Friday, February 15th, 2019


Threat Level Orange

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for an emergency break ... with reality. President Trump threw caution (and the constitution) to the wind and declared a national emergency to access funds to build a wall that wouldn't solve a crisis that doesn't actually exist in the first place. (In simpler times, Fred Trump would have stepped in and paid for his son's wall himself.) Meanwhile, Americans are advised to be afraid, avoid areas near the border, and assume the crash position (which basically amounts to sitting on the couch and tweeting everything you see on Fox News.)

+ In declaring the emergency, Trump mentioned that he actually didn't really need to declare it. (The real emergency is that millions of people can look at this lawless clown and see a president...)

+ WaPo: Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime. (Charts are too complicated. Can we try something with stick figures or maybe a coloring book?)

+ Bloomberg on where the money will come from.

+ The Atlantic: The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers.


Moon Phase

"Unlike the Apollo era, this Space Age is being driven by a third factor: Greed. A growing number of corporations are benefiting from new technologies and wealthy backers chasing an unproven dream that a lucrative business can be built on the moon and deep space by extracting the metals and resources on the surface on the moon." WaPo on the reinvigorated quests to get to the moon. NASA wants to get to the moon ‘as fast as possible.' But countries like China and India are racing there, too. (Alternate headline: Nearly done ruining Earth, humans embark on journey to ruin space too...)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: In the 1970s, Norman Lear launched some of the most important, groundbreaking shows on television. So who is this generation's Norman Lear? It's still Norman Lear. At the age of 96, the greatest sitcom creator is still at it. And his latest show is still breaking ground. Season three of the remake of One Day at a Time is out on Netflix.

+ What to Doc: Netflix also has the latest offering in the ReMastered series; a look at the life, activism, and death of Sam Cooke. Excellent stuff. And what a voice. The Two Killings of Sam Cook.

+ What to Hear: Nothing in entertainment is more powerful than a solo singer-songwriter doing their thing. And right now, no singer-songwriter is doing their thing better than Brandi Carlile. Here she is singing The Joke on Ellen earlier this week. (Wear a jacket, you're gonna get the chills...)


A King’s Ransom in Queens

"In retrospect, the helipad was probably a bad idea." In Bloomberg, Brad Stone reflects on all the things that went wrong with HQ2. Amazon's Escape From New York.

+ Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Amazon Got Exactly What It Deserved—And So Did New York.

+ Fortune: Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits.


Beauregard for the Law

"He didn't read intelligence reports and mixed up classified material with what he had seen in newspaper clips. He seemed confused about the structure and purpose of organizations and became overwhelmed when meetings covered multiple subjects. He blamed immigrants for nearly every societal problem and uttered racist sentiments with shocking callousness." Another Trump story? Nope, that's Andrew McCabe's description of Jeff Sessions. WaPo: Andrew McCabe's disturbing account of working for Sessions and Trump. (What, you were expecting a non-disturbing account of that experience?)


Skin in the Game

"Louise Roe has denim that's ripped in all the right places, a bikini-ready body year-round, a husband and baby who look like they were picked from a catalog, and 698,000 Instagram followers. She also has the skin condition psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease defined by flaky, inflamed red or white patches of skin, and she wants you to know all about it. Actually, she needs to tell you about her psoriasis on Instagram; otherwise, her paid partnership with Celgene, a biotechnology company that produces the patent-protected psoriasis medication Otezla, would presumably be canceled." Vox: The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions.

+ AP: "Employees at a drug company accused of bribing doctors rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of the highly addictive fentanyl spray in a video meant to motivate sales reps into getting patients on higher doses."

+ New Yorker: Photographer Nan Goldin Led a Protest at the Guggenheim Against the Sackler Family. (Editor's note: It's about time...)


Build the (Pay) Wall?

From The Wrap: "Here's some sobering news for anyone in journalism school: media layoffs are at their highest level since 2009." Here's some even more sobering news. Those layoffs are happening at a time when the public interest in news is through the roof.


Count On Me

"We decided not to tell the kids. Marla knew that once our three daughters understood that their mother had been given 1,000 days to live, they'd start counting." A touching essay from Jon Mehlman in The Atlantic: My Wife Was Dying, and We Didn't Tell Our Children.


Cat-astrophe Avoided

"I will never be able to live up to the reputation. The story is bigger than my puny form." The guy who won a fight with a mountain lion tells his story. (It's a miracle he survived, but seriously, any of my three cats could take this guy out no problem.)


Feel Good Friday

"The March for Our Lives students marked the beginning of a year of youth activism." The New Yorker: From Parkland to Sunrise: A Year of Extraordinary Youth Activism.

+ Thousands of teens have gone on strike from schools across Europe to demand action on climate change. (I knew someone would locate the real emergency.)

+ "The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments."

+ "Susan Gordon was asleep on the second floor early Thursday when the mudslide lifted her home off its foundation, breaking it apart and pushing it down a hillside -- with her inside." She somehow only suffered cuts and bruises and no one else was hurt. (For me, this one qualifies as local news.)

+ OK, I buried the lede on this section: McDonald's Shamrock Shake Is Back—Here's How to Find One.

+ Taco Bell worker writes a feel-good message in each take-out order. (Every little bit helps...)

+ 19-year-old bioengineering major David Aguilar, aka Hand Solo, has built himself a series of prosthetic arms out of Lego.

+ 5-Year-Old Logan Brinson Couldn't Find a Library Near Him—So He Opened One Himself. (When I was five, I'm pretty sure I was still wearing pull-ups...)