Thursday, November 29th, 2018


The End Game

There's money. There are achievements. There are accolades and accomplishments. But when it comes to humanity's scoreboard, it's hard to place any measurement of success higher than the big one: Life expectancy. And when it comes to that number, America is becoming decidedly less great. "Health experts typically expect longevity to increase as the economy grows and more health advancements are made, so the fact that life expectancy has been flat or trending downward for years now is concerning." The Atlantic: Americans Are Dying Even Younger.

+ What's going on? It's mostly about two factors: Suicides and drug overdoses. Quartz: Why US life expectancy is falling, in three charts. (In the end, the only things that will survive are cockroaches and charts.)

+ America is bucking a trend. Suicides are declining around the world.


Les Than Zero

This is an excellent piece of reporting about Les Moonves trying to silence an accuser. It's also a revealing look at a pathetic and desperate agent who seems to have no idea he's also a villain in the story. NYT: If Bobbie Talks, I'm Finished.


Plea Soup

"Donald Trump and his aides continued negotiations about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign, his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen acknowledged in a guilty plea in a New York federal court on Thursday." Another day, another outed lie in the Mueller investigation. NPR: Michael Cohen Admits Trump Tower-Moscow Talks Continued Well Into 2016 Campaign. (To catch you up on the investigation so far:
Everything it seems like someone might have done, they definitely did...)

+ "The plea deal indicates that the last known discussion about the deal was 'on or about June 14,' 2016 ... Why is that date significant? It happens to be the day The Washington Post broke a big story that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee." WaPo: 4 key takeaways from Michael Cohen's new plea deal.

+ Trump just canceled his scheduled meeting with Putin at the G20 summit.


Calling (M)BS

"The vote was prompted by lawmakers' growing frustration with Trump for defending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's denials of culpability in Khashoggi's death, despite the CIA's finding that he had almost certainly ordered the killing." WaPo: Rebuking Trump, senators back effort to suspend U.S. support for Saudi-led war in Yemen.

+ While the senate sought to rebuke Trump (suggesting a new post-midterm reality for the president's power) and punish MBS, one hoped they would have ended support for the Saudi-led war because it has become the world's primary humanitarian nightmare. The Atlantic: The world's worst humanitarian crisis keeps getting worse, and Yemeni civilians have no good options.


Not Saying Uncle to Antarctica

"As they skied through the whiteout on Monday, they stared at compasses strapped to their chests to stay on course toward the South Pole, unable to see up or down or side to side, with their sleds catching on wavelike ridges of ice known as sastrugi, forcing the occasional tumble. On this expedition, for both men, tripping and falling hard — countless times — is all part of the schedule." It's bad enough to attempt to be the first person to try to cross the Antarctica alone. It's even harder when there's another guy trying to do the same thing at the same time. NYT: Racing Across Antarctica, One Freezing Day at a Time. (My strategy is to wait until climate change melts all the ice and then attempt to be the first person to cross the Antarctica alone on a rented electric scooter.)


Don’t Shoot

"When Williams at last showed his hands, a silver and black Smith & Wesson pistol rested in his right palm. His arm hung at his side, the gun pointed at the ground. He started to back up along a narrow sidewalk leading to the house. Mader drew his weapon and moved to take cover behind the car parked in front of 119 Marie. 'Put the gun down,' Mader said." The suspect did not put the gun down. The officer didn't shoot. And that's when the controversy started. ProPublica with "a shocking story of police and lethal force. Just not the one you might expect." I Don't Want To Shoot You, Brother.


Life in El

"Nearly 20,000 Salvadorans were killed from 2014 to 2017. That's more violent deaths than in several countries that were at war during those years, such as Libya, Somalia and Ukraine. The murder rate – an astonishing 103 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 – is still sky-high at 60 per 100,000 in 2017. The culprit in most of these murders is the maras, the country's powerful, pervasive criminal gangs." The story of migration north towards the US-Mexico border is much less about what people are running towards and much more about what they're running from. Here's a look at Life Under Gang Rule in El Salvador.


Foiled Again

"One mother says her family doesn't have any wireless technology at home — no cellphones or even a computer. The kids use the school or library computer, or handwrite their homework. Someone else describes how he manufactured metal screening for his windows to block frequencies from neighbors' Wi-Fi networks and smart meters. One woman holds up her Android phone, which she keeps wrapped in foil like a baked potato. Her kids foil their laptop, she says, and charge their electronics between two metal cake pans." Narratively: Inside the Great Electromagnetic Resistance.

+ Vox: Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? We asked 11 experts. (If you can get through more than three experts without being distracted, your brain is fine...)


Chairman of the Board

"These days the Norwegian is a bona fide celebrity, guest-starring on The Simpsons, modelling for G-Star Raw and making $8m (£6.25m) a year according to Forbes magazine. Such is Carlsen's popularity in Norway that his matches were shown live on NRK, the equivalent of BBC One, with Wednesday's tie–breaks breaking all previous records for Carlsen's games. Three million of the country's five million population watched at least some part of the match." From the Chess World Championship. "If I had lost, it could have been my last world championship match."

+ How Magnus Carlsen kept his World Chess crown ... after 50 hours.


Bottom of the News

"For the project, titled 'The Dress for Respect,' researchers built a dress embedded with sensor technology that tracked touch and pressure. The information was then relayed to a visual system so that researchers could essentially track harassment in real time." Quartz: Researchers Built A Smart Dress To Show How Often Women Are Groped At Clubs.

+ "While it rarely occurs, the use of Starbucks public Wi-Fi to view illegal or egregious content is not, nor has it ever been permitted...We have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our US locations in 2019." Starbucks says it'll block p*rn on its public Wi-Fi. (But it won't happen for about a year, so there's still time to get those extra pumps in...)

+ Pabst Blue Ribbon, saved again.