Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018


Inherited Valor

"Money is at the core of the brand Mr. Trump has so successfully sold to the world. Yet essential to that mythmaking has been keeping the truth of his money — how much of it he actually has, where and whom it came from — hidden or obscured. Across the decades, aided and abetted by less-than-aggressive journalism, Mr. Trump has made sure his financial history would be sensationalized far more than seen." If you haven't already read it, make time to read the NYT's 14,000 word, Pulitzer destined, tour de force on Donald Trump's financial history, and the roots of how he built the myth that led him into our living rooms and ultimately into the Oval Office. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father. The Times' story is more than a blockbuster. It's a pulling back of the curtain that concealed the most successful con job in American history. Trump has successfully swatted away the slings and arrows aimed by the media. But this is a nuclear bomb. It peels back decades of tax fraud and stolen financial valor. It's public and it's personal. It's about his father and about his legacy. It's lie after lie, dramatically exposed after a lifetime of deception. Will it make a difference? That's unclear for at least two reasons. First, for almost as long as Trump has been manufacturing stories about himself, he's been attacking and manipulating the media to soften the damage that could be done by even the most thunderous blows. And Second, for people to really accept that a person is a complete conman, they have to accept that they're someone who could be conned.

+ Even if you don't read the piece, the NY tax authorities are reading it. "The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations ... and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation." (Sidenote: If the NYT has 14,000 words on Trump's financial dealings, Bob Mueller has 14,000,000...)


Devil In Disguise

"Not even history itself is safe—at least the online version of it, which we increasingly depend on. When Kavanaugh testified that Devil's Triangle, as mentioned on his high school yearbook page, was a drinking game, there was no online evidence to back up his claim. (Other sources asserted it was a known sexual term.) So an anonymous person immediately updated Wikipedia to support Kavanaugh's definition. It was a near perfect parallel to how Russian operatives repeatedly edited the Wikipedia entry for 'MH17' in the hours after the airliner was shot down to try to provide an alternative history." Wired's P.W. Singer and Emerson Brooking with an interesting look at How The Kavanaugh Information War Mirrors Real Warzones.


De Base

Kids on the border. Disabled reporters. Gold star families. Trump always attacks the victim. And so it was on Tuesday as his rally crowd laughed and cheered while the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. This time around, the only audience that really matters are the few Senators who remain undecided on Brett Kavanaugh. Jeff Flake called the performance, "kind of appalling," while Susan Collins said the comments "were just plain wrong." Murkowski called them, "unacceptable."

+ Meanwhile, the FBI investigation, media coverage, and political maneuvering have continued at a feverish pace. The FBI's notes could be available for Senators to review as soon as this afternoon. Here's the latest on the Kavanaugh battle.


Antibiotic Resistance is Futile

NPR: Patients Give Doctors High Marks For Prescribing Antibiotics For Common Sniffles. Are doctors motivated (and even compelled) to dole out antibiotics in order to keep patients from blasting them online? Scary thought. (The threat of a prolonged prostate exam always keeps me motivated enough to give five stars...)


You(Test)Tube Babies

"The new children's media look nothing like what we adults would have expected. They are exuberant, cheap, weird, and multicultural. YouTube's content for young kids—what I think of as Toddler YouTube—is a mishmash, a bricolage, a trash fire, an explosion of creativity. It's a largely unregulated, data-driven grab for toddlers' attention, and, as we've seen with the rest of social media, its ramifications may be deeper and wider than you'd initially think." The content creators, armed with better tools to measure what sticks, are coming for your kids' attention spans, and they are "weirder—and more globalized—than adults could have expected." Alexis Madrigal wanted to understand this stuff. So he had to go Chennai. From The Atlantic: Raised by YouTube.


Job Application

"In most fields, workers rarely have any formal input over whether their job is automated, or how and when automation could be implemented. Self-automators offer a glimpse of what it looks like when automation is orchestrated not by top-down corporate fiat, but by the same workers who stand to reap its benefits. Some embrace the extra leisure time, while others use the spare hours to learn new skills and tackle new programmatic challenges." The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job. (This is the divide between engineers and the rest of us. Since I've been addicted to tech, it's only added to my daily workload. Everyone I know works more now than before the internet...)


Chem Trailblazers

"'This year's prize is about harnessing the power of evolution,' the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in announcing the winners. This year's laureates have 're-created the process in their test tubes ... and make evolution many times faster.'" This is great news for those who believe in evolution and for the three winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Battle Cry

"I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems. I thought if I focused exclusively on service to my neighbors in my hometown, that I could fill the hole inside of me. But it's just getting worse. So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it's faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it." Jason Kander, veteran, author, and candidate for mayor is stepping away from his race to confront a bigger battle. I Suffer From Depression and Have PTSD Symptoms.


Fan Friction

From Vice: China's most famous movie star has reemerged. "As long suspected, Fan Bingbing has apparently been detained by Chinese authorities over tax evasion, and she says she'll now pay a $129 million fine. The 37-year-old internationally known actress posted a long apology Wednesday on her Weibo account in which she admitted wrongdoing and praised the Chinese Communist Party and state, saying 'without the good policies of the party and the state,' she would be nothing."


Bottom of the News

"A substance akin to dots of chewing gum will be used to keep the cans grouped, instead of the plastic web that traditionally holds cans together in their six-pack constellations. The company tried out about 40,000 different variations of glue before settling on the chewing gum variation." Popular European beer begins gluing cans together, abandons plastic rings. (I liked beer. I still like beer.)

+ If you can take another oversized orange mutant invading your space, there's this: New Hampshire Man Grows 2528-Pound Pumpkin.