Friday, August 16th, 2019


Fowl Play

"By the early 1970s, a job at a meatpacking plant offered stable employment, high wages, good benefits, and the promise of a middle-class life. When I visited meatpacking communities in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington State almost 20 years ago, those gains had been lost ... What Trump has described as an immigrant 'invasion' was actually a corporate recruitment drive for poor, vulnerable, undocumented, often desperate workers." Eric Schlosser with an excellent look at the decades of policies and union-busting efforts that brought us to the ICE raids on seven poultry plants in Mississippi. The immigrants who were working those difficult, low-paying, thankless jobs didn't invade. They were recruited. Why It's Immigrants Who Pack Your Meat.


Opening the Floodgate

"On the night of Aug. 15, 2014, Zoë Quinn was out having a drink with some friends in San Francisco when her phone began to blow up with messages. Something was exploding on the internet — a strange, incoherent maelstrom of outrage that would take over her life. Ms. Quinn, a 27-year-old video game developer, lived in Boston and was in San Francisco only to visit, but the visit turned into exile. 'I never went home from San Francisco,' she told me." In many ways, the social promise of the internet hasn't come home either. Many of the internet's creators hoped it would open pathways for communication and bring people together in new ways. It did those things. Just not in the way we imagined. To understand how the silos of hate and bile bubbled over and oozed across the net, you have to look back at GamerGate. The NYT does just that in a multipart piece. Everything is Gamergate.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: "Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned nineteen, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show - already regarded as the 'the leading light' of the burgeoning white nationalist movement ... Then he went to college." Some weeks I can't wait until Friday so I can recommend a book. This was one of those weeks. Eli Saslow's Rising Out of Hatred "tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe." When it comes to the rise and spread of White Nationalism, this is one of the most informative stories you'll read. But it's not an academic read. It's a highly personal and riveting story of young man right in the middle of a movement now at the forefront of the news. It's also a reminder that you don't fight division with division. You fight division with unity.

+ What to Watch: The Boys on Amazon "is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good."

+ What to Read: "In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed." A project of amazing scope and importance. NYT Magazine: The 1619 Project.


An Unappeeling Story

"Some farmers in Colombia, where García-Bastidas grew up, sent him photos of their banana plants two months ago. The plants were turning yellow and wilting, as if they didn't have water. García-Bastidas recognized the symptoms. He'd seen them before, in devastated banana plantations in the Philippines. These are the effects of a fungus called Fusarium. But the implications were devastating, and García-Bastidas hoped he was wrong." NPR: A Devastating Banana Fungus Arrives In Colombia, Threatening The Fruit's Future. "Colombian authorities have declared a national emergency and launched efforts to contain the fungus. Banana growers are destroying all banana plants anywhere near a plant that shows symptoms. They may be too late, though."


I Know What You Did Last Summer Camp

"The vulnerabilities are manifold, the defenses inadequate. As more devices are connected to the Internet and the attack surface expands, those vulnerabilities will not only multiply—they will be unmatched by the number of people trained to mitigate them. As Jon Oltsik, a cybersecurity analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, wrote in a January blog post, 'The cybersecurity skills shortage represents an existential threat to all of us.'" In other words, we need to start some cybersecurity summer camps. Sue Halpern in The New Yorker: A Summer Camp for the Next Generation of NSA Agents. (At this point, I could probably get my kids to agree to go to any camp that had WiFi...)


Helena Handbasket

"The problem isn't a lack of demand; Montana is cursed with the highest suicide rate in the nation, and it's higher in this predominantly rural part of the state than in any other region. During the rare times when the unit is up and running, the supply of incoming patients is predictably, and sometimes frantically, consistent. The problem here is staffing. Administrators can't find anyone to run the place." Bloomberg: The State With the Highest Suicide Rate Desperately Needs Shrinks.


Greenland Ho

A BBC headline that does a pretty decent job of capturing this American moment in time: Greenland: Trump warned that island cannot be bought from Denmark. (The buying Greenland story is meant to distract you from the fact that Greenland melted like two weeks ago.)


Steam Pressure

"Doctors tell NBC News that most patients are otherwise healthy teenagers or young adults who come to the hospital with symptoms of a bad respiratory infection: shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and coughing. Their symptoms quickly become worse, and many need to go on ventilators." Cases of vaping-linked breathing problems now reported in 8 states.


Boxer Shorts

"I suffer from depression too, and at one point I wanted to quit Amazon ... But I realized it was my fault for the problems I was dealing with, and not Amazon's. I'm allowed to talk to people, but sometimes I don't want to. Now I have some great coworkers to pass the nights with." NYT: Amazon Uses a Twitter Army of Employees to Fight Criticism of Warehouses.


Feel Good Friday

"The kids are out of school. One is on a swing hanging from the living room ceiling, another needs his diaper changed and the other two are begging for screen time. Contractors are drilling and pounding in an adjacent room to create an office space just off the parents' bedroom so they can have a little privacy. Papers, ideas, designs, kid artwork and all sorts of detritus are strewn throughout Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson's workspace. There are deadlines and family commitments to meet, child care to arrange, speaking engagements to plan, ideas to create and, oh yeah, a summer as commercial salmon fishermen in Alaska to plan for." The excellent Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson make me feel good every time I see them. Now I can share the feeling. A cool article on a cool couple with some cool lives. (Not in the Oh look at our perfect life on Facebook sense.But in the, Honey, one of our kids seems to be upside down sense.) WaPo: They left their corporate jobs to write kids' books in a barn. But a fairy-tale life is hard work.

+ Former child refugee reunited with aid worker who gave her a bike.

+ Separated by the foster care system, a camp in the Colorado mountains is reuniting siblings.

+ Japan's 9-Year-Old Drumming Prodigy Never Misses a Beat.

+ NPR: Retiring FBI Special Agent Reunited With Infant He Rescued 22 Years Ago.

+ Bloomberg: Entire West Coast Goes Cage-Free on Eggs as Oregon Signs On. (If we can go cage-free for eggs, we should be able to do the same for immigrants...)

+ Buzzfeed: 22 Interactions between animals that'll make you believe there's good in the world.

+ It's a miracle: Woman survives fall from plane after parachute fails. (Editor's note: Don't jump out of planes...)

+ Man saves N.J. family of 4 from savage wolf attack in Canada. (Editor's note: Don't sleep outdoors...)

+ (Editor's note: Just don't...)