August 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You're basically auditing law school, your teens and their phones, and carrying your childhood gym baggage.

If your mother always wanted you to be a lawyer, she’s in luck. Because for the duration of the Trump presidency, we’ve all basically been auditing law school via the media. In the past twenty-four hours alone we’ve learned about federal juries, bank fraud, tax regulations, pardon norms, cooperation agreements, plea deals, and campaign finance rules; all in the shadow of a hearty debate over the fresh legal theory that states “truth is not truth.” If nothing else, I think we can say with some certainty that this will be the last time an American presidential candidate will pay off an adult film star without filling out the proper paperwork first. A few thoughts on the matter from me: The Institutions Strike Back. 15 Quick Takes on Trump’s Very Bad Day in Court. (My mom didn’t care if I became a lawyer. She just hoped I’d never become a co-conspirator.)

+ Adam Davidson on the swamp’s craziest day yet. “The day had a feeling, on one level, of history, of recognizing that one is living through moments that will become central parts of the Trump Presidency. At the same time, the day felt small and shabby, as we learned more details about the crude crimes of those who surround the President.”

+ “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen.” Trump ripped Cohen and lauded Manafort. His tone supports the notion that Manafort might be destined for a pardon. But pardoning a convicted felon who could potentially testify against you would be crossing a red line (if we had any red lines left). Sidenote: If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, too bad, they’re all either working on this scandal or have quit the bar to launch a podcast.

+ “He considers a pardon from somebody who has acted so corruptly as president to be something he would never accept.” Lawyer Lanny Davis said Michael Cohen would not accept a pardon and added, “Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows.”

+ “In the ensuing months, Cohen went from a man who once told me he would take a bullet for Trump to one aiming directly at his former boss, making no secret of the fact that he felt he was being hung out to dry by the president and those around him, that he was strapped for cash, that he was willing to do whatever it took to protect his family.” No reporter has had more access to Michael Cohen than Emily Jane Fox. Here she is on Cohen’s day in court.

+ No reporter has followed the Manafort travails closer than Franklin Foer. Here, he attempts to answer the question: “Why did Manafort place himself in a position almost guaranteed to maximize his pain and suffering?”


Bubble Numb

There’s a decent chance that at some point on Tuesday, you felt overwhelmed by the deluge of Trump legal headlines. Unless you were in a bubble where the the cases didn’t even top the news. Our divide has been well-documented. But these graphics from the MIT Tech Review show just how dramatic the polarization really is. This is what filter bubbles actually look like.


Stock Split

“As the stock market surged, prices for homes — the most important source and store of wealth for the American middle class — recovered much more slowly from the Great Recession and housing bust. Incomes, too, have barely budged, despite steady economic growth in recent years.” NYT: Bull Market Hits a Milestone: 3,453 Days. Most Americans Aren’t at the Party.

+ Quartz: The bull market has a bear of a origin story.

+ “In the years after the crash, you could feel the fabric of the country fraying. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street rose up as opposite expressions of antiestablishment rage, nourished by the sense that colluding élites in government and business had got away with a crime. The game was rigged—that became the consensus of the alienated.” It’s ten years after the crash. But for millions of Americans, it was like yesterday. The New Yorker’s George Packer: The financial crisis of 2008 was years in the making and has had a lasting impact on American political life.


Screenage Wasteland

“Roughly two-thirds of parents are concerned their teen spends too much time in front of screens.” And it turns out the feeling is mutual. “51% of teens say they often or sometimes find their parent or caregiver to be distracted by their own cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them.” (In my defense, my kids are not particularly entertaining.) Here are the latest Pew numbers on how teens and parents navigate screen time and device distractions. This stat stands out: “56% of teens associate the absence of their cellphone with at least one of these three emotions: loneliness, being upset or feeling anxious.” (Paradoxically, we also associate the presence of our cellphones with those emotions.)


R.I.P. Tide

“Like many others, this ecological disaster has clear human causes, namely decades of slathering the Florida peninsula in the chemicals cyanobacteria love most.” Bloomberg: Toxic Slime Is Ruining Florida’s Gulf Coast.

+ Quartz: Florida’s red tide crisis shows how climate change will make the world an ugly place.

+ Orlando Sentinel: “For the past eight years, we stood by as the state decimated its environmental and water-protection agencies and repealed checks on sustainable growth. Every step, we were warned: “Don’t do it! Things will go bad!”


Aggressive Platform

“One thing stuck out. Towns where Facebook use was higher than average … reliably experienced more attacks on refugees … And the effect apparently works the other way, too … Researchers tested their findings by examining every sustained internet outage in their study window … Sure enough, whenever internet access went down in an area with high Facebook use, attacks on refugees dropped significantly.” These study results probably don’t prove anything completely conclusive. But they sure seem bad. NYT: Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany.

+ The bad actors definitely believe in these connections: Facebook Identifies New Influence Operations Spanning Globe.


Minutes to Memories

“Santa Clara Fire paid Verizon for ‘unlimited’ data but suffered from heavy throttling until the department paid Verizon more.” Verizon throttled a fire department’s unlimited data during the California wildfires. And that has a lot to do with net neutrality.

+ And from my fearless sponsors: Mozilla files arguments against the FCC – latest step in fight to save net neutrality.


Hunter Gatherers

“When Hunter told his wife he needed to ‘buy my Hawaii shorts,’ but he was out of money, she allegedly told him to buy them from a golf pro shop so he could claim they were actually golf balls for wounded warriors.” If nothing else, Duncan Hunter had pretty good timing. Federal prosecutors alleged that he and his wife stole $250K of campaign funds on a day when everyone’s attention was on other federal cases. But, man, some of the details. From WaPo: 10 of the ickiest allegations in the Duncan Hunter indictment.


Gym Baggage

According to the NYT, “how we felt during gym classes years or decades ago may shape how we feel about exercise today and whether we choose to be physically active.” (When I was taking the presidential physical fitness test in middle school, my high bar flex hang was so brief that my PE teacher gave me credit for half a pull up instead…)


Bottom of the News

“While the law acknowledges that surfing, like so much other California stuff, actually came from somewhere else — in this case Hawaii — it also makes the case that California revolutionized the art of shooting the curl and hanging 10.” Surfing Is Now the Official Sport in California. (I always thought it was vesting…)

+ This is why you can’t unlock a car door if someone is trying to open it at the same time. (I’m sticking with the explanation I give my kids: “Because you just can’t!”)

+ Coconut oil is a healthy alternative! Wait, Coconut oil is pure poison.

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