Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019


Life in a Northern Town

"On the highway, when people slow down to look at a car crash, climate change is like that because everyone is slowing down to look at the accident but not realizing that we are actually the car crash." Reuters takes you to Longyearbyen. "With a population of slightly more than 2,000 people, it is the northernmost town on the planet. It is also the fastest-warming." A climate-change frontier in the world's northernmost town.

+ From the the fastest warming town on the planet to the fastest warming city in America. The hellish future of Las Vegas in the climate crisis: 'A place where we never go outside.' (It's a dry heat.)

+ While the very different towns of Longyearbyen and Vegas give us a view into climate change's ominous future, the intensity of Dorian provides a realtime look at its present. People who live in The Bahamas are used to hurricanes. But they're not used to this. The epic power of Dorian came to The Bahamas. And it stayed there. AP: Humanitarian crisis unfolds in hurricane-stricken Bahamas. Buzzfeed: At Least Five People Were Killed As Hurricane Dorian Stalls Over The Bahamas. And as the storm moves towards America's coast, here's the latest from CNN.


Care Give and Take

"Marjorie's job is called home health aide, but the term does not begin to encompass her duties. She is social worker, housekeeper, behavioral-modification expert, dietitian, diaper changer, day planner, de facto case manager, warden and more." The NYT's Andy Newman on what it's like to be a home health aide. On the Job, 24 Hours a Day, 27 Days a Month. "Home health care is the fastest growing major job category in the country, one of the most emotionally and personally demanding, and one of the worst paid."


Packaged Goods (and Bads)

Quickly getting the thing you ordered on the internet to your front door is a package deal. And there's plenty of bad to go along with the good. Buzzfeed: Amazon's Next-Day Delivery System Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America's Streets — But The World's Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame. "That means when things go wrong, as they often do under the intense pressure created by Amazon's punishing targets — when workers are abused or underpaid, when overstretched delivery companies fall into bankruptcy, or when innocent people are killed or maimed by errant drivers — the system allows Amazon to wash its hands of any responsibility." (My linking to this story has nothing to do with the fact that Amazon deliverers tend to throw my packages over my front gate, often achieving a hangtime that seems excessive.)


Mass Backwards

As the LA Times reports, "if you look at mass shootings over time, two things are alarmingly clear: The attacks are becoming far more frequent, and they are getting deadlier." And, it turns out that the looser a state's gun laws, the more mass shootings it has. So we're gonna do something about those gun laws, right? Not exactly. From Bloomberg: Expedited Executions Part of White House Response to Shootings."The Justice Department has drafted legislation to expedite the death penalty for those convicted of mass murder and the provision will be included in a larger White House package designed to address recent incidents of gun violence." (We don't have a lot of evidence that the risk of death is a big deterrent for mass shooters.)


Rehabilitating Rehab

"Addiction treatment is difficult work, but it can succeed, and evidence-based care does exist. For opioid addiction in particular, studies show medications like methadone and buprenorphine cut the death rate among patients by half or more. But the parents I spoke to have learned — as thousands of Americans discover each year — that much of the US rehab industry does not provide evidence-based, effective care." Vox: She spent more than $110,000 on drug rehab. Her son still died.

+ The opiate problem feels like something new. But it has been a part of the American experience since the beginning. "The first opiates probably came to America in 1620, arriving in the trunk of the doctor who had sailed on the Mayflower. Opium was still in use during the Colonial Era. Thomas Jefferson, for example, relied on opiates to ease his suffering in his final years. (Ever far-sighted, he planted opium poppies on his property. They continued growing at Monticello until the 1990s, when the Drug Enforcement Agency pulled them up.)" The Saturday Evening Post: America's First Opioid Epidemic.


Dive Boat Disaster

"This is probably the worst-case scenario you can possibly have. You have a vessel that's on the open sea, that is in the middle of the night. I mean, it's 3:30 in the morning." With at least 20 bodies recovered, the search has been suspended in the deadly dive-boat fire off California coast. So far, the only survivors have been crew members. You get the feeling this vacation's tragic ending is a story that's just beginning to unfold.

+ SF Chronicle: Majority of 34 people presumed dead in boat fire from Bay Area (including some from a Santa Cruz high school.)


Can You Hear Me Now?

"Christensen says people often turn up their headphones 13 decibels higher than the background noise surrounding them. 'When you're using earbuds on a plane or train, you're really pushing the limit of what's safe. Some trains get up to 80 or 90 decibels loud. Then you're pushing the limit 13 decibels over that, and that's when it gets really dangerous.'" Elemental: Something You Don't Want to Hear About Earbuds.



WaPo: "President Trump is known to make the odd comment here and there about foreign nations, often because he doesn't seem particularly versed in what's happening in them. But even by his standards, this was quite a weekend. Trump was asked Sunday about the trip to Poland he canceled to monitor Hurricane Dorian. Asked if he had a message for that country, which was commemorating the anniversary of the start of World War II, Trump decided to … congratulate it?" (Yes, a hearty congrats to Poland on the Nazi invasion. And congrats also to the US on the election of 2016...)

+ "Rather than stay in Dublin, where he is set for a day of meetings and events with Irish officials, Pence is making the back-and-forth trip from Doonbeg to Dublin, more than an hour flight each way." Trump made 'suggestion' Pence stay at president's Irish golf club. (I hear the Emoluments Suite is quite nice...)


The Grass is Always Greener When You’re Not Pushing Up Daisies

"Good news for the cheery: A Boston study published this month suggests people who tend to be optimistic are likelier than others to live to be 85 years old or more." NPR: Optimists For The Win: Finding The Bright Side Might Help You Live Longer. (Or put another way, dying young can make one pretty pessimistic...)


Bottom of the News

"Once you've played Ping-Pong with someone naked, you can't call them ‘colonel' anymore,' Mr. Adamski said as he prepared to join a triathlon where the swimming and running portions of the race were naked. 'Nudity is a great leveler.'" NYT: A Very German Idea of Freedom: Nude Ping-Pong, Nude Sledding, Nude Just About Anything.

+ Harry Potter books removed from St. Edward Catholic School due to 'curses and spells.' (And you thought the nudists were nuts...)

+ Japan's singing, self-cleaning toilets are conquering the West.