Tuesday, June 13th, 2017


Think Outside of the Post Office Box

Let's take a moment to focus on one of world's foremost hotbeds of innovation: The Post Office. No really. "When Americans think about the most innovative agency in the government, they think about the Pentagon or NASA. But throughout much of its history, that title could just as easily have fallen to the Post Office, which was a hotbed of new, interesting, sometimes crazy ideas as it sought to accomplish a seemingly simple task: deliver mail quickly and cheaply." There were some ideas that worked, liked the underground pneumatic tube system that could shoot mail as fast as 30mph. And there were some ideas that were thankfully abandoned, such as the plan to deliver mail long distances via missile. There's still something magical about getting a real letter. But the magic that once defined that delivery has been, well, lost in the mail. From Politico's Kevin Kosar: The lost genius of the Post Office.


The Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an exchange the was predictably politicized and at times heated. Sessions opened by saying, "The suggestion that I participated in any collusion … is an appalling and detestable lie." Like other administration officials before him, Sessions stopped short of describing his conversations with Donald Trump, and refused to say whether he spoke to President Trump about Comey's handling of Russia investigation. "I am not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the president on this subject or others."

+ Throughout Monday evening, there was much debate over whether or not Trump was actually considering the idea of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During his testimony on Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said only he has the power to fire special counsel on Russia. My take: The point is not to actually fire Mueller, but to float the idea in order to make him, in our minds, that guy who almost got fired.

+ And your regular reminder of what the Russian hacking story is really about: Russian hacking. From Bloomberg: Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known. "In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states."


Getting Warmbier

University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier has been released from North Korea and is on his way back to the US. His parents have reportedly been informed that their son slipped into a coma after an illness and has remained in one ever since (more than year). Warmbier was originally arrested for stealing a banner from a hotel.

+ In April, Time published an interesting look back at the arrest of Otto Warmbier.

+ And, for some reason, Dennis Rodman is back in NK.


Tex Mess

"An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel's most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his ​brother Omar." For the DEA, this looked like an important break in their case against top drug cartel leaders. Instead, it triggered a long and deadly assault on a Mexican town near the Texas border. From ProPublica: How the US triggered a massacre In Mexico. This story provides a good reminder that the drug-related violence in Mexico is not isolated. It's part of an ecosystem of horrors that includes, and is often driven by, actions in the US.

+ Men's Journal: Confessions of a Cartel Hit Man.


No Prescription Necessary

"Their deadly efficiency also makes them ideal for sale online. Unlike heroin and prescription painkillers, which are relatively bulky, enough fentanyl to get nearly 50,000 people high can fit in a standard first-class envelope." As the NYT reports, that is one of the several reasons why opioid dealers have embraced the dark web.

+ "The police in Arlington, Mass., intervene with vulnerable users. Officials in Everett, Wash., have sued a pharmaceutical firm that they say created a black market for addicts. Seattle's officers give low-level drug and prostitution suspects a choice: treatment instead of arrest and jail." Also from the NYT: When Opioid Addicts Find an Ally in Blue. One of the interesting aspects to note is the different way the opiate disaster (a more white/rural problem) is being treated by law enforcement, as opposed to the way police and prosecutors dealt with the (more urban/black) crack epidemic. For some excellent background on this topic, don't miss the documentary: 13th.

+ WaPo: Jeff Sessions personally asked Congress to let him prosecute medical marijuana providers.


Kevin Sent

To understand the Warriors completion of a 16-1 playoff run and their second NBA championship in three years, you need to go back to their collapse in last year's finals. Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins does a great job taking you back to that moment, and explaining how it led to Kevin Durant powering the Warriors to a championship season. This is the story of the text that started the Warriors' dynasty. "And so, at that locker, in that uniform, less than an hour after the most excruciating loss of his life, Green punched up Kevin Durant's number. 'See what we're missing,' Green says, recounting the text message he sent Durant. 'We need you. Make it happen.' Green had been courting Durant for months, but this was his strongest pitch yet, delivered at the most dramatic juncture. 'Right after you lose Game 7.'"

+ FiveThirtyEight: How the Warriors duped the NBA. (The Finals was a hard fought display of grit, and tempers often flared. But in the end, LeBron and the Cavs hugged the Warriors and showed great sportsmanship. That's why I let my kids watch NBA but not C-Span.)


Stay Hungry My Friends

"It's not yet clear whether that's because abstaining from food prompts cellular changes that promote longevity, as some scientists believe -- or because it simply puts a brake on the abundant and ceaseless stream of calories we consume to the detriment of our health. Either way, it can be a powerful force." From Stat: He wants to sell you a $300 fasting diet to prolong your life. It might not be as crazy as it sounds. (If only we could come up with a way to fast for free...)

+ Bloomberg: Would You Pay $48 a Pound for Leafy Greens? (For that money, you want more bud than leaf...)

+ BBC: How do you get more people to eat their greens? Give vegetables seductive names.


Uber, Oil and Filter

"But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve." In a much-anticipated move, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence.

+ You can read Eric Holder's report on Uber's workplace culture.


Bowl Cut

"I think it's just one of those things where people say, 'Oh, cats are just finicky eaters,' and everyone thinks it's a joke. After reading some articles about this, I was like, maybe this isn't a joke after all." For all these years you've been blaming your cat for being a finicky eater. But now, the NYT rips apart that stereotype and shows that it's the outcome of false innuendo based on illegal leaks. Your kitty has whisker fatigue.


Bottom of the News

"I had a prospective post-doctoral student who was looking for something to do, and she was interested in studying genitalia. I said to myself: Well, I have never worked on that end of the bird before. As a result, we studied duck sex intensively for six, seven years." And this is what they found: What Duck Sex Reveals about Human Nature.

+ McSweeney's: Steps I take to counteract gentrification while living in a luxury building in Brooklyn.

+ "The suit was a full-body suit that completely covered my eyes, and then I had goggles over my eyes. So I couldn't see. I realized I would have to cut a hole where the eyes were." And he hasn't lost a race since. From ESPN: Freeze frame: Catching up with the Braves' viral sensation.

+ This baker makes Internet trolls eat their words. (Sadly, the words turn out to be pretty tasty.)