Tuesday, March 12th, 2019


Admission Impossible

It's always a red flag when your safety schools are Yale and Stanford. In a sweeping indictment of 50 people, the Justice Department accused wealthy parents, including celebrities, of a college-entrance bribery scheme. "The alleged crimes included cheating on entrance exams, as well as bribing college officials to say certain students were coming to compete on athletic teams when those students were not in fact athletes." (The next letters of recommendation these folks request will be for a sentencing judge.) According to Boston's U.S. attorney, Andrew Lelling: "These parents are a catalogue of wealth and privilege. This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and I'll add there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either." (This might be a good time for the offending parents to buy their kids' way into law school.) Meanwhile, "none of the students were charged because prosecutors said their parents were the scheme's principal actors." (I rarely give parenting advice, but your kids are never going to be prepared for adulthood unless you make them cheat and bribe for themselves.)

+ "Those arrested include exam administrators, coaches at elite schools, and nearly three dozen parents — including actress Felicity Huffman." Here's the latest from CNN.


Firmly Grounded

"The European Union's aviation regulatory agency barred flights of the Max 8, as well as a slightly newer model, the Max 9, joining several other regulators around the world, with the notable exception of the F.A.A. of the United States." Following two crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, the EU has joined several other countries in grounding the planes.

+ President Trump chimed in. "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better ... I don't know about you, but I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot." (Oh, I totally agree. I would hate to have the smartest dude in modern history as my pilot.) Here's the latest from CNN.


Caracas and Effect

"The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from the US Embassy this week. This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy." That somewhat ominous announcement comes from Sec of State Mike Pompeo as the US begins to pull diplomats out of Venezuela.

+ Meanwhile, as political relations deteriorate, so too does the dire situation for Venezuelans. Reuters: After five days of a blackout, desperate Venezuelans swarm sewage drains in search of water.


UK Yourself

Another Brexit vote. Another overwhelming defeat for the prime minister's plan. Here's the latest: Theresa May's Brexit deal rejected overwhelmingly by UK lawmakers. (Seriously, just stop this nonsense and stay in the EU...)


Harm City

"As recently as 2014, Baltimore's population, which is 63 percent African-American, was increasing, up slightly to 623,000 after decades of decline. Office buildings downtown were being converted to apartments, and a new business-and-residential district was rising east of the Inner Harbor. The city was even attracting those ultimate imprimaturs of urban revival, a couple of food halls. The subsequent regression has been swift and demoralizing." Alec MacGillis in ProPublica with a very interesting look at a city in crisis. The Tragedy of Baltimore. "To understand how things in Baltimore have gotten so bad, you need to first understand how, not so long ago, they got better."


Uphill Clime

"It took a massive increase in power from solar and wind farms. They now cover millions of acres in the U.S., 10 times more land than they did in 2020. Huge electrical transmission lines share electricity between North and South America. Europe is connected to vast solar installations in the Sahara desert, which means that sub-Saharan Africa also has access to cheap power." NPR talked to some experts about what the world will look like in 2050 if we bring global warming to a halt. It's 2050 And This Is How We Stopped Climate Change. (Alternate take: It's 2050 and Trump is in the middle of his 9th term in office...)

+ NYT: Tiny Costa Rica Has a Green New Deal, Too. It Matters for the Whole Planet.

+ Quartz: Students in 40 countries will go on strike this Friday to demand climate change action.


Fomo Sapien Evolution

"On this day 30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal with the dreary title Information Management to his superior at the European physics laboratory CERN." And now we're thirty years into the world wide web. The Verge celebrates the anniversary with their favorite memories from A to Z.

+ Tim Berners-Lee in Wired: The World Wide Web Turns 30. Where Does It Go From Here?

+ You can't blame the web alone for the last three decades. It shares its thirtieth with some esteemed company. Here are 14 Facts About Cops on Its 30th Anniversary.


Cold Case Study

"Snapshot uses a process known as DNA phenotyping to determine several distinct physical traits—eye color, hair color, nose shape—to produce computer-generated sketches of a suspect. The sketches of April Tinsley's killer, generated in May 2016, showed what the suspect looked like in 1988 and what he might look like 30 years later: dark hair, hazel eyes, prominent nose, with gray flecks within his sideburns in the age progression." Topic on The Cold Case Factory. "Forensic genealogists at Parabon NanoLabs are using DNA databases to solve cold cases faster than anyone could have imagined. But how will their techniques hold up in court?"


Drum Machine

"I just played what I felt and they let me play. You know, once you kind of make a name for yourself, then when producers would come in they would say, 'Oh Hal, just do your thing, you know, don't worry about it — just whatever you feel ... They felt that I would always do the right thing." And they were right. Hal Blaine, 'Most Recorded Drummer In History,' Dies At 90.

+ Trust me, even if you think you don't, you know Hal Blaine's beats.


Bottom of the News

"The house religion is Elevationism, described on the church's website as the belief (or 'lifestance') that weed can accelerate and deepen a person's individual spiritual journey, whatever that happens to be." Cosmopolitan: According to a New Crop of Cannabis Activists, Pot Is a Spiritual High. A Wild Night at a Weed Church. (The only issue at this church is that people eat an entire Ciborium of Eucharists.)

+ NYT: Real Estate Mogul Taunts Ex-Wife With 42-Foot-Tall Photo of New One.

+ In last Friday's Weekend Whats I recommended Maren Morris. She play Girl on Jimmy Fallon last night.