Thursday, March 10th, 2022



Note: NextDraft will be off tomorrow. Back on Monday.

In computing, WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, a system in which software allows content to be edited in a form that resembles its appearance, no coding required. When making a purchase, What You See Is What You Get means that what you see included with the product you're looking at is what you'll get if you buy it. In politics and war, What You See Is What You Get means something else entirely. You can only get—or understand—what's happening if you can see it clearly, and not through a distortion field created by those working to indoctrinate you with an alternate reality. What the free world is seeing in Ukraine is clear: an unprovoked, indiscriminate attack on innocent civilians. What we're seeing are stories like the tragedy of Serhiy Perebyinis' family. "Serhiy and Tetiana Perebyinis owned a Chevrolet minivan. They shared a country home with friends, and Ms. Perebyinis was a dedicated gardener and an avid skier. She had just returned from a ski trip to Georgia. And then, late last month, Russia invaded Ukraine, and the fighting quickly moved toward Kyiv. It wasn't long before artillery shells were crashing into their neighborhood. One night, a shell hit their building, prompting Ms. Perebyinis and the children to move to the basement. Finally, with her husband away in eastern Ukraine tending to his ailing mother, Ms. Perebyinis decided it was time to take her children and run. They didn't make it." NYT (Gift Article): They Died by a Bridge in Ukraine. This Is Their Story. Innocent civilians killed as they're running for their lives. We see it. We get it. The same is not true for many of those living in Russia or other places with limited access to accurate information. "In Russia's version of the war, Russians are liberators, Ukrainians are Nazis, and the West is full of mendacious hypocrites. To turn on Russian TV news is to enter a parallel universe, one where even the word war is forbidden." Olga Khazan in The Atlantic: I Watched Russian TV So You Don't Have To.

We've seen this battle over reality play out in several ways, such as companies like Twitter unveiling a version of its site that can bypass Russia's block. Most astonishingly, we've seen efforts by the Biden administration to pierce Putin's lie bubble by releasing classified information about the lies he plans to tell about what's provoking his nefarious violence. Essentially, America has taken up the strategy of firing preemptive truth bombs. The UK's Boris Johnson is doing the same when it comes to Putin's invented pretext to potentially use chemical weapons. The Russians "start saying that there are chemical weapons that have been stored by their opponents or by the Americans, and so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons, as I fear they may, they have a sort of fake story, ready to go." Sadly, these truth bombs don't reach everyone and they don't stop the real ones being dropped on civilians. No one knows about these life and death battles better than Serhiy Perebyinis. After the death of his family, he fled to Poland via a border where he was questioned by Russian guards. He told them: "My whole family died in what you call a special operation and we call a war. You can do what you want with me. I have nothing left to lose." For Serhiy and so many Ukrainians, the truth is all too real.


Pedagogue Me With a Spoon

George Packer in The Atlantic with what it's like to to be a kid these days. "The grown-ups around you fret incessantly about your 'mental-health issues' and 'social-emotional learning,' which only makes your anxiety and depression worse. You're also the nonvoting, perhaps unwitting, subject of adults' latest pedagogical experiments: either relentless test prep or test abolition; quasi-religious instruction in identity-based virtue and sin; a flood of state laws to keep various books out of your hands and ideas out of your head. Your parents, looking over your shoulder at your education and not liking what they see, have started showing up at school-board meetings in a mortifying state of rage. If you live in Virginia, your governor has set up a hotline where they can rat out your teachers to the government. If you live in Florida, your governor wants your parents to sue your school if it ever makes you feel 'discomfort' about who you are. Adults keep telling you the pandemic will never end, your education is being destroyed by ideologues, digital technology is poisoning your soul, democracy is collapsing, and the planet is dying—but they're counting on you to fix everything when you grow up." The Grown-Ups Are Losing It. (Thank god my kids don't listen to me...)

+ And nowhere are the adults more out of control than in Florida (surprise, surprise). A new measure "prohibits trainings that cause someone to feel guilty or ashamed about the past collective actions of their race or sex ... After two days of emotional debate on a proposal that remains clouded by considerable confusion, the Senate passed the framework for the so-called 'Stop Woke Act' 24 to 15, in a party-line vote. DeSantis initially proposed the bill in December, arguing he wanted Florida to become a bulwark against corporate trainings and school lessons that make people uncomfortable about the actions of their ancestors." WaPo: Florida Legislature passes bill that limits how schools and workplaces teach about race and identity. (Ban books, prevent accurate teaching of history, stir up fears based on fake cultural wars. American politicians know how to play the game of WYSIWYG, too...)


Bear Market

"The dispute in a famed liberal bastion has aroused passions, with some asserting that the university has finally been called to task for driving legions of students into neighborhoods not built to hold them. Others liken the lawsuit to generational theft by the older, whiter baby boomers who dominate the propertied classes in college communities throughout California." Berkeley vs. Berkeley Is a Fight Over the California Dream. Some folks want Go Bears to mean, Bears, Go Someplace else.


Nickel and Dimed

If you offer Barry Ritholtz a penny for his thoughts, he'll drop the dime on nickels and tell you that, thanks in part to the Russian invasion, at today's prices, the nickel in a nickel is worth 12.5 pennies. So when you rub two nickels together, you're basically rubbing a quarter, which makes the London apartment occupied by the stepdaughter of Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov worth about 40,000,000 nickels. My math could be off (I'm a humanities major), but the place is definitely expensive. And the story of that apartment helps explain how Putin's wealthy cronies spread their money around the world, often by way of second families.

+ "Allies of President Vladimir Putin, arriving on private jets and yachts, are still welcome in the U.A.E., which has yet to condemn the Ukraine invasion or enforce sanctions." NYT: How a Playground for the Rich Could Undermine Sanctions on Oligarchs.


Extra, Extra

Cost Analysis: "Wall Street forecasters and the Biden administration have been counting on inflation peaking early this year. The February numbers, combined with developments in the news, are more consistent with stubbornly high inflation." Inflation's latest surge. And one part of that inflation rise is about to get a lot more expensive. Why gas prices are so high and what Biden can do about it.

+ Commute Sentence: Tired of wearing a mask on a plane? Well, you're gonna have to strap it on a little longer. TSA to extend mask mandate for planes, public transportation until April 18.

+ A Spinning Record: "For the first time since 1996, both CDs and vinyl records experienced revenue growth in the same year. The resurgence in vinyl records continued for the 15th consecutive year, as revenues grew 61% to $1.0 billion in 2021. The last time vinyl records exceeded $1 billion was 1986." But it's not just vinyl. U.S. Recorded Music Industry Posts $15 Billion Year-End Revenue.


Bottom of the News

"Agents found 52 live reptiles tied up in small bags which were concealed in the man's jacket, pants pockets, and groin area ... Nine snakes and 43 horned lizards were seized." Border authorities find 52 reptiles hidden in man's clothing. (Amazing. I've never broken 50.)

+ This Man Has Lived On A Cruise Ship For 20 Years. (I'd rather have 43 horned lizards in my pants.)