Tuesday, May 14th, 2019


Gen X Post Facto

"The Sony Walkman, introduced in 1979, hit Generation X at just the right moment, as its oldest members were starting high school. This explosively popular device foreshadowed an entire digital future. Suddenly, you could tune out parents, teachers, bystanders — the rest of the human race, basically — while inhabiting your own highly personalized, carefully curated media reality." (What could possibly go wrong?) The NYT with an interactive series that's talking about my g-g-g-generation. This Gen X Mess: the tech, music, style, books, trends, rules, films and pills that made Gen X … so so-so. (More modern generations might ask, "Why don't you all f-fade away?" The answer: We can't. We were the first generation to back up our work...)

+ "People—smart, kind, thoughtful people—thought that comment boards and open discussion would heal us, would make sexism and racism negligible and tear down walls of class. We were certain that more communication would make everything better. Arrogantly, we ignored history and learned a lesson that has been in the curriculum since the Tower of Babel, or rather, we made everyone else learn it. We thought we were amplifying individuals in all their wonder and forgot about the cruelty, or at least assumed that good product design could wash that away." The excellent Paul Ford in Wired: Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense Of A Difficult Industry. (Yeah, tech may be ruining our lives and the world. But, seriously, how great is it to be able to stream movies on demand?)


Teacher’s Pet Project

Looking for inspiration from Gen X and technology? Look no further than Donor's Choose, the site created by my excellent friend Charles Best to make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Charles basically invented crowdfunding, and he and his team have built a juggernaut for good (he's also one of the last members of Generation X to still have a six pack). And right now, any donation you make to any classroom(s) will be doubled by a matching donor. Just remember to enter the promo code nextdraft. I know I share a lot of bad news every day. Here's a chance for all of us to use NextDraft to create a little good news. Support teachers and students today, and double your money.


Iran Track

"Some senior American officials said the plans, even at a very preliminary stage, show how dangerous the threat from Iran has become. Others, who are urging a diplomatic resolution to the current tensions, said it amounts to a scare tactic to warn Iran against new aggressions." NYT: White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War. "Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons."

+ BBC: US 'blames Iran' for damage to tankers in Gulf of Oman.


Unhinge and Purge

"In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities." WaPo: Before Trump's purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests. (We're constantly teetering on the edge of becoming this America...)

+ The Atlantic: An Oral History of Trump's Bigotry. "His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage." (From birtherism to "some very fine people on both sides," those outraged with Trump's racism have continually failed to realize that for him, the prejudice is a feature, not a bug.)


Power Switch

"'Well done, everyone,' someone said after a few moments, and the chatter resumed. The scientists had just taken another small step toward harnessing the power of the universe, and the weekend beckoned." The race to find cleaner, better energy sources is more urgent than ever. But it's still a pretty hard problem to solve. NYT: The Fusion Reactor Next Door.

+ Meanwhile, as WaPo reports, it was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history.

+ Gizmodo: Exxon Predicted 2019's Ominous CO2 Milestone in 1982. (Uh, good job?)

+ Mariana Trench: Deepest-ever sub dive finds plastic bag.


Wanna Get Away?

"The Exclusion Zone hasn't been rewilded so much as de-humaned, more unmanned in folly than anything Lady Macbeth ever worried about. It's a living experiment in what the world will be like after humans are gone, having left utter devastation in our wake." Adam Rogers in Wired: The Chernobyl Disaster May Have Also Built a Paradise. (There are probably easier ways to experience a little alone time in nature than exploding a nuclear power plant...)


Chem Trail

"The jury found the company failed to warn consumers that Roundup could cause cancer, attorneys said, dealing the company its third major loss in court in a series of lawsuits claiming the herbicide was behind the development of cancer." Buzzfeed: Monsanto Has Been Ordered To Pay More Than $2 Billion To A Couple With Cancer.


Offspring Break

Quartz: After men in Spain got paternity leave, they wanted fewer kids. "Farré and González think that spending more time with their children—or the prospect of having to do so—may have made men more acutely aware of the effort and costs associated with childrearing, and, as the researchers put it, 'shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality.'"


Helium Tanks

"A global helium shortage could burst the bubble for all the businesses that rely on the gas to lift weather balloons, large blimps, and, yes, the balloons at your kid's birthday bash that make your voice sound like a chipmunk. But the shortage is potentially deflating for a whole range of other purposes." Helium shortage may deflate MRIs, airbags and research.


Bottom of the News

"It prompted viral guffaws from some and online outrage from others. There are shot glasses commemorating the event and it birthed memes ahead of the annual Army-Navy game. But the inside story of how an EA-18G Growler jet crew drew a penis across the clear blue skies of Washington state in 2017 has never been told. Until now."

+ Jalopnik: Florida Man retains the right to announce via window sticker that he eats ass. (A hearty congratulations to him ... and his loved ones.)

+ The Guardian: The latest Game of Thrones episode sends curveball to children named Khaleesi. (Just tell the kid you named her after a different Khaleesi...)