Tuesday, November 27th, 2018


Pride and Prejudice

"The final Senate race of 2018 was expected to be a sleepy affair — a formality, really, with a special election runoff in deep red Mississippi. Instead, the race has been upended in the final days thanks to multiple stumbles by the GOP nominee that have dredged up the state's history of racial violence." That NPR lede on Tuesday's Senate runoff couldn't be less surprising. Racism and prejudice are core themes in America's longest running storyline; and from national borders to local political races, those same topics dominate our headlines in 2018. The New Republic's Erika Hayasaki on what neuroscience tells us about the persistence of hatred. "Individuals who believe in equality and fairness, or who are aware of their own biases, she explained, seem to be exercising a kind of self-control, evident in the prefrontal cortex, over their behavior—keeping prejudicial associations in check when they are thinking about or interacting with people of different races." (Other individuals do not exercise that self control.)

+ Adam Serwer in The Atlantic on those "whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life." The Cruelty Is the Point.


Breaking Ice Not a Good Ice Breaker

"The slowly evolving plan has included stationing more fighter jets in Alaska, expanding partnerships with Nordic militaries, increasing cold-weather training and designing a new class of icebreaker ship for the Coast Guard that could be armed." The military plan is evolving slowly, but the climate-related changes that triggered them is happening faster than many predicted. WaPo with an interactive look at The New Arctic Frontier, and the new conflicts that could arise between China, Russia, and the US.

+ BBC: CO2 emissions rising for first time in four years.


Capital Punishment

"The episode became a metaphor for American capitalism in the 21st century. A highly profitable company had bloodied a consumer, and it didn't matter because consumers have no choice. Competition is the essence of capitalism, yet it is dying." Bloomberg with a two-part book excerpt: Competition Is Dying, and Taking Capitalism With It.

+ And this from Gallup: "Americans aged 18 to 29 are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%). This represents a 12-point decline in young adults' positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68% viewed it positively."

+ The "combination of unemployed workers and happy investors underscores a key point about the modern American economy: What's good for corporate profits isn't necessarily good for workers. In fact, and perhaps now more than ever, the interests of a company's workers and shareholders are directly at odds. It wasn't always this way." WaPo: GM layoffs are another victory for capital over labor.

+ Another side of capitalism: This ATM Started Spitting Out $100 Bills and People Lost Their Dang Minds.


Liar, Liar, Last Chance on Fire

"Striking a plea deal with Mr. Manafort in September potentially gave prosecutors access to information that could prove useful to their investigation. But their filing on Monday, a rare step in a plea deal, suggested that they thought Mr. Manafort was withholding details that could be pertinent to the Russia inquiry or other cases." Manafort Breached Plea Deal by Repeatedly Lying, Mueller Says.

+ The Guardian: "Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump's campaign."

+ "They've cut off his internet—his lifeline, and won't let most visitors in to see him. Those who try to leave messages, like Trump presidential adviser Roger Stone, who left his card earlier this year, are apparently turned away. Not even former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, his ardent supporter who was a frequent guest and suspected paramour, can get past the guards." The Daily Beast: Unkempt, Heavily Bearded Julian Assange No Longer Has Embassy Cat For Company. (With Wikileaks involved, you knew the cat would be out of the bag sooner or later…)


Helter Shelter

"Rising from the cotton fields and dusty roads not far from the dark fence marking the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the camp has rows of beige tents and golf carts that ferry staffers carrying walkie-talkies. Teens with identical haircuts and government-issued shirts and pants can be seen walking single file from tent to tent, flanked by staff at the front and back." AP on the temporary shelter in Texas that was intended to hold a few hundred teen migrants and now holds thousands, with more expansion planned.


Betting the Under on Overdoses

Last year, opioid overdose deaths in an around Dayton hit "a stretch so bad that the coroner's office kept running out of space and having to rent refrigerated trailers. The county had 548 overdose deaths by Nov. 30 last year." But the situation has improved. This City's Overdose Deaths Have Plunged. Can Others Learn From It?

+ While we're learning what to do from Dayton, we should also take a few clues about what not to do from this story. Overdoses, bedsores, broken bones: What happened when a private-equity firm sought to care for society's most vulnerable?


Device Fabrication

"The agency's streamlined review system has been blamed for a string of defective devices coming to market, including hip replacements that can leach metal debris into patients' joints and pelvic mesh that can puncture internal organs. Still, the 42-year-old system persists, in part because of the power of the medical device lobby, which floods Washington with hundreds of lobbyists and millions of dollars." AP on the FDA's flawed device pathway. "Unlike new pharmaceuticals, most medical devices reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration are cleared based on similarities to already-approved devices."


Dragonfly in the Ointment

In what could become a growing trend, "Google employees have renewed their public protests against 'Project Dragonfly,' a censored and surveillance-enabling search app that Google is reportedly building for the Chinese market." The Verge: Google employees push to cancel Chinese search engine.


Revenge of the Word

Here's a stat that might surprise you. For the first time in 8 years, Apple is worth less than Microsoft.


Bottom of the News

Any interest in taking a break modern life with a weekend escape to prison? "For the past five years, a mock prison facility in Hongcheon, South Korea, has been locking up paying 'inmates' for brief stays in simple cells where mobile devices are prohibited, talking with other participants is not allowed, and no clocks can be found." (Aside from my speedy WiFi, that basically describes the rules of my man cave...)

+ 10 Magic Tricks That Prove Ricky Jay's Genius.

+ It's "unquestionably a sport, in that it's an organised physical activity with a governing body and strict rules, but it's fair to say that the physique of a world-class ploughman doesn't immediately call to mind a Novak Djokovic or a Cristiano Ronaldo." Heartbreak and heroics at the World Ploughing Championships.

+ "This product contains 17 ingredients. 16 of them are basically useless." What's in 5-Hour Energy Shots?