Things I’m Verbing: Science smackdowns, Trump-loving grandmas and what even is a Playborhood?

While you weren’t looking, Scientific American posted one of the most damning, a-plague-on-everybody’s-house political broadsides I’ve maybe ever seen. Right, left, objective, biased, it doesn’t matter: Everyone gets the unfunny version of “being read for filth.” You need to read “A Plan to Defend Against the War on Science” for so many reasons, but the root of it is this: When science becomes subject to politics and not observable facts, whether that’s denying climate change or misunderstanding GMO foods or even choosing what observable facts even are, that opens the door to a situation like, well, Donald Trump, where baldly lying to gain absolute power becomes the new normal.

A family friend mailed this out this morning, and I’m so glad, honestly — because even This American Life is getting anxious about the state of truth and lies in this country. Major points off for uncritically using the term “illegal immigrants” over and over, Ira Glass, but on the other hand, this episode also gives us Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. singing in character as President Obama, courtesy of composer and singer Sara Bareilles, and… it’s actually really, really good.

  • The economics of the news industry have undoubtably contributed to the rise of partisan facts. Part of that is the sterility of media ownership: It’s limited and homogenous and desperately underfunded, in most cases. To demonstrate the extent of the problem, the University of North Carolina has issued an important report on the rise of new media barons, as well as an interactive website to help answer an all-important question: Who owns your hometown paper?
  • There’s a whole genre of “trying to understand the other side” pieces, of “how could nice people vote for X candidate?” essays. Amy Kurzweil, who has just published her first graphic memoir, about her Holocaust-survivor grandmother and how that experience plays out through three generations, has added a wonderful addition to the mix. Imagine said Holocaust-surviving grandmother announcing that she liked Donald Trump.
  • Speaking of Donald Trump, opinion pieces and brilliant women, read Alexandra Petri’s “Nasty Women Have Much Work to Do.” Hilarious, powerful and beautiful don’t begin to describe it.
  • Ah, parenting. Ah, helicopter parenting? Ah, Silicon Valley dads who think the best solution to kids being too controlled by their parents to take risks is… something called a Playborhood. There’s a lot that’s interesting about this article, because it’s true: How are you going to break free of over-scheduled kid syndrome if your kid is the only one breaking free? But also… this seems like the perfect example of a Silicon Valley dude thinking that “disruption” is the best and only solution to just about anything he doesn’t like.
  • I haven’t been able to shake “We Have Tried Every Kind of Death Possible.” Raed Saleh used to buy and sell electronics in a small town in Syria. Now he’s the head of the White Helmets, volunteers who rush to extract survivors from bombed buildings. Every platitude about how heart-wrenching his account of this life is falls flat in the face of the fact of it.

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Debbie Mccallum

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