Thursday, December 13th, 2018


Air Looms

"The pollution most responsible for shortening lives consists of the tiniest airborne particles, called PM2.5. They are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream, causing breathing and cardiovascular problems, cancer and possibly even dementia. They're bad for healthy people and terrible for young children, the elderly and anyone who already has heart or respiratory problems." Researchers at University of Chicago's Energy Institute wanted to present their data on air pollution in a way that would make sense to the average person. So they developed a metric that assesses how many years we lose to the air we breathe. In some places, that number is shockingly high. According to the lead author of the study: "The present is not destiny. When you look around the world, forceful policy can really change air quality and lengthen people's lives." (But don't hold your breath...)

+ "When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them. But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along." NYT: The Oil Industry's Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules.


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane

"Teens caused mayhem by ignoring traffic laws while double-riding. Pedestrians tripped over discarded scooters that clogged the walkways. There were accidents, serious head injuries--Birds zip along at 15 miles an hour, and few trying them out wore helmets--and hundreds of tickets issued to riders. There was a protest. There was a counterprotest. Six months after the scooters appeared, Bird agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a nine-count misdemeanor criminal complaint levied by the city attorney's office. In other words, everything went more or less according to plan." Inc: 14 Months, 120 Cities, $2 Billion: There's Never Been a Company Like Bird. Is the World Ready.

+ Bloomberg: Flying Cars May Become a $3 Trillion Market in 20 Years.


Enquiring Minds Want to Know

"Given the president's stance, the disclosure of A.M.I.'s understanding that the efforts were campaign-related — and its promise of future cooperation — shows that potential witnesses against Mr. Trump go beyond Mr. Cohen." NYT: The National Enquirer Publisher's Deal in Hush-Money Inquiry Adds to Trump's Danger. (Yes, things have gotten so crazy that we're now looking to the National Enquirer for the truth...)

+ CNN: Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleads guilty to engaging in conspiracy against US.


Calling (M)BS

WaPo: Senate rebukes Saudis and Trump over death of journalist Khashoggi with vote to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

+ There are other reasons to question America's support of military action in Yemen. "Historically, more than two-thirds of Yemen's food aid has arrived through Hodeida, and 22 million Yemenis depend on it for survival. But the fighting has crippled humanitarian efforts. The result is an estimated 14 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation." WaPo: A man-made war paid for by women and children.


Ted Talk

"Quietly, often secretly, whether they gather it from the air of this anxious era or directly from the source like Jacobi did, more and more people have been having Kaczynski Moments." NY Mag: Two decades after his last deadly act of ecoterrorism, the Unabomber has become an unlikely prophet to a new generation of acolytes. (Damn, we're really running short on role models...)


Churro Transmitters

"The review of routine inspection reports from 2016 and 2017 found that at about 28 percent of the venues, half or more of the food service outlets incurred a high-level violation -- one that poses a potential threat for foodborne illness." ESPN set out to discover what's lurking in your stadium food. (And in many cases, it was about what you'd expect.)


Assembly Line Drive

"Everyone came to work each day wondering if that was going to be their last day." Wired's Charles Duhigg with a detailed look at "what it was like to work at Tesla as Model 3 manufacturing ramped up and the company's leader melted down." Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla's Production Hell.


Is It Safe?

"I spent more than six months shadowing Santore because I wanted to know what the city looks like through the eyes of a safecracker, a person for whom no vault is an actual barrier and no safe is truly secure. There are a lot of safecrackers, I learned, but the good ones, like Santore, live in a state of magical realism, suspended somewhere between technology and superstition. The safecracker sees what everyone else has been hiding—the stashed cash and jewels, the embarrassing photographs. He is a kind of human X-ray revealing the true, naked secrets of a city." Geoff Manaugh in The Atlantic: Meet the Safecracker of Last Resort.


Pay Attention

"During the last month of school, when I was at my wit's end, the principal called me in to discuss my kids' excessive tardiness, and I knew something had to change. Fortunately, she was understanding, and I left the meeting with the beginning of an idea. By the first day of school this year, I had completely transformed our lives — the mornings and the evenings." WaPo: I pay my kids to get dressed, do homework and more.


Bottom of the News

"In the song's original score, the duet partners are designated only as 'wolf' and 'mouse,' with genders unspecified, and the song's many decades of covers have featured several women taking the wolf's role—including Miss Piggy of the Muppets, who relentlessly pursued ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, clad only in a towel." Everything you ever wanted to know about Baby, It's Cold Outside.

+ Pacific Standard: Late-Night Tweeting Degrades Your Performance The Next Day. (Uh, yeah, we noticed...)