February 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A love round-up, Barr's mission impossible, Weekend Whats, and Feel Good Friday.

Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Lancelot and Guinevere, Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam, Donald and Kim Jong Un. Yes, our republic is facing a seemingly endless stress test, but it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’d have to have a heart of (Roger) stone to lead with politics. Instead, we’ll begin with something that has caused even more psychic stress, blind devotion, and wanton cheating than politics: Love! Let’s start with the thoroughly modern relationship of Matt and Victoria: “In addition to having been married for two years, Matt and Victoria make their living posting videos to TikTok.” Meet the Couples Who Tiktok Together: “Giving Her Content Is My Love Language.” (I can relate. My wife and I both write newsletters and sometimes when she says, “Give it to me, baby!” I assume she means a either a pun or a really catchy subject line. And I’m usually right.)

+ In the mood for something a little more traditional? “In the era of online dating, one septuagenarian Irishman clings tight to a method passed down through the generations—and thousands of happy couples are luckier for it.” The Donkey Farmer’s Magical Matchmaking Book. (There’s no better preparation for matchmaking than a lifetime working with Jackasses…)

+ “These are real people, gaming the system, becoming—whether they know it or not—key figures in the mythology of their cities’ digital culture. Like the internet, they are confounding and scary and a little bit romantic. Like mayors and famous bodega cats, they are both hyper-local and larger than life.” The Atlantic: Tinder’s Most Notorious Men.

+ “But even in these dire and at times hopeless circumstances, people have managed to do the improbable — fall deeply in love.” Buzzfeed: Two Couples Shared What It Was Like Falling In Love At A Migrant Camp At The US–Mexico Border.

+ Curbed on couples who maintain separate residences. When living apart keeps you together. (My wife and I are trying something a little like this. We live in the same house, but we only communicate via DMs.)

+ “What if I told you that in Australia, a mouselike marsupial called antechinus breeds so manically during its three-week mating season that the males bleed internally and go blind, until every male lies dead? And what if I told you that this isn’t the reason the species is facing an existential threat?” (Uh, I’d probably tell you I miss my 20s). Wired: Antechinus has so much sex over three weeks that males go blind and die, yet it’s climate change that threatens it. (Having a life-threatening amount of sex and then worrying about climate change is the best description ever of what it’s really like to be a liberal…)

+ Vox: Could these drugs save your relationship? (Enough with the questions, just give us the drugs…)

+ Love in the time of coronavirus: Valentine’s Day on quarantined ship. (At least they all have good excuse for not getting their partner anything this year…)

+ Psychologists have discovered the specific dance moves that attract the opposite sex. (It makes sense this was discovered by shrinks, because my specific move is lying on the couch and talking about myself.)

+ Politico Magazine: Sex, Lies and Prenups: Donald Trump’s Timeless Wisdom on Love. “Dating is like being in Vietnam…It’s like war out there.” (This is especially true if one’s Vietnam experience consisted of reclining on a bed beneath a ceiling mirror getting a foot massage to relieve imaginary bone spurs.)

+ From Vice: Here Are Your Best 15 Stories About Breaking Up in Public. And from The Ringer: The 50 Greatest Breakup Songs of All Time.

+ And, finally, some personal news. We finally made the list of most adorable power couples in the Bay Area. Well, actually, my wife made it with her business partner, Amy. (At least my wife and I still have the p*rnhub power couple list…)


Be Still My Tweeting Heart

As a Twitter addict, it doesn’t much surprise me that President Trump was unwilling to follow Bill Barr’s suggestion that he stop tweeting about matters related to the Justice Department. (Perhaps Trump’s failure to comply was related to the fact that the only thing more disingenuous than Trump’s tweets was Barr’s interview.) Barr had implied that the presidential tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.” (Barr thinks it’s impossible to do his job under these conditions? Try being a friggin news curator.)

+ OK, now that we’re all distracted by the faux outrage and the continued tweeting, let’s get back to the meddling. NYT: Barr Installs Outside Prosecutor to Review Case Against Michael Flynn.

+ AP: US won’t charge ex-FBI official McCabe.

+ Franklin Foer: Now We Know What Kind of Authoritarian Trump Aspires to Be. “After the past week—which saw the firing of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the revocation of the Justice Department’s sentencing memo for Roger Stone, and Attorney General Bill Barr’s increasingly heavy-handed control of the investigations into his boss—there’s less doubt about the contours of the state Trump hopes to build. He’s creating Kyiv-on-the-Potomac.” (My money was on Moscow on the Hudson.)


