Friday, September 7th, 2018


A Fluff(er) Piece

NextDraft will be off Monday for Rosh Hashanah...

"Yeezy himself performed at the awards, along with Teyana Taylor, Young M.A, Blackbear, and Dana Dentata. West also premiered a music video which he co-directed (and executive-produced by Spike Jonze) for a new song featuring Lil Pump called I Love It. All this whilst honorees accepted monsterish dildo trophies, designed by West himself, on a set surrounded by giant video screens ... It looked like an episode of Black Mirror but, like, with porn." On Thursday night, Kanye West Took Over the Pornhub Awards. That might not seem like top news (or bottom, depending on what you're into), but it's pretty interesting to see mainstream celebrities cross the chasm into an entertainment form that sucks up a lot of bandwidth, but is rarely discussed. And besides, these days, a story on dirty movies actually provides a refreshing break from the obscene business of politics.


Chem Trails

"The three-way meeting in Tehran had been seen by many as a final chance to prevent a large-scale battle in Idlib." BBC: Syria war: Russia rejects Turkey's calls for Idlib truce.

+ NPR: U.S. Envoy Warns That Syria Preparing To Use Chemical Weapons In Idlib. At this point, what's to stop Assad?

+ Trump agrees to an indefinite military effort and new diplomatic push in Syria.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: By now, we all know the impact of covering politics like it was a sport. But what if we covered sports like politics? Spoiler alert: It's awesome (for all of us who are not featured in the book). The excellent and hilarious Mark Leibovich turns his attention to the NFL. Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times.

+ What to Binge: In Magic for Humans on Netflix, Justin Willman blends magic and humor as he takes his tricks to the streets. This is really awesome family entertainment (says the guy who led today's newsletter with a piece on adult movie awards...)

+ What to Conference: My wife Gina Pell and her team at The What are hosting what promises to be a great one-day Women's Summit in San Francisco, featuring Debra Messing and an impressive lineup of other game-changing women discussing leadership, purpose, women's health, and more. There are a few tickets left.


Oil Rigged

"His gang of 25 fuel thieves rides around in five pickup trucks with 1,000-liter pallet tanks and a pile of tools, drilling illegal taps in underground pipelines. They sell the stolen product to taxi drivers, bus companies and long-haul truckers at a significant discount to the price at gas stations run by Petroleos Mexicanos, better known as Pemex, the national oil company. On a good day, he says, he can gross more than $10,000. 'The way I look at it, this is my town,' he says. 'The gasoline flowing through here is mine.'" Drug Cartels are expanding their fields of business. From Seth Harp in Rolling Stone: Blood and Oil: Mexico's Drug Cartels And The Gasoline Industry.

+ Here's a surprise: California's Illegal Weed Industry Is Doing Better Than Ever.


It’s Showtime at the Appalling

"Every week is remarkable. Practically every day is bizarre. So how to describe days that are even more remarkably and bizarrely unprecedented than the last? ... It's as if the reality television show that has consumed the nation's capital for 20 months is working its way toward a jaw-dropping season finale, but the tension is never relieved." Boston Globe: President Trump's Washington: The cliff-hanger that never ends.

+ OK, back to the show. AP: Trump wants Sessions to investigate op-ed writer. Meanwhile, Rand Paul suggests using lie detectors to figure out who wrote anonymous criticism of Trump. (If they turned on a lie detector in this White House, the whole country would blow a fuse....)

+ "The way in which the news media are being corrupted—even an outlet like the Times, which continues to publish remarkable investigative work throughout this era—is one of the most insidious, pronounced, and likely long-lasting effects of the Trump Administration." Masha Gessen in The New Yorker: The Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed and the Trumpian Corruption of Language and the Media.


Barrying the Lede

"Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it's manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that's rooted in our past but it's also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes." President Obama got back into the political fray with a "State of our Democracy" speech ahead of the midterm elections. "We're supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?"


Grate Expectations

"Some landlords say they simply cannot find retail tenants willing to lock in long-term leases at rents that enable them to meet building payments. Others say that retailers are not biting, even at bargain rents. Whatever the factors, the vacancies are changing the look of the city's streetscape." Sometimes, a story is best told with images. The NYT on the empty storefronts of NYC: This Space Available.


Blow It Out Your Assumption

BBC on a study of the effectiveness of probiotics: "In that sense just buying probiotics at the supermarket without any tailoring, without any adjustment to the host, at least in part of the population, is quite useless." (What? A health fad that's not actually healthy? No way...)

+ Stat: Richard Sackler, member of family behind OxyContin, was granted patent for addiction treatment. (Now he just needs to get into the coffin-making business and the circle will be complete...)


Button Holes

"They do have a psychological effect. Taking some action leads people to feel a sense of control over a situation, and that feels good, rather than just being a passive bystander. Doing something typically feels better than doing nothing." CNN: Why the world is full of buttons that don't work. (The only buttons that work every time they're pushed are our own emotional ones...)


Feel Good Friday

At long last, Alex Jones has earned himself a permanent ban from Twitter. (Now that he's gone, Twitter has finally become a welcoming forum for pleasant exchanges...)

+ If you missed it earlier in the week... "If you would have told me to pick who my father was, there's no way I would have picked him because I might have thought I wasn't worthy for him to be my father. I felt like my blessings came full circle because I'd always wanted to be somebody like him." ESPN: Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough went searching for his biological parents. He found them where he never would have expected: Runs in the Family.

+ US adds more jobs than forecast in August as wage growth surges. And it turns out that raising the minumum wage has exactly the positive impacts you'd expect (and almost none of the bad ones that opponents warn us about).

+ California just became the first state to ban beauty products tested on animals.

+ WaPo: She made the discovery, but a man got the Nobel. A half-century later, she's won a $3 million prize.

+ NYT: 40 Years Later, She Found Her Son's Baseball Mitt at a Thrift Store 1,000 Miles Away

+ Some really good domino chain reactions.