August 28th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

America is mattress stores with some land in between, STDs are going nuts, and Trump's TV tells him that his computer is rigged.

“That Sonny’s going wild. He’s thinking of going to the mattresses already.” So famously said Clemenza in The Godfather. While Sonny’s strategies didn’t play out very well in the end, he was hardly alone in his mattress obsession. There is an online war to sell you a mattress, and like many previous internet battles, this one is spilling out onto the streets. “The cheap-to-run stores—often planted next to big-box retailers in high-traffic areas—function in part as billboards for the brand. In a sense, actual mattress-selling is almost secondary to the broader mission: simply making people think about mattresses.” In CityLab, Sarah Holder gives some historical background on how America became a nation of mattress stores. (Maybe Luca Brasi had it right. He slept with the fishes.)


Tinder Box

“We are sliding backward. It is evident the systems that identify, treat and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.” According to the latest numbers from the CDC, sexually transmitted diseases are breaking records. “The trend is exacerbated by the fact that gonorrhea could soon become resistant to antibiotic treatment.”

+ One big problem is that prevention efforts have stagnated. “Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health officials, says that one of the primary problems is lack of federal funding for state programs.” (You’d think this would be one health problem about which the Trump administration would be particularly sensitive…)


Yemen at Arms

“In the past three years, such air strikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.” NPR: U.N. Experts: Some Saudi-Led Airstrikes In Yemen Could Be War Crimes.

+ NYT: The United Nations said Friday that a Saudi-led airstrike had killed at least 22 children and four women in Yemen as they fled a fighting zone. If this sounds familiar, it’s because 40 kids were killed by an airstrike a couple weeks ago.

+ “First of all, war is such a scary story, everyone feels afraid of, nobody ever likes it, it’s really awful.” A 14-year-old Yemeni schoolgirl has written a letter describing her life for kids around the world.


Righting Arithmetic

“We are hopeful that the government will accept this as an official death toll. A lesson from this is that efforts for assistance and recovery need to focus as much as possible on lower-income areas, on people who are older, who are more vulnerable.” As some of the last Puerto Ricans finally get their power restored, a study finds that nearly 3,000 deaths were linked to Hurricane Maria. (The official death count number is 64.)


Vax and Figures

“Two-fifths of people in France—a country whose people pop antibiotics like sweets—believe that vaccines are unsafe. A quarter of Greeks and Ukrainians are also hostile. During recent outbreaks, some countries had dozens of health-workers coming down with measles—which suggest that they, too, may have a dim view of vaccines.” The Economist: Anti-vax fears drive a measles outbreak in Europe.

+ “Last week a branch of the most influential Islamic body in Indonesia, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), issued a fatwa against the use of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine because it contains porcine gelatine and is not halal.” Buzzfeed: This Is Why Islam Continues To Struggle With The Idea Of Vaccinations.


Search and Destroy

“Trump’s claim appears to have originated from a single blog post on a conservative news site, which snowballed its way to Fox Business and into the White House.” Today in unfounded craziness, Trump threatened to regulate ‘rigged’ Google search results. (In other words, Trump’s TV told him that his computer was rigged.) But these are only silly twitter rants and we should ignore them. Oh wait, according to WaPo, “The Trump administration is ‘taking a look’ at whether Google and its search engine should be regulated by the government.”

+ The strategy of attacking reality is spreading. From The New Yorker: ‘Fake News’ and Unrest in Nicaragua. And from The Guardian: Venezuelan official suggests migrant crisis is staged to undermine government. (The Putinization of reality is gaining momentum.)

+ WaPo: President non grata: Trump often unwelcome and unwilling to perform basic rituals of the office. The latest example, of course, was John McCain’s request that Trump not attend his funeral (where Obama and W will give eulogies). Here’s my take on the reaction to McCain’s death from yesterday’s edition.


Climate Change’s Changing Climate

Speaking of areas where the world appears to be following America’s lead, “moderate national leaders—on both the center-left and center-right—in some of the world’s richest and most advanced countries are finding it far easier to talk about climate change than to actually fight it.” Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic: The Global Rightward Shift on Climate Change.



“The unannounced show was ‘typical Louis C.K. stuff’ with jokes about racism, waitresses tips and parades, according to Dworman. ‘It was very ordinary for him,’ he said, describing the audience response as ‘sustained applause … It was a good reception. He went through an everyday list of jokes.'” Louis CK made a brief return to stand-up. The reaction in the room was positive. The reaction from fellow comedians on the internet, not so much.


Magic Leap

“Since its beginning, Magic has spread to more than thirty million human operating systems. Today, those humans play with some combination of the game’s eighteen thousand unique cards, in eleven different languages.” The New Yorker on the game that went viral … offline. The Twenty-Five-Year Journey of Magic: The Gathering.


Bottom of the News

“Participants described middle and high school as an interminable hell. They had to become adults, and wait for the world to change, to gain acceptance, and find their tribe. Yet it can still be hard to fully unleash their inner geeky selves.” WaPo: ‘Growing up, we were the weird ones’: The wizarding, mermaiding, cosplaying haven of Epic Nerd Camp. This camp is basically Burning Man without the dust, Molly, and naked hugging.

+ LBJ’s Wild Ex-President Hair (And the Story Behind It).

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