Thursday, January 3rd, 2019


Apple Crumble

Nothing lasts forever. But with America's stock market on a prolonged bull run, its tech companies soaring to new heights, and world markets sloughing off Trump tweets, it was starting to feel like the good times would continue to roll. Things changed in the last few months of 2018 when it became clear that the year's market results would leave no refuge for investors: "even safe funds fell in 2018." The reality of the downward trend became even more stark as Apple shook the market to its core, peeling back the curtain on its first earnings warning since 2002 (sorry, my stock portfolio has taken such a bad hit, the puns are all I have left -- they're my portfolio in the storm). And like many of the economic and political stories you'll be reading in the year to come, this one is, in part, about the relationship between the US and China. Alexis Madrigal sums up Five Ways to Look at Apple's Surprise Bad News (none of them good).

+ "A lot of data in the past few days, including U.S. factory activity is pointing to a global economic slowdown." Reuters: Wall Street tumbles on weak factory data, Apple warning.


Istanbul Run

"In the last two to three years, not only have students and academics fled the country, but also entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and thousands of wealthy individuals who are selling everything and moving their families and their money abroad. More than a quarter of a million Turks emigrated in 2017." NYT: Spurning Erdogan's Vision, Turks Leave in Droves, Draining Money and Talent. (A familiar pattern is playing out. The more who leave, the fewer left to challenge Erdogan's vision for the future.)


Just Like Nancy Drew it Up

"After Thursday's official swearing in ceremony, the most female and most racially diverse Congress in history will begin governing. More than 100 women will be sworn into the House of Representatives — a new record — and many of them are breaking ground when it comes to race and sexuality, too." NBC: A day of historic firsts in Congress.

+ In 2007, Nancy Pelosi was sworn is as the first female Speaker in history. Today she was sworn is as the second. Politico: The survivor: Nancy Pelosi makes history — again.


Wedding Stinger

"Whelan's family denies the claims and have said they fear for his safety. Whelan was in Moscow to attend the wedding of a fellow former Marine, his family said." WaPo: American Paul Whelan charged with espionage in Russia.

+ "Whelan's detainment comes about two weeks after 30-year-old Russian national Maria Butina, who was arrested on charges of conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government in July 2018, admitted to participating in a campaign backed by Russian officials to secretly influence US politics, including trying to sway the Republican Party to be more receptive to Russia. Some experts have speculated that Whelan's arrest may be an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to retaliate." Vox: Russia detained an American for espionage. Here's what we know.

+ Observers will be anxious to see how President Trump reacts to the charges (and whether the CIA and State Department will react similarly). In the meantime, David Frum wonders why Trump is spouting Russian propaganda when it comes to the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan.


Prison Break

"Every day I wonder if I have reached my limit. Every day I wonder if I have come to my breaking point." Imagine getting assigned to be an interrogator at Abu Ghraib "six weeks after the revelation of prisoner torture and abuse ... shocked the world." That's just the beginning of this compelling story: The Priest of Abu Ghraib. Inside Iraq's most notorious prison, an Army interrogator came face to face with a shocking truth about the war—and himself.


Darkness Scrollable

"Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being." AP: Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst. (After my iPhone felt itself flying 30 yards and landing near a dumpster, it probably sensed that my stock portfolio was having a less than stellar day...)

+ Your phone's ambitions may not end with diagnosis. Outside: Your Ideal Therapist Might Not Be Human.

+ Vox: The growth of yoga and meditation in the US since 2012 is remarkable. (Equally remarkable, some of this is being done with our phones. There's an app for everything, except to point out that your apps are stressing you the hell out.)

+ "Breathwork. Hypnosis. Energy patches. The ubiquitous CBD. All these solutions to anxiety are enough to make your head spin even more." Yup, it's getting stressful to choose a way to de-stress. Mel Magazine: In the brave new world of relaxation, you have 1 million ways to chill out.


Prey Tell

"The NBC News Dateline show mined the same territory in its special series, 'To Catch a Predator,' from 2004 to 2007. Ratings soared, and the network described it as a public service, but in three years the series was over, after drawing negative news coverage, advertiser wariness and a lawsuit from the family of a target who killed himself." Social media enabled vigilante activities like predator catching to go wide. Very wide. From NBC News: He lures alleged child predators and shames them on Facebook. Now one of his targets is dead.


Tech Museum

The cow milking machine, the screw, the guillotine, the wheel, and fire all made Gizmodo's "definitive list of every important technology ever, ranked by their importance." (Ironically, "the internet list" didn't make the list...)

+ My son and I have been reading and enjoying Tim Harford's Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy.


Seconds Coming

What would you do if you had a two seconds to prepare for a major earthquake? If you live in SoCal, it might be a good time to consider that question. Buzzfeed: Millions Of People In California Can Now Get Earthquake Alerts On Their Phones Seconds Before The Ground Shakes. (Two seconds is just enough time to come up with and publish a pithy, viral tweet...)


Bottom of the News

"In the early days, it was really about the map, but the values have shifted. Hal and Bill realized it was important to get the beauty and to give people something they could look at and dream about. I think a computer-generated map is a reflection of the office—it's rigid. A hand-painted map reflects the outdoors." If you went skiing over the holidays, then you almost certainly enjoyed the work of James Niehues. Meet the Man Behind Most of the Ski Maps in America. (I enjoyed his green circle work, but he really lost me during his black diamond period.)

+ "2-3: Exclamation points per 100,000 words writers are allowed, according to American novelist Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing ... 8: Exclamation points included in a statement by US president Donald Trump on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi." Quartz on the unholy rise of the exclamation point (which most of us missed because we were so distracted by the spike in all caps...)