For Insiders this week, I wrote up Cleveland’s deal with Edwin Encarnacion and the Clay Buchholz trade, as well as a piece last Saturday on some potential problems in the new CBA. I also held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.
My first-ever piece for Vulture ran this week, a holiday gift guide to boardgames for gamers at various levels (including newbies to the hobby).
And now, the links…
- The most important piece I read this week came from Michael Shermer, author and editor of Skeptic, who wrote about how to convince someone who refuses to accept facts. I think his core point – that people who reject, say, evolution or climate change are doing so because it challenges their worldview, especially religious ones – is entirely valid, but he doesn’t tell us what to do when the President-Elect and his entire Party appear unwilling to accept facts.
- The Indianapolis Star has a lengthy investigative piece on how a child-molesting gymnastics coach continued working with kids for 20 years, working in a dozen gyms across four states before he was finally arrested and charged … and the parents of kids in that last gym came to his defense before he confessed. It’s a story of our failure to believe victims, of fear of liability, and of passing the buck instead of standing up to stop a dangerous predator.
- The Charleston Gazette-Mail ran a two-part series on how drugmakers happily poured opiates into West Virginia despite evidence that there was an epidemic of addiction in the state. It’s a simple story of greed, corruption, and a stunning lack of empathy for the victims.
- Deadspin’s The Concourse has a great piece on how technology isn’t going to turn Saudi Arabia around. The core message here, I think, is something I’ve believed for twenty years: the Saudis are not our friends, and the foreign policy of both parties and every Administration for the last forty years isn’t helping us or the Saudi people.
- White supremacists led by Richard Spencer are causing hell in Whitefish, Montana, including targeting a local business owned by a non-Jewish family with a “Jewish-sounding” name.
- Twitter trolls have a new tactic – sending seizure-inducing images to people with epilepsy, such as journalist Kurt Eichenwald.
- Tucker Carlson gets called a “partisan hack” – rightly so – when he tries to shame a journalist for doing her job, and doing it well.
- Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was one of the more moderate candidates for the Republican nomination (by comparison), signed bills this week allowing concealed carry in day-care centers and blocking local minimum wage laws.
- I feel like everyone saw this, but it was one of the most entertaining things I saw all week: Many people remember a movie called Shazaam, starring Sinbad, that doesn’t actually exist.
- Paul Krugman’s NY Times piece on how republics end was widely shared this week, seen primarily as a commentary on the Trump regime (which in some level it was), but he specifically cites the cut block executed by Republicans in North Carolina, which is rapidly becoming one of the nation’s biggest backwaters, heading down same path as Kansas.
- The Kuwaiti embassy appears to have moved a major event to the Trump Hotel in DC to curry favor after members of the Trump team pressured them to do so. This is not normal.
- Trump’s sons were caught earlier in the week using a Texas non-profit to sell access to the President-Elect in echange for million-dollar donations. His sons now won’t attend a particular fundraiser that raised these suspicions, but the connection is still there.
- Trump’s national security adviser met with the head of Austria’s neo-Nazi Freedom Party, founded by ex-Nazis in the wake of World War II. This also is not normal.
- The ACLU explains one possible workaround to the Electoral College problem, although I doubt there’s any movement on this front until Democrats control more state legislatures.
- Why has Pakistan jailed a Christian woman on dubious blasphemy charges for five years? Like the Saudi government, the Pakistani government is not our ally, not if they use our desire to work with them against the Taleban as air cover for persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims.
- Quartz reviews a new type of neurological study (they call it “brain health,” which seems facile) that somewhat predicts future criminal behavior for toddlers. The headline is clickbait; they’re saying that toddlers who score low in this type of test are more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults. That’s a correlation, not a full-on prediction and not definitive by any means. But it raises no end of ethical and policy questions, not least of which is whether we should test all kids to identify those at risk so that they get early intervention, but with the likelihood that they’ll be tagged for life as such?
- A junk study in Japan that claimed to have found a link between the HPV vaccine and certain adverse events has prompted demands for the journal to retract the paper.
- I love The Muppet Christmas Carol, and now my daughter does too, so it’s an annual tradition for us to watch it. Mental floss had one of its trivia posts on fifteen odd facts about the film, including why the famous “When Love is Gone” scene is rarely found on home video releases.
- Great piece from Indy Star writer Gregg Doyel on Grayson Allen’s behavior and the need for real, personal change, based on Doyel’s own experiences.
- A football player in Idaho walked free on sodomy charges despite assaulting a teammate with a wire hanger, enough to cause internal tearing. The player was white, the victim black and developmentally disabled. The player won’t even have to register as a sex offender because the prosecutor didn’t think it was warranted. I see this stuff and, you know what, maybe we should just split the country in two, because if you think this shit is okay, then maybe we shouldn’t be in the same nation.
- I thought Moonlight was outstanding, and the BBC wrote about how the film is making an unlikely romp through major critics’ awards, despite being a low-budget independent film about a black, gay male character at three stages of his life.
- A South African cafe is making Nespresso capsules of one of the world’s most expensive coffees, which are catching on as the market of people who want the convenience of pod coffee is spawning a segment that wants coffee that doesn’t taste like swill. That’s great, except pods are an environmental nightmare, creating way more trash than other methods, which typically produce entirely compostable output (like pour-over).
- Physicists managed to hit antimatter particles with a laser, the first time such an experiment has succeeded – mostly because antimatter doesn’t last very long in the presence of matter. One of the mysteries of our universe is how we ended up with more matter than antimatter during the first few microseconds after the Big Bang, which is why anything exists in the universe today.
- The livestock industry keeps talking about reducing antibiotic use, but it’s not happening, at least not yet.
- “Thank God Nigel Farage has the courage to take a stand against whining do-gooder Brendan Cox,” writes Independent columnist Mark Steel, taking aim at the Brexit Muppet’s attacks on the widower of British MP Jo Cox.
- Science fiction has offered its share of dystopian futures, several appearing to predict the rise of a Trump-like fascist leader, including an Octavia Butler story that had such a character promising to “make America great again.”
- I’ve been to Bermuda three times but never knew why their roofs are shaped as they are, with stair-like patterns. It’s because the island has no real source of fresh water, and the roofs allow for more efficient collection of rainwater. The piece also talks about Bermuda’s culture of water conservation and how tourism and increasing population density threaten it.