Friday, May 26th, 2017


Rain on the Scarecrow

As the internet spread, we knew two things would happen. First, increased bandwidth and remote working would make city living less necessary, and by extension, less popular. Second, as companies and workforces expanded geographically, rural areas would experience an economic boost as they became more connected to the drivers of American wealth. Well, things didn't turn out that way. Anyone who walks the streets of NYC or has a view of the numerous residential towers rising above SF can tell you that cities are jam packed. And the boom that was headed to America's rural areas has been a total bust. "In terms of poverty, college attainment, teenage births, divorce, death rates from heart disease and cancer, reliance on federal disability insurance and male labor-force participation, rural counties now rank the worst among the four major U.S. population groupings." And economists think it's going to get worse. From the WSJ: Rural America is the New Inner City. I suppose our bad predictions shouldn't surprise us much. After all, the internet was also supposed to make us all get along better.

+ The Guardian: Why does Des Moines, Iowa have worse affordable housing than Brooklyn?


On Target, Off the Mark

"An unclassified summary of the U.S. military investigation into the March 17 incident determined that the 500-pound bomb used in the strike set off additional explosives that were placed in the building by the Islamic State, causing the collapse of the structure." From WaPo: Pentagon confirms airstrike killed more than 100 civilians in Mosul. (Two Islamic State snipers were also killed in the blast.)

+ NYT: U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS Have Killed Hundreds, Maybe Thousands of Civilians.


Weekend Whats

What to Binge: Looking for a few shows to binge over the Memorial Day weekend? Here are three picks. The third and final season of Bloodline just got released on Netflix. Also on Netflix, season two of Aziz Ansari's Master of None. This is one of the few shows that makes me laugh out loud. And the third and final season of The Leftovers is nearing its conclusion on HBO. This is one of the few shows that gets better every season.

+ What to Stream: "Due to his autism, Robert Gagno struggles with nearly every facet of life." And, at a time when many people were telling his parents to give up on him, they found an activity that changed everything for their son. From the always great Real Sports: The Pinball Wizard.

+ What to Investigate: Did the Turkish President's Security Detail Attack Protesters in Washington? The NYT takes a frame-by-frame look at the evidence.


Force of Nature

"Private Donovan, 20, grew up outside Philadelphia with five older brothers. She was the only girl on her junior high football team. When assigned to write an essay about an adult she admired, she chose her grandfather, who had served two tours in Vietnam. 'She's just always been a badass,' said her mother, Cristine Zalewski." From the NYT's Dave Phillips: For Army Infantry's 1st Women, Heavy Packs and the Weight of History.


Kush Strains

"He is arguably the president's most trusted adviser, and he is also a close member of the president's family. His list of policy responsibilities is vast -- his foreign policy portfolio alone includes Canada and Mexico, China, and peace in the Middle East -- yet he rarely speaks publicly about any of them." Jared Kushner just got one more item dropped into his expanding portfolio: He's now a focus in the Russian investigation.

+ From Politico Magazine: Meet the real Jared Kushner. (He's tougher than he looks.)

+ In more ordinary times, this might be the most shocking political lede of the year. In 2017, it probably doesn't even win the week: "Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana's lone congressional seat on Thursday despite an election eve misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly body-slamming a reporter." (I prefer to think Gianforte just got sentenced to two years in the House of Representatives.)


Proximity Effect

"If anybody is wondering how bad the opioid epidemic has become, this case is a frightening example. The staff members in charge of supervising recovering addicts succumbed to their own addiction and died of opioid overdoses. Opioids are a monster that is slowly consuming our population." Vox: They were supposed to help people suffering from addiction. Then they overdosed.


When Life Throws You a Grading Curve

"It seems that the traits that set one up for exceptional success in high school and college -- 'self-discipline, conscientiousness and the ability to comply with rules' -- are not the same traits that lead individuals to start disruptive companies or make shocking breakthroughs.'" From CNBC: This is why class valedictorians don't become millionaires. (I was never close to being a valedictorian, but I did speak at my high school graduation. And I swear, this is how I was listed in the program: Dave Pell, Student...)


Botting From Within

"If you have no idea why someone would pay $100 just to get a crack at spending another $200 on a pair of sneakers, that's OK: Supreme isn't meant for you anyway. Since its launch in 1994, the company has turned conventional consumerism on its head and formed a cultlike fandom in the process." From Wired: The Botmakers Who Rule the Obsessive World of Streetwear.


Help Not Wanted

"So much of the self-help space looks great. It looks liberated, progressive and great in yoga pants. It looks like it is doing the right thing, and sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. It needs to be examined." From the LA Times: When self-improvement is self-destruction: The 4 warning signs. (Yes, we now have self-improvement guides intended to protect you from other self-improvement guides. The offline world needs a delete button.)


Bottom of the News

"In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which -- and this is no mean feat -- would have scanned just fine in print." Things have changed, bigly. From Stat: Trump wasn't always so linguistically challenged. What could explain the change? Enjoy!

+ Here are a couple very brief, but perhaps quite informative, videos for your review. The first features the world's worst neighbor as he unplugs a kids' bouncy castle. And in the second, a pedestrian yells at driver for no reason, gets distracted, walks directly into pole. This confirms my long held belief that when you find the person yelling the loudest on the streets, you've also found the person who was in the wrong.

+ It turns out that media actually can keep a secret. From Buzzfeed: The Media's Best Kept Secret Was A Free Wall Street Journal Login, And Now It's Gone.