Private-equity firms have been rapidly buying and selling off companies for decades, and workers in Lancaster, Ohio, are living with the consequences." The Ghost Bosses.


Take Hijab and Shove It

Between the influx of immigrants and refugees and the rise of populism, Europe is facing many potential conflicts between religious and secular life. In a verdict delivered earlier this week, "the European Court of Justice, the top authority on European Union law, said that a Belgian company was free to bar Muslim women from wearing headscarves at the office."

+ Meanwhile, Nike has a new product for Muslim women: The Pro Hijab.

+ The plan for a girls council to empower women in Saudi Arabia sounded like a great idea. But once the event actually happened, observers noticed "there was one problem: When the Qassim Girls Council met over the weekend for the first time, pictures showed 13 men on stage -- and not a single woman." They were in another room, linked only by video, because of rules against unrelated men and women mixing.


Great Ball of Fire

"Because carbon dioxide hangs around for so long, we'll be feeling the warming effects of this year's jump in concentration years in the future -- even if we stopped all our greenhouse gas emissions today." From WaPo: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at the fastest rate ever recorded. Man am I glad this isn't real...

+ "Climate change programs would be gutted under the proposal and the workforce attached to these programs would be cleared out of the agency." The EPA is getting cut. And it's likely going to get cut even more before the budget is approved.

+ LA Times: At Exxon, Rex Tillerson reportedly used alias for emails about climate change. (No one is using email like they're supposed to...)


This is Not the Change You’re Looking For

"To put the 24 million coverage loss in perspective, that reverses the entire coverage gain from the ACA." The CBO numbers on TrumpCare were not very promising. Here's the most perplexing part of the new health plan: "Some of the harshest consequences of the GOP's health bill would fall on rural Republican strongholds -- precisely the voters who helped elect Trump."

+ We've gotten used to alternative facts. The rage strategically directed towards the Congressional Budget Office is something a bit different than a war on facts. It's a war on analysis. (My shrink once accused me of waging one of those.)


Call in the Wild

"The only arrest so far related to the threats -- that of disgraced journalist Juan Thompson -- was made because the caller identified themselves multiple times as either Thompson or his girlfriend. The FCC order means JCCs can now see an originating number for every call that comes in, sidestepping the usual restrictions on tracking by carriers -- but in most cases, simply getting that number isn't enough." The Verge explains why it's so hard to trace the anonymous bomb threats being phoned into Jewish Community Centers across the country.


The Dish on Dishwashers

The tech industry has been stressed by the Trump administration's determination to limit visas for skilled employees. But as The New Yorker's Sheelah Kolhatkar explains, there are no such limits when it comes to hotel workers. "When it comes to the hospitality industry, though, Trump is much more, well, hospitable. His Administration recently made it harder to get H1-B visas, but he has expressed no objection to the visa category that hotels and resorts use -- the H-2B -- to attract low-cost, low-skilled seasonal labor. In fact, at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach club, the visas are still in active use. Why the exception to the no-exception rule?" The Foreign Workers Of Mar-A-Lago.

+ Forbes: 83% of America's Top High School Science Students are the Children of Immigrants. (My parents came all the way to America only to be stuck with a Humanities major for a son...)


The (Still) Giving Tree

Good news for those worried that the rise of screens would lead to the end of printed books. In the latest numbers from the UK, ebook sales continue to fall and print book sales are on an upswing. (That's partially due to a surge in demand for adult coloring books, but still...)


Sir Cumference

It's March 14, and that means it's Pi Day. Here are 3.14 facts about pi. And some background on why Pi matters.

+ The Colorado Rockies definitely got into the spirit of the day.

+ And here's my wife reciting the first hundred digits of Pi.


Bottom of the News

We know the internet of things opens up some security holes. So maybe it shouldn't surprise us that a Canadian vibrator manufacturer was just fined for tracking users' sexual activity. I'm guessing this kind of internet tracking isn't confined to vibrators. I was forced to hang up the last time I called my broadband provider because the person on the other side of line wouldn't stop laughing.

+ "She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party." I went out and found the day's important news, but all you really want is more about the BBC dad and his kids.

+ And the anticipation is over: Here's your 2017 Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team.