August 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trump doubles down on his stupidity

“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!” So tweeted President Trump on Tuesday in response to the executives who have resigned from his advisory councils in protest of the way he’s mishandled events in Charlottesville. The response: More quit. From Buzzfeed: Four Prominent Executives Resigned From Trump’s Council.

+ This was far from the most controversial recent tweet from Trump (even by his own “modern day presidential” standards). Just in the past few hours, he retweeted a Pizzagate conspiracy nut and a cartoon rendering of a train smashing into CNN with the caption, “Fake news can’t stop the Trump train.” The White House claims the latter retweet was inadvertent (you know how hard it is to keep from pressing two buttons with those giant hands…), even though its theme is entirely in keeping with Trump’s own tweet: “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!” (Psst. The truly bad people in this story are the Nazis…)

+ Trump spoke about his comments following the Charlottesville violence on Tuesday at Trump Tower. If you can make it past this line, you’ve got me beat. “I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement … when I make a statement I like to be correct.” He also said that “there is blame on both sides” for the violence. That’s of course dangerous, stupid, and dead wrong. But in saying so (again), Trump is essentially picking his side. As I wrote yesterday, it’s time for you to pick yours.


Under the Sheets

On Monday night, Rachel Maddow did a good job of explaining a key difference between this week’s events and past white supremacy marches. The old white supremacists wore hoods. The new ones have their faces shared all over social media (mood lighting courtesy of some dime-store tiki torches). Now, the internet posse is crowdsourcing an investigation into who did what in Charlottesville (Even the stars are getting in on it). Which seems good. Except when it seems really bad. From the NYT: Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire.

+ Slate on the complexities of ensuring peaceful, free speech when people show up to protests strapped with semiautomatic weapons.

+ Unsurprisingly, white supremacists are planning 9 rallies nationwide this weekend alone. Meanwhile, several cities are accelerating efforts to remove their Confederate statues.

+ Charlottesville: Race and Terror. Vice News had complete coverage of what went down in Charlottesville.


Guam Balm

For now, North Korea has decided not to fire missiles in the direction of Guam. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in “issued an unusually blunt rebuke” the US: “No one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement.”


Everything Now

Amazon is rolling out an instant pickup service in several locations (expect Whole Foods to be on the list once the two companies are fully integrated). “Shoppers on Amazon’s mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each site, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Amazon employees in a back room then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them.” (Before you know it, you’ll just be able to walk into a store and instantly buy a product and bring it home!)



“Machine learning — a type of AI that lets driverless cars see, chatbots speak and machines parse scores of financial information — demands computers learn from raw data instead of hand-cranked programming. Getting access to that data is a permanent slog. China’s command-and-control economy, and its thinner privacy concerns, mean that country can dispense video footage, medical records, banking information and other wells of data almost whenever it pleases.” Bloomberg: China’s plan for world domination in ai isn’t so crazy after all.


Berry Heirs

“Strawberries can be orange or white, the size of a pinkie tip, oblong, conjoined or bloblike, ecstatic, defiant, ungainly, unique. But you don’t think of them that way. What you picture is a Driscoll’s berry: glossy, red, and heart-shaped, and firm enough to ship to the East Coast or to the Middle East and eat two weeks past the harvest date. Driscoll’s berries tend to lack the sugar rush and perfumed oomph of a tiny sun-warmed heirloom discovered on a country lane. Since the company’s inception, it has placed an emphasis on appearance.” In The New Yorker, Dana Goodyear explains how a family business called Driscoll’s turned produce into a beauty contest, and won.


Reporting from Wounded Knee

You’d assume that osteoarthritis of the knee would be caused by wear and tear. But if that were true, wouldn’t we see a lot more knee arthritis in the bones of those who lived back when humans were a lot more physically active? Well, it turns out that our knees have it a lot worse than our ancestors. And that higher rate holds “even after scientists corrected for body mass and age. So there’s apparently something else driving the increase in knee arthritis.”


Screen Saver

One of the Netflix co-founders wants to send you to the movies (as many as you want) for ten bucks a month. In exchange, the company sells the data about you and your viewing habits. MoviePass wants to subsidize your film habit. (I’d settle for variable pricing. Why should I pay the same amount for a Saturday night ticket as I do for a weekday matinee?)


You Are What You Tweet

“If you were to assign a caloric value to every food mentioned in every tweet by the citizens of the United States and a calories-burned value to every activity, and then totaled them up, you would find that Colorado tweets the best caloric ratio in the country and Mississippi the worst.” It turns out scientists can learn a lot about us just by analyzing our tweets. (It will be interesting to see what happens when they try to analyze the ones from Washington DC.) From Outside: Inside the Lab That’s Quantifying Happiness.


Bottom of the News

From UK Wired, In the future, your body won’t be buried… you’ll dissolve: “Bodies are wheeled in under crisp sheets for disposal in Fisher’s alkaline hydrolysis machine, which turns them into liquid and pure white bone. Their bones will be pulverised and scattered off the coast by nearby Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps Base, where they will float and then disperse, because pure calcium phosphate will not sink. From the coastguard’s helicopter it looks like drug lords flushing their stash.” (With a few tweaks, this has all the makings of a fad diet…)

+ WaPo: More than half the country says it will never change its opinion on Trump, no matter what.

+ Are you drinking too much seltzer?

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