No new Insider content this week, although I believe I’ll have a new piece up on Tuesday, assuming all goes to plan. I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.
My latest boardgame review for Paste covers Mole Rats in Space, a cooperative game for kids from the designer of Pandemic and Forbidden Desert. It’s pretty fantastic, and I think if you play this you’ll never have to see Chutes and Ladders again.
You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. The book now has two positive reviews out, one from Kirkus Reviews and one from Publishers Weekly.
Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.
And now, the links…
- Elizabeth Kolbert, who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for her book The Sixth Extinction (my review), writes about why facts don’t change our minds, due to confirmation bias and the anchoring effect.
- With charter schools in the news again, NPR has a useful primer on what “charter school” means .
- It came up because Secretary of Education Betsy Dingbat decided to praise Jim Crow-spawned historically black colleges as examples of “school choice.”
- Why were passengers on a domestic flight asked to show identification to CBP agents before they could deplane? The agency later claimed it was “voluntary” but didn’t communicate that to the passengers. If this happens to you, decline and leave the plane. The agents had no legal right to do what they did.
- Some links on last Sunday’s Oscars and the ceremony’s totally bonkers finish: Will Leitch writes for The New Republic that it was the most insane ending ever.
- ELLE has a balanced take on the potential impact of Casey Affleck’s win and rewarding men who abuse women, although I still think there’s a false analogy at work here when we compare Affleck’s crimes to those of Roman Polanski (drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl) or Woody Allen (molested his adopted daughter), especially since both are directors and have continued to get funding for movies after the allegations against them became well-known.
- And then Cosmopolitan played the race card in a piece that starts by saying how Moonlight was robbed of its moment but somehow devolves into unsubstantiated arguments about white privilege and how we were just shocked that white people lost. I really don’t agree with anything in this piece, but you know, gotta hear both sides.
- Top Chef Season 14 ended the other night, and Vulture interviewed the two finalists after the show aired, a Q&A that answers a couple of big questions I had while watching the finale.
- Recent Top Chef alum Kwame Onwuachi opened a very expensive tasting-menu restaurant in DC’s Shaw district, but it closed earlier this year after just two and a half months. The Ringer chronicles its fall and talks to Onwuachi about what’s next.
- Hugh Acheson is opening a sausage shack at Atlanta’s new ballpark. I’m hoping it’ll serve one called Boondoggle Bratwurst.
- The Ringer also had a great piece on the ultimate, persistent failure of the current structure of the Olympics, where host cities build massive white elephants to host a two-week event that profits the IOC more than it does the host.
- Did anyone catch the stupidity about the so-called “alt left” this week? The New Republic blows that one up in fine fashion, calling the original piece “bad writing in service of a bad argument.”
- How about the claim that “300 scientists” have told the current administration that we should withdraw from the UN climate agreement? Well, that’s some bullshit too, as none appear to be climate scientists and some aren’t scientists at all. I hold an MS from Carnegie Mellon and I think I’d qualify for that list, even though my MS is in business (it was a quirk of the school at the time I was there, so my diploma says MS rather than MBA).
- The current administration is also backing out of protecting America’s small streams and rivers, even though they’re a critical part of our ecosystem and probably more vulnerable to human disruption.
- I will say something in favor of the current admin, though: I agree with the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza that the “Kellyanne on the couch” controversy was incredibly dumb. That’s the wrong thing to get outraged about, and it reeked of the casual sexism that those who oppose 45 like to accuse his supporters of showing.
- This twitter thread argues that Trump’s businesses & associates are aiming to land billions of dollars in construction deals. I think the kleptocratic aspects of this administration are taking a backseat to our (justified) anger over the rollbacks in civil rights.
- VP Mike Pence used private email for state business as Governor of Indiana, but that’s everywhere now. Less widely reported is that EPA head and climate change denier Scott Pruitt did the same thing while Attorney General of Oklahoma.
- If you live in California, there’s a special election on Tuesday, and you should vote NO on Measure S.
- This bill was withdrawn since my last post, but if you live in the backwaters of North Carolina – the state willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in business just to make sure locals can safely discriminate against LGBT residents – the state House passed a bill that would let parents put their kids back into games after suffering concussions. You read that right.
- The President’s pastor said former Jefferson Airplane/Starship singer Grace Slick has earned a “death sentence” for supporting LGBT charities. Seems like a nice guy.
- I just learned of the newest effort to earn statehood for Washington, D.C. The city itself has a population just below that of Alaska, but you can bet the Republican Party will oppose giving two new Senate seats to the Democrats.
- The Iowa lawmaker who was trying to force universities to hire equal numbers of conservative and liberal professors faked his resume, claiming a ‘certificate’ from working at Sizzler was a college degree. I can’t believe he’s still in office right now.
- A bunch of Idaho teens assaulted a developmentally disabled black classmate, including pushing a coat hanger up his rectum, but the ringleader won’t serve any jail time because the white judge said the crime wasn’t racially motivated, despite evidence to the contrary. I wonder if he’s a member of one of nine recognized hate groups in the state.
- Texas refuses to let transgender boy Mack Beggs compete with other boys in wrestling , so he just won the state girls title. I wonder if this changed any Texans’ minds about laws that limit transgender rights.
- I mentioned in chat this week that the idea that there are just two biological sexes – which underpins these bigoted, ignorant ‘bathroom bills’ – was a fallacy. This primer on the six most common biological sexes in humans is quite useful and easy to follow, and also explains how a person’s chromosomes and brain may have different sexes. (If you’re confused about the two versus six part, here’s a real quick explanation: We all know about XX vs XY chromosome combinations from high school health. A fetus can also survive with other, less common combinations, with the four most common being X, XXY, XYY, and XXXY. The link doesn’t mention XXX, or trisomy X, perhaps because people born with this are biologically female.)
- Pennsylvania introduced “philosophical exemptions” to mandatory vaccination rules a few years ago and uses of that loophole – which allows any parent to sign a form and skip these entirely safe and effective shots – have skyrocketed. Lancaster Online calls for the county and state to tighten these rules.
- Google briefly delisted the pseudoscience/scam site Natural News, run by longtime con artist Mike Adams, for violating the search site’s rules, later relisting it after the site complied with Google’s demands. But that link also raises the question of how best to fight fake news and anti-science sites like NN or Mercola.
- This excerpt from Leah Carroll’s upcoming memoir, titled “My Mother’s Murder,” was sad and gripping. The book is out on Tuesday from Hachette.
- I’ve seen Islamophobes cite the story of Tanveer Ahmed’s murder of Asad Shah in Glasgow as an example of the dangers of letting in Muslim refugees, but naturally, it’s quite a bit more complicated than that. The real issue here is that he’s become an inspiration to hardliners in his native Pakistan for what they see as a justifiable murder on religious (blasphemy) grounds.
- Norwegian mass murderer Anders Bering Breivik – a white right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 – lost his human rights claim against Norway, which has kept him mostly in solitary confinement in three “well-equipped” cells.
- Three Burundian women who fled to neighboring Rwanda run a cafe in Kigali by day and report on Burundi’s crisis by night.
- Two administrators at Harvard Law School have been accused of looting a fund for disabled students to buy themselves expensive electronic items and, uh, other stuff.
- WAVVES singer/guitarist/songwriter Nathan Williams doesn’t mince any words when it comes to former label Warner Brothers. He’s since started his own record label, Ghost Ramp, and WAVVES’ next record, You’re Welcome, will come out on May 19th.
- Thirteen-year-old phenom Grace Vanderwaal did a live session in Paste‘s studio that just underlines how talented she is.