Wednesday, April 26th, 2017


The Style High Club

Engineers aren't necessarily known for their sense of style. Yet, their algorithms could soon be telling you how to dress. The latest iteration of Amazon's Alexa has a built-in camera and will happily assess the outfit you've chosen for the day (and there's obviously nothing to worry about when it comes to putting a webcam in your dressing room). From Quartz: "If a computer tells you with 64% certainty that what you're wearing isn't your best, would you change? Would you maybe even buy new clothes?" Ironically, it doesn't matter how you dress because you really haven't left the house since Amazon launched.

+ We'll have to see what Alexa thinks of these two new jeans: One pair that is clear, and one that comes pre-muddied.

+ "Political photos, even if they are far from naturalistic, must at least approximate war. That imperative challenges a basic rule of political optics: Don't play dress-up." Racked on a rare (yet somehow prominent) fashion conundrum: The Political Impossibility of What to Wear With Your Flak Jacket.


That Voodoo That You Do So Well

Big changes are proposed in what the Trump administation is calling one of the biggest tax cuts in history. Bloomberg has some of the details: White House Unveils Trump's Opening Tax-Cut Bid.

+ "A white cloth napkin, now displayed in the National Museum of American History, helped change the course of modern economics. On it, the economist Arthur Laffer in 1974 sketched a curve meant to illustrate his theory that cutting taxes would spur enough economic growth to generate new tax revenue." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that the newly announced Trump "tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth." From The Boston Globe: An economic theory from the ‘70s comes to life once again.

+ WaPo: Trump's tax proposal: What it means for the rich, for the world and for you.


Bullet the Blue Sky

"The woman goes home, and for everyone else in the city, it's as though the shooting never happened. It changes no policy. It motivates no law. In a perverse way, the more efficiently Goldberg does her job inside the hospital, the more invisible gun violence becomes everywhere else." In Highline, Jason Fagone spends time with ER surgeons and wonders how gun laws might change if we saw what they saw. (We could ask similar questions about war and other topics.) What Bullets Do To Bodies.


You’ve Been Monk’d

"The monk pulled back his saffron robes to reveal his Smith & Wesson handgun." Michael Jerryson in Aeon: Monks with guns: "Westerners think that Buddhism is about peace and non-violence. So how come Buddhist monks are in arms against Islam?"


The Hundred Daze

"The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the president, so the order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds." A US judged has blocked Trump's order threatening funds for 'sanctuary' cities. In addition to a series of (slightly erroneous) angry tweets, the response from the White House was pretty extreme, even by today's standards: "San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands."

+ The New Yorker: How Trump Gave Up On His Border Wall.

+ "Traveling with Mattis last week in the Middle East, I had a chance to watch the delicate balancing act between a media-obsessed White House and a national-security leadership that mostly would be happy to stay out of the news." David Ignatius on Mattis and Trump: The odd couple that works.

+ The Guardian: Donald Trump's first 100 days in office in four minutes. The news cycle has been so relentless that I doubt one could cover the first hundred days of the Trump presidency in two hundred days.


Pope, Mobile

"Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: 'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.' You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don't connect your power with humility and tenderness." The Pope just gave a TED talk. (And, in an unexpected twist, god did not cast the earth into nevermore.)

+ That's a pretty big get for the TED folks. But UC Berkeley pulled off an even bigger coup. I'll be speaking at BAMPFA next Monday night (on Trump and the Media, what else?). Come by if you're in the neighborhood. It's appropriately priced (free). Berkeley has had its share of controversial speeches lately. Mine will basically be like Ann Coulter's (except the humor will be intentional).


Tube Job

"Every creative industry is engaged in a civil war. The creatives -- whether writers, painters or musicians -- want to play with new forms of expression; the capitalists prefer to go with what worked last time. But sometimes the two sides come together, on equal terms, in gloriously fertile equilibrium. We call these periods golden ages." FT: Watch it while it lasts: our golden age of television.

+ Times are decidedly un-golden at ESPN where 100 on-air personalities and writers have been laid off. Deadspin has a running list.


Hate Group Therapy

"The common goal, as these alliances see it, is protecting the white race at a time when the Census Bureau projects whites will be a minority within three decades." AP on the unlikely coming together of several white supremacy groups. (This isn't exactly what we had in mind when we called for more unity.)


Sax Offenders

"There's no song in the Top 40 right now with a saxophone solo. There's hardly a defined saxophone part on any of those songs at all, which is incredible because for most of American popular music's history, the saxophone was the backbone of making a song a hit." The Outline: Where Did All The Saxophones Go?

+ Billboard: The 100 Greatest Choruses of the 21st Century. (We're running out of lists...)


Bottom of the News

How close is too close? WaPo on a new study that examines how much personal space people like in different parts of the world. (I don't even feel comfortable when we're sharing the same WiFi...)

+ "He had that exam three hours before he left me to go to Heathrow. He then got to Heathrow, apparently, and he was fine. In Chicago he had to board to go to another flight -- and that's when I believe they found him dead." So, a beloved giant rabbit gets on a United flight...

+ To any members of my little league team who complained to their parents about the F-bombs during my postgame speech last weekend ... this is how you slide into home.