Monday, May 6th, 2019


Eleanor Rigby’s Friend Request

All the lonely people, Where do they all belong? It turns out that "in front of an iPhone" could be the last place Eleanor Rigby and all the other lonely people belong. The authors of a new book on loneliness look at how new devices (from radios to smartphones) impact the way we view and experience loneliness. From ReCode: Bored and lonely? Blame your phone. "The smartphone represents a pretty dramatic shift in our expectations of companionship and entertainment — and a shift in how we respond to feelings like boredom and loneliness. Because of the promises of the digital age, when we experience those feelings, we're more surprised and alarmed than our ancestors were."

+ "A recent nationwide survey of 20,000 adults found that nearly half of Americans report feeling alone or left out some or all of the time. What is often missed in the corresponding coverage, says Steve Cole, a genetics researcher at UCLA who frequently collaborated with Cacioppo, is that loneliness is not aloneness. Instead, it's the subjective feeling that you lack meaningful relationships or a solid support system, an important distinction." Can co-working spaces, friendship apps, and adult dorms make a dent in a growing problem? A lot of entrepreneurs and investors sure hope so. Vox: The big business of loneliness. (Adult dorms? I'll stick with the loneliness...)


Nature Calls

"Exposure to nonthreatening natural stimuli, scientists have discovered, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress-hormone levels, promotes physical healing, bolsters immune-system function, raises self-esteem, improves mood, curtails the need for painkillers, and reduces inflammation." Outside's Aaron Reuben on the nature cure. Ask Your Doctor If Nature Is Right For You. (I might start with getting an office with a window. Baby steps.)

+ The trouble with nature as a cure is that we seem to be ruining nature at an alarming pace. From the NYT: "Humans are transforming Earth's natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival."

+ The notion that cures for human ills would be detrimental to the world around us is hardly novel. The Atlantic: Human Drugs Are Polluting the Water—And Animals Are Swimming in It.


Eurovision Quest

"The intense fighting over the past two days came to a halt early Monday and residents on both sides went back to their daily routines. Schools and roads had been closed, and Israelis had been urged to remain indoors and near bomb shelters as intense rocket fire pounded the area." After the deadliest fighting between Hamas and Israel since 2014, Gaza is quiet after the two sides agree to a ceasefire.

+ "Hamas calculated that Netanyahu's political weakness would force him to bargain ahead of the vaunted international song contest. Many Israelis fear Hamas may be right." The Daily Beast: Hamas Started a War Over Eurovision, the Song Contest That Gave Us ABBA.

+ "Israel's claim is noteworthy because it brings into reality a scenario that many experts have long predicted: The use of immediate and near real-time physical force to respond to a cyberattack. "

+ Here's an interesting stat from Pew: US Jews are more likely than Christians to say Trump favors the Israelis too much.


Dis Barr

"If the Department presents us with a good faith offer for access to the full report and the underlying evidence, I reserve the right to postpone these proceedings." So said House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler as the committee threatened the attorney general with a contempt vote that could come as soon as Wednesday.

+ "The statement — signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees — offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr's determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was 'not sufficient' to establish that Trump committed a crime." WaPo: Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president, hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert.

+ Meanwhile, Michael Cohen offered some parting remarks as he arrived at prison: "I hope that when I return to my family that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country. There still remains much to be told and I look forward to the day where I can share the truth." (For now, he'll just be sharing a cell.) Cohen will be at the same medium security joint as the Fyre Fest guy and (in what some might consider cruel and unusual punishment) The Situation from Jersey Shore.


Uncontrolled Alt Shift

"On his last day at the public school, I met Sam at the bus stop, and he reached for a hug in the middle of the empty street. We were both relieved this hideous chapter was closed. But the transfer, midyear, to a new school—after he'd been wrongly accused, unfairly treated, then unceremoniously dropped by his friends—shattered Sam. He felt totally alone. I counseled patience, naively unprepared for what came next: when he found people to talk to on Reddit and 4chan." A very interesting piece from the Washingtonian: What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right. (I could barely stand the stress of my 13 year-old son preparing for his bar mitzvah...)


Chem Trails

"From her front porch in Reserve, Louisiana, Mary Hampton looks in every direction and sees ghosts. To her left is her brother Fred's home. He died from cancer. On the right is another brother's home. His wife, Olga Mae, she died from cancer too. Across the street? A neighbor who died from cancer just a couple of months ago. The list goes on and on." Residents of a community called Reserve are victims of the highest cancer rates in the country, 50 times the national average. This is Cancer Town. A small town, a chemical plant, and the residents' desperate fight for clear air.


Diva Dends

The NYT's Mike Isaac has been following the Uber story for years. His latest: With Uber's IPO, Dara Khosrowshahi Is Taking Travis Kalanick's Company Public. "Leaks about internal issues have largely stopped flowing to the press. Backbiting among executives has subsided. And Mr. Khosrowshahi has refrained from extravagances like booking Beyoncé to perform at private company functions, as Mr. Kalanick did in 2015, at a cost of $6 million in restricted stock units."


Hermit Kingdom

"The investigators brought their hazmat suits to Brown's house but could tell from the meticulously trimmed bushes and recently mowed front lawn that they wouldn't be needed. So they slipped the key into Brown's lock and opened the door." Bloomberg: The Mystery of the Millionaire Hermit.


Ground Rules

"When asked about the unauthorized roadwork, Oakland Public Works empathized with the problem at hand, but made it clear that Oakland residents shouldn't be taking to the streets to themselves." SF Gate: Pothole Vigilantes are covertly fixing Oakland roads in the middle of the night.


Bottom of the News

"Perched on the given show's couch, legs dangling, she'd talk about vaginas and vibrators and anatomy and autonomy, with unapologetic warmth and excitement and aRRRRRRousal, and her interviewer, very often a man, very often burying his face in his hands in mock agony, would be brought into the bluntness along with her. So would the audience. Her utter lack of embarrassment made a claim that was as radical as it is obvious: Sex should not be a source of shame to anyone, because sex is something that belongs to everyone." The Atlantic on Dr. Ruth at 90. The Goddess of Good Sex.

+ There's a new royal baby (and no, that's not a Trump joke). Here's the latest on Meghan and Harry's new baby boy.

+ That Starbucks cup in last night's Game of Thrones Episode. (One assumes it was a Dragon Drink.)