Thursday, January 31st, 2019


The Year of Giving Dangerously

It's not just that Purdue Pharma knew about the dangers of Oxycontin (and especially Fentanyl) long before those dangers began to manifest across swaths of America. And it's not just that the company continued to strategize ways to push the painkillers once the risks became widely known (including seeking advice from "McKinsey & Co. on strategies to boost the drug's sales and burnish its image, including how to 'counter the emotional messages' of mothers whose children overdosed"). They even considered getting into the opioid addiction treatment business. ProPublica and Stat share some secret portions of a Massachusetts lawsuit against Purdue and the Sackler family and the details are, well, painful. "Not content with billions of dollars in profits from the potent painkiller OxyContin, its maker explored expanding into an 'attractive market' fueled by the drug's popularity — treatment of opioid addiction." (It's surprising they never considered selling body bags.)

+ Over the course of 2019, there will be opioid-related cases in states across the country. The Guardian: Boston trial opens what could be year of reckoning for executives.


Hogamadog Day Afternoon

"Chicago ... will see a temperature rise of almost 75 degrees -- from extreme cold of 20-25 below zero to temps in the low 50s on Monday." As the Polar Vortex moves east, the hardest hit regions will see some dramatic warming. But first, more cold. Here's the latest.

+ When even antifreeze is freezing. 26 Pictures That Perfectly Capture How Insanely Cold It Is Across The US. And here's some of the weird stuff that people are doing to show the rest of us how cold it is in the Midwest. (Not even the coldest weather in a generation can compete with the burning human desire to go viral on social media.)

+ Minus 28 in Minnesota? Sounds like a good time for an ultramarathon.


Defense Mechanism

You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. But that attorney might have also been provided to a few hundred other clients as well. An excellent look at how unfair the courts can be for those who can't afford fairness. NYT: One Lawyer, One Day, 194 Felony Cases.


Cig Leaf

From WaPo: "E-cigarettes are almost twice as effective at helping smokers quit as nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges and patches, according to a new study that immediately stoked the debate over whether e-cigarettes are an important smoking-cessation tool or a health menace." (They might be both.)



"Erik Brunetti has spent the greater part of 30 years testing the foundational idea that in America, all speech is protected under the First Amendment—even speech you disagree with. The vessel through which Brunetti has exercised his right is Fuct." GQ: How O.G. Streetwear Brand FUCT Took a Free Speech Case All the Way to the Supreme Court. (The wordplay doesn't bother me much, but the use of all-caps is a clear violation of obscenity laws...)

+ Seems like a decent time to go back into the archives and listen to George Carlin on the champion of dirty words.


Death and Vaxes

"New York and Washington allow parents to refuse vaccinations for non-medical reasons. Both states are experiencing major measles outbreaks. This is not a coincidence." The New Republic: America's Epidemic of Vaccine Exemptions.

+ CNN: Measles outbreaks in Washington and New York challenge public health systems.


Waning Nostalgic

"What tech companies are doing is subtly different from classic nostalgia-marketing. Rather than using cultural symbols to trigger collective nostalgia, they're using you and what they know about you." (I miss not being aware of that.) The New Yorker: The Seductiveness of Insta-Nostalgia.


Deport Hole

"Kids laughed at Ashley's weird name and her terrible Spanish. Though she'd been a top student back in South Carolina, she was suddenly trying to learn in a language that she couldn't read or write and could barely speak." California Sunday Magazine: The Deported Americans: More than 600,000 US-born children of undocumented parents live in Mexico. What happens when you return to a country you've never known?


The Dig is Up

"The clues to what lay underneath started to surface the night before. Someone reported seeing a pothole. The first call went to the Pembroke Pines Public Works Department ... An orange extension cord was peeking through — the simple kind you might pick up at a grocery or hardware store. That didn't look right to the work crew." So they did some digging. The FBI found a tunnel leading to a bank in Florida suburbia. (Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were just trying to avoid traffic.)


Bottom of the News

"A person's final resting place could be the foundations of a flowerbed or could feed the roots of a tree." How do you compost a human body - and why would you? (I'm sticking with my plan to be stuffed and preserved on a couch behind my Macbook Air. But to each his own.)

+ "The last major users of pagers are also their first major users." Quartz on the rise and fall of the pager.