Monday, October 29th, 2018



Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker: The Tree of Life Shooting and the Return of Anti-Semitism to American Life. "It is the ancient Jewish expectation of persecution—when, where, has it not been with us?—married to American reality: a country saturated with guns and habituated to quotidian massacre, plagued by age-old racism and bigotry, which have lately been expertly inflamed by the holder of the highest office in the land. For the past few years, American Jews have glanced warily at Western Europe, where anti-Semitism, never dormant, is once again on the rise. The British Labour Party has been riven by accusations of anti-Semitism among its leadership. French Jews have emigrated to Israel in unprecedented numbers. In Sweden, synagogues and Jewish centers have been firebombed. After 9/11, American synagogues and community centers became barricaded spaces, outfitted with concrete sidewalk barriers and metal detectors, so that going to services felt like going to the airport. The concern then was an external threat." (The concern during the Trump era has been about an internal threat. That threat became reality in Pittsburgh over the weekend.)

+ "There is no national emergency; there is no ominous threat. There is only a group of desperate people looking for a better life, who have a right to request asylum in the United States and have no right to stay if their claims are rejected. Trump is reportedly aware that his claims about the caravan are false. An administration official told the Daily Beast simply, 'It doesn't matter if it's 100 percent accurate … this is the play.' The 'play' was to demonize vulnerable people with falsehoods in order to frighten Trump's base to the polls." The Atlantic's Adam Serwer on how Trump's caravan hysteria led to this.

+ "Any strategy for enhancing the security of American Jewry should involve shunning Trump's Jewish enablers. Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome. They have placed their community in danger." Franklin Foer: A Prayer for Squirrel Hill—And for American Jewry. It's not just Jewish enablers. It's all of his enablers. I wrote about this, after Charlottesville, in a reflection on my parents' experiences in the Holocaust: The Looking Glass.

+ NYT: HIAS, the Jewish Agency Criticized by the Shooting Suspect, Has a History of Aiding Refugees. (What would make a person look at a helpful agency that's been around since 1881 and see an organization that "brings invaders in that kill our people?" That's not a rhetorical question...)

+ "President Donald Trump falsely claimed Saturday that the New York Stock Exchange re-opened the day after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in an effort to justify holding a rally on the same day that a mass shooting occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh." (The last of the holdouts hoped that there would be a moment of depravity so low that Trump's enablers would be sickened enough to speak out. This weekend, when Trump gave his usual rally hours after the Tree of Life massacre, even the most ardent optimists learned the cold, hard truth.)


Casting Call

"Millions of workers could be covered by such policies, and if they facilitate voting among people who otherwise wouldn't, it could affect the outcome of contested races for the House and Senate." Bloomberg: A record 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote Nov. 6. This get out the vote strategy contrasts dramatically with the keep out the vote tactics being used in several regions. Buzzfeed on one example of that trend: Why Is It So Hard For Native Americans To Vote In This Utah County?


Mother in Law and Order

"America imprisons women in astonishing numbers. The population of women in state prisons has increased by more than eight hundred per cent in the past four decades. The number of women in local jails is fourteen times higher than it was in the nineteen-seventies; most of these women haven't been convicted of a crime but are too poor to post bail while awaiting trial. The majority have been charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession, shoplifting, and parole violations. The result is that more than a quarter of a million children in the U.S. have a mother in jail. One in nine black children has a parent who is, or has been, incarcerated." The New Yorker's Sarah Stillman on America's Other Family-‍Separation Crisis.


Screen Pass

"A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is OK." Nellie Bowles in the NYT: A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley. (I don't remember a time when my colleagues in the tech industry weren't worried about screens and kids. It's just that people speak publicly about it now.)

+ And Bowles in the NYT Mag on the unexpected digital gap: "America's public schools are still promoting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether."


Brazilian Wane

"The former Army captain, who has been compared to both Donald Trump and the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte, has praised Brazil's military dictatorship and spoken positively about torture. He has also made numerous homophobic, racist, and misogynist comments that led many to accuse him of inciting violence against minorities. More recently, Bolsonaro has threatened to jail or exile his political opponents." Meet Brazil's next president.

+ Jair Bolsonaro— in his own words.

+ "In the last four years, I've been to 22 countries, six continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. I was in London for UK's nervous breakdown over Brexit, in Barcelona for Catalonia's failed attempts at a secession from Spain, in Sweden as neo-Nazis tried to march on the country's largest book fair. And now, I'm in Brazil. But this era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I'll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences." Ryan Broderick in Buzzfeed: This Is How We Radicalized The World.


Hue and Cry

"Staking a claim as one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the 2018 Red Sox finished with 119 wins, including an 11-3 record in the postseason. Matched against the defending world champions (Astros), and two of the game's signature franchises, the Sons of Alex Cora clinched all three playoff series on the road, shredding the competition by an aggregate 84-51." Boston Globe: Red Sox can stake claim as one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

+ Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson has been fired after going 3-36-1. (They didn't even give him a chance!!)


Hey Now, You’re An Allstar

"In terms of live performances, esports tournaments regularly host artists like Metallica and Mick Jenkins to perform for captive audiences during breaks and opening ceremonies. League of Legends developer Riot Games, which has a total of seven-in house composers as of press time, has worked with artists like Zedd and The Glitch Mob on bespoke tournament anthems since 2013." If you thought video killed the radio star, just wait. Forbes: Why The Intersection Of Music And Esports Is Bigger Business Than Ever. (It's not just esports. It's all gaming. My son and his friends do Fortnite dances all day long...)


Foxconn Job

"The size of the subsidy was stunning. It was far and away the largest in Wisconsin history and the largest government handout to a foreign company ever given in America. Like most states, Wisconsin had given subsidies to companies in the past, but never higher than $35,000 per job. Foxconn's subsidy was $230,000 per job." And surprise! It's not working out exactly as planned. The Verge: Wisconsin's $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle.


Water Vapor

"While people have been touting the benefits of upping your alkaline levels for decades, Fenton says the belief is not supported by any scientific evidence." With apologies to Tom Brady and Beyonce, it looks like alkaline water is more hype than reality. (On the other hand, it sure as hell doesn't seem to be hurting either one of them...)


Bottom of the News

"The president was slated for more than nine hours of 'Executive Time,' a euphemism for the unstructured time Trump spends tweeting, phoning friends and watching television. Official meetings, policy briefings and public appearances — typically the daily work of being president — consumed barely more than three hours of his day." (Even I only spend nine hours a day tweeting on weekends...)

+ The CDC has released guidelines for dressing up your pet chicken on Halloween.