February 6, 2018 in 5,512 words

Reagan economic adviser mocks Trump as Dow falls: The market just realized an ‘unstable lunatic is president’

Pictured above: President Donald Trump speaks in Ohio while the Dow Jones plummets in historic drop. America’s Shithole.

At the exact moment when President Donald Trump was bragging about the economic boon from his tax reforms, the stock market experienced an historic crash — and according to one former White House economic adviser, that wasn’t coincidental.

“The stock market just noticed that an unstable lunatic is president of the United States,” Bruce Bartlett, a Treasury Department official under President George H.W. Bush and an economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan tweeted.

MSNBC’s Joy Reid noted Bartlett’s resume soon after he made the quip on Twitter.

Passive, poor and white? What people keep getting wrong about Appalachia

To satisfy an elitist, narrative fetish about ‘Trump Country’, photographers from outside have long ignored my region’s diversity.

During he 2016 presidential election, the national press branded Appalachia ground zero for America’s “forgotten tribe” of white working-class voters.

In the process, we Appalachians became a symbol of political self-harm.

Appalachians were often used as both the abstract and real beneficiaries of Donald Trump’s promise to “make America great again”, and media outlets and prestige publications – from the New Yorker to Vanity Fair – sent reporters to Appalachia to extract profiles and images of the people they assumed could demystify our fractured political moment.

Their output came to form a distinct genre of writing – what I call the “Trump Country” piece – that saturated news cycles and fatigued readers with stories of complacent white woe and toxic politics. Podcaster Jayme Dale, originally from North Carolina, described 2016 as the year “the US collectively pointed a trembling finger of accusation at the Appalachian region”.

As someone born and raised in Appalachia, in East Tennessee, I recognized the attitudes of Trump voters – some bigoted, some resigned – and experiences of hardship shared by many in the region.

But I also recognize a pattern of superficial press attention that recalled narratives produced during the 1960s “War on Poverty”, when sensational images of the poor filled the pages of newspapers and magazines.

To be Appalachian, both then and now, was to be white, deprived and spiritless.

Our Hackable Political Future

Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another.

It is the summer of 2019, and the story, predictably, has stuck around — part talk-show joke, part right-wing talking point. “It’s news,” political journalists say in their own defense. “People are talking about it. How can we not?”

Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?”

Welcome to the shape of things to come. In 2016 Gareth Edwards, the director of the Star Wars film “Rogue One,” was able to create a scene featuring a young Princess Leia by manipulating images of Carrie Fisher as she looked in 1977. Mr. Edwards had the best hardware and software a $200 million Hollywood budget could buy. Less than two years later, images of similar quality can be created with software available for free download on Reddit. That was how a faked video supposedly of the actress Emma Watson in a shower with another woman ended up on the website Celeb Jihad.

Programs like these have many legitimate applications. They can help computer-security experts probe for weaknesses in their defenses and help self-driving cars learn how to navigate unusual weather conditions. But as the novelist William Gibson once said, “The street finds its own uses for things.” So do rogue political actors. The implications for democracy are eye-opening.

White House Plan Giving Restaurant Owners More Control Over Tips Under Fire

Food For Thought

It’s last call for public comment on a Trump administration proposal that would give bar and restaurant owners more control over workers’ tips.

The Labor Department has been asking for feedback, and already hundreds of thousands of people have weighed in.

Many say they say they’re opposed to a rule that would allow restaurant owners to pocket tips for themselves.

“I think it’s another example of corporate greed gone wrong,” says Julie Holmes, a former waitress from Virginia. “It basically makes people feel as though they can’t earn a living. Women especially. Single mothers and people who are really out here working as hard as they can to try to provide are affected by this.”

The inspector general is also investigating reports that the Labor Department tried to hush up an internal analysis that found the proposed rule could cost tipped workers billions of dollars a year.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions Another Shithole

Eleven members of the House Judiciary Committee are demanding a hearing into the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to roll back an Obama-era policy on marijuana enforcement, according to a letter obtained Monday by VICE News.

The letter, signed by 11 Democrats, calls for Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, to hold a hearing of the full House Judiciary Committee to discuss the recent move by Sessions, which gives federal prosecutors more leeway to launch marijuana cases in states that have legalized the drug for medical and recreational use.

