The news moves at Internet speed and stories often depart our consciousness as fast as they flash over our screens, but few of us will forget where we were when, for eleven brief but glorious minutes, Donald Trump—the all caps king, the exclamation point potus—was deleted from Twitter; giving a us an ephemeral respite from the past SAD! ten months, a welcome reprieve during which we could ENJOY! the fantasy that this near year of social media trolling from the Oval Office had merely been an illusion, a Shakespearean-level tragicomedy concocted in the less forgiving recesses of our slumbering minds—perchance just a bad dream, one that, had he lived during this era, Sigmund Freud might have interpreted as: Fake News. Alas, it was no such thing, a reality slapped across our face by the tiny tapping thumbs of he whose account had re-emerged: “My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee.” From AP: Trump’s brief Twitter outage prompts cheers, concerns. Like the notion that “that all men are created equal” the reason for the cheers is self evident. The reason for concern is less obvious, but worth noting. Imagine for a moment that another rogue employee were to take control of the presidential Twitter account and use it to wantonly harass private citizens, belittle Senators with slander and catchy nicknames, attack Gold Star families, spread mistruths and propaganda concocted by our enemies, defame former US presidents, taunt foreign leaders and threaten war with nuclear-armed adversaries, or even go so far as to call into question the rule of law with constant attacks on judges and law enforcement agencies. That could be really bad.
“Murders have become almost numbingly routine in Baltimore. In 2017 so far, 297 homicides have been recorded. The city is on a pace to break its record of 353 murders in 1993 when Baltimore, population 614,000, had 113,000 more residents than it does now.” From The Guardian: Baltimore is more murderous than Chicago. Can anyone save the city from itself?
What to understand: You can now view both parts Frontline’s excellent series: Putins’ Revenge: the inside story of how Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy—and why he decided to target an American election. Related: Don’t miss Preet Bharara’s riveting and informative interview with Bill Browder—a guy who knows as much about Putin’s corruption as anyone (and is in very real danger because of that). To understand Putin and America, you have to understand the Magnitsky Act.
+ What to read: “In June 2010, when the FBI swept up 10 suspected spies—living here under the direction of Vladimir Putin—the news was but a blip. Newspapers ran top-of-the-fold headlines, yes. Spasmodic cable news chyrons twitched at the bottom of our screens. But the details were met with something less like alarm and more like humor and nostalgia. Russian spies? Like in James Bond? Like Boris and Natasha?” Seattle Met: The Russian Spies Who Fooled Seattle.
+ What to observe: “The male bird is the racer, and returning to the female provides his motivation.” NPR with a photo-heavy look at The Pigeon Racers Of Indonesia.
“As everyone knows he was a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, and three more years have elapsed while the legal process unfolded. He has lost nearly a decade of his life.” So said Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyer as a military judge ruled that Bergdahl will get “a dishonorable discharge from the US Army but will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009.”
“DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.” And with that, Joe Ricketts, the billionaire owner of several small but influential news sites, announced that he would be shutting them all down. The move came a week after employees at those sites decided to unionize. We often get excited when a when a billionaire swoops in to save a news organization. But it can be a dangerous game.
“More than 40,000 Americans were killed by cars in 2016 — the equivalent of a fully-loaded Boeing 747 falling out of the sky once every three days. It’s more than the 33,000 annual gun deaths, and more than the 20,000-plus people killed by synthetic opioids that year. Half of those automobile fatalities occurred in urban areas; about 6,000 of them were pedestrians.” In the wake of the tragedy in lower Manhattan, Buzzfeed’s Jessie Singer makes the case that we should ban cars from major cities. That’s not an overly realistic outcome, but it’s an idea worth reading about.
+ “We’re not going to get rid of cars, nor should we. But one thing that dovetails with this is what’s happening with many cities and urban places around the country, which is trying make the urban environment less accommodating to moving vehicles as fast as possible.” Denver Post: Cities should speed up safeguards for pedestrians, and not just because of terrorism.
“The ammonia-based inhalant is manufactured for the express purpose of treating or preventing fainting, but at some point, NFL players and other athletes discovered they could repurpose the decongestant properties and adrenaline-pumping side effects into a perfectly legal, low-tech pick-me-up … even though there’s zero proof of any performance benefit.” ESPN’s David Fleming on smelling salts, the latest craze on NFL sidelines (which means they’ll be the latest craze to hit youth sports soon). Waiting to inhale. (At 49ers games, they have smelling salts for the fans.)
“Most of us don’t understand as much as we think, and yet we’re all cocksure about a range of issues. So when we are arguing about politics, what are we really arguing about? Is it about getting it right or is it about preserving our sense of rightness?” In Vox, a cognitive scientists explains why we pretend to know more than we do. (I have some thoughts on this topic which I’ll share just as soon as I’m done explain all the news on the internet.)
“In the late-19th century, at elegant ladies’ luncheons, a popular snack was small, crustless tea sandwiches with butter and cucumber, cold cuts or cheese. Around this time, health food advocates like John Harvey Kellogg started promoting peanut products as a replacement for animal-based foods (butter included). So for a vegetarian option at these luncheons, peanut butter simply replaced regular butter.” From The Conversation: In America’s sandwiches, the story of a nation.
From Motherboard: One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week. (That’s still less energy than it will take for most of us to really understand what the hell Bitcoin is…)
+ Tired of everyone sharing their perfect pictures on Instagram? Join the Chinning movement.
+ Believe it our not, some people love TV spoilers.
+ Steph Curry’s weird mention in the GOP tax plan.
+ You’ve been good this week, so here are some Nat Geo nature photos.