Monday, October 14th, 2019


You’re Worth It

We usually associate the phrase Wanted, Dead or Alive with the most dangerous criminals. But it turns out that the adage can apply to all of us. And, whether we like it or not, a lot of us are worth more dead. We're worth so much that crime victims' parts are often harvested and sold before medical examiners have a chance to collect evidence. The LA Times with an interesting look at your aftermarket value. In the rush to harvest body parts, death investigations have been upended. "Although the companies have emphasized organ transplants, in far more cases nationwide they harvested skin, bone, fat, ligaments and other tissues that are generally not used for life-threatening conditions. Those body parts fuel a booming industrial biotech market in which a half-teaspoon of ground-up human skin is priced at $434. That product is one of those used in cosmetic surgery to plump lips and posteriors, fill cellulite dimples and enhance penises. A single body can supply raw materials for products that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars."


Schiff Happens

"As Trump and his allies have aimed increasingly caustic language at Schiff in recent days, the attacks have been echoed by supporters on social media who often take the message a step further..." Overt threats against Adam Schiff and couched threats against the whistleblower kick off another week in the impeachment pit. Meanwhile, Trump's former Russia adviser Fiona Hill is the latest person to testify. Here's the latest from WaPo and CNN.


The Human Stain

"In between rounds at his golf club, on both Saturday and Sunday, President Trump decided that he was done with Syria. He ordered the evacuation of a thousand U.S. Special Forces troops deployed to contain ISIS ... As if on cue, on Sunday, hundreds of families and supporters of the Islamic State escaped from a detention center ... the black ISIS flag was soon erected nearby." Robin Wright in The New Yorker: Chaos in Syria: ISIS Detainees Escape as the U.S. Pulls Out.

+ "They trusted us and we broke that trust ... It's a stain on the American conscience." NYT: Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling 'Ashamed,' and Kurdish Allies Describing 'Betrayal.'

+ "Typically, you want the people who are giving input to have credentials and have knowledge of the area, but I know that's not the case necessarily today." WaPo: Unswayed by top advisers, Trump doubles down on decision to withdraw troops.

+ Trump Followed His Gut on Syria. Calamity Came Fast. (It's difficult to measure the horror of this situation. A person who prides himself on not needing the facts, who requires daily briefings to be delivered in pictures, and whose only real interest is himself, is making life and mostly death decisions based on his gut.)

+ The Conversation: Kurds targeted in Turkish attack include thousands of female fighters who battled Islamic State.

+ "Recklessly or intentionally bombing hospitals is a war crime, but proving culpability amid a complex civil war is extremely difficult, and until now, Syrian medical workers and human rights groups lacked proof." NYT: 12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia. (And one very big enabler...)

+ And now Assad's forces are moving in. For those scoring at home, the key winners so far are Erdogan, Putin, Assad, and ISIS. Key losers: The Kurds, and America's reputation among its allies. It's too bad Trump didn't just shoot someone on Fifth Ave. Compared to what he has done, there would have been a lot less carnage. Here's the latest from the NYT and CNN.


Speed Bump

"One hour and 59 minutes is fast in a way that's difficult to comprehend. Despite the formidable distance, Kipchoge ripped through each mile of his run in about four and a half minutes. This speed would feel like an all-out sprint to almost anyone who could keep up with him in the first place. To sustain this blistering pace, Kipchoge ran under conditions that had been painstakingly and exclusively arranged to push him beyond the two-hour barrier." It wasn't quite an official marathon. Every detail was arranged to help the runner break the two hour barrier. But the fact that Eliud Kipchoge actually did it is nothing short of astonishing. The Greatest, Fakest World Record. (If you can sprint for two hours straight, it's pretty damn real.)

+ In real world record news, "Kenya's Brigid Kosgei won the Chicago Marathon on Sunday with a time of 2 hours 14 minutes 4 seconds," obliterating the previous world record by 81 seconds.

