Wednesday, June 26th, 2019


What’s So Funny?

"For more than 2,000 years pundits have assumed that all forms of humor share a common ingredient. The search for this essence occupied first philosophers and then psychologists, who formalized the philosophical ideas and translated them into concepts that could be tested." In Scientific American, Giovanni Sabato provides the latest findings in the long quest to understand why we laugh. How Many Psychologists Does It Take ... to Explain a Joke? While interesting, this article is not at all funny. But that shouldn't be too surprising. As EB White pointed out: "Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process."

+ Maybe we're just laughing through the tears. Or, more likely, the rage. NPR: Americans Say We're Angrier Than A Generation Ago.


Mums the Work

"I'll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office's written work speak for itself." So said Robert Mueller as he finally (and briefly) broke his silence about his investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign. It turned out that the work didn't speak (and American sure as hell aren't going to read), so following a subpoena, Mueller will testify in open hearings on July 17. (We may run out of popcorn emojis...)

+ WaPo: "President Trump lashed out Wednesday at former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accusing him without evidence of committing a crime."

+ In other news on the crime beat, a House panel voted to subpoena Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations.


Photo Engraved

"In the same way those images focused the world's attention on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Turkey, the intense image from the Rio Grande comes as a stark reminder of the human toll of the immigration crisis. As in those earlier cases, it also shows the devastating effect strife and desperation often inflict on children and families." A Father And Daughter Who Drowned At The Border Put Attention On Immigration. (This photo is sad and horrific, but to anyone who's paid even the least bit of attention to this issue, it's anything but shocking.)

+ "Most single adults had not showered for nearly a month while in CBP custody, the report said. Instead, wet wipes were handed out to maintain hygiene. Many single adults were being fed only bologna sandwiches, leading to some having medical issues like constipation. In one facility, officials found some single adults in standing room–only conditions for a week while others were held in overcrowded cells for more than a month." Buzzfeed: Investigators Found Immigrant Kids And Families Locked In Disgusting Conditions In Border Camps.

+ Quartz: Workers from online home goods retailer Wayfair are walking out today to protest their employer's sale of beds to an immigrant detention center.


Steam Roller

"E-cigarettes are a product that, by law, are not allowed on the market without FDA review. For some reason, the FDA has so far refused to follow the law. If the federal government is not going to act, San Francisco will." San Francisco (home to Juul Labs) is about to ban the sale of e-cigarettes. (At this point in SF, it's tough to determine where the vapor ends and the fog begins...)


Adding Insulin to Injury

"The price of his insulin had apparently gone up again to $1300, which was more than he had in his bank account. Perhaps he felt embarrassed, too proud to borrow money so soon after finally moving out of his parents' place. Perhaps he didn't want anyone to worry about him, and figured he could keep his blood sugar down until payday. So he left. He never told his mother and he never told his girlfriend. Five days later, he was dead." How insulin prices explain the many things wrong with America's broken prescription drug market. The Insulin Racket.


Mein Attraction

"Downstairs, there would be Chinese people eating dinner with their families. And upstairs, there would be this crazy punk stuff going on ... You could see them going up the stairs, and people would be like, ‘Uh…' Sometimes the ceiling would be shaking." Topic: How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk. (Chinese food also fueled the rise of almost every edition of NextDraft thus far...)


Just for Kicks?

"Their tongues said 'WEAR ME,' their toeboxes said 'PLEASE CREASE,' and their midsoles said 'NOT FOR RESALE.' In a few cases, shop owners required buyers to wear the shoes out of the store, a move that damaged their resale potential since most of the resale sites sell unworn sneakers. But the attention only fueled demand." The NYT on the rise of sneaker resellers and the corporatization of street style. Buy Low-Tops, Sell High-Tops: StockX Sneaker Exchange Is Worth $1 Billion.


Plunder Mifflin

"The choice was not as simple as whether NBCU would continue to license the popular show, which aired on its broadcast network from 2005 to 2013, to Netflix or take it back for its still unnamed forthcoming service. Top brass at the company also had to weigh whether they were willing to forgo the millions of dollars that the show, winner of five Emmys, would fetch from third-party distributors." The Hollywood Reporter: Why NBCUniversal Is Paying $500M to Pull the Hit From Netflix.


Bot Any Requests

"In The Secret Life of Plants, Tompkins and Bird recounted experiments conducted around the planet that supposedly proved that plants were far more complex and cosmically attuned beings than most humans imagined. One of its central claims was that the health and productivity of plants could be affected not only by playing music for them, but by what kind of music you played for them." NPR: Music For Plants Is Real (Even If The Science Isn't). (My plants have only requested a few songs: Bring Me Some Water, Down to the Waterline, and I Like Dirt ... although they seem to like anything by Flora Cash, Bush, The Wallflowers, Iggy Azalea, Robert Plant, or the Roots...)


Bottom of the News

"Archimedes, the ancient Greek scientist, was taking a bath when he had his eureka! moment, discovering a physics principle using water displacement to measure density. Rob Reinerman, lead of the innovation team at Procter & Gamble, was taking a dump when genius struck, leading to the creation of Charmin's Forever Roll, a massive roll of toilet paper for millennial asses." Buzzfeed: Millennials Are Finally Getting The Giant Roll Of Toilet Paper They Deserve. (Hey, we ruined your democracy and failed to address climate change, but at least we left you this...)

+ 17 million Americans play darts. And (at least by professional standards) all 17 million of them of suck.