Monday, June 10th, 2019


You Said It

Don't put words into my mouth. That request may take on a new, and far more literal, meaning in the near future as it becomes easier to hijack your pie-hole. The Verge reports on the latest strides to create technology that allows you to change the words people speak with a few keystrokes. AI deepfakes are now as simple as typing whatever you want your subject to say. "The researchers note that technology like this has many beneficial uses ... It would be of great help to the film and TV industries, allowing them to fix misspoken lines without rerecording footage, and create seamless dubs of actors speaking different languages." On the other hand, there's every other use. (Did I just say that? Maybe. Maybe not...)



President Trump said his tariff-threatening immigration deal with Mexico was worthy of a celebration (of him). Critics argued that the deal merely reiterates an existing understanding. Trump countered with the claim that there are secret parts of the deal you don't know about. "We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico's Legislative body!" Exclamation points aside, Mexico's foreign minister responded that no secret immigration deal exists. Maybe it's so secret that not even Mexico knows about it? (Editor's note: You can talk about Trump's great deal with Mexico. You can talk about Trump's fake deal with Mexico. Either way, you're talking about Trump and not talking about topics he wants to avoid.)


Extradition Impossible

"Hundreds of thousands of protesters shut down parts of Hong Kong yesterday, marching against a proposed law that would allow extradition to China. Organizers claim that more than 1 million demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the proposal, the largest such public demonstration in years." Here are photos from the protests. Will the protests work? It's unlikely. From the BBC: Do China demonstrations ever work? "One major change has been that China's leader, Xi Jinping, has pursued a much harder stance than his predecessor ... The second related change has been that China's economy has become much stronger."

+ It "suggests a further erosion of U.S. influence in a region where its longtime security partners are increasingly swayed by Chinese investment." LA Times: Why a ban on Huawei is being ignored by some of the oldest U.S. allies in Asia.


Choose Wisely

"The CEOs' letter, titled Don't Ban Equality, was sparked by what the signers call an 'alarming trend of bans passing in states across the country that restrict access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion.' The group cited research from polls that show a majority of Americans believe having control over their reproductive health care is essential for a person's economic success." CBS News: Abortion laws are 'bad for business,' nearly 200 CEOs say. (My problem with this open letter is the use of the phrase, "bad for business," which many publications are highlighting or using as a headline. When it comes to ethics and equality, does it matter if something is good or bad for business?)

+ "Alabama is one of two states with no statute terminating parental rights for a person found to have conceived the child by rape or incest, a fact that has gained fresh relevance since its lawmakers adopted the nation's strictest abortion ban in May." WaPo: In Alabama — where lawmakers banned abortion for rape victims — rapists' parental rights are protected.


Puck Hockey!

In the NBA finals, the Warriors dynastic ambitions are up against their own fatigue, the Raptor's drive and excellence ... and a great story. "More than 20,000 fans have crowded into Celebration Square in downtown Mississauga to watch Raptors games on a giant screen, and many thousands more have done the same in Garden Square, the predominantly South Asian suburb to the northwest. More striking still is this measure of heresy: A new poll reveals that more young Canadian men and women want to watch the Raptors than the Stanley Cup." And Canada isn't just producing fans. It's producing players. NYT: Canada Becomes a Basketball Factory.

+ Rafael Nadal's French Open dominance is so definitive, it's getting boring. "There is no more difficult challenge in sport than to defeat Rafael Nadal on Court Philippe Chatrier, the main show court of the French Open. It is, for all relevant purposes, his home, his house, the place where he wins and wins and wins again, the way that John Wooden's U.C.L.A. basketball teams of the nineteen-sixties and seventies won game after game in Pauley Pavilion, which is the only analogy I can summon from my six decades of watching sports." Gerald Marzorati in The New Yorker: Rafael Nadal's Unparalleled Dominance of the French Open.

+ Red Sox legend David Ortiz suffered organ damage from bullet during ambush at bar in Santo Domingo.


Screen Test

"Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States, affecting more than three million people each year. Using sunscreen is one mainstay of prevention. But the recent news that sunscreen ingredients can soak into your bloodstream has caused concern." NYT Upshot: How Safe Is Sunscreen? (This is why I just stay indoors. My roof has never soaked into my bloodstream...)


Box Office

"It's good for Mike Tyson to be in a place like this. Stabilizing. He comes in, checks out some meetings, checks on some deals, smokes a few joints. Possibly he will fall asleep in a chair in the back room, under a giant black-and-white photograph of himself surveying an expanse of desert where he will someday build the weed resort of the future." GQ: Mike Tyson Smokes the Toad. "What do you do when you hear that Mike Tyson is opening a weed resort in the middle of the California desert? You go investigate." (Unless you're an actual stoner, in which case, you do absolutely nothing.)


Gov and Marriage

"The circumstances surrounding the Owensboro grant and another, more lucrative grant to Boone County, highlight the ethical conflicts in having a powerful Cabinet secretary married to the Senate's leader and in a position to help him politically. McConnell has long touted his ability to bring federal resources to his state, which his wife is now in a position to assist." Politico: Elaine Chao created special path for McConnell's favored projects.


On the Rocks

"Making use of his unusual skill set, he plans to harness and tow an enormous Antarctic iceberg to South Africa and convert it into municipal water. 'To make it economically feasible, the iceberg will have to be big.'" Bloomberg on an unusual strategy for getting water to Cape Town. Towing an Iceberg: One Captain's Plan to Bring Drinking Water to 4 Million People.


Bottom of the News

"But the move would set Cerretini at the center of a long-standing battle between Yelp and disgruntled business owners — a battle including cries of 'extortion,' review manipulation, and predatory advertising tactics." The Hustle looks back at the restaurant owner who asked for 1-star Yelp reviews.

+ Trump and Macron's symbolic friendship tree dies.

+ FastCo: The next big thing in fashion? Not washing your clothes. (This is the first time I've been ahead of the fashion curve...)