July 26th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Facebook faces reality, the GOP's impeach stones, and there's still time for you to instantly blossom into a savant.

Facebook: We managed to sign up every device-owning human in the world! Wall Street: So you’re saying growth will slow? After years of stock market (and Internet) dominance, the world’s biggest social network was due for a hit. But few expected the hit to be as dramatic as the one it’s currently taking. Slower growth and thinner margins were part of the problem. But the other part of the story is the steep price that Facebook says its willing to pay to harden its platform and address its scandals. From Fred Vogelstein in Wired: Facebook Just Learned The True Cost Of Fixing Its Problems. “The news also left little room for anyone doubting how serious Facebook is about restoring its reputation as a force for good. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he has no intention of letting Facebook become a platform known for celebrating humanity’s worst impulses. It appears he plans to put more money than anyone expected behind that pledge.”

+ Tracking Facebook’s fortunes in six charts. (I just logged into Facebook and got one of those Facebook Memories. It was a snapshot of yesterday’s stock price.)


A Drug Trial to Remember

“This trial shows you can both clear plaque and change cognition. I don’t know that we’ve hit a home run yet. It’s important not to over-conclude on the data. But as a proof of concept, I feel like this is very encouraging.” NYT: New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results. Alzheimer’s “affects about 44 million people worldwide, including 5.5 million Americans. It is estimated that those numbers will triple by 2050.”


Impeach Stones

The Atlantic on the doomed attempt to impeach Rod Rosenstein: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has many reasons to be concerned about his job security, but the articles of impeachment filed against him late Wednesday are probably not one.” It’s true that, with everyone from Jeff Sessions to Paul Ryan downplaying the idea, the impeachment move will never come up for a vote. But that’s not really the point of the effort. It’s to sow additional doubts about the Mueller investigation as it looks more and more like it will find a lot.

+ Jim Jordan, one of the members who filed the articles of impeachment, just announced that he is running for the Speakership.

+ Meanwhile, according to the NYT, “the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.” The notion that your tweets can and will be used against you would be bad news for just about anyone on Twitter. But it’s especially bad news for the Troll in Chief.

+ Quartz: Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s Twitter. These 22 tweets might raise an eyebrow. (It will be a bad sign for Trump if the Mueller report is written entirely in all caps…)


Solving for Ex

“The failure to solve black homicides fuels a vicious cycle: It deepens distrust of police among black residents, making them less likely to cooperate in investigations, leading to fewer arrests. As a result, criminals are emboldened and residents’ fears are compounded.” WaPo with an investigative piece on the enormous number of unsolved murders in America. “In the past decade, nearly 26,000 murders have gone without an arrest in major American cities. Of those, more than 18,600 of the victims — almost three‑quarters — were black.”


Sparks Fly

“There has been a lot of burning lately. Last week, wildfires broke out in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached almost 90 degrees; they are still roiling northern Sweden, 21 of them. And this week, wildfires swept through the Greek seaside, outside Athens, killing at least 80 and hospitalizing almost 200. At one resort, dozens of guests tried to escape the flames by descending a narrow stone staircase into the Aegean, only to be engulfed along the way, dying literally in each other’s arms.” You’ve seen those stories. But few of those stories identify climate change as the driving force. Is that a mistake? David Wallace-Wells in NY Mag: How Did the End of the World Become Old News? (I suppose some people are getting distracted by the end of liberal democracies.)

+ Digg: Here’s How Bad The Heat Has Been Around The World.


It’ll Come To You

“In congenital savant syndrome the extraordinary savant ability surfaces in early childhood. In acquired savant syndrome astonishing new abilities, typically in music, art or mathematics, appear unexpectedly in ordinary persons after a head injury [or] stroke … In sudden savant syndrome an ordinary person with no such prior interest or ability and no precipitating injury … has an unanticipated, spontaneous epiphany-like moment where the rules and intricacies of music, art or mathematics, for example, are experienced and revealed, producing almost instantaneous giftedness and ability in the affected area of skill sets.” Scientific American: A Person Can Instantly Blossom into a Savant–and No One Knows Why. (I feel this data justifies my life strategy of just waiting.)

+ WSJ: Strange Stories of Extraordinary Brains—and What We Can Learn From Them.


Immortal Beloved

I’ve been writing newsletters for the past couple decades. Which means I’ve seen them die and come back about eight times. And each time, their supposed death comes as just as much of a shock to everyone as it did the time before. They never died. They’re the best communication tool you have. And they are built upon the one internet platform that, unlike all the rest, never lets you down. Whether you are a sender or a receiver, here’s my highly educated take on why Newsletters Are Immortal (and so is news of their death and rebirth).


Juul Case

“Thanks to an influx of new money and an increasingly porous definition of what is a Silicon Valley company, what was taboo once, is now a hot deal. And there is no better example than Juul Labs, a San Francisco-based e-cigarette company (which makes a rechargeable vaping device and nicotine pods) which is raising $1.2 billion in fresh cash at an eye-popping $15 billion valuation. They have already raised as much as $650 million. The gawking coverage of the company makes it seem like anything but a cigarette peddler.” Om Malik: Juul & its House of Smoke & Horrors. (It’s just too ridiculous that the same investors who won’t invest in cannabis companies will invest in this poison. And I know that these e-cigs can help some people quit smoking real cigarettes. But you don’t invest money at a $15 billion valuation because you think a company is about getting people to need its product less.)


Mike Check

“In the nearly four months since FBI agents raided his office, home and hotel room, Cohen has felt wounded and abandoned by Trump, waiting for calls or even a signal of support that never came. Cohen got frustrated when Trump started talking about him in the past tense, panicked last month when he thought the president no longer cared about his plight, and became furious when Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani contradicted some of his account.” I’m not going to be a punching bag anymore: Inside Michael Cohen’s break with Trump.

+ CNN: Michael Cohen sent up flares, but Trump never came to help. (Flares and smoke signals never work. You’ve got to get a spot on Fox & Friends…)


Bottom of the News

“Considering I’ve taken more than 320 rides, this meant I’d received more than my fair share of 4s—maybe even a few 3s. I’ve never made a driver wait (that long) or slammed a door (that hard). I wasn’t a 4-out-of-5 human. I tried to shake this dark cloud hanging over me, judging me, but I couldn’t. I decided I would prove Uber’s algorithm had made a mistake (which it obviously had) by tracking down other (much more reliable) forms of affirmation.” GQ: This Is What Happened When I Asked My Friends to Rate Me.

+ Let’s go back to 1988 (in photos).

+ And here’s a look a workers making Trump 2020 campaign flags in Fuyang, Anhui Province.

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