August 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Phones are depressing a generation of teens, the eclipse will come with traffic, and Trump's calls...

“The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.” None of that will come as much of a shock. But what’s more surprising (and a lot more worrisome) is the impact that the smartphone era might be having on the social and psychological lives of young people: Less time spent out with friends, less dating, less sex, in no rush to drive, less sleep, more loneliness, and “the more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.” Jean M. Twenge in The Atlantic: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? On one hand, that title is a little over the top. On the other hand, when was the last time you thought to yourself, “I wish my kids would spend more time on their phones.”


Pill Bug

Bloomberg’s Emily Anthes takes an interesting look at why we can’t have the male pill: “Major pharmaceutical companies have mostly abandoned the chase. That has left a scrappy tribe of scientists to fill the void. They’ve dreamed up a vast array of ideas, from the conventional — hormone gels, implants, and injections designed to temporarily suppress sperm production — to the decidedly unorthodox. (Men, prepare to have lasers beamed at your testes.)” I guess that would be called Laser Heir Removal.


The Calls and Walls of Bigly Smalls

“This deal will make me look terrible.” WaPo has published leaked transcripts of two of President Trump’s early phone calls with world leaders. They present a now-familiar pattern of self-interested, uninformed, and reckless lying. Here are the full, annotated transcripts.

+ Those conversations were in the past. The current week has been another truth-challenged one (Boy Scout call, call from Mexico, dictating the Don Jr statement, Apple’s new factories, FoxConn’s $30 billion investment, etc, etc) for the president, including his latest tweet on the US relationship with Russia: “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!”

+ For those who need a reminder of who you can thank for the state of the US/Russian relationship, here’s John McCain’s response: “Our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low. You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies.”

+ Of course, Congress pushed the highly unusual Russia sanctions law to corner Trump and prevent him from undoing the sanctions and negotiating directly with Putin. Now they’re moving to use a similar tactic to keep Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

+ Speaking of Mueller, he just reportedly impaneled a Washington grand jury in the Russia probe.

+ If the tweets don’t worry you, maybe this will. Trump repeatedly pushed for the US general running things in Afghanistan to be replaced (they’ve never met) and used a story about the restructuring of a NYC restaurant as an example of why.

+ And finally, David Frum on the massive downside of these call transcript leaks (they’re both urgently needed and wildly detrimental): “But if no high national-security secret has been betrayed in these transcripts, the workings of the U.S. government have been gravely compromised, and in ways that will be very difficult to repair even after Trump leaves office.”


Nature Calls

“To help the public grasp the size of these traffic jams, Duvall said it’s easier, and less frightening to compare the impact to a football game, even if no football game aside from the Super Bowl can really get close to the scale of traffic. ‘This is going to be like having 10 Carolina-Clemson football games on the same day.'” The eclipse is approaching, and visitors to some small cities are expected to equal half of entire state populations.

+ Vox: A solar eclipse is coming to America. Here’s what you’ll see where you live.

+ Where will the eclipse be most visible? Just follow the Google trends


Job Security

“One officer sexually abused a 19-year-old in his patrol car. Another officer challenged a handcuffed man to fight for a chance to be released. And another officer shot and killed an unarmed man … Those three were among the 451 who successfully appealed and won their jobs back.” A special report from WaPo: Fired/Rehired – Police chiefs are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets


Arch Nemesis

“For those without much money or options, fast food can be a blessing: a full meal that is quick and affordable in a safe and predictable setting. Yet, these very meals are one of the country’s biggest public health menaces.” TNR Max Holleran explains How Fast Food Chains Supersized Inequality.


Arab Springboard

“Mouchawar, a native of Aleppo, Syria, spent over an hour onstage with his cofounders and lead investor, explaining in painstaking detail what it was like to build an e-commerce giant. In 2005, when Souq launched, few in the Arab world were shopping digitally, fewer still were willing to use a credit card online, and examples of successful tech startups were hard to find. Now, Mouchawar underscored to his rapt audience, things were different.” In MIT Tech Review, my friend Chris Schroeder tells a different story about the Middle East (one he is uniquely – maybe too uniquely – qualified to tell): Entrepreneurs Building an Arab Tech Economy.


Winter is Leaking

From Variety: “HBO’s hacking problem may not be going away anytime soon: the hackers who leaked unaired episodes of the network’s shows earlier this week now threaten to release additional content this coming Sunday.” Digg has a good roundup of what we know so far about the HBO hack.


Prep School

“The idea has never been more popular. Prepping is by no means an esoteric hobby anymore; it has become a Silicon Valley cliché. Neo-billionaires, with their typical taste and decency, are building elaborate status-symbol bunkers for themselves, and are planning escape routes to New Zealand for their families. Every American I know is — even if it’s just emotionally — preparing for a fall.” Stephen Marche attends the Ohio Preppers and Survivalist Summit and brings back his take on America’s midlife crisis. (For my midlife crisis, all I did was overspend on a turntable.)


Bottom of the News

“He explains that customs – bespoke porn – is a new growth industry in the Valley. In houses all around us, teams of professional p*rn-makers are staying afloat by conjuring into life entire films for just one viewer.” Jon Ronson on bespoke adult content. “Nothing is too weird. We consider all requests.” (I do love a challenge…)

+ It’s time for a shout-out to NextDraft’s most-excellent sponsor. Quip is the home of living documents that make working together in teams more efficient than ever. And now, Quip features full Salesforce integration. I like using Quip and I work alone.

+ FiveThirtyEight: We analyzed 1,000 fortune cookies to unlock their secrets.

+ Scrambled Eggs, Rolled Up Deli Turkey With Various Fridge Condiments, and Some Cereal. From McSweeney’s: Please forgive us at Blue Apron for this week’s meals. We’ve been having a tough time lately.

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