Weekend Whats

What to Pod: “I went into this exercise as a journalist knowing what I was doing, and I felt that, you know, my inherent skepticism of the Trump campaign’s messaging and kind of my media literacy as somebody who’s a journalist and does this professionally would kind of inoculate me against any of these distortions. But in fact, I found that I became, over time, reflexively suspicious of every headline I encountered.” To understand why we see things so differently, you have to understand what we’re seeing. Including the disinformation. And this Terri Gross interview of McKay Coppins is a great way to understand all of it.

+ What to Snort: “Netflix’s long-running drug-trade saga, which remains as reliably efficient and engaging as anything on the streaming platform, even as it continues telling the same basic story in slightly different ways.” Sounds about right. I’m in. Narcos: Mexico Is Back and More Bloody, Druggy, and Chaotic Than Ever.

+ What to Hear: It’s rare that an opening band dominates a show, and when it happens, you can bet that band will be big. As openers, Eliza and The Delusionals killed at the Fox in Oakland. The crowd was fully locked in. The band joked there were more people in the crowd than in their hometown in Australia. They better get used to being around large groups. Check out Eliza and The Delusionals. (Start with Just Exist.)


A Costcodependent Relationship

“The point of writing this piece is not to talk about how specifically Costco operates — how it sells $4.99 rotisserie chickens, $1.50 hotdogs, or its strategy behind store layout. There are many other articles, generally of the MBA case study variety, that have done this already. (I do suggest you take a look at these though because they are actually quite interesting. Included are high profile lawsuits over golf balls, $420k diamond rings, and a poultry megafarm in Nebraska). Instead, what I want to talk about here is the sum of all these components — how Costco can sell all of its products for low prices while making employees and customers happy.” The most dedicated, enthusiastic, and longlasting love affair I’ve ever witnessed is the one between my dad and Costco. This one’s for him (but you’ll like it too). Bryan Lehrer on Costco Capitalism.


Banana Split Up

“The company owns premium brands Ben & Jerry’s and Talenti, workhorse ice creams Breyers, Klondike and Good Humor, and specialty bars and ice cream treat brands Magnum, Cornetto, Viennetta, Choc Ice and others.” And by the end of the year, they’re going to stop advertising to kids. WaPo: Unilever will stop marketing to kids in an effort to curb childhood obesity. (Hope my kids take this news with Good Humor.)


Oligarch Enemies, A Love Story

“What the Bloomberg campaign seems to have bought into is that, when you lean into the potent combination of content creation and shamelessness, any reaction it provokes is a good reaction. This strategy provides a certain amount of freedom to a candidate when you don’t care what people think of you — as long as they’re thinking of you.” Great analysis what Mike Bloomberg is doing, and what politics has become. Charlie Warzel in the NYT: Mike Bloomberg Is Hacking Your Attention.


Thank You, Next

“At weekly weigh-ins, your body would be analysed by the trainer, and then they announced your weight to everyone in the room. If you were over the designated weight, then they would ration your food. Sometimes they would even take away entire meals and those ‘overweight’ trainees would just be given water.” BBC with a very interesting glimpse into a K-pop factory. I could have been a K-pop idol – but I’m glad I quit.


Let’s Role Play

“Her underselling of her past life is almost comical. At one point, she notes that she was read into a new program in the CIA’s counterterrorism division on September 10, 2001, and the holy-crap coincidence barely warrants a pause from her.” D Magazine: Tracy Walder hunted terrorists for the CIA, even as foreign operatives called her Malibu Barbie. The Spy Next Door.


Blowing in Your Earworm

“The hit song by Tones and I started as a sensation on the streets of Australia before reaching No. 1 in 20 countries and topping 1 billion plays on Spotify. See how it was made.” NYT: What Is ‘Dance Monkey,’ and How Did It Take Over the World?


Feel Good Friday

“Soon hundreds of people started calling for advice and that’s how the Santhi Medical Information Centre was born. Uma had found her life’s calling – she wasn’t treating people, as her father had done, but she was helping them get treatment.” BBC: An ‘unhappy marriage’ that has saved thousands of lives.

+ A Georgia boy pulled his sister out of house fire and went back in to save the family dog. He’s 5 years old.

+ WaPo: A couple flew home with their adopted infant. Strangers threw an impromptu baby shower on the plane.

+ A woman donated her kidney to her mentor. He gave her a beauty salon to say thank you. (That must have cost an arm and a leg!)

+ Orange Park tattoo artist is helping others cover racist, hateful tattoos after covering his own.

+ LA County DA to dismiss nearly 66k marijuana convictions.

+ Outside: Denmark Took a Mountain of Trash and Made a Ski Hill.

+ A music fan has been reunited with a cassette tape she lost while on holiday 25 years ago after it washed up on a beach hundreds of miles away.

+ An Astronaut Spent 328 Days In Space and Then Posted A Video Of Her Reunion With Her Dog. (Meanwhile, her cat was like, “Oh wait, were you gone?”)

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