Margaret

I’ve been reading a lot about the preparations for the 2020 US Census. The impact of the current lack of leadership and underfunding could be devastating to US policy making in the next decade and beyond, impacting everything from the distribution of congressional seats to immigration policy and much more.

(If you want to take a quick 10 minute break and experience the amazing depth of census data, check out the American Fact Finder website which catalogs not only the decennial census data, but also the info from the annual American Community Survey. Did you know the average Seattleite’s commute time is 27 minutes while Portlanders average just under 26 minutes? In other words, Portlanders save an average of three minutes a day compared to Seattleites. Or that some 17,000 Seattleites are on the road commuting before 5:30 am? That’s when my alarm goes off. I could go on and on, but I’ll let you explore the treasure trove.)

One of my other favorite reads of the last few weeks has been this op-ed by David Brooks. The title is a bit corny, but he quotes a line from Pope Francis’ New Year’s Eve speech that’s been sinking into my skin lately. On the last night of the year, a year that brought fear, uncertainty, and even heartbreak to so many, the Pope called us all to be “the artisans of the common good.”

And finally, Wednesday of this week marked not only Valentine’s Day but also the beginning Lent, a season my family and I observe. This New York Times op-ed had some language that spoke to me about this season: it’s a time to “listen to that inner voice that tells you what you need to be doing but you can’t quite face yet” and an annual reminder that “our lives are not a right. They’re a gift.”

Eric

Wired has a good story on the roughness of the past two years at Facebook.

What if fake news (and images and videos and audio) become so convincing and prevalent that we stop trusting any media sources? Buzzfeed explores a frighteningly plausible near future.

It’s a strange world when a multinational corporation may have produced the most powerful values messaging I’ve yet seen in rejection of Trumpism. Yet by my lights, that’s what Proctor & Gamble did in their 90-second Olympics commercial. It almost makes me want to go buy some paper towels.

I tried biathlon once and I was very surprised by how difficult it is to shoot straight with an elevated heart rate. Here’s how the best do it.

Anna

Podcastorama! Now is a good time to review the history of the Second Amendment. More Perfect chronicles the evolution of the NRA and how it emerged as the powerful industry mouthpiece it is now and how, with the Black Panthers, it has shaped gun rules and worldview we live with (or die by) today.

Embedded is going deep on all things Trump.

  • Very good stuff paired with Slow Burn: a podcast series on Watergate.

    And for lighter fare, NPR’s storytelling podcast Circle Round (great for kids).

    Aven

    Anthropologist James Suzman writes about the “primitive affluence” of the hunter-gatherer groups he’s worked with, linking it to Keynes’ vision of a golden age of leisure, and then contrasting the assumptions underlying these ideas with modern society’s obsession with economic growth and productivity.

    Standing Rock may not have achieved its objective of stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed, but it has forced some oil companies involved in the standoff to publicly evaluate the ways in which they assess environmental and human rights risks.  And, in a rare win for the Arctic these days, a federal appeals court upheld a decision to list ringed seals under the Endangered Species Act, which had earlier been revoked by a district court which basically claimed that habitat loss from climate change was “speculative”.

    This unfailingly polite and formal letter from the American Meteorological Society in response to the federal administration’s blatant lies about climate change is worth a read. To quote: “Unfortunately, these and other climate-related comments in the interview are not consistent with scientific observations from around the globe, nor with scientific conclusions based on these observations.”

    I would remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a relatively powerful and effective gun control lobby here in Washington, which you can be a part of, and to remind people that the Second Amendment is really all about gun control.