The Democrats said they fear the new Justice Department policy “will promote an inefficient use of limited taxpayer resources and subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.”

“The costs of pursuing this misguided policy both in terms of prosecution and in lives blighted by unnecessary criminal convictions are staggering, cruel and unwarranted,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee who signed the letter. He added, “As I told Jeff Sessions when he appeared before the Judiciary Committee, prosecution of marijuana has an opportunity cost, namely that resources wasted on marijuana cases aren’t being used to prosecute opioid sellers, and crack, meth and heroin dealers.”

Here’s Ajit Pai’s “proof” that killing net neutrality created more broadband

Pai’s FCC takes credit for broadband deployments that began under Obama.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks to the media after the vote to repeal net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017. Another shithole.

Ajit Pai had a dilemma when overseeing the creation of the Federal Communications Commission’s new Broadband Deployment Report.

Anyone who is familiar with the FCC chairman’s rhetoric over the past few years could make two safe predictions about this report. The report would conclude that broadband deployment in the US is going just fine and that the repeal of net neutrality rules is largely responsible for any new broadband deployment.

But the FCC’s actual data—based on the extensive Form 477 data submissions Internet service providers must make on a regular basis—only covers broadband deployments through December 2016. Pai wasn’t elevated from commissioner to chairman until January 2017, and he didn’t lead the vote to repeal the net neutrality rules until December 2017. And, technically, those rules are still on the books because the repeal won’t take effect for at least another two months.

The timing means that it would be impossible for Pai to present evidence today that broadband deployment is increasing as a result of the net neutrality repeal. But the report claims that’s exactly what happened anyway and says that future data will bear that out. To support its argument, the report claims that broadband deployment projects that were started during the Obama administration were somehow caused by Pai’s deregulatory policies.

Two weeks ago, we noted that a fact sheet issued by Pai offered no data to back up his deployment claims. The full report was released Friday, so now we can take a deeper look at its conclusions and reasoning.

Despite polar progress, ozone layer continues to deteriorate

Major study finds mid-latitudes are not repairing as models predict.

A coloured satellite map of atmospheric ozone in the southern hemisphere between mid-August and early October 1998. An ozone “hole” is seen over Antarctica.

Pointing to the recovery of the ozone layer as humanity’s one great triumph of environmental remediation may have been premature, a new report warns.

A team led by Joanna Haigh of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, UK, has discovered that while ozone density is indeed improving at the poles, it is not doing so at lower latitudes, roughly between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south.

That encompasses everywhere on the planet between the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland to south of Tierra del Fuego at the foot of South America.

The researchers found that although the decrease in ozone concentration is not as great as that seen at the poles before the banning of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in 1987, the effects may be worse, because ultraviolet radiation is stronger in the region, and it contains most of the world’s population.

Ozone is an inorganic molecule also known as trioxygen, or O3. It is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth’s atmosphere, but is found in much larger levels in the stratosphere, about 20 to 30 kilometres above the planet’s surface, where it is formed by the interaction of O2 with ultraviolet light from the sun.

The ozone layer absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation beaming towards the planet, and thus protects the biosphere from its harmful effects.

Birds-of-Paradise Have Feathers That Act Like Black Holes

The glamorous species use their bodies to trap light so female birds can’t look away.

A male Wahnes’s Parotia in action in Papua New Guinea. The super-black feathers down its front help offset the iridescent patch on its throat.

If there’s one word in the English dictionary that best describes the birds-of-paradise, it’s “extra.” These south Pacific babies can twerk, step, and do inexplicable things with their bodies. Heck, they can even throw David Attenborough off his game.

So, it’s no surprise when another bizarre trait turns up in the flamboyant family. Last month, scientists from Harvard, Yale, and the Smithsonian Institution revealed that some birds-of-paradise feathers have nuanced structures that trap the tiniest iotas of light, essentially turning them into black holes. The findings were published in Nature Communications.

The newly discovered effect is similar to vantablack, a man-made coating that’s vaunted as the darkest substance in the world. The carbon-based material, which looks velvety but is slick to the touch, has been used on satellites, the International Space Station, and a five-figure watch.

For humans, a more intense, matte shade of black offers a stealthy advantage, especially when used on military equipment. But for the birds-of-paradise, it’s another showpiece in their over-the-top wardrobes. “They display their super-black feathers most prominently during courtship,” says Dakota McCoy, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard and the lead author of the study. “But when they’re just going about their business, the feathers are tucked away.”

