October 30th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Technical debt comes due in California, the limits of self-regulation, and Obama puts a sleeper hold on wokeness.

“No matter what decisions anyone makes now, everyone hooked up to the grid in Northern California is likely going to receive worse service even as we all collectively pay more to harden the system against fire. This is what runaway technical debt looks like.” The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal on The Toxic Bubble of Technical Debt Threatening America. Like the Infrastructure Week that never comes, we put off paying the financial and political price to upgrade our systems until it’s tool late. We’re seeing the downside of that strategy (or we would be seeing it, if the lights were on) across California right now. But don’t worry about missing out. This problem is coming to a city near you.

+ Related: More than three times more people are at risk from rising sea levels than previously believed, research suggests.

+ In NorCal, thousands of firefighters are holding the line near Sonoma. In SoCal, the Reagan Library is in danger. Here’s the latest on the California fires from The Guardian and CNN.

+ “It is a huge honor. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start listening to the current, best available science.” NPR: Greta Thunberg Rejects Major Environmental Award.


Talking ‘Bout Regeneration

“Undisturbed soil naturally contains carbon and microbes, but once it’s tilled for farming, for instance, the carbon is released into the air. Regenerative agriculture, a term that is often used synonymously with ‘carbon farming,’ is a set of practices that builds organic matter back into the soil, effectively storing more water and drawing more carbon out of the atmosphere.” NBC News: Can regenerative agriculture reverse climate change? Big Food is banking on it.


A Chile Reception

“President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China had been scheduled to attend the trade meeting, which was seen as an opportunity for them to settle a monthslong fight over tariffs that has rippled across the global economy.” NYT: Chile, Rocked by Unrest, Withdraws From Hosting Climate and Trade Summits.

+ The cancelation of two international summits is a huge disappointment for Chile’s leaders whose efforts “have not been enough to defuse the protests, which are driven by deep-rooted disillusionment over inequality that has left millions of citizens frozen out of Chile’s economic rise.” From The Guardian, here are seven protesters explaining what they’re fighting for. (The complaints will sound familiar to those in many other places around the world.)


The Script Hits the Fan

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman testified that “the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to include them failed.” (Editor’s note: Shocker.) NYT: White House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump Call. More witnesses are testifying today. Here’s the latest from WaPo.

+ “No matter what you do for this country, even if you give it your life and limb, you will always be foreign, suspect. And if, like Alexander Vindman, you dare to flag the president’s deeply problematic behavior and talk about it to congressional Democrats trying to impeach him, none of your service to your country will matter. There will be an effort to discredit you—you won’t be suspected of being secretly loyal to Israel, as your parents once were in the Soviet Union, but to Ukraine—any country but the one you actually serve.” GQ’s Julia Ioffe: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and the Questioning of an American Jew’s Patriotism.


Account Down

“Muilenburg, who was forced to step down as Boeing chairman earlier this month after emails suggesting Boeing test pilots knew about defects in an anti-stall system but failed to alert regulators, opened his testimony with an apology to the family members of crash victims.” ‘Flying coffins’: senators rip Boeing chief over Max jet crashes that killed 346.

+ “You said you’re accountable. What does accountability mean – are you taking a cut in pay? Are you working for free from now on until you can cure this problem? These people’s relatives are not coming back, they’re gone. Your salary is still on.” Boeing CEO pummeled on compensation, 737 MAX flaws.

+ “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the f*ck is going to notice the quality of our pods?” Buzzfeed: Juul Shipped At Least A Million Contaminated Pods, New Lawsuit Says. (From new companies like Juul and older ones like Boeing we learn that self-regulation is only attractive in theory. In practice, the selves always ruin it.)


Naming Right

“I’m glad that evil person is gone. If you were a parent and this man did what he did to Kayla, to your child, and then they got him, how would you feel?” WaPo: Kayla Mueller’s parents call Baghdadi raid named for their slain daughter an amazing gift.

+ On Saturday night, President Trump tweeted: “Something very big has just happened!” At that point, Americans had no idea the tweet referred to the Baghdadi raid. Neither did Democratic members of Congress. Neither did White House Chief of Staff Nick Mulvaney.

+ “Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated.” From the NYT, an interesting interactive look at How the New Syria Took Shape.


Woke and Dagger

“Like, if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb. Then, I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because, man, you see how woke I was? You know, that’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.” President Obama puts a sleeper hold on wokeness. (I’ve said it a thousand times. It’s better to be awake than woke.)


Who’s On First?

I thought running to first base after hitting the ball was the last bit of American normalcy? Last night’s World Series game proved me wrong. But whatever happened last night and so far in the Series has led us to one of the great things in sports (and maybe life). A game 7. From ESPN: Everything you need to know for what could be an epic Game 7 showdown.


You Can Call Me Rey

“In 2012, people called Lana Del Rey a fake. Now they call her one of the best pop stars of her generation.” Vox: How Lana Del Rey’s career explains a huge shift in the way we think about pop stars.


Bottom of the News

It “has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, Donald Trump tweets, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them.” In the NYT, Taylor Lorenz explains the meaning of the phrase, “OK, Boomer.”

+ Kurt Cobain’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ Sweater Sells For Record $334,000 at Auction.

+ Woman Grieves Her ‘Dead’ Ex, Then Catches Him Working in a Local Restaurant.

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