Friday, September 13th, 2019


Knight Sweats

"At 5-foot-6, Caruana has a lean frame, his legs angular and toned. He also has a packed schedule for the day: a 5-mile run, an hour of tennis, half an hour of basketball and at least an hour of swimming." What's he getting in shape for? A chess tournament. It turns out that competitive chess is a physical challenge and burns a hell of a lot of calories. A company "monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess -- or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis. Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament ... 'Grandmasters sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners.'" ESPN: The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving. (I lose a couple pounds every time I write an edition of NextDraft, but I always assumed that was because the news so often makes me throw up.)


Pundit Happens

Andrew Yang offered families a thousand dollars a month. (For San Franciscans, that could cover almost half of your scooter rental bill.) After decades in politics and a couple presidential runs, Bernie Sanders confirmed that he still doesn't realize that the point of having a microphone is that you don't need to yell. Beto O'Rourke said "Hell yes, we're gonna take your AR-15." (Luckily, I'll still have my F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet.) And moments after the debate happened, pundits swarmed the airwaves to tell voters what it all meant. I'll skip the postgame pseudo-analysis and assume you can judge what you saw for yourself. After all, if Americans are capable of anything, it's following along with several hours of TV. Here are a few highlights from the latest Democratic debate.

+ Ever wonder when we started referring to political positions as Left and Right?


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: "Richard Wright, who lived in Chicago, once wrote that we 'can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as (we) can from a lack of bread.' The men and women in these videos, each of whom has been touched by our criminal justice system, are inching us along to that self-realization. They're asking us to listen, to mourn those they've lost and to celebrate those who have refused to give in. They are asking us, at least for a moment, to stand in their shoes, to see the world through their eyes, to understand what it means to persist in seeking what is right and just." That's Alex Kotlowitz introducing a short-video series from The Marshall Project that presents intimate portraits of Chicagoans who have been touched by the criminal justice system. This is a tremendous piece of story-telling that illuminates two of the key elements missing in American society: Listening and empathy. Absolutely essential viewing. We Are Witnesses: Chicago.

+ What to Pod: The 1619 Project from the NYT was excellent. And so is the companion podcast.

+ What to Hear: The NextDraft-approved band Middle Kids is out with a new album called New Songs For Old Problems. And like their other stuff, it's excellent. You can still catch these guys in small-ish venues. So check 'em out.


Flour Power

"Instead of 'peanut flour,' Aimmune calls the drug Palforzia. It does not promise to give people an ability to eat peanuts—only to potentially protect a person in the case of a small, accidental ingestion. Analysts have put the cost at $4,200 per year. The drug would have to be taken indefinitely." James Hamblin with an interesting look at peanut allergies, the efforts to limit the threat, and the crazy world of drug pricing. How Peanuts Became a $4,200 Drug.


Scotland Yardsale

"A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, on a 2-1 vote, rejected a judge's finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. At issue is the little-known domestic and foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution." AP: Appeals court revives suit against Trump over business ties.

+ The Air Force says it sent crews to Trump's Scottish resort up to 40 times.

+ WaPo: A nonprofit paid to rent Trump's D.C. hotel ballrooms. Its headliners: Pence and Pompeo. (Sensing a trend?)

+ And... Ivanka tells donors she got her moral compass from her dad. (That's not fair. He'd never say something that honest.)


College Application of Justice

"I can only say I am so sorry, Sophia. I was frightened. I was stupid, and I was so wrong. I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. I have inflicted more damage than I could ever imagine. I now see all the things that led me down this road, but ultimately none of the reasons matter because at the end of the day I had a choice. I could have said no." As the first parent to be sentenced in the college admission scandal, Felicity Huffman will do fourteen days in jail, pay a $30,000 fine, and perform 250 hours of community service during a year of supervised release. (People are justifiably pissed about this case. But, to her credit, Felicity Huffman has delivered a master course in the art of the public apology.)


False Alarm System

"In the past couple of decades, the rise of cheap computing power, brain-scanning technologies and artificial intelligence has given birth to what many claim is a powerful new generation of lie-detection tools. Startups, racing to commercialize these developments, want us to believe that a virtually infallible lie detector is just around the corner." The Guardian: The race to create a perfect lie detector – and the dangers of succeeding. (The surest sign that someone is lying is when their skin begins to turn a weird shade of orange...)



"What Ron, who had a very good musical sense, understood at Masters of Whistling, is what many good whistlers realize when they come to events like this — because for years they've often been the best whistler they know, only to finally see what some other people are capable of." Elite Competitive Whistlers Put Their Lips To The Ultimate Test.


Dead Body in Motion

"Human corpses move around significantly as they decompose, according to an Australian researcher who observed a dead body over a 17-month period." Newsweek: Human Corpses Keep Moving for Over a Year After Death.


Feel Good Friday

"With no phone signal or 'a single soul' in sight, Mr Whitson concocted a plan. He wrote a note on a bar order slip that his girlfriend, Krystal Ramirez, 34, had brought to keep game scores: 'We are stuck here at the waterfall. Get help please,'"' the note read." Message in bottle saves family stranded on waterfall.

+ How a Proposed 3-Digit Suicide Hotline Could Help Prevention Efforts.

+ California bans private prisons – including Ice detention centers.

+ New prosthetic legs let amputees feel their foot and knee in real-time.

+ Denmark buys country's last remaining circus elephants to let them retire.

+ Yak on ride to butcher shop escapes to Virginia mountains.

+ And the toddler hug that made everyone's week.