Wednesday, May 24th, 2017


I Was Wrong

I was wrong. See, that wasn't so difficult. Of course, I'm not admitting to anything specific. I'm just assuming it's happened at some point. Even that, it turns out, is something of a breakthrough. In the NYT, Kristin Wong (who may or may not be right) provides a brief overview of why it's so hard to admit you're wrong. "Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance -- the stress we experience when we hold two contradictory thoughts, beliefs, opinions or attitudes. For example, you might believe you are a kind and fair person, so when you rudely cut someone off, you experience dissonance. To cope with it, you deny your mistake and insist the other driver should have seen you, or you had the right of way even if you didn't." (These days, you're more likely to insist you weren't even driving in the first place.)


Southern Comfort

"How does this happen? How does a dusty, working-class city in the south not only manage to house 1,500 refugees per year, but make their welcome integral to the town's sense of identity? It turns out the story of Clarkston is not just about who is being welcomed: it's also a story about who is doing the welcoming." At a time when we can use a good reminder of the possibility and power of diversity, The Guardian's Katy Long visits Clarkson, Georgia to deliver one.


Cover Me

Troops have taken to the streets in the UK where the terror threat level is listed as critical. Authorities have arrested a fifth suspect in the Manchester concert bombing, and they continue to dig into what is being described as a network behind the attack. Here are the latest updates from The Guardian.

+ "They crave the distorted infamy they hope they will get after their death; they carefully prepare manifestos they hope will be published; they record videos they hope will be played on loop on cable TV." From Zeynep Tufekci: ISIS has a strategy to create a media frenzy and news outlets are struggling to disrupt it. Related from Wired: Think before you tweet in the wake of an attack.

+ The New Yorker's Robin Wright: Does the Manchester attack show the Islamic State's strength or weakness?

+ The NYT with a piece that indicates the absolute horror at the scene and the strength of the human spirit (and maybe our need for stories like this at moments like these): They went to Manchester Arena as homeless men. They left as heroes.


The Pontiff and the Pontificator

"While Trump was campaigning for the U.S. presidency, the two men sparred in the press, exchanging veiled (and not so veiled) barbs. Before Trump arrived at the Vatican, the press hyped the drama: Would the two leaders get along, or would there be a stand-off in Vatican City? And yet, according to a vague press release from the Holy See, the two men hit it off -- at least on some subjects." From The Atlantic: Pope Francis, Trump Whisperer? (It has to be a trip when the most religious dude on the planet tries to convince you that science is real...)


Rod Complex

"You are a good man. Keep up the good work. You are doing an amazing job." Those are the kinds of compliments we're used to hearing from President Trump. What's different here is that the comments were made during a phone call with Rodrigo Duterte last month. "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that." Trump also chatted with Duterte about another topic that was on his mind, North Korea's Kim Jung-Un: "We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines -- the best in the world -- we have two nuclear submarines -- not that we want to use them at all ... I've never seen anything like they are, but we don't have to use this, but he could be crazy so we will see what happens."

+ The Atlantic: Duterte might call for nationwide martial law.


I Pre-Exist as I Am

"Until now, the FDA has approved cancer treatments based on where in the body the cancer started - for example, lung or breast cancers. We have now approved a drug based on a tumor's biomarker without regard to the tumor's original location." From Scientific American: FDA Clears First Cancer Drug Based on Genetics of Disease.

+ Genomics and big data could provide dramatic leaps forward in our ability to fight diseases such as cancer. But there's a potential obstacle. It has to do with punishing people with pre-existing conditions. DJ Patil, former Chief Data Scientist for the U.S. (and all around smart, great guy), lays it out: "At the genetic level, everyone of us has a preexisting condition. Our genes are preexisting conditions waiting to be triggered. Some good. Some bad. This is what makes us unique. It's what makes us human.
But we, as a country, can't enter the genomic revolution if there is even a remote threat of our genetic or genomic information being used against us."


The Book of Norman

"My older friends are opinionated, smart, culturally-aware, and incredibly open-minded. They share what another friend Gina Pell would say is a Perennial mindset." NY Mag is the latest outlet to consider the powerful idea behind Perennials (grouping people by what they care about rather than their age): When Your Best Friend Is Younger Than Your Daughter.

+ And GQ's Michael Paterniti on the greatest perennial of them all, Norman Lear: "So an old man -- who is so old he was born before the television itself was even invented -- walks into a studio with an old idea, rebooted to star a Cuban-American family, and does it yet again. Suddenly, he's got a legit, goddamn 2017 sitcom hit on his hands. It makes him smile that bemused smile. It makes him get up in the morning to do yoga. He's got a whole boxful of un-aired ideas and scripts in his office. He says he feels as if he's just getting started." (The other night, my eight year-old daughter asked if she could watch the new version of One Day at a Time even though it is rated PG-13. I said, "Of course, that's Norman's show." Besides, she's a perennial too...)


Hannity Foot Mouth Disease

"Rich, a 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee, had been gunned down in Washington, DC, in July, seemingly the victim of a violent crime. Earlier that day, however, a local Fox TV station had reported -- in a claim that would quickly be debunked -- that Rich had ties to WikiLeaks, and that his death was, rather than the tragic result of random violence, instead evidence of a deeper conspiracy." The story was fake. But it continued to be told, loudly, by Fox News (especially Sean Hannity). Fox News ultimately issued a brief retraction, but as Megan Garber explains: It's Too Late for Fox to Retract Its Seth Rich Story. (It's time for Fox to retract Sean Hannity.)

+ WaPo: The Seth Rich lie, and how the corrosion of reality should worry every American. (This is not about journalistic biases, or getting views on a story from both sides of the aisle. It's about giving credence to outright lies.)

+ And then there's the bias of font size.


Moore’s Law

"The Connery consensus seemed like part of a larger baby boomer conspiracy to bully people my age into believing that everything we were too young to have experienced firsthand was cooler than what was right in front of our eyes. We have been struggling against that ever since, which is why we invented so much of the cool stuff that everyone takes for granted now." The NYT's A.O. Scott on why Roger Moore was the best Bond.


Bottom of the News

"Of the more than 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, just 0.2% of them said they needed emergency medical treatment – a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine." A study finds that mushrooms are the safest recreational drug. And Esquire asks: Are Shrooms the New Weed? (If they are, my Medium posts are about to get a lot weirder...)

+ Quartz: Warby Parker's new app checks your vision and writes prescriptions without a trip to the doctor. (Please, please come out with an app like this for colonoscopies...)

+ The NFL is loosening up when it comes to end zone celebrations. The league "will still penalize any celebration deemed offensive or in bad taste, including those that embarrass opponents or mimic the use of weapons." (Yeah, because we wouldn't want anyone to associate pro football with violence.)

+ Spread the word about NextDraft.