Tuesday, January 14th, 2020



"Something very natural is going on here… maybe there's something in the genes ... When you have this pattern in 132 countries, the reality is, it was really hard to not find it." Age, we're told, ain't nothing but a number. That number however, can be a key indicator. A "professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, studied data across 132 countries to measure the relationship between wellbeing and age." He found that the mid-life crisis is real, and the age of peak misery is 47.2 years-old. (If you watch enough cable news, you can actually extend peak misery almost indefinitely.)


Between Blackrock and a Hard Place

"Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance. The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance." It can seem like drudgery trying to convince one climate skeptic at a time. But this particular conversion is worth noting, because the newest member of Team Reality manages nearly $7 trillion in assets. NYT: BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance. (TLDR: Invest wisely and get to higher ground.)

+ As big finance enters the sustainability business, big tech is getting into fossil fuel exploration.


Family Unit

NYT: Who Signs Up to Fight? Makeup of U.S. Recruits Shows Glaring Disparity. "More and more, new recruits are the children of old recruits. In 2019, 79 percent of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30 percent, it was a parent — a striking point in a nation where less than 1 percent of the population serves in the military."

+ "The report, from the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, also finds that more than 801,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting. Of those, more than 335,000 have been civilians. Another 21 million people have been displaced due to violence." CNBC: America has spent $6.4 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says.


Barr Stool

"Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,' have marshalled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values." So said William Barr during a recent speech in which he explained that the "spread of 'secularism and moral relativism' is responsible for 'virtually every measure of social pathology' from the 'wreckage of the family' to 'record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.'" If you think those views sound a bit extreme, wait until you hear his takes on executive power. From David Rohde in The New Yorker, William Barr, Trump's Sword and Shield: The Attorney General's mission to maximize executive power and protect the presidency.

+ Can I Get a Witness: It looks like the House will send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday and a trial (whatever that will ultimately mean) will start next week. This seems like a good time for Twitter to add more servers. Here's the latest from WaPo.

+ And just to spice things up a bit, the Russians hacked the Ukrainian gas company at center of the impeachment case. (Russian hackers should really unionize. They don't seem to get any time off.)



"Over the past year, I've interviewed nearly three dozen Amish people, in addition to law enforcement, judges, attorneys, outreach workers, and scholars. I've learned that sexual abuse in their communities is an open secret spanning generations. Victims told me stories of inappropriate touching, groping, fondling, exposure to genitals, digital penetration, coerced oral sex, anal sex, and rape, all at the hands of their own family members, neighbors, and church leaders." Sarah McClure in Cosmopolitan: The Amish Keep to Themselves. And They're Hiding a Horrifying Secret. (Ever wonder if groups keep to themselves because they're hiding horrifying secrets?)


Bourn on the Bayou

Ed Orgeron should be the new voice of Alexa and Siri. But for now, he'll have to settle for being the voice of victory. He was "passed over for the biggest jobs for so long, finally had his moment to shine. USC didn't promote him to head coach because higher-ups reportedly disliked his voice. He wasn't the first-choice candidate for his current position after steering LSU to stability in the wake of Les Miles's firing. He was almost fired early in his own tenure when a group of unhappy boosters wanted his ouster. And now he's the head coach of a 15-0 national champion, with one of the most dominant campaigns ever under his belt." And that's just the coach. The real story of the LSU Tigers is about the quarterback. "One year after looking like every other quarterback to suit up in Baton Rouge for the past decade—mediocre, inaccurate, and undeserving of the receivers, running backs, and defenses on the roster—Burrow blossomed in 2019 and delivered the best statistical season for a passer of all time." The Ringer: LSU Is the National Champion and Joe Burrow Has Achieved College Football Immortality.

+ LSU's Ed Orgeron reportedly punched himself hyping up players, suffered cut. (And he bled Jambalaya so give him a beignet for effort.)


Cult Leaderboard

"My data shows I have done 171 runs in the past 12 months: my memory has recorded that I did fewer than half a dozen that weren't logged. What I don't know is how a middling, menopausal fell runner, who only began running at the age of 41, and will never win much, got to care so much about any of this." Kudos, leaderboards, Queens of the Mouintains: How Fitness App Strava Became a Religion. (I prefer the Jewish religion. We only run when we're being chased.)


I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

"The frames of his sunglasses, from Chicago-based eyewear line Reflectacles, are made of a material that reflects the infrared light found in surveillance cameras and represents a fringe movement of privacy advocates experimenting with clothes, ornate makeup and accessories as a defense against some surveillance technologies." The Seattle Times: Special sunglasses, license-plate dresses: How to be anonymous in the age of surveillance.


Rosie the Riveting

"I know! I told her: 'You're an amazing dancer, but you need to go out there and live life. Have an affair, you know? Get your heart broken. Break somebody's heart. Make love without performing. That's what you need to understand.' And she goes, 'Making love?' I said: 'Performance sex is the worst because you're not letting yourself go. When you get to that place, you're going to take over the world.' I saw her years later. I was thinking, This girl hates me. She goes, 'I need to talk to you.' 'Oh, God. Yes?' Then she goes, 'Thank you.' And I went, 'You lived!' Anyway, I've always said: You can teach someone how to dance, but you can't teach someone how to boogie." Even though I have a feeling I can't boogie, I enjoyed this interview. It's got to be a trip transcribing this particular voice. NYT: Rosie Perez on Tupac, sex and dancing.


Bottom of the News

"Among the ideas López Obrador is now entertaining is to barter it off in exchange for medical equipment, to sell it to a consortium of companies for executive incentive programs or rent it out by the hour, in hopes of paying off the remainder of outstanding loans on the plane." AP: "Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has made selling off the luxurious presidential jet a centerpiece of his austerity program, but there's just one problem: Nobody, it seems, wants to buy the white elephant." (Now they'll never have the money to pay for the wall...)

+ "The startup operates more than 2,000 taps around the world and is hoping to reach a $1 billion valuation by 2023, when it wants to have 100,000 taps." Bloomberg: Now AI Can Deliver the Perfect Head for Your Beer. (I knew AI would ultimately benefit society.)

+ The New York Public Library's 10 Most Checked-Out Books of All Time.