Friday, March 31st, 2017


You Flynnched

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit." In a statement delivered by his attorney, Mike Flynn has offered to unnest the various layers of his Matryoshka doll, but only if he's given immunity first. Regardless of what Flynn himself has said in the past, requesting immunity is not necessarily an indicator that one has committed a crime. But it is one hell of an interesting twist for a guy who rose to public prominence with chants of "lock her up" and who, just a few weeks ago, was America's national security adviser. From the NYT: Michael Flynn Offers to Testify Before Congress in Exchange for Immunity. (Congress has already rejected the offer because the request is premature.)

+ The New Yorker: Could Michael Flynn Turn On Trump?

+ Alex Whiting: Flynn's public offer to testify for immunity suggests he may have nothing to say. (If nothing else, this administration has provided numerous teachable moments. In the past two weeks, my kids have learned about health care, how a bill becomes a law, what immunity means, and the proper usage of quotation marks. The only bad part is that my 8 year-old daughter has started issuing executive orders.)

+ WaPo: Here's what we know so far about Team Trump's ties to Russian interests.

+ And finally, the president has responded to the Flynn news on Twitter: "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" (Before this is over, Trump might have to ask for immunity from his tweets.)


Actually, This Is Your Father’s Oldsmobile

"The millennial category lumps together everybody from age 17 to 34, a group varied by race, ethnicity, religion, income, education and life experience. Don't think for a second they are united. As a set of reports released Friday by the Council on Contemporary Families reveals, fewer of the youngest millennials, those aged 18 to 25, support egalitarian family arrangements than did the same age group 20 years earlier." From the NYT: Do Millennial Men Want Stay-at-Home Wives?


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: In the three part series Five Came Back on Netflix, contemporary directors tell the story of five legendary Hollywood filmmakers who enlisted in the armed forces to document World War II. It's worth it just for the contrast between the old news cycle and the current one. (As a test, see if you can watch an entire episode without once checking your phone for new Trump news.)

+ What to Consider: American Crime has long been proof that network TV can still serve up innovative and high quality shows. All of its seasons are worth watching. And season three is quite timely, with a look at illegal immigration and human trafficking. The acting is superb (each season, the actors take on different roles in completely new stories).

+ What to Read: Related to the above, from NPR: In U.S. Restaurants, Bars And Food Trucks, Modern Slavery Persists.

+ What to Hear: On the Axe Files podcast, Michael Froman, the former U.S. Trade Representative, talks with David Axelrod about why technology -- and not free trade -- poses the biggest threat to middle class jobs and wages in America. (Yes, this link is an example of editorial bias. But not because Froman worked for Obama. It's biased because he's a family friend and is one of the top two smartest kids to grow up in my neighborhood.)


The Writing (and Arithmetic) on the Wall

"In the past ten years, the flow of undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. has slowed dramatically. And because many undocumented immigrants are either deported or move home every year, the total number living in the United States is currently falling at rate of about a hundred and sixty thousand a year. Consequently, the competitive pressure being placed on the wages of low-skilled American workers, who do similar jobs to low-skilled immigrant workers, is declining, the paper says. Indeed, many industries that employ a lot of low-skilled immigrant workers—such as agriculture, construction, and food services—are facing a potential shortage of labor." From The New Yorker: The Facts About Immigration.

+ "Between 1996 and 2015, the number of working-age adults receiving disability climbed from 7.7 million to 13 million. The federal government this year will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments, more than the combined total for food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and unemployment assistance." WaPo on rural America's turn to disability: Disabled, or just desperate?

+ There's been a lot of talk about the coal industry in the past weeks and months. It turns out that the industry has gotten pretty small. It currently employs about 76,000 people (or about as many as the bowling industry).

+ Neiman Lab: From coal to broadband to Trump's budget, The Daily Yonder reports on rural life for the people actually living it.


You’re Always a Day Away

"Every act of future making is an act of future taking. While creating a high fidelity image of the future may broaden people's imagination for what's possible, it can also really narrow their perception of what's possible or what their options are." The Verge with a glimpse inside the big business of imagining the future.

+ We know that the near future will include an ever-growing role for Alexa, Siri, and other virtual assistants. From Aaron Paul Calvin: Can Amazon's Alexa Be Your Friend?


Your Eggs are Done

"In the next decade, will public discourse online become more or less shaped by bad actors, harassment, trolls, and an overall tone of griping, distrust, and disgust?" That was the question Pew put to 1,537 tech experts, academics, and government leaders. The short answer: The internet is a swamp and the trolls have won.

+ "An icon that came to represent Twitter's dark side is giving way to one designed not to turn anyone off, without looking like something you'd want to stick with." FastCo takes you inside Twitter's obsessive quest to ditch the egg. (Call me a skeptic, but I'm guessing this move won't do the trick...)

+ "White nationalist and supremacist groups have become an increasingly visible presence on college campuses, using fliers, posters, and e-mails in an effort to recruit new blood." From the Boston Globe: White nationalists are now recruiting at college campuses.


Powder Keg

"It has to be safe. It's put on babies. It's been around forever. Why haven't we heard about any ill effects?" More than a thousand women are suing Johnson and Johnson for covering up a cancer risk. From Bloomberg: Johnson & Johnson Has a Baby Powder Problem.


Eye Caramba

From an outsider's perspective, Rex Tillerson is not your typical Secretary of State. For many insiders, he's even less typical. WaPo on Tillerson's first weeks, during which he's been isolated from an anxious bureaucracy (and the media). "Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly -- or even make eye contact." (This guy is like Prince without the hits.)


Ending the Juice Diet

"The danger of trainwreck shows is that you've got to watch out for the train because it will run you over." From The Hollywood Reporter: Could O.J. Simpson Go From Inmate to Reality TV Star?


Bottom of the News

"Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it's actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet." Relax, people who talk to pets, plants, and cars are actually totally normal. (It's the people who talk to cable news panels that you have to worry about...)

+ A possible contender for best internet video ever (or certainly, best of the day).