Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021


Part and Parcel

You want to know when you can hug friends again. You want to know when your family can get back to regular travel and indoor dining. You want to know when your teens can go back to school without masks and get started on what they're supposed to be doing at this stage of development (making out and taking turns chugging beer from the same 40oz bottle). But in the meantime, what you really want to know is when that damn package you're waiting on will finally arrive. You expected this to be fixed by now. But, "the game of supply-chain whack-a-mole that manufacturers and shippers have been playing for the past year and a half has grown only more complex. Some book publishers have had to delay new releases because the pulp used to manufacture paper has been gobbled up by online shopping's endless appetite for cardboard." (Great, the book I spent my whole adult life working towards is gonna get outsold by a cardboard box.) Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: Americans Have No Idea What the Supply Chain Really Is.

+ Everything is interconnected. That makes the supply chain fast. But it can also make it fragile. Sometimes it comes down to one tiny delayed part. How A Single Missing Part Can Hold Up $5 Million Machines And Unleash Industrial Hell.


Murder, We Wrote

First some perspective. "In 2020, more than 5,100 kids under 18 were shot ... and more than 1,300 died." And yet, you've heard less about all of those deaths combined than the killing of Gabrielle Petito. Vanity Fair: Gabby Petito, Online Detectives, and the Queasy Places Our True-Crime Obsessions Have Taken Us. Petito was a social media star and the pieces of her case are rolling out in real time. I get why internet users became obsessed. More worrisome is the way that what's popular on social media drives what makes headlines. Every editor knows the endless and exhaustive coverage of a single murder case, in a country where murder is the national pastime, is beyond absurd. But they just can't stop themselves.

+ NYT: (Gift Article for ND readers): How the Case of Gabrielle Petito Galvanized the Internet. (I'd like to see a piece on how a galvanized Internet galvanized newsrooms.)


Bodychecked Balances

"The former president exposed just how weak the United States' system of checks and balances is and its desperate need for reform. And evading any accountability for now, he has proved that presidents can go so far as to foment an insurrection without facing any legal consequences." Boston Globe Editorial Board: Congress must rebuild the presidency. (So true. We need fewer norms and rules, and more laws.)

+ New bombshells show Trump's coup threat was real and hasn't passed. (At this point, these aren't bombshells. They're just confirmation that what you saw with your own eyes was reality.)

+ Trump sues niece, NY Times over records behind '18 tax story. (Maybe the resurfacing of this story will remind Trump backers that he was never a good businessman at all. But probably not.)


Fire Drill

Not sure who to believe when it comes to climate change? Here's a tip. Believe the bean counters. Believe the mathematicians. Believe the insurance companies. It's impossible to get insured at all in some areas. And where insurance companies will provide coverage, they have a backup plan. SF Chron: California's megafires spur insurers to send in special, private crews before a blaze hits.


Hackers v Crackers

The "veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data - including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik's customers." Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who's behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites. (It turns out, there's still a lot of revealing to go. But bonus points for the Epik owner having the last name, Monster.)


Ida Expected as Much

"The power company failed to build a stronger system after hurricanes repeatedly pummeled Louisiana. Then Ida knocked out power for more than a week. 'I don't think it's just Mother Nature,' said one resident. 'This is neglect.'" NPR and ProPublica: Entergy Resisted Upgrading New Orleans' Power Grid. When Ida Hit, Residents Paid the Price.


Positive Image

"The effort, which was hatched at an internal meeting in January, had a specific purpose: to use Facebook's News Feed, the site's most important digital real estate, to show people positive stories about the social network." (Wow, their algorithm must be really powerful if it can find those...) NYT: No More Apologies: Inside Facebook's Push to Defend Its Image.


Every Breath Takes You

"Air pollution is the world's fourth leading cause of death, contributing to about 13 premature deaths every minute. The gases and tiny particles can travel deep into your lungs, enter your bloodstream and damage your cells." And like everything else, the air plays favorites. Combatting an invisible killer.


Willy Wonka and the Content Factory

"Oompa loompa doompety doo, I've got another story to teach, Oompa loompa doompety dee, Netflix just bought James and his enormous peach." Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company, Plans Extensive Universe. (Alternate plan: Read the books.)


Bottom of the News

Tonight is the night! The Group of Seven (Late Night Shows) are all focusing on climate change. Hopefully Mother Nature doesn't have the last laugh! This is a great idea (and a pretty huge achievement) by my friend Steve Bodow.

+ Sam Adams' latest "beverage contains 28% alcohol by volume, more than five times the average strength of U.S. beers, making it illegal to sell." (Talk about making a product that meets the moment.)