Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018


Block Chain Reaction

What's the most determinative factor when it comes to predicting a child's future success? Certainly race, access to education, and economic factors play a role. So too, sadly for my kids, does parenting (I had to Google how to spell determinative). But another key element -- perhaps the key element -- is where you grow up. Not only does it make a big difference in what city, town, or even neighborhood you live. Your life chances can be dramatically different depending on which block you grew up on. From the NYT Upshot: Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life. "What matters, the researchers find, is a hyper-local setting: the environment within about half a mile of a child's home."

+ "The map reaffirms that neighborhoods matter, but also provides insights into how much and why." CityLab on what policymakers hope to learn from this new data. The Neighborhoods that Offer a ‘Bargain' on Upward Mobility.


Radiating Positivity

The following stanza is from the song Radioactive by Imagine Dragons: I'm waking up to ash and dust, I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust, I'm breathing in the chemicals. I didn't realize until today that this song is actually a feel good tune about wellness. According to the EPA, a little radiation may be healthy. "The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight." (The song stanza above ends with: "This is it, the apocalypse. Whoa.")

+ NYT: Trump Administration Prepares a Major Weakening of Mercury Emissions Rules. Reality is in retrograde...


White Noise

WaPo reports that, for many, last week's hearings crystallized something. Not the need to hear from women who have been victims of sexual misconduct, but rather, the anger of white dudes being unfairly targeted. Male fury and fear rises in GOP in defense of Kavanaugh. "From President Trump to his namesake son to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the howls of outrage crystallize a strong current of grievance within a party whose leadership is almost entirely white and overwhelmingly male — and which does not make a secret of its fear that demographic shifts and cultural convulsions could jeopardize its grip on power."

+ President Trump on Tuesday: "It's a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of." (Wait, isn't this this is basically Colin Kaepernick's whole point?)

+ Related: The case of The Central Park Five...


Bench Press

The FBI has interviewed Mark Judge. Christine Blasey Ford has yet to be contacted by the agency. Mitch McConnell is determined to hold a vote this week and says the FBI report, "won't be used as a delay I can tell you that." Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (with 8 justices) is back in session. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ The public debate has shifted a bit from what happened that night in the 80s to whether or not Brett Kavanaugh told the whole truth during the hearings. From President Trump: "I don't think you should lie to Congress ... For me, that would not be acceptable."

+ Benjamin Wittes in The Atlantic: "These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness. Unlike many people who will read them with glee—as validating preexisting political, philosophical, or jurisprudential opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination—I have no hostility to or particular fear of conservative jurisprudence. I have a long relationship with Kavanaugh, and I have always liked him. I have admired his career on the D.C. Circuit. I have spoken warmly of him." If I were a senator, I would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

+ Why, after a week of memes about beer, are you suddenly hearing a lot about a song called Red, Red Wine.


Waxing Wages

"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead. We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us." So said Jeff Bezos as Amazon announces it will raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 for all US employees.

+ "Amazon will also lobby the federal government to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 for more than a decade." The move is part politics. But it in an increasingly competitive hiring environment, it's also good for business.

+ From minimum wage to maximum: The NYT goes deep on Trump's financial history: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father. Plus, 11 Takeaways From The Times's Investigation Into Trump's Wealth.


Kush Strains

"Robert Lighthizer was the public face of arduous, year-long talks to rework NAFTA, but as he savored a successful conclusion in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, the U.S. trade representative singled out another man as the deal's architect." Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray agrees. "The deal fell apart more than once. And in every occasion it was one person that always found a way to put it back together. Jared Kushner."

+ PBS Newshour: The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal offers modest changes. Will it help the economy?


Seeing Things

From Scientific American: Optical Tweezers and Tools Used for Laser Eye Surgery Snag Physics Nobel. The recipients include the oldest person ever to win a Nobel, and the first first female physics laureate in 55 years.

+ Nature: What the Nobels are — and aren't — doing to encourage diversity. " In the awards' history, women have won only 3% of the science prizes."


Visa Versa

The Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, UN employees. "The policy shift gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country ... It comes despite the fact that the majority of countries do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries." This policy change will only impact about a hundred families. Other than being cruel, what could possibly be the point?


Coffee, Tea, or Me?

"To get the free coffee, university students must give away their names, phone numbers, email addresses and majors, or in Brown's lingo, concentrations. Students also provide dates of birth and professional interests, entering all of the information in an online form." NPR: No Cash Needed At This Cafe. Students Pay The Tab With Their Personal Data. (Back in my day, we'd never willingly share our private data. We waited until corporations compiled it and hackers stole it.)


Bottom of the News

"If you're a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you're training for the next marathon. If you're a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you're a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you'd better be good at it, or else who are you?" In the NYT, Tim Wu wonders whether fewer of us have hobbies because we're afraid of being bad at them. (Oddly enough, my hobby is reading news...)

+ Are NBA stars addicted to social media?

+ "Keep robot brothels out of Houston": a sex doll company faces pushback.

+ Alex Trebek moderated a gubernatorial debate in Pennsylvania. It didn't go well. (Ironically, most of his questions were presented in the form of answers...)