December 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Instagram Face, a tribute to the bar code, UK election day, and the Raging Bullshitter Bitter on Twitter.

The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino on the face of the decade: “The face is distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic—it suggests a National Geographic composite illustrating what Americans will look like in 2050, if every American of the future were to be a direct descendant of Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner (who looks exactly like Emily Ratajkowski). ‘It’s like a sexy . . . baby . . . tiger,’ Cara Craig, a high-end New York colorist, observed to me recently. The celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith told me, ‘It’s Instagram Face, duh. It’s like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it’s made out of clay.'” The Age of Instagram Face. And it’s a trend that’s fun for all ages. “Thanks to injectables, cosmetic procedures are no longer just for people who want huge changes, or who are deep in battle with the aging process—they’re for millennials, or even, in rarefied cases, members of Gen Z. Kylie Jenner, who was born in 1997, spoke on her reality-TV show ‘Life of Kylie’ about wanting to get lip fillers after a boy commented on her small lips when she was fifteen.” (Kylie Jenner is also the youngest self-made billionaire on earth, although self-made ignores the role of her plastic surgeon. But who am I too judge? I don’t do Instagram Face, but I definitely do Ageless Head Logo.)


My Dad’s a TV Repairman … He Can Fix It

“In 1951, after abandoning a planned career as a television repairman, Mr. Laurer joined IBM, where he was asked to design a code for food labels modeled on the Woodland-Silver bull’s-eye and compatible with a new generation of optical scanners. But he found that the circular symbol was too blurry when reproduced on high-speed printing presses and instead developed a rectangular design, with 95 bits of data in binary code containing consumer product information.” NYT: George Laurer, Who Developed the Bar Code, Is Dead at 94.

+ Beep Beep: The History of George Laurer and the Barcode. “A 67 cent packet of gum has ballooned into an enormous industry, and five billion barcodes are scanned each and every day.”


Citizen Bane

“The world may not be able to stop the internment, but it must at the very least prevent this oppression from turning into a profitable business scheme. This, however, will require some fundamental rethinking.” Foreign Policy: Xinjiang’s New Slavery: Coerced Uighur labor touches almost every part of the supply chain.

+ Vox: India just redefined its citizenship criteria to exclude Muslims.


Bare Hunt

“The criminals strike up a conversation and gradually build trust. Often they pose as children, confiding in their victims with false stories of hardship or self-loathing. Their goal, typically, is to dupe children into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves — which they use as blackmail for more imagery, much of it increasingly graphic and violent. Reports of abuse are emerging with unprecedented frequency around the country, with some perpetrators grooming hundreds and even thousands of victims.” NYT: Video Games and Online Chats Are ‘Hunting Grounds’ for Sexual Predators. And let’s not miss this crucial point: “There is little incentive under the law to tackle the problem as companies are largely not held responsible for illegal content posted on their websites.” (Self regulation is a myth.)


UK-Popularity Contest

The UK is living out its version of Brexit Groundhog Day as they take to the polls once again. It should be eventful and entertaining (after all that practice). Here’s the latest from BBC.

+ The early winners have been those who enjoy photos of people taking their dogs to the polls. (I once tried that with my beagles, but they mistook democracy for a fire hydrant. Turns out that was a harbinger of things to come.)

+ NYT: “Britain is dragging itself through its fifth major election in five years: a third general election, even though Parliaments are supposed to last for five years; and two referendums, one on Scottish independence, which lost, and the other on Brexit, which won.” Photos of the U.K. in the Shadow of Brexit.


Raging Bullshitter Bitter on Twitter

“Trump has now shared more than 80 tweets and retweets on impeachment since the start of the day.” From WaPo: Here’s the latest from the impeach pit. Fortunately, the president of the United States still had time for official business, such as be besting a teenager who won an award he thought he deserved. “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”. (Trump told Greta Thunburg to chill and watch a movie. So she watched All the President’s Men.)

+ Update: He’s up to 105 tweets and retweets.

+ In public, there’s a partisan war over Trump. In reality, there are bipartisan concerns. Example: Senate committee passes bipartisan bill to stop Trump withdrawing from Nato.

+ “American conservatives who find themselves identifying with Putin’s regime refuse to see the country for what it actually is.” Anne Applebaum: The False Romance of Russia. (It’s unbelievable that someone has to write this…)

+ Bloomberg: Giuliani Ally Parnas Got $1 Million From Russia.


Heaven and Helmet

“He tapped at his keyboard and on the screen, watched a simulation of his new helmet shock absorber, and whispered: ‘This could reduce concussions by at least 75 percent. Theoretically, this is the holy grail.’ That might be an unintentionally apt metaphor. No one, after all, has found Jesus’ chalice. After years of research, only a few scientists believe they can still make such a helmet.” NYT: This Helmet Will Save Football. Actually, Probably Not.

+ “Ten retired NFL players, including former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, are accused of defrauding a league health care program by submitting fake invoices for medical equipment.” (Hopefully, the league’s health care plan covers irony.)

+ Concussions are the scariest thing about pro football. But fumble piles are a close second. SB Nation: The gore, guts and horror of an NFL fumble pile. “Inside the pile, you kept your eyes closed, like a feeding shark, to guard against knifing hands that were trying to maim and blind, yank and punch scrotums, and dislocate fingers.” (This is basically what it’s like being a news curator these days.)


A Former Attorney General Walks Into a Barr

“As a former U.S. attorney general, I am reluctant to publicly criticize my successors. I respect the office and understand just how tough the job can be.” Eric Holder: William Barr is unfit to be attorney general. (Editor’s note: Wow.)


It’s For You

“Home is where you could be reached, and where you needed to go to pick up your messages.’ With smartphones, Fernandez says, ‘we have gained mobility and privacy. But the value of the home has been diminished, as has its capacity to guide and monitor family behavior and perhaps bind families more closely together.'” The Atlantic: How the Loss of the Landline Is Changing Family Life.


Bottom of the News

“Baby Yoda, the juggernaut character from Disney

+’s Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” is driving almost twice as many average social media interactions on news stories about it as any 2020 Democrat.” Why Baby Yoda should scare Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick.

+ Curbed: San Francisco’s top places for crying. (They left out the most common one: On one’s couch with a laptop open and Maddow on in the background.)

+ Naturally, 2019 Closes with Thousands of 10-Inch Pulsing ‘Penis Fish’ Stranded on a California Beach. (OK, maybe 10-inch is a bit of an exaggeration…)

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