Wednesday, October 10th, 2018


An Affirmative Action Adventure

"This alliance, between a white conservative tactician and a comparatively inexperienced base of recently energized Asian-American activists, has complicated the traditional optics of the civil-rights and diversity debates." Who was affirmative action created for? And who should it benefit now? Those questions are increasingly up for debate as a lawsuit against Harvard threatens the future of the program. Hua Hsu in The New Yorker with a very interesting look at The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action. A key affirmative action figure in the case is a conservative activist/lawyer named Edward Blum. "If Blum's suit is successful, the effect will be felt far beyond Harvard. It will limit the freedom that academic institutions have often had in pursuing their unique educational missions. The lawsuit, and Blum's efforts to change the cultural conversation surrounding diversity and discrimination, could end affirmative action in higher education as we know it."


When the Vow Breaks

"There was Maria Vargas, a shy and brooding girl who looked older than her 16 years, and her husband, Phil Manning, 25, who often acted younger than his. And nearby, smoking a cigarette, was a slight woman with long, narrow features, Michelle Hockenberry, 39, the mother who'd allowed her daughter to marry. Even in an era when the median age of marrying has climbed higher and higher, unions like Phil and Maria's remain surprisingly prevalent in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, an estimated 248,000 children were married, most of whom were girls, some as young as 12." WaPo: You shouldn't be doing this.


Mike Drops

"We are in new territory. The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle." What could be the worst hurricane of the season "quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression," and now Michael is making landfall just shy of Category 5 status.

+ Bloomberg: "Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, with 155 mile-per-hour winds establishing it as the strongest storm to hit the continental U.S. since 2004."

+ Here's the latest on the storm from CNN.

+ "The good news is that floods and storms don't kill as many people as they once did ... The bad news is everything else." NYT: Why the Wilder Storms? It's a ‘Loaded Dice' Problem.

+ These days, it's hard to talk about climate change without igniting a political battle (a reality that's scarier than the scariest weather pattern). So some scientists found a new place to chat and spread the word. From The Verge: How A Fortnite Squad Of Scientists Is Hoping To Defeat Climate Change.


I Got My Mind Set on You

Connecting tech to the human brain could enable paralyzed vets to walk again. It could also create cyborg soldiers that will lead to more paralyzed vets. In other words, it's complicated. And it's coming. The Atlantic's Michael Joseph Gross on The Pentagon's Push to Program Soldiers' Brains."The work wasn't about weaponry or warfare, agency officials claimed. It was about therapy and health care. Who could object? But even if this claim were true, such changes would have extensive ethical, social, and metaphysical implications. Within decades, neurotechnology could cause social disruption on a scale that would make smartphones and the internet look like gentle ripples on the pond of history."


Engendering a Groundswell

"In the two years before the 2018 midterm election, amid marches for women's rights and the growing MeToo movement, something shifted in a field that has historically paved an easier path for men: 'Women are running whether or not Democrats and Republicans invite them to.'" LA Times: A record number of women are running for office. This election cycle, they didn't wait for an invite. (And that was before the recent Supreme Court confirmation battle. As my wife Gina Pell says, "This is the moment for women to turn furious into ferocious.")



"The merger allows the Woonsocket, Rhode Island-headquartered CVS to expand its position as a drug store and pharmacy – it has more than 9,800 retail locations – into a destination for health coverage and medical care delivery." USA Today: CVS Health, Aetna merger gets OK, and it could reshape US health care.

+ WaPo: "President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans — known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood." (Only almost? Maybe he's losing his touch...)


Suffocation Anxiety

"As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and Europe in the era of the world wars, I have been repeatedly asked about the degree to which the current situation in the United States resembles the interwar period and the rise of fascism in Europe. I would note several troubling similarities and one important but equally troubling difference." Christopher R. Browning in The New York Review of Books: The Suffocation of Democracy.

+ "Following Hitler's appointment as chancellor on January 30, 1933, journalists expressed a mix of caution and confidence by invoking the figure of Emperor Napoleon III." The Atlantic: How Americans Described Evil Before Hitler.

+ Quartz: White supremacists are taking their design seriously—and we should, too


Startup Shit’s Creek

"About two-and-a-half decades ago, the U.S. was home to more than 95 percent of global startup and venture-capital activity. Today, that share has been cut to a little more than one-half. And the pace of that decline is accelerating, with more than half of the fall occurring in just the past five years." CityLab: America Is Losing Its Edge for Startups.

+ After today's market performance, people might think twice about launching their startup at all. In a word, Ugh.


Beer Nuts

"The four beer-enhanced laps took me just more than 11 minutes. Happily, I did not throw up. (Another rule: Participants are required to run an extra lap if they puke.) But I burped more than I thought humanly possible." The Ringer: Chug, Run, Chug: How the Beer Mile Became a Serious Competition. (These days, it's hard to tell if someone is training for the Beer Mile or the Supreme Court...)


Bottom of the News

"Frontier says the passenger had noted in her reservation that she was bringing an emotional support animal with her on the flight, but she did not indicate it was a squirrel." (My emotional support animal is a Xanax.)

+ Netflix just signed The Rock. Strong move.

+ Millennials Kill Again. The Latest Victim? American Cheese.

+ Trump says he will not appoint Ivanka to be the ambassador to the U.N. even though there is no one "more competent in the world." (As another proud father, let me just say that my 10 year-old daughter is equally competent for the gig, although her record on human rights is, shall we say, uneven...)