The Blind Side

"With his 28 Emmys and eight National Sportscaster of the Year awards, Costas had become the most-respected broadcaster of his generation -- a kind of Walter Cronkite for sports." So why was Bob Costas relieved of his duties covering the Super Bowl? And why did that controversy ultimately lead to his break-up with NBC? In short, because Bob Costas tells the truth about football's concussion problem; and football is the biggest thing in sports, the biggest thing on TV, and maybe the biggest thing in entertainment. By being honest about the risks associated with CTE, Costas had "crossed a line." And the only line the NFL likes crossed is the line of scrimmage and the only acceptable whistle-blowers are referees. From ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada: From NBC and broadcast icon to dropped from the Super Bowl. (It's not just NFL players who are the victims of this whitewashing. It's also kids in Pop Warner whose parents might have changed their minds about letting them play if they had all the facts. NBC demands the truth from politicians. But they punish it in their own organization.)


Buzz Cut

"More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century." The Guardian: Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature.'

+ "Insects outweigh all the fish in the oceans and all the livestock munching grass on land. Their abundance, variety (there could be as many as 30 million species), and ubiquity mean insects play a foundational role in food webs and ecosystems: from the bees that pollinate the flowers of food crops like almonds to the termites that recycle dead trees in forests. Vox: We have a new global tally of the insect apocalypse.


Texas Told ’em

Federal employees are still reeling from the last shutdown as lawmakers race to avoid the next one. NPR: Border Security Funding Talks Stalled, Government Shutdown Looms.

+ "It is sad to hear President Trump state falsehoods about El Paso, Texas, in an attempt to justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall." President Trump is headed to an El Paso rally to drum up support for his wall. Local officials are injecting a little reality into the conversation.

+ "The Border ‘emergency' is a manufactured crisis. This is our answer to the White House: No more division, xenophobia or nativism." LA Times: California Gov. Gavin Newsom pulls National Guard from border.


Supplemental Breakdown

"There are now between 50,000 and 80,000 dietary supplements on the market, according to the F.D.A. The agency also says that three of every four American consumers now take a dietary supplement regularly. For older Americans, the rate is four out of five." A lot of those pills and powders do nothing, and many are harmful. And, yet, the supplement aisle in your pharmacy continues to sell more fiction than bookstores and Hollywood combined. NYT: F.D.A. Warns Supplement Makers to Stop Touting Cures for Diseases Like Alzheimer's. (As long as we're just talking about warnings, nothing with change...)


Getting Behind in Life

"Jen is one of more than 44 million Americans with student loans, and her current balance of $70,000 is just a tiny fraction of our collective $1.5 trillion debt load. The weight of all that student loan debt is markedly different than the feeling of the weight of mortgage or credit card debt — after all, those borrowers can declare bankruptcy, an option unavailable to student loan borrowers. Not even death can absolve you or your loved ones from the responsibility of some student loans." Buzzfeed's: Here's Why So Many Americans Feel Cheated By Their Student Loans. "Growing up a poor black kid, all I heard was college, college, college. Now we're fools for taking out loans to make it happen?" (In the end, everyone majors in finance...)


Green Test

WaPo: "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for a debate on the substance of her 'Green New Deal' resolution after her staff distributed an erroneous fact sheet regarding the proposal, leading to confusion over a plan supported by many of the Democratic Party's leading candidates for president." The roll-out of the Green New Deal didn't go all that well. And the name isn't all that great. But there still isn't a single item in the Green New Deal that's half as extreme as denying climate change.

+ "From net-zero carbon emissions to transportation fixes, some ideas in the Green New Deal have been tested abroad." NatGeo: What can a Green New Deal learn from other countries?


Mossad But True

"Psy-Group stood out from many of its rivals because it didn't just gather intelligence; it specialized in covertly spreading messages to influence what people believed and how they behaved. Its operatives took advantage of technological innovations and lax governmental oversight. 'Social media allows you to reach virtually anyone and to play with their minds,' Uzi Shaya, a former senior Israeli intelligence officer, said. "You can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. It's a place where wars are fought, elections are won, and terror is promoted. There are no regulations. It is a no man's land.'" Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow take you inside a plot to influence American elections, starting with one small-town race. The New Yorker: Private Mossad for Hire.


Animal Jam

"In Japan, one crow population uses traffic to crack open walnuts: The crows drop a nut in front of cars at intersections, and then when the light turns red, they swoop in to scoop up the exposed flesh." Ross Anderson in The Atlantic: Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition. (Same.)


Wham, Bam, Thank You Gram

Yes, there were a fair share of awkward moments and JLo points, but overall, the Grammys featured a solid line-up of excellent performances, including Lady Gaga, Cardi B, St Vincent and Dua Lipa, H.E.R., Janelle Monae, and a flawless version of The Joke by NextDraft-approved Brandi Carlile. And there was a lot of other good stuff too including Dolly Parton dueting with Miley Cyrus, and Kacey Musgraves singing and winning. Just watch the damn show. Oh yeah, here are the winners.


Bottom of the News

The Daily Beast has some new details on the Bezos v Pecker scandal: Mistress' Brother Leaked Bezos' Racy Texts to Enquirer, Sources Say. I'd add my own take here but I blew my wad on Friday with this towering effort: Dickpic, Lightning.

+ Towson University police warn of a woman on the loose, looking for a date for her son.

+ Tired of getting your phone all smudgy? Try Drinkable Potato Chips.