Thursday, August 22nd, 2019


With Friends Like These…

Maybe we're nostalgic for simpler times. Maybe we want to share our old favorites with our kids. Maybe we're multitasking on several screens, so having something familiar that we can focus in and out of makes total sense. We have instant access to an endless supply of new, high quality TV shows, yet we seem to be spending all our time watching re-runs of old shows. The Guardian: The age of comfort TV: why people are secretly watching Friends and The Office on a loop. "It seems that, in this time of unprecedented choice and quality, the so-called golden age of prestige television, most of us still want to watch half-hour shows about vaguely likable people in which everything turns out OK. Ideally from the 90s, but maybe the 00s. And preferably something that we have seen many, many times before. Welcome to the age of non-event TV."

+ Vox: In defense of reading the same book over and over again.



"With the advent of widespread consumer DNA testing, instances in which fertility specialists decades ago secretly used their own sperm for artificial insemination have begun to surface with some regularity. Three states have now passed laws criminalizing this conduct, including Texas, which now defines it as a form of sexual assault." NYT: Their Mothers Chose Donor Sperm. The Doctors Used Their Own. (The more we learn about people, the worse they seem...)


The World Is Coughing Up a Lung

"Asked this week about the surging fires in the world's most precious forest — the area scorched has more than doubled in the past two years — he accused nongovernment organizations of setting them, to 'call attention' against his government." That all-too familiar conspiracy-minded pack of lies comes courtesy of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. WaPo: The Amazon is burning. Bolsonaro says his critics are setting the fires, to make him look bad. "The Amazon forest serves as the lungs of the planet, taking in carbon dioxide, storing it in soils and producing oxygen. Scientists agree that it is one of the world's great defenses against climate change." (Poor leadership is destroying the world. Literally.)

+ "Tropical rainforests are some of the wettest ecosystems on earth, so how did the largest one—the Amazon—catch fire?" Vice The Amazon Wildfires Aren't Natural. Blame Humans.

+ Vox: Wildfires are burning around the world. The most alarming is in the Amazon rainforest.

+ Tired of worrying about fires? This will take your mind off of the subject. NYT: A Giant Volcano Could End Human Life on Earth as We Know It.


Blind Sided

"Steve jumped away from me, his eyes wide with fear and surprise. It was an expression unlike anything I'd seen cross my husband's face before — because, I belatedly realized, this man was not my husband." WaPo: My Life With Face Blindness. "This diagnosis would make me question all the stories I've ever told about myself, the very fabric of my identity. It felt like I'd bought a ticket for a Ferris wheel and ended up being launched into space." (Browsing the daily news produces a similar sensation.)


UAE, and Sometimes Why

"Analysts see the UAE's move as a signal to the Saudi Crown Prince: it's time to wind down this war. Ayham Kamal at the Eurasia Group says the UAE may be 'trying to incentivize the Saudis to give more serious consideration to disengagement' with no military victory on the horizon." CNN's Tim Lister provides an interesting overview of the disastrous state of the war in Yemen and the cracks appearing in the Mideast's most important alliance. (And what it all means for US efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran.)


Taking Off the Kid Gloves

"When dealing with children, the most vulnerable immigrants to enter federal custody, the government must provide certain, baseline protections, including access to food and medical care; it must also promise to detain them for the shortest possible amount of time, in the 'least restrictive' settings." At least that was the law until now. The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer on the latest move in The Trump Administration's Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children.


Chasing Money and Catching Hell

AP: "Two prominent researchers are quitting MIT's Media Lab over revelations that the famed technology research hub and its director took money from Jeffrey Epstein after he'd served time for sex offenses involving girls and young women." Here's one of the researchers, Ethan Zuckerman, in his own words: On me, and the Media Lab. (Full disclosure: I have friends at the Media Lab from whom I've learned a lot about media and how messaging spreads. This situation a disappointment for them I'm sure. I'm guessing we'll see similar fallout at other orgs.)


Qantas Leap

"The trial flights will begin later this year, each carrying up to 40 passengers who will have their health monitored on the journey." Think you could deal with a 19-hour nonstop flight? Qantas is flying some passengers on test runs to see how they hold up. (19 hours doesn't sound that long. If you include delays, that's about the average time it takes me to get from SFO to LAX on United.)


Press Con

"Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has joined the Fox News Channel as a paid, on-air contributor, the network said on Thursday." (She won't even have to change her business cards.) Meanwhile, her predecessor, Sean Spicer, has been signed to appear on Dancing With the Stars. (Finally, I get to boycott something I don't watch anyway...)


Bottom of the News

The news singularity occurs when we can no longer decipher real headlines from those in The Onion. Today's example: Trump's fake accent angers Asian Americans as they veer left.

+ We all know the ball is juiced like crazy this year. But a bunted home run?

+ Carli Lloyd drilling a 55-yard field goal.

+ Bloomberg: Top Chefs Pick Their Favorite Ice Cream in America. This list includes Mr. Softee dipped in sprinkles. (There's nothing I like more than frozen chemicals on a hot summer day...)