August 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The eclipse happened. And other news.

Like millions of Americans across the country, a handful of strangers gathered in front of my office building to participate in history. It was the first time in recent memory that not a single person on a San Francisco sidewalk was looking down at their phone or talking about Trump news (although it did occur to me that the moon was probably getting tired of all the winning). We didn’t see much more than slightly dimmed fog (another sign that SF is overpriced), but the above factors alone made the experience worth the hype. Here are few photos of the eclipse and (the often more entertaining shots of) people watching it. From HuffPo. From NASA. From UpRoxx. From Vox. And from Reuters. In Blinded by the Light, Bruce Springsteen sings, “Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun. Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is.” Turns out, at least for today, the boss was right.

+ Luckily, everyone followed the instructions when it came to viewing the eclipse safely. Well, almost everyone.

+ The International Space Station just pulled off the photobomb of a lifetime.

+ And if you missed this eclipse or can’t wait to do it again, don’t worry. The next one is only 2,422 days away. (Until then, it’s back to Trump news.)


Bannonymous Sources

“The president has made a decision. I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.” So said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as President Trump prepared to deliver a live address to update the country on US plans for Afghanistan.

+ The address will begin Trump’s post-Bannon era. From the NYT, here’s an interesting look inside Bannon’s tenure and his firing: Bannon Was Set for a Graceful Exit. Then Came Charlottesville.

+ Gabe Sherman: Steve Bannon readies his revenge.


Driver’s Dead

“Younes Abouyaaqoub was killed in a town 30 miles west of Barcelona, four days after he drove a van along the crowded tourist boulevard Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring more than 130.” From The Guardian: The last known member of the Barcelona terror cell has been shot dead after he was cornered by armed police while wearing a fake suicide vest.


Home Repo

“What might be a welcome development under different circumstances — the sale of a neglected building and its renovation under a new owner — today provokes immediate panic.” In The New York Review of Books, Michael Greenberg provides an in-depth look inside NYC’s housing crisis. “What makes the crisis especially startling is that New York has the most progressive housing laws in the country and a mayor who has made tenants’ rights and affordable housing a central focus of his administration.”



Here’s my effort to make some sense of what we saw in Charlottesville last week, and why there’s still plenty of reason for optimism. “It might seem difficult to find the good in the past week, when neo-Nazis took to the streets, and an American president placed the blame on many sides. But my dad is right. There was good.”

+ “We’ve seen this coming. Donald Trump is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years. What surprised me was the degree to which those tactics and rhetoric completely jumped the rails.” From David Remnick in The New Yorker: Who could have predicted the President’s latest outrage? Barack Obama and anyone, really.

+ GQ: A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof.

+ WaPo: The road to hate: For six young men, Charlottesville is only the beginning.

+ Confederate statues were taken down at University of Texas, and the Confederate flag is no longer one of Six Flags’ six flags.

+ Bloomberg: Can you fire someone for being a white supremacist? Not necessarily.


Gov Hurts

My doctor once told me that if pain ever drove me to go to the emergency room, I should call him on the way. “Otherwise, they might assume you’re an opioid addict.” The advice points to a side of the opioid crisis that doesn’t get much attention. The people who actually need to painkillers, but are getting cut off because of the addiction and overdose epidemic.



“Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.” Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots


Printer is Coming

“Mr. Moore was getting by on three hours of sleep (at most). He was also sipping on Applejack Crown Royal during his all-night writing binges. Plus lots of Gummy Worms and caffeine. The result: a panic attack that sent him to the emergency room.” It’s the golden age of TV. That means a lot of work for TV writers. And as the NYT reports, they’re reaping the rewards … and paying a toll.


Tell Me What To Do

“And these techno-helpers are not just going to get more popular; they will also get better at responding to queries and orders, and they’ll sound more humanlike, too. At the same time, young users like ­Hannah will become more comfortable and sophisticated with the technology, going beyond telling Alexa to play a song. They’ll request help with homework or control devices around their home.” From MIT Tech Review: What will it do to kids to have digital butlers they can boss around?


Bottom of the News

“Positive thinking can make us feel better in the short term, but over the long term it saps our motivation, preventing us from achieving our wishes and goals, and leaving us feeling frustrated, stymied and stuck.” Full disclosure: I’ve been thinking negatively for most of my life, and that doesn’t work all that well either. From Aeon: Don’t think too positive.

+ Rolls-Royce is pop music’s hottest brand.

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