Tuesday, May 30th, 2017


You Are Wonderful

At one point in the movie What About Bob?, Bill Murray's character walks down a crowded Manhattan street chanting to himself the words, "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful." At that moment, he represented a widespread generational idea that building up one's self-esteem was a key to success. NY Mag's Jesse Singal takes a look back at how the self-esteem craze took over America: It "changed how countless organizations were run, how an entire generation — millenials — was educated, and how that generation went on to perceive itself (quite favorably). As it turned out, the central claim underlying the trend, that there's a causal relationship between self-esteem and various positive outcomes, was almost certainly inaccurate. But that didn't matter: For millions of people, this was just too good and satisfying a story to check, and that's part of the reason the national focus on self-esteem never fully abated. Many people still believe that fostering a sense of self-esteem is just about the most important thing one can do, mental health–wise." (I've never worshipped at the altar of high self-esteem. Maybe it's my Jewish heritage where humorous self-deprecation is worn as a badge of honor. Or maybe it's just that I've spent too much time reading web comments.)


With Friends Like These…

"Europe [needs] to take our fate into our own hands." Germany's Angela Merkel reiterated her comments following President Trump's first official encounter with NATO allies. President Trump responded with a tweet in which the use of all-caps was not limited to the word NATO.

+ WaPo: Germans wonder why Trump keeps lashing out at them and not Russia or Saudi Arabia.

+ Following his extreme handshake with Trump, Emmanuel Macron confronted Vladimir Putin, to his face, on the world stage.


Bulldozer Through Blue Sky

"The battle is a daily grind, and despite the presence of drones, GPS-guided artillery and U.S. jets, the best way forward is still behind a mobile wall of steel." WaPo on the importance of an Iraqi battlefield weapon that you may not have considered. "There can be no liberation without the bulldozer."


Comm Down

In what could be the first move in a broader shake-up, White House communications director Mike Dubke has tendered his resignation after just three months on the job (of course, those three months felt like three hundred months, and that's just for those of us who have been following the news from home...).

+ From ABC News: "One of President Donald Trump's closest confidants, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, has now become a focus of the expanding congressional investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 campaign." (Cohen had a brief viral moment during the campaign with his "says who?" interview on CNN.)



"American troops descended on the embassy, and a standoff followed. For a time, American forces blasted heavy metal music (including Van Halen's Panama) to torment Mr. Noriega." Manuel Noriega played the role of friend, and ultimately foe, of the United States, before ultimately being ousted. Here's the NYT obit on Panama's infamous dictator, who died at the age of 83.

+ The Guardian: Panama's former dictator Manuel Noriega – a life in pictures.


A Portland in the Storm

"In a letter dated Monday and made public Tuesday, the mother of 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche asked Trump to 'condemn any acts of violence, which result directly from hate speech & hate groups.'" The mother of one of the "two men fatally stabbed last week on a light-rail train trying to protect young women from anti-Muslim abuse" is urging the president to speak out more on the crime.

+ NPR: After the Stabbing, Portland's mayor wants two right-wing demonstrations canceled.

+ More about the victims: "Macy said that she stayed with Namkai-Meche, who stumbled past her, blood-soaked and pale, until help arrived. She said that she told him to lie down, continued to tell him he wasn't alone, and prayed. 'Tell everyone on this train I love them,' Macy said Namkai-Meche told her, before the medics took him away on a stretcher."


Frankly Put

"He wanted to show a largely non-sports audience that sports were closer to them than they thought." From PBS Newshour: Frank Deford, who has died at 78, changed the way we see sports. His stories were really about life. Sports was a byproduct.

+ "At Princeton, coach Cappy Cappon called the bluff of Deford's basketball career. Having noticed his contributions to The Daily Princetonian, he said, 'You know, Deford, you write basketball much better than you play it.'" Remembering SI legend Frank Deford.

+ Longform: Five of our favorite articles by the longtime Sports Illustrated writer.

+ My favorite Deford pieces were on Real Sports. Among the best, was the piece he on Boomer Esiason. There's an unwritten rule that reporters shouldn't become the story. Frank DeFord proved here that there are times when that rule should be broken.


Burritoville, Portlandia

"Some immigrants might take this the wrong way coming from a white guy from the Midwest, who works at a mainstream newspaper, no less. Yet, I must confess that I have trouble accepting this all-or-nothing mission to pry white chefs' fingers from any dish not of their own culture." A controversy concerning a Portland food cart has ignited a debate over this question: Should white chefs sell burritos?

+ Full disclosure: I'm for anyone who can make a decent burrito making burritos. Which brings to mind this classic: Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito.


Let the Music Play

"We will not quit or operate in fear. We won't let this divide us. We won't let hate win … Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before." Ariana Grande -- joined by a growing cast of fellow artists -- will return to Manchester this weekend to perform a benefit concert.


Bottom of the News

"After a month at a Zen silent-meditation retreat, Heller went back to his job at Goldman Sachs as a commodities trader in oil and gas." The New Yorker's Bess Kalb: A Selection Of The 30 Most Disappointing Under 30.

+ "The president is going to try to defeat Bob Mueller and the mountain of evidence in the Russia scandal with the lawyer who lost a case to people to whom it once seemed like a good idea to attend Trump University." The latest in my series: The Pontiff and The Pontificator: Things I thought while reading the news this week.

+ LA Times: Bel-Air mega-mansion brings criminal charges against celebrity developer. But what happens to the 30,000-square-foot estate? (A quintessential LA story featuring ugly structures, reality stars, and supermodels.)

+ "I know you'd rather I be honest with you than not, so…" How adult stars broke the news to their parents.