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Links: April 2017

I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government.

I worry that this new office will be more of the same: a vanity project, one that exists primarily to put Kushner in the same room with people he admires whom he wouldn’t have had access to before, glossing government agencies in the process with a thin veneer of what appears to be capitalism but is really just nihilistic cost-cutting designed to project the optics of efficiency. If the outside experts have good advice, it will be heeded only where it reinforces what the administration would do anyway. And anyone who volunteers to carry out the administration’s agenda may be handed wholesale control of an area of government where their domain expertise isn’t just low, but nonexistent.

Plainness and Sweetness

I am for a design that’s like vanilla ice cream: simple and sweet, plain without being austere. It should be a base for more indulgent experiences on the occasions they are needed, like adding chocolate chips and cookie dough. Yet these special occassions are rare. A good vanilla ice cream is usually enough. I don’t wish to be dogmatic—every approach has its place, but sometimes plainness needs defending in a world starved for attention and wildly focused on individuality. Here is a reminder: the surest way forward is usually a plain approach done with close attention to detail. You can refine the normal into the sophisticated by pursuing clarity and consistency. Attentiveness turns the normal artful.

Why You Shouldn’t Walk on Escalators

This is beyond infuriating. Did no one think to measure how efficient it would be if everyone walked? Escalators are stairs, you slugs.

The Underground had concluded that in stations with escalators taller than 18.5 meters, or about 61 feet, much of the left side went unused, causing blockages and lines at the bottom. The Underground campaigned to fill the available space on the escalators with people, rather than leaving the left side of each step largely empty, except for those who chose to hike up.

In what fucking universe does this happen?

When 40 percent of the people walked, the average time for standers was 138 seconds and 46 seconds for walkers, according to their calculations. When everyone stood, the average time fell to 59 seconds. For walkers, that meant losing 13 seconds but for standers, it was a 79-second improvement.

Tough luck, standers.

The Gorsuch filibuster is about far more than payback

So let’s can all of these original-sin arguments about who started what and when in our struggles over the judiciary. From Bush v. Gore to Citizens United to Shelby County, it is the right wing that chose to thrust the court into the middle of electoral politics in an entirely unprecedented and hugely damaging way.

Palm: Trading Basics

I’m a bit late to the Palm party, glad to see math rock is alive and well. Confusing music for confusing times.

The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World’s Face

Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.

That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.

Now, we have a president whose media diet defines his worldview, interests, and priorities. He is not one of the men, like most of those Tea Party members of Congress, whose existing worldview determined his media diet—who sealed himself off from disagreeable media sources. He is, in fact, something far more dangerous: a confused old man who believes what the TV tells him.

ProPublica, New York Daily News Win Pulitzer Gold Medal

Congrats to Sarah Ryley! Her Pulitzer-winning reporting exposed NYPD nuisance abatement abuses. Congrats also to Pulitzer finalists Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, Lauren Kirchner, and Terry Parris!

Glasses in NYC

In case any other New Yorkers are in the market for new glasses, here’s a map of shops that were recommended to me.

Sean Spicer Is the Perfectly Awful Spokesman That Donald Trump Deserves

The question is whether he ought to lose his job. As a general karmic matter, perhaps. But in this specific case, calling for Spicer’s head is another way of saying Trump ought to have a less gaffe-prone, more analytically rigorous spokesman—someone who could put a nicer gloss on the indefensible.

Everyone is a designer. Get over it.

Does everyone need all the skills of a designer? Of course not. But each person needs to be armed with the tools to understand how their decisions affect the customer experience.

Father of All Bombs

Said to be 4× more powerful than the MOAB is Russia’s FOAB, since death machines taste better with a dash of sexism.

Why baseball cards have lost their value

Suggested retail price of the cheapest pack of Topps baseball cards last season — a series called Topps’ “Opening Day” — was 99 cents, which Lulgjuraj said is priced low enough to entice kids to start collecting cards again.

The most expensive pack from last year — a series called Topps’ “Dynasty” — retails for about $400. There’s one card in each pack. One.

Collectors buy these $400 packs in hopes of landing one of the big-ticket cards — typically the old-time Hall of Famers such as Ruth or a hotshot rookie such as the Cubs’ Kris Bryant — and then flip it for even more on eBay, according to Brian Fleischer, senior market analyst for Beckett Media, which publishes price guides along with other collecting services.

