August 1, 2017 in 2,846 words

‘We Pretended That the Emperor Wasn’t Naked’

Republican Senator Jeff Flake takes on President Trump—but stops well short of calling for his removal.

Senator Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, has published an excerpt of his forthcoming book, The Conscience of a Conservative, in Politico. The title is an echo of Barry Goldwater’s famous tome. The excerpt argues that congressional Republicans are in denial about President Trump.

He urges them to do something.

“There simply are not that many people who are in a position to do something about an executive branch in chaos,” Flake wrote. “As the first branch of government (Article I), the Congress was designed expressly to assert itself at just such moments. It is what we talk about when we talk about ‘checks and balances.’ Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, ‘Someone should do something!’ without seeming to realize that that someone is us. And so, that unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication, and those in positions of leadership bear particular responsibility.”

Capitalism’s excesses belong in the dustbin of history. What’s next is up to us.

It’s time to dethrone capitalism’s single-minded directive and replace it with a more balanced logic, laying the foundations for a better, more equitable world

Back in February, a college sophomore called Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and put a simple question to the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Citing a study by Harvard University that showed that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support capitalism, Hill asked if the Democratic party would contemplate moving farther left and offering something distinctly different to dominant rightwing economics? Pelosi, visibly taken aback, said: “I thank you for your question,” she said, “but I’m sorry to say we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.”

The footage went viral on both sides of the Atlantic. It was powerful because of the clear contrast: Trevor Hill is no hardened leftwinger. He’s just your average millennial – bright, well-informed, curious about the world and eager to imagine a better one. By contrast, Pelosi, a figurehead of establishment politics, seemed unable to even engage with the notion that capitalism itself might be the problem.

It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the US it’s as high as 55%, while in Germany a solid 77% are sceptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Republicans ignore Trump’s Obamacare taunts

‘Until somebody shows us a way to get that elusive 50th vote, I think it’s over,’ one top GOP senator says.

“Maybe lightning will strike and something will come together but I’m not holding my breath,” Sen. John Thune said

Senate Republicans have no plans to revive their party-line attempts to repeal Obamacare this summer, despite President Donald Trump’s increasing frustration over the chamber’s failed attempts last week to gut the law.

“Until somebody shows us a way to get that elusive 50th vote, I think it’s over,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Republican. “Maybe lightning will strike and something will come together but I’m not holding my breath.”

Trump over the weekend taunted his own party’s slim majority, saying on Twitter they’d look like “fools” and “total quitters” if they abandon the health care push. But GOP senators appear unmoved.

For one, they’re down one vote in the short term, with Sen. John McCain being treated for cancer in Arizona.

But as the collapse of the repeal effort in the Senate last week showed, even with McCain the GOP majority is so narrow that it may never be possible to pass major, partisan health care reform through the chamber. That increasingly appears to be the case despite White House efforts to promote a bill by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that would send federal health care funding to the states in the form of block grants.

Why Americans Get Conned Again and Again

Their admiration for ingenuity and gumption leaves room for opportunists.

For decades, Donald Trump has been compared to the legendary showman P.T. Barnum. Trump himself has publicly embraced being likened to a man described by historians as “vulgar, childish, surely just a little crooked.” His willingness to invoke that set of values—quite different from the Horatio Alger-style “luck and pluck” that serve as an unofficial national ethos—may be what his supporters are praising when they say he “tells it like it is.” His base seems to view his readiness to dispense with ideals and ethics (“anyone would have taken that meeting”) as a sign of fitness to deal with the world as it is: a cesspool of corruption and “carnage” in which only suckers still believe that honesty is the best policy.

At this political moment, few books could be more timely than Fraud: An American History From Barnum to Madoff, by the Duke University historian Edward Balleisen. Other academics have documented the ways that the United States has been steeped in fraud and chicanery from the earliest days of the republic—notably, Stephen Mihm’s outstanding A Nation of Counterfeiters. But Balleisen’s book provides a far more sweeping view than its predecessors, offering a much-needed big-picture perspective. Balleisen never mentions Donald Trump, but effectively contextualizes his ascent by tracing centuries of grift, fraud, and con men in American history.

The ultimate case against using shame as a management tactic

Mistakes Were Made

Psychologically safe.

Earlier this month, what could have been the worst aviation accident in history was narrowly averted. An Air Canada pilot mistakenly lined up to land on a taxiway, instead of a parallel runway, at San Francisco International Airport. Four planes, fully fueled and loaded with passengers, were parked on the taxiway queued for take-off, facing the incoming aircraft.

