June 8th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Remembering Anthony Bourdain, America's ICE Age, Weekend Whats, and a video clip that fully embodies Feel Good Friday.

Anthony Bourdain was the living embodiment of the phrase “food for thought.” His writing and TV shows like Parts Unknown started with food, but they quickly scaled up Maslow’s hierarchy; becoming less about the meals on the plate and more about the people across the table. As Barack Obama wrote: “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.” Anthony Bourdain, Chef, Travel Host and Author, Is Dead at 61.

+ “I have a tattoo on my arm, that says, in ancient Greek, ‘I am certain of nothing.’ I think that’s a good operating principle. I love showing up to a place thinking it’s going to be one way and having all sorts of stupid preconceptions or prejudices, and then in even a painful and embarrassing way, being proved wrong.”

+ Last week, Bourdain purchased a painting called, “The sky is falling, I am learning to live with it.”

+ Bourdain burst onto the media scene with his New Yorker piece: Don’t Eat Before Reading This. “Your first two hundred and seven Wellfleet oysters may transport you to a state of rapture, but your two hundred and eighth may send you to bed with the sweats, chills, and vomits. Gastronomy is the science of pain.” (So too is the human condition.)

+ Losing both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to suicide in the same week is a harsh reminder that no truer words have been sung than REM’s line: Everybody hurts. In life, both Spade and Bourdain were exceptional. In death, they are part of an increasingly common trend.


Vlad Handing

Tensions were already running high between President Trump and his counterparts from the other G-7 countries. They quickly ran higher as Trump kicked off the day by suggesting Russia should be let back into the group: “You know, whether you like it or – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in”

+ “Ever since Trump took office, America’s allies have desperately sought to avoid this moment. Over the last year and a half, though, many of them have come to realize, with growing dread, that it was inevitable.” The New Yorker: America First Really Is Turning Out to Be America Alone.

+ Here’s the latest from the G7.


Weekend Whats

What to Read: “In Paris on a chilly evening late in October of 1985 I first became fully aware that the struggle with the disorder in my mind – a struggle which had engaged me for months – might have a fatal outcome.” William Styron’s Darkness Visible.

+ What to Stream: The Summer music festival tour stops in Bonnaroo this weekend. You can watch bands like Muse and Sheryl Crow via a live feed on Twitter.

+ What to Watch: Season two of the intense Israeli thriller Fauda is out on Showtime. It’s definitely worth a watch. And it’s also worth reading this perspective on the show: Watching Israeli TV’s Fauda as a Palestinian.


Ice Age

“U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy in April, saying the government would prosecute anyone attempting to enter the country unlawfully. Sessions also said last month that the government would separate migrant parents from their children, leading to an outcry among immigrant advocates after at least 600 children were separated from their parents in one month. ‘If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border’ Sessions said.” What’s the next move? From Reuters: ICE To Send 1,600 Detainees To Federal Prisons.

+ Andrew Sullivan on the policy of splitting kids from parents at the border: “The children are separated from their parents in order to send a message to future illegal immigrants. Come here, and we’ll take your kids away. This was not a panicked measure, taken quickly, to avert a crisis. It was months under due consideration, with plenty in the Trump administration balking at the inhumanity of it all. These children are being traumatized to send a message. They are being used as a form of deterrence for others.”



“Earlier this week, at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference, in Washington, D.C., Marshall described a device that he and colleagues are developing: a wide belt, to be worn by the patient, that records the creaks and undulations of the gut, analyzes them with software, and recognizes the distinct sonic signature of I.B.S.” The New Yorker on The Belt That Listens to Your Bowels. (I’ve got Rachmaninoff Symphony No 2, Movement 2 playing on repeat.)


Brain Waves

“How does a freestyle rapper rhyme without rehearsal? How does a jazz improviser shape an instant solo? How do improv comedians wing it under pressure? Creativity is one of our most mysterious and fascinating capabilities, and astonishing things happen inside the brains of improvisers as they perform.” WaPo with an interactive piece that looks at the science of improvisation.

+ Nautilus: What Time Feels Like When You’re Improvising. “Improvisation appears to take place in an altered state of mind.” (I can vouch for that…)


The Trig House

“Being a teen charged as an adult is a lesson in dizzying mixed messages. You’re too young to vote or drink, maybe even to drive, and you’ve been told that kids can grow and change. Yet your own future is set out in the starkest terms: years or decades in prison followed by a lifelong criminal record. It’s even weirder to hear that you still have to learn trigonometry.” For The Marshall Project and This American Life, Eli Hager examines whether a violent adult jail can teach kids to love school? The Hardest Lesson.


Pawn Stars

“The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, brought new obstruction charges on Friday against President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and added allegations against a close associate, who prosecutors suspect has ties to Russian intelligence.” NYT: Mueller Adds Obstruction Charge on Manafort and Indicts His Right-Hand Man.

+ Franklin Foer with the pretty amazing story of that right hand man. The Astonishing Tale of the Man Mueller Calls Person A. “To put it even more bluntly than Mueller: Donald Trump’s campaign chairman had a pawn of Russian intelligence as his indispensable alter ego.”


Secrets and Fries

“What we are finding is when people dwell more, they tend to select more. So there is a little bit of an average check boost that comes with it.” At McDonald’s, you buy more from touch-screen kiosks than a person. So expect more kiosks.


Feel Good Friday

We got some rare good news out of Washington when the long-suffering Capitals took home the Stanley Cup. With the win comes the pure embodiment of Feel Good Friday courtesy of an NBC camera that captured my friend Jeff and his hockey-loving son at the moment of victory.

+ Man Finds $1 Million Winning Lottery Ticket — and Tracks Down the Lucky Owner: “It Felt Good.”

+ “These are modern day heroes. Dressed in traditional threads, they walk the streets of Japan. When they see trash, they pick it up, and throw it away. Bless them.”

+ “My name is Michael Patterson, sir. Thank you for delivering me.” How a routine traffic stop became a happy reunion.

+ “About 10 years ago, Superintendent Emanuele Triggiano remembers laughing when a retired teacher told him that she was going to donate a million dollars.” (She wasn’t kidding.)

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