5 Delightfully Crazy Ways People Tried To Contact the Dead

We like to think that we know everything about the world, that we’re two and a half iPhone launches away from unlocking all the secrets of the Universe. But the truth is that we know nothing. We can’t even agree on what happens to us after we die. Do we spend eternity rotting in the ground, or do we ascend/descend (cross out where appropriate) to the spiritual plane that we deserve? Luckily for us, there have been plenty of spiritual pioneers who have taken it upon themselves to (pretend to) pierce the veil and ask the only people who know the answer: the dead.

#5. Spirit Photography Was A Scam To Fool Widows

Us modern folk with our fancy selfie machines often forget what a true miracle photography is. We can take the past and imprison it forever in a tiny box, or a bunch of albums our moms are always tries to whip out on every visit. But like any technology that feels more like magic than reality, it took about five whole minutes for someone to turn photography into yet another way to swindle people.

Which is still four minutes longer than it took for it to become another medium for penises.

In the old days of photography, when every picture looked like its own illegal low-rez download, you couldn’t take one without some weird smudge or shadow invading the frame. So of course, it didn’t take long for people to start claiming that those smudges were in fact ghosts and/or other supernatural beasties photobombing you. Before long, spirit photography became the trend du jour of the late 19th century, though the reason was a bit more depressing than, say, why the selfie stick caught on. After the Civil War, there were plenty of grieving Americans wanting something to remember their fallen loved ones by. Spirit photography promised to connect the bereaved living to the probably annoyed dead in return for nothing except the satisfaction of knowing that they’d helped to cure someone’s emotional pain … and lots of money.

“Sorry, your tears seemed to have smudged the ink on this check.”

The most famous of these scam artists was amateur photographer William Mumler. In the 1860s, visitors to his studio often found themselves sharing the shot with a long-dead relative dropping in. Over time, he grew more infamous, somehow managing to survive several attempts by skeptics to debunk his photographs. At the height of his career, even Mary Todd Lincoln dropped by to see if she could have a picture with her husband, bringing Abraham Lincoln back for one last encore — the irony of which was clearly lost on the poor grieving woman.

The Outlandish, Scary Schemes Being Studied to Cool the Planet

• From sun-ray mirrors to microbubbles and iron in the oceans
• Is the world ‘past a point of no return’ on curbing emissions?

Plan B is coming out of the shadows in the global-warming debate. The question on the table: With hope dimming that humankind can effectively curb carbon emissions, is it time to strong-arm nature to turn the thermostat down?

To scientists who study geoengineering, this is within the realm of possibility. The idea is to manipulate the climate, by planting millions of trees to clear the air or — at the other extreme — creating a mirror of chemicals in the heavens to reflect the sun’s heat away from Earth. Some of the schemes are outlandish, if not downright scary. A small though increasingly vocal band of experts in the field contends the options must at least be explored.

Scientists including David Keith at Harvard University and Antonio Busalacchi of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research are advocating that more resources be devoted to the discipline.

“Suddenly all sorts of people who five years ago would have said, ‘Shut up, this is too controversial, I don’t want to talk about it,’ now agree something should happen,” said Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy and a member of a team planning a field experiment this year to test whether shooting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere might limit solar radiation.

Meet the dogs of Chernobyl – the abandoned pets that formed their own canine community

Hundreds of stray dogs have learned to survive in the woods around the exclusion zone – mainly descendants of those left behind after the nuclear disaster, when residents were banned from taking their beloved pets to safety.

We are in the woods behind the Chernobyl plant when the dog runs at us. It is thin, with brindle fur and yellow eyes. Igor, our guide, makes a lunge and clamps his hands over its snout. They wrestle in the snow and icy water shakes from the trees. The dog’s eyes flash as Igor grabs a stick and throws it into the trees. Distracted, the animal chases it and our little group is free to move. But the dog reappears and drops the stick at Igor’s foot. He throws it again. The dog brings it back. I almost laugh with relief.

