Friday, October 20th, 2017


Check Your Thermos, Stat

Trouble is brewing. "Climate change could spell disaster for coffee, a crop that requires specific temperatures to flourish and that is highly sensitive to a range of pests. So scientists are racing to develop more tenacious strains of one of the world's most beloved beverages." WaPo's Caitlin Dewey on the scientific advances being made in the race to save coffee. Rising seas will swallow our cities. Wildfires will rip through our forests and communities. Ferocious hurricanes will gain more damaging strength, while deadly heatwaves and droughts will be interspersed with raging floods. Warmer and increasingly polluted air will become less breathable. Ice caps will melt faster than the vanilla ice cream in an affogato. Bloody wars will be fought over food and natural resources as mass refugee crises become the norm. But, with a little luck, there's a reasonably good chance that your Iced Caramel Latte Macchiato can be saved. (Though, there's no guarantee baristas won't go extinct.)

+ A new global report on pollution's annual price tag: $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead.


Exposure Value

"I think a lot of people were suggesting that the body-worn cameras would change behavior. There was no indication that the cameras changed behavior at all." NPR: A Body Cam Study Shows No Effect On Police Use Of Force Or Citizen Complaints. An increase in the number of cameras everywhere doesn't seem to have changed anyone's behavior much...


Weekend Whats

What to Erase: Last night I attended a star-studded fundraiser for a great organization called Bring Change to Mind, dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. The organization was founded by Glenn Close (who spent a season of Damages opposite a character named after me), and my friends Nellie Dragonic and Zach Williams (who presented Billy Crystal with an award named for his dad, Robin) are on the board. One of the evening's highlights was getting to hear Idina Menzel cover Creep. Here she is performing it at another event.

+ What to Read: How seeing problems in the brain makes stigma disappear. "Dramatic advances in brain imaging, genetics and other technologies are helping us objectively identify mental illness."

+ What to Watch: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman in Noah Bombach's latest film (made for Netflix): The Meyerowitz Stories.


Boomtown Drats

"It really captured the essence of Florida, a precarious civilization engineered out of a watery wilderness, a bewildering dreamscape forged by greed, flimflam and absurdly grandiose visions that somehow stumbled into heavily populated realities." Michael Grunwald in Politico Magazine: The Boomtown That Shouldn't Exist. "Cape Coral, Florida, was built on total lies. One big storm could wipe it off the map. Oh, and it's also the fastest-growing city in the United States."


From Depressing Drama to Crime Story

"The new allegation could be legally troubling for Weinstein because it falls within the 10-year statute of limitations for the crime that existed at the time of the alleged incident, legal experts say." Following similar moves in NY and London, the LAPD has opened an investigation into alleged rape by Harvey Weinstein.

+ Two from the NYT: Quentin Tarantino: "I Knew Enough to Do More Than I Did." And Lupita Nyong'o: Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein.


Garden Snakes

With the increased attention being focused on Richard Spencer and others, neo-Nazis are having a moment. Such events, even on American soil, are nothing new. "In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York's Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism – an event largely forgotten from American history." Here's a short film from (fellow NextDraft subscriber) Marshall Curry. A Night at the Garden. (Sadly, some of the contents of the speech will sound all too familiar.)

+ WaPo: When Nazis rallied in Manhattan, one working-class Jewish man from Brooklyn took them on.


Wait, What Were We Talking About?

"In many ways, the Niger operation typifies U.S. military missions underway in roughly 20 African countries, mostly in the northern third of the continent. They tend to be small, they are carried out largely below the radar, and most are focused on a specific aim: rolling back Islamist extremism." The media has been focused on the Trump-created controversy concerning calls made to families of soldiers lost in battle. Now the event at the root of that controversy is finally getting some attention. What happened to the soliders killed in Niger, and what were they doing there in the first place? NPR: The U.S. Military In Africa: A Discreet Presence In Many Places. (Maybe this is all a simulation to test if we'd actually resort to yelling at each other about a fallen soldier. If so, we failed the test.)

+ Buzzfeed: "A Nigerien official has said US troops acted without proper intelligence. A French official described the battling sides as 'overlapping.' But there's no official US version."


Chain Links

"Saving the planet, fixing healthcare, replacing conventional currency—there is apparently nothing that the shared-database technology known as blockchains can't fix." But what the hell is a blockchain? Here's a two-minute video from Wired to get you started. A simple news search will make it clear that the block chain is about to be everywhere.


Bearly There

"Nora was the first newborn polar bear to live more than a few days at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium since it opened in 1927. Her birth in a concrete den in central Ohio represented all the ways humans and polar bears were inextricably tangled – from the day nearly three decades before when an orphaned cub was pulled from an icy den in the Alaskan wilderness, to the political battle that appointed her species the sad-eyed symbol of climate change. She represented the damage humans had done to the Earth, and she offered the thinnest hope of setting things right." Kale Williams with an incredibly detailed piece in The Oregonian: The Loneliest Polar Bear.


Bottom of the News

"In theory, you can win as much as $566,400 on a single episode of Jeopardy, assuming you got every clue and maxed out every Daily Double." It turns out you can also win with just one buck. The Ringer: An Anatomy of the Worst Game in Jeopardy History.

+ Serious Cornhole. "You might think of cornhole as a lighthearted lawn game, but it actually has a professional league, a family of stars, and some budding momentum. Really." (I'm nostalgic for the days when this would have been the most ridiculous news of the week.)

+ Dogs really do turn on the puppy eyes when humans look at them, according to researchers studying canine facial expressions. (This is probably a decent time to consider the possibility that we have too many researchers...)