Friday, July 21st, 2017


The Sean Job

You've undoubtedly heard that, in reaction to the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, Sean Spicer has resigned as White House Spokesperson (leaving the White House to find someone else to not give press briefings). Sarah Huckabee Sanders will replace Spicer. Given the nature of Trump coverage -- and Spicer's outsized role in it -- you probably heard about the resignation within ten seconds of it happening. The news was met with an outpouring of headline puns, internet memes, and a replaying of Spicer's most comical moments. But in truth, between the scandals, the lies (starting with the nonsensical Inauguration crowd size dispute), the gaffes (most notably, the claim that Hitler never used chemical weapons), and the dangerous attacks on the free press, Spicer's remarkably brief tenure was anything but funny. Spicer quit over the Scaramucci hire. But he stayed through all the rest of it. Steve Martin famously said comedy is not pretty. That's about the only thing comedy has in common with the last six months.



"They're talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago. In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation." According to WaPo, the president's (recently shaken-up) legal team is looking for ways to discredit Robert Mueller and/or limit his investigation. Trump has also expressed interest in understanding the scope of his pardoning powers -- including whether they extend to himself. (Whoever had Trump floating the idea of pardoning Trump in the first six months … drink.)

+ Can a president pardon himself? Vox asked fifteen legal experts.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: If you've ever watched the Food Network or enjoyed a celebrity-chef branded item from your supermarket, then you should probably thank Shep Gordon, who started out as a manager for rock stars like Alice Cooper. While many celebrity chefs can thank Shep for their success, you can thank me for linking to his Netflix documentary: Supermensch.

+ What to Read: The Teenage Whaler's Tale, by Julia O'Malley. I'll let O'Malley's own writing provide the intro: "A hundred years ago -- even 20 years ago, when Gambell was an isolated point on the map, protected part of the year by a wall of sea ice -- catching the whale would have been a dream accomplishment for a teenage hunter, a sign of Chris' passage into adulthood and a story that people would tell until he was old. But today, in a world shrunk by social media, where fragments of stories travel like light and there is no protection from anonymous outrage, his achievement has been eclipsed by an endless wave of online harassment."

+ What to Watch: A six-part series on Bob Hurley, a New Jersey high school basketball coach with a remarkable streak of wins and state championships faces his toughest challenge yet: Keeping his school in business.


Straight Shooters

"Some people might see it as a dysfunctional one, but it's a support group. People can't get clean when they are dead." Reddit forums were used as a place to share everything from information about opiate addiction to places to score them illegally. They also provide a first-hand account of a scourge ripping across much of America. From the NYT: On Reddit, Intimate Glimpses of Addicts in Thrall to Opioids.

+ WaPo: A 10-year-old's overdose death reveals Miami neighborhood's intense struggle with opioids


The Last Clinic

"Both sides in the abortion fight raging in Kentucky agree on one thing: The stakes are as high as ever in a state that could become the first in the nation without an abortion clinic." From AP: Abortion fight rages in Kentucky.


Prison BNB?

"The prison is surrounded by a single wall. It has no barbed wire, guard towers, or electric fences. Prisoners stay in private rooms with en suite bathrooms and can cook for themselves in kitchens equipped with stainless-steel flatware and porcelain dishes. Guards and inmates mingle freely, eating and playing games and sports together. Violence is rare and assaults on guards are unheard of. Solitary confinement is almost never used." MoJo on North Dakota's Norway Experiment: Can humane prisons work in America? A red state aims to find out.

+ "In a statement, the company said that some of its customers weren't comfortable with products made by prisoners, so it would no longer sell them." From NPR: What's It Really Like To Work In A Prison Goat Milk Farm? We Asked Inmates.

+ Jail inmates in Tennessee can get time off their sentence if they get a vasectomy.


See Spot Unable to Help Himself

"Mutations in the same genes are also linked with a rare developmental disorder in humans called Williams-Beuren Syndrome, or WBS. People with WBS are typically hyper-social, meaning they form bonds quickly and show great interest in other people, including strangers." Scientists have identified the key friendliness genes that distinguish dogs from wolves. (Maybe genes are responsible in your relationship. But my dogs love me for me.)


Staches to Staches, Dust to Dust

"The remains of Salvador Dalí were exhumed Thursday night, pulled from their resting place by Spanish officials hoping to confirm whether the surrealist painter fathered a child in an affair." And get this: His mustache still looked perfect. (Dying is no excuse for poor hygiene.)


Twist and Stout

By 1981, sales were in the hundreds of millions, making it the best-selling toy in history." Most toys that hit the top of the market are long gone within a few years. Not so in this case. From WBUR: The Rise, Fall And Rise Of The Rubik's Cube.


Bottom of the News

"Don't be shy about asking your teen where she has been, who she has spent time with, or why she has receipts from Cypriot bank wire transfers hidden under a false bottom of her jewelry case." From McSweeney's: How To Talk To Your Teen About Colluding With Russia.

+ Bieber has been banned from China.

+ And, as it turns out, hipsters didn't invent avocado toast.