July 13th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You are your own best defense, tech companies won't let you fix your own products, and Trump excuses Jr (anyone would've done it.)

It sounds like something out of a science fiction plot. Doctors extract some white blood cells from your body, genetically engineer them to be warriors against cancer, and then put the altered cells back into your body where they multiply and begin to fight your disease. If approved by the full FDA (the unanimous recommendation from the organization’s panel), the technique will only be used in relatively small number of cases and the personalized process is extremely expensive, but it could herald a whole new way to fight cancer and other diseases; in which you are your own best defense. From the NYT: FDA Panel Recommends Approval for Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment.

+ One oncologist summed up the opinion of many in the field: “This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime.” NPR: The ‘Living Drug’ That Fights Cancer By Harnessing Immune System.


I Can Fix It

A couple months ago, I replaced a rubber flapper and stopped one of my toilets from running. The moment stands out because it may have been the first time I ever fixed anything. While I’m not the fix-it type of person, it was nice to have the option to take care of the problem. If my bathroom was filled with products from tech companies, there’s a decent chance I would have had to go out and buy a whole new toilet. Tech companies make it difficult (and sometimes illegal) to fix products you own. From Quartz: Why are companies trying to make it illegal to repair our electronic devices?

+ Motherboard:” The 5-Year Quest to Unglue the MacBook Pro’s Battery. (It only took me like three years to figure out how to get the toilet to stop running…)

+ “Relax. My old man is a television repairman and has the ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.”


Throwback Thursday

It could be the single most important piece of legislation to come out of the current Senate. And each week or so, it gets changed behind closed doors and re-released to see if Mitch McConnell can get the necessary votes. The latest GOP Senate health plan is out. Actually, there are two of them. From WaPo: “At least three Republican senators said Thursday they remained opposed to bringing up the revised bill, while two rank-and-file Republicans announced plans to offer their own health-care plan just as leaders released an updated bill of their own.”

+ The Atlantic: :”What’s Inside Mitch McConnell’s Latest Health-Care Proposal?”


Everyone’s Doing It

During a joint press conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, President Trump praised his son and explained away his controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer by basically saying that anyone in politics would have done it. “My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer. It was a short meeting. It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast … I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. I think it’s a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.” (My son is also a wonderful young man. But when he stole a balloon from a local toy store, I made him bring it back and apologize.)

+ Vox has a refresher on everything we know about the Trump-Russia scandal so far.

+ “Putin didn’t convince us to turn the Internet’s promise of a networked future into a nonstop rage-fest in which we all sling mud (and worse) at each other from our paranoid, self-righteous silos of homogeneity.” There’s no doubt that Russia worked to influence our elections, but they never could have done it if we hadn’t laid the groundwork ourselves. Here’s my rip-roaring take: Putin Didn’t Do It.


Mac Attack

From the NYT: “Potentially harmful chemicals [called phthalates] that were banned from children’s teething rings and rubber duck toys a decade ago may still be present in high concentrations in your child’s favorite meal: macaroni and cheese mixes made with powdered cheese.” And how about this stat from 2013: About two million boxes of Mac and Cheese are sold a day in the US. (Weird that pre-packaged versions of this item would sell so well when the entire recipe is included in its name.)

+ BusinessWeek: Does the World’s Top Weed Killer Cause Cancer?


Rights and Wrong

“Liu’s biographer and friend, the U.S.-based dissident Yu Jie, believes that China’s government had a motive to withhold or delay treatment: It feared the consequences of Liu getting out of prison alive.” From NPR: Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate and Human Rights Advocate Liu Xiaobo Dies.

+ “The dissident won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his ‘long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,’ but he was not permitted to travel to Norway to accept it.” More on China’s most prominent dissident from BBC.


Domo Arigato Sister Roboto

“The president became aware of the case and asked officials at the National Security Council to see what they could do.” Following a broad public backlash, the Trump administration reversed course and will grant Afghan girls entry to U.S. for a robotics contest. Excellent news.


Westworld, Best World

Westworld and SNL scored most Emmy nominations on Thursday. Here’s a complete list of nominees that seems OK, but not reflective of the era of excellent TV in which we find ourselves. And of course, there were snubs and surprises. It’s downright absurd that the final season of The Leftovers didn’t get a nom (especially considering the dramas that did). And Carrie Coon got the nod for her solid performance in Fargo, but not for her absolutely phenomenal work in The Leftovers.


Don’t Bogart That Distribution

“Under Nevada’s new marijuana law, approved via ballot initiative in November, alcohol distributors were given sole rights to transport recreational pot — at least for the first 18 months of sales. But because of a court battle and a slow-moving approval process, no distributors were licensed for nearly the first two weeks of sales.” No one is better than Vegas when it comes to getting you to your recreational vices. But apparently, getting your recreational vices to you is an entirely different matter. From Vice: Nevada’s 13-day-old weed market is already total mayhem.

+ New coffee pods promise a two-way buzz: From marijuana and caffeine. I’m not sure this is such a big breakthrough. That combination basically built the internet.


Bottom of the News

“The singer and rapper who once expressed a desire to be a cowboy now just wants to be a senator, baby.” The Atlantic makes the case for Senator Kid Rock. And from Esquire: Every reason Kid Rock will absolutely be your next Michigan senator. (At least when Kid Rock plagiarizes, we can call it sampling…)

+ “Please Help. I’m stuck in here, and I don’t have my phone.” Come on, who closes themselves into an ATM without their phone. Wait, what?

+ The Pope says no to gluten-free communion.

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