Friday, June 9th, 2017


A Battle Loyal

We expected counter-punches. But instead, there was silence. Americans anticipating a series of live-Tweets from the Oval Office as James Comey delivered his testimony to the Senate, were instead left waiting nearly 46 hours between Tweets -- the longest presidential Twitter drought since Inauguration Day -- for a missive that, by historical standards, was relatively subtle (all-caps deployed only once, a single exclamation point, no grammatically mysterious quotation marks, and a cool 36 characters to spare). In that Tweet, the Trump legal strategy was rolled out: Accuse Comey of lying, and attack him for leaking: "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" The president's legal team filing a complaint against Comey is Trump 101. But Comey is not their usual foe. And this is all just getting started. From Slate: James Comey Came Prepared.

+ WaPo: Were James Comey's leaks lawful? (Spoiler alert: Yeah.)

+ "It should have been more shocking than it was, but on some level, Americans were used to it." The Atlantic: James Comey's 'Shock and Awe' Testimony.

+ Paul Ryan: "The president's new at this. He's new to government, and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between [the Justice Department], FBI and White House. He's just new to this." While Trump is claiming vindication, other Republicans seem to be issuing a different defense: A Naif in the Oval Office. (Seems like a stretch: "Everyone, get out of the room. I'm about to do something I'm too naive to know is wrong.")

+ During a brief Q&A with reporters, Trump suggested that Comey lied under oath. On the claim he asked for the case against Flynn to be dropped: "I didn't say that. And there'd be nothing wrong if I did say it." He also said he would be 100% willing to testify under oath.

+ If you were the creator of a TV crime series, what would you see as the key plot points? The Wire's David Simon with an interesting take, via, what else, a tweetstorm. (My guess is this reference to The Wire is about as close as we'll get to the Trump/Comey tapes that keep being referenced.)


May Be, Maybe Not

The lesson of the last year in British politics is pretty simple. If you're in charge, don't call for an election. WaPo on Theresa May's somewhat disastrous day at the polls: "As was the case with the spectacular fall of David Cameron, her Conservative predecessor who resigned after losing the Brexit vote he had initiated, May's wound is self-inflicted."

+ Slate: What the Heck Just Happened in Britain?

+ Vox: 3 winners and 4 losers from the stunning UK election


Weekend Whats

What to Stream: I like taking my son to concerts, but big music festivals are a nightmare for us. He's too short to see (so I have to put him on my aging shoulders), and some drunk person invariably accosts him to slur how cool it is that his dad took him to the show. Our solution: We watch music festivals from our couch, which reduces (although, candidly, doesn't entirely remove) the chances of him being accosted by a drunk guy. Many festivals are live-streamed, including this weekend's Bonnaroo Festival. Join us and check it out on RedBull TV. (Schedule here.)

+ What to Book: Pankaj Mishra provides some background for those looking to make sense of the rage that dominates our political discourse, in the US and abroad. Age of Anger: A History of the Present.

+ What to Debate: From the NYT, The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century.


Search for Intelligence on Life

The Atlantic's Olga Khazan on a new book that aims to better understand the real us via our searches. "Where do people go with their most intimate worries, thoughts, and fears? Not the nearest water cooler or humblebrag app. More likely, they'll seek comfort in the relative privacy of a search box."


Melting Taught

"The recent surge, fueled in part by an influx of Syrians, has turned the school into a global melting pot, with 38 countries and more than 35 languages represented. The third most common language, after English and Spanish, spoken at Sullivan? Swahili. How Sullivan got to this point is a fascinating story of a school that not long ago was struggling for survival." Chicago Mag's Elly Fishman takes you to a school where hijabs are as common as high tops: Welcome to Refugee High.


I Heard it Through the Bovine

"One part of the project aims to increase feed efficiency -- growing cows as big as possible with as little food as possible -- and reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 30 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide." Wired on how Canada is using genetics to make cows less gassy. (I always figured gassy cows were lactose intolerant.)

+ FastCo: These food computers use AI to make 'climate recipes' for the best-tasting crops.


Ghost Buster

"As Xue would soon find out, she had unwittingly become a ghostwriter, responsible for authoring blog posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses for a slew of famous bloggers, all under their names." You know that irritating hogwash that so-called social influencers share on the Internet? It turns out they often don't even create it themselves. From Marie Claire: Your Favorite Influencers Aren't Writing Their Own Content -- These Women Are. (You can rest assured that I write all of this irritating hogwash myself!)

+ BBC: The weddings designed with Instagram in mind. (Save the divorces for Snapchat...)


Raider Joes

"At various times, he relied on a fake mustache and a wig, and once dressed in drag ... On another visit, he went for a more subtle look: a gray pinstripe suit and wire-rimmed glasses." The NYT on the end of an era when you could get Trader Joe's products in Canada. Pirate Joe's, Maverick Distributor of Trader Joe's Products, Shuts Down.


Rack ‘Em

"Unless you encase your bike in concrete and chip it out whenever you need to use it, there's no way to 100-percent guard your cycle against theft." CityLab on Portland's efforts to deploy thief-proof bike racks.


Bottom of the News

"Depression, fear, pain, anxiety -- you name it ... We are able to get into any cell and change the chemistry. We are able to get into the DNA." James Hamblin on why people are following a leader who can teach them how to be cold: The Ice Guru in Brooklyn. Wim Hof is famous for such irresistible aphorisms as: "The cortex is the enemy. That evil cortex needs to shut the f-ck up!" (Before medical marijuana, I spent many sleepless nights screaming the exact same thing...)

+ I've been trying to come up with some other cases of total and complete vindication. Feel free to reply to me on Twitter if you have any good ones.