Thursday, February 28th, 2019


Peace, Love, and Kim Jong Un-derstanding

The Beatles proclaimed that, All You Need Is Love. Turns out that they were wrong, at least when it comes to international denuclearization deals. "There was a palpable sense that history was about to be made. Instead, the second meeting between [Trump and Kim] ended in failure on Thursday, with a table set for a leaders' lunch abandoned, a signing ceremony scrapped, and a terse statement from the White House press secretary: 'No agreement was reached at this time.'" The much-anticipated, and much-hyped, summit sequel in Hanoi ended early and without any progress, despite Trump's continued praise for Kim and their friendship. During a post-summit press conference, Trump said that the two parties hit an impasse over sanctions and explained, "Sometimes you have to walk." (That's probably the closest he's come to promoting exercise during his presidency.)

+ Fred Kaplan with a pretty good overview of what went wrong: "Kim thought Trump was so desperate for a deal—for a place in history and a distraction from his domestic troubles—that he would agree to anything. It is to Trump's credit that he walked out upon realizing that Kim's insistence on such an extreme, one-sided deal was immovable. But it is Trump's fault for letting this near-inevitable disaster go forward in the first place." Love Can't Buy a Nuclear Deal.

+ In one of the more shocking moments from the press conference, Trump defended Kim when it came to Otto Warmbier's death. "He tells me he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word." (Love means never having to say you're sorry.)

+ Kim's hiding sister and other unreal moments from the summit, and photos from Hanoi.


Facepalm Reading

"These are good, extremely profitable days for the ectoplasm-related industry. According to one market analysis, there are nearly 95,000 psychic 'businesses' in America, generating some $2 billion in revenue in 2018. Lately, technology has changed the business of talking to the dead and created new kinds of openings for psychics to lure customers but also new ways for skeptics to flip that technology right back at them." NYT Mag's Jack Hitt takes you Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics. (You would have thought they'd have seen this coming.)


Bibi Sting

"The police accused Mr. Netanyahu, 69, of trading lucrative official favors for gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars including cigars, Champagne and jewelry, and for flattering news coverage whose value was incalculable." NYT: Israel's attorney general announced his plans on Thursday to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (The move comes 40 days before a scheduled election.)


Same Difference

You feel alienated from mainstream culture and want to make a statement that you are not part of it ... And yet when you finally reveal your new look to the world, it turns out you are not alone—millions of others have made exactly the same choices. Indeed, you all look more or less identical, the exact opposite of the countercultural statement you wanted to achieve." MIT Tech Review on The Hipster Effect: Why anti-conformists always end up looking the same.


Eternal Flame

"India and Pakistan, the two old foes, are at it again. Their respective nuclear arsenals may be tucked away, but they loom over the conflict nonetheless. With artillery shells raining, and even fighter jets being shot down, it's not hard to see how events could careen out of control and into some apocalyptic place that no one wants." Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker: Why the War for Kashmir Burns On.

+ For more background, here's an explainer from the NYT: Why Do India and Pakistan
Keep Fighting Over Kashmir


Read Between the Lies

"He spent months fawning over Vladimir Putin, publicly apologizing for the abuses of his regime and begging for improved relations, as he tried to firm up the deal. In other words, the current trajectory of American foreign policy began as an effort to make a fortune ... Whatever else we discover through Robert Mueller's investigation, that's a historic scandal in itself." Franklin Foer: Michael Cohen's testimony was a reminder that this presidency isn't normal.

+ "Republicans on the committee tried to destroy the credibility of his testimony, not because they believe that his testimony is false, but because they fear it is true." Peter Wehner in the NYT on his former party sinking further into the cesspool.

+ David Frum: The "case against Cohen was to reiterate over and over that Cohen is a convicted liar. As he is. As are Trump's campaign chairman, Trump's deputy campaign chair, and Trump's first national security adviser. It's bold to cite the criminality of so many of Trump's associates—and maybe more to come—as proof of Trump's innocence." Michael Cohen was attacked, but uncontradicted.

+ Meanwhile, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows have officially asked the Justice Department to investigate Michael Cohen for perjury... (Speaking of Meadows, here's a follow-up to that discussion of race that took place during the testimony on Wednesday: "Meadows says he does not support his 2012 remarks about sending Obama back home to Kenya.")


I Gram Whatever You Say I Gram

"Though a photo might appear simpler to create than a long narrative blog post, complex preparations go into packaging a kid's life for Instagram. ... 'With the rise of the influencer industry en masse, instead of the stories of children going through the process of trying out the products with their moms, they have been reduced to props.'" The Atlantic: How Parents of Child Influencers Package Their Kids' Lives for Instagram. (I've packaged them and packaged them, but my kids still seem more suited for Twitter.)

+ The Atlantic: It Isn't the Kids. It's the Cost of Raising Them. (Counterpoint: It's the kids.)


Pec, Major

A Harvard study suggests that pushup capacity could be no-cost way to assess cardio risks: "Surprisingly, pushup capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests." (I'm still hoping that two-finger typing speed can be used to assess overall health.)


Can Do Attitude

"The soulless receptacle for bodily waste has its own blog, Twitter account and Facebook page. When a loo hater set one ablaze last June, Facebook denizens flocked to its defense." CityLab: Why Portland's Public Toilets Succeeded Where Others Failed.


Bottom of the News

"You might think you were eating a strawberry red loop, for instance, or a blueberry-flavored blue. But no matter which color Froot Loop you pop in your mouth, the taste will be the same." A few food mysteries solved.

+ "Alex Chu, the Wheaton College lacrosse goalie sidelined for months because the team couldn't get a helmet big enough to fit him, is back in goal after a major sporting goods manufacturer agreed to make a custom helmet for him." (This dude is my spirit animal.)

+ Apple picks the winners of its shot on an iPhone photo contest.

+ Buzzfeed: A man is facing a felony charge for allegedly placing his testicles on an order of salsa because the customer only tipped 89 cents. (Am I the only one who'd like to see what you could get for tipping a full dollar?)