Friday, June 1st, 2018


I Can See Your Halo

"Last month, almost 1,000 people streamed into a church in San Francisco for an unprecedented event billed as Beyoncé Mass. Most were people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Many were secular. They used Queen Bey's songs, which are replete with religious symbolism, as the basis for a communal celebration." That was a particularly unusual (and particularly excellent) example of a surprisingly common trend towards a new form of a religiosity; one that often excludes god. The Atlantic's Sigal Samuel digs into the latest Pew survey numbers and finds that Atheists Are Sometimes More Religious Than Christians. (I consider myself an agnostic: I doubt the existence of Beyoncé.)

+ If praying to a pop star seems sacrilegious to you, then maybe The Church of Saint John Coltrane will be more your speed.


The Yong and the Restless

In what was the "highest-level meeting between a US president and a North Korean official since 2000," President Trump welcomed former spy chief Kim Yong Chol into the Oval Office where they met for more than an hour. Following the meeting, Trump announced that the June 12 summit is back on.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: David Letterman and his beard have been hosting a Netflix show called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. In the latest installment, Dave interviews the person who (quite surprisingly) has become the greatest interviewer around. Here's Dave and Howard Stern. And for a more from this pair, here's Howard interviewing the person who became (quite surprisingly) the best late night host ever. Howard Stern and Dave.

+ What to Read:: "The murder of Mickey Bryan, a quiet fourth-grade teacher, stunned her small Texas town. Then her husband, a beloved high school principal, was charged with killing her. Did he do it, or had there been a terrible mistake?" ProPublica with a two part story: Blood Will Tell. Here's part two.

+ What to Ignore:: "The way to disempower Trump is to ignore him, but it's too hard even for his opponents to do it. It has to be a pure attention battle. If you were another network and Trump was I Love Lucy, what do you do? You can't necessarily spend all your time criticizing I Love Lucy because that will just build it up. You need your own programming and to develop your own characters and celebrities who have to be as interesting and compelling. You need to have your own show. And I don't think Democrats have their own show other than the I Hate Trump show." Vanity Fair's Peter Hamby on the only fight that matters.


The Booking of Job

"The Department of Labor reported at 8:30 a.m. that unemployment in the U.S. had dropped to its lowest level since 1969 as the economy added a higher-than-expected 223,000 jobs in May." You could have found out the good news by waiting for the jobs report to come out, or you could have gleaned the information from a norm-busting (and market-moving) Tweet from the Potus an hour or so earlier.

+ "The US labor market is putting on an unprecedented show of strength. There have now been 92 consecutive months of gains in US payrolls, the longest continuous stretch since records began."


Too Legit to Quit

Every week we seem to get a new and more disturbing stat about the impact of the opioid epidemic. But there's another side of the story. WaPo on Unintended Consequences: Inside the fallout of America's crackdown on opioids. "The story of prescription opioids in America today is not only one of addiction, overdoses and the crimes they have wrought, but also the story of pain patients ... and their increasingly desperate struggles to secure the medication."


Mike Check

"So I'm warning you, tread very f***ing lightly because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting. Do you understand me? Don't think you can hide behind your pen because it's not going to happen. I'm more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal counsel because motherf***** you're going to need it." Ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of NPR, you can now listen in on the smooth stylings of lawyer, taxi medallion entrepreneur, presidential fixer, garden-variety thug, and one assumes, Sopranos fan, Michael Cohen. (I wonder if his tone changed a bit when the person on the other end of the line was Bobby Three Sticks...)


Feckless Abandon

Several advertisers had already pulled their commercials from Samantha Bee's show by the time she apologized for her controversial comment about the first daughter. ("You know, Ivanka, that's a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices, you feckless c***!"). The President (who is strongly opposed to coarse language, especially when it comes to women) called on her to be fired.

+ The New Yorker: Ivanka Trump, Samantha Bee, and the Strange Path of an Ancient Epithet. (I had no idea feckless was such a controversial word...)

+ If you missed it earlier in the week, I had ten quick thoughts on Roseanne's very long week. The First Rule of Mickey Mouse Club.


Game Changer

"At a time when computers — the main arena then for programmers working to build games — could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, Mr. Dabney spurned them altogether. Instead he tinkered in a workshop he had set up in his daughter's bedroom and used plywood and fake mahogany paneling to build Atari's first consoles." He also came up with a game called Pong. Nellie Bowles in the NYT: Ted Dabney, a Founder of Atari and a Creator of Pong, Dies at 81.


Sounding Alike

"Is there something unique about today's hits—artists taking fewer risks and creating a narrower range of sounds?" It turns out the answer to that could be yes. The Pudding on The Musical Diversity Of Pop Songs.


Feel Good Friday

Today is National Doughnut Day. And according to Vox, doughnut holes have gotten smaller over the years (which, in layperson's terms, means there's more doughnut).

+ "Two lead changes. Three ties. A controversial replay reversal. A potentially series-changing blunder. The final minute of regulation in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals featured just about everything." ESPN: Inside the dramatic final minute of regulation of Cavs-Warriors Game 1. (This is only a feel good story if you're a Warriors fan.)

+ Vermont will pay you $10,000 to move there and work remotely.

+ Whales entangled in debris in Hawaii get help from team of drones.

+ Florida brewery unveils six-pack rings that feed sea turtles rather than kill them.

+ Katz's Deli starts subscription service for its famous pastrami.