Igor, who, it turns out, is very familiar with the dog, throws a few snowballs, which it tries to catch and chew. “This is Tarzan,” says Igor. “He’s a stray who lives in the exclusion zone. His mum was killed by a wolf, so the guides look out for him, chuck a few sticks, play a few games. He’s only a baby, really …”

The abandoned dogs at Chernobyl endure harsh Ukrainian winters.

Tarzan isn’t alone. There are approximately 300 stray dogs in the 2,600km² zone. They live among the moose and lynx, the hares and wolves that have also found a home here. But while the Mongolian horses and Belarusian bears were recently introduced to the area, and other animals have come in as opportunists, the dogs are native.

After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Pripyat and the surrounding villages were abandoned, and residents were not allowed to take their pets to safety. Chernobyl Prayer, a devastating oral history of the period, tells of “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.” Heartbroken families pinned notes to their doors: “Don’t kill our Zhulka. She’s a good dog.” There was no mercy. Squads were sent in to shoot the animals. But some survived and it is mainly their descendants that populate the zone.

For the First Time Ever, Scientists Found Alien Worlds in Another Galaxy

For the first time, researchers have confirmed the existence of planets outside of the Milky Way. The team behind this discovery used an astronomical effect called microlensing to find the planets in a galaxy 3.8 billion light-years away.


For the first time in history, astrophysicists have discovered planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy. These extragalactic planets have masses between those of the Moon and Jupiter, and they fully confirm suspicions that our galaxy isn’t the only one to house planets.

Scientists at the University of Oklahoma (OU) were responsible for the discovery of the extragalactic planets, which they detail in a study published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” said Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences, in a university press release.

“These small planets are the best candidate for the signature we observed in this study using the microlensing technique,” said Dai. “We analyzed the high frequency of the signature by modeling the data to determine the mass.”

A Pet Crayfish Can Clone Itself, and It’s Spreading Around the World

“We’re being invaded by an army of clones.”

No one knows exactly when the clones first appeared, but humans only became aware of them in the early 2000s.

It was a German aquarium owner who first brought it to scientists’ attention. In 1995, he had acquired a bag of “Texas crayfish” from an American pet trader, only to find his tank inexplicably filling up with the creatures. They were all, it turns out, clones. Sometime, somewhere, the biological rule that making baby crayfish required a mama crayfish and papa crayfish was no longer inviolate. The eggs of the hobbyist’s all-female crayfish did not need to be fertilized. They simply grew into copies of their “mother”—in a process known as parthenogenesis.

Crayfish specialists were astonished. No one had seen anything like it. But the proof was before their eyes and in 2003, scientists dubbed the creatures marbled crayfish, or Marmorkreb in German.

Scientists quickly realized the marbled crayfish were not just in German aquariums. The self-replicating creatures were out in the wild, and they were aggressive invaders. “Every single one has the ability to reproduce. Every single one could start a new population,” says Zen Faulkes, a crustacean researcher at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley who keeps a map of marbled crayfish invasions. You can easily buy marbled crayfish online (though they are now banned in the European Union and some U.S. states). The species has shown up in the wild in Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Japan, and Madagascar. “We’re being invaded by an army of clones,” says Faulkes.

For the first time, scientists have now fully sequenced the DNA of the marbled crayfish. In fact, they sequenced not one but 11 crayfish—including those originating from German pet shops as well as wild ones caught in Madagascar. The creatures are indeed clones of each other, all descended from a single crayfish that somehow gained the ability to reproduce on its own. They had remarkably little genetic diversity. At most four letters in their entire DNA sequence differed in a meaningful way.

Your friends’ brains process the world the same way as you

One Of My Mind

Friends have similar brains.

Chances are, whenever you see a delightful video—pandas rolling around in the grass, perhaps, or a great standup-comedy set—you quickly forward it to your nearest and dearest, knowing they’ll love the clip as much as you do. A neuroscience study, recently published in Nature Communications (Jan. 30), provides solid evidence that it’s fair to assume your friends will react similarly to videos you love.

Researchers mapped out a social network of 279 graduate students, who filled out a survey as part of their program coursework. A subset of 42 participants volunteered to take part in the fMRI part of the study, which entailed watching a variety of videos—including politics, science, comedy, and music—while fMRI scanners monitored their neural activity. The scientists found that the closer the friends, the more similar their neural responses. These similarities continued even in more distant friendship groups: Friends of friends had less similar brain activity, but still more so than those three degrees removed. “These effects were significant even when controlling for inter-subject similarities in demographic variables, such as age, gender, nationality, and ethnicity,” wrote the authors.

