Monday, January 13th, 2020


A Textbook Case

In this era, reality-based Americans are searching everywhere for signs of the truth. We can't trust leaders. Half the country doesn't believe in science. And we're regularly told not to believe what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears. While the truth-bending is more subtle in the textbooks our kids use in school, it's there too; and the spin on the facts you read largely depends on where you're reading them. From the NYT: Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. "The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation's deepest partisan divides." (Oh well, my search for nonpartisan truth continues. I think I'll try Twitter next...)


Princess Cruises

"Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family." After a family meeting, The Queen says Harry and Meghan to have 'period of transition' in UK and Canada. (Hopefully, Harry and Meg know that "Your Highness" means something different in Canada.)

+ Buzzfeed: Here are 20 Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Headlines That Might Show Why Meg and Harry are Cutting Off Royal Reporters. (This is actually pretty amazing, especially the Avocado headline...)


Four Embassies and a Funeral

The administration's explanation for why they killed Qassim Suleimani has had too many plot twists and turns to keep up with (and one twist from the president regarding four targeted embassies that even insiders can't make sense of). Here's a cheatsheet from the NYT: The Trump Administration's Fluctuating Explanations for the Suleimani Strike.

+ "For a growing number of critics — from ordinary citizens to notable athletes and artists — the events have revealed a government that is incapable of following through on its incendiary rhetoric and willing to mislead its own people about a national tragedy in order to avoid embarrassment." No, that's not America. That's Iran, where people have taken to the streets to protest the government's initial lies about the downed airlines.

+ "My troubled spirit does not fit into your dirty economic channels and tight political lobbies." NYT: Iran's Only Female Olympic Medalist Defects Over 'Lies' and 'Injustice.'


Stand Her Ground

"Police officers showed up nearly half an hour later, around the time that Todd died. Brittany detailed how he had beaten and raped her and attacked Chris. A rape kit showed bruises on her neck, breasts, arms, legs, and pelvis, evidence of strangulation, bite marks on her neck and chin, and secretions on her neck and in her vagina. Yet within forty-eight hours she had been charged with murder." Elizabeth Flock in The New Yorker: How Far Can Abused Women Go to Protect Themselves? (A hard read, and a must read...)


Man, Booker…

NPR: Booker Drops Out Of Presidential Race. My friend Cory Booker ran on the hardest message to sell in today's political climate, and the only message that can lead America forward. Decency. Empathy. Unity. (I don't always live up to those ideals, especially on the internet. But Cory does.) Thanks for the tireless effort and the much-needed inspiration. You're still a powerful Senator who's dating Rosario Dawson. It could be worse...


Saud Off

"Investigators had found evidence that Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani was motivated by 'jihadist ideology,' noting that on Sept. 11, he posted a message on social media saying, 'The countdown has begun,' and over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, he visited the memorial to those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack." WaPo: Pensacola shooting was an act of terrorism, attorney general says.

+ NPR: More Than 20 Saudi Students To Be Expelled In Wake Of Fla. Shooting.



Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite are this year's Oscar nominees for best picture (which these days, basically means that they were good content, but not quite good enough to be made into a TV series). Here's a look at all the nominees.

+ In the acting category, the big story is Scarlett Johansson's double nomination: one for best actress and one for best supporting actress. And ScarJo's not the only double nom. Cynthia Erivo is up for best actress and best original song for Harriet.

+ "If I don't get it, I'm going to f--ing come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay." Adam Sandler's threatened to make a terrible movie if he didn't win the Oscar. Well, he (surprisingly) didn't even get nominated. Here are the snubs and surprises. (Meanwhile, Al Pacino received a best supporting actor nomination for reprising his role as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman within a movie where he was supposed to be playing Jimmy Hoffa. Hoo Ha indeed.)

+ We already know who will be the night's big winner. "In 2019, Netflix scored its first Oscar nomination for best picture. A year later, the streaming service is leading the field in total nominations."


Stained Steal

"Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch will be suspended for the 2020 season, the Astros will lose first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and the organization was fined a record $5 million." Major League Baseball is not pleased with what it found in the investigation into the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. ESPN: Astros' Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch suspended for 2020 season for sign stealing. "The discipline is among the harshest ever delivered by a commissioner, with Luhnow and Hinch banned until the day after the final game of the 2020 World Series despite neither having involvement with the scheme -- and Hinch twice trying to damage the monitor used as a show of protest."


Noggin Foggin

"The research into the risks of youth football is still coming into shape, and there's disagreement about just how universal and severe the risks are. Some researchers think football is dangerous for everybody; others are finding evidence that some kids might be more predisposed to health consequences than others." Should Parents Be Afraid To Let Their Kids Play Football? (I'm afraid I let my kid watch twelve hours of football over the weekend.)


Bottom of the News

White House Tweets 'First Snow of the Year' On Same Day It Hits 70 Degrees in Washington D.C. (OK, fake news we're used to. But fake weather?)

+ The Tortoise and the Heirs. "The 100-year-old tortoise has fathered hundreds of progeny, around 800 by some estimates." Tortoise with species-saving sex drive returns to Galápagos. (I've made a lot of braggadocious claims over the years, but never that my prowess "saved a species."

+ Noah Takes a Photo of Himself Every Day for 20 Years. (My eleven year-old daughter takes like 30 photos of herself every day, so watch your back, Noah.)