May 23rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The latest sign of the apocalypse, Nancy and Donald in the Impeach Pit, and the risk of being Avenatti By Nature.

I’m not saying that we’re definitely headed for a tech-induced apocalypse. Nor am I arguing that an epidemical screen-obsession has enabled our smart devices to turn the human race into an army of docile app dogs serving at the behest of our techno-overlords. I’m merely suggesting that if those statements turn out to be true, we might look back at the rise of apps that help you care for houseplants as a key indicator that humanity was about to jump the shark. Molly McHugh in The Ringer: The Appification of Plants Is Helping Owners Keep Them Alive. For those reckless rebels willing to venture forth unarmed and old school into the complex world of keeping houseplants alive, I’d suggest you start with soil, sunlight, and water. (But in the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I had to google that…)


The Impeach Pit

“I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.” Nancy Pelosi is still the wall between her party and impeachment hearings. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to goad the president. AP: Pelosi questions Trump’s fitness; time for ‘intervention’?

+ The New Yorker: The Political Logic Behind Nancy Pelosi’s Go-Slow Strategy on Impeachment.

+ Calk Ringleader: Meanwhile, the Total Exoneration Express keeps on keepin’ on. From AP: “A banker who prosecutors say tried to buy himself a senior post in President Donald Trump’s administration by making risky loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was arrested Thursday on a financial institution bribery charge. Stephen M. Calk, 54, was scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court in the afternoon.”

+ Rex Tillerson “told U.S. lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir Putin was more prepared for a meeting with Trump than the president was.” (Which means Putin prepared for at least ten seconds.) Trump had some thoughts on the matter. Vice: Trump’s Thoughts on Rex Tillerson’s Intelligence: A Brief Timeline.


Modi Operandi

In the largest election ever, India’s Narendra Modi secured a landslide win. “The vote had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindu nationalist politics.”

+ The Economist: “Modi led a posse of cameramen to the scenic Kedarnath Temple, where they dutifully snapped him in a range of poses, from deep meditation cloaked in a saffron shawl, to striding purposefully against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, sporting a grey woollen cassock and felt cap, a silken tiger print cast over his shoulder. The image, half Olympian god and half kung-fu wizard, suits a man who appears to have pulled off a miracle.”


Avenatti By Nature

Perhaps no personal biography better describes this era than the rise and fall of Michael Avenatti. Emily Jane Fox in Vanity Fair: Inside The Epic Fall Of Michael Avenatti. “I have said many, many times over the last year, this is either going to end really, really well, or really, really badly. I am most fearful of the fact that the rate of descent is greater than the rate of ascent. Some would argue at this point that I flew too close to the sun. As I sit here today, yes, absolutely, I know I did.” (It was hot and fiery, but it wasn’t the sun…)


Children of the Scorn

“He threatened his sisters with a knife, calling them infidels; hit his mother, saying he wasn’t really hers; and more than once tried to set fire to his uncle’s house. Brainwashed by ISIS with a combination of savage cruelty and lionizing praise, S. was wracked by interior conflict, a lonely pariah in a family alien to him, lashing out violently at the slightest provocation. What to call the war on ISIS now that the group has lost the last of its territory in Iraq and Syria … given how much of the conflict exists not on battlefields but in the minds and souls of individuals?” From Time and the Pulitzer Center: They Were Children When They Were Kidnapped By ISIS and Forced to Fight. What Happens Now That They’re Home?


Smoke Screen

Mitch McConnell and Big Tobacco have teamed up on a campaign to raise the smoking age. What gives? The Center for Public Integrity: Big Tobacco’s Surprising New Campaign To Raise The Smoking Age. “Public health groups, which first pushed for 21, claim the latest effort is a cynical ploy from an old tobacco playbook — playing the good guy and supporting weak statewide legislation that adds multiple exemptions, nullifies tougher local rules and ensures ineffective enforcement.”


A Sorry State

“Her question took me by surprise, and yet I had been waiting for it since the day she was born. I always knew the time would come when I would have to tell my daughters the truth: I was raped. And I had an abortion. One day, you may face these challenges too.” Michelle Alexander with a powerful piece in the NYT: My Rapist Apologized.


Underground Railroaded

“Remember the planned redesign of the $20 bill that was going to include the first African American woman to appear on U.S. currency? Well, don’t expect to see Harriet Tubman on your $20 any time soon.” Steve Mnuchin says the bill redesign won’t happen during the Trump administration.


Quill Street Blues

“Rita wishfully assumed that, once his problem was addressed, the memory issue would soon resolve itself. Instead, other ominous signs emerged: more than once, David called her to confess that he couldn’t remember where he had parked his car. He found himself searching in vain for familiar names and words.” The New Yorker: David Milch’s Third Act.


Bottom of the News

“He sprayed a cleaning solvent on it and started to push the dissolving crystal with his finger as he attempted to dislodge the residue and clean the area. About 45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel a little strange. He described it as a weird, tingling sensation.” Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer.

+ The Atlantic: Frigid Offices Might Be Killing Women’s Productivity.

+ “Three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now.”

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