Tuesday, February 20th, 2018


The Teen Age

Scheduling Note: I'm on a road trip with my daughter. So delivery will be sporadic this week.

"I don't even have a job. I don't even have any money. Stopping this from happening again is my life now." So said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzalez as she described efforts by students determined to turn their grief into political change. From James LaPorte in The Daily Beast: In Parkland, the Kids Are Already Changing Things on Guns. It's a long way from here to actual change. But these young people have taken the first (and, these days, maybe the hardest) step: They have our attention. A school walk-out is scheduled for next month, and this afternoon there's a march on Florida's capital.

+ The news comes at us so fast these days, and we quickly move on to the next story. But this time, hit the pause button and pay attention to the Florida teens who have found their political voices. And focus on the speech that Emma Gonzalez delivered. It was historic and heroic. I read a lot of news. And this story feels different. My take: Do Better Than Us.

+ The New Yorker: How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement.

+ Buzzfeed: Here's What It's Like At The Headquarters of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings. "Teens are trying to start a revolution from their parents' living rooms."

+ "For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve. A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled." WaPo: For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve' from scandals. (Editor's note: Just wow.)

+ Once the kids started speaking out, the bots and trolls came for them.

+ The NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin with an interesting idea: "What if the finance industry — credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express; credit card processors like First Data; and banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — were to effectively set new rules for the sales of guns in America." (My dad thinks the teen organizers should go local and convince people to picket in front of gun stores that sell semiautomatic weapons.)



"Teens use devices that range from a JUUL — a slim, rectangular device that looks like a USB flash drive — to e-cigarettes, which resemble highlighter markers or oversized lipsticks." This Chicago Tribune article is representative of what I hear from a lot of parents of high schoolers: More teens sneaking vaping devices that look like flash drives, markers into suburban high schools.



"A little while ago a child came to me who was blue in the face and barely breathing, his mouth filled with sand. I emptied it with my hands. I don't think they had what we do in any of the medical textbooks ... All these humanitarian and rights organisations, all that is nonsense. So is terrorism. What is a greater terrorism than killing civilians with all sorts of weapons? Is this a war? It's not a war. It's called a massacre." Impossible as it seems, things continue to get worse in parts of Syria. From The Guardian: It's not a war. It's a massacre.

+ Quartz: The United Nations is officially speechless over hospital bombings in Syria. (Unicef issued a blank statement.)


Fireproof and Fury

While analysts (and key players) are still trying to work through the broader meaning of the indictment of Russian trolls, team Mueller has charged another person with lying to the FBI, and CNN reports that Mueller's interest in Kushner has grown to include foreign financing efforts.

+ "This careful approach makes it harder for Trump and his allies to attack Mueller's investigation as a waste of time, a hoax, or a 'witch hunt.'" Politico's Renato Mariotti gets it right on the key part of the Mueller strategy: He just made himself harder to fire.

+ Tom Friedman: "President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy." And David Frum: America Is Under Attack and the President Doesn't Care.

+ Evan Osnos: "At the heart of the Russian fraud is an essential, embarrassing insight into American life: large numbers of Americans are ill-equipped to assess the credibility of the things they read."

+ "How does a ready-made toolbox for digital manipulation already exist? For that, we have the digital-advertising industry to thank." The Atlantic: Russia's Election Interference Is Digital Marketing 101.


Five Ring Circus

It's pretty amazing that, thus far, the most controversial doping charge in the 2018 games involves a Curler. (Maybe he though he could sweep it under the rug. Or maybe he just wanted to be included in the Curler Calendar...)

+ New Statesmen: Game of Stones: The power struggle at the heart of British curling.

+ "As long as skaters have performed in costumes, those costumes have betrayed them." Slate: A gasp-filled history of skating wardrobe malfunctions.

+ "She's here in South Korea anyway as part of the Hungarian delegation, the latest in a series of quixotic pursuits that include running for governor of California as a 19-year-old student at Berkeley to trying out for the Oakland Raiders cheerleading team to mounting a push to reach the Olympics as skeleton racer for Venezuela. She only started skiing eight years ago and only got serious about it after the skeleton thing didn't take." AP: Freestyle skier's complex path offers Olympic Rorschach test. (To me, the ink blot looks like someone who should have stayed home.)

+ The weirdest thing I've seen at this Olympics: All those empty seats.


The Grim Reader

"It's embarrassing. Especially for someone like me. I'm supposed to be an author – words are kind of my job. Without reading, I'm not sure who I am. So, it's been unnerving to realize: I have forgotten how to read – really read – and I've been refusing to talk about it out of pride." Michael Harris talks life in the digital age in The Globe and Mail: I have forgotten how to read. (I'm so distracted. I've forgotten how to tweet...)


The Eyes Have It

"By analyzing scans of the back of a patient's eye, the company's software is able to accurately deduce data, including an individual's age, blood pressure, and whether or not they smoke. This can then be used to predict their risk of suffering a major cardiac event." This is a great example of how technology and big data will change health care in the near future by getting more information from the tests you're already taking. Google's new AI algorithm predicts heart disease by looking at your eyes.


Panther In the Black

"Much as 2012's The Hunger Games made abundantly clear that a female-fronted action movie could be a global sensation — and paved the way for Wonder Woman's historic box office run last summer — Black Panther has demolished the persistent and pernicious idea that movies starring black actors, made by black filmmakers, and telling black stories are niche projects incapable of making blockbuster money." Buzzfeed's Adam Vary on how Black Panther's historic success and big box office numbers should change Hollywood forever.


Carb Rater

"They didn't find evidence that carbs are the magic key to weight and fat loss. But the study demonstrates just how controversial and fraught the low-carb idea is, and how, despite all the magical claims, there's a lot we still don't understand about this diet." Vox: We've long blamed carbs for making us fat. What if that's wrong? (I'm about to take my daughter to a cake making/decorating activity. So, at least for the next few hours, the carb blaming is way, way wrong...)


Bottom of the News

Some UK fast-food customers are experiencing the unthinkable. They're going into KFCs only to find out they're out of chicken. First Brexit. Now this.

+ NPR: MLB Sets New Rules To Speed Up The Game.