Wednesday, October 17th, 2018


Canadian Bakin’

Scheduling Note: I'm enduring the hell of a house move this week. Delivery will be sporadic or less.

"More than 100 legal marijuana stores are expected to open on Wednesday, supplied by around 120 licensed growers, the Associated Press reported. Hundreds more stores will likely open in the coming years." Nine states in the US allow recreational marijuana, but our neighbor to the north is the first wealthy country to take the policy nationwide. Vox has a good roundup of what's legal, and what's at stake.

+ "Valued at more than $10 billion, Canopy is worth even more than Bombardier, the Canadian manufacturer that is one of the world's largest makers of planes and trains, offering a stark example of this nation's new get-rich-quick hope — the marijuana industry." Investors have already established themselves as the first Canucks to get high on their own supply. From the NYT: Marijuana Legalization in Canada Has Companies Chasing a Green Rush. Bloomberg has a look at pot by the numbers. (At least when the Canadian pot bubble inevitably bursts, everyone from North Dakota down to about Guatemala should get a pretty decent contact high...)


Sooth Decay

"Anti-fluoridationists — a small but vocal minority — are disputing long-established science to say that fluoride added to tap water lowers IQ and causes everything from acne to anemia to Alzheimer's." NBC: Science says fluoride in water is good for kids. So why are these towns banning it?


A Classic Whospunit

"If, as the Turkish authorities say, these men were present at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, they might provide a direct link between what happened and Prince Mohammed. That would undercut any suggestion that Mr. Khashoggi died in a rogue operation." NYT: The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince.

+ "Here you go again with ‘You're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that" Robin Wright in The New Yorker: Trump's Overeager Acceptance of Saudi Arabia's Excuse in the Khashoggi Affair. (Trump once famously bragged that he could get away with shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. As long as he were the lead investigator on the case, anyone could...)

+ Dexter Filkins: "If there is any lesson to be learned from this terrible affair, it's how blind so much of official Washington and the American press were to M.B.S.'s true nature. When the crown prince visited the United States earlier this year, he was fêted in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and, of course, by the Trump White House, as a messiah—in the mold of Gorbachev or Gandhi." Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Is Pushed to the Brink.


Dr. Who?

"Where's the pain? How bad is it? Does it come and go? There's some deliberation before you get an opinion. 'This sounds like dyspepsia to me. Dyspepsia is doctor-speak for indigestion.' Doctor-speak, maybe, but it's not a doctor speaking. The female voice belongs to Babylon, part of a wave of new AI apps designed to relieve your doctor of needless paperwork and office visits." MIT Tech Review: Your next doctor's appointment might be with an AI. (It's so hard to get an appointment with my doctor that, at this point, I'd be happy getting to talk to a Newton...)


Zero Sum Tolerance

"Border Patrol agents arrested 16,658 family members in September, the highest one-month total on record and an 80 percent increase from July, according to unpublished Department of Homeland Security statistics obtained by The Washington Post." WaPo: Record number of families crossing U.S. border as Trump threatens new crackdown. (Expect this to be a much-debated issue between now and the midterms.)

+ Buzzfeed: Trump threatened to cut foreign aid to Central American countries if they don't stop migrant caravans. (I wonder if more aid would ultimately be a better way to stop people from feeling compelled to risk everything to escape...)


Soldier of Fortune

"The mercenaries' plan was to attach a bomb laced with shrapnel to the door of Al-Islah's headquarters, located near a soccer stadium in central Aden, a key Yemeni port city. The explosion, one of the leaders of the expedition explained, was supposed to 'kill everybody in that office.'" Buzzfeed on soldiers for hire and the future of war. A Middle East Monarchy Hired American Ex-Soldiers To Kill Its Political Enemies. ""There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it. We did it."

+ And Soldiers of Misfortune: "Before Trump, the U.S. issued thousands of visas to Iraqi and Afghan interpreters. After Trump, the number fell to zero. Inside one soldier's obsessive quest to force his country to make good on its promises." Paul Kix: The Life Debt.


Park, Who Goes There?

"Local cops and FBI agents are sometimes baffled when Yosemite-based ISB Special Agent Kristy McGee presents her badge in the course of an investigation. They'll say something like, ‘What do you guys investigate? Littering?'" It turns out that McGee and the other agents assigned to the Investigative Services Branch work some pretty grisly crimes (not just grizzly ones). From Outside: The FBI of the National Park Service. (Full disclosure: I'm partial to stories that validate my life choice to be indoorsy.)


Rust Never Steeps

Even if hurricanes, melting ice-caps, and destructive climate events don't scare you, I'm guessing this will. "We are in the middle of the biggest coffee crisis of our time." NPR: Coffee Rust Threatens Latin American Crop; 150 Years Ago, It Wiped Out An Empire.


The Puppet Master

"Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird. And even Oscar, once in a while!" Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch Puppeteer Caroll Spinney Retires After Nearly 50 Years on Sesame Street.


Bottom of the News

"Wecht, 43, is a retired theoretical physicist who has years of live musical and comedy performances under his belt. Becoming Internet famous means millions of people are familiar with his persona, Ninja Brian." I've know Brian as a string theorist for years. Now I also know him as a rock star. WaPo: Ninja Sex Party is the quintessential YouTube band — except it transcends the Internet.

+ "Ever feel like you're having too much fun in the office? Like your boss just isn't getting enough value out of your life? Fear not: Panasonic has designed a pair of high-tech blinkers that block out your peripheral vision to help you concentrate on the job at hand." The Verge: There's nothing dystopian at all about these high-tech blinkers for humans.

+ "Hof, a candidate for the state Assembly in a district in southern Nevada, died in his sleep in the hours after a celebration that featured pornography star Ron Jeremy, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist." Bunny Ranch owner and political candidate Dennis Hof died at 72.