Thursday, March 7th, 2019


Club Med

In The Atlantic, Olga Khazan meditates on why so many Americans are turning to Buddhism. "Though precise numbers on its popularity are hard to come by, Buddhism does seem to be emerging in the Western, type-A universe. The journalist Robert Wright's Why Buddhism Is True became a best seller in 2017. Buddhist meditation centers have recently popped up in places such as Knoxville, Tennessee, and Lakewood, Ohio. There are now dozens of Buddhist podcasts, among many more apps and playlists geared specifically toward personal, non-Buddhist meditation. Four in 10 American adults now say they meditate at least weekly." I don't think it's a coincidence that America's interest in meditation has arrived during the age of the internet, when we're surrounded by connected devices and endlessly pinged and pestered by useless notifications. (Life really is suffering.) One of the key ironies of our era is that there are apps for meditating. If those don't work for you, do as the Buddha did. Just hit the off button.


I.C.E. Capades

"Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show the U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports." NBC 7 San Diego: Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates Through a Secret Database. (It's not much of a stretch to go from being called the enemy of the American people to being treated like the enemy of the American people.)

+ Vox: "In February, NPR and the Intercept both published in-depth reports detailing harassment experienced by journalists, lawyers, and immigration activists who regularly interact with migrants along the US-Mexico border ... Leaked documents published on Wednesday by NBC 7 in San Diego indicate the problems they encountered were not the result of random chance."


Declarative Sentence

Paul Manafort was wheeled into a courtroom in a green jumpsuit ahead of receiving his first sentence. The judge noted at the outset that the sentence had nothing to do with Russian collusion. Manafort faces another sentencing hearing next week. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ Franklin Foer has been all over the Manafort story for a long time. Here's his take on the biggest unresolved questions about Paul Manafort.

+ The sentence is just another chapter in what Axios is calling the biggest political scandal in American history.


It’s Like Uber for Indentured Servitude

A decade after Uber inaugurated a new era for Silicon Valley, Alexis Madrigal checked back in on 105 on-demand businesses. The Servant Economy."This micro-generation of Silicon Valley start-ups did two basic things: It put together a labor pool to deliver food or clean toilets or assemble IKEA bookshelves, and it found people who needed those things done. Academics called this a 'two-sided market,' but to a user, it meant tapping on a phone and watching the world rearrange itself to satisfy your desires." (For me it meant having Silicon Valley venture capitalists subsidize my kitty litter deliveries.)

+ "Sharing was supposed to transform our world for the better. Instead, the only thing we're sharing is the mess it left behind." Medium: The Sharing Economy Was Always a Scam.


Military Trials

"In sharing her experience — pride in her historic military service, betrayal over the assault and determination to help find a solution — the junior senator from Arizona offered one of the most powerful testimonies to date in the growing and heated debate on Capitol Hill over how to adjudicate claims of sexual assault in the military." Senator Martha McSally (the first woman in the Air Force to fly in combat) Says a Superior Officer in the Air Force Raped Her. She said that after coming forward, "like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again."


The Information Huawei

"Soon 5G mobile internet will be everywhere. Huawei is a pioneer but is accused of being a gateway for China to spy on Western nations. Is the firm guilty? Or the victim of unfair rumors?" BBC with a good primer on Huawei, the world's most controversial company.


Mushroom Trip

"To reach Ekeyran, a place so desolate no one has bothered to put it on a map, you must abandon the bustle of Baghdad for a 173-mile jaunt to the city of Samawah, dodge camel caravans while driving over to Al Salman district — onetime home to Saddam Hussein's harshest prison — then find a Bedouin guide to drive you two more hours deep into the uncharted desert plains near the Iraqi-Saudi border.There, buffeted by roaring winds amid near-freezing temperatures, you too can slowly wander the barren landscape, knife in hand as you scour the ground for hours in search of the almost cruelly obscure signs hinting at your quarry." LA Times: Would you risk your life for a truffle? (I was hoping for a drive-thru...)


Notes to Self

"There's an oddly strong in-the-moment consensus on how everyone is feeling these days, and it is not good. At some point it became a routine conversational tic for all sorts of people, of all sorts of persuasions, to express, with an incredulous gesture, that things feel a bit grueling and frantic lately, don't they? Musicians are no exception." From the NYT Mag's Music Issue, The 25 Songs That Matter Right Now. (The first two are from Springsteen and Ariana Grande, a double-billing that perfectly fits the bill for my ten year-old daughter and me.)


Unbreakable Bend

WaPo on the last of its kind. "What would the last member of a species say as it stares into the abyss of extinction, if it could? Perhaps it would offer an ode to the many that came before it, each marching toward an unknown destruction, or possibly an enraged screed against the forces that snuffed it from once-flourishing existence. When it comes to a Blockbuster store in Bend, Ore., soon to be the last one on Earth, it's something else: defiant joy."


Bottom of the News

"I should reveal that my interest in this subject is not purely philosophical. Nearly every workday for the past five or so years, sometime during the 1 o'clock hour, I have assembled a more or less identical plate of food: Bean-and-cheese soft tacos (topped with greens, salt, pepper, and hot sauce), with baby carrots, tempeh, and some fruit on the side. And almost invariably, I see the same colleague in our communal kitchen, who asks with delight, 'Joe, what are you having for lunch today?'" Joe Pinsker on The People Who Eat the Same Meal Every Day.

+ Bloomberg: What Happens to All Those Beads After Mardi Gras?

+ The New Yorker: From Grunt Style to Warcore, Civilians Are Embracing Military Fashion.