Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019


Compost Mortem

Washington just became to first state to allow the composting of human bodies. The law "allows licensed facilities to offer 'natural organic reduction,' which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows' worth of soil in a span of several weeks. Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree." (This gives new meaning to soiling oneself.) I suppose composting is as good an end as any. But I'm still hoping to be recycled.


Wrecking Ballbuster

"I came here to do a on infrastructure meeting with Democrats — not really thinking that they wanted to do infrastructure or anything else other than investigate. And I just saw that Nancy Pelosi, just before our meeting made a statement that we believe that 'the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.' It turns out I'm the most — I think most of you would agree to this — I'm the most transparent president probably in the history of this country." As talk of impeachment grows louder, Trump stages a walkout of his infrastructure talks with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Tweets ensued. Here's the latest on the fallout from a meeting that Pelosi described as "very, very, very strange." (Just when we thought Infrastructure Week was finally about to start, the president took his wrecking ball and went home.)

+ "The memo is the first sign of potential dissent within the administration over its approach to the tax returns issue." WaPo: Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege. Meanwhile, NY state just passed a bill allowing Congress to request Trump's tax returns.


This is U.S.

Older. Less white. Less religious. In a nutshell, that's what America will look like in 2040. Axios has some interesting stats on what we're becoming (stats that are driving much of the current political maneuvering and many social trends). Future foretold: A new America in 2040. (Full disclosure: I've only stockpiled enough headline puns to get us through 2038...)


Massage in a Bottle

"Go to a rave, and you'll find people glassy-eyed, staring inches from each other's faces in rapt conversation, Heifets says. What they're saying doesn't matter. The deep emotional connection they're experiencing, however, does. 'That's what we're after. How can we bottle that?'" The Verge: Embracing Ecstasy: Can efforts to bottle MDMA's magic transform psychiatry?

+ It "is an incredible medicine. Even the Drug Enforcement Administration admits it, and doctors are known to prescribe it for narcolepsy, obesity, and ADHD." Pacific Standard: The Many Health Benefits Of Meth. (Well, that escalated quickly.)

+ While there are currently illicit drugs we hope will help people in the future, there are legal prescription drugs that are killing people right now. WaPo: Fighting
. Trump called the opioid epidemic a priority, but fentanyl deaths soar as resources fail to keep pace.


Taliban Wagon

"Conditions imposed recently on Lindh's release, slated for Thursday, make clear that authorities remain concerned about the threat he could pose once free." AP: John Walker Lindh, the young Californian who became known as the American Taliban after he was captured by U.S. forces in the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, is set to go free after nearly two decades in prison. (When your parents warned you about hanging out with the wrong kinds of people, this is what they meant.) "There have been reports that Lindh's behavior in prison has created cause for concern. Foreign Policy magazine reported in 2017 that an investigation by the National Counterterrorism Center found that Lindh 'continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.'"


Politics, Religion, and … Weather?

It turns out that there's an issue that divides Americans much more than abortion and gun control. Climate change. Democrats ranked global heating as the third most important issue on their list, while Republican voters ranked it last in a Yale poll.


Pardon Patrol

"Absent evidence of innocence or injustice, the wholesale pardon of U.S. service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don't take the law of armed conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us." LA Times: Senior military officers rebel against Trump plan to pardon troops accused of war crimes.


Rat Race

"The city's construction boom is digging up burrows, forcing more rats out into the open, scientists and pest control experts say. Milder winters — the result of climate change — make it easier for [them] to survive and reproduce. And New York's growing population and thriving tourism has brought more trash" for them to feed on. NYT: Rats Are Taking Over New York City.


Appraising Grace

"Owens was searching under living room cushions when she located a notebook with another will, dated March 2014. The four-page document sets aside various assets for family members, including four sons and grandchildren, but is difficult to read." Handwritten wills shake up Aretha Franklin's estate.


Bottom of the News

"I was looking for anything I could talk my way into, and sometimes I'd see these ads that said, 'Hey, make $10,000 being a sperm donor.' I was like, 'Yeah, that's not gonna happen.' But one day, I decided the worst they could say was no. So I sent in an application." Vox: Can a man earn a living on sperm donation alone? (Related question: Is it too late to apply for back pay?)

+ "Armed robberies have gotten so common aboard buses in Mexico City that commuters have come up with a clever if disheartening solution: Many are buying fake cellphones, to hand over to thieves instead of their real smartphones."

+ Nigel Farage shelters on campaign bus to avoid milkshake attack. Must be lactose intolerant...