July 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The very concrete reason why you should be focused on the Roman Empire. Plus, North Korea ups the stakes.

The influx of barbarians, a corrupted government, poor defenses, a decaying city, overpopulation… Historians have suggested many forces that led to the fall of the Roman Empire, but today, let’s start with a part of the empire that didn’t fall (and still hasn’t). Ancient Romans made what is considered the world’s strongest concrete. “The harbor concrete, a mixture of volcanic ash and quicklime, has withstood the sea for two millennia and counting. What’s more, it is stronger than when it was first mixed.” Concrete that can not only withstand seawater, but that actually becomes stronger as it soaks in it, sounds like a product that could be pretty useful in the relatively near future. From WaPo: Ancient Romans made world’s ‘most durable’ concrete. We might use it to stop rising seas.


Kobach Off

Since the earliest days of his administration, President Trump has insisted that there was massive voter fraud in the 2016 election. Last week, his commission on election integrity contacted all 50 states and (in what sounds like a hacker’s dream scenario) requested voter data such as “names, addresses, party affiliation, electoral participation history, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.” State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle responded with a firm no. So far, at least 44 states have refused to turn over the data.

+ Even the key member of the commission that requested the data isn’t planning to comply with the request — which made for an interesting headline from the Kansas City Star: Kobach: Kansas won’t give Social Security info to Kobach-led voter commission at this time.


(North) K-Pop

“The missile … flew higher and remained in the air longer than previous attempts, enough to reach all of Alaska, experts said. They called it a major milestone for North Korea’s weapons program.” North Korea’s latest missile test raises the stakes in an already tense standoff between Kim Jung Un and the Trump administration.

+ “We’re facing what could ultimately be the threat of a generation. And Donald Trump is our president.” My take: We Need a President. Please Retweet.

+ David Sanger in the NYT: What Can Trump Do About North Korea? His Options Are Few and Risky.

+ Motoko Rich in the NYT: “Over the years, as it does for potential crises around the world, the Pentagon has drafted and refined multiple war plans, including an enormous retaliatory invasion and limited pre-emptive attacks, and it holds annual military exercises with South Korean forces based on them. But the military options are more grim than ever.”

+ Mark Bowden: What Did North Korea’s Missile Test Really Change? “When potential death tolls are unthinkably high, it’s like multiplying infinity.”


Fuse Lit

“At least 101 people were shot between Friday afternoon and early Wednesday, nearly half of them over 12 hours as the long holiday drew to a close. Fifteen of the wounded died.” Chicago officials always worry about spikes in violence over holiday weekends. Sadly, this year’s Fourth of July weekend lived up to its grim billing.

+ An NYPD officer was fatally shot while sitting inside police vehicle in the Bronx.


Expanding the Sun Roof

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car.” So said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson as he announced that, beginning in 2019, the company will only manufacture electric and hybrid vehicles. That’s good news for me. I had to fill-up my Volvo twice during the time it took me to read this article. (But enough with my Saab story…)


We Need Some Time Apart

“Players under the age of 12 will be limited to one hour of playing per day and will be blocked from accessing the game after 9PM … Users between 12 and 18 years old will have a two-hour daily limit.” From The Verge: Tencent imposes daily gaming limits to curb addiction among minors.


DC To Get a House Call?

“Addiction specialists and advocates say he’s led important progress in implementing lifesaving policies. They believe that if confirmed, Adams would use his on-the-ground experience to guide national policy.” Trump’s pick for the next Surgeon General built his reputation fighting HIV and opioids in Indiana.

+ Cities and states aren’t waiting for the federal government to take the lead on this issue. From WaPo: Drugmakers and distributors face barrage of lawsuits over opioid epidemic. (If all they have to pay with is money, they’ll be getting off easy.)

+ Here’s one more example of how big this problem has gotten. From MoJo: Children of the Opioid Epidemic Are Flooding Foster Homes.


Live and Let Lie

“The lies that impostors, swindlers, and boasting politicians tell merely sit at the apex of a pyramid of untruths that have characterized human behavior for eons.” From NatGeo: Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways. (This article is less helpful since one of our favorite deceptions is that science isn’t real…)


Board Game

“In my mind, shuffleboard was a retiree affair, a low-stakes game that required little brainpower and even less physical might.” The Ringer’s Jamie Feldmar argues that Shuffleboard is this summer’s hottest game.


Bottom of the News

“Literally no one is going to read 5,000 tweets about this trash.” NPR tweeted The Declaration of Independence. And, of course, that made people really mad.

+ Buzzfeed with a particularly American Fourth of July story: “On Saturday, a man accidentally shot himself in the leg at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, where dozens of people had assembled to protest reports of a group allegedly planning to desecrate Confederate graves and burn flags — except it turns out all those reports were a hoax.”

+ Why settle for having food delivered when you can order the whole store? “Like a 7-11 crossed with a driverless tractor-trailer, the Moby Mart is an autonomous and unstaffed mobile retail space that you can call up with your phone like an Uber.” (It’s getting increasingly difficult to tell what is real news and what is an abandoned plot from a Cheech and Chong movie.)

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