Friday, March 17th, 2017


Wanna Get Away?

"At the age of 20, Christopher Knight parked his car on a remote trail in Maine and walked away with only the most basic supplies. He had no plan. His chief motivation was to avoid contact with people." Michael Finkel describes how one man survived alone in the woods for 27 years. "Knight parked the car and tossed the keys on the centre console. He had a tent and a backpack but no compass, no map. Without knowing where he was going, with no particular place in mind, he stepped into the trees and walked away." This act's modern day equivalent would be to turn off your WiFi for a few hours.


The Battle of the Budge

Defense and homeland security spending goes up, but just about everything else goes down. WaPo has an excellent overview of which programs get hit the hardest in Trump's proposed budget. The EPA and the State Department take the biggest hits.

+ "We're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that." That was director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney on climate change funding. Now we're trying to out-negotiate Mother Nature.

+ Along with science, the arts are expected to take a big hit. Here's Quartz with a look at who will lose if the US National Endowment for the Arts is eliminated? Hint: It's not just the coastal, liberal, elites. Indeed, it would be a mistake to assume the Trump budget proposals are some kind of payback to the blue states that didn't support him. Several agencies on the chopping block provide funds and services to rural Appalachia and other regions which were among the most supportive of Trump during the election.


Word Counts

"We did not target any mosques. What we did target was destroyed. There is a mosque within 50 feet of that building that is still standing." That was Col. John J. Thomas, a spokesman for the Central Command, responding to accusations that a US airstrike hit a mosque in Syria, and killed at least fifty people. At times it seem to be an innocuous distraction, so why is Trump's incessant lying a big deal? This is why. Who in the world believes us when it really matters?

+ I've said it once, I'll say it again. The distractions are the story.

+ "Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict. We've been quite clear on that in our communications. But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that will be met with an appropriate response. Let me very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended." Secretary of State Tillerson, in one of his first international trips as Sec of State, warns of military option if North Korea continues push for nuclear weapons.


Blunder Road

It has been a tough few weeks for Uber and Travis Kalanick. A viral video showed him arguing with a driver, reports of sexual harassment have been widely covered, and the company got caught trying to use fake versions of its app to fool government officials. "But none of these scandals has the potential financial impact of the one Uber has said the least about: a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc -- the parent of Google and Google's self-driving car division, now called Waymo -- over driverless cars. Waymo says Uber is in possession of, and is basing the future of its business on, technology that was stolen by a former employee." The self-driving car story is so ubiquitous that by the time the tech really arrives, most of us will already be more sick of not driving than we are of driving now. Among tech and auto companies, the race for dominance is a bloodsport. From Bloomberg: Fury Road.

+ Susan Wojcicki, the C.E.O. of YouTube, on how to break up Silicon Valley's boy's club.


Spies (Don’t) Like Us

Did the White House apologize to British officials for insinuating that the "UK's GCHQ intelligence agency spied on Donald Trump for the Obama administration?" First we got reports that they did. Now we're not so sure. The story is almost as convoluted as the original claims of wiretapping that got this whole ball of nonsense rolling in the first place.

+ Buzzfeed: "Telephone eavesdropping and video surveillance have indeed long taken place at Trump properties -- it's just that they were conducted by Trump's own team."


See Code Run

"In this world, the ability to write code has become not just a desirable skill but a language that grants insider status to those who speak it ... But whether you like this state of affairs or hate it -- whether you're a member of the coding elite or someone who barely feels competent to futz with the settings on your phone -- don't get used to it. Our machines are starting to speak a different language now, one that even the best coders can't fully understand." From Wired's Jason Tanz: Soon We Won't Program Computers. We'll Train Them Like Dogs. (I love technology, but if my computer takes a shit on my rug, I'm out...)


Queen Scene

"When people think of a contemporary royal death in Britain, they think, inescapably, of Diana. The passing of the Queen will be monumental by comparison. It may not be as nakedly emotional, but its reach will be wider, and its implications more dramatic." The Guardian on the secret plan for the days after the Queen's death.


Can I Recommend a Nice Kirkland?

"Many customers swear by the private-label products, and some are even convinced that the spirits are actually top-shelf liquors such as Grey Goose and Tanqueray hidden behind Costco packaging." Where will people be heading to load up on libations for St Pat's Day? If it's like every other day of the year, expect a lot of them to head to Costceaux region. (This gives new meaning to getting carded.)

+ 13 Facts About St. Patrick's Day


Dairy Errors

"The drivers argued, due to a lack of a comma between 'packing for shipment' and 'or distribution';, the law refers to the single activity of 'packing', not to 'packing' and 'distribution' as two separate activities. As the drivers distribute –- but do not pack –- the goods, this would make them eligible for overtime pay." The Guardian on how a missing Oxford comma helped dairy drivers win dispute about overtime pay. For all those grammar nerds who were beat-up by bullies, I hope this offers some relief. (Though I worry it will merely result in another beating.)


Bottom of the News

"Every March, away from the basketball court, a different kind of madness begins. Whether it's called U Vas Madness or carries a cool ad slogan like 'it's hip to get snipped,' it's urologists' one shining moment: vasectomy season." WaPo on the other March Madness: A rush for vasectomies during the NCAA tournament. (I wonder if anyone has me in their bracket...)

+ What's the deal with all the weirdness when it comes to presidential handshakes?

+ Thanks to a populist revolt, all the cool, old Monopoly pieces are getting replaced by terrible new ones. Please, don't normalize this.