Monday, August 12th, 2019


Words Fail

Sorry to disappear last week. I pinched a nerve in my neck. (Long story short, I went outdoors.) Delivery will be sporadic this week, but normal soon.

Will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time, or will leaders sit passively back as the invasion continues? ... The objective is to dilute and eventually eliminate or erase what is known as the distinct or unique American culture. This is why people call this an invasion ... You can shoot invaders. Who made these statements? You'd be forgiven for assuming they came from the El Paso shooter's manifesto. But they actually came from some of the biggest names in media. The NYT tracks the poison to its source: How the El Paso Killer Echoed the Incendiary Words of Conservative Media Stars. (Don't believe the old sticks and stones adage. Words can hurt you plenty.)

+ I did my college senior thesis on the novel Beloved. Toni Morrison was a literary genius. It's a shame she had to see America take this turn in her final years. But it's a turn she saw coming. Now more than ever, Toni Morrison, who died last week, will be missed. And now more than ever, she should be read. From Morrison in 2016 in The New Yorker: Making America White Again. "So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble."

+ David Remnick: What Toni Morrison Understood About Hate. "Oppressive language does more than represent violence. It is violence."


Suicide, Watch

"We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation." William Barr said he was "appalled" and "angry" that Jeffery Epstein was not adequately watched. CNN: Barr cites 'failure' at NYC jail that held Epstein, says 'co-conspirators' should not rest easy.

+ "As a tale of corruption, it is so deeply intertwined with our current cultural and political rot that it feels, at times, almost too on-the-nose. The Epstein saga provides ammunition for everyone, leading one researcher to refer to Saturday's news as the Disinformation World Cup." Charlie Warzel in the NYT: Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System Is Poisoned.

+ And, of course, if this is the Disinformation World Cup, we could be sure the Disinformer in Chief would chime in. And he did, retweeting a conspiracy theory that accused the Clintons of murdering Jeffrey Epstein. Just another day in the swirling, bottomless pit of normalized abnormalities. David Frum: The Shame and Disgrace Will Linger.


Let the Huddled Masses Eat Cake

"The Trump administration is moving forward with regulations that are expected to dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration system by denying green cards and visas to immigrants who use — or are expected to use — a wide range of federal, state and local government benefits, including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid." NPR: Trump Administration Rule Would Penalize Immigrants For Needing Benefits.

+ "For Ermelia and the roughly 680 others arrested last week at seven chicken plants across central Mississippi, the trouble is just beginning. They don't just have to fight to stay in the country. They also need to figure out how to afford rent, bills, and groceries for their families while they wait for their cases to be completed. That could take months or even years." Vice: The ICE Raids in Mississippi Have Made Life Nearly Impossible for Families.

+ Vox: Border chief explains why there have been no ICE raids at Trump properties. "There are investigations going on all the time that you're unaware of..." (If I didn't already have an injured neck, I would have gotten one shaking my head at this nonsense...)


Fixed Fees

"It's never been easier for consumers to move their money around, to pay for everything — from groceries to movie tickets to hotel rooms — either online or in person with little to no thought about what makes that possible. But these massive profit figures raise some questions: Why on earth are credit cards making so much money? Are the services they provide worth tens of billions? And why aren't debit cards, which function almost identically to credit cards, equally profitable?" The Week: Why are we all paying a tax to credit card companies? (It's not the interest. It's the fees.)

+ Canada must be pretty terrible. Chase wants to get out of there so bad the company announced it would wipe all remaining credit balances off the books. CBC: Chase Bank forgiving all debt owed by its Canadian credit card customers.


Joel Stein’s Poof Piece

"It isn't going to be easy. I use Google, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, Uber, Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. I have two Amazon Echos, a Google Home, an iPhone, a MacBook Air, a Nest thermostat, a Fitbit, and a Roku. I shared the secrets of my genetic makeup by spitting in one vial for 23andMe, another for an ancestry site affiliated with National Geographic, and a third to test my athletic potential. A few months ago, I was leaving my house in Los Angeles for a hike when I heard my Ring speaker say, 'Where are you going, Joel?' in my wife's voice. She was at a pottery class, but the smart doorbell sent her an alert when it detected me heading outside." Joel Stein, in other words, is as connected as many of us are. So what would happen if he tried to hide? Bloomberg: I Tried Hiding From Silicon Valley in a Pile of Privacy Gadgets. (In a weird twist, I have pretty easy access to Joel, so if any of you big tech companies are looking for him, hit me up.)


Airport in the Storm

"Thousands of demonstrators, wearing black clothing and carrying posters denouncing the police, filled the arrival and departure halls of Hong Kong International Airport on Monday, prompting the cancellation of more than 100 flights at one of the world's busiest transportation hubs ... China condemned the protests as 'signs of terrorism.'" NPR: Thousands Of Protesters Storm Hong Kong Airport.


Pharm to Enable

"The family-run pharmacy purchased nearly 6.8 million pills that contained hydrocodone and oxycodone from 2006 through 2012 — enough to give 96 pills each year to every person in the county of roughly 10,000 residents." WaPo: As overdoses soared, nearly 35 billion opioids — half of distributed pills — handled by 15 percent of pharmacies. (We need to expand the definition of the phrase drug dealer...)


Show Me the Money, Sonny

"The Aspen Institute found that travel is now the costliest element of youth sports and that on average across all sports, parents spent $196 per sport and per child annually to travel. Thanks to travel teams, youth sports is now an estimated $17 billion industry." As youth sports become a bigger business, fewer kids are participating. ESPN: Kids aren't playing enough sports. The culprit? Cost.


Bringing a Joystick to a Gun Fight

"Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's youngest Prime Minister ever, spearheaded the legislation that banned semi-automatic firearms. All of the guns that have been surrendered in New Zealand are being destroyed, and anyone with an illegal gun in the country has five more months to hand them in and receive compensation." Over 10,000 Guns Handed Over in New Zealand Buyback Program.

+ But don't think America isn't taking decisive action. Following two shootings inside its stores, Walmart is removing violent video game displays and signs from stores. (How about just making those displays bullet proof so customers have something to hide behind...)


Bottom of The News

"Mud is a family business; it has been for more than half a century. For decades, baseball's official rule book has required that every ball be rubbed before being used in a game. Bintliff's mud is the only substance allowed." SI: Mud Maker: The Man Behind MLB's Essential Secret Sauce.

+ Gray Chapman in Vox: Wellness has come for your pets. "The $636 million pet supplement industry is fueled by the greatest suckers of all: millennial dog owners, like me." (My two beagles have always seemed perfectly satisfied with their contact high.)

+ Simone Biles went full Simone Biles over the weekend.

+ The Atlantic: Twinfluencers are Taking Over the Internet. (At this point, I say let them them have it.)

+ As I mentioned above, I've been out with a pinched nerve in my neck following my ridiculous decision to do something outdoorsy. I'll be out getting an MRI tomorrow. Delivery will slowly return to normal from Wednesday on.