I spent last weekend in the remote mountain community of Stehekin where, in my reverie, I devoured Uplake, a new collection of short essays by local writer Ana Maria Spagna. The book is punctuated with brilliance, insight, and wonder. I most appreciated Spagna’s insistence on inhabiting the contradictions and tensions of her life and her refusal to settle questions cleanly.

I also read Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, which I thought was brilliant.

The New York Times invites readers to guess which Facebook posts are legitimate and which are influence campaigns designed by foreign agents to divide Americans. And the NYT also reports that in spite of the company’s public clean-up efforts, much of the same vitriol appears to be flourishing on Facebook’s private channels.

GQ reports new scientific research on declining sperm counts—the most comprehensive analysis yet—and finds that the news is worse than we thought and that the decline is tightly linked to the ubiquity of endocrine-disrupting chemicals:

Not only were sperm counts per milliliter of semen down by more than 50 percent since 1973, but total sperm counts were down by almost 60 percent: We are producing less semen, and that semen has fewer sperm cells in it…. Testosterone levels have also dropped precipitously, with effects beginning in utero and extending into adulthood… Lower testosterone leads to a shorter AGD, and a measurement lower than the median correlates to a man being seven times as likely to be subfertile and gives him a greater likelihood of having undescended testicles, testicular tumors, and a smaller penis.

The problem is that these chemicals are everywhere… But some chemicals, including phthalates and BPA, can change the way genes are expressed without altering the underlying genetic code, and that change is inheritable. Your father passes along his low sperm count to you, and your sperm count goes even lower after you’re exposed to endocrine disruptors. That’s part of the reason there’s been no leveling off even after 40 years of declining sperm counts—the baseline keeps dropping.


A note on the harm tech companies might be doing to children—intentionally.


Jon Talton, my favorite Seattle Times columnist because he keeps in touch with the 99 percent, remarked that the current bull market, “that most benefits the 1 percent diverges from the well-being of most people who work for wages.” Accordingly, Talton offered ideas on how the “lot of working people in America” could be improved.

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  • Speaking of which, on the day Amazon hit an estimated $1 trillion in value, Democracy Now! reported on corporate practices that help the company make its financial gains.

    This all just reinforces the concept of “high times on Wall Street, and hard times on Main Street,” as The Boss says.

    John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant who occasionally submits material for Weekend Reading and other posts.