Fleischer said this is an example of how the industry, once dominated by kids and fans who viewed collecting as a hobby, now caters to “the gambler’s mentality” of collectors. “These cards are sort of like scratch-off lottery tickets,” he said.

Python Programming with DrawBot for Beginners / Programming Animations with DrawBot

I signed up for both Typographics Python/DrawBot workshops with Just van Rossum and I’m pretty excited about it.

Trump Is a Symptom, Not the Cause, of Our Constitutional Crisis

Instead of drafting a constitution to resolve divisions created by wealth and poverty, the Founders asserted that all men were created equal, and established a government that depended on all men remaining economic equals.

The Founders understood full well that if severe economic inequality emerged, their democratic experiment would collapse. The rich would gradually take over the government, passing laws to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

This assertion rather brazenly paints over the institution of slavery, the residue of which is a nontrivial component of our current economic inequality.

The terrifying thing is that all these transformations—economic, political, and social—make reform even more difficult to achieve. As the wealthy rig the system in their favor, it gets harder to tax the rich, bust up monopolies, help working families, and reduce the influence of money in our politics. As social divisions become more entrenched, it becomes easier to keep everyone divided through fearmongering and scapegoating. To function properly, the Constitution requires equality and solidarity—and once those are gone, it contains no mechanism to restore them.

Our hope rests partly in our history. Hard as it is to believe, we have been here before. We’ve stared into a dark future in which the Constitution no longer functions, in which democracy is replaced by oligarchy or tyranny. But wise patriots found a way to adapt. It took more than one election, one candidate, one party. A crisis decades in the making will take decades to resolve.

The system does not work anymore. Something radical has to happen.

So which one is it? “A crisis decades in the making will take decades to resolve” or “Something radical has to happen”? There’s food for thought in this piece, but I wish it were itself more thoughtful.

Why Tensions Might Finally Be Boiling Over in North Korea

A quick overview of the tense North Korea situation. The Nib is really killing it with this kind of thing lately.

The Revenge of Picnic Mtn

I’m loving my man Matt Sutter’s new book of comics. If you’re looking for something different, this is it.

MuckRock’s guided tour of lesser-known DEA patches

Some might say a needle injecting heroin straight from a poppy above a fire breathing horse heating a spoon has “a lot going on,” but I call that dynamic design.

Abortion Is 20 Times More Dangerous on TV Than It Is In Real Life

A new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a California-based reproductive-health research group, found that 42.5 percent of the abortion storylines on TV from 2005 to 2016 included a “complication, intervention, or major health consequence”—more than 20 times the actual rate of abortion-related complications. Five percent of them ended in the death of the patient, a rate about 6,850 times higher than the mortality rate for abortion in the U.S.

In one regard, this isn’t surprising at all. Communications consultants commit far more felonies on Scandal than they do in real life, and soap opera characters don’t present a realistic cross-section of amnesia patients, but both make for useful plot twists and entertaining television. On the other hand, abortion is a heavily politicized procedure that’s been shrouded in secrecy and shame despite the fact that about one in three women will have one in her lifetime. TV shows that turn a routine medical service into a life-threatening risk are shaping the way millions of Americans imagine a procedure they know very little about.

The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and the Birth of the Alt-Right

it remains powerful as a moment that justifies the far right’s narrative of modern American society.

“The reason Miller was right was he had the facts on his side, and he was willing to argue based on those facts,” K. C. Johnson said. “He wasn’t claiming there were a million people from Massachusetts crossing in buses into New Hampshire. It’s almost as if he’s taken the willingness to engage in the rhetorical battle and forgotten that the reason you win is you have the facts on your side. I’m not sure that lesson has stayed with him.”

Children’s Closets Get Luxury Makeovers

The teens’ mom, Kristen Swenson, worked with the designer to install three handblown glass chandeliers and glass shelving at the very top so it’s easier for them to spot folded clothing.

Some parents are also creating Pinterest-worthy nurseries, says New York-based nursery designer Vanessa Antonelli. Infant closets tend to be reach-in closets, but can still be outfitted with high-end details. Often that means adding darker leather lining for boys and beaded or acrylic accents for girls.

“At least half of what my clients are thinking about is ‘How good will this look?’ and ‘When I get it up on the internet, how many likes will I get?” says Ms. Antonelli.

