Monday, September 11th, 2017


Irma, Harvey, and You

There's a modern question that emerges when a massive storm makes its way towards a highly populated area: Is this the right moment to talk about climate change? Let's settle that debate with a simple answer: Yes. It's the right time to discuss climate change and how we're going to adapt to it because we're witnessing, firsthand, what could be the new normal. And because, for the most part, we completely ignore the threats posed by climate change when there isn't a big storm approaching. Miami Mayor Mayor Tomás Regalado agrees: "This is the time to talk about climate change ... This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come." Climate change is simply going factor into our future decisions about where and how we live. Here's The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins (who grew up in Florida) with an Elegy for the Sunshine State: "The joke among us was that every housing development in Florida was named to memorialize the ecosystem it replaced: Crystal Cove, Mahogany Bay, The Bluffs. For about a year, I lived in an apartment complex, paved from end to end, called "In the Pines."
It's useful to remember this now, as Hurricane Irma lays waste to much of Florida: the destruction of the state has been unfolding for decades, and, for the most part, it wasn't done by nature. It was done by us."

+ "In the 20th century, Florida declared war on its common enemy, vowing to subdue Mother Nature, eventually making vast swaths of floodplains safe for the president to build golf courses and Vanilla Ice to flip houses and my kids to grow up in the sunshine. Water control -- even more than air conditioning or bug spray or Social Security -- enabled the spectacular growth of South Florida. It's a pretty awesome place to live, now that so much of its swamp has been drained ... But Mother Nature still gets her say." Michael Grunwald in Politico: Florida, the Paradise That Should Never Have Been.


And She Was

Irma has finally been downgraded to a tropical storm after leaving 6 million Floridians without power, causing massive damage in the Virgin Islands, leaving at least 10 dead in Cuba, and causing widespread damage throughout the region. Here's the latest from The Guardian.

+ Not everything went perfectly for the perfect storm, and Irma was actually less terrible than expected. Here's what that looks like in photos and social media posts.

+ My nine-year daughter channeled the thoughts of viewers everywhere when she asked why windbreakered TV news reporters were standing outside in the middle of the storm. (Even some amateur reporters gave it a try.) The drenched live-shots aside, the media played a vital role during the storm. And there's no doubt that the combination of scientists, government officials, and the media saved countless lives over the weekend.

+ Even with all the photos of flooding and damage, many of the most indelible images from Harvey and Irma will be those of people helping people. And some of that help came from unexpected places. The Houston Chronicle: I downloaded an app. And suddenly, was part of the Cajun Navy.


More Dead in Ohio

"My family is in desperate need of help. Both my fiancé and I have a substance abuse problem. We have two children one we are about to lose to the state due to our problems. we've battled with these addictions most of our lives. We love our daughter and we have tried so hard … I know if we could get away from our area and the poor influences we could succeed and keep this family together. please please help us." That was a post on the website of an opiate addiction treatment center collected by reporters from the Cincinnati Enquirer. The newspaper "sent more than 60 reporters, photographers and videographers into their communities to chronicle an ordinary week in this extraordinary time." Seven Days Of Heroin: This Is What An Epidemic Looks Like.


Ethics Cleansed?

"Even before the latest wave of terror, a Yale study had suggested that the brutality toward the Rohingya might qualify as genocide. The US Holocaust Museum has also warned that a genocide against the Rohingya may be looming." From Nicholas Kristof in the NYT: Aung San Suu Kyi, a beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner, is presiding over an ethnic cleansing in which villages are burned, women raped and children butchered.

+ The Guardian: Myanmar treatment of Rohingya looks like 'textbook ethnic cleansing', says UN.


Still Fighting

On this anniversary of 9/11, Newsday shares a reminder that for many first responders, the fight that started that day never stopped. "Many are living lives of disability and facing an uncertain future. Others know their fate all too well. Soon, they will join a burgeoning roll call of those whose dedicated service in the days after the nation's worst terror attacks will likely cost them their lives." 9/11 first responders face illness, uncertain future.

+ And a look back at a couple epic longreads about that day: The Falling Man. And the story of scene aboard Air Force One: We're the Only Plane in the Sky.


Just Browsing

It "harkens back to the more traditional approach of selling luxury goods, where a shopper trusts an expert to help select items. Still, that is not without risk at a time shoppers have ample tools at their disposal to figure out what trends are hot and appealing and are more likely to trust Instragram influencers than a store employee." Nordstrom is testing out a new store format: Customers will find coffee, beer, stylists, and fashion experts. But not much merchandise. Is this the future of offline retail, or just another example of how desperate the situation has become?


College Ruled

"Experts trace the roots of this shift to the 1980s. Since then, college tuition has skyrocketed and with it the competition for students who can afford it. Parents footing the bill are paying a lot more attention. The world has become more litigious and more corporate. All of this has led to an atmosphere in which university administrations have little margin for error when it comes to student safety or even bad publicity. And in this risk-averse atmosphere, places like Senior House, Eclectic, and Ricketts are increasingly viewed as unacceptable liabilities." From Wired's Emily Dreyfuss: A Weird MIT Dorm Dies, and A Crisis Blooms At Colleges.


Why Not Take All of Me?

"They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through our days and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendars and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to turn unthinkingly to them for information and entertainment while they catalogue our intentions and aversions." Franklin Foer in WaPo: How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality.


The Jeff Sessions

From Axios: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told associates he wants to put the entire National Security Council staff through a lie detector test to root out leakers. It's unclear whether this will ever happen, but Sessions floated the idea to multiple people, as recently as last month." (We need to put some people through an irony detector test...)


Bottom of the News

"But about a half-hour into the workout, he started feeling weird. 'My eyes were watering, I was having trouble breathing ... In another five minutes I was struggling to breathe. I looked behind me into the mirror, and my eyes were swollen -- every part of my face was swollen.'" Yes folks, it's possible. Joe O'Leary was allergic to exercise.

+ Even for a Monday, that was a lot of heavy news. So do yourself a favor and take a break, sit back, and watch this panda eating bamboo.