Tuesday, June 4th, 2019


Truth Be Told

"Dong was given a suspended death sentence on arson charges and spent 17 years in prison. It changed his family forever -- his father died and his wife divorced him while he was in jail. Dong's son was just three years old when his father went away. But despite the impact it had on their lives, Dong has never discussed what happened in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, with his son, now aged 33. [He] would prefer to have his son think he is just a regular criminal, at least in the current political climate in China, than be potentially put in danger by learning of his father's political past. 'It is for his safety,' Dong said. 'I worry that I might influence his thoughts if I started chatting to him about those things.'" CNN: Three decades ago, they faced down the tanks in Tiananmen Square. Now they want their children to forget it. (In the thirty years since Tiananmen, China has undergone dramatic changes, enjoyed wild middle and upper class growth, and become an economic superpower. But the dissidents know that, in a society that aspires to be free, truth is the most valuable currency. It's true in China. And it's true in America; which is one of the reasons why the last few years have been so unnerving.)

+ "After the crackdown, some of us escaped to freedom overseas, convinced at the time that the massacre was a tragic but temporary setback on the road to realizing Deng Xiaoping's slogan: reform and opening up. We were wrong. China freed up its economy but hardened politically." WaPo A Massacre, Erased.

+ "In an age of cyber-sleuthing and intense media scrutiny, it has become almost impossible for historical figures to remain anonymous. But 30 years later, Tank Man is still a source of enduring fascination and intrigue." NYT: 30 Years After Tiananmen, Tank Man Remains an Icon and a Mystery.

+ NYT: "Zhou Duo helped evacuate Tiananmen Square in 1989. These days he defends the movement, but sees democracy in retreat in the West and far off in China." He Stayed at Tiananmen to the End. Now He Wonders What It Meant.


Pharm to Table

"We don't hear about drugstore deserts – they are everywhere. But we do hear about grocery deserts ... And there is a great irony in that food sold at the pharmacy – ostensibly a place meant to promote our health – is actually bad for you." The Guardian: Fears grow over 'food swamps' as drugstores outsell major grocers.


High Tee

"Perhaps you won't be given the credit you deserve if they do something, but I think you deserve a lot of credit, I really do." in the UK, President Trump moved from pomp to politics, including some high praise for Theresa May's efforts to get Brexit done. There were many protests as well. Here's the latest from CNN and BBC.


Jogging Memories

"The public reckoning almost always centered on the injustice to the five men themselves, who were innocent boys whose lives were destroyed by shoddy police work and systemic racism. Less examined are the other lives destroyed by the case: Reyes's many victims, who waited so long for justice, some who might not have been victims at all but for law enforcement's staunch belief it had the right assailants." Sarah Weinman in NY Mag: Before, and After, the Jogger. Survivors of the real 'Central Park Five' attacker speak for the first time.


Dead Grateful

iTunes was the first significant Apple application offered to Windows users. It helped drive the "switch" era. By giving people a way to pay for songs, it may have saved the music industry. I salute iTunes. (For years, I've also done anything to avoid opening the bloated nightmare.) Wired: iTunes Is Dead. Let's Pay Our Respects. (I'll believe it's dead when I see it...)

+ The Verge: The rise and fall of iTunes, Apple's most hated app.


Seis-mic Drop

"Earthquakes are of course natural phenomena. But the amount of damage they cause is a function of decisions made by politicians, engineers and business executives. Japan and the United States, two of the world's most technologically advanced countries, have the same problem — how to protect people and society from earthquakes — and yet they have responded in very different ways." A very interesting interactive piece from the NYT: Buildings Can Be Designed to Withstand Earthquakes. Why Doesn't the U.S. Build More of Them? (Did I mention I'm writing to you from San Francisco?)


Cracking the Bay Area Code

"For each new millionaire household the San Francisco Bay Area has produced, there are at least four new people living below the poverty level. San Francisco's property crime rate has spiked to the highest in the nation. Many people – tech newcomers and longtime residents alike – complain of feeling unsafe. At the same time, with little fanfare, the Bay Area has seen a dramatic drop in its homicide rate, driven by a considerable decrease in deadly shootings." Part of a year-long series from The Guardian: Gun violence has sharply declined in California's Bay Area. What happened?


Is That Bagel an Antisemite?

"I was perfectly happy with this arrangement until in March the German tabloid Bild Am Sonntag reported that the family behind Peet's parent company JAB Holding had been staunch supporters of the Third Reich, and in fact had built their fortune via Nazi Germany's large-scale forced-labor system. Honcho Albert Reimann Sr. was a card-carrying Nazi who made donations to the SS, Hitler's paramilitary force, in the early 1930s. In 1937, according to the New York Times, Albert Reimann Jr. wrote a letter to Heinrich Himmler: 'We are a purely Aryan family business that is over 100 years old,' it read. 'The owners are unconditional followers of the race theory.'" Boston Globe: I found out Nazi money is behind my favorite coffee. Should I keep drinking it? Before you answer, the same company also owns Panera, Dr. Pepper, Krispy Kreme, and ... wait for it ... Einstein Bros. Bagels... (I just find to boycott or not to boycott questions very interesting. I'm not trying to schmear your favorite coffee...)


Don’t Pitch Dark

"Except in extraordinary situations, Dark Mode is not easy on the eyes, in any way. The human eyes and brain prefer dark-on-light, and reversing that forces them to work harder to read text, parse controls, and comprehend what you're seeing." TidBits on the darkside of dark mode.


Bottom of the News

"But why is ours such a hairy century? What began this trend, and what fuels it? There is an easy answer, though it leads to harder questions: We can thank the Global War on Terror—or the Long War, the Bellum Americanum, whatever you choose to call it—and the reluctance of military leaders to impose discipline on the most professional of the units that participated in GWOT, special operations forces." The New Republic takes a crack at explaining how facial hair won American men's hearts and minds: The Sum of All Beards. (My theory: Shaving sucks.)

+ Let's end on something everyone can agree on. Keanu Reeves Is Too Good for This World.