Tuesday, February 12th, 2019


Suck It

It's looking less and less likely that humans will be able to substantially reduce carbon emissions in time to stave off some seriously bad outcomes. That makes it more likely that we're going to have to figure out a way to remove some carbon from the air in a way that is efficient and cost effective enough to make a dent in the problem. And there's no time for waiting to inhale. As a species, we really need to suck it up. From the NYT: The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change. "The technicians had in front of them 12 large devices, stacked in two rows of six, that resembled oversize front-loading clothes dryers. These were 'direct air capture' machines, which soon would begin collecting carbon dioxide from air drawn in through their central ducts. Once trapped, the CO₂ would then be siphoned into large tanks and trucked to a local Coca-Cola bottler, where it would become the fizz in a soft drink."


Shorty’s Long Fall

"Today, Guzman Loera has been held accountable for the tons of illegal narcotics he trafficked for more than two decades, the murders he ordered and committed, and the billions of dollars he reaped while causing incalculable pain and suffering to those devastated by his drugs." That was the statement from U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue as El Chapo was convicted on all charges.

+ "Drug kingpins reign as long as they make their partners money. When they stop, they end up in jail." Don Winslow: The Dirty Secret Of El Chapo's Downfall.


The Thrill is Gone

"I can't say I'm happy. I can't say I'm thrilled." So said President Trump as Congressional negotiators reached a tentative deal to fund the government, sans most of the wall money Trump had demanded. (Editor's note: The wall has always been purely politics for Trump. As soon as it started to hurt him politically, he caved and re-opened the government. There is exactly zero chance of another Trump-led shutdown, regardless of what Congress puts on his desk. But don't take it from me. Even Fox & Friends is telling Trump to take the deal.)

+ The deal comes a day after Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies in El Paso. (Of course, things came down to crowd size disputes...)


Same Time Next Year

"After the slaughter of 14 students and three adults in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day, parents demanded new laws and students lit up social media. They registered young voters and organized a massive rally called the March For Our Lives. They called their movement Never Again. Then it happened again — 94 days later. Eight students and two teachers were mowed down by a gunman at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. And it happened again and again, in dribs and drabs, on street corners, in backyards and in homes: young people obliterated by gunfire." A special report from The Miami Herald, McClatchy and The Trace: 12 months, nearly 1,200 deaths: The year in youth violence since Parkland.


Eero Sum Game

"Eero makes simply designed white Wi-Fi router pucks that people can plug in around their homes. An Eero Wi-Fi system is meant to provide more reliable Wi-Fi in every nook and cranny of a home, providing better coverage than a single Wi-Fi router." And Amazon just bought the company. So now Amazon can run your router, your home security camera (Blink), your doorbell (Ring), your TV (Fire), and listen to your every word via Alexa as you enjoy a nice dinner from Whole Foods. We recently learned that Jeff Bezos is good at protecting his own private parts. Who's going to protect ours from him?

+ It's all part of the race by the big five tech companies to dominate every aspect of our lives. What would life be like without them? Gizmodo's Kashmir Hill spent six weeks blocking Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Her takeaway: It Was Hell.


Footnotes From the Underground

"They identified dozens of female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions. Some were repeatedly thanked in the acknowledgments of several papers, but were never recognized as authors. They became literal footnotes in scientific history, despite helping make that history." The Atlantic: The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes.

+ NYT Mag: The Fight for Gender Equality in One of the Most Dangerous Sports on Earth. "These women want the right to compete in big-wave contests — and get paid as much as men do."


Angle of Repo

"The New York Fed said that there were over a million more 'troubled borrowers' at the end of 2018 than there were in 2010, when unemployment hit 10 percent and the auto loan delinquency rate peaked. Today, unemployment is 4 percent and job openings are at an all-time high, yet a significant number of people cannot pay their car loan." Most of those behind on their payments are under 30, "suggesting young people are having a difficult time paying for their cars and their student loans at the same time. WaPo: A record 7 million Americans are 3 months behind on their car payments, a red flag for the economy.


Dubai Polar

"Like the young women who have fled Saudi Arabia's restrictive regime, Sheikha Latifa has made sure no one can forget how few freedoms are allotted to women in the Middle East's most conservative societies — or how costly crossing Dubai's ruler can be. For all its megamalls, haute cuisine and dizzying skyscrapers, Dubai can flip at speed from international playground to repressive police state." NYT: A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues.


Does Anybody Remember Laughter?

"The fact that Philadelphia barrister Francis Alexander Malofiy, Esquire, is suing Led Zeppelin over the authorship of "Stairway to Heaven" is, by any objective measure, only the fourth most interesting thing about him. Unfortunately for the reader, and the purposes of this story, the first, second and third most interesting things about Malofiy are bound and gagged in nondisclosure agreements, those legalistic dungeons where the First Amendment goes to die. So let's start with number four and work our way backward." Philly Mag: People Laughed When This Philly Lawyer Sued Led Zeppelin. Nobody's Laughing Now.


Bottom of the News

"The owner of a USB stick which was found in the frozen feces of a rare leopard seal in New Zealand has been tracked down after a nationwide search and revealed to be a seal enthusiast who had helped collect the sample 12 months earlier." The Guardian: USB stick found in seal feces reunited with owner. (For some reason, this story makes me more hopeful about America's post-Trump future.)

+ A person who went into an abandoned house so they could smoke cannabis found a neglected tiger inside. (Thankfully, the tiger didn't get the munchies.)

+ This is the greatest limbo you will ever see.