Friday, October 14th, 2022


The Dog Days Aren’t Over

Life extension is all the rage these days. If you read enough news about humans, it's sometimes hard to get excited about the notion of more of the same. Celine Halioua and her startup called Loyal are working on life extension efforts in an area most of us, with the exception of cats, can all feel a little more enthusiastic about. It's for Dogs. She's convinced she can turn K-9 into K-12 or 13, and then some. "The search for an antiaging elixir goes back at least to the Epic of Gilgamesh, and even today the most far-out ideas for thwarting death—freezing people for eventual revival, reincarnating them digitally—sound an awful lot like technological fairy tales. But in the world of lab animals, life extension is already here, with studies boosting or even doubling the lifespans of worms, flies, and mice." People have been searching for a fountain of youth for thousands of years. Celine Halioua thinks she's found one—for canines. Be patient, we're next. "Halioua, a fast talker who speaks in a confident, sometimes bewildering mix of Silicon Valley and biotech jargon, believes that starting with dogs puts her on the best and cutest path to the first aging treatments for people." (Worst case, a few years out we'll get a Netflix series about the company.)


Subpoena Colada

If you like subpoena coladas, and gettin' caught in the reign. The Jan 6 Committee ended its hearings by issuing a subpoena of Donald Trump. While the unlikely appearance under oath of a man who can't speak the truth would make for some great television, calling for his testimony is a mixed bag. A subpoena for Trump implies that his appearance would provide missing answers. That's false. What we witnessed in real time has been confirmed over and over and there's never been a conflicting account. Trump's team took the 5th so often it should be called taking the 45th. In the weeks following the insurrection, I finished writing a book that, in part, covered what happened before, during, and after the insurrection. Looking back, I don't need to change a single word. We saw what happened with our own eyes. We don't need to hear from Trump. We need him to be held accountable. Susan Glasser in The New Yorker: The subpoena "made for a compelling headline, but Thursday's vote was pure symbolism from a committee that may well be out of business in just a few weeks, if the voters, as expected, give control of the House to the Republicans. It's impossible to imagine Trump willingly testifying before this or any future Congress about anything—at least, not without years of legal wrangling. The real decision about whether and how to hold Trump responsible for the tragedy of January 6th rests, as it always has, with the Justice Department and its enigmatic Attorney General, Merrick Garland. And we will not know the answer to that question anytime soon." Donald Trump, January 6th, and the Elusive Search for Accountability.

+ Dahlia Lithwick: "And so we sit in the uncomfortable tension between relitigating what Donald Trump knew and understood on Jan, 6 and when he knew and understood it, and the grim possibility that virtually none of its enablers, plotters, boosters, and opportunists will suffer any consequences."


A Novel Experience

"She holds six of the top 10 spots on The New York Times's paperback fiction best-seller list, a stunning number of simultaneous best sellers from a single author. She has sold 8.6 million print books this year alone — more copies than the Bible, according to NPD BookScan. And her success — a shock that she's still processing, she said — has upended the publishing industry's most entrenched assumptions about what sells books." NYT (Gift Article): How Colleen Hoover Rose to Rule the Best-Seller List. "She still shops at Walmart in her pajamas, and lives on the same 100-acre plot of land where her family's farm used to be. Her uncle still harvests hay for his cattle on the property."


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: LuLaRich is a four-part docuseries that chronicles the unraveling of LuLaRoe. Known for their buttery soft leggings, the infamous multi-level marketing company went viral promising young mothers a work-from-home salvation. It's also an all-too familiar reminder of just how long it takes and how hard it is to hold criminals accountable. Another documentary worth your time is Apple TV's Sidney, a look at the remarkable life of Sidney Poitier. I loved his movies as a kid. Looking back at the historical context, they're even more remarkable.

+ What to Book: We spend a lot of time worrying about the downside of technology. But there are plenty of upsides. And, of course, how technology impacts the world is up to us. Check out Corinna Lathan's new book: Inventing the Future: Stories from a Techno-Optimist.


Extra, Extra

Bid Pro Quo: "The first time I heard someone use the term 'bid' was on my first day in federal prison, just four days before my 21st birthday. It was after the intake process, after I was fingerprinted, strip-searched, photographed, and given an inmate-ID card, an orange jumpsuit, and a roll of bedding. Before any of this, I'd been instructed by my pre-sentencing probation officer that I could bring 'absolutely nothing' with me into the prison. 'Just your body,' he'd said. So I left my eyeglasses at home, assuming I'd be issued a new pair. I walked blindly through a labyrinth of buzzing steel doors, deeper and deeper into the compound. When I asked about receiving a pair of glasses, one of the guards told me I'd have to wait until next year, since the eye doctor only came around once a year, and he'd just recently visited." Eric Borsuk in The Marshall Project: The Art of Bidding, or How I Survived Federal Prison.

+ It's in Their Hands: "The consequence is a politics in which neither party can sustain a durable advantage over the other, and political direction for a country of 330 million people is decided by a tiny sliver of voters in about half a dozen states—maybe a few hundred thousand people in all." Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: Why Politics Has Become So Stressful.

+ The Litter Truth: "To a person not steeped in the culture war battles over gender identity that have engulfed school districts nationwide, it's the kind of claim that would sound bizarre and confusing — and, from high-profile GOP members, authoritative." Or it could just sound as crazy as all the other nonsense dominating one American political party. How an urban myth about litter boxes in schools became a GOP talking point.

+ Attention Horror: The FDA has officially declared a shortage of Adderall.

+ Strike That, Reverse It: "British Prime Minister Liz Truss fired her finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday and scrapped parts of their economic package in a desperate bid to stay in power and survive the market and political turmoil gripping the country."

+ Link Different: SpaceX tells US government that it can no longer pay for Ukraine's Starlink service. (This has nothing to do with Elon's pro-Putin peace plan or the fact that Ukraine's ambassador to Germany recently told Musk to Eff Off.) Some folks in Ukraine say they've been paying for the service all along.

+ Flowering Inferno: "One of Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers paintings has been cleaned and is back on display, after climate activists threw tins of what appeared to be tomato soup over it." Painful to watch.


Feel Good Friday

"This is the paradox at the heart of climate change: We've burned far too many fossil fuels to go on living as we have, but we've also never learned to live well without them. As the Yale economist Robert Mendelsohn puts it, the problem of the future is how to create a 19th-century carbon footprint without backsliding into a 19th-century standard of living. No model exists for creating such a world, which is partly why paralysis has set in at so many levels. The greatest crisis in human history may require imagining ways of living — not just of energy production but of daily habit — that we have never seen before. How do we begin to imagine such a household?" NYT (Gift Article): What Does Sustainable Living Look Like? Maybe Like Uruguay.

+ "It's one of the most impressive COVID vaccination campaigns in the world. And it began with a text message out of the blue." How this Brazilian doc got nearly every person in her city to take a COVID vaccine. (Hey, if you can get someone to get a Brazilian, you can convince them to get anything...)

+ Billionaire MacKenzie Scott donates $15m to help provide glasses to farmers in developing countries. (How fun would it be to do this.)

+ California children can now receive free books thanks to Dolly Parton. Speaking of free books, don't forget to follow along with the excellent and inspiring adventures of The Busload of Books Tour.

+ WaPo: We visited Studio Ghibli's long-awaited theme park. It's a sensory delight.

+ And let's kick off the weekend with Springsteen's cover of Nightshift.