Friday, March 15th, 2019


Darkness Visible

Following afternoon massacres at two mosques in Christchurch that left at least 49 people dead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described Friday as "one of New Zealand's darkest days ... We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack." Here's the latest from CNN. The mass murder merged two of the era's most nefarious trends: The rise of white supremacy and the weaponization of the internet.

+ "He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was angry about attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear. He also, quite clearly, wanted attention." AP: Mosque shooter a white supremacist angry at immigrants.

+ Boston Globe: "This attack underscores a trend that ADL has been tracking: that modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, [and is] being exported and globalized like never before."

+ Margaret Sullivan in WaPo: "The brutality that killed at least 49 people and wounded many others was fueled and fomented on social media — inviting support and, no doubt, inspiring future copy cats. One of the suspects had posted a 74-page manifesto railing against Muslims and immigrants, making it clear that he was following the example of those like Dylann Roof, who in 2015 murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. All of it ricocheted around the globe, just as planned."

+ Kevin Roose in the NYT: A Mass Murder of, and for, the Internet.

+ Waleed Aly: "Of all the things that I could say tonight—that I am gutted, that I am scared, and that I am filled with utter hopelessness ... the most dishonest thing would be to say that I am shocked. I'm simply not."

+ And Adam Serwer's piece, published before the New Zealand massacre: White Nationalism's Deep American Roots. "When Americans abandon their commitment to pluralism, the world notices, and catastrophe follows."


Accountability Card Reissued

"Remington may never have known Adam Lanza, but they had been courting him for years." A novel approach to suing gun companies has cleared "the way for a lawsuit against the companies that manufactured and sold the semiautomatic rifle used by the gunman in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School." NYT: Remington and Other Gun Companies Lose Major Ruling Over Liability. "In the lawsuit, the families seized upon the marketing for the AR-15-style Bushmaster used in the 2012 attack, which invoked the violence of combat and used slogans like 'Consider your man card reissued.'"


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: "Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She's trapped in a surreal time loop -- and staring down the barrel of her own mortality." Natasha Lyonne is excellent in the dark-ish comedy, Russian Doll on Netflix. Lyonne's excellent work in this series provides a good reminder to go back and watch the most excellent, Slums of Beverly Hills.

+ What to Doc: If you couldn't get into Studio 54, the club, you can at least watch Studio 54, the documentary.

+ What to Read: "We do not know how to manage the new technologies that put liberalism at a disadvantage in the struggle. Many of us do not care to wage the struggle at all. Some find the authoritarian critique of liberalism compelling; others value liberalism too little to care if the world order that has sustained it survives. In this new battle of ideas, we are disarmed, perhaps above all because we have forgotten what is at stake." Robert Kagan provides a good overview of the struggle of our times in WaPo: The strongmen strike back. "Authoritarianism has reemerged as the greatest threat to the liberal democratic world ... And we have no idea how to confront it."

+ What to Thrash: Thrasher editor Jake Phelps passed away this week. A couple years ago, Willy Staley wrote a memorable profile of him in California Sunday Magazine: "I had spent only a few minutes with Jake Phelps before someone called him an asshole."


Suck This (and That)

When you think of products that are sold by companies knowingly downplaying - or even outright burying - their potential harms, you might think of tobacco and sugar. It turns out that big tobacco had a big hand in marketing both products. The Guardian: Punchy and the Kool-Aid man: study shows how big tobacco marketed kids' drinks.

+ Eggs were bad for you. Then they weren't bad for you. (Spoiler alert: They're bad for you.)


Don Veto

"I'd like to thank all of the Great Republican Senators who bravely voted for Strong Border Security and the WALL. This will help stop Crime, Human Trafficking, and Drugs entering our Country. Watch, when you get back to your State, they will LOVE you more than ever before!" So tweeted President Trump (the all caps were a dead giveaway) as he moved to sign his first veto. (The Trump administration is run so much like a crime family, it was inevitable there'd be a character named Veto.)


Pelvic Tilt

"According to multiple studies and reports, medical students in most states are allowed to enter an operating room under supervision while female patients are under anesthesia for other procedures, insert two fingers into their vaginas and place a hand on their abdomens to learn how to feel for abnormalities in the uteri and ovaries. Often, the women have no knowledge they are being subjected to the procedure and have never given prior consent." Politico: New bills would ban pelvic exams without consent. (How the hell is this a thing?)


Doc Workers

"As more and more laptops find their way into middle and high schools, educators are using Google Docs to do collaborative exercises and help students follow along with the lesson plan. The students, however, are using it to organize running conversations behind teachers' backs." Taylor Lorenz in The Atlantic: The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs. (Maybe the bigger story here is how fully Google has integrated itself into the education system. If my kids are going to be indoctrinated into a tech brand, at least let it be Apple...)


Deep Learning

"While I was on board the Petrel, the concept that I found most vivid and unsettling was the idea of 'sinking time.' When the crew dropped a transponder fitted with a 60-pound weight from the deck of the Petrel, it took more than an hour to reach the bottom." Ed Caesar in the NYT Mag: The Epic Hunt for a Lost World War II Aircraft Carrier.


Sum Kind of Wonderful

"Social Place, which has nine locations across Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan, has revamped dim sum for a new generation of diner: the millennials who pick where to eat based on Instagram feeds, and who approach each meal like a photoshoot." Bloomberg: The Future of Dim Sum Is Pokémon Buns. (Editor's note: At first I was like, "Oh, hell no!" and then a little later I was like, "OK, sure.")


Feel Good Friday

"This movement had to happen, we didn't have a choice." Kids in 128 countries are on strike to protect the climate. Here are some photos. And here are some more.

+ Climate strike founder Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize. (She's 16.)

+ An Arizona man challenged 'bored teens' to pick up trash — and it went viral. (I challenged my kids to clean up their rooms and it went nowhere.)

+ New Jersey teen triumphs over homelessness, gets accepted into 17 colleges.

+ 3 cities in the U.S. have ended chronic homelessness: Here's how they did it.

+ Death metal music inspires joy not violence.

+ The California drought is officially over after more than seven years.

+ "There is an actually a proper route that they're supposed to take, and Kratu is not taking it."