Friday, February 8th, 2019


Dickpic, Lightning

In a Dickensian saga perfectly reflective of our times, AMI, the David Pecker-headed parent company of The National Enquirer, attempted to extort Jeff Bezos with a below the belt threat to expose his prime member. But Pecker picked the wrong dick to shaft. With a net-worth north of $135 billion, the potential victim was particularly well-endowed to fight with sticks or stones. Some people have F U money. Bezos has Jeff U money. So the fluffer called the bluffer and prematurely revealed the whole story at length (not that size matters): No thank you, Mr. Pecker. And now the plot thickens (and hardens) because if AMI acted unlawfully, it could de-rail their immunity deal with federal prosecutors. They thought they had Jeff's dick in a box, but this is guy who knows how to return a package. Bezos' full frontal assault ties the story back to Trump, the Saudis, and the Mueller investigation. So if this scandal lasts for more than four hours, call your broadband company. You're gonna need more bandwidth. (I know it seems like I got a little too hung up on the wordplay, but to paraphrase Nicki Minaj, my anaconda don't want none unless you got puns son.)

+ The New Yorker: "Memo to the honchos at the National Enquirer: if you are going to threaten one of the richest men in the world by saying that you have sexually explicit selfies of him and his girlfriend, don't have your lawyer and top editor put the threats in writing. The rich guy might decide he can ride out a stolen dick pic or two, especially if he's already announced that he's getting divorced." (Shorter version: Alexa don't play.)

+ How did AMI think they could extort Bezos over a dick pic? The Amazon logo itself is a dick pic. Just ask the Z.


Wall of Hypocrisy

"The Washington Post spoke with 16 men and women from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew." WaPo: My whole town practically lived there.


Weekend Whats

What to Read: "In April 2018, a blind man with one foot robbed a bank in Austin, Texas. This is a heist story—but unlike any you've ever read." From Atavist: The Desperado. Plus, Greg Nichols' Secrets and Wives, a true story that picks up right where Scorsese's GoodFellas left off. "There wasn't much that was true about Martin Lewis. He didn't just have a double life, he stacked up secret lives like Russian nesting dolls. He was already married and had a house across town where he lived with his wife and two teenage children. And that was just the icing. His real name was Henry Hill, and everyone close to him wore targets on their backs."

+ What to Hear: In my house, there is only one Weekend What this weekend. And my daughter started playing it about 6AM and it will likely continue on a loop for the foreseeable future. Ariana Grande's new album is out. Thank you, next. (Thart's the name of the album, not my review.) Related: How is it possible that the hottest star in pop isn't performing at the Grammys? Still want to watch? Get warmed up with 10 Sessions From Grammy-Nominated 'World Cafe' Guests courtesy of NPR.

+ What to Watch: Tired of endlessing browsing through Netflix titles? Here's a look at The 10 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now.


AG Factor

"Would you say the special counsel's investigation is a witch hunt? Are you overseeing a witch hunt?" The questions were weird. The answers were strained. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker testified to Congress.


Foxconn Artists

"Wisconsin officials apparently didn't consider Gou's track record problematic. Instead, they describe the billionaire, who charmed them with stories of his early days selling TV parts in the Midwest, as almost philanthropic. 'My impression of him was, what a nice person,' says Scott Neitzel, who led negotiations for the Walker administration. 'An extremely genuine, down-to-earth tycoon.' When asked if the state looked at Foxconn's history, WEDC Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan says, 'We didn't spend a lot of time on that because, in the end, we got to know these people so well.'" Bloomberg: Inside Wisconsin's Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn.

+ CityLab: Why Mayors Keep Trying to Woo Business With Tax Breaks (even though it rarely works out).

+ The public is not as pumped as the politicians when it comes to these deals. Example: "Amazon is reconsidering plans for a new headquarters in New York amid a torrent of public opposition."


Service With a Smile

"The former congressman helped shape the Democratic Party for nearly 60 years, and he spent just as long pushing universal health care." The Atlantic on passing of a man who served "with—but never, he would insist, under—11 presidents." John Dingell Is Gone, but His Politics Are Back.

+ He kept an eye on things until the very end. From last December: I Served in Congress Longer Than Anyone. Here's How to Fix It.

+ In addition to being a long-serving leader, Dingell was also probably the greatest Twitterer there ever was.


Almighty Dollar Stores

"There's something for everyone in the dollar store, especially in the anxiety-ridden post-recession economy: By 2011 it was affluent households that were driving growth in the sector, making up some 22% of Dollar General customers ... But the dollar store boom has come at a cost. Critics say there's more to the dollar store economy than savings—and that even those great deals may not be as great as they appear. The stores erode jobs and local businesses, turn neighborhoods into grocery deserts, and encourage impulse consumption." Quartz with an interesting look at the rise of dollar stores.


5G Whiz

"There was a time when the world's two great superpowers were obsessed with nuclear weapons technology. Today the flashpoint is between the US and China, and it involves the wireless technology that promises to connect your toaster to the web." MIT Tech Review: Five things you need to know about 5G, the next generation of wireless tech that's fueling tensions between the US and China.


Houses of the Holy Sh*t

"I'm like, Listen, it's a lifestyle." Slate: An Interview With the Realtor Selling the Suburban House With the Sex Room in the Basement. And here's some background from Buzzfeed: This Real Estate Listing Is Normal Until You Get To The Sex Dungeon. (I don't think the National Enquirer is going to be able to blackmail the sellers of this house either...)


Feel Good Friday

"Robert and Trude mourned what they thought had been a lonely and isolated life for their disabled son. But when Mats died, they discovered that people all over Europe lit candles in his memory." BBC: My disabled son's amazing gaming life in the World of Warcraft.

+ When a Newton family welcomed a baby who is deaf, 20 neighbors learned sign language.

+ Father organizes heavy metal festival for his music-loving son Mason, who has cerebral palsy.

+ Inside 37-year-old pitcher Luke Hagerty's improbable comeback story.

+ Aerosmith's Steven Tyler opens home for abused women in TN.

+ Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants, will rely primarily on renewable energy