Monday, May 24th, 2021


Flaw & Order

A group of police officers and social workers knock on your door. When you ask what's going on, you're told that an algorithm has predicted that you will be involved in a violent crime. The algorithm isn't sure whether you'll be shot or do the shooting. That's why both police and social workers are there. The cops warn you that they're gonna be watching you closely. The social workers offer to help you find a job. It may sound like you're on a set filming a dystopian sci-fi movie. But if you're Robert McDaniel, you're sitting in your own living room experiencing the first scene in what will become a dystopian story, but one that's all too real. Matt Stroud in The Verge: Heat Listed. "Chicago's predictive policing program told a man he would be involved with a shooting. But it couldn't determine which side of the gun he would be on. Instead, it made him the victim of a violent crime — twice."


Intercourse Correction

Underpopulation is the new overpopulation. "Imagine entire regions where everyone is 70 or older. Imagine governments laying out huge bonuses for immigrants and mothers with lots of children. Imagine a gig economy filled with grandparents and Super Bowl ads promoting procreation." NYT: Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications. "Fewer babies' cries. More abandoned homes. Toward the middle of this century, as deaths start to exceed births, changes will come that are hard to fathom." On the plus side, the Bingo night pot sizes will be enormous. (Go ahead and shake your head, but dad jokes are also going to be huge.)


Bel Air

Belarus faces international fury after using fighter jet to land airliner, seize journalist. "In a show of unified fury, the United States, Britain, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations on Monday lined up to call out the action in the skies above the eastern European country led by Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe's last dictator." (A reminder that only a two-bit, sadistic dictator sees journalists as the enemy of the people.)

+ "It has all of the elements of a Jason Bourne plot: A commercial flight carrying a dissident journalist is intercepted by a MiG-29 fighter jet under orders from the strongman president of Belarus.This protagonist is very much real. His name is Roman Protasevich, and on Sunday, he drew worldwide attention because the Belarusian government and its authoritarian leader went to extraordinary lengths to stop him." Who Is Roman Protasevich, the Opposition Journalist?

+ This is part of a trend of autocrats doing whatever the hell they want and ignoring what they see as the acceptable international consequences. It's not a trend that will end on its own. Anne Applebaum nails it. If Belarus Gets Away With It, Other Dictators Will Follow. "In autocratic capitals all over the world, dictators and their flunkies are also watching to see how the West reacts—whether Lukashenko gets away with it and whether, perhaps, this new tool of oppression will become available to them too."


Silent But Violent

"Top officials in both the Trump and the Biden Administrations privately suspect that Russia is responsible for the Havana Syndrome. Their working hypothesis is that agents of the G.R.U., the Russian military's intelligence service, have been aiming microwave-radiation devices at U.S. officials to collect intelligence from their computers and cell phones, and that these devices can cause serious harm to the people they target. Yet during the past four years U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to find any evidence to back up this theory." The New Yorker: Are U.S. Officials Under Silent Attack? "The Havana Syndrome first affected spies and diplomats in Cuba. Now it has spread to the White House." (A couple years ago when I asked a friend paid to worry about future mass threats what he really worries about, he said this.)


Blinken Cursor

Anthony Blinken is off to the Middle East to push peace talks after Gaza truce. "Blinken's discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II will focus on shoring up the cease-fire, sending urgent aid to Gaza, ending intra-communal violence in Israeli cities and laying the preliminary groundwork for a return to peace talks." (That all should be no problem...)

+ Steve Coll The New Yorker: In Gaza, an Impasse Cannot Be Mistaken for Stability.


Shooting Gallery

"The shootings took place across eight states -- Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Minnesota." An occasional reminder of America's never-ending, rarely-addressed, and wholly unique characteristic. There were at least 12 mass shootings across the US this weekend.


Phil Harmonic

"He is the first player in his 50s to claim one of golf's grandest prizes. To say anyone saw this coming at the beginning of the week would be like spitting into the Kiawah Island wind." At 50, Phil Mickelson still loves the chase and caught himself one more major championship.

+ "Text Philip and tell him just to par in. Don't hit bombs or activate calves. Just par. They will have to catch him. He won't listen to his mother so you text him. Hurry." How Phil Mickelson's history-making major victory was a family affair.

+ "He does three-day fasts every few months as a way of resetting his immune system; he does shorter fasts more often, saying after his final round that he fasts for 36 hours straight once a week." Phil Mickelson explains how his age-defying fasting ‘resets' his body. Drive for show. Putt for dough. (But not real dough, that's too high in carbs.)

+ 50 today looks a little different than it did in 1867. (Old Tom Morris doesn't look like he was that into resetting his body...)


Deadly Race

"In a short period of time, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area, and there were strong winds. The temperature sharply dropped." In China, 21 runners died in brutal weather during an ultramarathon.

+ "The wind grew so strong that he slipped and fell nearly a dozen times until he could no longer pick himself up and eventually passed out. He woke up in a cave, wrapped in a quilt next to a fire built by a shepherd who had found him and carried him to safety." NYT: ‘I Owe Him My Life': Chinese Runner Describes Mountain Rescue.


Big Tent Politics

"Samoa's first female prime minister has been sworn into office in a tent after she was locked out of parliament by her opponent, who has refused to step down." Samoa's first female PM locked out of parliament by losing opponent. (It's time for Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to open a Mar-a-Lago in Apia.)


Bottom of the News

"CBS Jacksonville affiliate WJAX reports 80 students — all female — at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns had their yearbook photos altered without their permission. Exposed shoulders and low necklines were covered up." Florida high school altered girls' yearbook photos it deemed immodest. (Now the yearbook is front covered but ass backwards.)

+ "Billions of Brood X cicadas are emerging after being underground for 17 years. As many in the eastern U.S. anxiously await their arrival, others are preparing their plates for what they say is a delicacy." (You wait seventeen years to appear and a human eats you. Earth is a tough town.)

+ Ethan Allen stock is soaring as traders confuse its ticker with the identical one for ether.