Friday, February 2nd, 2018


Ground-less Day

The groundhog saw its shadow, predicting (at least) 6 more weeks of hyper-partisanship, wanton obstruction, laughable falsehoods, transparent misdirections, troubling attacks on America's institutions, and a never-ending, obsession-inducing news-cycle that consistently manages to drop the American jaw to levels lower than we thought possible. And now the story continues with The Memo. You can view a clean version here or read it with the help of some explanatory annotations from WaPo. If the goal of releasing the memo was to get everyone talking about the memo, its release was a resounding success. Any impact beyond that will have less to do with its contents and more to do with how the big reveal is used by key players.

+ The Atlantic's David Graham has a good overview of what's in the memo (and what isn't).

+ James Comey: That's it?

+ John McCain, undergoing treatment for brain cancer, issued a statement: "The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party's, no president's, only Putin's ... Special Counsel Mueller's investigation must proceed unimpeded."

+ To understand the memo, you have to know a little about Carter Page.

+ To avoid any risk of burying the lede, let's get to the memo reaction that matters the most. When reporters asked whether he has considered firing Rod Rosenstein and whether he still has confidence in him after reading the memo, Trump answered: "You figure that one out." He added: "I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country ... " (Editor's note: Agreed.)


Sly and the Family Loan

"At just 4 years old, Kevin Barnaby Jr. has already had two Capital One credit card accounts, $941 in debt, and a $2,911 federal tax lien put on his credit reports. But Kevin, known in his family as KJ, isn't a financial delinquent — one of his family members stole his identity." Buzzfeed: Here's what happens when your mom or dad steals your identity.


Weekend Whats

What to Pod: You know that Bose has long been a leader in the headphone and audio space. But I bet you didn't know that most of the company is owned by M.I.T. Here's the story in a short, interesting podcast from Twenty Thousand Hertz: The Gift.

+ What to Hear: My friend RD (who proofs many of these blurbs long before they hit your inbox) and I have been seeing John Hiatt perform for decades (at this point, we call our concert outings NextDraft Offsites). And he's been great every time, including earlier this week at SF's Masonic Theater. I'm in so deep, it's hard to know where to tell you to start. Try the album Bring the Family to get things going. His biggest hits are the oft-covered Have a Little Faith in Me (what the hell else could you want from a singer/songwriter?) and Thing Called Love. And check out this version of Riding with the King with current tour bandmate Sonny Landreth (maybe the slidiest guitarist who's ever played).

+ What to Read: "Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in the United States, a fact he has tried to keep hidden while he has shaped what we eat, transformed California's landscape, and ruled entire towns. But the one thing he can't control is what he's most dependent on — water." From Mark Arax in California Sunday Magazine, an epic look at California's bounty, drought, and sinking land. A Kingdom From Dust.

+ What to Watch: You don't need fresh powder to ski. As it turns out, you don't even need snow. Just watch Candide Thovex in (amazing) action.


Bone Spurned

"Miguel Perez Jr., 39, a Chicago resident who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and recently finished a prison term on a drug conviction, had sought to remain in the U.S., arguing his life would be in danger if he were deported to Mexico, where drug cartels target veterans with combat experience to work on their behalf, or else." For obvious reasons, we're seeing a lot of stories about immigrants and deportations these days. This one is rising above the din. Green card veteran facing deportation starts hunger strike.


Well, Check You Out…

"Don't call it shoplifting. The guys in loss prevention prefer external shrinkage." The Atlantic on The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery.


Demon Hunter

"After two of his daughters delivered victim impact statements [against Larry Nassar], Randall Margraves asked the judge to grant him five minutes alone 'in a locked room with this demon.'" The judge said she couldn't do that. So he tried to attack the demon right there in court.


Sled Zeppelin

"Anthony Shimkonis, my luge spirit guide, slid my feet into booties, angled to help my toes point. He showed me a pair of gloves with spikes on the fingertips. He mentioned something about safety, how to avoid ripping my hand or whatever. And then, reality came crashing down. 'All right,' Shimkonis said, giving me one more check. 'I think you have the luge suit on backward, actually.'" WaPo: A longtime fan wanted to know what a luge run really felt like. There was only one way to find out. Luge Yourself.


The Bytes Watch

"There are 1.5 billion YouTube users in the world, which is more than the number of households that own televisions. What they watch is shaped by this algorithm, which skims and ranks billions of videos to identify 20 'up next' clips that are both relevant to a previous video and most likely, statistically speaking, to keep a person hooked on their screen ... YouTube engineers describe it as one of the 'largest scale and most sophisticated industrial recommendation systems in existence.'" Paul Lewis in The Guardian: Fiction is outperforming reality: how YouTube's algorithm distorts truth.


The Trite Stuff

From NBC News: "Mike Hughes is a limo driver and self-taught rocket scientist. On Feb. 3, he plans to launch himself into the stratosphere in a rocket built in his garage. His ultimate goal is to get to outer space and prove that Earth is flat. This will be his third attempt." (Wouldn't it just be easier to release a memo?)


Feel Good Friday

This week we learned that Tom Hanks will be starring in a biopic about Mister Rogers. The movie is based on an article by Tom Junod. This seems, for many reasons, like a good time to re-read it. Can You Say...Hero? "The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that's what heaven is, Tom. We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us—I've just met you, but I'm investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can't help it."

+ "For an assignment, I asked some of my terminal pediatric palliative care patients what they had enjoyed in life, and what gave it meaning."

+ He's a beloved school bus driver. He loves the Eagles. Yup, they did it.

+ If you like watching The Super Bowl, here are 52 facts for your party. If you don't like watching sports, you still probably like it when animals wander onto the playing field.

+ A teen delivers hundreds of solar lamps to Puerto Ricans without power. And an 8 year-old boy went to PR to deliver the fruits of his toy drive.

+ Some teens made a Rubik's Cube tactile for visually impaired users.

+ "I was supposed to eat freeze-dried food as my main energy source, but I had a hard time getting it down, so I lived off of Pringles and candy for a long time." A 19-year-old American becomes the youngest person to row solo across Atlantic Ocean. (I've whined about having to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.)

+ O Canada's lyrics are now gender neutral.

+ An Italian village is selling homes for $1.25 so it doesn't become a ghost town. (For that price, it probably doesn't include avocado toast...)

+ Belle Elementary custodian gifted with surprise first-ever birthday party.