March 29th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Going Viral to Stop the Virus.

As DC debates health care, one thing remains consistent. For many Americans, getting sick is an expensive proposition. Dealing with serious illnesses can end up costing more than individuals and their families can afford. For these patients, social media has offered a new prescription: Go viral. “For a steadily increasing number of Americans, including millions who now regularly use sites like YouCaring and GoFundMe, raising billions of dollars in charitable giving, health care has in fact become about competition … even under the Affordable Care Act, it’s become a competition for individuals, like so much else in our modern lives, in the marketplace of virality.” Luke O’Neil in Esquire: Go Viral Or Die Trying: It’s not enough to be sick — are you also interesting?

+ The Atlantic: Turning to Baby Registries to Subsidize Parental Leave.


Rx Marks the Spot

“We have an obligation to everyone devastated by this epidemic to find answers. All of this didn’t happen overnight. It happened one prescription and marketing program at a time.” Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri wants answers from the companies pushing the products at the heart of the opioid crisis. For now, she’s demanding that they hand over “internal information including marketing plans, sales records and contributions to third-party advocacy groups.”

+ NYMag: Chris Christie has been tapped by Trump to lead the White House Opioid Commission. (In NJ, Christie passed one of the most aggressive laws to combat the opioid epidemic.)

+ Vox: How the opioid epidemic became America’s worst drug crisis ever, in 15 maps and charts.


Do I Make You Thorny, Baby?

Britain’s Brexit-vote fueled split with the EU is officially underway. “In one of the most significant steps by a British leader since World War Two, May notified EU Council President Donald Tusk in a hand-delivered letter that Britain would quit the club it joined in 1973.” (Nice that they still use hand-delivered letters. In America, we handle such matters with Tweets.) The breaking up process is expected to be completed within two years.

+ ” I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.” Here’s the full text of Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter. (And here’s the short version: Sorry, she’s just not that into EU.)

+ Bloomberg: These are the numbers behind the thorniest issues for Brexit negotiators.


Nyet King Coal

“Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back.” — Bruce Springsteen, My Hometown. “At least six plants that relied on coal have closed or announced they will close since Trump’s victory in November … Another 40 are projected to close during the president’s four-year term.” President Trump’s roll back on coal and other environmental regulations is supposed to be all about job creation. But regulations aren’t really killing coal jobs. It’s natural gas.

+ The New Yorker: The Myth Of The Coal Revival.

+ Bloomberg: Remember when Trump said he saved 1,100 jobs at a Carrier Plant?
Well, globalization doesn’t give a damn. (Deep dive into the factors that lead to job losses in some industries.)

+ American workers are justifiably sweating the rise machine-driven automation. But developing countries face an even higher level of risk. “The question is, assuming that this trend toward the networked automation of factories continues — and there is little evidence to suggest that it won’t — what happens next?”

+ “Working in the fast-food industry can be hard work for little pay, and now employees have to worry about their job security as well.” Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed says robots will take over fast food jobs in next 10 years.

+ Higher paying jobs are facing threats as well. From the NYT: At BlackRock, Machines Are Rising Over Managers to Pick Stocks.


Get On the Bus, Gus

“The findings from this new area of study are striking and help explain why incomes have risen so much for some and not at all for others. They also explain why so many executives, managers, and other well-paid workers have failed to notice the growing disparity.” The story of income inequality is largely focused on the one percent vs everyone else. But that’s only part of the story. There’s a new inequality emerging between corporations. In the Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Bloom provides an interesting look at corporations in the age of inequality (and what the Google bus protests were really all about…).


The Second Lady

“In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.” From WaPo: Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield.


Following the Laugh Track

“From everything I’ve seen in my own career and everything I’ve heard from talking to people who have been doing this for 40, 50 years, this is without a doubt the greatest time in the history of the world for stand-up comedy.” The Ringer explains how Netflix has officially taken over the stand-up comedy market. (Netflix won’t truly own the comedy business until it buys the rights to Sean Spicer’s daily White House press briefings.)

+ “While Hollywood once viewed Netflix as a nice, small friend that could help to extend the life of some of their content, they’re now scared shitless of it.” M.G. Siegler on the Squid and the Whale. (Ironically, that movie is not available for streaming on Netflix…)


These Pipes Are Clean

“Congress sent proposed legislation to President Trump on Tuesday that wipes away landmark online privacy protections, the first salvo in what is likely to become a significant reworking of the rules governing Internet access in an era of Republican dominance.” From WaPo: The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections.

+ Vox: “The good news is that nothing is going to change right away. The Obama regulations weren’t scheduled to take effect until later this year, so the Republican bill simply preserves the status quo, which allows ISPs to sell customer data to advertisers.” (I hope my broadband provider knows I only visit p*rnhub for the articles.)



Bloomberg on the New Jersey theme park where kids’ backhoe dreams come true. “On the weekend, Dad used to go to the construction sites, and we used to tag along … It was something interesting to do; we knew we could tinker around. Legos were just not enough for us.” (When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to construction sites. But I kept trying to come up with catchy puns. So he stopped taking me.)


Bottom of the News

“Those complaints grew louder during last summer’s Rio Olympics, when American viewers were routinely forced into a bifurcated existence, with events playing out in one timeline on social media and in another on NBC’s TV networks.” At long last, NBC will broadcast the Olympics live to everyone. (Good. I was getting tired of setting my VCR.)

+ Quartz: The hidden benefit of Twitter’s hate-speech controls: avoiding TV spoilers.

+ Good news. Those skinny jeans probably aren’t going to kill you (though they might keep you off of a United flight…).

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