Tuesday, May 28th, 2019


Dialing for Dollars

You give it more undivided attention than your friends and family. You wrap it in protective cases and touch its exposed parts often, excitedly; but always gently. For most of your waking hours, it's cradled in your hands and the object of your longing gaze. But even you have to sleep once in awhile. And when you do, it betrays you. Like Judas, Brutus, and Fredo, your iPhone can't be trusted. Geoffrey A. Fowler explains in WaPo: It's the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to? "On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with. And all night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address — once every five minutes."


Moths to a Flame

The SF Chronicle's Gregory Thomas visited Paradise in the wake of California's deadliest wildfire. He wasn't the only one. Touring disaster. "Locals often spot them wandering the wreckage, taking photos, sometimes even sifting through the scorched belongings of residents who have either been displaced or died in the fire. To a town still in the throes of grief, a place many came to for refuge, the sight of strangers treading through the burn scar can feel viscerally like stepping on an open wound."


Kippah Way

"Antisemitic attacks are on the rise in a number of European countries, and a survey of Jewish people across the European Union carried out in December found 89% of Jews feel antisemitism has increased in their country over the past decade, while 85% believed it to be a serious problem." The Guardian: Jews in Germany warned of risks of wearing kippah cap in public.

+ "There is to this day not a single Synagogue not a single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen." CNN: Angela Merkel warns against dark forces on the rise in Europe.


Docket Slumber

The abortion debate is raging at the state level. But so far, the Supreme Court isn't directly taking up the issue. WaPo: Supreme Court compromise on Indiana abortion law keeps issue off its docket. Meanwhile, Missouri's last abortion clinic says it may lose its license this week.

+ "Abortion politics in 2019 is a morality play about what happens when one side has all the political power, yet feels culturally embattled. In this atmosphere, victories are not satisfying if they leave the other side with a foothold, a vestige of respectability. Cataclysmic discord lies ahead. Abortion politics is no longer about policy wins, but about establishing dominance." Michael Wear in The Atlantic: The Abortion Debate Is No Longer About Policy.

+ Netflix is the first major studio to threaten a boycott of Georgia following the signing of a so-called heartbeat bill. But do such boycotts help? "The Deep South is often dismissed as a region populated by bigots and Republican theocrats, a myopic view that these new laws have done little to contradict. These negative perceptions often hinge on a flawed understanding of the region as a network of backward white voters reaping what they have sown, rather than as the cradle of black American culture, politics, and resistance that I have experienced it to be." NY Mag: Boycotts of Georgia Will Only Make It Redder.


CTRL Balt Delete

"For nearly three weeks, Baltimore has struggled with a cyberattack by digital extortionists that has frozen thousands of computers, shut down email and disrupted real estate sales, water bills, health alerts and many other services. But here is what frustrated city employees and residents do not know: A key component of the malware that cybercriminals used in the attack was developed at taxpayer expense a short drive down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the National Security Agency." Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane in the NYT: In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc.


Breaking Chad

"You know, those guys who are 'praised day and night for their top-tier genetics, making a shit-ton of money, getting insane amounts of validation, never having to worry about paying the rent or any of that bullshit; all they think about is their next football match and coming home and having a threesome with two supermodels, supermodels that puke at the thought of them touching you.' That's how one incel with a Pepe frog as his avatar described Chads, posting a picture of Lucky Blue Smith and Jordan Barrett backstage at a Balmain fashion show. Truth4lie's friends hated Chad, but they were also convinced their lives would improve significantly if they could somehow become Chad." NY Mag: Incels are going under the knife to reshape their faces, and their dating prospects. How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid? (I'm a middle-aged dude with two kids, three cats, and a couple beagles. I'd fracture a bone just to have the house to myself for 45 minutes.)


Safe Cracker

"Every morning across Japan, parents say goodbye to their children and send them off to school. Students as young as 6, dressed in easily identifiable uniforms and shouldering boxy leather backpacks, travel to school on their own, their families secure in the knowledge that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world." NYT: Stabbing of 17 Children Shocks Japan.


Leaven Can Wait

"Potassium bromate, a potent oxidizer that helps bread rise, has been linked to kidney and thyroid cancers in rodents. Azodicarbonamide, a chemical that forms bubbles in foams and plastics like vinyl, is used to bleach and leaven dough – but when baked, it, too, has been linked to cancer in lab animals." The Guardian: Banned bread: why does the US allow additives that Europe says are unsafe? (Maybe the FDA is loafing...)


Hoop Skirts

"I just laugh ... I'm like, ‘You will get killed, what are you talking about?'" SB Nation: The WNBA's male practice squads lose to women all the time — and enjoy it.


Bottom of the News

"David, now 18 and heading to college, agrees with his dad. 'Now that I'm getting older. it's just cool.' He says it took him a while to even realize he was internet famous, since his friends didn't realize until they were older. Asked how this realization felt, he shrugs. "Interesting?" he offers, finally. 'It was never embarrassing.'" Vox: The kid from 'David After Dentist' is headed to college. (Hopefully, someone will give him a couple hits of Nitrous Oxide before he goes...) I remember being deeply disturbed the first time I saw the David video. Mostly because, as I wrote at the time, My Kids Refuse to Go Viral.

+ Vice: In Defense of Wedge Salads, from the Father of the Writer Who Denigrated Them.