November 1, 2018 in 2,315 words



Don’t compare the US surviving 1968 to 2018. It’s an earthquake now.

It is tempting to find reassurance in the comparison: America survived the turmoil, division and bloodshed of 1968. I find no basis for such solace

Pictured above: ‘My own children, in their mid-20s, have asked me more than once how 1968 compares to 2018.’ Police and demonstrators near the Conrad Hilton hotel during the Democratic national convention in Chicago, Illinois in 1968.


During the turbulent year in 1968, when I achieved Jewish manhood as a barmitzvah, I took on a more concrete form of maturity with a job delivering newspapers. Making the rounds of my New Jersey hometown, tossing copies of the Daily Home News onto 70-odd porches, I almost literally trafficked in the tragedies captured in each banner headline.

My mother was doing the favor of driving me along my route on the rainy April night when we heard the radio bulletin of Martin Luther King’s assassination. On the June afternoon after Robert F Kennedy was slain, one of my customers asked me how the paper could even be published. Several days later, Kennedy’s funeral train rolled along the Penn Central tracks right through my hometown of Highland Park.

In the last week of the year, the Daily Home News treated all of its delivery boys (and they were only boys back then) to a special screening of the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine. I still remember feeling both delighted and destroyed by the simple, tuneful, colorful way the Fab Four triumphed over the evil Blue Meanies. At the film’s end, after all, the real Beatles came on screen to warn that there would be “newer, bluer meanies” in the days ahead.

At the resonant remove of 50 years, historians and commentators and civilian graybeards like myself have gazed back at the shocks and strains of America in 1968 – Vietnam escalation, growing anti-war protests, assassinations of idealistic heroes, race riots, demagogic politicking – to help us comprehend the awfulness of the disunited states of the Trump era. My own children, in their mid-20s, have asked me more than once how 1968 compares to 2018.

As both parent and citizen, it is tempting to find a reassuring moral in that comparative story: America survived the turmoil and division and bloodshed of 1968, and it will do the same with the emergent authoritarianism of 2018. Having lived through both years, however, I find no basis for such solace.


Even This Data Guru Is Creeped Out By What Anonymous Location Data Reveals About Us

Using code and the web, a data scientist follows two unnamed people and learns just how much our anonymous location data can say about who we are.

When Edward Snowden blew the lid off of the NSA’s mass surveillance program, he also revealed the extent of the government’s smartphone location tracking records. As the Washington Post reported in 2013, the NSA is gathering 5 billion records a day on people’s cell-phone locations across the globe in order to track terrorists and identify their associates. While the U.S. must often take the data surreptitiously, however, advertisers are already getting many of our locations legally, through our smartphone apps; mining that and other data fuels the billion-dollar businesses of some of the world’s largest companies.

And as a number of studies have shown, even when it’s “anonymous,” stripped of so-called personally identifiable information, geographic data can help create a detailed portrait of a person and, with enough ancillary data, identify them by name.

Curious to see this kind of data mining in action, I emailed Gilad Lotan, now vice president of BuzzFeed’s data science team. He agreed to look at a month’s worth of two different users’ anonymized location data, and to come up with individual profiles that were as accurate as possible.

The results, produced in just a few days’ time, range from the expected to the surprisingly revealing, and demonstrate just how “anonymous” data can identify individuals.


5 Celebrity Benders More Epic Than Most Movies

It’s not exactly mind-blowing to learn that famous people, DUN-DUN-DUNNN, like to drink and take drugs. That’s just part of the package of becoming a celebrity, alongside nonstop tanning and a newfound passion for anal bleaching. Lots of non-famous people like partying too, but the difference is that when you go on a bender, all you get is a headache and itchy underpants. When famous people get trashed, they produce amazing stories like …

5. The Beatles Were Turned On To LSD After Being Dosed By Some Dentist

The Beatles were all about love — the love of life, the love of people, and most notably, the love of tripping balls on LSD. One of the most enduring mysteries in all of popular culture is how these lads, an angelic boy band who set the world aflame with nary a swear word or swaggering hip, wound up like this.

Oh, that’s easy. They got hooked at, of all things, a classy dinner party held by one of their non-musical friends.

Back in 1965, John Lennon and George Harrison, along with their wives, were finishing up at a dinner party held by a mutual dentist friend when he offered them a last-minute cup of coffee. Being polite partygoers, the four partook … only to be informed that the sugar cubes they’d used had been soaked in LSD. (They should have known something was off when a dentist kept insisting on giving them sugar.) Lennon was furious and yelled, “How dare you fucking do this to us?” at their host. This was the early years for LSD culture, remember. The only thing everyone knew about the drug was that it turned people into crazy, violent assholes — something John Lennon would know nothing about.

Panic-stricken, the foursome left the party and decided to head somewhere safe and relaxing: a London nightclub. They didn’t make it past the elevator before they started screaming about an imaginary fire. After the nightmare-vision stage finished up, the gang settled down into a blissful peace. As Harrison described it, “I had such an overwhelming feeling of well-being, that there was a God, and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years of experience in 12 hours.” Meanwhile, Lennon observed that “George’s house seemed to be just like a big submarine.” He didn’t mention the color, but you can take a guess.

Clearly, George got the better-quality stuff.

