Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019


Britain’s Hair Apparent

"We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do." As of tomorrow, Boris Johnson's long trek to become the UK's prime minister will be complete. And the latest chapter in the western world's already bizarre reality show will be just beginning. BBC: Boris Johnson wins race to be Tory leader and PM.

+ "This is Boris Johnson the enigma: the American Englishman, born in the New World but raised in the traditions of the old; a genuine intellect wrapped in a veneer of buffoonery; someone who has dismissed Donald Trump as 'clearly out of his mind' and betraying a 'quite stupefying ignorance,' yet remains on friendly terms with the notoriously thin-skinned president; a self-confessed megalomaniac who shies away from confrontation; a disheveled mess who bumbles from one success to the next." Tom McTague in The Atlantic: Boris Johnson Meets His Destiny.

+ Newt Gingrich: "Boris Johnson is the Donald Trump of Britain. Put on your seat belt and prepare for a wild ride ... Think Margaret Thatcher with wild hair." (If this ride gets any wilder, you won't need a seatbelt, you'll need a straitjacket.) And Trump explains that Johnson's popular because he's seen as "Britain's Trump." (So, does that mean Mexico is going to pay for Brexit?) Here's the latest from The Guardian.


Third Party Crasher

Ahead of Robert Mueller's much-anticipated Congressional testimony, the Justice Department lays down some rules for him to follow. WaPo: Justice Department tells Mueller not to answer a wide swath of questions. "It is the Department's longstanding policy not to discuss the conduct of uncharged third-parties." (I wonder to whom they could be referring...)


Yanking the Food Chain

"For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint." So said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue as the administration moves toward changes to the food stamp eligibility rules that would remove 3.1 million Americans from the program. (I may not know much, but I know America's problem is not that those towards the bottom of the economic ladder are getting too good of a deal.)


Crash Test Dummies

"Free men and women on the open road have turned out to be such disastrous drivers that carmakers are developing computers to replace them. When the people of the future look back at our century of auto life, will they regard it as a useful stage of forward motion or as a wrong turn? Is it possible that, a hundred years from now, the age of gassing up and driving will be seen as just a cul-de-sac in transportation history, a trip we never should have taken?" In The New Yorker, Nathan Heller asks: Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake?


Know Enough To Know What You Don’t Know?

"Those who were most opposed to genetically modified foods believed they were the most knowledgeable about this issue, yet scored the lowest on actual tests of scientific knowledge. In other words, those with the least understanding of science had the most science-opposed views, but thought they knew the most. Lest anyone think this is only an American phenomenon, the study was also conducted in France and Germany, with similar results." NYT Upshot: Health Facts Aren't Enough. Should Persuasion Become a Priority?


Esper Diem

"The turmoil atop the Pentagon began when Trump's first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, stepped down last New Year's Eve after a series of policy disputes with Trump. He offered to stay another two months to get a successor in place, but Trump said no." Seven months later, the US finally has a Secretary of Defense. (Seems like a pretty important position.) PBS Newshour: Senate confirms Mark Esper.


Stiff Competition

"'Not that one with the droopy head,' Lo said, pointing to a sperm that looked like a deflated balloon sagging over its string. He rejected a sperm with a thickened midpiece that he described as a 'turtleneck,' and said he also avoids sperm with curlicue tails or an extra tail. Slow pokes and non-swimmers are spurned as well." The NYT takes you inside the selection process that's "like a microscopic Mr. America contest." Tinder for Sperm: Even in the Petri Dish, Looks and Athleticism Are Prized.


Kashmir, Mirror, On The Wall

"With Khan beside him, Trump shared his alleged private conversation with Modi. 'He actually said, 'Would you like to be a mediator or arbiter?' I said, 'Where?' He said, '‘'Kashmir.' Because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long. It's been going on a long —' Khan gently reminded him, 'Seventy years.'" NY Mag: Trump: India Asked Me to Mediate Kashmir Conflict. India: No, We Didn't. (Imran Khan's expression says it all.)


Veg Out

Advocates for the law say that people might buy a veggie burger and be confused, because it is not meat-based. Although the word 'veggie' does seem to offer a clue." Arkansas is set to outlaw calling a veggie burger a veggie burger.

+ FastCo: Arby's is betting $3.9 billion that its customers don't want fake meat.

+ "Deonisy Khlebnikov, 22, and Gatis Lagzdins, 29, ate the still fur-covered dead animals in front of members of the public, including young children, outside a vegan stall in Soho." Pro-meat protesters fined for eating raw squirrels at vegan stall. (I'm not sure raw fur-covered squirrel is the right meal to tempt vegans. Try chicken nuggets next time.)


Bottom of the News

"How an animal lover's hobby of recording himself feeding stray cats exemplifies the glory of the anonymous web." One man, eight years, nearly 20,000 cat videos, and not a single viral hit. (That headline is remarkably similar to the working title of my memoir.)

+ Think you make the best paper airplanes? Think again.

+ Lede of the day: "Hours after telling CBS' Gayle King that he would never leave his own daughter alone with an accused pedophile, R. Kelly's crisis manager announced he is stepping down from his role."