Friday, September 3rd, 2021


The Energizer Money

NextDraft will be off for Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah.

This is one of my favorite Steven Wright jokes: "In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a woman in Germany. She said, 'cut it out!'" You may not be aware of it, but the techno-finance-nerds flicking switches in small basements and massive server farms across the world could be on the way to dimming your lights too. Consider this: "The process of creating Bitcoin to spend or trade consumes around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually, more than is used by Finland." To erase that startling stat, either Bitcoin needs to use less energy, or Finland needs to use more. Or something like that. In the meantime, it's worth expending a little of your own energy to understand the relationship between money and power: NYT: Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Than Many Countries. How Is That Possible? "Cryptocurrencies have emerged as one of the most captivating, yet head-scratching, investments in the world. They soar in value. They crash. They'll change the world, their fans claim, by displacing traditional currencies like the dollar, rupee or ruble. They're named after dog memes. And in the process of simply existing, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, one of the most popular, use astonishing amounts of electricity."


It’s Local Time

"I used to be in that camp myself. Who wants public officials or government bureaucrats interfering in news, I always felt. No, thanks. But having watched the grim consequences of local news's worsening decline over the past two decades, I think the Local Journalism Sustainability Act has real value." WaPo's excellent Margaret Sullivan: Congress may be about to help local news. It can't happen soon enough. (Gift article for ND readers.) This is an absolutely critical issue and we need to figure out some way to get it right. Local news creates community, and can act as a trusted source of information on life and death topics (floods, hurricanes, pandemics). And the vacuum created when they crater is often filled by nefarious national brands spreading overt lies about those very same life and death topics.


Weekend Whats

What to Pod: As part of my couch-based pre-release book tour, I've been doing some podcast interviews. In this one, I shared some of my top internet follows and explained why you should follow them too. Check out Follow Friday: Florida Men, Apple Fanboys, Japanese Roller Coasters. (It never occurred to me that it could be fun talking about someone else.)

+ What to Doc: A dad on whom the Tony Soprano character may have been based bought his clownish 17 year-old son a professional hockey team. Enough said. Watch Untold: Crime & Penalties on Netflix.

+ What to Book: Enjoy an excellent short story from the excellent Dave Eggers: The Museum Of Rain. And as a bonus, check out Dave's (free) satire, The Captain and the Glory.


Where the Rivers Shouldn’t Meet

"Police went door to door in search of more possible victims and drew up lists of the missing as the death toll rose to 49 on Friday in the catastrophic flooding set off across the Northeast by the remnants of Hurricane Ida." Police look for missing in wake of catastrophic Ida flooding.

+ "At least 11 people were found dead in basements after torrential rains flooded New York City — nearly as many as those killed by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, where the storm made landfall." (People in NY never saw this coming because it had never come before. The new normal is here.) NYT: How the Storm Turned Basement Apartments Into Death Traps.


Cardinal Sin

NPR: McCarrick — Once A Powerful Cardinal — Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Assault Charges. "McCarrick, 91, wore a mask and entered suburban Boston's Dedham District Court hunched over a walker. "Shame on you!" a protester shouted. He did not speak during the hearing, at which the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, set bail at $5,000, and ordered him to stay away from the victim and have no contact with minors. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, to ever be criminally charged with child sex crimes." (Just think about that last line.)


Long Division

USA Today: 9/11 brought a sense of national unity. Why has the pandemic been marred by division? (My take: Because today we hate each other more than we hate terrorists. If that's too strong, then I'll go with the proven: Because today we hate each other more than we hate the virus.)

+ Related: Police on-scene at Vail elementary school after group threatens to zip-tie principal over COVID-19 protocols.


The Grift That Keeps on Grifting

"Through all that — as Trump Tower has dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year — it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former president Donald Trump's own political operation ... Also, for several months, Trump's PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower's lobby — even though the lobby was closed." WaPo: Trump Tower's key tenants have fallen behind on rent and moved out. But Trump has one reliable customer: His own PAC.


Texas Backwards

"The Texas voting law only impedes voting; it does not prevent it. The 2020 election showed that voter suppression can only do so much to protect a sufficiently unpopular incumbent." David Frum in The Atlantic: Texas Republicans Got What They Wanted. They Might Regret It. (But that may not hold true in the many states that will adopt Texas's restrictive law.)


Keyser Soze High

"Bishop Sycamore High School, the supposed school in Columbus, Ohio, is not recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and the state's Department of Education lists no charter school with its name, according to local TV station WCMH. The school's official website, as of Wednesday, has been taken down for 'maintenance.'" People Are Wondering if an Ohio School Even Exists, After a 58-0 Football Blowout on ESPN.

+ After this weekend, people will wonder if the Dodgers exist. I hope. This weekend marks one of the truly great matchups between them and the Giants. Consider this: "The Giants are 85-49. The Dodgers are 85-49. The two rivals are 8-8 against each other. The run total in those games is 68-68."


Feel Good Friday

A group of Afghan women activists staged a small protest in Taliban-controlled Kabul Friday calling for equal rights and full participation in political life.

+ Former district attorney indicted in connection to Ahmaud Arbery investigation.

+ South Lake Tahoe restaurant gave hundreds of burritos to fire crews before Caldor Fire evacuation. (Even better, the winds seem to have let up enough to save South Lake Tahoe. This time.)

+ Paddle boarder's close encounter with two curious whales. Wow.

+ Experience: I found the largest truffle in the world. "My friends and family were supportive of my decision. If I had sold it, it would never have had the same impact. I was like a hero in my community." (This dude sounds like he's on shrooms.)

+ Amazon is encouraging pot smokers to get jobs as delivery drivers. (Good, because this newsletter gig don't pay shit.)