January 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Is the sun really bad for you? Plus, federal workers experience a payday without the pay, and Weekend Whats.

“Homo sapiens have been around for 200,000 years. Until the industrial revolution, we lived outside. How did we get through the Neolithic Era without sunscreen? Actually, perfectly well. What’s counterintuitive is that dermatologists run around saying, ‘Don’t go outside, you might die.'” A lot of the health advice we’ve lived our lives according to has turned out to be wrong. And once we’re told about how wrong it was, it all makes complete sense, and we start living our lives according to the new advice (which in some cases is given by the same people who came up with the original guidelines). Is there a chance that slathering on a ton of sunscreen every time you go outside will be looked back upon as a seriously nutty idea? Or as Rowan Jacobsen asks in Outside: Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?

+ “Among those who ate the most fiber, the analysis found a 15-30% reduction in deaths from all causes, as well as those related to the heart, compared with those eating the least fiber.” Yeah, sugar is bad. But according a review commissioned by the World Health Organization, carbs have been unfairly maligned. Good carbs are a good thing. (Maybe the best plan is to just keep doing whatever you like to do and eating whatever you want to eat. Sooner or later, the science will validate your life choices…)

+ And from Yahoo Lifestyle News: Influencer says she was on a ‘tapas and cocaine’ diet to stay thin — here’s why that’s not healthy. (There’s nothing left to believe in…)


Check, Please

“Once that first paycheck [doesn’t come], we’re no longer talking about the theoretical; we’re talking about tangible missing of paying electric bills, paying mortgage or rent — at which point, the narrative shifts.” The government shutdown, already tied for the longest in history, will become a lot more real now that a payday has arrived, without the pay. Vox: Today, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss their first paycheck.

+ Now on Craigslist, Facebook: Household items from furloughed workers trying to make ends meet. Plus, “in Boston this week, a pop-up food pantry opened for men and women of the Coast Guard, the only branch of the armed services working without pay.”

+ “Trump has urged the Army Corps to determine how fast contracts could be signed and whether construction could begin within 45 days, according to one of the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the preparations.” WaPo: Trump administration lays groundwork to declare national emergency to build wall. (If Trump wants the money for the wall, maybe he should make Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony pay-per-view…)

+ The New Yorker: Can Donald Trump Invoke Emergency Powers to Get His Wall?

+ Here’s the latest on the shutdown from CNN. And from yesterday, my take on why it makes total sense that the wall is the hill on which Donald Trump is making his ultimate political stand.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: I recently started rewatching the excellent series Friday Night Lights with my 12 year-old son. He loves it. I’m loving it again. It’s a great show and a timely reminder that people from red states and blue states still have at least one thing in common: We all think Tim Riggins is a total hunk. FNL rightly made the NYT list of the 20 best dramas since The Sopranos. (Also nice to see The Shield get some love on the list.)

+ What to Stream: Nappy Roots is “an American alternative Southern rap quartet from Louisville, Kentucky.” I saw them perform at a bar in the Bay Area last night (I never stop working for you), and they were awesome. Start with Good Day.

+ What to Click: If you’ve ever tried to separate a person from an image background, you know if can be tedious. A new site called Remove BG will do the trick in a few seconds. As an example, it recently occurred to me that we could compromise and give Trump a Mime Wall at the border. So I needed to remove the existing background from a mime guy photo and paste him into a scene at the border, and boom. (This is part tech tool advice and part cry for help…)


Pullout Method Enacting

So far it’s mostly just equipment, but a US official says the withdrawal from Syria has begun. Trump’s abrupt decision to pull out of Syria “led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Minister James Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the anti-IS coalition.”

+ “In one of his most curious contradictions, Pompeo pledged that the United States ‘will not retreat until the terror fight is over.'” Robin Wright in The New Yorker: Pompeo and His Bible Define U.S. Policy in the Middle East.


Bin There, Done That

“”For those of us who spent most of our lives painstakingly separating plastic, glass, paper and metal, single-stream recycling is easy to love. No longer must we labor. Gone is the struggle to store two, three, four or even five different bags under the kitchen sink. Just throw everything into one dumpster, season liberally with hopes and dreams, and serve it up to your local trash collector. What better way to save the planet?” FiveThirtyEight on why the era of easy recycling may be coming to an end.”



“Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who had been missing since her parents were found fatally shot in October, has been found alive. And officials say she immediately helped law enforcement arrest her alleged captor.” NPR: Wisconsin Girl Missing For 3 Months Is Found — And Helps Deputies Catch Alleged Captor.

+ “I just held onto her and I said we’re going to find somebody who’s home, we’re going to call the police. You’re going to be ok you’re going to be safe, you’re going to be fine, you’re going to be fine.” Here’s the latest on Jayme Closs.


Rocky Beach

“On Venice Boulevard in front of Vice Media’s offices, a chain-link fence was erected to prohibit tents from going up. Residents around Penmar Golf Course have started a GoFundMe page and have hit their goal of raising $80,000 to fill a pedestrian pathway with native plants and landscaping — a project being called the Frederick Avenue Pass-Through but whose real objective is to deter the large encampment that has ballooned there.” LA’s Battle for Venice Beach: Homeless Surge Puts Hollywood’s Progressive Ideals to the Test. (This is a very interesting look at the interaction between homelessness and a wealthy community. But I’m pretty sure that “progressive ideals” are more about solving homelessness than living next to it.)


Slaughterhouse Rules

“A federal judge in Iowa says it’s no longer a crime to go undercover at factory farms, slaughterhouses and any other ag-related operations. The 2012 law was a clear violation of the First Amendment, the judge said.” NPR: Court Strikes Down Iowa’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law .


Wheels Up

“Even if it didn’t make contact with you, it’s a frightening thing. An assault is not [only] an actual touching, but a fear of an imminent offensive touching.” Believe it or not, that is a comment about scooters. In some cities, scooters are everywhere. And as is the case with other new trends, the law is still catching up. CityLab: Anatomy of an Electric Scooter Crash.


Feel Good Friday

“The 2-year-old tabby cat went missing from his home in Michigan just before Halloween. Almost two months later, Bandit was found wandering the streets of Tampa, more than 1,100 miles away.” No one knows how the cat got to Florida (or why), but he recently caught a flight home. (I’m reading this as a feel good story although it could also be read as one more piece of evidence that your cat holds you in such contempt he’d be willing to move to Florida to get away…)

+ RBG will miss one more week of oral arguments but her tests show “no evidence of remaining disease.”‘

+ NYT: Dementia May Never Improve, but Many Patients Still Can Learn. And Artificial Intelligence Can Detect Alzheimer’s Disease in Brain Scans Six Years Before a Diagnosis.

+ A formerly homeless person has been crowned London’s top bus driver – because he never stops smiling.

+ Fortnite creator is buying thousands of acres of forest to stop it from being cut down. (That’s cool. Now if he can just convince our kids to stop playing long enough to go outside and see a few trees…)

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