Thursday, September 27th, 2018


Circus Maximus

Since the aside was first uttered during a live recording of Stairway to Heaven, it's been a familiar phrase: Does anybody remember laughter? After today's testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, no American will ever forget "the laughter." When asked by Senator Leahy for her strongest memory of the event, Ford responded: "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense ... I was underneath one of them, while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another."

+ Key exchange of the Ford testimony: Sen. Dick Durbin: "I am asking you to address this defense of mistaken identity directly. Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?" Ford: "100%"

+ During his portion of the hearings, Judge Kavanaugh spoke forcefully and emotionally (and at times, furiously) accusing Democrats of turning the process into a circus, attacking his character, and running an organized smear campaign against him (even suggesting it was part of revenge plot on behalf of the Clintons). While delivered with more emotion and in a much more partisan way, Kavanaugh's opening comments echoed those made by Clarence Thomas during the Anita Hill hearings. (However things play out, this was a particularly sad, partisan, and painful day in a particularly sad, partisan, and painful era.)

+ One of the things that today showed us, unequivocally, is that this entire case should have been investigated by the FBI and not dragged out in front of the whole country.

+ Even in the familiar cesspool of Washington politics, I'm not sure I've ever seen a stronger contrast between the courage of Christine Blasey Ford and the cowardice of the male senators who brought in an outside prosecutor to do their jobs.

+ Key moments from the hearing and photos from the day.

+ As I'm writing this, the hearings are ongoing. Here's the latest from CNN.


Memory and Loss

On the broader question brought up by today's hearings: How Reliable Are the Memories of Sexual Assault Victims? "Ignorance of how memory works is a major reason why sexual assault is the easiest violent crime to get away with, across our country and around the world."


Rod and the Staff

"The president spoke with Rod Rosenstein a few minutes ago and they plan to meet next week." The much-anticipated meeting between Rod Rosenstein and President Trump has been postponed until next week. While it looked like Rod was almost certainly going to be off the staff, things are much less clear now. On Wednesday, the president stated, "My preference would be to keep him and let him finish up."



Rod Rosenstein is accused of planning to wear a wire to gather evidence of President Trump's erratic behavior to make a case for invoking the 25th Amendment. I guess we better hope no one was wearing a wire at the president's press conference yesterday, because it was (as we've come to expect) an offensive, unhinged, spiral into the absurd. The Atlantic: The 10 Most Astonishing Moments in Trump's Press Conference. (Editor's note: At this point, can anyone still be astonished?)


Authenticate This

"They found that when a user gives Facebook a phone number for two-factor authentication or in order to receive alerts about new log-ins to a user's account, that phone number became targetable by an advertiser within a couple of weeks. So users who want their accounts to be more secure are forced to make a privacy trade-off and allow advertisers to more easily find them on the social network." Gizmodo: Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information. (This is a good example of self-regulation at work.)


War Torn

"This isn't just alarming. It's a national emergency that requires immediate action. We've spent the last decade trying to improve the transitioning process for our veterans, but we're clearly failing, and people are dying." The Guardian: Suicide rate spikes among young US veterans. (Some investigative reporter should research the possibility that there's a connection between the suicide rate hike and the increased use of psychopharmaceutical drugs that count suicidality among their side-effects.)


Soup Can…

"The herbal mix offers an untrodden avenue into a research field riddled with failures. Success for SLT could bring the first approved medicine to treat the vascular causes of dementia, a form of age-related deterioration that resembles Alzheimer's disease. But its backers' hopes extend beyond dementia: they seek to validate a new approach to pharmaceutical innovation combining the ancient wisdom of traditional medicines with the scientific rigor of modern drug development." Bloomberg: Chinese Soup Ingredients May Hold Key to Fighting Dementia.


Pledge Hammer

"As the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children. That interest rightfully includes determining whether their children should participate in the time-honored tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag." The Texas Attorney General is backing a school's decision to expel a student who chose not to stand during the pledge of allegiance. The reason? She didn't get permission from a parent to do so.


Stock Pile

"Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured." It was an off-handed tweet from Elon Musk. But you can't make off-handed tweets like that when you're the CEO of a publicly traded company. CNBC: SEC charges Tesla, Elon Musk with fraud.


Bottom of the News

My son ran in the door yesterday and asked if I heard the news about being able to crossplay Fortnite on an X-box, a PS4 and a Switch. (Kid news is better than adult news.) That came as good news to my son. But it's also big news in the videogame industry and a confirmation of just how huge Fortnite has become. IGN: Fortnite Is So Big It Can Bully Sony And Nintendo.

+ In an era when we were sure no headline could still surprise us, there's this: Seal slaps kayaker in face with octopus.

+ "Like so many inventions, the scooter was a child of necessity: Specifically, the need to get a bratwurst without looking like an idiot." From CityLab: The Man Behind the Scooter Revolution. (In case you're looking for someone to blame...)

+ And finally, Bill Cosby got jail advice from O.J. Simpson...