Trump Gets The Clap

The spectacle of the State of the Union address epitomizes the ludicrous way we cover politics. We obsessively observe a president's behaviors, policies, speeches, lies, and tweets for two years, after which we pretend that his reading of a few (or in this case, many) lines off a teleprompter somehow holds a deep, sweeping meaning. Skip the punditry and the breathless morning-after analysis. The one person who had the appropriate response to the SOTU was Joshua Trump, a kid invited by the first family after they learned he had been bullied for his last name. He came, he saw, he fell fast asleep (or as his namesakes call it, executive time).

+ WaPo: In dissonant State of the Union speech, Trump seeks unity while depicting ruin. Plus, 5 takeways from the speech, and some fact-checking.

+ Of course, the biggest falsehoods were reserved for immigrants, the border, and the wall debate. Texas Monthly: These El Pasoans Are Rejecting Trump's False Claims About the City's Border Fence and Crime Rate.

+ "Trump has contributed to these obstacles with racist, sexist, anti-transgender, anti-science rhetoric. Until now, his words have worked at almost every turn to fuel HIV's spread." James Hamblin: Stopping HIV Would Require an Entirely Different Trump.

+ For the president, the biggest number of the night was likely the ratings, and they were good. For the Dems, it was all about the visuals, including the Congresswomen dressed in white, and of course, the Pelosi clap heard (and memed) 'round the world.


Lettuce Pray

"In South Korea, 20 percent of consumers buy groceries online, and both in the United Kingdom and Japan, 7.5 percent of consumers do." In America, we shop for just about everything else online, but the numbers when it comes to online groceries are still relatively low. Alana Semuels in The Atlantic: Why People Still Don't Buy Groceries Online. (I can't imagine letting someone else decide which head of lettuce to select, so this little piggy will always go to market himself.)

+ Buzzfeed: Delivery startups are using tips to fulfill pay promises, and customers are mad. (They just changed the policy, but how could anyone have thought this was OK?)


Everything is Thawsome

"While this planet has seen hotter days, and colder ones, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of history is the relative suddenness of the rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity over the same period." NYT: It's Official: 2018 Was the Fourth-Warmest Year on Record. From the director of the NASA group that conducted the analysis: "The five warmest years have, in fact, been the last five years. We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future. It's here. It's now." If that doesn't get you hot under the collar, here's one more stat: "Over all, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001."

+ NPR: Global Warming Could Melt At Least A Third Of Himalayan Glaciers. "That could have disastrous effects on the water resources of some 240 million people."


Virginia Creepers

"Herring — who has been among those calling on Northam to resign — said he was 'deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.' He said that in the days ahead, 'honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general.'" AP: Escalating crisis: Virginia AG says he wore blackface, too. (OK, this might be more efficient: Raise your hand if you're a white politician in Virginia who hasn't dressed up in blackface.)

+ For those scoring at home, that's two blackface admissions and one sexual assault allegation among the top three office holders in Virginia. And the guy fourth in the line of succession got that spot when his name was picked out of a ceramic bowl. WaPo's Philip Bump: With another blackface revelation in Virginia, here's who's fourth in line for the governorship.


Fortnite Vision

"Much has been said about Fortnite's revenue, users, business model, origin and availability. But these narratives are overhyped. What matters is how these achievements, when added to the rest of Epic Games, stand to change the entertainment industry forever." Matthew Ball on why the whole Fortnite thing is even bigger than it seems. Fortnite Is the Future, but Probably Not for the Reasons You Think.

+ "The Fortnite event represented something different by many orders of magnitude. By one (unsubstantiated) estimate, 10 million concurrent users attended the show in the game's 'Showtime' mode. In other words, this was something much more than a concert. It was a peek, albeit a short one, at what an AR- and VR-suffused future looks like: connected congregations of embodied avatars, in mass-scale events that still manage to feel personal." Wired: Fortnite's Marshmello Concert Is The Future Of The Metaverse.


Soul Searching

"Two years ago, I got a phone call from a woman who sang in the circus. She said she could prove that James Brown had been murdered. I met her on a hot day near Chicago, where the big top was rising and the elephants were munching hay. The singer's name was Jacquelyn Hollander. She was 61 years old. She lived in a motor home with two cats and a Chihuahua named Pickles. She had long blond hair and a pack of Marlboros. She said she was not crazy, nor was she lying, and she hoped I would write her story, because it might save her life. Or maybe it would get her killed. That was also a possibility, she said" CNN goes deep: The Circus Singer And The Godfather Of Soul.


Nun the Wiser

"He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests. It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy." BBC: Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery. (Anyone else sensing a trend here?)


Motivating Factors

"Carter was 50 miles away in her Plainville home but spoke to Roy twice over the phone. During one of the phone calls, Roy got out of the truck because he was 'scared,' but Carter told him to 'get back in' moments before his death, according to evidence presented by Bristol County prosecutors during Carter's trial in 2017." In one of the stranger cases in recent memory, a Massachusetts court refused to overturn the conviction of the woman who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself.


Killer Instincts

"But after ten years of researching my friend's murder, and almost 20 since her death, I can definitively say that her killer is the least compelling thing about her story. Her killer is simply a man. A boring, attention-hungry, deeply misogynistic cipher." What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Serial Killers. (Or, why do we talk about serial killers so much...)


Bottom of the News

"On the topic of combining eating with horseback entertainment, I'll start with the obvious: effluvia. It doesn't matter how 'majestic' or 'stalwart' they are, or if you insist on calling them 'steeds'; horses piss, and the evidence was in the air as we took our seats in the arena." Miranda Kaplan: Knights, Horses, and...Hummus? An Evening at Medieval Times.

+ Bloomberg: Cannabis Smoking Associated With Higher Sperm Count. (This gives new meaning to the phrase, contact high...)

+ If a typewriter repairman's career can survive the internet era, so can yours.