October 26th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The poison in your face, the opiate emergency, and um, that's not a rabbit in your hat...

“The botulinum toxin is so powerful that a tiny amount can suffocate a person by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing. It’s considered one of the world’s most deadly potential agents of bioterrorism and is on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s select agent list of heavily regulated substances … Because of that, Allergan must account to the CDC if even a speck of the toxin goes missing, and when it’s sent to Allergan’s manufacturing facility in Ireland, its travels bring to mind a presidential Secret Service operation—minus literally all of the public attention … A single gram in crystallized form, ‘evenly dispersed and inhaled, would kill more than 1 million people.'” But, hey, let’s not just focus on the negatives. The substance, it turns out, is also a great way to smooth wrinkles. That version of the poison goes by its hip nickname, Botox. And when administered on purpose, the ensuing paralysis is considered a feature, not a bug. As Cynthia Koons explains in Businessweek, this combination of characteristics makes Botox the most lucrative, poisonous, and secret formula on Earth.


Revenge of the Nerds

“Manufacturing will fall. Retail will wobble. Automation will inch along but stay off the roads, for now. The rich will keep getting richer. And more and more of the country will be paid to take care of old people.” Those are some of the distinguishing features we can expect from the American job economy over the next few years. And if you’re looking for energy jobs, look towards reality and away from the Trump administration’s coal obsession. “Clean-energy workers, like solar-panel installers and wind-turbine technicians, are the only occupations that are expected to double by 2026.” Derek Thompson: Why Nerds and Nurses Are Taking Over the US Economy.

+ WaPo: Is $100,000 Middle Class in America?


Rub Some Dirt on It

AP on the administration’s much-anticipated opiate announcement: “President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency — a step that won’t bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Americans a day but will expand access to medical services in rural areas, among other changes.” (Here’s the big question: Will the sufferers of this burden be given real help that addresses the actual problems in the system, or will they get a new-fangled version of the race-baiting war on drugs that has been a massive failure and is completely unrelated to what’s happening on the streets of America.)

+ From Trump: “If we can teach young people and people generally, not to start, it’s really easy not to take them.” (We’ve gone from Just Say No to Just Say NO!) And, “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.” (That would be good, since we’re the generation that started it.)

+ Stat: What’s in the White House’s opioid emergency declaration — and what’s not.

+ Vox: It’s a limited move, but it will help jump-start some action in the opioid crisis.


That’s Not a Rabbit in Your Hat

“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke – and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” George HW Bush issues new statement as second actor accuses him of sexual assault. The claims made about the former president aren’t as violent as the ones made about Harvey Weinstein and others, but they’re not pretty. From Deadspin: “Rumors about Bush groping actresses in this manner have been circulating for a while. More than a year ago, a tipster passed word about the Heather Lind incident to Deadspin. We were told that Bush had, during a photo opp, groped her and told her that his favorite magician was ‘David Cop-a-Feel‘ while fondling her.” (Anyone else starting to think being President of the United States isn’t necessarily a plus on one’s resumé?)

+ “The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will.” CNN: Five women accuse political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment.
OK, let’s try it this way instead: Raise your hand if you haven’t sexually assaulted a bunch of women at the office.


When You Can’t Stand the Heat

“Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have killed themselves in the past 30 years, and some climate researchers believe hotter weather has driven crop failure and made the problem worse.” The NYT with an interactive look at some of the early impacts of climate change: The Uninhabitable Village. Hotter temperatures are forcing families in southern India to decide: Try to survive here, or leave?

+ “The real dynamic that we’ve learned here with Sandy is that climate change isn’t something that happens far away to someone else. It’s here, and it’s now.” 5 Years After Sandy: Are NYC’s Preparations Amid Climate Change Enough? They better be. Forecasters think climate change will bring major flooding to new york every 5 years.

+ And from WaPo: New science suggests the ocean could rise more — and faster — than we thought.


Brass Tact

The military has been a controversial centerpiece of the Trump presidency — both in terms of his vocal support of the armed forces and his unthinkable slights to Gold Star families and critiques of John McCain. So Military Times decided find out what the military really thinks of Donald Trump: “While Trump is especially popular among enlisted troops, officers have a much lower opinion of him.”


Alphabet City

“In reality, the company’s ambition lies first in the synthesis of established techniques like modular construction, timber-frame building, underground garbage disposal, and deep-water cooling. Not low-tech, but not rocket science either.” Google is building a city, from the internet up. (At this point, it might be more interesting to build a city with no internet at all — other than pithy news updates.)


Frank Talk

“Intended as a clear stand against anti-Semitism, the idea turned into a bit of a debacle in the city of Turin’s stadium where ultras, hardcore (and sometimes fanatic) fan groups in soccer, protested the initiative and sang the Italian national anthem with their backs to the pitch.” From WaPo: Anne Frank’s diary was read in Italian stadiums. Some fans turned their backs and sang in protest.


Astro Not So Fast…

All baseball should be postseason baseball. We needed a break from the constant drumbeat of political news, and the Astros and Dodgers gave it to us in game two of the World Series. As The Ringer reports, calling it a thriller doesn’t do it justice. (With a few swings of the bat, the series went from being a laugher to being a must watch epic. October…)


Bottom of the News

The New Yorker’s Neima Jahromi on the uncanny resurrection of Dungeons & Dragons: “In the seventies and eighties, Dungeons & Dragons, with its supernatural themes, became the fixation of an overheated news media in the midst of a culture war. Role players were seen as closet cases, the least productive kind of geek, retreating to basements to open maps, spill out bags of dice, and light candles by which to see their medieval figurines. They squared with no one. Unlike their hippie peers, they had dropped out without bothering to tune in.” (Who would have guessed they’d grow up to be tech billionaires…)

+ When the state runs the media, front pages can start to look pretty similar.

+ Kellogg’s apologizes for lone brown corn pop on cereal box.

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