Friday, May 19th, 2017


The Next Big Thing

As activities like yoga and meditation gain popularity -- partially as a reaction to our aggressive love affair with our connected devices -- we're constantly being reminded to live in the moment. But is that really what we're designed to do? In the NYT Sunday Review, Martin E. P. Seligman and John Tierney explain that what separates us from other animals is that we contemplate the future. Ultimately, the next big thing is whatever's next. "Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it's also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we're evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation. Other animals have springtime rituals for educating the young, but only we subject them to 'commencement' speeches grandly informing them that today is the first day of the rest of their lives." In other words, We Aren't Built to Live in the Moment. Of course, the obvious problem is that if you look too far into the future, you see how your story ends. So let's leave it at this: Have a good weekend.


Riyadh Man Out

Look, I think it's safe to say we all needed a little break. After a week of the relentless pounding of Trump-related news, the president and his top advisors have taken off on a nine day trip. The first stop is in Saudi Arabia, "which is designed to solidify what the administration envisions as its premier partnership in the Arab and Muslim world, effectively anointing the kingdom as Islam's political as well as religious leader."

+ OK, that's it. Break over. Back home, Americans are getting more insights about Trump's firing of James Comey: The NYT reports on this outtake from Trump's meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office: "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." (I'm getting the feeling the president might have an impulse control issue.)

+ Comey has his own take on the relationship: From WaPo Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump. From the NYT: Comey, unsettled by Trump, is said to have wanted him kept at a distance. And from Lawfare: What James Comey told me about Donald Trump.

+ Politico Magazine: What Donald Trump needs to know about Bob Mueller and Jim Comey. (Very interesting backgrounder...)

+ As always, it's important to remember that not everyone is consuming the same version of the news. From Vox: We tracked the Trump scandals on right-wing news sites. Here's how they covered it. From The Ringer: Sean Hannity and the End of Obviousness. And from The Guardian: Trump diehards dismiss Russia scandal: "Let the guy do his thing, then judge him. The Democrats wanted him out three months ago, so what's the difference? It's just bullshit."


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: I've been waiting all week to share this documentary with you. Trust me, if you really want to understand how we got here and what the hell has been going on in DC, then stop everything and watch Get Me Roger Stone. You think you don't want to spend any more time on politics, but you won't be able to turn this off. And that's part of the point.

+ What to Watch: These are the girls running as fast as they can to be Jamaica's new sprint champions in a country obsessed with its athletes. From The Guardian: The Sprinter Factory.

+ What to Read: "Privately, some employees expressed optimism, conceding that Etsy's budgets had indeed been rather generous, but publicly the mood among the staff was funereal. 'I'm not crying,' wrote Katherine Daniels, a senior engineer. 'I'm just allergic to capitalism." Bloomberg with an interesting and entertaining look at the intersection of a B Corp, Brooklyn, and the Bottom line: The Barbarians Are at Etsy's Hand-Hewn, Responsibly Sourced Gates.


Updating the Julian Calendar

"Today is an important victory for me and the UN human rights system, but by no means erases seven years of detention without charge... while my children grew up. That is not something I can forgive or forget." That was Julian Assange on the decision by Swedish authorities to drop its rape investigation. Does that mean Assange can finally leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London? Not exactly. He still faces other charges, and the rape investigation can be reopened. Here's a quick Q&A on what happens next.


Turkish Wrath

The US visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was largely overshadowed by the appointment of a special counsel in the Trump/Russia investigation. But one incident is still making news. Eleven people were injured during a protest outside the Turkish ambassador's residence. A video surfaced that makes it look like Erdogan's people were involved, which led to this from John McCain: "We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America ... This kind of thing cannot go un-responded to diplomatically."

+ WaPo: Was Erdogan personally involved in his bodyguards' attacks on protesters in DC?


Danger Management

"I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly." Anthony Weiner has suffered his share of public humiliations, but today likely marked a new low as he plead guilty in his sexting case. He could face a couple years in prison.


Trail Blazers

The first mountain bike was built to ride on Mount Tamalpais in my hometown in Marin County. You've got to cover a lot of trail to get from our land of peacock feathers and hot tubs to the challenges facing hallowed out mining communities in small towns. But apparently, the trek has been made. From Outside: "Fifteen new businesses have opened in Crosby since 2011, and the only thing that's changed, Hautala says, is the singletrack that now winds through the woods outside town ... Crosby is not alone. All across the county, single-resource towns are building trails where they once harvested timber or mined ore to attract a new source of revenue -- mountain bikers."


Live Pre or Die

During the health care debate, we've been hearing a lot about the issue of pre-existing conditions. That's a critical point of contention now. But it will be even more of one in the future. Why? Slate explains: Thanks to Genetic Testing, Everyone Could Soon Have a Pre-Existing Condition.


Skull Bucks

"I remember astounding the art world back in 1980s when I set an auction record for Basquiat at $99,000." Well, there's been some inflation since then. "Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting of a skull sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby's in New York, setting an auction record for American artists and providing a windfall for the daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984."


Bottom of the News

"It was immediately clear that these would be the most productive moments I've had in years." The fail whale made an unexpected appearance for a few minutes the other night, which led me to record Ten Things That Occurred to Me When Someone Turned the Twitter Off

+ The Awl: Every Color Of Cardigan Mister Rogers Wore From 1979–2001.

+ On Wednesday, a 105-year-old woman fulfilled her dream of becoming a high school graduate. (Sure, it's a feel good story ... for now. She's gonna be hugely disappointed when she checks out the job market.)