After the LSD wore off, George and John decided that Paul and Ringo had to get in on the act, not only because they wanted to see Ringo shit himself in terror as a train sporting a human face bore down on him (an experience he would later immortalize in his work on Thomas The Tank Engine), but also because they didn’t think they could relate to those two anymore, the narc-y plebs. The band eventually downed some gear together and went on to make musical history, as well as give everyone false expectations about how productive you can be while stoned.


WHY EVERYONE AROUND THE WORLD IS HAVING THE SAME NIGHTMARE

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME


The first time Tim Brown saw the Hat Man, he was 14 years old and curled up in his bed in Nashville, Tennessee. He was dozing, with the only light in the room coming from the flicker of late-night television. As he drifted off to sleep, a sound from the television shook him back awake.

And that’s when he saw him. The dark figure of a man, as featureless as the shadows where he stood. He was tall. He wore a broad-brimmed hat and a trench coat. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t need to. The fear sucked the breath from Brown’s chest, rendering him mute and immobile. The man lingered just outside the frame of Brown’s bedroom door, flickering in the shadows between the hallway and his grandmother’s room. Finally, as if breaking a spell cast over him, Brown threw himself from his bed screaming and ran into the hallway for a fight.

But the man was gone.

Still haunted by the vision more than a decade later, in 2008, Brown posted his story on a blog he called The Hat Man Project and encouraged others to share as well. (Quartz’s attempts to reach Brown for comment were unsuccessful.) He also scoured the internet, and found more posts on forums and blogs describing similar encounters.

The global anthology of Hat Man stories has only grown since. The shape of the frightening figure occasionally varies, but the way he makes his victims feel never does: utterly paralyzed with terror, and breathless, as if fear had frozen them from the inside out.


Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

President Trump announced late on Wednesday that his military surge along the border with Mexico could eventually see 15,000 troops deployed, three times the number previously been reported.

If he follows through on that promise, iIt would be the largest domestic deployment of active duty military in modern American history, and eclipse the number of troops currently stationed in Iraq. And it raises major questions about how that many active soldiers and Marines could possibly be used.

In simple terms, the scale and nature of Trump’s deployment along the southern border is unprecedented, but history offers a few hints at what might come next.

Presidents have deployed the military along the border a number of times in the past, but they’ve almost always used the National Guard

In 2010, Barack Obama sent 1,200 National Guardsmen to the border for 15 months, as part of a mission he called Operation Phalanx. It cost roughly $160 million. But the most comparable example can likely be found under George W. Bush, who in 2006, sent some 6,000 Guardsmen to the border for a two year period starting in 2006, a cost to taxpayers of $1.2 billion.

Once down there, the troops largely worked behind the scenes.

“They were not patrolling the border,” said Adam Isacson, the director of the defense oversight program at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, “They were monitoring the sensors, they’d be doing oil changes for the Border Patrol vehicles and maintaining equipment. And just a lot more of them also were sitting under tents in lawn chairs with binoculars looking at the border looking for anyone suspected of the crossing.”

Still, those jobs were not entirely inconsequential. Michael Fisher, who was Chief of the Border Patrol from 2010 to 2015, said that during his time in office, Guardsmen mostly focused on tasks that allowed Border Patrol agents to better do their own jobs, including surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

“That would free up Border Patrol agents who in the absence of the military would be doing those types of missions,” Fisher said.’

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


From the heated race for governor to an amendment that would restore the voting rights of millions of ex-felons, Florida voters have some big decisions to make on November 6.


An audience member asks Trevor when his mom will be on the show. Answer? NEVER.


Investigative journalist Desi Lydic interviews real-life Florida men in her quest to figure out what makes the Sunshine State such a hotbed for bizarre local newsmakers.

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


While campaigning for Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Republicans decided to offset Oprah with the exact opposite person: Mike Pence.


Donald Trump began his White House address by saying America is ‘a welcoming country,’ then proceeded to deliver a fear-stoking speech about the dangers of immigrants.

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.


Seth takes a closer look at the only strategy Republicans are using for the midterms: making up a racist scam to scare people.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers for making this program available on YouTube.


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


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


もちろん、入っているまる。Of course, he is in it.


FINALLY . . .

‘It became a form of therapy’: the Londoner who writes #NotestoStrangers

Andy Leek used to deal with his punishing worklife by hiding messages for fellow commuters – now it’s his livelihood.


Notes to Strangers poster.

If you’ve spent time on London streets, you’ll have seen the scrawled Notes to Strangers, as omnipresent as the blue plaques and as eye-catching as billboards, despite their A4 size. You may even have wondered about their common theme.

What worldview, after all, connects the statements “Windows of opportunity close quickly” and “Sloths defy logic”?

There isn’t one, says Andy Leek, a former advertising creative and creator of Notes to Strangers – except his own. Leek designs the poster, pastes it publicly (mostly in London, but also wherever he travels), waits for someone to post a photo of it on Instagram, then shares their picture on his account.

The project was born of professional burnout. Leek says he had fallen victim to the London lifestyle of long commute, longer hours and fixating on career progression: “I was just living to work, really, which I think is a major city kind of thing.”

Returning to work after a month off in 2015, Leek reframed that punishing commute as an opportunity to create. “It started off just me writing small, positive notes that I’d leave in newspapers, folded up on seats for people to discover. I hoped that a positive message reaching them on their way to work would make some small difference in their day.”

View this post on Instagram

Collaboration with @selbel34 #notestostrangers

A post shared by Andy Leek (@notestostrangers) on

Writing the notes forced him to think positively: “It became a form of therapy, a way that I could express myself.”


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