Monday, November 20th, 2017


They’re Back

Sure, every time you go online you're inundated by a relentless barrage of fake news and hate speech. But at least that nasty spam problem was solved. Right? Well, as you may have noticed, reports of spam's death have been greatly exaggerated: From The Outline: Spam is Back: "It's 2017, and spam has clawed itself back from the grave. It shows up on social media and dating sites as bots hoping to lure you into downloading malware or clicking an affiliate link. It creeps onto your phone as text messages and robocalls that ring you five times a day about luxury cruises and fictitious tax bills." The old spam threatened to overwhelm your inbox. From buzzing in your pocket to engaging you in an online fight, the new spam wants to overwhelm your whole life. (And yet, in this political climate, it will still be preferable to most Thanksgiving dinner conversations...)


That’s in Dog Years

"People in possession of a pooch were less likely to have cardiovascular disease or die from any cause during the 12 years covered by the research, according to the study published in Scientific Reports. The impact was greatest for single people." From Bloomberg: Getting a Dog May Save Your Life. As a recent, first-time dog owner, I've noticed a couple of K-9 features that could be contributing factors. Having a dog tends to make one more physically active. Also, dogs love you even if you're an asshole.


A Word About the Sponsor

"The regime has made numerous lethal incursions in South Korea, attempted to assassinate senior leaders, attacked South Korean ships and tortured Otto Warmbier, ultimately leading to that fine young man's death." From CNN: Trump names North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism. This is North Korea's first return to the very exclusive list since 2008. Aside from NK, only three other countries are on the list: Iran, Sudan and Syria.


Last Mug Shot

"The rapid fall of Zimbabwe's president, whose legendary guile and ruthlessness helped him outmaneuver countless adversaries over nearly four decades, probably has surprised no one more than Robert Mugabe himself. For years, he was so confident of his safety — and his potency — that he took monthlong vacations away from Zimbabwe after Christmas, never facing any threat during his long, predictable absences." From the NYT: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady. (When I first read this headline, for a second, I thought The Apprentice was back on the air.)

+ "Will their country remain an autocracy, run primarily by the same old men who will simply trade in their military fatigues for expensive designer suits? Or can the country put itself on a path toward inclusive democracy?" The Meaning of Robert Mugabe's Stunning Non-Resignation.

+ BBC on Zimbabwe: 10 numbers that will help you understand what's actually going on.


The Yemen Hem In

"Yemenis are caught in a nearly three-year conflict that began as a domestic power struggle and evolved into a brutal proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, killing more than ten thousand people and shuttering more than half of the country's medical facilities. Saudi armed forces, backed by more than forty billion dollars in American arms shipments authorized by the Trump and Obama Administrations, have killed thousands of civilians in air strikes. They have also blockaded the country to varying degrees for two years and intermittently prevented journalists and human-rights researchers from flying into the country." From The New Yorker: The Catastrophe of Saudi Arabia's Intervention in Yemen.


Manson Chance in Hell

He "was an unlikely figure to evolve into the personification of evil. A few inches over five feet, he was a petty criminal and small-time hustler. And his followers bore little resemblance to the stereotypical image of hardened killers. Most were in their early twenties, middle-class white kids, hippies and runaways who fell under his charismatic sway." Charles Manson is dead at 83.

+ "What mercy, sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? When will I come up for parole? Can you tell me that? Will the seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get parole?" That was Doris Tate speaking for her daughter. Because of her vigilance (later taken up by her daughters), victims' voices carry a weight in the nation's legal system.

+ "A former journalist, equipped with an algorithm and the largest collection of murder records in the country, finds patterns in crime." The New Yorker: The Serial-Killer Detector.


Pastorized Ilk

"But for many pastors, the allegations have created a dilemma. They want to denounce what Mr. Moore was accused of doing, but in many cases they want to do so without denouncing Mr. Moore himself." A couple of NYT reporters went to church in Alabama to examine what has become a quandary for Alabama pastors: What to Say About Roy Moore.

+ WaPo: "The outrage against the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama is entirely fitting, but the terminology is not." Roy Moore is not a pedophile.

+ NYT White House reporter Glenn Thrush has been put on hiatus pending a review of a Vox story on his history of bad judgment around young women journalists.

+ Jeffrey Tambor may be leaving Transparent after a pair of sexual harassment claims against him.

+ A woman says Al Franken inappropriately touched her while taking a photo in 2010. (All of these sexual harassment stories are grouped in one section here as they are in our national discussion on the subject. It's worth noting, however, that while they're all serious and all victims deserve to be heard, the accusations being made are wildly different.)


Gretsched in Time

"If you can take your eyes off these two showmen for a moment, you might find your gaze drifting to the left of the drum riser, where a pugnacious long-haired kid (he looks like he's still in high school), wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, is strumming his Gretsch guitar and shaking his leg in time to the driving beat. His name is Malcolm Young, and you could be forgiven for seeing him as just another part of the backing band, but he is in fact the mastermind of the whole operation, at once its visionary and its taskmaster. He is the soul of the band, its leader on and off the stage." The New Yorker: Farewell to Malcolm Young.

+ I have a terrible memory, but I still remember exactly where I was sitting on the bus to middle school when I first heard You Shook Me All Night Long and Back in Black. So this remembrance from my virtual pal Bob Lefsetz struck a chord: Macolm Young.


Hip Pop Pill Pop

"But perhaps these rappers' ennui goes wider than mere Xanax, and into a numbing effect of our wider culture. One of the most chilling aspects to Lil Peep's death is that his cries for help were so public, and yet went so unanswered – perhaps as a result of the paradoxically distancing effect of social media." I had never heard of Lil Peep before he died. Since reading about it, I've learned that his death is connected to a much larger issue that is very likely being heard by your kids through their headphones. From The Guardian: The death of Lil Peep: how the US prescription drug epidemic is changing hip-hop.


Bottom of the News

"Our planet Earth has extinguished large portions of its inhabitants several times since the dawn of animals. And if science tells us anything, it will surely try to kill us all again." Ars Technica: When will the Earth try to kill us again? (I'm just a news gatherer, but based on my observations, I'll throw this out as a guess: 2017.)

+ FastCo on a new probiotic that makes cow burps less damaging to the environment.

+ It's that time of year again. Let's bitch about Starbucks cups.