Friday, March 22nd, 2019


What to Expect When You’re Expecting

In the age of the attention economy, with everyone from child influencers to social media-addicted world leaders vying to out-trend one another on the internet, it's ironic that the person who has garnered the most intrigue hasn't made a peep. As the country awaits the conclusion of the world's most obsessed-over silent retreat, it's worth mulling the possibility that the Special Counsel's report could provide us more cliffhanger than closure. The New Yorker's Adam Davidson on The Chaos That Could Come with the Mueller Report. "It seems highly possible that, instead of one text that addresses all of our questions, there will be multiple secondhand reports, of varying levels of trustworthiness, that will interact with our overwhelmed and fractured media and political system to spread more, not less, confusion. The greatest test of our democracy may be what happens next."

+ There are many signs that the release of the report is imminent, not the least of which is the number of times a day we hear the words no collusion, witch hunt, and hoax. Trump intensifies effort to discredit Mueller report.

+ Rudy in WaPo: "It's like waiting for a baby ... If the report is good, I'll give out cigars." (If Rudy's passing out cigars, most Americans will need bong.)

+ "In a city known for its leaks, Mueller has pulled off a rare feat. He has kept a tight lid on both his office and the evidence he was amassing in his highly sensitive investigation that has cast a cloud over Trump's presidency." How did Robert Mueller maintain a quiet place? Step one: Turn in your smartphones.

+ "One can buy Mueller paintings, prayer candles, valentines and ornaments. A necklace, earrings, keychains. A stuffed toy of Mueller in a Superman outfit, cross-stitch patterns, baby onesies — even an illustration of his haircut to hang on the wall." Yes, people are getting a little too into this story. Take, for example, Alicia Barnett's family. They dreamed of getting a new dog "that was smart, steady and a bit mysterious. She hoped their new addition could share a personality — and a name — with the man who has become her rather unlikely idol. And so, the Barnetts' new chocolate Lab was christened Mueller." (If you could only see how my goldfish George and Kellyanne are looking at me right now...)


Free Solo

"Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 — 51 percent of them — said they do not have a steady romantic partner, according to data from the General Social Survey released this week. That 2018 figure is up significantly from 33 percent in 2004." WaPo: It's not just you: New data shows more than half of young people in America don't have a romantic partner. (Someone should create a dating app...)


Weekend Whats

What to Hear: A lot of the music reports out of SXSW celebrated the most excellent performance by Lizzo. She's talented, she's funny, and you get the feeling she's just about to conquer the world. Start with her brand new duet with Missy Elliot and take it from there. So damn fun.

+ What to Watch: "A fight over land in a seaside town near Rome spirals into a deadly battle between organized crime, corrupt politicians and the Vatican." Check out Suburra, Blood on Rome on Netflix. A lot of the series is spent focused on the stylized main character who stares off thoughtfully while Italian rap plays in the background. For some reason, it's my happy place.

+ What to Read: "A weeklong trip in alaska was supposed to be an adventure. In an instant, it became the experience that defined us all." Jon Mooallem in the NYT Mag: The Senseless Logic of the Wild.

+ What to Water: "There will be a day– in our lifetime–when we get to celebrate this moment. When we, as a global community, will be able to say that every single person on the planet has access to clean and safe drinking water." But for now, hundreds of millions of our fellow humans live without easy access to our most vital need. It's World Water Day. Check out the video and join the effort at Charity Water.


Left Knackered by Wankers’ Codswallop

"The EU's 27 leaders will allow the UK to delay Brexit until May 22 on the condition that MPs approve the withdrawal agreement. But should MPs vote against the withdrawal agreement, Britain will have to present a plan by April 12 indicating whether it wants to request a longer extension and hold European Parliament elections, or exit on that day without a deal." (I'm no expert on British politics, but here's what I've gathered from my news lit review: It was a stupid idea in the first place. They can't make a good deal because there isn't one. And the story is driving everyone batshit crazy.)

+ Buzzfeed on The Most Calamitous Week In Brexit Yet. "You know those horror films where you spend the whole thing wondering how the main character's going to get away from a murderer, and you think they've done it, and then in the final frame of the film you realize the killer's in the back seat of their car?"


Choice Cuts

WaPo on the new Mississippi law that its supporters think might force the Roe v Wade issue back to the Supreme Court. "The bill, set to take effect in July, bans abortions after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat during an ultrasound, unless the mother's health is at extreme risk. Heartbeats can be found just six weeks into pregnancy — before some women even know they are pregnant."


Like Minded or Like Crazy?

"It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!" That was President Trump tweeting his plans to undo the policy just announced by his own administration. Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained the contrast between the president and his team: "President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary."


Gram Stain

"Conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes [are] all daisy-chained together via a network of accounts with incredible algorithmic reach and millions of collective followers—many of whom, like Alex, are very young. These accounts intersperse TikTok videos and nostalgia memes with anti-vaccination rhetoric, conspiracy theories about George Soros and the Clinton family, and jokes about killing women, Jews, Muslims, and liberals." Taylor Lorenz: Instagram Is the Internet's New Home for Hate. (The internet is the internet's new home for hate.)


What the Actual Frock

"'I don't see the children with those eyes anymore,' DeFrias said in an extensive interview outside the Colegio del Caribe school in Punta Cana, where he watched over dozens of young boys and girls while shielding himself from the sun with an umbrella. 'For me they are children and they need to be treated like children because that is what they are ... I don't feel the attraction. I am not telling you that maybe someday it won't be there, because I can't predict the future.'" NBC News: A defrocked Jersey priest who molested boys now teaches kids English in Dominican Republic.


Tuning Fork in the Road

"The debate extends beyond elevator music. As AI capabilities improve, it's possible­—probable even—that the songs will become good enough that we'd opt to listen to them, for instance, while working or driving. The economics are enticing for streaming services. Imagine Spotify self­generating thousands of hours of chill-out ambient tracks with no need to pay human composers a dime. This isn't far-fetched." MoJo: What Will Happen When Machines Write Songs Just as Well as Your Favorite Musician?


Feel Good Friday

Within a week of what they called their darkest day ever, New Zealanders let some light through with the quick banning of automatic weapons. I covered it yesterday: Kiwi the People.

+ "Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist, who killed and martyred 50 people, wounded 42 and broke the hearts of millions around the world. Today, from the same place, I look out and see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and fellow human beings from across the globe." New Zealand Is Unbreakable.

+ We focus a lot on technology's bad side. But it has a good side. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the work being done at Crisis Text Line. They help so many teens in need and the data they collect could help matters even more. Check out this amazing list: 100 Things We Learned From Our First 100M Messages.

+ NYT: FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression.

+ Man with Down Syndrome honored for working at same McDonald's for 27 years.

+ "A man who has been living on the streets for nine years has a home and a job after a teenager spotted his note posted next to a bus stop."

+ Adidas Sold 1 Million Eco-Friendly Shoes Made from Ocean Plastic, Plans 11 Million More

+ "Anne Brokenbrow said she had never done anything wrong in her life but wanted to find out what it was like." 104 year-old gets arrested (but just for the fun of it).