Tuesday, February 26th, 2019


Selfies Stick

Are you about to post a revealing selfie on Instagram? Wait. You might want to drop a few pounds, properly moisturize, and get a good night's sleep to make sure you look your best. Also, don't pose with a cigarette in your mouth or a drink in your hand. And as much as we enjoy the action shots, I'd suggest keeping those rock climbing and skydiving photos safely tucked away on your hard drive. It turns out, your followers aren't the only ones following along. So are life insurance companies. Nathan Heller in The New Yorker: "The image of an insurance-office stooge glancing back and forth between one's health records and an Instagram shot of a cigarette snuck at a Christmas party is enough to make even a reasonable person live-blog a juice cleanse. But the larger affront is the idea of digital life carrying any actuarial influence at all. Consider an influencer type, jogging with her well-groomed dog and wearing a piece of branded athleisure cropped up to show her yoga abs: Should her life, to an insurance giant, be worth more than yours?" (I'd have to know a little more about the abs to answer that question, but I'm leaning towards a yes...)


Breaking the Cohen of Silence

Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox on Michael Cohen's much-anticipated testimony before Congress this week. "Cohen plans to air the president's dirty laundry during three days of congressional hearings—a final act of allocution before he reports to prison in May. According to people familiar with his preparation, Cohen's testimony will include allegations of racism, lies, infidelity, and criminal misconduct while in office." (In other words, no surprises...)

+ WaPo: 20 questions that Michael Cohen could answer for lawmakers when he testifies on Capitol Hill this week.


Hanoi Vey

"Eight months after the first summit, the two countries have not even defined what 'denuclearization' means. They're 'still at the starting point of the lengthy and arduous process,' Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, in Washington, told me. 'Trump cannot afford to squander the time spent getting to this point and come away with just pictures and pleasantries with Kim. This summit can and must emphasize substance over pageantry.'" The New Yorker's Robin Wright previews Trump/Kim 2: Will Trump Give Away Too Much to North Korea—and Get Too Little?

+ A quick review from AP: US-North Korea roller coaster ties add to summit uncertainty.

+ Here's the latest on the Hanoi summit from CNN.


Race Track

"The funding gap is largely the result of the reliance on property taxes as a primary source of funding for schools. Communities in overwhelmingly white areas tend to be wealthier, and school districts' ability to raise money depends on the value of local property and the ability of residents to pay higher taxes." WaPo's Laura Meckler on the massive school funding gap. Consider this stat: "Overwhelmingly white school districts received $23 billion more than predominantly nonwhite school districts in state and local funding in 2016, despite serving roughly the same number of children."

+ Jonathan Kozol has been writing eloquently about this for decades. If you want to know more about the topic, his book Savage Inequalities is a great place to start.


Take This Job and Love It

"The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Workism Is Making Americans Miserable.


Congressional Mettle

"The Democratic-controlled chamber is expected to approve the measure and send it to the Republican-held Senate, where it would take only a handful of GOP defections to pass." It's looking likely that a resolution revoking Trump's emergency order for wall will pass both houses of Congress. It's less likely that the resolution will be veto proof.


History Retweets Itself

I hate articles with headlines like: "What does every successful CEO do before 8am?" Besides, we already know the answer: They tweet. And they continue to tweet, even after their tweeting has gotten them into big trouble. Social media addiction is one thing we all have in common. Reuters: Tesla's Elon Musk must address SEC contempt bid as he calls agency "broken." (He called them broken on ... Twitter.)


Depression is Not a Cop Out

"In the parking lot of the Calumet District police station on the far South Side, before she was scheduled to begin her workday, Perpignan killed herself, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. She used her service revolver ... Perpignan was one of at least five Chicago police officers to kill themselves since July. What's more, she was one of three officers to do so while on duty or on police property, an exceedingly rare occurrence, according to experts." (Psychological anguish is something people from all walks in life share in common. Yet, it's something we don't like to discuss or deal with.)


Thank You, Text

"These days, you might not even realize an SMS can only be 160 characters. Androids and iPhones, clever as they are, weave long messages together behind the scenes so when we receive them, we can't tell they were split apart for delivery. But deep in their metal brains, our phones still deal with texts in 160-character chunks." That's just one of many interesting details in Scott B. Weingart's look at the surprisingly complex journey a text message takes every time we hit send. The Route of a Text Message, a Love Story.


Bottom of the News

"While the average nursing home costs $188 per day, Robison wrote that reservations at the hotel chain cost $59.23 per night with both a long-term stay and senior discount. Factor in free breakfast and happy hour and Robison calculated that would leave $128.77 a day for food and entertainment." USA Today: This man won't go into a nursing home. He'll spend his 'golden age' at the Holiday Inn. "Hotel staff will fix any issues from light bulbs to mattresses, Robison said, and apologize for the inconvenience. A night security guard will keep watch and a maid will check in daily. And, Robison said, the staff will 'call an ambulance . . . Or the undertaker' if anything goes wrong."

+ The NYT takes you the German town Where Kale Is King (at Least, When It's Stewed in Schmaltz and Bacon). Excellent. I'll take an order of that, hold the kale...

+ CityLab: The Good, Bad, and Ugly Public Transit Seat Covers of the World.