Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019


Mind Blown

The more we learn about Trump's Ukraine call, the more we find out just how many people were either in on the wrongdoing, the coverup, or both. But, even in this case where the acts were repugnant enough to be obvious and dangerous enough to be concealed, no one warned Americans until a sole whistler blew the case wide open. So why did he do it? Based on the research he's done for a forthcoming book, Carl Elliott shares some insights in The Atlantic: Why They Blow the Whistle. "They don't make complex moral arguments. They don't appeal to foundational principles. They don't cite legal statutes or verses from the Bible ... Fred Alford, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, has interviewed dozens of whistle-blowers, many in science and engineering. 'The average whistle-blower of my experience is a fifty-five-year-old nuclear engineer working behind the counter at Radio Shack,' Alford writes. 'Divorced and in debt to his lawyers, he lives in a two-room rented apartment. He has no retirement plan and few prospects for advancement.' Whistle-blower protection laws are intended to prevent decent people from being fired for doing the right thing, but no law can really mitigate the psychological devastation that comes from blowing the whistle. Most whistle-blowers find themselves exiled from the communities that gave their lives meaning. Whistle-blowers know this and they speak out anyway."

+ The NYT's David Enrich on a source who whistles to a different tune. Me and My Whistle-Blower. "His drug use has sent him reeling between manias and stupors. He has a maddening habit of leaping to outrageous conclusions and then bending facts to fit far-fetched theories. He fantasizes about seeing his story told by Hollywood, and I sometimes wonder whether he's manipulating me to achieve that ambition. He can be impatient, erratic and abusive." (I don't know about whistle-blowing, but this guy was made for Twitter...)


Projection Racket

The Secretary of State has confirmed he was on the call with the Ukrainian president, the president is lashing out and increasing the pace and extremity of his lying, and the Dems are warning against inciting violence. AP: Democrats warn White House to expect subpoena on Ukraine.

+ During a photo-op, Trump again called on Adam Schiff to be looked at for treason. (Those scoring at home can now add projection to the list of behaviors oozing out into plain view...)


Reptilian Brain

"Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal." NYT: Shoot Migrants' Legs, Build Alligator Moat: Behind Trump's Ideas for Border. (Trump says he didn't say this stuff, which is how we know he did.)

+ He didn't get the snakes or alligators, but what he ended up with is still plenty dangerous. Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker: How the U.S. Asylum System Is Keeping Migrants at Risk in Mexico.


Stent Double

"Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted." Bernie Sanders is off the campaign trail 'until further notice' after being treated for artery blockage.


Jamal Rats

"Here is the story, as we know it ... We're retelling it because Jamal Khashoggi's story should be heard in full. And because even if you think you know what happened, you may not know how or why." A year after the killing, Insider shares the story of Jamal Khashoggi's murder and how the world looked the other way.


Tattoo Soon?

"Getting a new tattoo triggers your immune system to send white blood cells called macrophages to eat invaders and sacrifice themselves to protect against infection. Your body also launches what immunologists call adaptive responses. Proteins in the blood will try to fight and disable specific invaders that they recognize as problems." Professor Christopher Lynn heads to Apia, Samoa to untangle tattoos' influence on immune response. "Regular exercise provides immune function benefits through repetition, not necessarily single visits to the gym. We think this is similar to how each tattoo seems to prepare the body for vigilance." (Editor's note: I've never met a Samoan who needed extra protection.)


Stone Venge

"Engineered stone took off as a popular option for countertops about a decade ago and is now one of the most common choices for kitchens and bathrooms. From 2010 to 2018, imports of the material rose about 800%. Manufacturers say the material is preferable to natural stone because it's less likely to crack or stain." The trouble is that some workers who cut and grind the engineered stone are getting sick. Really sick. NPR: Workers Are Falling Ill, Even Dying, After Making Kitchen Countertops.


Butter Dish

"Kerrygold is unique in its power to turn consumers into unpaid, yet vigorous, brand ambassadors. Sarah Jessica Parker, the actress, and Chrissy Teigen, the model and cookbook author, have both raved about it, unsponsored, on social media. Kourtney Kardashian called for it by name in recipes published on her now-shuttered app. (Perhaps it's a 'K' thing?) Last year the actress Kate Beckinsale told People magazine that she packs Kerrygold in her suitcase when she travels." Bloomberg: Irish Butter Kerrygold Has Conquered America's Kitchens. (Unfortunately, the company has a really high churn rate.)


Punch Cards

"They can be found on a grassy lot more than an hour and a half from the nation's capital. If you arrive at the right time on the right weekend each month, you'll find a group of people who say they have found a way to fight gun violence that has nothing to do with studies, laws or protests. Their solution, they will tell you, is much simpler." WaPo: These men gather in backyards to settle scores — and reduce gun violence — by pummeling one another. (I always knew my kids were thought leaders...)


Bottom of the News

From The Guardian: America's first cannabis cafe opens in California. "While the food served will not be infused with cannabis, diners will be offered the services of a ‘flower host' who will advise how to pair different strains of marijuana with menu items." (My thumb and forefinger are the only flower hosts I need...)

+ People are typing on their smartphones almost as fast as on keyboards now.

+ A great collection of photos from the Sony World Photography Awards.