In the heart-stopping audio recording of air traffic control conversations from that evening, an unidentified voice can be heard alerting the controllers to the plane’s location. “Where’s that guy going?” he asks. Then: “He’s on the taxiway.”

This visualization by the San Jose Mercury News shows just how close to disaster the incident came:

A controller who had previously reassured the Air Canada pilot that no planes were on its assigned runway calmly speaks again, this time telling the plane to “go around.” That’s aviation-speak for “abort the landing,” which the plane did, missing a collision, but only barely.

5 Criminals Who Went To Absurd Lengths For Zero Payoff

We all love heist movies — watching groups of expert criminals plan for weeks to pull off a massive score that mainly relies on no one sneezing at a crucial moment. With great risk comes great reward, right? Now imagine if someone planned out the equivalent of Ocean’s Eleven merely to steal a paper crown from Burger King. It would be a lot like these criminals, who went to a lot of trouble for payoffs that wouldn’t impress someone robbing a lemonade stand.

#5. A Thief Steals $1.4 Billion In Art And …. Just Keeps It

Being an art thief is the classiest of all criminal careers. You get to wear turtlenecks and spend a lot of time in museums, and the police refer to you by some cool nickname like “The Falcon.” But what if all those moonlight trips to art galleries start rubbing off on you? Then you become like Stephane Breitwieser, a French thief who let his love for art get in the way of making any money.

These days, he’s an author. Dude must be allergic to cash or something.

One of the world’s most prolific art thieves, Breitwieser stole more than 200 pieces over six years, with a total value of over $1.4 billion, which is like stealing ten Iron Man suits, or Warren Buffett’s wallet. With the help of his girlfriend Anne-Catherine Kleinklauss, he would simply stroll into museums, cut paintings out of their frames, roll them up under his coat, and walk on out like there wasn’t suddenly an empty frame behind him. Then, with millions of dollars’ worth of squiggles tucked in his pants, he would transport them to his underground lair and sell them to his vast network of underground contacts. Just kidding! He kept them in his mom’s house to look at, like they were his childhood posters of the Wu-Tang Clan.

British email prankster fools White House officials into replying

Man used emails to trick Anthony Scaramucci and pose as Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Eric Trump

Anthony Scaramucci was among those fooled by the prankster.

A suspected British prankster appears to have conned White House officials including Anthony Scaramucci into replying to him after pretending in email correspondence to be several different members of the Trump team.

The man, who goes by the Twitter handle @SINON_REBORN, posed as Jared Kushner well enough to convince homeland security adviser Tom Bossert to reply to him, according to CNN. Bossert included his personal email address in the exchange.

The man also fooled Scaramucci, the White House communications director who was fired on Monday, by pretending to be Reince Priebus, the former Trump administration chief of staff with whom he was believed to be in open warfare.

In a series of emails, the man posing as Priebus baited Scaramucci, accusing him of being “breathtakingly hypocritical” and saying “at no stage have you acted in a way that is remotely classy”.

Scaramucci responded: “You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize.”

Robots are replacing managers, too

Boss Bot

As work changes, so will management.

A startup called B12 builds websites with the help of “friendly robots.” Human designers, client managers, and copywriters still do much of the work—but they don’t coordinate it.

That job has been given to a software program called Orchestra.

As its name implies, Orchestra conducts a swarm of workers, most of whom are freelancers, and other “robots” to complete projects. When a client requests website improvements, which B12 sells a la carte, Orchestra generates a new Slack group, identifies team members who are both available and appropriate to complete specific tasks, and hands off work to humans and automated processes in the appropriate order. It constructs a hierarchy of workers who can check and provide feedback on each other’s work.

Automation is often associated with repetitive work such as torquing a bolt or combing through contracts during an audit. Orchestra and other systems like it demonstrate that the management of that work, and even work too complex to fully automate, also involves tasks with high automation potential. According to a McKinsey analysis, 25% of even a CEO’s current job can be handled by robots, and 35% of management tasks can be automated.

The future of work may have become the hot topic, but the future of management may involve an equally drastic change.

Keep having nightmares?

You may be getting too much sleep

Don’t oversleep or else

Have you recently arrived at work naked or turned up for an exam without revising? If you want to avoid having nightmares like these, it might be best to get less than 9 hours’ sleep a night.

