Tuesday, December 17th, 2019


Gumball Rallies

We think we invented oversharing. It's been going on for 6,000 years. Just look at what some gumshoes found out when they examined something rotten in the state of Denmark. Wired: What a 5,700-Year-Old Piece of Gum Reveals About Its Chewer. "They not only found the chewer's full genome and determined her sex and likely skin and hair and eye color, they also revealed her oral microbiome—the bacteria and viruses that pack the human mouth—as well as finding the DNA of hazelnut and duck she may have recently consumed. All told, from a chunk of birch pitch less than an inch long, the researchers have painted a remarkably detailed portrait of the biology and behavior of an ancient human."

+ "At the dawn of the Neolithic era, a young woman discarded a lump of ancient chewing gum made from birch tar into a shallow, brackish lagoon that drew fishers to the coast of southern Denmark. Nearly 6,000 years later, researchers excavating the site spotted the gum amid pieces of wood and wild animal bone and from it have reassembled her complete DNA and so painted the broadest strokes of her portrait." The Guardian: Neolithic chewing gum helps recreate image of ancient Dane. (Sooner or later, they're gonna find out everything. You might as well just spit it out...)


Study Haul

"While the Dickey Amendment did not outlaw gun violence research outright, the symbolic effect the amendment had was pronounced. Gun violence research effectively ground to a halt in the wake of the amendment and the field atrophied, as young scientists declined to focus their research in an area where they knew funding would be a continual struggle." ABC: Congress has reached a spending agreement that includes $25 million for gun violence research, the first funding in more than 20 years to study a problem that kills 40,000 people annually. (Do the math. It's not pretty.)


Delhi Case

"The street protests now sweeping India appear to be validating one of the oldest and most trusted maxims of politics: sooner or later, authoritarians will go too far." Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker: Has Narendra Modi Finally Gone Too Far?


Ledger Book of Mormon

"The confidential document, received by the IRS on Nov. 21, accuses church leaders of misleading members — and possibly breaching federal tax rules — by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses." (I'm guessing all the bills were the same denomination.) Mormon Church has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund, whistleblower alleges. "According to the complaint, Ensign's president, Roger Clarke, has told others that the amassed funds would be used in the event of the second coming of Christ." (There's a thin line between prophets and profits...)


Strange Things

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected calls from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Tuesday to subpoena new witnesses in a Senate trial, calling it 'a strange request at this juncture.'" (Seeking the truth? Strange indeed.) And as the House sets its rules on impeachment, Former deputy Trump campaign chairman Rick Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail. We also learned that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was hospitalized after suffering cardiac event while serving his seven-year federal prison sentence. Here's the latest from the impeach pit from WaPo and CNN.

+ Never one to let an investigation into crimes sidetrack him from committing more crimes, "Rudy Giuliani told CNN that President Donald Trump has been 'very supportive' of his continued efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine, including his most recent trip to the Eastern European country."

+ Meanwhile, the president sent an angry six page letter (which breaks down to roughly 64.2 tweets) to Nancy Pelosi. "Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the President,' when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!" (Seriously, the writing in this letter should be an impeachable offense.) Here's the full letter (one assumes, translated from the original Russian...)


Grave Sighting

"The Tulsa Race Massacre, sometimes referred to as the Tulsa race riots, began in May 1921 after a black teenager named Dick Rowland was falsely accused of having assaulted a white woman." NBC News: Possible mass grave from 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre found by researchers. This deadly, but often forgotten, chapter in American history has been brought back to the forefront by Damon Lindelof and his HBO series, Watchmen, which is tremendous.


Just Like We Drew it Up

"Listen, it was special, everything about the night. I don't know how they pick 'em. Monday Night Football, playing the Colts, the team that we won the Super Bowl against 10 years ago. So the whole Super Bowl XLIV team is back for the 10th anniversary. And, obviously, national television, big game, and now that record in the balance, as well. It just kind of makes you shake your head. 'Are you kidding me?'" On Monday night, Drew Brees set a new NFL record for most career touchdown passes in a game during which he also set a new completion percentage record, completing 29 of 30 pass attempts. (I also have reason to believe he may be a subscriber.)


Mariah Carries On

"First, the song is 25 years old; it was released in 1994 on the star's Merry Christmas album. It's also only the second holiday song in history to reach No. 1, following The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks and David Seville in 1958–1959. Second, this is now Carey's 19th No. 1 on the chart, extending her lead as the only solo act with the most No. 1 hits. She also holds the record for the most cumulative weeks spent in the chart's top spot, with 80 weeks overall throughout her career. Third, Carey is now only one single away from tying with the Beatles, who had 20 No. 1 hits on the chart. The next closest singer is Rihanna with 14." After a quarter century, Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You is at the top of the Billboard chart for the first time ever. Her last number one was the 2008 hit, Touch My Body.

+ For those scoring at home, Adam Sandler's The Chanukah Song peaked at number 80 in 1999. But Mariah Carey's steady rise proves there's still time!


Dolly World

"The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago. Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade. But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life." NYT: "As Japan's population shrinks and ages, rural areas are emptying out. In one childless village, two dozen adults compensate for the absence with the company of hundreds of giant handmade dolls." (It's nice not to be the only one who's dealing with the aging process this way...)


Bottom of the News

"Ten years ago, Folgers coffee first aired their now-infamous 'Coming Home' ad. Little did they know, it would go on to inspire everything from parody videos to severely NSFW fan fiction. Here, GQ talks to the people involved in this holiday miracle." You're My Present This Year: An Oral History of the Folgers Incest Ad. (Might be time to switch to decaf...)

+ Adam Driver walked out during a Fresh Air interview instead of having to listen to his own (excellent) acting. (I sometimes get uncomfortable when I make my kids read NextDraft back to me over dinner, and then again at bedtime.)

+ SNL's remarkably accurate children's clothing ad.

+ The Atlantic: The Most 2019 Photos Ever. (I was surprised not to see the one of me crying in front of my laptop.)