Friday, September 6th, 2019


Sharpie Brain

Many years ago, shortly after we had repainted our home's interior and installed a few, new pieces of white furniture, my two-year old daughter came downstairs with nearly every inch of her body covered in black Sharpie. Our immediate panic was quickly justified as my wife and I went from room to room to survey the damage. As I processed the toddler-graffitied scene, I muttered many words to describe my daughter's behavior. None of those words was Presidential. Of course, at that time I had no idea of how that job (or the job of amateur TV meteorologist) would evolve. While the use of a Sharpie, the clinging to a wildly false weather report about Alabama, and the Category Five twitter insanity that followed have provided a few new twists, this week's hurricane of false information had a familiar target: The media. And, amazingly, the attacks, no matter how ridiculous, continue to be effective. The New Yorker's John Cassidy on this week's presidential obsession. Sharpiegate and Donald Trump's Perpetual Cone of Uncertainty. "Even if we accept that alarming Alabama residents about Hurricane Dorian's path was one of Trump's lesser sins, in the scheme of things, Trump's angry reaction to being called out on it highlighted something more consequential: the extent to which the President's attacks on the press have expanded and intensified ... In a Hill-Harris survey released in July, pollsters asked, 'Which comes closer to your point of view: The news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?' Fifty-one per cent of Republican respondents chose the first wording." (It turns out that using a toothbrush and toothpaste is a pretty good way to erase Sharpie marks from walls and furniture. Sadly, it's not going to be so easy to clean up this other mess.)


Iran Fist

"Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for war against the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Will Trump finally deliver?" In the NYT Magazine, Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti provide a very interesting overview of America's recent history with Iran. The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: A couple years after a GM factory closed in Dayton, a Chinese auto glass manufacturer bought the plant and started hiring back hundreds of the employees to work alongside their Chinese counterparts. Among other things, the move made for an excellent documentary. Don't miss American Factory on Netflix.

+ What to Hear: The versatile Maren Morris and the otherworldly talent of Brandi Carlile have both been featured in this section. Now the two NextDraft-approved artists are part of an all-star band called the Highwomen (Full disclosure: On occasion, I've been described as a high man). Check out the new album on Spotify or Apple Music.

+ What to Book: Here's an idea that could help you out in our always-on, 24-7 world. Take a day off from tech. It's a simple, yet powerful, strategy. And it's examined with the wit and grace you'd expect from Tiffany Shlain in her new book, 24/6. "The practice, which she's done for nearly a decade with her husband and kids (sixteen and ten), has completely changed their lives, giving them more time, productivity, connection, and presence. She and her family call it 'Technology Shabbat.'" (My family has done this with hers, and it was excellent. Rumors that I tweeted from the bathroom are entirely unfounded...)


Populism Arrabiata

"More than any other politician in the world today, he has been testing the relationship between clicks and consensus—whether slow-moving institutions in Italy and Europe, to say nothing of rival political parties, can withstand the use of lightning-fast, reactive social media." The Atlantic on Matteo Salvini and The New Populist Playbook.


Learning Man

"He climbed the stairs to the top of a contraption that had been constructed just days before, in a city with no building codes. Heavy metal was blaring. Mr. Romer was trussed into place. A guy with "PEE HERE" painted on his back took his glasses. And then someone gave him a push." A Nobel-Winning Economist Goes to Burning Man. "Amid the desert orgies, Paul Romer investigates a provocative question: Is this bacchanal a model of urban planning?" (If Romer can work orgies into the future of cities, he should get another Nobel...)


Refugee Clamp

Any of the options currently being considered "would all but end the United States' status as one of the leading places accepting refugees from around the world." NYT: Trump Administration Considers a Drastic Cut in Refugees Allowed to Enter the US.


Dorian Update

"The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering." So said Bahamian health minister Duane Sands as rescuers finally get to the hardest hit areas. Meanwhile, the slow moving Dorian is headed up the east coast. Here's the latest from The Guardian and CNN.

+ Here are some photos of the wreckage left by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.


XOXO X’s and O’s

My ethics-driven boycott of the NFL last about two and half minutes into the 2019 season (a personal record for me). Apparently I wasn't alone in my failure to avoid pro football. Variety: NFL Season Opener Up 14% on 2018. (And it was a really boring game.)


WeWorking It

"We're worth $47 billion." But you rent space at a loss and you're losing money on a real estate play in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom? "OK, how about $20 billion?" Vox: WeWork might be worth just half of its former $47 billion valuation. (I predict that WeWork will be less profitable than the inevitable tell-all book about WeWork.)


Feel Good Friday

"Matthew Shifrin first discovered Legos when he thrust his hands deep inside a crate crammed full of the tiny brick toys. His babysitter, Lilya Finkel, had spotted the discarded box on the side of the road and helped Shifrin, who is blind, haul it inside the car. She believed he would learn to enjoy them just as much as sighted children did. Shifrin, who was 5 at the time, said the thrilling crate launched a lifelong devotion." WaPo: Lego just released audio and Braille instructions. They did it because of a blind man who never gave up.

+ Anonymous man spends thousands on 100 generators to send to hurricane victims in Bahamas.

+ 6-year-old uses money saved for Disney trip to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees.

+ WaPo: A boy held his crying classmate's hand on the first day of school. A photo of the moment has gone viral.

+ Oregon woman turns school buses into tiny homes for working homeless families.

+ Student honored at Connor High School for stopping alleged kidnapping in parking lot.

+ Forget what you may have been told. New study says strangers step in to help 90 percent of the time.

+ If you drop your phone on a roller coaster, you don't expect it to be caught midair. But this is Feel Good Friday.