People often have nightmares following upsetting events, and research into nightmares has mostly focused on people with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But most people get nightmares at some point, prompting Stephanie Rek at the University of Oxford and her colleagues to perform one of the largest ever studies of nightmares in the general population.

The team recruited 846 people through media advertisements and databases of people interested in sleep studies, and asked them to complete an online survey. The participants were asked questions such as how many nightmares they had experienced over the past two weeks, and how bad they were. These answers contributed to an overall score on a “nightmare severity scale”.

Each volunteer was also assessed for PTSD and asked about other aspects of their life, such as recent divorces or legal trouble, their tendency to worry, how much sleep they get and how much alcohol they drink.

It’s Now Illegal To Text While Crossing The Street In Honolulu

Pedestrians walk past a “Look!” sign on the crosswalk at the intersection of 42nd Street and Second Avenue in New York. Cities all over the country are looking for ways to get pedestrians to pay more attention.

Look both ways before you cross the street; and if you’re in Honolulu, make sure to put away your phone, too.

This week, the city became the first major U.S. city to pass legislation targeting texters and other “distracted walkers” as they step off the curb.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the bill, also known as the “Distracted Walking Law,” on Thursday, after it was passed 7-2 earlier this month by the city council.

“We hold the unfortunate distinction of being a major city with more pedestrians being hit in crosswalks, particularly our seniors, than almost any other city in the county,” Caldwell said, according to Reuters.

The Honolulu Police Department will begin enforcing the law on Oct. 25. Until then the department, which supports the law, will implement a three-month training and warning period, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

The chaos comes at you quick, right? Anthony Scaramucci, “The Mooch,” is out. Who will be in?

Anthony Scaramucci is ousted from his role as the new White House communications director after General John Kelly takes over as chief of staff from Reince Priebus.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trebor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

Ricardo Romero inherited a former cattle ranch in Veracruz, Mexico, from his father decades ago. Since then, he’s turned the land into the Las Cañadas Farm Cooperative, a place that’s at the forefront of a new agriculture technique called carbon farming.

When plants grow, they draw carbon from the air and deposit it in the soil. Carbon farming is a simple way to grow crops and manage soil that encourages the buildup of carbon in the ground. Over 200 food companies, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists have endorsed the technique for countering rapidly warming temperatures around the world due to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, if farmers worldwide did what Romero does, they could take up to 1.2 billion tons of carbon out of the atmosphere each year, which in 100 years would bring carbon levels down to where they were in pre-industrial times.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

Some news this week: President Donald Trump’s trans military ban, Sperm is leaving the western front, someone actually allowed Trump in front of Boy Scouts and Jared Kushner assures everyone that nothing shady happened in his meetings with Russian spies. Oh, and the robot uprising is beginning.

Learn to Speak Cat

Do you wonder what cats are trying to say when they meow? Watch this video to find out!

Simon’s Cat Logic is a series where we speak to a Cat Behaviour Expert Nicky Trevorrow at Cats Protection ( about why cats do the things they do!

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Me commentary on three of Jon Jones most recent and eventful stare downs in the UFC. Lookin’ forward to seeing how he goes against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 this weekend ey!

Australia is widely considered Canada’s worst province.

Our #fun #russianfunded social media channel shows why the media’s Donald Trump Russia story is total BS.

THANKS to Comedy Network and The Beaverton for making this program available on YouTube.


Tips for Transplants: Rules for August

Enjoy the last true month for hammocks.

August in general is the doldrums of the summer: The warm-weather holidays are pretty much over until Labor Day ushers out the season of fun; most people have already used up their vacation time; and the kids are bored with the video games you bought just a couple of months ago. We’re all just waiting for September to roll languidly around and start autumn, because seriously: Fuck this heat already.

That’s not to say that August doesn’t have anything going for it. What should we keep in mind as we crank the A/C and wait for fall? Here are ten suggestions.

If you think about it — thermometers? Pretty cool.

10. Heat Resignation Sets In
Is it still hot? Still massively uncomfortable to sleep at night with just the windows open? Are there days that legally obligate the folks in your office and on the local news to say things about eggs and sidewalks? Yes, yes and, sadly, yes. Can you believe that the average temperature in August is 104 degrees? It’s not, but it sure feels like it is. Luckily, we’ve all become accustomed to living in a thin-air oven by the eighth month.

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Maybe. Not?