Further, the researchers found that similarity of neural activity could be used to predict closeness of friendship. They trained an algorithm to recognize patterns of neural similarities between friends of various degrees of closeness. From this, the algorithm was able to correctly generalize to other participants, and predict the social distance them based on the similarity of their fMRI responses.

The Man Who Saw Inside Himself

For years, Larry Smarr has used a supercomputer to monitor his health and peer at his organs. Recently, he used his knowledge to help direct his own surgery.

Sonia Ramamoorthy has plenty of smart patients. A surgeon at the University of California at San Diego, she counts among her patients members of that school’s faculty, many of whom arrive at her clinic remarkably well informed.

“They’ve been to the internet, and they’ll come in with 50 questions,” she says. But nothing prepared her for Larry Smarr. During her consultation with him about an intestinal affliction in October 2016, he interrupted her to ask, “Do you have a quick minute? I have a PowerPoint presentation.”

I wrote about Larry in this magazine five and a half years ago, documenting his remarkable efforts with a supercomputer at UCSD to study his own body in unprecedented detail—efforts that had led to his self-diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, long before definitive symptoms had manifested. Although Larry’s academic background is in astrophysics and astronomy, he has evolved into one of the world’s foremost experts in applied computer engineering. He founded, and heads, the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2, which is exploring advanced digital technologies to rethink the way medicine is practiced.

Larry is using his own body, and his ongoing struggle with Crohn’s, as an experiment. He keeps precise measures of his body’s input (what he eats and drinks) and output (the energy he burns and what he excretes—and yes, that is precisely what it sounds like). He undergoes periodic MRIs, has his blood and stool analyzed frequently, submits to annual colonoscopies, and has had his DNA sequenced. Among the things Calit2 does with all these data is create a stunning, regularly updated three-dimensional image of his insides, which he calls “Transparent Larry.” His colleague Jürgen Schulze projects it inside “The Cave,” a virtual-reality room that literally places the viewer inside the picture. Larry can not only chart the changes taking place inside his body; he can actually see them.

As a result, he arguably knows more about his own inner workings than anyone else ever has. His goal, as he puts it, is for each of us to become “the CEO of our own body.”


Ed. I Googled handsome bald man and he was the first dude on the page I’d like to meet. Now that I’ve added color to my beard, I’m starting to look kinda like this guy, only a lot less handsome and a lot less muscular. Anyway, he’s Michael DeMello. And, ahem, I’m not interested in not being bald myself and I’m usually most attracted to bearded bald men… a barely uninteresting at all thing about me.

Japanese scientists may have discovered a cure for baldness—and it lies within a chemical used to make McDonald’s fries.

A stem cell research team from Yokohama National University used a “simple” method to regrow hair on mice by using dimethylpolysiloxane, the silicone added to McDonald’s fries to stop cooking oil from frothing.

Preliminary tests indicated that the groundbreaking method was likely to be just as successful when transferred to human skin cells.

Death by potato

According to the study, released in the Biomaterials journal last Thursday, the breakthrough came after the scientists successfully mass-produced “hair follicle germs” (HFG) which were created for the first time ever in this way.

HFGs, cells that drive follicle development, are considered the holy grail in hair-loss research. The scientists said use of dimethylpolysiloxane was crucial to the advancement.

Smart Girl Scout Who Sold Cookies Outside San Diego Weed Dispensary May Have Broken the Rules

The Girl Scouts are looking into whether one of their young entrepreneurs broke the rules by shrewdly selling cookies outside a San Diego weed shop.

The girl, who managed to sell more than 300 boxes in front of a dispensary called Urbn Leaf, was praised for her ingenuity over the weekend after an Instagram post drew a crowd of customers eager to get their sugar fix.

But just as social media giveth, it also taketh away, and now the Feds (fine, Girl Scouts) are investigating whether her sales practices were in line with the rules, which are apparently very specific.

It turns out that Girl Scouts can only sell cookies outside a business if they get a permit—and a dispensary is not considered a Girl Scout approved site, Mary Doyle, the organization’s communications director, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.


