Prescription gaming, the ignored war, and eight other stories you might have missed

1. Games without frontiers

Neuroplasticity refers to the idea that your brain synapses and pathways can be altered by your environment or experiences. The most obvious examples are cases where a person suffers a major trauma that changes them (for example, PTSD).

But what if experiences and environment can also change one’s brain for the better? That’s the idea behind Akili Interactive Labs’ video game that is getting very to close to becoming the first FDA-approved prescription video game.

“In a study of 348 children between the ages of 8 and 12 diagnosed with ADHD, those who played Akili’s action-packed game on a tablet over four weeks saw statistically significant improvements on metrics of attention and inhibitory control.”

+ NPR: Tylenol May Help Ease The Pain Of Hurt Feelings.

2. Don’t call it a comeback

The Atlantic’s Alana Semuels with a very interesting look at The Never-Ending Foreclosure: “Despite ever-sunnier economic conditions overall, the Great Recession is still rattling American families … How can the country survive the next economic crash if millions of families still haven’t recovered from the last one?” (Increasingly, DC’s answer to that question is: “We don’t care.”)

+ Sen. Chuck Grassley on the the Senate tax plan passed in the middle of the night (with handwritten notes still in the margin): “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” (I can’t figure out if he means that things like money and booze are bad, or just that they’re too expensive…)

+ Five social experiments buried in the Senate tax bill.

3. This is the trend my friend

“So, I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.” Lindsay Graham is suggesting that military families should leave South Korea as threat of war grows.

+ Reuters: “South Korea and the United States launched their largest-ever joint aerial drills on Monday.”

+ “Inexplicably to me, we’re recreating the geopolitical hostility of the Cold War, and we’re rebuilding the nuclear dangers … I believe that the likelihood of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe today is actually greater than it was during the Cold War.” Former Defense Secretary William Perry gave a speech that is not likely to make you feel any safer.

4. Fortunate none

“Yemen lost the title of Arabia Felix, or Fortunate Arabia, long ago. It has suffered civil wars, tribalism, jihadist violence and appalling poverty. But none of this compares with the misery being inflicted on the country today by the war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, a Shia militia backed by Iran.” The Economist on the war the world ignores.

+ Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former dictator, was killed outside the capital Sana’a. “His death is likely to escalate a three-year civil war that has laid waste to the country. It was also a microcosm of Yemen’s complexity: Mr Saleh was killed by former foes who had become allies, only to become enemies again.”

5. Lawyers in gov

There is a ton of political news today, so we’ll squeeze most of it into this one section which you can read or skip depending on your neck’s tolerance for pain (you’re going to be shaking your head in disgust a lot). Here’s a quick catch-up on the weekend following the Flynn plea deal (which gave new meaning to the phrase, that escalated quickly): president Trump published a tweet in which he implicated himself in the obstruction of justice case. Trump’s team then said his lawyer wrote that tweet. And then that lawyer told Axios a president cannot obstruct justice. (As we know by now, the only people who can commit crimes are black athletes, brown immigrants, and Hillary Clinton.)

+ Here’s an excellent overview of what the Flynn deal means. NYT: 10 Key Takeaways.

+ Jeffrey Toobin: Michael Flynn’s Guilty Plea Sends Donald Trump’s Lawyers Scrambling.

+ “Often listening in is the special counsel himself, a sphinx-like presence who sits quietly along the wall for portions of key interviews.” WaPo: Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation.

+ “We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama.” Trump explicitly backs Roy Moore.

+ The Supreme Court lets Trump Travel ban take full effect.

+ Trump rolls back federal protections on Utah lands. “With typical Trumpian flair, the president had hyped the announcement as ‘one of the great, really, events in this country in a long time.’” (Here are some photos of the Bears Ears National Monument.)

+ Even in an era when sycophants say ridiculous and embarrassing things on a regular basis, this stands out. CIA director: Trump tweets yielding valuable intelligence.

6. Freeze frame

It has been a year filled with an overwhelming amount of often overwhelming news. That’s reflected in the InFocus collection of the Top 25 News Photos of 2017.

7. Rehab

“They are required to say they’re unemployed and turn over their food stamps to the program, which state regulators say is fraud. And on their days off, some worked for free mowing Landrith’s lawn and doing yard work around his property.” Reveal with their latest piece on rehab programs “that promise defendants freedom from addiction but instead turn them into indentured servants for private industry.” Inside a judge’s rehab: Unpaid work at a local Coca-Cola plant.

8. The new pollution

“Power plants have been the biggest source of U.S. CO2 emissions since the 1970s-until now.” Congratulations to planes, trains, and automobiles for becoming the new leader in greenhouse gas pollution. But “the big reversal didn’t happen because transportation emissions have been increasing…”

+ “For decades, certain scientists have hoped carbon-capture technologies, deployed at large scales, could save humanity from catastrophic climate change by providing a bridge to a future in which we’ll have enough capacity to create, store, and supply all the world’s energy from only renewable sources.” Can carbon dioxide capturing technologies save us?

9. Paying forever in blue jeans

“Affirm loans don’t just allow but entice you to buy something you can’t afford in one lump sum. But the loans aren’t Affirm’s real product – they’re a means to building and perfecting a new underwriting system to determine consumer creditworthiness, powered by machine learning and your personal data.” Racked: Would You Take Out a Loan for a Pair of Jeans?

10. Bell bottom news

“There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.” Facebook is launching a version of Messenger for kids, proving once and for all that life begins at FB’s conception of you as a customer.

+ Vice: “Having a shitty Monday? Hey, at least you haven’t been attacked by a bear, made a lucky escape from that bear, and then once again been attacked by that same bear.” (I read 75 tabs worth of news on my Monday. So we’ll call it a tie.)

+ “After the implosion charges went off, nothing happened.” The attempted implosion of Pontiac Silverdome failed spectacularly. (They should try whatever techniques are being used in Washington, DC. The implosion there is working like a charm.)

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