August 31st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The ultimate beach read, plus Weekend Whats and Feel Good Friday.

Vinod Khosla has ninety nine problems but a beach ain’t one. In fact, he really doesn’t care much about the beach or the property he owns on it. But somehow, in a story that is uniquely SIlicon Valley, “the aggressive, shameless, obsessive and optimistic, tech billionaire” has still litigated the case of beach access on his property all the way to the highest court. And the ramifications could be far reaching (even though he doesn’t really want them to be). Let’s coast into the weekend with the ultimate beach read from the NYT’s Nellie Bowles: Every Generation Gets the Beach Villain It Deserves. “Now, by dint of his character, which ticks all the major boxes of the venture capitalist archetype — aggressive, shameless, obsessive and optimistic — Mr. Khosla could disrupt the entire California coastal system. The stakes are both enormous and hilariously low.
If he wins, he could reshape the laws that govern 1,100 miles of shore. And if he loses, all he would be forced to do is apply for a permit to change the hours of operation on a single gate. The legal volleys would undoubtedly continue; Californians do not easily give up a good surf spot. But the last person against whom to wage a war of attrition is Vinod Khosla.”


Plumbing the Depths

“Chemnitz, a city of some 250,000 in eastern Germany, has a history of neo-Nazi protests. Usually they draw a few hundred from the fringes of society — and far larger counter-demonstrations, city officials say. The crowd this time was 8,000-strong. Led by several hundred identifiable neo-Nazis, it appeared to be joined by thousands of ordinary citizens.” NYT: Chemnitz Protests Show New Strength of Germany’s Far Right.

+ “I’m used to the neo-Nazis, but not seeing my neighbour or the plumber mixing with them in broad daylight. You can’t rule out anyone being here.” The Guardian: Fear in Chemnitz.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: “Fascist politics transforms the news from a conduit of information and reasoned debate into a spectacle with the strongman as its star.” Does that sound familiar? So will everything else in Jason Stanley’s excellent new book, How Fascism Works. I spend a few hours a day trying to figure out what the hell is happening at the intersection of politics and news. This book explains it as well as anything I’ve read.

+ What to Read: I took what I learned from Jason Stanley’s book and applied it to a single day of news. Do we live in a fascist state? Far from it. But we are normalizing behaviors that are drawn from the fascist playbook, and we’re witnessing a the re-emergence of fascism in many countries. There’s a value to being aware of these behaviors and having the guts to call them what they are. So take a look at: Today in Fascism.

+ What to Doc: Dirty Money on Netflix. “From crippling payday loans to cars that cheat emissions tests, this investigative series exposes brazen acts of corporate greed and corruption.” The first episode covers the VW emissions scandal. I thought I understood that story. I had no idea.

+ What to Binge Read: Want to catch up on some good articles. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf has put together his annual list of Slightly More Than 100 Fantastic Articles.


Getting the Banned Back Together

“The frequency of the group’s attacks is up, and so, apparently, are its numbers. It excels, once again, at crafting small explosive devices, and weaponizing drones. And its sophisticated media outreach is recovering.” Also, its leader, who most experts assumed was dead, isn’t. From Robin Wright in The New Yorker: ISIS Makes a Comeback.

+ “You can say that almost all of Iraq has been liberated from ISIS during the day, but you can’t say that at night.” The Atlantic: ISIS Never Went Away in Iraq.


Tackling Blocks

“The challenge is designing blocks that click together yet separate easily, retain bright colors, and survive the rigors of being put through a laundry load, or the weight of an unknowing parent’s foot. In essence, the company wants to switch the ingredients, but keep the product exactly the same.” NYT: Lego Wants to Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks (Without Anyone Noticing).


Seventh Grade Supplies List

“I think of seventh grade as being the worst age of a person’s life. It’s really a fraught time, and there’s all this insecurity that kids have about, “Who am I? Do people like me? What kind of person am I?” So, how do we navigate that? Well, our appearance is one of the things we navigate with. So, what does a kid see when they see another kid?” In The Atlantic, a discussion with a researcher who has studied materialism for three decades: Why Kids Want Things. (My 12 year-old son only discusses two topics with me. First, he wants an iPhone and refuses to be the last person in his grade to get one. Second, he’s hungry and wants a snack.)


We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

“I’m on my first-ever cruise because I wanted to see how the entertainment world’s 99 percent, as Bernie Sanders might say, work for a living. The comedians who don’t film HBO specials; the magicians who aren’t David Blaine; the variety acts who don’t just disappear after their fifteen seconds on America’s Got Talent. These entertainers are struggling to compete with everything from YouTube phenoms to Netflix and Spotify. In Vegas and Times Square, small clubs and homegrown acts are getting squeezed out by arenas, superstars, and global brands, like mom-and-pop shops bulldozed by Walmarts.” In Esquire, Logan Hill takes you inside the delightfully quirky, absolutely fabulous, and utterly exhausting world of cruise performers.


Canadian Goose Egg

“Canada’s going to make a deal at some point. It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time, but ultimately they have no choice. I think we’re close to a deal.” Bloomberg: Canada Says It’s ‘Not There’ on Nafta Deal.

+ A deal may be reached, but to get there, Canada will have to pass through the usual minefield of insults reserved for America’s closest allies. In secret remarks, Trump says he isn’t compromising at all with Canada.


Exit Ramp

“There was the 24-year-old insurance saleswoman who got sick of being yelled at when she couldn’t reach her quota. Then there’s the exhausted designer who clocked 160 hours of monthly overtime. And the ramen noodle shop employee who suffered stress to the point of developing depression. They all shared a common problem: for one reason or another, they couldn’t pluck up the courage to quit.” Well now, at least in Japan, there’s an app for that.


Feel Good Friday

In Marseille, it’s a tradition to let a fan take the ceremonial pre-match kick-off. This kid made the most of it. And then some.

+ “A bullied 10-year-old in Desert Hot Springs, California, says he refused to fight back despite being sent to the hospital because ‘it’s not the Jedi way.’ Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill praised him on Twitter.” (It’s not often you see the words praise and Twitter in the same sentence. But hey, this is Feel Good Friday!)

+ “The Ocean Cleanup, an effort that’s been five years in the making, plans to launch its beta cleanup system, a 600-meter (almost 2,000-foot) long floater that can collect about five tons of ocean plastic per month.”

+ California lawmakers just voted to make all its electricity emissions-free by 2045.

+ A couple’s love story started with a CPR kiss.

+ Microsoft will require suppliers to offer paid parental leave.

+ Ariana Grande performed Natural Woman at Aretha’s funeral. (Think of how much bigger NextDraft would be if, instead of covering news, I just covered the relationship between Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson…)

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