December 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Searching for the best stuff, Springsteen off Broadway, and Feel Good Friday.

My name is Dave. I’m a product research addict. I habitually uncover obscure details about products, become consumed with the pros and cons of various competitors in a category, and often find some reason to delay the purchase (sometimes for years) until I finally make the decision, at which point, I must have the product immediately. This trait is a new one for me. Maybe it’s part of a midlife crisis. It could be that I’m just trying to take my mind off the news. Whatever it is, from review sites to same-day delivery, the internet provides a bottomless pit of resources to feed my obsession. If product researching is like a cocaine habit, then the internet is Studio 54. From Vox: The best doesn’t exist. A psychologist explains why we can’t stop searching. (Counterpoint: The best definitely exists. And I will find it.)

+ Rebecca Jennings: I used all the best stuff for a week and it nearly broke me.

+ 11 senior citizens on the best products of the past century.

+ The rise of the recommendation site.

+ All these articles are part of Vox’s look at The Best of Everything.


The Force Majeure Awakens

“If what you are about to read sounds far-fetched, remember this: All the weather disasters and most of the policy scenarios described here have happened in the past. Just not at once.” From Bloomberg: Fire, Floods, and Famine. The Pessimists Guide to 2019.


Weekend Whats

What to Bruuuuce: I have had my couch warmed up for this for months. This Sunday, Springsteen on Broadway comes to Netflix. I saw the show live. It’s as good as you’ve heard. The soundtrack is out now.

+ What to Envy: “For the fifth or fourth or seventh (whatever, they all run together in a vortex of envy) consecutive year, this magazine’s editors forced us to come up with articles we wish we’d thought of first. Journalism so good it makes us question our career choices.” Bloomberg’s annual Jealousy List. And from Pocket: The Top Reads of 2018.

+ What to Hear: Everyone, it seems, has a year-end best music list. Here are a few that caught my ear. The fifty best albums from Rolling Stone, The New Yorker’s favorite songs, Pitchfork’s 100 Best Songs of the Year, and the The 51 Best Albums of 2018 from Spin.


Soul Custody

“The child’s death is likely to intensify scrutiny of detention conditions at Border Patrol stations and CBP facilities that are increasingly overwhelmed by large numbers of families seeking asylum in the United States.” WaPo: 7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion. (We don’t need a wall. We need a heart.)


Fight the Powder

“Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company’s powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.” Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.


Everything Gate

“The inquiry focuses on whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds.” The hits just keep coming. From the NYT: Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations. This follows yesterday’s WSJ report that Trump’s Inauguration spending is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors.

+ ABC News: Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign.

+ Trump has so many running scandals that it’s hard for news consumers to keep up and stay focused. The same is not true for federal prosecutors. I think Donny Deutsch gets things just about right.


Strike That, Reverse It

“The same technologies that were meant to level the political playing field have brought troll farms and Russian bots to corrupt our elections. The same platforms of self-expression that we thought would let us empathize with one another and build a more harmonious society have been co-opted by figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos and, for that matter, Donald Trump, to turn white supremacy into a topic of dinner-­table conversation. And the same networked methods of organizing that so many thought would bring down malevolent states have not only failed to do so—think of the Arab Spring—but have instead empowered autocrats to more closely monitor protest and dissent.” Harper’s: The rise of the internet and a new age of authoritarianism.


Bird Watching

“Anyway, he was sitting at the bar at the LongHorn Steakhouse in Williston one night a couple months back, sipping his Long Island iced tea and brainstorming ways to stick it to the town, when he got to thinking out loud: ‘Too bad I can’t go buy a big [F-bomb] middle finger and put it on a post out there.’ His wife, Michelle — who over the years has grown used to hearing his outlandish ideas — replied: ‘Cut it out.’ But Michelle Pelkey also knows her husband. And so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when, soon after, he commissioned a local sculptor — at a cost of $3,000 — to create, from a 7-foot-tall, 600-plus-pound chunk of pine, a single-finger salute.” Boston: In Vermont, a small-town feud leads to a big middle finger.


Swiss Miss

When is a shoe’s key feature that it’s really easy to kick off? Bloomberg with an answer: K-Swiss to Sell ‘Performance’ Sneakers for Playing Video Games.


Feel Good Friday

“Though other programs in the Los Angeles County have been met with fierce resistance from some neighbors who don’t want shelters nearby, residents involved with this one are not only embracing homeless people in their neighborhood, but they’re also opening their homes to them.” NPR: To Help The Homeless, Some In LA Are Giving Them A Place To Stay.

+ Hemp, legal.

+ Pitchfork: The Year in Good News.

+ Shenzhen’s silent revolution: All 16,000 buses in the fast-growing Chinese megacity are now electric, and soon all 22,000 taxis will be too. Plus, only vehicles producing zero emissions will be allowed to drive freely in downtown Madrid.

+ How Alaska fixed its earthquake-shattered roads in just days.

+ “Now 70 years old, ‘Miss Kittie’ feels like she wins every time she gets out on that track … and she has no intention of hanging up her helmet.” Try to Keep Up With America’s Oldest Female BMX Racer.

+ Man Is Freed After 2 Days Stuck In Empty Restaurant’s Grease Vent.

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