Thursday, January 12th, 2023


Everyone Everywhere All at Once

Josh Tepfer's black backpack "is to the attorney who frees the innocent what the cape was to Superman, the hammer to Thor — the tool that helps him do the seemingly impossible. And at scale. In it, he carries the briefs, files, and other paperwork that allow him to seek the release of people convicted of crimes they didn't commit — the raw materials from which he crafts their freedom, renews their spirits, and clears their names." The bag has been doing some pretty amazing work. Tepfer has gotten 288 wrongfully convicted people out of jail. How has one guy with one backpack had that kind of impact? He's pioneered a strategy called mass exoneration, in which "groups of those unfairly convicted who have similar complaints — mostly based on repeated misconduct by police or other officials — are cleared at once rather than each person's appeal having to make its way through the court system." Melissa Segura in Buzzfeed: A Chicago Attorney Is Getting Justice for Hundreds of Wrongfully Convicted People All at Once.


Wise Counsel?

"Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at President Joe Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an office in Washington ... Robert Hur, the former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Maryland, will lead the investigation." Are the Trump and Biden cases particularly similar? Not really — though you can bet future office holders are going to be a hell of a lot more careful about handling classified material. Are Trump and Biden similar in any way when it comes to potential criminality or danger to the republic? Of course not. Is Garland bending over backwards to make sure both cases are treated in the same manner, despite these differences? It sure seems like it. Do we need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the scourge of false equivalence? They'd certainly be busy. Will any of these factors matter in our era of rabid politics and 24-hour, single-topic cable shows masquerading as news? Hell no.


Tough Beans

For many of us, the idea of decaf coffee defeats the whole point of the product. But for others, decaf is the only option. Slate's Casey Rentz explains: "We folks with a particular type of CYP1A2 gene may adore a perfectly pressed single-origin Arabica but cannot drink a fully caffeinated cup without the caffeine accumulating too quickly, making our hearts beat like bass drums and our brains feel momentarily vaporized. At parties, we leave half cups of cold coffee to be tossed into the sink. At coffee shops, we pronounce, "half-caff or decaf" like our day depends on it (because it does). Baristas wince at the thought of heavily stripped decaf grounds grazing their precious portafilter." But for these folks, something is percolating a lot of interest. Can Science Finally Create a Decent Cup of Decaf?


Yorkie Park

"Police generally don't maintain statistics that separate stolen pets from other thefts, but the latest numbers available from an American Kennel Club affiliate that registers animals show dognappings increased 30 percent in the third quarter of 2022 over the same period the previous year." If your pet is stolen and held for ransom, find yourself someone who owns a Norwegian elkhound and a Pomeranian—and has served overseas, gathering human and signals intelligence for the Marine Corps. WaPo (Gift Article): A Yorkie was dognapped. A man who hunted al-Qaeda came to the rescue.

+ Obviously, any discussion of investigators and dogs brings up the age old question: Does your dog bite?


Extra, Extra

Deflate Gate: Is the end of inflation in sight? Can 2023 avoid being the economic disaster we've all been warned about? We'll see. But in the meantime, this seems positive. "U.S consumer prices fell for the first time in more than 2-1/2 years in December amid declining prices for gasoline and motor vehicles, offering hope that inflation was now on a sustained downward trend."

+ Tip Top: Who could possibly be interested enough in the royals or Harry's frostbitten knob to purchase the book by the memoirist formerly known as Prince? A lot of people. Penguin Random House announced that first day sales for the Harry's tell-all memoir topped 1.4 million copies, a record pace for non-fiction. (It took my book weeks to hit those numbers.)

+ Popping Pill Poppers: WaPo (GIft Article): "Alabama's attorney general became the most prominent Republican official yet to suggest that pregnant women could be prosecuted for taking abortion pills, saying in recent days that a state ban targeting those who facilitate abortions does not preclude the state from seeking to penalize women under other existing laws. The comment reflects a simmering divide within the antiabortion movement, which has long sought to treat women seeking abortions as 'victims' and not as targets for punishment." (How about treating them as full humans who have the right to control their bodies?)

+ Guitar Gently Weeps: "He began with bubblegum pop in the Yardbirds, then moved on to psychedelia, funk, jazz fusion, even techno – but no matter what the genre, Beck was always ahead of the curve." The Guardian on Jeff Beck who died at 78. The maverick genius of Jeff Beck, the ‘guitarist's guitarist.' Variety: 10 of the Guitar Hero's Finest Musical Moments.

+ H2OMG: For the first time in days, folks in California are seeing the sky. As we await the next batch of storms, here's a look at some aerial images that show the scale of damage across the state

+ Pigeon Towed: "Officers were standing in one of the fenced inmate unit yards, which prisoners use regularly for hanging out, playing games or just getting some fresh air. Then the officers noticed something strange: a grey bird with a small package on its back." Once they spotted him, he was like a sitting duck. Pigeon wearing crystal meth 'like a backpack' caught inside B.C. prison yard.


Bottom of the News

"Not even a 98% ownership stake on a Hawaii island can get you out of getting ticketed for driving without a license." Larry Ellison ticketed by Lanai cop on Hawaii island he owns.

+ Someone watched every Architectural Digest Open Door tour and ranked all 133 celebrity bathrooms from best to worst.

+ Liam Quigley has logged every slice of pizza he's eaten in New York City since 2014.