Monday, April 30th, 2018


Tonight’s Homework

"Some evenings, when we force her to go to bed, she will pretend to go to sleep and then get back up and continue to do homework for another hour. The following mornings are awful, my daughter teary-eyed and exhausted but still trudging to school. I wonder: What is the exact nature of the work that is turning her into a sleep-deprived teen zombie so many mornings?" Are kids getting too much homework these days? Karl Taro Greenfeld definitely thought that was the case for his 13 year-old daughter. So he decided to do her homework for a week. From the The Atlantic back in 2013: My Daughter's Homework Is Killing Me.

+ It turns out the homework debate continued long after Greenfield turned in his assignments: From the NYT Upshot: Worried About Risky Teenage Behavior? Make School Tougher. "More demanding academic standards decreased the number of days teenagers drank as well as the rate at which they engaged in binge drinking." (Someone might need to write "I will not confuse correlation and causation" a hundred times on the chalkboard.)


Fence Posts

"The caravan started with about 1,200 to 1,500 people and on Sunday about 40 presented themselves at San Ysidro in the United States to ask for asylum, citing violence and political oppression. As of Sunday evening, the US border authorities had still not allowed them to apply for asylum." From Buzzfeed: A group of 50 people are waiting to enter the port of San Ysidro, at the US–Mexico border near California (and thanks to all the rhetoric and tweeting on the topic, the whole world is watching...)

+ "I was threatened by gangs after refusing to sell drugs for them. They threatened my stepdad and then they killed him. I left on Aug. 8 by myself" ... "A few days before leaving Honduras the gang told me that if my kid wanted to play outside I had to pay them. That's when I decided, No, that's not how my kids are going to live" ... "I lived in a red zone, so every two weeks I had to pay MS-13 $100. I didn't have that kind of money, but if I didn't pay them I knew what would happen ... I didn't even tell my family I was leaving because there wasn't enough time when I left." 18 Members Of The Caravan Explain Why They Fled Their Homes. (If we're going to have a constructive debate about immigration policies, it's worth reminding ourselves who these folks really are...)


Afghan Blast

"Two Islamic State suicide bombers struck in Afghanistan's capital on Monday, killing 25 people, including nine journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first attack, in the deadliest assault on reporters since the fall of the Taliban in 2001." AP: Twin bombings in Afghanistan kill 25, including 9 reporters.

+ "I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don't see a way out." Photographer Shah Marai was among those killed. Here's an essay he wrote a couple years ago. And here's some of his work.


Deal Breaker

"I'm here to tell you one thing: Iran lied. Big time." Last week, Marcon and Merkel made pilgrimages to the White House in large part to convince President Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. Benjamin Netanyahu made his opposing case over the weekend, and on Monday, Bibi shared a PowerPoint presentation with the world. Krishnadev Calamur in The Atlantic: "Those hoping for a smoking gun of Iran's cheating on the deal it signed with world powers to curb its nuclear program were likely to be disappointed. The fact that Iran was at one point pursuing nuclear weapons will likely be a surprise to no one—and indeed was a rationale for concluding the nuclear agreement in the first place."

+ At least one person was impressed with the presentation. Trump said it helped show he's "100% right" about the Iran deal.


Toy Vey

"When a company sells itself to a private equity fund, it takes on a high-interest loan with hopes that the new owners will drive enough profit growth to pay off the debt. It's like taking on a high-interest payday loan. When private equity buyouts go well, they can help a company cut operations costs to maximize profits. But if the company doesn't trim down its debt, the financial burden "becomes so unsurmountable you can't get yourself out of it." Buzzfeed's Leticia Miranda on who stands to lose the most when private equity firms take over companies like Toys R Us. This is What Happened When Wall Street Tried Selling Toys.


Beat Street

"He compared his situation to that of Voltaire's Candide, who, after enduring a litany of absurd horrors in a society plagued by fanaticism and incompetence, concludes that the only truly worthwhile activity is tending his garden. 'Except my garden is the Third Precinct.'" The New Yorker's Ben Taub on why an expert on counterterrorism decided to become a beat cop. The Spy Who Came Home.


Cashing Out

"After considering various options, they decided they had only one good play to make. They needed to catch Batiste and his crew in the act." Texas Monthly: The Doting Father Who Robbed Armored Cars. (This is one of the several reasons I never dote on my kids. It would just look too damn suspicious...)


Does Anyone Remember Laughter?

"If you've ever watched an old sitcom, you've almost certainly heard his work." Slate's Willa Paskin on The Man Who Perfected the Laugh Track. (Cable news could really use this guy right about now...)


Learning to Fly

"For decades, the zipper biz was dominated by one company. Japan's YKK makes half of the world's zippers—about 7 billion every year. And yet, competition is stiffening. China's SBS, founded in 1984 and a relative zipper whippersnapper (say that five times fast), is winning over big clients like North Face, Target, and H&M. Let's pull the zipper down on the industry that keeps us all securely fastened." Quartz with everything you ever wanted to know about the Zipper Wars.


Bottom of the News

"Every morning I wake up to the same routine. I log into the Tinder account of a 45-year-old man from Texas—a client. I flirt with every woman in his queue for 10 minutes, sending their photos and locations to a central database of potential 'Opportunities.' For every phone number I get, I make $1.75." You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators.

+ "Furry Boi's victory may seem unlikely, some college-kid shenanigans that went too far. But in the age of social media, of Donald Trump, of deeply pessimistic politics, it may be something far more terrifying—it may have been inevitable." Meet the Squirrel Who Won a UC Berkeley Senate Seat. (Go Bears.)

+ Forget fake news. The new thing is fake weather.