Friday, July 12th, 2019


Alex Lax

"My point here today is we have an amazing economy, and the focus needs to be on the economy." So said Alex Acosta as he stepped down from his role as Labor Secretary following heated questions about the deal he gave Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago. So the guy who gave one of the sickest human traffickers a pass is no longer in charge of the country's human trafficking laws. Wow, America, you're a tough room. (In related news, my streak continues.)

+ Meanwhile, "At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein." (Maybe the point here is something other than our amazing economy...)

+ McCay Coppins in The Atlantic: "It should not come as a surprise that some of America's most outspoken conspiracists have spent the days since Epstein's arrest taking victory laps." How the Epstein Case Explains the Rise of Conspiracy Theorists.

+ "A 13-count indictment includes charges of sexual exploitation of children, child pornography, and conspiracy to defraud the United States." R. Kelly Was Charged With Federal Sex Crimes In Both Chicago And New York. (Who had the year 2019 in the pool to predict which year America would get fed up with pedophilia?)

+ Vox: Sexual misconduct allegations against R. Kelly spanning 25 years, in one timeline.


Bystanders Effective

"Instead of more bystanders creating an immobilizing 'bystander effect,' the study actually found the more bystanders there were, the more likely it was that at least someone would intervene to help." CityLab: Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect.

+ The bystander effect was based on an inaccurate story from the very beginning. To see its roots, and to see an excellent documentary, check out The Witness.


Weekend Whats

What to Stand-up: "If they rebooted the office right now it'd end with Pam winning a landmark sexual harassment case. And in the series finale you'd learn, 'That's what the documentary was about. They were just gathering evidence about Jim.'" Aziz Ansari's new Netflix stand-up addresses his past issues and our current ones. This is one of the best stand-up shows I've seen in a long time.

+ What to Book: "To uncover the fate of the thousands being interred at a mysterious Nazi camp on the border of the Reich, a thirty-nine-year-old Polish resistance fighter named Witold Pilecki volunteered for an audacious mission: assume a fake identity, intentionally get captured and sent to the new camp, and then report back to the underground on what had happened to his compatriots there ... The name of the camp was Auschwitz." Jack Fairweather with the story of the man who went to Auschwitz, on purpose. The Volunteer.

+ What to Doc: "For more than three decades, Alabama public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system." An absolute must-watch on HBO: True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality.


Adding Insult to Injury

"I have many kids who are going to go play in college next year ... and this whole year has just been about trying to get healthy so they can step on that doorstep as a freshman and actually have a chance to participate ... Kids are broken by the time they get to college." ESPN's Baxter Holmes on the way competitive youth leagues are wearing kids' bodies down. 'These kids are ticking time bombs': The threat of youth basketball.


Playing Ketchup

"The challenges facing well-loved brands reflect shifts that aren't likely to swing back in their favor. As older companies scramble to keep up with upstart competitors, they are introducing more modern product lines, like ones with plant-based ingredients." The kind of industry upheaval that fast-paced startups brought to tech is now coming for other industries, including big food brands. Axios: Iconic brands lose their luster.


Levee Headed

"The danger to New Orleans — bound by the Mississippi River on its south side, Lake Pontchartrain on its north side and tributaries leading into the nearby Gulf of Mexico on the east — is threefold: storm surges from the sea, rain from the sky and water from the rising river if the levees fail." AP: New Orleans' levees face a hard test as storm bears down.

+ The New Orleans mayor has asked residents to shelter in place as Barry makes its way to shore. Here's the latest from CNN.


Impeach Fuzz

Nancy Pelosi faces a historic decision. To impeach or not to impeach. There's a lot of yelling on both sides of the debate. In The New Yorker, Sean Wilentz provides a framework for thinking about the choice. Nancy Pelosi, Impeachment, and Places in History.


I Am Woman Hear Me Roar

"Unless you're a Lion King superfan, it's a pretty good bet that you can't remember the name of Simba's mom. All the male lions have central and memorable roles in the film: Simba, the main character destined to become king. Mufasa, his father, who dies when Simba's uncle, the black-maned Scar, plots to take his throne. But Simba's mother? What was her name again?" NatGeo: In real life, Simba's mom would be running the pride.


Jiminy Cricket

"When do more than a billion people tune in to a sports match of middling tournament importance? When India plays Pakistan in the men's Cricket World Cup. Cricket is closer to a religion than a sport in swaths of South Asia, and face-offs between these bitter neighbors are often more like a geopolitical event than a game." Cricket is huge. Really huge. Check out these numbers from Quartz.


Feel Good Friday

"With no protective covering and facing a roughly 188-foot drop into a roiling pool of water filled with large rocks, history suggested the man's survival was unlikely. Scores have died taking the plunge either by accident or, in most cases, intentionally." WaPo: A man was swept over the largest waterfall at Niagara Falls, police say. He survived.

+ India lifted 271 million people out of poverty in 10 years.

+ Scientists have come up with what they say is a way to spot bridges at risk of collapsing that other methods might miss — and none too soon.

+ This Cornhole highlight is legitimately thrilling (at least by cornhole standards...)

+ "Plenty of people, even when they are at their fastest, never come close to running 400 meters in less than a minute. Allie has been breaking one minute since he was a child. Now, he beats his competitors — the other fastest men in the world who are his age — by 30 or 40 meters." NYT: The World's Fastest (Old) Man.

+ University of Texas-Austin Promises Free Tuition For Low-Income Students In 2020.

+ SF Chronicle: Giants announcer Mike Krukow leans on his service dog, Patriot, for support. (Krukow is a gift.)

+ When Natural Disasters Strike, Operation BBQ Swoops In With Relief — And Ribs.

+ "If you venture too far out of your depth it helps to have an Olympic swimmer nearby."

+ And one last look at the Women's Soccer ticker tape parade.