Friday, October 18th, 2019


Chilling Effect

Maybe brain freeze isn't such a bad thing. "Use it or lose it has dominated thinking on how to protect the aging brain, and extensive research shows there are many benefits to remaining physically and mentally active as people get older. But [a new] study, published in the journal Nature, suggests more isn't always better. Excessive activity — at least at the level of brain cells — could be harmful." From WaPo: Excessive brain activity linked to a shorter life. These findings are probably related to stress and overexcitement in the brain, as opposed to thinking too much. But just to be safe, in the words of the great Bill Murray: "I'm pacing myself."


Inquire Within

In the NYT, a few words from William H. McRaven, the former commander of the United States Special Operations Command, and architect of the Bin Laden raid: "There was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within." Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President. (It's amazing, even now, that an article by this person with this headline just sort of blends into another crazy news day.)

+ "He very much wants the cease-fire, or pause, to work. Likewise, the Kurds want it. Too bad there wasn't this thinking years ago." That's the very stable genius on the pause in fighting that allows the Kurds to retreat, the US to surrender its influence, and Turkey to get everything they want. NYT: Kurds Reported to Be Pulling Out of Syria ‘Safe Zone' as Fighting Eases.

+ "Activists on the ground and digital sleuths have spent years documenting chemical attacks and barrel bombs. Now they're facing a brutal truth." MIT Tech Review: Technology exposed Syrian war crimes over and over. Was it for nothing? (In some ways this is the internet's ultimate rug pull. We assumed knowing more about what was happening in the world would make it harder for thugs to operate freely. It turns out, it just meant we knew more.)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch(men): There's so much TV to choose from. That's why, now more than ever, we need to seek out the shows made by people who consistently push the creative envelope. No one does that more than the smart, hilarious, and ferociously handsome Damon Lindelof who thrilled us with Lost and gave us one of TV's greatest seasons ever with year three of The Leftovers. This weekend, the highly anticipated Watchmen debuts on HBO, and the buzz is big and the reviews are top notch. I've been waiting for this show for a long time. (Related: I have a weird feeling that Regina King is going to my BFF one day.)

+ What to Read: "They used their newfound purchasing power to fill their tables with large, garlic-heavy plates that native Italians often didn't recognize – and routinely ridiculed – but that would soon become beloved staples of Italian-American cuisine. Dishes like spaghetti and meatballs." From WaPo: How four dishes with roots in other lands tell a story of immigration and transformation.

+ What to Pod: Baseball playoffs, midseason football, and the start of the NBA makes this a great time for sports fans (or those just trying to drown out political news). And that makes this the best time of year to listen to Jim Rome. The highlights of his daily sports show are available in a commute length podcast.


Nature’s Jakarta Blanche

For Jakarta, it's not just that seas are rising. It's that the land is sinking. "Pumping out the groundwater has quite literally lowered the city's foundations, causing widespread subsidence. Some areas in the north have sunk four metres over the past two decades, putting them so far below the level of the bay that there is nowhere for water to drain out." Will this be the first megacity to be wiped out by climate change? Wired UK: The impossible fight to save Jakarta, the sinking megacity.


Abuse Prevention

"She remembers steadily extracting the gun from under her dad's pillow as he slept on the couch. Then putting it down. Picking it up. Putting it down. 'You know when you can kinda like, foresee something?' she asked. 'I sat there thinking and pictures kept flashing in my head, like my mom's funeral casket, and then my sister and brother are old enough to move out, and it is just me and him left in the house.' Her dad had been sexually abusing her since she was 8, she said, and beating her mother for her entire life. The last thing she thought before she pulled the trigger was: It's never gonna stop. It's only gonna get worse. She clicked the gun and spun around like a wooden spinning top." Melissa Jeltsen
in HuffPo: Bresha Meadows Thought You'd Understand. "At the age of 14, she killed her abusive father. Before she pulled the trigger, it hadn't occurred to her that she would go to jail."


The Man in the Middle

"Because the investigation has moved so quickly, it is easy to lose sight of how much has been learned since then. Day after day, in fact, the House's impeachment inquiry has produced significant revelations that point directly to Presidential culpability." The New Yorker: Forget Trump's Meltdown—Follow the Testimony (and the public confessions). Plus, from WaPo, here's what we learned this week: "Two Cabinet secretaries. The acting White House chief of staff. A bevy of career diplomats. President Trump's personal attorney. And at the center of the impeachment inquiry, the president himself." WaPo: Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals.


The Next El Chapter

"This decision was taken to protect citizens. You cannot fight fire with fire. We do not want deaths. We do not want war." So said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador who is taking heat after El Chapo's son was arrested, and then released during a firefight. The controversial action took place during a week of shocking violence in the country. "Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics, tweeted: 'First it was an operational disaster. Then it was communications disaster. And finally it was a political disaster.'" (Other than that, it went well.)


Gummy Shoe Detectives

"In one case Mr. Conrad consulted on, a couple in Florida was charged with marijuana possession after a CBD-infused gummy bear tested positive for THC. Another client was arrested for violating his parole after testing positive for THC, when he claimed he had only used CBD." A pretty amazing story from the NYT: CBD or THC? Common Drug Test Can't Tell the Difference "Those cannabidiol-laced gummy bears may be entirely legal, but they could still get you arrested on marijuana possession charges." (Can you imagine having to tell your cellmate that you got locked up for eating gummy bears?)


Bud Wiseguys

"Anheuser-Busch InBev has accused rival brewer Miller Coors of obtaining the secret recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, the latest shot in a long running legal dispute." CNN: AB InBev accuses rival of obtaining the secret recipe for Bud Light. (This seems like a crime without a clear motive...)


Feel Good Friday

"I was sitting at my desk at work and got a call from a number I didn't recognize. I almost didn't answer since I was at work, but my boss said it was OK. When I picked up the phone, this super deep voice said, 'Hi Denise, this is James Hetfield from Metallica.' I almost fell off my chair. We talked about what happened, dogs, and the places we live." Outside: A Cougar Was Stalking Her, So She Played Metallica.

+ WaPo: "The version of Coy Featherston photographed, pushing an overloaded shopping cart down Guadalupe Street on a rainy day, looked little like his younger self, someone classmates remembered as an outgoing and popular high school students." He had been homeless for decades. Then old friends saw his photo in a newspaper.

+ This startup is saving crops by making 'super bees.' (I have an ominous feeling that this story might move up to the scarier sections at the top of the news one day.)

+ A Fan Raised Almost $43K to Hand Out Stand with Hong Kong T-Shirts at the Lakers Season Opener. (Something similar happened in Toronto. This could be an interesting season...)

+ This month, Las Vegas will let people pay for parking tickets with a food donation.

+ Transition fairs held as new law allows thousands of inmates across Oklahoma early release.

+ Heat-seeking drone finds missing 6-year-old Minnesota boy in cornfield.