Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019


America’s Birthday Suit

Birthdays are always a good time for a little self-reflection. So as America celebrates its 243rd, it seems appropriate to aim our (rockets' red) glare at what's taking place in the detention facilities on the border, how we're treating those who seek to join our ranks, and how we interact with our fellow citizens in an era when it seems nothing can make us more upset than how upset we are with each other. And so it is this 4th of July when politicians and the media are fueling a debate over what to call the facilities where asylum seekers are being held (detention zones? concentration camps? internment centers?) instead of focusing on what we're seeing inside those facilities. The Atlantic's Adam Serwer: A Crime by Any Name. "When those in power are caught abusing that power in ways that are morally indefensible and politically unpopular, they will always seek to turn an argument about oppression into a dispute about manners. The conversation then shifts from the responsibility of the state for the human lives it is destroying to whether those who object to that destruction have exhibited proper etiquette." (Whatever we call it, what we're seeing on the border is, for us, the detainees, and the world, a reflection of America on her 243rd, a year when the nation's values are blowing like a birthday candle in the wind...)


Stop Making Census

"Trump's tweet directly contradicted comments made less than 24 hours earlier by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department lawyers that they were standing down, following a Supreme Court decision halting the question. 'The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question' Ross said in a statement Tuesday." AP: Trump insists he's not dropping citizenship question effort.


Holiday Weekend Whats

What to Movie: Grab the fam, and head out to a nice air conditioned movie theater to sing (and laugh) along with the excellent movie, Yesterday, which imagines a world where The Beatles never existed. It's a great hook and fun movie best seen in a full theater. (And skip the multitude of dissertation-esque, deep thinkpieces that are twisting and shouting about whether the filmmakers truly captured the meaning of the Beatles oeuvre. It's a friggin rom com with the greatest soundtrack of all time. Enjoy.)

+ What to Watch: If you don't want to brave the lines for the new Spiderman movie, one of the old ones (and my favorite superhero flick in recent years) is on Netflix. Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse.

+ What to Turn Upside Down: The third season of Stranger Things is coming out on the 4th. For those who follow the news as closely as I do, the show should be called Less Strange Things.

+ What to World Cup: England's 2-1 loss to America was the UK's highest peak television audience of the year. Hopefully, America will smash some viewership records when the team plays in the finals on Sunday. Right now, there's nothing more exciting in sports than the first 15 minutes of a US Women's soccer match.


Bot And Paid For

"Just as pharmaceutical companies must disclose that the happy people who say a new drug has miraculously improved their lives are paid actors, bots in California—or rather, the people who deploy them—will have to level with their audience." The New Yorker: Will California's New Bot Law Strengthen Democracy? "On July 1st, California became the first state in the nation to try to reduce the power of bots by requiring that they reveal their 'artificial identity' when they are used to sell a product or influence a voter. Violators could face fines under state statutes related to unfair competition."


Buffett Accompli

"In April, a stock research firm told clients that a Gulfstream V owned by Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. had been spotted at an Omaha airport. The immediate speculation was that Occidental executives were negotiating with Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to get financial help in their $38 billion offer for rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Two days later, Buffett announced a $10 billion investment in Occidental." The latest in a series of reminders that everyone is tracking everyone. From Bloomberg: Hedge Funds Are Tracking Private Jets to Find the Next Megadeal.


Anybody Want a Peanut?

"O sweetheart, there's nothing more to say. / Your deathly silence has worn me out. /You no longer have a place with me./ I don't care if you live or die." That's some bad poetry from a bad husband and father (if recent escape efforts are any indication). NYT: Princess Haya, Wife of Dubai's Ruler, Seeks Refuge in London.


Kibble Quibble

"In the past decade, millions of dog owners have shied away from conventional foods that include ingredients such as rice or oats, out of concern that grains might be bad for dogs' health. Now grain-free options constitute almost half of the dog-food market in the United States." The Atlantic: How Americans Decided Dogs Can't Eat Grain. Or, how you falling for hyped health claims means that even your dog can't enjoy a decent meal...

+ NYT: 10 Findings That Contradict Medical Wisdom. Doctors, Take Note.


Superhuman Nature

"If you've never worked at a tech company before, this is how things go. When faced with making a product decision that is even mildly uncomfortable, employees often first look towards expressed company principles like 'Always put the customer first,' but the next thing they look for is precedent. What other decisions have we made that look like this one? Designers do this. Engineers do this. Product managers do this. Executives do this. It's an easy way to inform your current decision, and it's also an easy way to cover your ass." Mike Davidson with an interesting post on a high-flying new email app (and a broader discussion of why so much of your tech does things you wish it wouldn't): Superhuman is Spying on You.



"With resources spread thin and fearing further sparks, the state fire marshal's office issued a statewide ban on the sale and personal use of fireworks ahead of the holiday." Sorry, folks. It's just too hot this year to risk the use of backyard fireworks. In Alaska.


Bottom of the News

I imagine many of us (at least those who can avoid all the tank traffic in the streets) will be making a holiday weekend Costco run. So you might as well know what you're getting into. How Costco gained a cult following — by breaking every rule of retail.

+ How Costco quietly became a $7-billion fast-fashion powerhouse.

+ The Oral History Of The Super Soaker.

+ A Brief History of the S'more.

+ The Rise and Fall of Kobayashi, Godfather of Competitive Eating: "They Were Making a Joke of Me."