For four months from September 19, 1870 to January 28, 1871, the Prussian Army laid siege to the city of Paris, as part of the Franco-Prussian War. Prior to having all supply lines cut off, the French Ministry of Agriculture furiously worked to gather as much food and fuel as it could, and at the beginning, “livestock blanket[ed] the Bois de Boulogne park on the edge of Paris.”

Apparently insufficient, within less than a month, the Parisians began butchering the horses, with the meat used as you would expect and even the blood collected “for the purposes of making puddings.” By the end of the siege, approximately 65,000 horses were killed and eaten.

Within another month, by November 12, 1870, butchered dogs and cats began to appear for sale at the market alongside trays full of dead rats and pigeons. The former pets sold for between 20 and 40 cents per pound, while a nice, fat rat could go for 50.

As Christmas approached, most of Paris’ restaurants and cafés were forced to close, although a few of its top eateries continued serving, albeit with a markedly different menu. And as traditional meats were becoming increasingly scarce, the formerly impossible became the actual – when M. Deboos of the Boucherie Anglaise (English Butcher) purchased a pair of zoo elephants, named Castor and Pollux, for 27,000 francs.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Within 72 hours of Devin Nunes’ memo dropping, his Democratic opponent raked in over $300,000 in protest contributions.

Andrew Janz is a first-time candidate, running as a Democrat to take over the Congressional seat from incumbent Devin Nunes. But you would be forgiven for not knowing much about Janz’s platform – his campaign’s first big win came from putting up a billboard making fun of Nunes and Donald Trump.

This seems like a bad idea in a traditionally Republican district in which Nunes won handily last time around, and where Donald Trump has a strong support base.

But it seems to be working. Janz just opened up his official campaign office on Friday, and Nunes’ memo has had the effect of actually getting his opponent extra attention.

“Every time he opens his mouth,” Janz says, “we set records raising money.”

VICE News went to Clovis to find out how the memo is affecting Central Californian politics.

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

While some Republicans are distancing themselves from Devin Nunes’s controversial memo questioning the FBI’s credibility, Sean Hannity uses it to defend President Trump.

During their post-Super Bowl celebration, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles proved that they couldn’t really handle the big victory.

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

Many networks switched from a live feed of President Trump’s speech in Cincinnati about tax cuts and the economy to coverage of the plummeting U.S. stock market.

The Late Show has an exclusive release of Dodge’s follow-up commercial to the Super Bowl LII ad that used a fifty-year-old speech from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to sell Ram trucks.

Seth takes a closer look the misleading memo written by House Republicans that President Trump claims vindicates him in the Russia probe.

A cab-driving Elvis impersonator battles the city of Seattle–and the King’s own demons. More: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/ind…

A collection of short moments with Max.


5 Hilarious Black Markets You Didn’t Know Existed

Look, not everything you need is for sale at the store. Let’s say you really, really want an industrial-grade flamethrower. You know, for science. Where else are you gonna turn, except to the black marke- wait, what? You can straight up buy one of those? Well OK, we can go weirder. We must go weirder. How about about …

#5. There’s A Black Market For Sperm In China

If you’re an infertile couple that really wants to have kids, what do you do? Go to a sperm bank or something, right? Now, what if you also live in a country of 1.4 billion people that has only 11 wildly under-supplied sperm banks? What do you do then?

That’s easy: You turn to the sperm markets.

Chinese couples who want to avoid the years-long queues of the official sperm banks (which employ these hilariously high-tech porkable donation stations) sign up on online donation forums and pick from the many, many amateur yogurt-slingers. Aspiring parents can opt for either artificial insemination (a cup full of wank and a turkey baster) or actual sex. Most try artificial injection first, but some end up settling for the much more reliable direct insemination.

Donors have a good work ethic, too. The organizer of one group vowed that their members absolutely would not stop trying until there’s a successful conception, and made sure to emphasize that they’ll help any client, whether they’re pretty or not. Truly, these are the real heroes of our story.

Them and this dude, who invented the aforementioned donation stations.

None of this is “regulated,” or “safe,” or “accepted by a social morality” — as officials put it — which makes fatherhood a thorny issue. Even if the donor agrees to never contact the child, that agreement means jack to the law, and he has the same rights as any other father. Also, there’s no medical screening process when you hire some guy from a forum to come over and professionally plow you (or your spouse, or both — whatever you’re into).

So why risk it at all?

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?