Monday, January 28th, 2019


Wanna Screw?

Why is it so hard for companies like Apple to make products in America? The NYT describes some of the issues in a look at the company's efforts to make a Mac in Texas. "When Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws ... In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not." Eventually, one company was able to manufacture 28,000 screws, but they came in 22 separate deliveries, some made by the company's CEO who "often made the one-hour drive himself in his Lexus sedan." (He could have at least delivered them in a car made in America...)


Murder, She Wrote Off

If you're thinking about shooting someone in a major American city, I can think of a lot of reasons to dissuade you. But the risk of getting caught isn't one of them, because that risk isn't all that high. From Buzzfeed: Shoot Someone In A Major US City, And Odds Are You'll Get Away With It. "Over the past three decades, the percentage of shooters who escape justice has soared — even as the nation's overall violent crime rate has plummeted and advances in forensic technology have given investigators powerful new tools."


Trying to Kabul Something Together

The peace process in Afghanistan has reached its most promising level in nearly a decade. Does that mean we have a peace deal? Not exactly. That peace is at hand? Not quite. According to the head negotiator, "We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement." But after 17 years of America's longest war, even a draft of a framework sounds pretty damn good. NYT: US and Taliban Agree in Principle to Peace Framework.


Orange is the New Red

As federal government workers return to their regular gigs, the Congressional Budget Office is adding up the country's economic losses. "In CBO's estimation, the shutdown dampened economic activity mainly because of the loss of furloughed federal workers' contribution to GDP, the delay in federal spending on goods and services, and the reduction in aggregate demand." Best case scenario, America ended up at least $3 billion in the hole following the government shutdown. (In other words, it was Trump's most successful business deal ever.)



"It was back then that Finkelstein started developing a political method that now reads like a how-to guide for modern right-wing populism. Finkelstein's premise was simple: Every election is decided before it even begins. Most people know who they will vote for, what they support, and what they oppose. It's very difficult to convince them otherwise, Finkelstein believed. It's a lot easier to demoralize people than to motivate them. And the best way to win is to demoralize your opponent's supporters." An excellent behind-the-scenes look at the modern day political sport of personal destruction from Hannes Grassegger in Buzzfeed: The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros.


Slat Chance

"The team had given Slat's invention a name, Wilson, for the volleyball that Tom Hanks, lost at sea, befriends in Cast Away. Slat held a brief press conference, concluding, 'For sixty years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans. From this day onward, we're taking it back out again.' The ferry set off, and a few minutes later Wilson came into view, gliding behind the Maersk ship like a long black tail. It was already speckled with bird droppings." In The New Yorker, Carolyn Kormann shares a fascinating look at how a controversial entrepreneur named Boyan Slat is trying to rid the ocean of plastic trash. A Grand Plan to Clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.


He Caved

"We climbed the rickety boarding ramp and found our seats, his behind mine. He was too calm. I turned around over the back of my chair. 'Have you ever helped rescue many people from a cave before?' A pause. 'Not live ones,' he said." Shannon Gormley in Maclean's: Into the dark: The inside story of an improbable team of divers, a near-impossible plan and the rescue of 12 boys from a Thai cave.



"In addition to knowing what people buy, Amazon also knows where people live, because they provide delivery addresses, and which credit cards they use. It knows how old their children are from their baby registries, and who has a cold, right now, from cough syrup ordered for two-hour delivery." NYT: Amazon Knows What You Buy. And It's Building a Big Ad Business From It.

+ Want to follow along as Amazon takes over the universe? Tim Carmody just launched a new newsletter called The Amazon Chronicles. It should be good (until Amazon acquires him...)


Hedgehog Wild

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken the unusual measure of advising Americans not to kiss or snuggle their pet hedgehogs." The warning is meant to be taken literally and is in response to a salmonella spike. Those who kiss, snuggle, or pet their hedgehog in the euphemistic sense are entirely free to continue doing so.


Bottom of the News

Here's a fun fact. I'm one of Lady Gaga's little monsters. My wife and I went to see her Vegas show over the weekend and Bradley Cooper attended, and she called him up on stage to perform a duet of Shallow. It was a nice surprise and it introduced me to the five stages of realizing that Bradley Cooper is at your Lady Gaga show.

+ A three year-old boy missing in the woods for two days says a friendly bear kept him safe. (If we had to have a three year-old as president, why couldn't it have been this three year old?)

+ Meet the man behind a third of what's on Wikipedia. (Must be nice to only have to worry about covering a third of the internet...)