Wednesday, October 31st, 2018


They’re Playing Our Song

"On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist', you played his song Happy to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing ‘happy' about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose." With that letter sent by his lawyer, Pharrell Williams became the latest in a long list of musicians who have told politicians to cease and desist using their songs at political rallies. But like those before him, Pharrell might find that his efforts to hit the mute button will not have a happy ending. From The Guardian: Can't always get what you want: why artists struggle to stop politicians using their songs.


The Squash Racket

"If that doesn't pass, there won't be a pumpkin farm. Put that in your pipe and smoke it." As you're walking around your neighborhood tonight, it will look like pumpkins are a great business (and indeed, "U.S. farmers last year harvested 2 billion pounds of pumpkins"). But like other farming stories, this one is more complex than it seems. And like an increasing number of such stories, this one is about weed. WaPo: Can pot save the pumpkin farm? A multimillion dollar offer to grow marijuana is tearing the 'World Pumpkin Capital' apart.


Saud Off

"Turkey's public prosecutor said Wednesday that Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered upon arrival at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month as part of a premeditated plan to kill the prominent Saudi journalist and dispose of his body." If anything good has come from the Khashoggi case, it's that more attention has been focused on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. And now, the Trump administration is calling for a ceasefire. "It Is Time To End This Conflict."


Catch the Wave

"In all, 22 million votes have been cast around the US so far, said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who runs the United States Elections Project. In 11 states, there are more early votes already recorded with a week left to election day than early votes recorded in total in 2014." Early voting turnout surging in several key states six days before midterms. "If trends continue, turnout could beat the 49% recorded in 1966, a number that has not been surpassed since in a midterm."

+ 12 young people on why they probably won't vote. (We'll be ok as long as it's just these 12...)


When Normality Sets In

"What does that mean for daily life in the places where these attacks happened? To take the full measure of it, you have to live here. There's the conversation at the bakery where an old woman complains about the "bad" foreigners, and the woman serving her agrees. There's the conductor on the tramway who deliberately checks only the tickets of the black passengers. And there are the attacks on leftwing cultural projects or community centres – stones thrown, beatings, the violence you experience when you try to get involved. And there's the passivity of the so-called civilian population – locals who stand by when a black person is beaten up in the town centre. Racist, fascist normality sets in." A university student and antifascism activist in Germany drops some knowledge on us. I live among the neo-Nazis in eastern Germany. And it's terrifying. See if this part sounds familiar: "When the far right Pegida movement suddenly appeared, with crowds of up to 20,000 people marching through Dresden chanting Islamophobic and racist slogans, there was an initial sense of shock among the public. But soon enough the media discourse swerved, and there were voices saying we should try to understand those among the protesters who were of good will."

+ President Trump reviews his own (uninvited and widely rejected) trip to Pittsburgh: "Melania and I were treated very nicely yesterday in Pittsburgh. The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. We were treated so warmly. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away." (I'm sure that comes as a big relief to the victims' families...)


Watch Case

"Less than two minutes had passed before the robbers fled with 36 watches, worth $1.6 million. They sped away in a stolen gray Toyota that police would soon discover outside the mall. Its doors were flung open. Its engine was still running. And the thieves were long gone." GQ's Amy Wallace with the true story of a ring of thieves who stole millions of dollars' worth of luxury watches—and the special agent who brought them down: The Time Bandits of Southern California.


Sandra Day Dreaming

"The future chief justice of the United States was proposing to the woman who, years later, would become the first woman to serve on the nation's highest court." Nina Totenberg: O'Connor, Rehnquist And A Supreme Marriage Proposal. "Some personal secrets are so well-kept that even family and friends are oblivious. So it is with the story of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist's marriage proposal to a Stanford Law School classmate in the early 1950s."


Nasal Passage

Engadget spends a day with Sissel Tolaas, a star in the world of smells. On the Nose. "When you are a world-renowned pioneer in smells, it's somewhat inevitable you will end up sticking your face into peculiar places: the burned rubber tire of a Chevy lowrider, a rotting hunk of wall insulation from an abandoned home, a cupped palmful of cool water from the Detroit River." (Let's face it, you could have to stick your face into a lot worse...)


Adult Swim

"The sheer banality of many of these courses is their salient quality. They're teaching stuff that people neither look forward to nor seem to enjoy, but implicitly recognize as part of being a grown-up: paying bills, setting a budget, calling the car insurance company, looking after your health. The joyless, quotidian chores of post-adolescence." CityLab: I Took ‘Adulting Classes' for Millennials. (Every generation has to learn the same lesson on their own: You never feel like an adult. That's part of the reason you're gonna dress up tonight and you can't wait to see what candy your kids bring home after trick or treating...)


Bottom of the News

"In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 'Fun Size' candy bar, let's highlight the time Mars tried to sue one of its largest competitors for using the term." Ernie Smith on the scourge of Halloween past and present. Let's Overanalyze Fun.

+ The Ultimate Halloween Candy Power Ranking. One word: Spree.

+ FastCo: Halloween by the numbers.

+ How 25 of Your Favorite Halloween Candies Got Their Names.