Friday, September 20th, 2019


Kids These Days

On August 20, 2018, a Swedish student named Greta Thunberg skipped school. Thirteen months later, she's been joined by millions of other kids who are flooding the streets to awaken world leaders to the urgent threat of climate change. Young people unifying around a common cause and making their voices heard is a beautiful thing. But Greta wants to keep the forecast front of mind. "Even though this movement has become huge and there have been millions of children and young people who have been school striking for the climate, the emission curve is still not reducing ... and of course that is all that matters." NPR: 'We're Young, But We're Not Dumb': Millions March In Global Climate Strike. (My biggest worry about the current era is that my kids are coming of age at moment of divisiveness, hate, and lies; where the empathy void has been filled by a swirling cauldron of narcissism. We can say, "this is not normal" all we want. But for my kids, the current political landscape is all they've ever known. Days like this give me some hope that my concern isn't entirely warranted. Yes, today's kids have the example of Trump. But they also have examples like Greta Thunberg.)

+ "Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don't want your hope, I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day." The Atlantic: Greta Thunberg Is Right to Panic.

+ "Thunberg doesn't adhere to social niceties. (She's spoken openly about having Asperger's syndrome.) She began her crusade last year, sitting outside the Swedish parliament building, in Stockholm, handing out flyers that read 'I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.' It's a trait particularly well suited to the cause she's taken up: on no other issue is the gap between what's politically acceptable and what's scientifically necessary wider than it is on climate change." Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker: There are positive signs that the politics of climate change are changing in America. And giving up isn't really an option.

+ Photos from around the world: Vox, BBC, The Guardian, and Buzzfeed. And here's the latest on the climate strike from CNN.


Ukraine the Swamp

The "call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump's reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call." WaPo with the latest on the Washington whistleblower: Democrats investigate whether Trump, Giuliani pressured Ukraine to aid 2020 reelection bid.

+ Trump: "I have conversations with many leaders. It's always appropriate. Always appropriate. At the highest level always appropriate." (Translation: Probably not appropriate.) AP: Trump denounces ‘partisan' whistleblower but says ID unknown.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: "A binge-read of a book, propelled, for the most part, by a clear, adrenaline-spiking ticktock of how their stories came together, and studded with all manner of new astonishing details." The LA Times is right in that description of She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. But the book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey isn't just about Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo movement. It's about the power of investigative journalism.

+ What to Watch: Speaking of the power of investigative journalism, the Netflix series Unbelievable is based on reporting from ProPublica. Toni Collette and Merritt Wever are excellent in this hunt for a serial rapist, and stark look at the way victims are treated.

+ What to Polypodiophyta: Between Two Ferns, the movie. Galifianakis. Enough said.


Fowl Play

"With this great emptying of the skies, there are now 3 billion fewer beaks to snap up insects, and 3 billion fewer pairs of wings for moving nutrients, pollen, and seeds through the world. We haven't just lost birds, but all the things that birds do." Ed Yong in The Atlantic: The Quiet Disappearance of Birds in North America. "The continent's bird populations have fallen by 29 percent since 1970."


Unicorn Pop

"If you wake up on a Casper mattress, hail a Lyft to get to your desk at WeWork, use DoorDash to order lunch to the office, hail another Lyft home, and have Uber Eats bring you dinner, you have spent your entire day interacting with companies that will collectively lose nearly $13 billion this year. Most have never announced, and may never achieve, a profit." Derek Thompson: WeWork and the Great Unicorn Delusion.


The Hurt Grokker

The opioid crisis has overshadowed a related scourge that may affect as much as a fifth of the global population. It's grinding, it's exhausting, it's lonely, and it's still poorly understood. "It can feel like torture, destroy your life and cause you to doubt your own sanity." The Economist: Will there ever be a cure for chronic pain?


Goal Displacement

"It is, almost certainly, the shortest such competition in the world: just six days of play, starting on Monday and ending on Sunday. As Mathaussen and the others know, though, it may also be the most intense: an entire season's worth of physical exhaustion and mental strain, of drama and intrigue, rivalries and controversies, transfer wrangles and internecine squabbles boiled down into one draining week. Just getting there is exacting enough. But that is only the beginning." The NYT's Rory Smith takes you to Greenland to experience Soccer at the Edge of the World.


Leveling About the Leveling Playing Field

"The status quo is about to change and the impact will be massive. China is investing heavily, having increased its R&D expenditures by an average of 18% annually since 2000. China already graduates almost three times the number of undergrads with degrees in science, technology, math, and engineering than the United States. And Beijing soon will be one one of the leading powers in emerging technologies. Additionally, as the barriers to technologies are lowered, we'll see non-state actors adopt technologies in new ways with potentially destabilizing impacts." DJ Patil on the changing technological global landscape: Innovation and National Security: Keeping Our Edge.


Gross, Point Blank

"On Tuesday, speaking with reporters on Air Force One, Trump said that O'Brien was one of five finalists, then quoted O'Brien as having told him, 'Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States ...He happens to be right,' Trump added." The New Yorker: It Won't End Well: Trump and His Obscure New National-Security Chief.


Feel Good Friday

"The dogs became ambassadors, tail-wagging proof of what's possible through rescue and rehabilitation. In doing so, they changed how the public — and some prominent rescue organizations — view dogs freed from fighting rings. Dogfighting remains prevalent, but now, in large part thanks to these dogs, others seized in fight busts are evaluated to see if they can become pets." WaPo: Twelve years ago, 47 dogs were rescued from Michael Vick's dogfighting operation and allowed to live. They've enriched the lives of countless humans and altered the course of animal welfare.

+ José Andrés Has Served More Than 300,000 Free Meals In The Bahamas.

+ A text message sent to the wrong number off by one digit led to an unexpected act of kindness by a stranger.

+ Amazon will order 100,000 electric delivery vans from EV startup Rivia.

+ Alabama restaurant has no prices on the menu, just a box for diners to drop in any amount they want.

+ A college football fan who held up a sign on national TV asking for beer money says he's giving the thousands of dollars he raked in to a children's hospital.

+ Deer Park woman quits job, searches 57 days for missing dog in Montana. (Did she find her? Spoiler alter: It's Feel Good Friday.)