Tuesday, February 11th, 2020


Intel Inside

"For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret ... The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican. But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence." WaPo with the amazing story of a crypto company that was sharing all its customers' secrets: The intelligence coup of the century. (Keep in mind that this was back in an era when people didn't just willingly share state secrets—and every other thought that came into their heads—on Twitter...)


Anomal House

"Lawrence Ray, also known as Lawrence Grecco, allegedly physically, sexually, and psychologically abused his victims starting in 2010, when he moved into his daughter's on-campus residence in Yonkers, New York, after being released from prison." Buzzfeed: He Moved With His Daughter To College. Then He Allegedly Started A Sex Cult With Her Classmates.

+ "Ray put up $34,000 to pay for Kerik's 1998 wedding, although the pair had an ugly public split after the defendant testified about the former top cop's link to organized crime." NY Daily News: Ex-NYPD head Bernie Kerik's best man charged as head of Sarah Lawrence College cult.

+ This story was covered in much more detail last year in NY Mag: The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence. What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate's father?


Trump’s Land Ho

"The Battle Mountain office has repeatedly disregarded its own environmental rules and regulations to fast-track permits on public land. The historic antipathy toward federal oversight common to this region, combined with a presidential administration that has announced its hostility to decades of environmental law, has left public lands especially vulnerable." Politico Magazine: How Washington is bending over backward for mining companies in Nevada at the expense of environmental rules. 'This Is the Wild West Out Here.'

+ "Pendley's entire career has been about liberating the extractive industry from environmental laws, enabling companies to pillage the lands he is now entrusted to protect." The Trump Official Who Could Obliterate Public Lands.

+ To understand these public lands, and the politics behind many of the controversies, check out John Temple's book: Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America's Patriot Militia Movement.


Lost Cause

"Wallets, purses, and umbrellas are among the most common items turned in, along with cash. A record-setting 3.8 billion yen was reported in 2018; three-quarters of that sum ultimately made its way back to their owners." CityLab: Japan's Lost-and-Found System Is Insanely Good.


Banana Republic(an)

"The statement came hours after President Trump tweeted of the sentence prosecutors recommended, 'This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!' The senior Justice Department official, though, said the decision to revise prosecutors' recommendation came before Trump's tweet." WaPo: Justice Dept. to reduce sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone, official says, after president calls it unfair. (The world has been unfair to Roger Stone. Yes, now you've officially heard it all...)

+ "Countries with a powerful death penalty [and] a fair but quick trial, they have very little, if any, drug problem. That includes China." Vice: Trump Says Executing Drug Dealers Is Effective. China Shows He's Wrong. (Wrong is a pretty generous choice of adjectives...)

+ "People were supposed to have loyalty. Obviously they didn't." Buzzfeed: Republicans think President Trump had every right to fire government officials who testified against him.


Short Circuit

"It's not malicious; they think it's erring on the side of caution ... But caution would actually be to wait, to try to get the birth parents the help and support they need." The Marshall Project: The Hidden Trauma of Short Stays in Foster Care. "Every year, thousands of children are removed from their homes by officials who fear for their safety—only to be returned within days. It 'felt like being kidnapped.'"


Selfie Sticktoitiveness

"Toddlers are attracted to the front-facing smartphone camera for a few reasons. For starters, there's what many parents (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and babysitters) already know: "Toddlers are delighted with themselves," says Christine McLean, who teaches in the Children and Youth Study department at Nova Scotia's Mount Saint Vincent University. From the ages of 1 to 3, McLean told me, kids rapidly develop a sense of individual identity, making sense of the fact that they are separate humans from their moms and dads, and for most kids, that's a pretty exciting prospect." The Atlantic on why toddler selfies are so prolific: Toddlers Are Delighted With Themselves. (My toddler recently turned 11.) The self-loving have front facing cameras. The self-hating have twitter.


Ramble On

Life is a marathon not a sprint. But for Jim Walmsley, a marathon is a sprint. "As he climbed the ridge's left flank, a crowd of tourists began to point his way. I explained that he was Jim Walmsley, America's best male ultra­runner. I told them he once ran from rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon — 42 miles with 12,000 feet of climbing — in under six hours. That he broke the course record at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in back-to-back years and had run the fastest 50-miler in history just months before. The run we were witnessing that October day — more than half a marathon up and down the South Kaibab Trail — was, for Walmsley, just a casual tuneup." NYT Mag: Can the King of Ultrarunning Conquer a Race as Short as the Marathon? (We'll find out in the long run...)

+ An awesome documentary on running maniacs and the sadists who create races for them: The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.

+ NYT: A Kayaker and a 134-Foot Waterfall. What Could Go Wrong?


Mack, The Life

"It coulda been worse, you know? I wasn't working in a coal mine. I wasn't a child soldier. My father was not sexually abusing me. Certain fucked-up things happened, but fucked-up things happen to kids all the time and they don't come out the other end. I've got something to show for it, man. I mean, look at me: I got money, I got fame, I got a beautiful girlfriend and a beautiful house and beautiful animals. It took me a long time to get to that place, and I had to have that conversation with myself and go, like, Honestly, Mack? It's not so bad. I want for nothing and need for even less. I'm good, man." Esquire: Macaulay Culkin Is Not Like You.


Bottom of the News

Mel Magazine: An Oral History of the Members Only Jacket. "Few items of clothing have stood the test of time like the Members Only jacket. Whether you were an original purveyor of the 65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton jacket back in the 1980s, or part of the millennial hipster generation that brought it back in the early 2000s, one thing has always been clear: There's just something about this simple jacket that makes it eternally relevant. After all, like the tagline says, 'When you put it on, something happens.'" (What happens is that your chances of getting laid decrease by approximately one hundred percent.)

+ InFocus: Photos From the 2020 Westminster Dog Show. (Color me not impressed.)