Tuesday, July 16th, 2019


Space Cadets

"Exactly 50 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would land on the Moon and inspire a generation of young people to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians." How's that inspiration holding up a half century later? Well, when today's kids were given their choice of five potential jobs, astronaut came in last. It turns out that most kids want to be a YouTuber when they grow up. (The beauty of it is, you don't even need to grow up to be a YouTuber...)

+ Maybe fewer kids want to be astronauts because a lot of their parents still believe the moon landing was a hoax. From WaPo: 50 years after Apollo, conspiracy theorists are still howling at the moon hoax. "The moon hoax is a classic conspiracy theory — elaborate, oddly durable, requiring the existence of malevolent actors with a secret agenda. The moon-fakers are allegedly so competent they can fool the whole world (but not so competent that they can actually put humans on the moon)."


Air Message

"The decision to end a yearslong civil rights investigation was made by Attorney General William Barr and was announced the day before the five-year anniversary of the deadly encounter, just as the statute of limitations was set to expire. Barr disregarded a recommendation by civil rights prosecutors in Washington who favored filing criminal charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo, siding instead with prosecutors in Brooklyn who said the evidence wasn't sufficient to make a case." AP: "Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that they won't bring criminal charges against a white New York City police officer in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man whose dying words — 'I can't breathe' — became a rallying cry."


Guat Next?

The House is set to condemn Trump's racist comments about four of its members. From Nancy Pelosi: "This is, I hope, one where we will get Republican support. If they can't support condemning the words of the president, well, that's a message in and of itself." From Kevin McCarthy: "I believe this is about ideology; this is about socialism versus freedom." From President Trump: "Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a Racist bone in my body!" (Maybe they're bone spurs?)

+ I tried to make my position on the matter pretty clear yesterday. So did The New Yorker's David Remnick: A Racist in the White House. "What's curious is just how many people have resisted seeing squarely Trump's racism, his shrewd exploitation of animosity, hatred, and division for political advantage. Trump is hardly a man of subtle concealment."

+ "The idea was to outsource part of the American asylum system to Guatemala, despite the fact that many of the Central-American asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border are Guatemalans fleeing poverty, hunger, and violence in their home country." Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker: How Trump's Safe-Third-Country Agreement with Guatemala Fell Apart.

+ ProPublica: A Border Patrol Agent Reveals What It's Really Like to Guard Migrant Children. "Somewhere down the line people just accepted what's going on as normal." (There's a lot of that going around these days...)


Prime Beef

"It's Prime Day. It's high visibility, so we know that our critics — unions and politicians — are going to use it to raise their visibility, and we know from a business perspective, it works to the union's favor because it will also increase their union dues." Some Amazon warehouse employees used Prime Day(s) to protest working conditions, while the company accused them of taking advantage of media attention. The trouble with getting the true scoop on Amazon is that almost every news site you visit is part of their affiliate program. They're in business together. (Meanwhile, Amazon created a fake holiday that's getting you to buy stuff you don't really need for deals that aren't really that good. The mind control thing is proceeding pretty much according to plan…)

+ "Retailers and shippers are working rapidly to shrink, make lighter, and re-use all that extra packaging — and eventually, maybe, get rid of it altogether." Amazon's incredible, vanishing cardboard box. (Steve Martin's investment in cardboard is still looking pretty good.)


Bad PR

"On Monday evening, thousands of demonstrators gathered near Gov. Ricardo Rosselló's mansion. Late in the evening, things took a turn when police in riot gear who had formed a line blocking access to the executive mansion shot pepper spray and tear gas into the crowd." NPR: Puerto Rico Governor Defies Calls To Resign Amid Growing Protests Over Text Chats.


Bran the (Record) Broken

"Thrones broke the record books this year, scoring an astounding 32 nominations — the most ever for a series in a single year. Previously, NYPD Blue, which received 27 nominations in 1994, held that honor." Variety: Emmys 2019 Nominations: HBO Back at the Top, as ‘Game of Thrones' Makes History. Nice to see Fleabag get a few much deserved nods. Here are all the nominees, and some snubs and surprises.


Google News

"Over the past two years, some Google conservatives have grown frustrated with colleagues who bashed a military partnership, revolted against an advisory council with a conservative participant, and broadly pursued a left-leaning agenda supporting diversity and inclusion. Now they're pushing back." Alex Kantrowitz in Buzzfeed: Silicon Valley's Right Wing Is Angry And Punching Back. "How a small group of right-wing tech employees built a back channel straight to the nation's capital." (The divide is everywhere.)


Foul Play

"Bloomberg News estimated in 2014 that 1,750 fans per year are hurt by batted balls at MLB games. Amid debates over how much protection teams should offer spectators, we wanted to find out which areas of stadiums might be the most dangerous, which could help us figure out what could be done to prevent more fan injuries." FiveThirtyEight: We Watched 906 Foul Balls To Find Out Where The Most Dangerous Ones Land. (Every stadium should have protective netting. We got it at Oracle Park, and I noticed it for the first five minutes and that was it.)


Meating of Minds

"In the past year, several prominent restaurant chains have added plant-based burgers, sausages and ground beef to their menus, embracing a growing consumer demand for vegetarian products that simulate the taste and texture of meat. But Arby's is going in the opposite direction." NYT: Arby's Has an Answer to Plant-Based Meat: A Meat-Based Carrot. (Arby's position on plant-based meat reminds me of the time Steve Ballmer said there was no chance the iPhone would get any significant market share.)


Bottom of the News

"This was considered to be more humane, at least compared with earlier methods of punishment, which centered on hanging or exile to British colonies." The Wirecutter: The Torturous History of the Treadmill.

+ This is the fastest F1 pit stop ever.