+ For some perspective, check out this Quora answer: "World class pace is like running a 70-second lap around a standard track, and then maintaining that for 104 more laps. The high-end treadmills at your gym on their maxed-out, highest speed setting are still significantly slower than world-class marathon pace. Most regular people could keep up with an elite marathon pace for maybe 200 meters if they exercise regularly."


A Fort in the Storm

"A 28-year-old black woman who was shot and killed in her home by a white Fort Worth police officer believed he was a prowler, according to an attorney who says he's representing her family." The woman was playing videogames. The officer did not announce himself and shot her through the window for no apparent reason. Fort Worth is on edge.

+ "Atatiana Jefferson became the sixth person since June who has been killed by one of the department's officers." Dallas News: Questions and outrage after Fort Worth officer fatally shoots 28-year-old woman in her home. (The officer has resigned.)


If You Can Make It There…

"It's an ironic inversion of a longstanding argument in the West that by bringing China into the world trade system, the country would adopt western values. Instead, China is asking tech companies to adopt its values — and Apple is willing to pay that price." Buzzfeed: Apple Told Some Apple TV+ Show Developers Not To Anger China.

+ ReCode: Apple has been more successful in China than any other consumer tech company. Now that's a problem for Apple.


Poverty Line Up

"She and Dr. Banerjee collaborate regularly, publishing studies this year on Using Gossips to Spread Information — in which well-connected villagers were selected to spread information and increase vaccination rates — and using police resources to counter drunken driving in India." NYT: Nobel Economics Prize Goes to Pioneers in Reducing Poverty.


Shaken and Stirred

"He was now a hero with a rescue story that had spread nationwide. He had earned the San Francisco Fire Department's highest medal for valor. Drinks would be on the house for a long time. But he never went back on the vow to pursue enlightenment that he made under that building the evening of Oct. 17, 1989. He has spent 30 years on a spiritual quest that has taken the fourth-generation city boy out of his element and out of the country." It's been thirty years since the earthquake that rocked San Francisco and shocked millions viewing the World Series. Sam Whiting with really nice story of a heroic firefighter and the woman he saved. After the rescue. "Many people who've faced a life-threatening situation promise themselves they'll mend their ways if they survive. That's a vow often forgotten. But Gerry Shannon's life took a different direction."


Rugby Best

"He chained himself to mining equipment in rural New South Wales to protest the expansion of a coal mine. He and his longtime partner, Emma Palandri, famously refused to get married until gay couples were allowed to do the same ... He has been active supporting anti-poaching initiatives, sustainable farming, and poverty reduction back in Zimbabwe ... Pocock even paints his cleats all black to obscure any logos. Because he can't be sure of the labor conditions that produced the shoes, he explained when I interviewed him two years ago, he doesn't want to be seen as endorsing the manufacturer." The Atlantic: The Best Athlete Americans Have Never Heard Of.


Bottom of the News

"We narrow the gap over the remaining legs of the race: chugging a beer, forming a six-person human pyramid, holding hands and skipping across a soccer field shouting "I'm a Pretty Princess!" and so on, culminating with a giant Slip ‘N Slide into a game of flip cup. Miraculously, my teammate lands her cup first. Bottles of champagne are popped and showered upon 50 adult strangers and me, maniacally celebrating as though we've just clinched a professional sports championship." Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah: My Weekend at Adult Summer Camp. (This confirms my belief that the best part of being an adult is that no one can make you go to camp.)

+ An oral history of hard-shell tacos.

+ "If you love the availability of microbrews today, you know who to thank." Dirtbags Were the Original Craft-Beer Influencers.

+ LA Mag: Thrifty Is Finally Selling Its Signature Cylindrical Ice Cream Scoopers.

+ An finally, the NYT with a story on a corner bar/cafe that is one of the few original Soho joints still in Soho (and one of my all time favorite haunts from the days when I lived in NYC ... and still left the house on occasion.) From the corner of Prince and Mercer, The Bar That Has Fed SoHo for Almost a Century.