Wednesday, May 1st, 2019


Say Anything

"The summary ... did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." That was part of a letter sent to William Barr by Robert Mueller in which the special counsel complained that Barr was distorting the report ahead of its release. This is more evidence, as if if we needed any, that you can't judge a book by its cover letter. From WaPo: Mueller complained that Barr's letter did not capture context of Trump probe.

+ Meanwhile, Barr is testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee. On Mueller's complaints: "He is part of the Department of Justice. His work concluded when he sent his work to the attorney general. At that point, it was my baby." (And his bathwater.) Here's the latest from the sometimes contentious hearings.

+ Quicktake: It's worth noting that William Barr was hired to replace Jeff Sessions because Trump was unhappy with Sessions' refusal to "unrecuse" himself and take a more active role protecting the president. Hence, the hiring of Barr was itself a form of obstruction (not legal obstruction, but certainly laypersons'). In a way, William Barr is is now both obstruction and justice.

+ Especially in this era of hot air and relentless sound bites, we all have to respect Bob Mueller's silence. But the time to say something, anything, really does seem to have arrived. As of now, the expectation is that he will testify sometime in May.


Sycophancy Feast

Trump's behavior has yet to surprise me. However, the behavior of his enablers and (often newly converted) sycophants never ceases to amaze. How do people who ripped him in the past later risk their reputations praising him? It's the question of the era. In the NYT: James Comey takes a crack at answering it. "Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man. But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing."


If Not Now, Ven?

"While the call to action spurred protests around the nation, only a small group of soldiers left their commands. By the end of the day, it was clear that a quick end to the protracted standoff was still out of sight." AP: As new protests loom, was Venezuela opposition outplayed?


Jog Your Memory

"The study adds to growing evidence that exercise can have rapid effects on brain function and also that these effects could accumulate and lead to long-term improvements in how our brains operate and we remember." NYT: How Exercise Affects Our Memory. (The problem is that I keep forgetting to work out.)

+ The Conversation: Why some doctors are prescribing a day in the park or a walk on the beach for good health.


It Takes Knowing One to Know One

"I didn't grow up around people like him. But if the world had a few more people like him, the world would be a better place." ... "The rules are the rules, but it's just weird when you know someone. It's just not right." ... "His English is broken, but I could talk to him like he was a brother." That might not be what you'd expect to hear people in a Trump-loving town say about an undocumented immigrant. But things are different when you actually know someone. The excellent Alex Kotlowitz on The Trump-Loving Town and Its Favorite Undocumented Immigrant.


Tyrannosaurus Rx

"It seems entirely possible that no two people in the country pay the same price for the same drug. And thanks to the bureaucracy that's sprung up around health care like a boomtown, getting answers to even the most basic questions is increasingly difficult." Philly Mag: American Prescription Drug Prices Are Out of Control. One Man's Furious Quest to Get to the Bottom of It.

+ Summer Bummer: A Young Camper's $142,938 Snakebite.


Chronicling Fatigue

"There are physicians around who say if there is no biomarker the disease doesn't exist, as far as they're concerned. So there's been a real effort to find a biomarker. I'm hoping this will help the medical community accept that this is a real disease." SF Chronicle: Stanford discovery validates chronic fatigue syndrome, could improve diagnosis.

+ "Consumers seem to have a limitless appetite for trying products that will help them sleep–and startups are taking note." FastCo: The $70 billion quest for a good night's sleep.


Drama Mia

From Topic Magazine: Meet the Mammoni. "He works all day; she does his laundry and gets dinner on the table every night. Why Italian men are happy to live with their mothers well into their 30s." (I'd still live with my mom if she had faster WiFi.)


A Joint Production

"In addition to being the world's most legendary country artist, Willie Nelson might also be the world's most legendary stoner. Before Snoop or Cheech and Chong or Woody Harrelson, there was Willie. He has been jailed for weed, and made into a punchline for weed. But look at him now: Still playing 100 shows a year, still writing songs, still curious about the world. 'I'm kind of the canary in the mine, if people are wondering what happens if you smoke that shit a long time ... You know, if I start jerking or shaking or something, don't give me no more weed. But as long as I'm all right..." Rolling Stone: The High Life.


Bottom of the News

"Spoiler culture and 'spoiler-phobia' seem like a unique creation of the internet age: a combination of mass audiences, rapid dissemination of information, and popular entertainment being released in episodic formats. But these are, in fact, issues that originated with the media of the 19th century." (I wish they hadn't just spoiled the 19th century. I was still planning to binge it.)

+ The Noodle Feast took the top prize among this year's top food photographs.

+ Facebook's dating app will let you list your secret crushes. (My secret crush is Twitter.)