Wednesday, April 17th, 2019


Brain Teaser

"In a challenge to the idea that brain death is final, researchers have revived the disembodied brains of pigs four hours after the animals were slaughtered. Although the experiments stopped short of restoring consciousness, they raise questions about the ethics of the approach — and, more fundamentally, about the nature of death itself." Nature: Pig brains kept alive outside body for hours after death. Does this breakthrough move us closer to hog heaven or hell on earth? Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle explains that it's complicated: "For most of human history, death was very simple. Now, we have to question what is irreversible." (If your resurrection lasts for more than four hours...)


The McKinsey Way Cool?

"Its government is bankrupt and owes $74 billion to bondholders: a staggering sum that amounts to 99 percent of the island's gross national product, or $25,000 for each of its 3 million men, women, and children. It faces a vociferously hostile president, a stalemated and colonial relationship with Congress, entrenched local political dysfunction, and a bunch of angry creditors." Is the right move for Puerto Rico to do what a business might do and hire high priced consultants to powerpoint them in the right direction? We're about to find out. The country is spending a cool billion to learn The McKinsey Way to Save an Island.



"That means the US is partially culpable for the death and destruction of Saudi's enemies in the war — the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels — and the thousands of civilians who have been killed. In one particularly egregious incident, a coalition warplane hit a school bus last August with an American-made bomb, killing at least 40 children." Vox: Trump vetoes Congress's directive to end US involvement in bloody Saudi-led war in Yemen. (Serious decisions are being made, and unmade, while we obsess over the daily presidential tweets...)

+ Yahoo News: The U.S. military's 36 code-named operations in Africa.


Platformula for Disaster

"Supporting high-quality outlets would inevitably make it look like the platform was supporting liberals, which could lead to trouble in Washington, a town run mainly by conservatives." That is reason number 541,682 that platforms like Facebook can't be trusted to edit your news. It's also just one disturbing detail from Wired's in-depth investigation into 15 Months Of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook.


Want Protection from Predators? Prey.

"When Mulvaney took over, the fledgling C.F.P.B. was perhaps Washington's most feared financial regulator: It announced dozens of cases annually against abusive debt collectors, sloppy credit agencies and predatory lenders, and it was poised to force sweeping changes on the $30 billion payday-loan industry, one of the few corners of the financial world that operates free of federal regulation. What he left behind is an agency whose very mission is now a matter of bitter dispute. 'The bureau was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,' says Lisa Donner, the head of Americans for Financial Reform. 'He's taken it apart — dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.'" NYT Mag on Mick Mulvaney's Master Class in Destroying a Bureaucracy From Within. (Or how predatory lenders were enabled to become even more predatory by the very instititution created to protect people from them...)


Hypocritical Oath

WaPo on the latest opioid-related drug bust: "Dozens of medical professionals in five states were charged Wednesday with participating in the illegal prescribing of more than 32 million pain pills, including doctors who prosecutors said traded sex for prescriptions and a dentist who unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids." From Assistant Attorney general Brian Benczkowski: "If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers." (Does that mean arresting low level dealers while leaving big players and failed policies in place?)


Tooth and Nail Biting

"When you're in the dentist's chair, the power imbalance between practitioner and patient becomes palpable. A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see, asking you questions you cannot properly answer, and judging you all the while. The experience simultaneously invokes physical danger, emotional vulnerability, and mental limpness." The Atlantic with the truth about dentistry: It's much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think. (You might want to hit the nitrous oxide before reading this one...)


Dorm Room With a View

"With taxes on an empty Vancouver home potentially adding up to 3 percent in annual levies, homeowners are rushing to lease their homes, according to real estate agents. That's leading to bargains in a city where the vacancy rate has been near zero percent." Bloomberg: College Kids Are Living Like Kings in Vancouver's Empty Mansions. Hopefully these kids won't get too (olivia) jaded...


No Clear Resolution

"A truck pulled up at Nick Memmo's East Freetown house last month bringing an unexpected delivery — and a dilemma. The delivery was a $2,700, 86-inch flat screen TV that Memmo hadn't ordered. The dilemma? Whether to keep it or send it back." Hint, Nick Memmo ended up getting hauled off to jail.


Bottom of the News

"Florida prosecutors said Wednesday they intend to release police surveillance videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 24 other men allegedly paying for sex." (I'm not particularly religious, but, please god, no...)

+ The Time 100 Most Influential People. (This feature will always remain at the bottom of the news until I make the list...)

+ Forget Keanu. "The One" plays for the Houston Astros.