Wednesday, May 17th, 2017


Finding Memo

For those who didn't get the memo, the Trump administration is in turmoil following report about James Comey's meeting notes in which the former FBI Director indicated that the president urged him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

+ "As a politician, Trump has had little reason to discover the qualities of modesty, scrupulousness, or seriousness. Throughout the primary and Presidential campaigns, he succeeded in no small measure because of his defiance of convention. Emboldened by his astonishing early exposure on cable television and his first wins in the primaries, he came to see himself as invulnerable." From The New Yorker: Is The Comey Memo The Beginning Of The End For Trump?

+ NYT: At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls.

+ Reminder that the Comey memo news broke while people were still wrapping their heads around the Oval Office intelligence bean spilling. From NBC News: Trump gave Russians secrets news orgs are being asked to withhold. (I know, it's a lot to keep up with. You better take notes...)


Confirmation of Bias

In a graduation address at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump addressed the scandals with a familiar refrain: "Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can't let them get you down. You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams."

+ Paul Ryan said he would follow the facts, but added, "It is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president."

+ Even after the performance of the last week; the avoidable gaffes, self-inflicted wounds, bad decisions, poor judgment, and utter incompetence, there are still some who argue that there is a vast bias against Donald Trump. Well I've got news for them. They're right. From me: Take a moment to understand The Relentless Bias Against Donald Trump.

+ WaPo: I wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.

+ Charlie Warzel: How the pro-Trump media responds to a crisis in just 4 steps.


Blue Hauls

Over the past few years, the NSA got a ton of intelligence by using a hacking tool called EternalBlue. While it was valuable to them, it could of course be dangerous if it ever got into the wrong hands. So this was the deal. The NSA either had to get rid of the powerful code, or make absolutely sure it never got out into the wild. "But for more than five years, the NSA kept using it -- through a time period that has seen several serious security breaches -- and now the officials' worst fears have been realized." From WaPo: NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose. Then it did.


The Pills That Kill

"Portsmouth, Ohio, once known for making things (steel, shoes, bricks), is now known for drugs, and labeled by some as the "pill mill of America". The city peaked at 40,000 people in 1940, and as it emptied of factories and jobs – some made obsolete, some moved away – it also emptied of people and hope. Now it is a town half the size, filled with despair and filling with drugs." The Guardian's Chris Arnade spends a few days in 'The pill mill of America': where drugs mean there are no good choices, only less awful ones. (That equation works in reverse as well: A place where there are no good choices often means people turn to drugs.)


Boss Hog

"Lawmakers in much of the country allocate little, if any, resources to fighting wage theft, yet the cost of wage theft is at least comparable to–and likely much higher than–the cost of property crime." A few withheld tips here and a little failure to pay overtime there, and before you know it, companies steal $15 billion from their employees every year.


Wag the Dog

"I'm doing this so that one seat in the City Council will be for the animals. They live with us, we love them, they have rights too." Payam Mohebi is a veterinarian running for city council in Tehran. One of his goals is to provide relief for people who want to take their dogs for a walk ("But in Iran, where the ruling clerics consider dogs impure, taking one for a walk risks the arrest of the owner and the seizure, and possible extermination, of the animal.") From the NYT: Risking 60 Lashes, Iranian Runs for Office So He Can Walk a Dog.

+ You're lucky enough to be able to walk your dog. But should you jog with him? (If my dogs saw me jog, they'd assume there was a fire or some other danger nearby.)


Robert Plant

"Pseudoscientific claims that music helps plants grow have been made for decades, despite evidence that is shaky at best." While we're not sure if plants can hear music (or which genre they prefer), some researchers think that plants do respond to certain sounds, such as "the gurgle of water through a pipe or the buzzing of insects." As an experiment, I'm going to shake a bottle of salad dressing next to my vegetable garden.


Working Together

"One day, the miracles won't be miracles at all. they'll just be what happens." Popular Mechanics visited several elite cancer research centers around the country to find out where we are in the war.


Can We Talk About Something Else?

"He is weathering the most tumultuous period in his tenure there -- a predicament for which he has himself to thank, and one that raises the question of whether the multitalented but apolitical Mr. Fallon can ride out the current era of politicized, choose-your-side entertainment, when he just wants to have a good time." Trump changes everything. And that includes late night TV. Can a comic who wants to change the subject succeed in this news environment? Dave Itzkoff in the NYT: Jimmy Fallon Was on Top of the World. Then Came Trump.

+ NPR: Can You Copyright Your Dumb Joke?


Bottom of the News

The New Yorker: "Thanks for choosing to stay at my place this weekend! I hope you have a lovely time here. Below are some guidelines for your visit -- if you need anything at all, don't hesitate to ask! Please make yourselves at home and have sex."

+ "Everyone is also empowered to skip a disliked song by using the app that controls the office's Sonos speaker system. The rule -- 'Claim your song skipping,' meaning the person who vetoes a song should publicly acknowledge doing so." How Sonos in the workplace is giving people something to fight over besides the temperature in the office.

+ Slate: The startup that wants to sell you a subscription to NYC tap water explains itself.

+ A guy from Austin is suing his date for texting during a movie. If he wins the suit, that will certainly be this story's only happy ending.