Prince Medley - Girard College Lower School Band and Choir

This Is Spinal Tap’s $400 Million Lawsuit

One well-known progenitor of the theory of Hollywood failure is Arthur De Vany. In a paper published in 2004, De Vany, now professor emeritus in economics at the University of California at Irvine, blamed pervasive reported losses on studio overhead, distribution charges, and any number of cost allocations that he had trouble precisely quantifying. The data available to him indicated that 78 percent of movies lose money—and just 6.3 percent of all movies earned 80 percent of Hollywood’s total profit over the previous decade. It’s research like this that explains studios’ efforts to persuade creators and talent to take as little as possible upfront in return for promise of payment later. It also helps Hollywood justify lobbying for stricter copyright protections, and even make the case for more media conglomeration.

And yet other studies have produced the opposite conclusion. In 2015, Sergio Sparviero, a communications professor in Salzburg, published research demonstrating that more than 70 percent of motion pictures distributed in 2007 by the six largest media conglomerates are likely to have generated a positive return for the producers. The difference between his research and De Vany’s appears to be that Sparviero accounted for the money movies make in secondary markets, such as home video, merchandising, and foreign licensing.

As Shearer fully appreciates, he and his bandmates may be the perfect plaintiffs for a case like this. Their original deal with Embassy dates from the period before the Buchwald suit motivated studios to find ways to make their contracts more lawsuit-proof, such as adding the mandatory arbitration and confidentiality clauses. The creators may qualify for copyright recapture, giving them even more leverage. And Shearer, at least, has a war chest filled with all that Simpsons money—and is famous enough to get lots of publicity and start shaming the studios right away. They’re not the first to go after Hollywood accounting, but they could be the loudest.

Looking Back At The Sexual Politics Of “Chasing Amy” 20 Years Later

It’s much less a lesbian film than it is a clueless bro’s coming-of-age story that just happens to have a lesbian character — and she exists, for the most part, in the service of the straight dude, kickstarting his evolution without getting much in return. Ultimately, the film assumes that a lesbian can go straight, even if just for a little while, as soon as the right guy comes along.

And yet the full breadth of lesbianism isn’t that much less of a cultural mystery — nor is it much less derided and disbelieved — than it was in 1997, when Kevin Smith’s cult classic awkwardly attempted to depict a subculture that few people outside of it care to understand.

Ben, as in Affleck, plays a character who is what plenty of sexually frustrated, geeky teen boys dream of growing up to be: a modestly successful comic book writer who lives and works with his best friend from high school. (His ability to convince a lesbian to sleep with him is just icing on the fantastical cake.)

Russia’s Shadow-War in a Wary Europe

This in-depth look at Russia’s post-Cold War influence in Europe is good homework for tomorrow’s French election.

The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

“You know, people are always saying to me, ‘Rachel, I don’t care if you are red, green, blue, or purple,’ so I decided to paint myself as red, green, blue, or purple.”

Dolezal chuckles as she says this, as if it is the most clever and original idea anybody has ever had. I don’t know how many times a white person has told me that they don’t care if I’m “red, green, blue, or purple” when they are trying to explain to me just how “not racist” they are—I’ve lost count. I do know that I’ve rolled my eyes every time. As my brother Ahamefule said to me once, “They may not care if I’m red or green or blue or purple—but they sure as hell care that I’m black.”

She informs me multiple times that black people have rejected her because they simply haven’t learned yet that race is a social construct created by white supremacists, they simply don’t know any better and don’t want to: “I’ve done my research, I think a lot of people, though, haven’t probably read those books and maybe never will.”

I point out that I am a black woman with a political-science degree who writes about race and culture for a living, who has indeed read “those books.” I find her blanket justification of “race is a social construct” overly simplistic. “Race is just a social construct” is a retort I get quite often from white people who don’t want to talk about black issues anymore. A lot of things in our society are social constructs—money, for example—but the impact they have on our lives, and the rules by which they operate, are very real. I cannot undo the evils of capitalism simply by pretending to be a millionaire.

Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn’t center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen. It is a bit extreme, but it is in no way new for white people to take what they want from other cultures in the name of love and respect, while distorting or discarding the remainder of that culture for their comfort. What else is National Geographic but a long history of this practice. Maybe now that I’ve seen the unoriginality of it all, even with my sister’s name that she has claimed as her own, she will haunt me no more and simply blend into the rest of white supremacy that I battle every day.

I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong.

In which starry-eyed conservative historians are stunned to learn they are not exempt from bias.

