August 6th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

We were born to lie, Alex Jones picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, and Beyonce's flower power.

The truth hurts. I mean, it must, because some people will do almost anything to avoid it. And that’s been true for a long time. As Sapien’s author Yuval Noah Harari explains, humans are a post-truth species. “Ever since the stone age, self-reinforcing myths have served to unite human collectives. Indeed, Homo sapiens conquered this planet thanks above all to the unique human ability to create and spread fictions.”

+ For lies to spread, you need a liar (check), and you need people to believe the lies. It turns out, there’s never a shortage of either. The Atlantic’s Ben Yagoda on The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain. “Science suggests we’re hardwired to delude ourselves. Can we do anything about it?”

+ “From vaccines to climate change to genocide, a new age of denialism is upon us. Why have we failed to understand it?” The Guardian: What drives people to reject the truth?

+ You probably don’t need any additional evidence to convince you, but assaulting the truth often pays off, bigly. GQ’s Mari Uyehara on Goop, Trump, and the Lucrative Assault on Truth: “The Goopians largely inflict their anxieties on themselves in frivolous ways, say, emptying their wallets for $500–$4,000 tickets to Goop summits or considering bee-sting therapy, while the Trumpians and right-wing conspiracy theorists inflict them on others in inhumane ones, cheering for the caging of migrant children away from their parents and the harassment of parents of dead Sandy Hook children.”

+ I suppose all of this means that the soundtrack of our lives is I’d Lie For You (And Thats The Truth), by Meat Loaf. (And as if we weren’t already living with enough lies, I heard Meat Loaf isn’t even his real name…)


Jonesing for Alex

Looks like Alex Jones picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. Over the weekend, Apple kicked the infamous conspiracy theorist off its platform. Then Facebook did the same. Then YouTube and Spotify made the move. (Weird how everybody realized the lying creep was a lying creep at the same moment…) It’s a net positive that hate has been removed from these networks. Things get more murky when you think about the enormous power in the hands of tech companies.


Iran Contra-diction

“They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple.” So said Sec of State Mike Pompeo as the US restored sanctions on Iran following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuke deal. “European officials have said that the Iran nuclear agreement is crucial to their national security. International inspectors have concluded that Iran is complying with the accord.”

+ Vox: The US has reimposed sanctions on Iran. Here’s what that means.


With Friends Like These…

“When Kenan was born four months premature, there were no doctors at al-Sadaqa Hospital to care for him. So his grandmothers tried to save him. They placed the infant in an incubator, but it was broken. They tried a second one. It wouldn’t heat up.” From WaPo: Welcome to life (and death) inside a Yemeni hospital in the middle of what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

+ We don’t read much news about the war in Yemen. But America is involved. And oddly, the US often finds itself on the same side as Al Qaeda.


Ice and Fire

“When Trump won, [some officers] thumped their chest as if they had just won the Super Bowl.” The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer on the unlikely rise of ICE. A long-running inferiority complex, vast statutory power, a chilling new directive from the top — inside America’s unfolding immigration tragedy. “The history of the agency is still a brief one. When terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, ICE didn’t exist.”


Sonny and (Over)Share

“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” There are a lot of presidential tweets. This one over the weekend was quite notable. The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson on the day Trump told us there was attempted collusion with Russia. 1973: Follow the Money. 2018: Wait for the Tweets.


Crime Scene Stealer

Our growing obsession with true crime content means something. I’m not sure exactly what it means. But I’m guessing it’s not good. (Full disclosure: that’s my guess on pretty much any trend.) NY Mag’s Alice Bolin on The Ethical Dilemma of Highbrow True Crime.


Stock Market

“The testimonials are the most shocking for me. I thought I understood how stock images work, you know, like having a picture of a house to illustrate a house. But it was so dishonest, I never knew you could use stock images with false testimonials and fake names.” BBC: The face behind a stock image: How I gave away my face for free.


Hand Mob

“The arms are actually controlled remotely by another person, who’s wearing an Oculus Rift VR headset, with which they can see the world from Saraiji’s perspective … and wield handheld controllers to direct the non-human arms and connected hands.” Technology Review: Meet the guy with four arms, two of which someone else controls in VR. (I seriously hope his hands and the remotely-controlled hands share similar interests…)


Bottom of the News

“It’s summer in Washington, so no one smells all that great. But this night was different from your average gathering of sweaty bodies. I was about to enter a pheromone party, where strangers would be inhaling my scent via a T-shirt I’d been wearing. It’s a fun if strange experiment. Singles are meeting in lots of odd ways these days. Perhaps sampling each other’s DNA the way you might go wine-tasting makes more sense than swiping through photos on a dating app.” WaPo: Does my sweaty T-shirt turn you on? (This is like a glory hole for your nose…)

+ How nature sounds became a multi-million dollar industry.

+ If none of today’s stories grabbed your attention, trust me, I understand. Pretty much everyone is focused on Beyonce in a floral headdress.

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