Friday, February 7th, 2020


Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand

We've come to the end of one of the more hectic and emotional news weeks of one of the more hectic and emotional news eras, so let's start with some light, good news. Even though it's February, we're about to enjoy a weekend of short sleeve weather. OK, that news is neither as light nor as good as I might have implied (but at least we shared a nice, albeit brief, respite together). It turns out that the short sleeve weather is taking place in Antarctica.Vice: Good Morning. It's 65 Degrees in Antarctica. That's warmer than Orlando today. (If the small lies don't get us, the big lies will. Antarctic tock, tic tock, tic tock...)


Xi Shed

"He didn't want to become a hero but for those of us in 2020, he had reached the upper limit of what we can imagine a hero would do." Dr. Li Wenliang did a great thing. He warned his fellow medical students about a potential new virus in China. The authorities shut him up and made him sign a statement describing his warning as "illegal behavior." After being silenced, and proven right in the worst way, Li Wenliang died of the illness. And the usually tamped down Chinese socials are yelling in the virtual streets. NYT: Widespread Outcry in China Over Death of Coronavirus Doctor.

+ Vice: China Is Erasing Tributes to Coronavirus Whistleblower Doctor Li Wenliang.

+ Trump: "Just had a long and very good conversation by phone with President Xi of China. He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus. He feels they are doing very well, even building hospitals in a matter of only days. Nothing is easy, but he will be successful." (At least someone's sticking to the party line...)


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: The Pharmacist is about a pharmacist in New Orleans who, while grieving his son lost to a drug deal, tries to solve the case himself. But his search uncovers a much larger crime. The opioid crisis. Dan Schneider's OCD-ish habit of recording almost everything he does makes this already interesting four-part documentary even more unique. The Pharmacist on Netflix.

+ What to Book: When I first started hanging out with Arthur Phillips, he was an accomplished, attractive Sax player attending the Berklee College of Music (think Rob Lowe in St Elmo's Fire, but nicer). Arthur later decided to switch art forms and became one of the more admired American novelists of the past couple decades, in between his stints writing for hit TV shows. WaPo calls Arthur "one of the best writers in America." He also has nice kids, two beagles, is a five time Jeopardy champion, and remains stubbornly handsome. So yeah, there's plenty of reasons for me to despise Arthur. But that shouldn't stop you from ordering his latest novel, The King at the Edge of the World. (Help me to at least be viewed as the husky Jewish friend who had a lot of potential, and if nothing else, helped move some books...)

+ What to Oscar: I don't like too many of the best picture noms, but this year's line up of documentaries is excellent. "In a time of conflict and darkness in her home in Aleppo, Syria, one young woman kept her camera rolling — while falling in love, getting married, having a baby and saying goodbye as her city crumbled." For Sama is streaming on PBS. It's a documentary that humanizes our inhumanity. And if you haven't seen American Factory on Netflix, do so.


Korea Town Crier

"Advocates who work with the homeless estimate there are at least 2 million unhoused people in the United States. Between 2018 and 2019, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's count, the homeless population in the city of Los Angeles increased by 16 percent—bringing the estimated homeless population to 36,165, at least 27,200 of whom were living on the streets. Koreatown, a neighborhood that takes up just 2.7 square miles, contains nearly 600 unhoused residents." Lori Teresa Yearwood in Slate: I was homeless in Salt Lake City. But nothing prepared me for what I saw in Los Angeles' Koreatown.


Ethical Dilemma

"Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth." So said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman when he testified in the impeachment trial. He should be more than fine, he should be celebrated for telling the truth when truth is in short supply. But this is the Trump era, and it's payback time. Alexander Vindman, a key impeachment witness, will be transferred out of the White House.

+ Top Navy SEAL commander to resign after apparent disagreements with Trump.

+ At embassies abroad, Trump envoys are quietly pushing out career diplomats. (Sensing a trend? All the ethical people are quitting or being forced out. All the crooks and enablers are getting bumped up.)

+ Czar-a-Lago: "Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment. Trump's company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that." Here's something else Team Trump has repeatedly lied about... Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump's properties.


Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing

"What if everything you think you know about politics is wrong? What if there aren't really American swing voters—or not enough, anyway, to pick the next president? What if it doesn't matter much who the Democratic nominee is? What if there is no such thing as "the center," and the party in power can govern however it wants for two years, because the results of that first midterm are going to be bad regardless?" Politico Magazine: An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter. (Today, being a Swing Voter means you take a swing at those with whom you disagree...)


Gene Hack, Man

"A cruel twist of genetic fate brought Alzheimer's disease to a sprawling Colombian family. But thanks to a second twist, one member of the clan, a woman, managed to evade the symptoms for decades. Her escape may hold the key to halting, or even preventing, Alzheimer's." How one woman became the exception to her family's Alzheimer's history.


From the Audio File

"The human touch is crucial to everything McIntosh builds. An automated water jet cuts the glass faceplates used on its amplifiers and other gear, but the precise work of finishing the edges and applying the filters that give the panes a soft blue tint requires the practiced expertise of a skilled technician. Many of them have worked there for decades." Popular Science: Inside America's legendary audio gear factory.

+ Music? Human Touch? Say no more.



"Gathered here are recent images of robotic technology, including a machine built to draw portraits, battle robots, a dance performance, an autonomous mobile vending machine, an art installation, an agri-bot, a robotic priest, a Mars rover, and a grocery-store bot." A photo collection of the world we share with machines. Robots at Work and Play.


Feel Good Friday

"She has children who are still in her life, who are well into adulthood and probably have children and grandchildren of their own. And they're still part of her family. She created families." After 40 kids in 40 years, St. Paul foster mom ready for more.

+ Nice moment from the campaign trail. Pete Buttigieg to LGBTQ community: This country has a place for you.

+ California pardons gay civil rights leader in new initiative.

+ An 8-year-old boy paid off the lunch debt for his entire school by selling key chains. (Awesome kid. Sad that he needed to do this.)

+ Two high school students open food pantry to help their classmates in need.

+ Chiefs player celebrates Super Bowl win by paying adoption fees for shelter dogs. (I'll adopt the dogs myself if we can just get those last 7 minutes of the Super Bowl back...)

+ 30,000 pounds of food from the Super Bowl is being rescued and donated.

+ Woman finds dog lost for 3 years after seeing its picture on beer can. (I once thought I saw my cat's picture on a bag of weed, but it turned out it was just my cat standing next to my bag of weed.)

+ Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty has been cleared by Philadelphia police after investigation finds no evidence mascot assaulted young fan.

+ Meet the woman who made Netflix get rid of its most annoying feature.