For better or for worse, politicians seeking to lead either party faced a new reality. Democrats had to honor the public’s distrust of activist government (as Bill Clinton did with his call for the “end of welfare as we know it”). Republicans, for their part, had to play the Buckley role of denouncing the political surrealism of the paranoid fringe (Mitt Romney’s furious backpedaling after joking, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate”).

Then the nation’s pre-eminent birther ran for president.

I was writing about the modern conservative movement, the one that led to Reagan, not about the brutish relics of a more gothic, ill-formed and supposedly incoherent reactionary era that preceded it.

Funny how easily each chapter is classified as brutish and ill-informed once it’s a few years back in the rear-view. The current thinking, however, is surely unimpeachable.

Our work might have been less obtuse had we shared the instincts of a New York University professor named Kim Phillips-Fein. “Historians who write about the right should find ways to do so with a sense of the dignity of their subjects,” she observed in a 2011 review, “but they should not hesitate to keep an eye out for the bizarre, the unusual, or the unsettling.”

Anti-Semitism in America declined after World War II. But as Leo Ribuffo points out, the underlying narrative — of a diabolical transnational cabal of aliens plotting to undermine the very foundations of Christian civilization — survived in the anti-Communist diatribes of Joseph McCarthy. The alien narrative continues today in the work of National Review writers like Andrew McCarthy (“How Obama Embraces Islam’s Sharia Agenda”) and Lisa Schiffren (who argued that Obama’s parents could be secret Communists because “for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or ’60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics”). And it found its most potent expression in Donald Trump’s stubborn insistence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

The liberalization of immigration law is an obsession of the alt-right. Trump has echoed their rage.

This was a stark contrast to Reagan, who venerated immigrants, proudly signing a 1986 bill, sponsored by the conservative Republican senator Alan Simpson, that granted many undocumented immigrants citizenship.

But on immigration, at least, it is Trump, not Reagan, who is the apotheosis of the brand of conservatism that now prevails.

The history of bait-and-switch between conservative electioneering and conservative governance is another rich seam that calls out for fresh scholarly excavation: not of how conservative voters see their leaders, but of the neglected history of how conservative leaders see their voters.

The often-cynical negotiation between populist electioneering and plutocratic governance on the right has long been not so much a matter of policy as it has been a matter of show business. The media scholar Tim Raphael, in his 2009 book, “The President Electric: Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Performance,” calls the three-minute commercials that interrupted episodes of The General Electric Theater — starring Reagan and his family in their state-of-the-art Pacific Palisades home, outfitted for them by G.E. — television’s first “reality show.” For the California voters who soon made him governor, the ads created a sense of Reagan as a certain kind of character: the kindly paterfamilias, a trustworthy and nonthreatening guardian of the white middle-class suburban enclave. Years later, the producers of “The Apprentice” carefully crafted a Trump character who was the quintessence of steely resolve and all-knowing mastery. American voters noticed.

Note also the more recent connection between Republican politics and “multilevel marketing” operations like Amway (Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is the wife of Amway’s former president and the daughter-in-law of its co-founder); and how easily some of these marketing schemes shade into the promotion of dubious miracle cures (Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, with “glyconutrients”; Mike Huckabee shilling for a “solution kit” to “reverse” diabetes; Trump himself taking on a short-lived nutritional-supplements multilevel marketing scheme in 2009). The dubious grifting of Donald Trump, in short, is a part of the structure of conservative history.

Future historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in the grim essays of William F. Buckley, the scrupulous constitutionalist principles of Barry Goldwater or the bright-eyed optimism of Ronald Reagan. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage. It will not be a pleasant story.

Alec Baldwin Gets Under Trump’s Skin

Baldwin walked out onto the stage and, as if by dark magic, there he was: not Trump, exactly, but some nightmarish goof on Trump, a distillation of everything gross about him, boiled clean of any remnant that could be mistaken for competence or redemption. Unlike Fey’s pitch-perfect echo of Palin, Baldwin’s Trump isn’t an impersonation. He saves his more accurate work for Tony Bennett, for Robert De Niro, for Al Pacino—for men he loves and admires. Those are mischiefs, born of appreciation. His Trump is mimicry, born of disgust. Even after so many successful appearances—even after his and Trump’s visages have become so closely associated that a newspaper in the Dominican Republic ran a photograph of his Trump instead of the real one—Baldwin can still seem as though he doesn’t have the stomach to inhabit Trump fully. “Push, push, push,” he says in his makeup chair, his lips once again threatening to burst from his distorted face. “It’s exhausting. I’m hoping I can come up with someone else I can imitate. Pence?” In the meantime, he will keep his Trump at a remove, almost like an abstract painting, not of Trump the man but of Trump’s withered soul.

