Tuesday, October 15th, 2019


Varsity Blues Clues

Here's some good news if you're dreading writing a personal statement for a college application. You can skip it. The college you're applying to probably already knows everything about you anyway - even the stuff you don't necessarily want to share. WaPo: Student tracking, secret scores: How college admissions offices rank prospects before they apply. "The software sent an alert to the school's assistant director of admissions containing the student's name, contact information and details about her life and activities on the site ... The admissions officer also received a link to a private profile of the student, listing all 27 pages she had viewed on the school's website and how long she spent on each one. A map on this page showed her geographical location, and an 'affinity index' estimated her level of interest in attending the school."


Hoop Dreams Deferred

"You ask anybody in the room. The thing I talk about is sleep. I think in a couple years, [it] will be an issue that's talked about, like the NFL with concussions." ESPN's Baxter Holmes on the NBA's dirty little secret that everybody knows about. Sleep deprivation.

+ This is about the only thing I can think of that would make it easier to stomach LeBron's incredibly disheartening take on the China/NBA conflict. Maybe he's overtired? LeBron James: Daryl Morey was 'misinformed' before sending tweet about China and Hong Kong. (Sounds like a bunch of Hong Kong phooey to me.)


Guess Who’s Been Putin Charge?

"The Turkish invasion of northern Syria, which Donald Trump green-lighted last week, has already turned into a humanitarian disaster for the Kurds, at least a hundred thousand of whom have been displaced. It is now mushrooming into a strategic disaster for the United States, which appears weak, powerless, and isolated. It also risks turning into a political disaster for Trump, whose bungling incompetence and boundless arrogance may finally be catching up with him." (And that's probably putting the best spin on the situation.) The New Yorker: Trump's Syria Policy Is a Strategic and Political Disaster.

+ (Let me know if you're sensing an overall theme here): Russia moves to fill void left by US in northern Syria.

+ Ready. Aim. Fire! ... Don't Shoot: After green-lighting the attack, Trump is sanctioning Turkey for the attack. Included in the sanction order: "Any persons contributing to Turkey's destabilizing actions in northeast Syria." In other words, Trump Announces Sanctions Against Turkey, Also Himself.

+ Don't listen to the pundits. Listen to the soldiers. From David Ignatius in WaPo: "It's probably impossible for Americans to fully grasp the sense of betrayal felt by the Syrian Kurds, who suffered 11,000 dead and 24,000 wounded in a war that we asked them to fight. But perhaps we can understand the shame and outrage of the Special Operations forces who fought alongside them ... 'It will go down in infamy ... This will go down as a stain on the American reputation for decades.'" (True, but not just this.)

+ A good explainer (that a certain someone should have read about a week ago) from the NYT: Who Are the Kurds, and Why Is Turkey Attacking Them in Syria?


The Kozmonots

"If you wake up on a Casper mattress, work out with a Peloton before breakfast, Uber to your desk at a WeWork, order DoorDash for lunch, take a Lyft home, and get dinner through Postmates, you've interacted with seven companies that will collectively lose nearly $14 billion this year. If you use Lime scooters to bop around the city, download Wag to walk your dog, and sign up for Blue Apron to make a meal, that's three more brands that have never earned a dime or have seen their valuations fall by more than 50 percent." My generation had Kozmo. This generation has everything. Enjoy it while it lasts. Derek Thompson: The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive.

+ Bloomberg: WeWork to Remove Phone Booths From Offices Due to Formaldehyde. (They should have saved it for the burial process.)


Florida Panhandling

"I moved between recovery and relapse, cycling through the Twelve Steps, then going off in search of drugs. I would walk out of group therapy in a huff and then, days later, check into another detox for whatever length of time insurance would cover. After inpatient rehab, I'd move to sober housing and enroll in an outpatient program at a nearby clinic. As long as I was insured, I didn't have to touch money. There's a name for this peripatetic life style: clinicians, clients, and local officials call it the Florida Shuffle." Colton Wooten in The New Yorker: Cycling through relapse and recovery, and the industry that enables both.


The Fraud Squad

"Fiona Hill, who was the National Security Council's top Russia and Europe adviser under Bolton, told investigators that Bolton likened President Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, a driving force behind the efforts, to a 'hand grenade,' according to two people familiar with her testimony." WaPo: Attention turns to Bolton after former aide told impeachment probe he fought Giuliani's shadow operation in Ukraine.

+ From Reuters: "Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges." The company's name is Fraud Guarantee. (So I guess this was just a Fraudian slip...) Meanwhile, Rudy says he won't comply with a congressional subpoena. Here's the latest from the impeachment pit from CNN.


The Bus Stops Here

"Advocates counter that the program amounts to a barely disguised scheme for encouraging ill-informed migrants to abandon their ongoing petitions in U.S. immigration court and return to Central America. Doing so leaves them to face the same conditions that they say forced them to flee toward the United States, and, at the same time, would undermine the claims that they face persecution at home." LA Times: Mexico sends asylum-seekers south — with no easy way to return for U.S. court dates.


Oh Capitalism, My Capitalism

"As a capitalist, I believe it's time to say out loud what we all know to be true: Capitalism, as we know it, is dead ... To my fellow business leaders and billionaires, I say that we can no longer wash our hands of our responsibility for what people do with our products. Yes, profits are important, but so is society. And if our quest for greater profits leaves our world worse off than before, all we will have taught our children is the power of greed." Marc Benioff in the NYT: We Need a New Capitalism.


Qantas Leap

"No airline has ever completed that route without stopping. At nearly 20 hours, it's set to be the world's longest flight, leaving the U.S. on Friday and landing in Australia on Sunday morning." LA Times: Human guinea pigs prepare for the world's longest direct flight: 20 hours.

+ What's worse than the longest plane ride? The longest bus ride.


Bottom of the News

"Officers visited the remote farmhouse and carried out a search. They discovered a hidden staircase behind a cupboard in the living room that led down to a basement room where the family were housed." BBC: Dutch family 'waiting for end of time' discovered in basement.

+ "Let's write this question out, in hopes of someone providing an answer: Why do the Chargers still exist? There is no audience for them. Their home games, played at a stadium with a capacity of 27,000, are filled with the visiting team's fans." Deadspin: There's No Good Reason For The Los Angeles Chargers To Exist. (It's rare, in the internet age, to make a point and have no one argue it.)

+ Brittany Howard: Tiny Desk Concert.