Wednesday, August 14th, 2019


Ground Hogs

"Fear sells even better than sex. If you can make people afraid, you can sell them all kinds of stuff ... and that includes bunkers." Will it be climate change? It could be a cyber attack. Maybe it will be terrorism or civil unrest related to the widening inequality gap (or even an inverted yield curve). Whatever it is, people are getting (shovel) ready for it. The NYT on how to make money off of America's growing bunker mentality. A Boom Time for the Bunker Business and Doomsday Capitalists. (And I thought my above-ground house was a money pit...)

+ Bulletproof Coffee Talk: "Retailers across the country say they have seen growing demand for bullet-resistant products for children — as well as for doctors, teachers, flight attendants and taxi drivers — giving rise to an industry of ballistic goods for everyday Americans, though there is little evidence the products are actually effective." WaPo: Covered in princesses — and bulletproof: Inside the booming business of everyday ballistic gear.


Yield of Reams

"There have been five inversions of the 2-year and 10-year yields since 1978 and all were precursors to a recession, but there is a significant lag, according to data from Credit Suisse. A recession occurred, on average, 22 months after the inversion." (Or why you heard so much screaming when people checked their portfolios this morning.) CNBC: Main yield curve inverts as 2-year yield tops 10-year rate, triggering recession warning.

+ Bloomberg: "If you're wondering what a yield curve is and why there's so much fretting on both sides of the Atlantic over its changing shape, you're not alone. This year, Google searches for 'yield curve inversion' shot up to their highest level ever. Here's what the fuss is about." The Yield Curve Is Inverted! Remind Me Why I Care. (It's amazing that we've seen a triple-double and an inverted yield curve in the same week...)


Owning the (Statue of) Lib

"Tuesday brings the total number of jobs lost in Morton to over 450, meaning that more than 10 percent of the population of this tiny Mississippi city has been either fired or imprisoned in the past seven days." Slate: The ICE raids devastated the immigrant community in Morton, Mississippi. Then came a mass firing.

+ From AP: "A top Trump administration official says the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty, welcoming 'huddled masses' of immigrants to American shores, was referring to 'people coming from Europe' and that the nation is looking to receive migrants 'who can stand on their own two feet.'" (Long story short, you can only legally immigrate to the US if your initial visit includes a stay at Mar-a-Lago.)


Look Back in Anger

"I used to feel alone, walking into his mansion with the cameras pointing at me, but now I have the power of the law on my side. I will be seen. I will be heard. I will demand justice." Jennifer Araoz in the NYT: Jeffrey Epstein Raped Me When I Was 15. Now I'm suing his estate and accomplices.

+ NYT: A new law has created a 'look-back window,' during which claims that had passed the statute of limitations can be revived. He Says a Priest Abused Him. 50 Years Later, He Can Now Sue.


Google Glass Houses

"In a larger sense, Google found itself and its culture deeply maladapted to a new set of political, social, and business imperatives. To invent products like Gmail, Earth, and Translate, you need coddled geniuses free to let their minds run wild. But to lock down lucrative government contracts or expand into coveted foreign markets, as Google increasingly needed to do, you need to be able to issue orders and give clients what they want." Nitasha Tiku with a Wired cover story. Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech.


Present, Tense

"In the past century, the Earth has warmed 1 degree Celsius. But that's just an average. Some parts of the globe — including the mountains of Romania and the steppes of Mongolia — have registered increases twice as large. It has taken decades or in some cases a century. But for huge swaths of the planet, climate change is a present-tense reality, not one looming ominously in the distant future." One of those places is New Jersey. And it's coming to a town near you. A very interesting look at the state of climate change from WaPo: Extreme climate change has arrived in America.

+ "The fines in Pakistan will also be steep — $31 for using a single bag, $63 for selling one and up to $31,000 for manufacturing them." WaPo: Pakistan moves to ban single-use plastic bags: The health of 200 million people is at stake.


The Truth Hurts

"Hathloul's siblings allege that Saud al-Qahtani, at the time a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has also been implicated in Khashoggi's murder, was present during some of the torture sessions and threatened to rape and kill her." The Guardian: Jailed Saudi feminist refuses to deny torture to secure release.


Doctor Fill

"How could a young American with no medical training even contemplate caring for critically ill children in a foreign country? To understand, it helps to know that the place where Bach set up her operation — the city of Jinja — had already become a hub of American volunteerism by the time she arrived." NPR: An American With No Medical Training Ran Center For Malnourished Ugandan Kids. 105 Died.

+ LA Times: He went to jail as a fake doctor. Now he's a real one: The saga of Adam Litwin, MD.


Vinyl Record Setting

"Each of Jack's toys has a pair of large, vacant black eyes, a square head, and a disproportionately small body. They are Pop Vinyl figurines, created by the 20-year-old company Funko Inc., based in Washington state, and launched in 2011. Known to fans simply as 'Funko Pops,' each toy is based on a pop culture character, and according to the official Funko App, there are now 8,366 different figures." Vox: How aggressively cute toys for adults became a $686 million business. (These are so stupid, and I really want a bunch of them.)


Bottom of The News

"Like the character he became famous for, Cazale had a knack for getting passed over. He made only five films, but each was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Cazale never got a nomination. He died, from cancer, in 1978, at the age of forty-two, with his girlfriend, Meryl Streep, at his bedside. If there's any solace in seeing Fredo become a political slingshot ball, it's that Cazale's portrayal is indelible enough to merit the attention. More than four decades later, Fredo's still not getting any respect, but at least he's getting noticed." The New Yorker: Respect for Fredo, a Character Who Is So Much More Than a Political Insult. (Cazale's resume: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.)

+ Ohio State seeks to trademark the word "The." (I'm gonna trademark, What the? so I'll have an proprietary response if they get this.)

+ How crazy is gerrymandering that has plagued so many states? There's now a Gerrymandered Font.