Tuesday, August 20th, 2019


Don’t Fear the Reaper

"The medical writer Galen argued back in the second century AD that aging is a natural process. His view, the acceptance that one can die simply of old age, has dominated ever since. We think of aging as the accumulation of all the other conditions that get more common as we get older—cancer, dementia, physical frailty. All that tells us, though, is that we're going to sicken and die; it doesn't give us a way to change it." MIT Tech Review on a controversial idea that could completely change the way we treat getting old. What if aging weren't inevitable, but a curable disease? (This gives me new hope that I still have time to get through my Netflix queue.)


Chem Trails

"Tunnels are just one among an arsenal of tricks that have been used to get drugs from A to B, from submarines and carrier pigeons to crates of chili peppers and cocaine-molded tea sets. This innovation is spurred by an unwritten law of the current global drug economy: The better a country is at bolstering its borders and limiting the drug trade, the more interested the most successful traffickers will be. Why? Because better border enforcement means higher risk, and also higher profits." That's how things have worked until now. But we're seeing a rise of illegal (and often, much more dangerous) synthetic drugs that can be purchased on the internet and delivered via the mail. And if that doesn't work, your drug dealer can just whip up a batch for you where ever you are. Vice: Synthetic Drugs Will Change the Global Drug Trade Forever.


Roman Candle

"In an hour-long speech at the Italian Senate on Tuesday afternoon, Conte launched a scathing attack on Salvini, the country's Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, who is thought to be vying for his job." CNN: Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he'll resign, attacks Salvini as irresponsible.

+ WaPo: "Conte's offer to resign could usher in a more moderate coalition government. But it also has the potential to empower Salvini to make his bid to lead the nation further to the right ahead of critical budget talks with the European Union and amid an ongoing stand-off with Europe over Salvini's hardline stance on migration."


Alone With Someone Else’s Thoughts

"With an eerie soundtrack meant to recall Serial, the show examined the 'mystery' of how McDonald's underestimated demand for a popular dipping sauce, enraging thousands of its customers. The twist? The hard-boiled investigator scrutinizing that sauce shortage was McDonald's itself." NYT: Welcome to McDonald's. Would You Like a Podcast With Those Fries? "With podcasts rising in popularity, it's no surprise that companies are producing their own. What's more surprising is that people are actually listening to them." (We never stop bingeing tv shows or listening to podcasts. If I didn't know better, I'd think we were trying to avoid being alone with our own thoughts.)

+ Variety: How Conan O'Brien and Other Top Hosts Are Tapping Into the Podcast Revolution. (I don't have time for podcasts between my dedicated parenting, my diligent work schedule, and the 12 hours a week I spend listening to Howard Stern. BabaBooey!)



If Trump wants to own Greenland, he'll have to get used to denying climate change up close. "Summer this year is hitting Greenland hard with record-shattering heat and extreme melt. By the end of the summer, about 440 billion tons (400 billion metric tons) of ice — maybe more — will have melted or calved off Greenland's giant ice sheet, scientists estimate. That's enough water to flood Pennsylvania or the country of Greece about a foot deep." AP: Earth's future is being written in fast-melting Greenland. (Which shouldn't matter much to someone who doesn't read...)

+ BBC: Why 500 million bees have died in Brazil in three months.


Hong Kong Phooey

"Twitter uncovered more than 900 accounts originating from the People's Republic of China that were 'deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong,' the company said, and an additional network of 200,000 accounts that were part of a broader spam campaign." Recode: How China used Facebook and Twitter to spread disinformation about the Hong Kong protests. (I wonder if this is related to the three or four Chinese voicemails I get a week...)


Gag Reflex

"The regulation from the HHS bars federal family planning money from going to clinics and organizations that offer non-abortion services — such as contraception services, gynecological exams, and cancer screenings — in the same facilities where they perform abortions. (Federal law already prevents any federal funding from paying directly for the abortions themselves.)" Planned Parenthood Will Withdraw From A Federal Funding Program Because Of An Abortion Gag Rule.


Keep on Balking in the Free World

"His ire this afternoon, directed through me and my notebook and my Sony digital recorder, was focused on the engineers of Silicon Valley, against whom he has been zealously waging war for decades. Silicon Valley's emphasis on compression and speed, he believes, comes at the expense of the notes as they were actually played and is doing something bad to music, which is supposed to make us feel good. It is doing something bad to our brains. The same goes for everything else that Silicon Valley produces, of course: the culture of digital everything, which is basically a load of toxic, mind-destroying crap. It's anti-human." NYT Mag: Neil Young's Lonely Quest to Save Music. (Neil hasn't see the needle and the damage done to my vinyl collection.)


There’s Something About Donald

"In your lousy f---ing Instagram, you don't have to have yourself walking with black people," Sterling told Stiviano. "It bothers me a lot that you want to promote, broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" ESPN looks back at when the Donald Sterling saga rocked the NBA -- and changed it forever.


Bottom of the News

"Paper straws are a crummy solution to a problem that need not exist in the first place. Plastic straws might be everything terrible about American consumerism, individually wrapped. But paper straws put the lie to the belief that we can consume our way out of the problems created by consumerism." The Atlantic: The Case Against Paper Straws. (Editor's note: Seriously, you're a grown ass adult. Just drink straight out of the friggin cup...)

+ At long last ... Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" Has Officially Dethroned Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" On The Billboard Hot 100. (Good, because Old Town Road has me feeling a little nas-x-ated.)

+ The world's oldest webcam is shutting down after a quarter of a century.