Tangle is an independent, ad-free, non-partisan politics newsletter where I answer reader questions from across the country. If you found Tangle online, you can subscribe below.
Today’s read: 4 minutes.
I’m answering all your off-topic (read: non-politics), unanswered questions that have come in over the last few weeks. Plus, some big news from yesterday at the bottom.
As you know, Tangle usually hits your inbox Monday-Thursday, around lunchtime (EST). Today, I’m experimenting with a special Friday edition — not because there’s big news, which is my normal reason for sending out a Friday newsletter — but because a lot of you have sent in some pretty random questions that had nothing to do with politics. Some of them were serious, some were in jest, some were vaguely related to the news. Regardless, people took the time to send them in and so I want to respond to them.
Also, it’s worth noting that before Tangle goes paid, I want to experiment with some different formats. One of those formats will be newsletters that solely answer questions or are formatted like traditional articles, but have the Tangle voice. That way, in case I try something people really like, I know I can include it when I move to paid subscriptions.
Finally, below these questions, you’ll find a couple of quick hits on the actual news. Enjoy!
Your (non-politics) questions, answered.
Reminder: Tangle is about answering reader questions so you don’t have to wade through the news. If you want an answer to something, simply reply to this email and write in. Try to stick to politics — but if you don’t, I’ll try to get to it anyway.
Q: Where does the name for the newsletter come from?
- Taylor, Denver, CO.
Tangle: Coming up with the name for Tangle was actually one of the hardest parts. I wanted something that was one word, catchy, could lead to a cool logo and was somehow relevant to what I was doing. I have to confess: I didn’t come up with the name on my own. I solicited ideas from about 20 friends, and my fiance’s brother actually suggested the name Tangle. Immediately, I thought of the web of news, the tangle of partisanship, the way everything has gotten so muddled and confusing. It really seemed like it fit and it had a nice ring to it. But I put it to a vote anyway, and about 30 friends confirmed my instinct by picking it first above the other options. Here were some other names people came up with that were final contenders:
Phone Keys Wallet (PKW)
Backpocket News (BPN)
Red Eye News
Q: Apple just released a new credit card. Not sure if you know much about it but if you're familiar with it, do you think it could be the future of banking?
- Gabriel, Atlanta, GA.
Tangle: I heard about the credit card, but I don’t know enough about the credit card industry to say (without doing some research). I will say this: the way we bank today seems increasingly obsolete. All the data breaches and hacks that have happened over the last decade, plus the Wall St. crash in 2008, have made people increasingly skeptical about our financial institutions. I think that’s why we’ve seen the explosion of things like cryptocurrency. I don’t know if the future of banking is Apple, but I definitely don’t think the future of banking is what we have now.
Q: In our family, we will be attending the fourth wedding of thy generation in four years, after a ten-year gap. Is marriage being rediscovered? Are people finding good things about marriage that aren’t available elsewhere?
- Walter, San Jose, CA.
Tangle: It does seem like marriage is making a comeback. I think my generation suffers from something the boomers didn’t, which is that so many of our parents get divorced (about half). That seems to have created a generation of people who are skeptical of the institution as a whole. But I’ve noticed in recent years that grand proposals and romanticism around marriage and engagement have seemed to become really popular again. That might be tied to social media, but I think there could be a shift happening. Still, there’s a lot of data to counteract that point. Take the chart below, for example:
Q: Will Tangle be in Atlantic City next weekend?
- Chris, New York, NY.
Tangle: As much as Tangle would like to be in Atlantic City next weekend, no, Tangle will be in New York City for a concert that Tangle already had tickets too. I will miss you, though. Thank you for submitting this personal plans related question via Tangle.
Q: What do you think the most underrated place to live in the U.S. is?
- Mike, Philadelphia, PA.
Tangle: A few years ago, I think I would have said Pittsburgh, PA, where I went to college. Pittsburgh is a gorgeous, green, cheap, cultured city with a ton of history and grit and self-deprecating humor. It also has awesome sports teams, a burgeoning tech scene and some amazing universities. The job market is great, too. Plus it’s on a body of water (or three, if you count all the rivers). But the word is pretty much out on Pittsburgh now, and it’s been so well-regarded in all those national city rankings that I think it is “rated” and no longer “underrated.”
I sat on this question for a bit because I had trouble coming up with a place, but I think my final answer would be Raleigh, North Carolina. That might be some bias (my brother and his wife live there), but every time I’ve gone to Raleigh I’ve really enjoyed it. On my last visit, I found that it pretty much had everything: great restaurants, great breweries, good nightlife, nice people, lots of greenery, reasonable housing prices, and electric scooters to tear up the city. It’s also a great place weather-wise. Beautiful falls, springs and hot summers, and the occasional snowfall in winters that are typically just mild. It has the university bump (colleges are everywhere) and enough big sports teams nearby to keep yourself entertained if that’s your thing (negative points for no NBA team). The airport is easy, there are other big cities a drive away, it’s big enough that bands stop there on their tours, you can get to the beach in a couple of hours and there’s enough diversity you don’t feel completely in a bubble. The politics of Raleigh (and North Carolina as a whole) are a bit sketchy, but I’m not sure how long that will last. I’d put Madison, Wisconsin and Atlanta, Georgia up there with Raleigh as well.
Q: Who is more annoying? People who do CrossFit or vegans?
- Mike, Jersey City, NJ.
Tangle: At the risk of alienating many of my readers, I’ll tread carefully here. I don’t mind vegans at all, in fact, I’ve experimented with various environmentally-friendly and animal-friendly diets. What I mind is the guilt-trip vegans, or at least the ones who use meals as an opportunity to guilt-trip you. I’m all for a healthy debate about the science and environmental impacts of veganism (which, by the way, are very hotly contested), but I’d prefer not to have that debate while I enjoy a steak. As for the CrossFit cul— erm, trend — I’ll just say that CrossFit seems like a really great way to get in shape and make some very intense friends.
- George Kent, senior State Department official, testified yesterday that Trump’s demands were to announce investigations into the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in exchange for an oval office meeting. Kent’s assessment came from a summer conversation that Trump had with Gordon Sondland, The New York Times reported.
- Ukraine's President Zelensky had apparently bowed to Trump's demands, choosing to break Ukraine's rule of avoiding partisan politics to ensure they received the $300 million of withheld military aid. Zelensky was scheduled to announce investigations into 2016 and Burisma on CNN with Fareed Zakaria, but canceled when news of the withheld aid leaked and Congress broke out into an uproar, forcing Trump's hand to give over the money. More from the NYTimes here.
- Former New York Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg appears prepared to enter the Democratic race for president. Bloomberg filed paperwork in Alabama yesterday, getting ahead of one of the earliest filing deadlines in the country. If he entered, it’d mark a cataclysmic shift in the race that would likely pour energy onto Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (who would rail against the rich buying elections) and box out moderates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Click.
- Another person has come forward with allegations that Republican Rep. Jim Jordan knew about an Ohio State doctor, Richard Strauss, who was molesting college athletes. The person, a professional referee, says he told Rep. Jordan that the doctor was masturbating in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match. Rep. Jordan’s response was essentially a shrug, according to court documents. The referee is the second person to accuse Rep. Jordan of knowing about the doctor’s misconduct, which happened in the 1990s. NBC News has the report.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he will run for the Senate in Alabama. Here is a brief video on his bid:
Tangle hits your inbox Monday through Thursday, around lunchtime (EST). Today is a special Friday edition, which means we won’t be back until Monday. In the meantime, forward this newsletter to friends or write in with a question by simply replying to this email.
Have a nice day.
Here is a video of a Beluga whale playing fetch with a rugby ball.