When so few of our former facts seem to hold true anymore, Baldwin knows that the most Faustian of them all still does: This wave of late-career love will wash over him only as long as Trump’s heavy breath is on the back of his neck. One exists only because of the other. “This lives on a parallel track with something very regrettable” is how he puts it.

Trump isn’t a conventional politician. His presidency exists only because of TV, because of his fame and ratings and flair for glib spectacle. And perhaps it exists only because of jokes on TV, today’s unthinkable present having begun the instant Barack Obama humiliated the guy who hosted Celebrity Apprentice at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2011. “Obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience,” Obama said, while Trump rocked back and forth in his chair. “You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.”

Why shouldn’t President Trump’s behavior continue to be manipulated—and the nation’s history altered—by jokes on TV?

“It makes you feel like everything’s going to be okay,” he says. That Baldwin is on TV and not on trial for the part he’s playing means that Trump’s power still has its limits. All is not lost.

How Late-Night Comedy Fueled the Rise of Trump

Counterpoint to the above.

When Republicans see these harsh jokes—which echo down through the morning news shows and the chattering day’s worth of viral clips, along with those of Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers—they don’t just see a handful of comics mocking them. They see HBO, Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, CBS, and NBC. In other words, they see exactly what Donald Trump has taught them: that the entire media landscape loathes them, their values, their family, and their religion.

Nothing about this time is elevating. It’s just all of us—on the left and on the right—sworn to our bitterness and our anger.

Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire

I know many lovely people in CA, but its megalomaniacal tech bro epidemic is a prime reason I don’t live there.

Mr. Kalanick’s townhouse, nicknamed the “Jam Pad.”

So he created 14 values for Uber, with tenets such as being “super pumped” and “always be hustlin.’”

Several described him as “emotionally unintelligent.”

A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

Yeah, so, it is within the realm of possibilities that this made me cry.

Trump’s Fake War on the Fake News

Namely, which members of the administration would be included on Time’s 100 most influential people list in April, and who would write their tributes? The press office and other corners of the West Wing expressed concerns about what would happen if Bannon, Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner or senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway were included on the list, but chief of staff Reince Priebus or Vice President Mike Pence were not. Far from dismissing the list as “fake news,” White House officials were concerned that the president would take it as a blueprint for governing, and give short shrift going forward to top aides who did not make the cut.

The communications team feels it does not get enough credit for the level of access it offers reporters, both to officials and to the president.

But access does not always produce insight. Reporters contend that while White House officials seem to have all day to talk about internal grudges, basic policy questions tend to go unanswered.

“If you’re doing anything involving any sort of palace intrigue, they are crazy cooperative,” said one reporter, voicing a common observation. “But if you have any sort of legitimate question, if you need a yes or no answer on policy, they’re impossible.”

“As anti-establishment as all the Trump people are, I’ve never seen a group of people so conscious of their standing in Washington that they’d spend so much time talking to reporters about who was up and who was down,” Pfeiffer said.

One reporter said he has been surprised to find that background information from Trump White House officials is more reliable than what they say on the record, a reversal from previous administrations that he has covered. Especially unreliable is anything said on camera, as it is most likely to be seen by Trump, who watches television religiously.

Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee will undermine everything he believes in

The political right is supposed to be pro-business as a matter of ideological commitment. The progressive center is supposed to be empirically minded, challenging business interests where appropriate but granting them free rein at other times.

This approach has a lot of political and substantive merits. But it is invariably subject to the objection: really?

Did you really avoid breaking up the big banks because you thought it would undermine financial stability, or were you on the take? Did you really think a fracking ban would be bad for the environment, or were you on the take? One man’s sophisticated and pragmatic approach to public policy can be the other man’s grab bag of corrupt opportunism.

Perhaps my wrongest take of the 2016 campaign was issued right before Election Day, when I acknowledged that in the abstract Nate Silver was right that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a lock in the Electoral College but dismissed Donald Trump’s chances anyway because of Obama’s high approval ratings. Undecided voters would never break for Trump under those circumstances, I thought, since Obama and Clinton were so ideologically similar.

