Making the First Move

"The brain is crowded, damp, ever-shifting, salt-filled, and home to large cells that tend to encase foreign objects in scar tissue; a sensor lodged in the cortex had to be designed like a robot built for a misty jungle planet." Of late, we've been bombarded with stories about the various negative aspects about tech. While these cautionary stories are justified (and more than a little late), it's worth noting that the tech story -- like most other stories of human advancement -- isn't wholly negative or postive. So let's go contrarian with a reminder of the wonders of technology. From Raffi Khatchadourian in The New Yorker, Degrees of Freedom: A scientist's work linking minds and machines helps a paralyzed woman escape her body. "They asked me if I had a goal. I sensed they wanted me to say that I wanted to touch my children, or my husband. I said, 'Yeah, I have a goal. I want to feed myself chocolate'—and I was waiting for them to laugh, but they didn't laugh. They just looked at each other, and said, 'Yeah, we should be able to do that.'"


Red Bull

"China now leads the world in the number of homeowners, internet users, college graduates and, by some counts, billionaires. Extreme poverty has fallen to less than 1 percent. An isolated, impoverished backwater has evolved into the most significant rival to the United States since the fall of the Soviet Union." They didn't like the West's playbook. So they wrote their own. From the NYT: The Land That Failed to Fail.


Camp Fire Stories

"For the next 24 hours, the Camp Fire devoured roughly a football field of forest every second. By 11 a.m., it grew to 1,000 acres. By noon, its ash cloud blocked out the sun. By 1 p.m., that plume was visible from space, a gray blot smearing across the green of California ... Within hours, Paradise was gone." The Atlantic: A Deadly Tsunami of Fire.

+ "Her name is Jody Jones and she lived on Lighty Lane and she is the mayor of Paradise ... Now, 10 days after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history tore through the heart of this place, she carries the weight of a town searching for its soul. What is left when a community of 26,000 is virtually wiped off the map? How can you bring people back when there's almost nothing to come home to?"

+ "Something beautiful amid total disaster." The Camp Fire and the salvation of London the cat.

+ And the forecast from the NYT: "Global warming is posing such wide-ranging risks to humanity, involving so many types of phenomena, that by the end of this century some parts of the world could face as many as six climate-related crises at the same time."

+ The presidential reaction you heard about the most over the weekend was the wildly stupid and deeply offensive suggestion that the fire could have been prevented with more raking. The presidential reaction that actually matters is this one: Trump to nominate Andrew Wheeler (former coal lobbyist, climate change denier) as permanent head of EPA.


For a Few Dollars More

"It's not just the airlines; consumers are paying up for everything from sneakers to pickup trucks." Just in time for the Black Friday mayhem, Bloomberg on How Companies Get You to Pay More for the Same Product.


Sad Sacks

"This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses." While all eyes are on the trial of El Chapo in Brooklyn, there is another drug case building. For now, the cases are civil. But criminal charges could be coming. The Guardian: Sackler family members face mass litigation and criminal investigations over opioids crisis.


Tequila Sunset

"Like all pioneer settlements, however, [it] is not just a place but an idea — an imagined utopia, in this case inspired by a Jimmy Buffett song's reference to a frozen cocktail." From Kim Tingley in the NYT Mag: The Future Of Aging Just Might Be In Margaritaville. "A hint at how an increasingly long-lived species might choose to spend its extra decades." (Maybe we're living too long...)


Success Full of It

"Across the country, dozens of law enforcement agencies are making it appear as though they have solved a significant share of their rape cases when they simply have closed them ... They are able to declare cases resolved through what's known as exceptional clearance." A joint investigation from Reveal, ProPublica and Newsy: Rape suspects walk free. Victims don't get justice. And police get to count it as a success.


Fact Simile

"What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. 'No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back ... Where is the edge? Is there ever a point where people realize they're being fed garbage and decide to return to reality?'" (Editor's note: If anyone finds the edge, I'll let you know...) There are a lot of stories about fake news. This one is really worth your time. WaPo: Nothing on this page is real: How lies become truth in online America.

+ "Like the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015, the flare-up demonstrates the real-life consequences of a shadowy debate fueled by junk science and fomented by the same sort of Twitter bots and trolls that spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election." WaPo: Anti-vaccination stronghold hit with state's worst chickenpox outbreak in 2 decades. (Gee, we didn't see that one coming...)


Let’s Talk Turkey

"During their first three years on the talk-line, all Butterball 'freshmen' have to complete a one-day training seminar, dubbed Butterball University, at the start of each season. They're assigned a specific method of turkey preparation, and spend the day cooking in the Butterball office kitchen. Butterball U attendees have tested out every possible appliance, from deep fryers to charcoal grills to sous vides." 11 Secrets of Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line Operators.


Bottom of the News

"Their urge to reproduce, or that inclination, is so strong that not even a hurricane can stop them." As humans face the prospect of more climate change induced weather disasters, perhaps we can learn something from the spotted seatrout. NYT: Hurricane Harvey Passed Over, but These Fish Kept Making Babies.

+ "Faxing really took off in the '80s, in offices around the world. It caused major changes in the speed of business transactions, allowing individuals and companies to disseminate materials quickly and broadly—someone in an office building in Japan could fire off a document to the United States instantly." And even though it probably should be, The Fax Is Not Yet Obsolete.

+ Farting Controversy Clouds Grand Slam Of Darts Quarterfinal.

+ Scientists have finally discovered why Wombat shit is cubed. (Metamucil usually works pretty well for that...)