Friday, April 5th, 2019


Do Not Live Life to the Fullest

"If you ask anyone in Okinawa why they live so long, you will doubtlessly hear two words: ikigai and moai. Ikigai, loosely translated, means sense of purpose in life ... Moai is an informal social group of people who have common interests and look out for each other." Why would you be asking questions of Okinawans in the first place? Because they have a really long life expectancy and a high concentration of centenarians; and among those, about 2/3rds are still functioning independently. You've probably guessed that there's something more at work there than ikigai and moai. So let's learn one more Okinawan saying: Hara hachi bu. "Translation: Stop eating when you are 80% full." (That's usually the point at which I move on from the appetizers.) Sanjay Gupta in CNN: The Land of Immortals: How and what Japan's oldest population eats.


Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

NPR on the winds of change in the Windy City: Lori "Lightfoot's win breaks race and gender barriers, and she's openly gay with a wife and daughter ... Lightfoot's election is the latest in a record number of black women elected mayor in the nation's 100 largest cities. Lightfoot will become the eighth such woman to lead one of those cities, Chicago being the largest, when she takes office in May. The movement has been swift. Just five years ago, there was only one black woman leading any of the nation's top 100 cities."

+ "But in explaining how Lightfoot and Čaputová defeated much more experienced opponents, the key factor wasn't their gender or sexual orientation: it was the fact that they were both outsiders taking on discredited political establishments. Their victories represented another chapter in the rise of the insurgent." John Cassidy in The New Yorker: Lori Lightfoot, the Slovakian Elections, and the Rise of Political Outsiders.

+ Texas Observer: She's 28. She's an Immigrant. She's in Charge of Texas' Most Populous County. Get Used to It. (It's not much of a stretch to conclude that the backlash to the Trump era has actually accelerated the rate of progress for women in politics.)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Amazon describes its latest series as "equal parts high-concept thriller and coming-of-age drama." If the latter is true, this middle-aged man is still several assassinations away from coming of age. But I'll go with the high concept thriller part. Binge Hanna on Prime Video.

+ What to Book: Alex Kotlowitz, the author of There are No Children Here (one of the best urban ethnographies ever written) is back with another look at the violence that impacts everything in the city he knows so well. An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago.

+ What to Cusack: "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that." That's Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. Elizabeth Nelson shares some reflections as the movie turns 30. The fact that it's been that long bums me out, but I'm going the cheer myself and watch it again this weekend.


History’s Longest Running Storyline

"Anti-Semitism has become a section of today's political Venn diagram where the far right can intersect with parts of the far left, Europe's radical Islamist fringe, and even politicians from America's two main parties. That confluence is new, experts say, as is the emergence of an Israeli government that has sidled up to far-right allies who praise Israel even as they peddle anti-Semitic prejudice at home." Patrick Kingsley in the NYT: Anti-Semitism Is Back, From the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes. Why?

+ For an answer, you might want to head to Finland. That's where white nationalists from around the world are holding their annual meeting.


Playing with House Money

It was a modest house by this town's standards ... Its owner: Peter Brand, Harvard University's legendary fencing coach. Its assessed value: $549,300. So when the house sold to a wealthy Maryland businessman for close to a million dollars in May 2016, the town's top assessor was so dumbfounded that he wrote the following in his notes: 'Makes no sense.'" Obviously, the town's top assessor hasn't been following the news very closely. Boston Globe: He bought the fencing coach's house. Then his son got into Harvard.


I Am Whatever You Say I Am

"He has between 50 and 60 interactions with Medina police, more than nine pages." ABC News: Man who pretended to be the missing Timmothy Pitzen lied about his identity twice before. It didn't take the FBI long to figure out he was lying. Maybe we'd be better of waiting to report on these incidents until we had a little more certainty. I'm sure the family of the real Timmothy Pitzen would've been better off...

+ WaPo: Who would cruelly pose as a missing child? Brian Rini isn't the first.


Balls to the Wall

"There's something about swimming in a vat of colorful balls that people and animals of all ages find simply delightful. Of course, ball pits also make for fantastic social media fodder, a resurgence perfectly timed to the Instagram age." Vox's Elena Goukassian with a brief history of the ball pit: how the indoor playground became a staple in our safety-obsessed culture.


Burger, She Wrote

"The Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois, is not your typical Burger King. You won't find Whoppers or chicken fries on the menu, and while there is a drive-up window, it won't resemble almost any other modern drive-thru with a two-way speaker. Instead, you'll find fresh burgers with beef straight from the meat market, a single window, and employees who run out to cars with a paper and pencil in tow when the line gets too long." As you've probably guessed, this Burger King is not related to that Burger King. "It's the one restaurant in the U.S. with a trademark that Burger King's parent company has been unable to wrest away." (FWIW, I hear their Big Macs are great...)


Felines, Woe, Woe, Woe, Felines…

"So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?" NPR: Cats Might Not Act Like It, But They Know Their Names As Well As Dogs. Of course cats know their names. They just don't know (or care) what your name is. (Sidenote: Both of my beagles think their name is Treat.)


Feel Good Friday

"The double doors of the surgical intensive care unit opened into a hallway crowded with dozens of hospital employees. A hospital bed emerged, and we all fell silent." Hospitals across the United States are holding honor walks to show respect to patients at the end of life who are donating organs to others.

+ Netherlands makes trains free on national book day for those who show a book instead of ticket. (And they were already going Dutch!)

+ India Will Ban All Single-Use Plastics by 2022 and some supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam are using banana leaves instead of plastic.

+ A 13-year-old boy sells Xbox, does yard work to buy his single mom a car.

+ Dad who overcame paralysis surprises daughter with 1st dance on her wedding day.

+ An infant did not have any hospital visitors for five months. So this nurse adopted her.

+ An Indiana school district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for kids

+ "The store will operate like a real grocery store so that people can go shopping through the aisles and Belmont students and other volunteers will scan their items, but no money will change hands." Brad Paisley breaks ground on free grocery shop in Nashville.

+ Coming soon: A swallowable vibrating pill that relieves constipation. (Occasionally, a story qualifies as both Feel Good Friday and the Bottom of the News.)