Monday, October 15th, 2018


Pounding Sand Palace

"The siding that had wrapped around a stairway providing access to the elevated house was gone, and so were the stairs. But that was by design: The family's architect used breakaway walls that would tear free without ripping off any more of the structure. Now there was just a gaping hole and part of a handrail, leaving the five-bedroom, five-bathroom house accessible only by ladder." But once you climbed that ladder, the house was intact and in pretty good shape. This was in stark contrast to the other homes in Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle, which felt the full brunt of Hurricane Michael's wrath. How did the home known by its owners as the Sand Palace stand, "majestic amid the apocalyptic wreckage, the last surviving beachfront house on his block?" It wasn't just built to code. It was built for climate change. Among the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built for the Big One.

+ This could give us a glimpse into the future of building for those who choose to live in vulnerable coastal cities. Unless, as President Trump suggests, climate change will "change back again."


Harass Backwards

"Surveys suggest that this year-long storm of allegations, confessions and firings has actually made Americans more sceptical about sexual harassment." The Economist: After a year of MeToo, American opinion has shifted against victims. And, "rather than breaking along gendered lines, the MeToo divide increasingly appears to be a partisan one."


Rogue State of Mind

After a call with King Salman, President Trump said that the Saudi leader firmly denied having anything to with the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump added, "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?" (I just saw Mohammed bin Salman drive by in a White Ford Bronco...)

+ "Under bin Salman's growing control of the Saudi state, the hands-off American policy has continued, despite a humanitarian nightmare in Yemen, the seeming extortion of Saudi oligarchs of tens of billions of dollars and, if the allegations of Turkish officials are to be believed, the murder and dismemberment of a prominent Saudi writer inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul." Peter Bergen: Trump's uncritical embrace of MBS set the stage for Khashoggi crisis.

+ People in Yemen reading the Khashoggi coverage are like, "Wait, the world didn't know that Saudis killed civilians with America's OK?" At least 10,000 people have been killed in that conflict, with millions more displaced. And Yemen could face the 'worst famine in 100 years.'


Cornered Store

In 1886, Richard Sears began selling watches in Minneapolis. And things went pretty well for the next 109 years, when a dude named Jeff Bezos sold a book from his garage. From the NYT: Sears, the Original Everything Store, Files for Bankruptcy. To paraphrase an Arcade Fire lyric, being everything isn't enough anymore. We want everything now.

+ "Behind the darkened windows, there's a deeper story about money and land, with implications for the future of cities and the rest of the United States." Derek Thompson: How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town.


Tequila Slammer

"Despite the liquor's ascendance, the people most responsible for tequila are struggling to survive. Because of agave's long growth cycle and volatile pricing, many small farmers can't afford to stay in business when prices swoon. In 2011, there were 3,075 agave producers, according to data from the Committee on Regulation for Tequila. In 2017, there were only 1,946. Simultaneously, tequila production rose, from 261 million liters in 2011 to 271 million liters in 2017." Bloomberg: How the Tequila Boom Could Go Bust.

+ Barley shortages from climate change could mean less beer worldwide. (Long story short, at the very moment when you need a drink the most, you won't be able to get one...)


Boss Mode

"The proliferation of surveillance is due, at least in part, to the rising sophistication and declining cost of spy technology: Employers monitor workers because they can." Your boss is spending a lot of time watching you. And you're spending a lot of time evading that gaze. The Atlantic on The Employer Surveillance State.

+ "Gamification's trapping of total fun masks that we have very little control over the games we are made to play – and hides the fact that these games are not games at all. Gamified systems are tools, not toys. They can teach complex topics, engage us with otherwise difficult problems. Or they can function as subtle systems of social control." Aeon on the dangers associated with A Gamified Life.


The Tee Pee Tape

"Warren, whose claims to Native American blood have been mocked by President Trump and other Republicans, provided the test results to the Globe on Sunday in an effort to defuse questions about her ancestry that have persisted for years." The fact that Elizabeth Warren released a DNA test to prove she's part Native American also proves people still don't know how to beat Trump. His whole strategy is built around framing ridiculous debates and sucking formerly serious people into them. (I mean, does this help? "The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she's between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.")


Pocket Protector

"A startup founded in Palo Alto, California, by a trio of doctors, including the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, is trying to prove that our obsession with the technology in our pockets can help treat some of today's most intractable medical problems: depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse." MIT Tech Review on the smartphone app that can tell you're depressed before you know it yourself. This could work. Just last week I slammed my phone against a wall and Siri was like, "Dude, you feeling a little down?"


Are We Human or Neuromancers?

"Once such superhumans appear, there are going to be significant political problems with the unimproved humans, who won't be able to compete. Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate. If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonise other planets and stars." Stephen Hawking left us with some parting thoughts.


Bottom of the News

"This year alone, pet spending in the U.S. is estimated to exceed $72 billion, which is more than the combined GDP of the 39 poorest countries in the world." In other words, we spend a ton of money buying ridiculous gifts and accoutrements for our pets. Maybe that money could be better spent. (To avoid wasting money on new Halloween costumes, I'm gonna dress my beagles as Snoop Dogg again this year...)

+ It's still boom times for many baby boomer bands.