August 10th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The science of underwear, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday, and sure, some stuff about Omarosa...

“All manner of hybrids and contenders have emerged, from G-strings and banana slings to boxer briefs and tighty-non-whities. But the mavens of under-fashion still mostly align along the original poles: boxers versus briefs; feral versus domestic; low-rider comfort versus high-ball style. In recent years, that divide has gained an existential edge, with various studies suggesting that wearing tight-fitting underwear may be bad for the underwearer.” Perhaps it’s a bit strange that I’m leading with a story about the pros and cons of different types of men’s underwear. But, then again, the rest of the internet is leading with a story about Omarosa. And one can hardly accuse me of being low-brow when I am pulling quotes from The New Yorker on a Harvard Study (a combination that is about as tighty-whitey as you can get). So take a brief respite from brain-hammering news cycle and enjoy the kind of story that would have been viral before the troubles began. Science Has Resolved the Question of Boxers vs. Briefs.


Heart Attack

While the Space Force is all the rage these days, the truth of the matter is that when it comes to the potential for mass casualty warfare, space is not the final frontier. Your body is. From Wired: A New Pacemaker Hack Puts Malware Directly On The Device. “An attacker could exploit to control implanted pacemakers remotely, deliver shocks patients don’t need or withhold ones they do, and cause real harm.”

+ “Although no users have reported a disastrous malfunction, trusting your life (or your child’s) to a DIY pancreas carries obvious risks.” Bloomberg: The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life With Diabetes.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: If you’ve never watched the Vietnam War documentary series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, I have good news for you. First, it’s available on Netflix now. Second, it’s remarkable. And third, there’s never been a better time to watch it. The parallels to today’s American divide are everywhere, from what it takes to get the truth out of a president to what it means to be patriotic. It will also put today’s stories into some perspective. Consider this stat: After the Kent State shootings, 58% of Americans blamed the students.

+ What to Pod: Season Two of the Slowburn podcast is out. This time, they’re focusing on Clinton, Lewinsky, and the scandal that nearly ended a presidency. If you missed the first season on Watergate, fix that right away. The similarities to today’s headlines will be jaw-dropping.

+ What to Hear: There’s almost nothing that my wife, two kids, and I agree on completely. The exception is that we all dig Twenty One Pilots. Their new album is due in October. Their arena tour is selling out (luckily, someone’s dad was on it!), and you can hear three new songs on their site or your music service of choice.


Cold Turkey

“Most recently, President Trump issued sanctions on top Turkish officials over the ongoing detention of a US pastor who is facing terror and espionage charges in Turkey.” What’s that screeching sound you hear emanating from your stock portfolio? It’s new tariffs. This time on Turkey. BBC: Trump doubles metal tariffs on Turkey as lira falls by 20%.


This is Not Fine

“White nationalists win by activating white panic, by frightening a sufficient number of white people into believing that their safety and livelihoods can only be protected by defining American citizenship in racial terms, and by convincing them that American politics is a zero-sum game in which white people only win when people of color lose.” Individual alt-right groups are often described as being in shambles. But their bleak message has been thrown a lifeline and pulled in from the fringe. Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: The White Nationalists Are Winning.

+ “This is pretty outrageous. That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.” WaPo: Judge halts mother-daughter deportation, threatens to hold Sessions in contempt.


Leash the Power Within

“The approval of the communiqué — renamed for the meeting as a declaration — was critical for the alliance. It ensured that, despite Mr. Trump’s rhetorical fireworks, NATO diplomats could push through initiatives, including critical Pentagon priorities to improve allied defenses against Russia.” An absolutely amazing report: U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump. (This is the undertold story of the Trump era: The people in the administration who keep working because they see it as their duty to protect the republic from the danger in the oval office.)

+ The story above is a much bigger deal than the one everyone is talking about today. But from the offer of hush money to the existence of recordings, the Omarosa outtakes sure have a familiar ring to them. If nothing else, the advice she offers sounds pretty spot on. “All we need to remember is that Trump loves the hate. He thrives on criticism and insults. He delights in chaos and confusion. Taking to Twitter to call him names only fuels him and riles his base. To disarm him, starve his ego; don’t feed into it.”


Son in Law Trouble

“Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now.” ABC News: Police chief helps trace and arrest son in attack on Sikh man.


I Once Was Blind, But Now I’m Big Blind

“It’s been an unexpected journey. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that I would have gone in less than a year from not knowing how many cards were in a deck to winning a major poker title.” A well regarded science writer took up poker while researching a book. Now she’s on the professional circuit. NYT: Maria Konnikova Shows Her Cards. (She’s also a regular reader of NextDraft, which is like drawing a royal flush every weekday!)


A Squirrel Nut

“It often happens that squirrels which have lost their mothers look for a replacement and then focus their efforts on one person.” It’s less common, however, that the one person calls the police. The Guardian: Police in Germany rescue man being chased by baby squirrel.

+ Bonus item: Sarah Silverman explains to Howard Stern that squirrels lose track of 80% of the acorns they store.


Feel Good Friday

“We quickly found evidence that he really does shop at Whole Foods — and that he likes almonds quite a bit. Still, there were reasons to be suspicious.” NYT: Ludacris Is Probably in Your Whole Foods Right Now (and he might pay for your groceries…).

+ People are donating millions of frequent flyer miles to help reunite separated immigrant families.

+ Washingtonian: These Twenty-Somethings Got Heart Transplants on the Very Same Day. And Then They Fell in Love.

+ Pearl Jam raises millions to help Seattle’s homeless; local businesses join forces with iconic band.

+ Elderly man rescues drowning boy, then discovers he also saved the kid’s father 30 years ago. (It could probably sort of irritate the rescuer that no lessons were learned after he saved the first family member, but this is feel good Friday, so let’s focus on the positive…)

+ NYT: The Marines Didn’t Think Women Belonged in the Infantry. She’s Proving Them Wrong.

+ Kid gets into Georgetown. Parents refuse to support kid’s efforts because he is gay. Teacher launches fundraiser. Georgetown hears about it. Kid gets full ride.

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