And so they were. But the gap between them on issues of corruption and personal integrity was enormous. The Clinton family had earned tens of millions of dollars over the years thanks to buckraking speaking fees that raised fundamental questions in people’s minds about the motives of both their public policy and their philanthropic work. The Obama family hadn’t.

The Republican Lawmaker Who Secretly Created Reddit’s Women-Hating ‘Red Pill’

A fascinating – and thoroughly icky – look behind the curtain of a bonafide framework for misogyny.

In addition to anti-feminist screeds, The Red Pill teaches “sexual strategy.” This includes how to “spin plates,” or balance sleeping with several women at once; how to respond to women’s “shit-tests,” a social device used to determine a suitor’s “fitness”; and how to practice “negging,” a game tactic involving a backhanded compliment calculated to undermine confidence and make a woman more vulnerable to advances. Red pillers practice “dread game,” or intentionally instilling “dread,” in a partner that you have other options, and various other techniques.

Of gaming women, Fisher said, “[women have] absolutely done this to themselves. I feel zero regret or shame pumping and dumping.”

By May 2014, Fisher, then running for State Representative, had apparently mastered the art of “spinning plates.” He bragged: “I spin a soft harem.” As opposed to a harem, a “soft harem” means the women are mostly unaware of each other, though they are sometimes strategically given hints about the availability of other women.

I’ve read more on this subject than I care to admit, and there’s always more revolting terminology to learn. These dudes put a lot of energy into establishing this framework. Who knew something could be so cynical and so childish at the same time?

In 2011, he took to Fredrickville—posting a revealing tell-all. Aside a photo of himself on a beach, Fisher wrote about how his existential crisis plunged him into a depression, worsened by a difficult break-up.

“I felt so damaged that indeed I saw the public as the enemy. I did what a good engineer does. I identified the system, and started building rules to encounter various forms of damage that may occur in the future,” Fisher wrote. “But the damage I wanted to avoid was emotional hurt towards me. I had never known so much pain from somebody so close to me; I wanted to avoid that like it was death itself.”

America’s Other Drug Problem

The Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2015 that about 740 tons of drugs are wasted by nursing homes each year.

I went undercover with a militia on the US-Mexico border. Here’s what I saw.

After the San Bernardino shootings, the California State Militia expelled a man because he was posting the prayer times of a mosque. One of its officers warned me they’d told the FBI about a prospective recruit who said he wanted to assassinate Gov. Jerry Brown. I later asked Massengale if he worried that one of his men could snap. He replied, “I worry every day that people who come into the militia will go out and do something.”

It’s as if many militia leaders know they are dealing with a pool of volatile white men, some of whom are convinced that society has screwed them and are at risk of exploding. For some, like Doc, the militia seems to rein them in by giving them a sense of purpose.

For others, the militia provides a justification for violent fantasies of insurrection. In 2010, a man in Idaho trained members of his militia to build bombs to fight off a communist invasion. The following year, the head of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia conspired to kill a judge and police officers. Also in 2011, members of a militia in Georgia planned to attack government buildings and random people with the deadly poison ricin, all to save the Constitution. In 2014, another group of Georgia militiamen planned to bomb federal facilities because they believed it would spark martial law and provoke a militia uprising. David Burgert, a Montana militia leader, shot at police officers shortly after being released from prison, where he’d served time for possessing illegal weapons as part of a conspiracy to assassinate cops and criminal justice officials to trigger a patriot revolution. He disappeared into the woods and remains at large. This October, three men belonging to a Kansas militia called the Crusaders were charged with domestic terrorism for allegedly plotting to bomb Somali immigrants on the day after the election.

And there was Forever Enduring, Always Ready (FEAR), a small Georgia militia consisting of active-duty soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, its leader, Isaac Aguigui, asphyxiated his pregnant wife to get her life insurance money. He then spent nearly $90,000 on guns and ammo for the militia. He intended to buy land for training militias in Washington state and to further fanciful plots such as poisoning the state’s apple supply, bombing a park, assassinating Obama, and ultimately overthrowing the government. When a teenage friend of Aguigui who was not a FEAR member heard about some of its plans, two militia members shot him and his girlfriend. Aguigui is now serving life in prison.

So what’s the percentage of Muslims (worldwide or American) who are verified terrorists versus the percentage of American militiamen who are verified terrorists?

White Reaper: The World’s Best American Band / Charly Bliss: Guppy

Here are two new and fun rock records to get you ready for summer.