Friday, February 9th, 2018


Punch Lines

From the MeToo movement, to security clearances, to the management of the White House, many of this era's top stories have converged in the latest Trump administration scandal. At issue: the end of Rob Porter's tenure as White House staff secretary. Porter was removed from his position after stories (with photos) emerged about his history of domestic abuse against two former wives. On Friday, President Trump chimed in on the topic. He didn't express sympathy for the women. But he did wish Porter well, saying, "it's obviously a very tough time for him" and that "it is very sad, and he is very sad" and "he says he innocent and I think you have to remember that." This situation is really pretty simple. If Rob Porter is innocent (he's not), then keep him in the job. If he's not innocent, then shut the hell up with the sympathy for him and show some for his victims.

+ Here's a good overview from Vox: The Rob Porter scandal keeps getting worse for Trump's White House.

+ Meanwhile, John Kelly's remarks on the matter have stretched credulity both among outside observers, and inside the White House. From WaPo: During a staff meeting, "'He told the staff he took immediate and direct action,' one of the officials said, adding that people after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true." (This story follows another familiar theme. The private meeting happened on Friday morning. The leaked story was making headlines Friday afternoon.)

+ Another familiar storyline: White House turnover. Insiders are already naming names when it comes to Kelly's potential replacement.

+ Dahlia Lithwick: Rob Porter's History of Domestic Abuse Wasn't a Secret. It's Just That No One Cared.


What Does the Box Say

Earlier this week, Amazon announced that, in some cities, Prime members could get free delivery from Whole Foods. That's hardly unexpected news. What's less obvious is Amazon's effort to ultimately deliver everything (from everyone) to your doorstep. And that means competing with UPS and FedEx.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: "In the late 1970s two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters." Great writing. Excellent acting. And a more realistic view of the FBI than you're getting in the news. Check the excellent Mindhunter on Netflix. (Shoutout to supporting actor Holt McCallany who you'll likely be seeing a lot more of after this performance.)

+ What to Doc: "The addicts. The smugglers. The cops. The cartel. Everyone has a story." And this happens to be one of the key stories of our time. Showtime with a documentary series that covers the opiate crisis from the poppy fields to the living room. The Trade.

+ What to Book: Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World. (So fun, even if you're more of Stones person...)

+ What to Hear: Amazon has a better than usual price on my travel headphones of choice.


401 K-Pop

If watching your stock portfolio has felt like psychological bungee jumping, rest assured, it's not you, it's the market. From Bloomberg: This Is the Worst Momentum Swing for U.S. Stocks in History. Or the best, or the worst, or the best...

+ In the past year, the NYT's stock price has performed better than the tech giants. The gray lady went from being in the red to being in the orange, bigly.


Five Ring Circus

For some daredevils, the 2018 stock market isn't action-packed enough. So they luge. This is how a thrill-seeking personality helps Olympic athletes.

+ Here are ten moments from Pyeongchang's opening ceremonies, and a lot of photos from the event.

+ The biggest news from the Olympics so far as been the historic handshake. And the most awkward news was Mike Pence sitting a few feet away from Kim Jong-un's Sister.

+ Two sisters are playing hockey for two different countries.

+ "If your child needs help remembering their goals and dreams at times when they lose focus, that could be a sign that they have lost their passion or enthusiasm for the sport." How to Parent an Olympic Athlete. (That's easy. My daughter's third grade basketball team has been outscored about 130 to 9 this season. Try parenting your way out of that!)


So the Story Goes

Two Reuters journalists are facing up to 14 years in prison for their investigative reporting. Here's the story they risked their freedom to get out. How Myanmar forces burned, looted and killed in a remote village.


This is (Stimul)Us

The government shut down and re-opened, all while most of us we're asleep. By the time your alarm clock went off, there was a signed budget deal.

+ What finally brought the two parties together? Spending. And lots of it. From WaPo: Congress is spending as if we're in a recession instead of saving up to fight the next one.


Let That Be a Lesson to You

"Khweis was tasked with running errands such as grocery shopping, taking out the trash at his Islamic State house and caring for wounded fighters. He eventually became 'frustrated with waiting' for military training, according to an FBI special agent who testified during Khweis's trial. He ended up fleeing and was captured in Iraq." WaPo: Young men left America to join ISIS. They ended up cooking and cleaning for the caliphate.


The Leash Common Denominator

"From 2012 to 2016, the breed's registrations nearly doubled in Hell's Kitchen and nearby Chelsea, from 113 to 208, the biggest surge for the breed in all five boroughs. Except these poodles answered to names like Duke and Nacho, not Bentley or Valentino, like some of their uptown kin. And while the Upper East Side still had the most poodles in that period, with 369 registrations in 2016, the breed's downtown migration hasn't gone unnoticed." From the NYT: Downtown poodles. Uptown pit bulls. A Xoloitzcuintli on the block. To understand New York real estate, follow Fido.


Feel Good Friday

"Major psychiatric disorders like autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder appear to have more in common than scientists thought they did. A new study finds that they have important similarities at a molecular level. And understanding the molecular basis of those disorders could help in developing better treatments."

+ After long battle, mental health will be part of New York's school curriculum.

+ "If you came to see the bride, you're out of luck." NPR: 2 Vets Celebrate Love.

+ Dunkin Donuts is getting rid of the styrofoam cups.

+ US jobless claims drop to near 45-year low

+ You can help the homeless by feeding new orange meters in Los Angeles.

+ "And although Gowdy is typically upbeat, the whirlwind of tragic and frustrating events in October plunged him into a deep depression." So he started doing nice things for other people and it made him feel better. A lot better. Meet a Gonzaga law student on a mission to ‘heal Spokane' through acts of kindness, service.

+ A new machine aims to take the sugar out of gelato. (I'd like to put myself in that machine...)