Tuesday, September 10th, 2019


Nuts and Bolton

During the campaign, Donald Trump famously boasted, "I alone can fix it." The way he's churning through administration employees, he might actually have to fix it by himself. The latest participant to be voted off the island is National Security Advisor Number 3, John Bolton. NPR: Trump Fires John Bolton In Final Break After Months Of Internal Policy Division. (In the end, the only remaining White House employee will be the cable guy.)

+ "Focusing on the specific conflicts between Bolton and Trump misses the point. The problem is not that Trump doesn't get along with his national security adviser; it's that he doesn't want one in the first place." The Atlantic: The White House's Impossible Job.

+ Since they disagreed on most things, it probably makes sense that Trump and Bolton are offering conflicting accounts of the split. Trump says he fired Bolton. Bolton says he quit. (We may not know the truth until someone pulls out a Sharpie.)


Steam Punked

"The cases represent a small percentage of the vaping population, but the severity of the illness—which looks like viral or bacterial pneumonia, but isn't—has investigators worried." Vice: Six People Have Died from Lung Illnesses Linked to Vaping. Should You Quit? (We're inhaling mysterious burning chemicals into our lungs, so I'm guessing the answer is a definite maybe...)


Uncle Sam Wants You (To Stay Home)

"And so it went, as Americans kept finding that the new kind of immigrant was, oddly enough, always the wrong kind." The New York Review of Books with an interesting look at a pretty consistent storyline. American Immigration: A Century of Racism.


Care Free

"Solid gains in household incomes over the past four years have returned the median only to where it was two decades ago. And despite strong growth last year in the number of Americans working full time and year-round, the number of people with private health insurance remained flat ... One bright spot in the report was that the poverty rate fell for a fourth straight year to 11.8%, its lowest point since 2001. The proportion of households led by women that were poor fell to a record low." AP: Share of uninsured Americans rises for 1st time in a decade.


Shit Doesn’t Just Happen

"Scientists are cautious, trying to navigate a sea of low-quality studies. Why do some probiotics work while others have no effect? How are they affecting the microbiome? And how can we understand them better? Holding the tiny probiotic drink in my hand and studying the murky liquid inside, I had those same questions. And an even more pressing one: Should I drink it?" Poo transplants and hangover cures: Inside the murky world of probiotics.

+ "The eyeshade is fitted with pulsing LEDs that blast white light through your closed eyelids. The headphones pump out binaural beats. The whole experience begins as sensory overload, but, for some at least, it eases into a profoundly relaxing, mentally rejuvenating experience. (If you talk to the folks at Upgrade Labs for any amount of time, you'll likely hear the story of a person who emerged from the pod in tears, claiming to have encountered God.)" LA Magazine: A Santa Monica Tech Startup Has 'Hacked' Meditation. (Om, Om, Omg...)

+ Looking for something a little more low tech? Study finds hula can ‘significantly' reduce risk for heart disease.


La La Land Grab

"Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other areas and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning. But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use." WaPo: Trump pushing for major crackdown on homeless camps in California.


University Slicker

I know this is going to shock you. So you might want to sit down. Jerry Falwell Jr's operation at Liberty University isn't entirely on the up and up. Brandon Ambrosino in Politico Magazine: 'Someone's Gotta Tell the Freakin' Truth': Jerry Falwell's Aides Break Their Silence.

+ Or, the shorter version from The Onion: Liberty University Board Concerned Falwell's Corruption Risks Undercutting College's Mission Of Subjugating Women And Gay People.


The Fast and the Spurious

"By calculating how much information every syllable in a language conveys, it's possible to compare the 'efficiency' of different languages. And a study published today in Science Advances found that more efficient languages tend to be spoken more slowly. In other words, no matter how quickly speakers chatter, the rate of information they're transmitting is roughly the same across languages." The Atlantic: A Rare Universal Pattern in Human Languages.

+ If you speak a slow-ish language quickly, that still works.


Apple Goes to 11

Apple announced a bunch of new things on Tuesday, including upgraded iPads, updated watches, details about their TV service, and the much-anticipated, camera-centric iPhone 11 (thousands of employees have spent millions of hours to compensate for the fact that you can't take a decent photo.) There's even an iPhone Pro (because no one wants to be the guy who walks into a Bay Area cafe toting an amateur iPhone...) Here's a rundown of the good stuff from the Apple event.


Bottom of the News

"There are more than 1,400 self-driving vehicles being tested in 36 states and the District. Some are delivering groceries. Others can be called like a taxi. The industry has been saying a techno-utopia is just around the corner, a transportation revolution that will make society better. But how close is that, really?" WaPo invites you to take a ride in an autonomous vehicle from the safety of your own screen.

+ The Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalists.

+ Ryuichi Nagayama, 86, says: "You tackle and battle each other but the gathering after the play is so enjoyable and fun." The Tokyo rugby club keeping elderly players healthy.