March 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Proven Right, Butt Disputes, Florida Man Un-retires

Over the weekend, I was at the Tucson Book Festival, where I was on panels with both Adam Schiff and Alexander Vindman. It was great to be able to say to their faces what I’ve been saying online for a long time: thanks. I was able to commend Schiff for his work, preparation, and determination in the first impeachment trial, and I was able to tell Vindman how grateful I am that my dad—a holocaust survivor and partisan fighter who had grown increasingly despondent over America’s inability to see the growing threats against our democracy—lived long enough to hear the words, “Here, right matters.” (I also complained to Vindman that I’ve tried the line here, right matters on my 13 year-old daughter at least a hundred times and it hasn’t worked once.)

It’s rare that taking a side at a historical point of inflection is proven to be the definitively correct move in such short order, but Schiff’s warnings about an un-throttled Trump played out on January 6, and the seriousness of the infamous “perfect phone call” between Trump and Ukraine’s Zelensky, sadly, couldn’t be more obvious. On Wednesday, we’ll see some hypocrisy bordering on farce as the very politicians who stood by Trump during the first impeachment will give a standing ovation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he delivers a virtual address to Congress. But these days, we’ll take any defense of liberal democracy over party that we can get. Among the other unintended outcomes of his horrific war of choice, Putin actually managed to unify Congress.

+ Here’s a memo to remind you that not everyone got the memo. Leaked Kremlin Memo to Russian Media: It Is ‘Essential’ to Feature Tucker Carlson. (Carlson is now being rebroadcast on Russian and Chinese television. We finally came up with an effective way to punish our enemies.)


Between Yacht Rock and Hard Place

Putin was a KGB case worker, not an analyst. An analyst would report on the self destructiveness of this war. A case worker manipulates others to save the situation. And right now, he’s trying salvage the support of his regime at home by luring NATO into the fight, knowing emotionally we want in. Meanwhile, he’s ominously requested military and economic assistance from China. On one hand, we don’t want America and China drawn further into this conflict, and we know proxy wars between the two countries haven’t gone particularly well in the past. On the other hand, it’s notable that the supposedly massive Russian military is already looking for outside support two weeks into a war of choice. It’s a reminder of an Russian joke Garry Kasparov shared, “Every country has its own mafia. Putin’s Russia is the first where the mafia has its own country.” It sure looks like a lot of the Rubles intended for military build-up have been diverted to the Yachts currently trying to sail clear of economic sanctions.

+ As the US holds talks with China, here’s an interesting look at Possible Outcomes of the Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s Choice. (China has other worries as well. Covid is back, in a big way and “Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong had their worst day since the global financial crisis, as concerns over Beijing’s close relationship with Russia and renewed regulatory risks sparked panic selling.”

+ Meanwhile, the Russian atrocities are accelerating. “In video and photos shot Wednesday by AP journalists after the attack on the hospital, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble in the besieged city of Mariupol.” Pregnant woman, baby die after Russia bombed maternity ward.

+ More salvos fired in the battle over truth: The NYT has launched a Telegram channel. And from AP: War censorship exposes Putin’s leaky internet controls. Russia throttled “both Facebook and Twitter so badly they are effectively unreachable on the Russian internet.” (Imagine blocking Facebook because you’re worried it’s providing too much accurate information…)

+ As the number of Ukrainian refugees has topped 2.5 million, here’s a great scene of Italian schoolkids welcoming their new classmates.


Never Forget a Face

“For decades, we’ve needed passwords to do things online. New forms of authentication will finally let us get rid of them for good. Instead, we’ll use a link sent via email, a push notification, or a biometric scan. Not only are these methods easier—you don’t have to remember your face—but they tend to be more secure.” MIT Tech Review has a cool list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies.


See Right Through It

I have to admit, the first time I saw the Walgreens’ glass refrigerator panels replaced by screens showing images of what’s inside, I thought it was pretty cool. But I’ve long erred on the side of staring at screens instead of through windows. And when you start to think about it a bit, you realize the ultimate purpose of these screens is to put advertisements in yet another line of sight. And I’m already in your store buying stuff. Walgreens replaced some fridge doors with screens. And some shoppers absolutely hate it.


Extra, Extra

Butt Injections: “In a letter to Mr. Price, the superintendent called the book ‘inappropriate.’ She particularly took issue with the references to farting in the story and how ‘the book described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof).'” NYT: An Educator Read ‘I Need a New Butt!’ to Children. Then He Was Fired. (The Butts aren’t the problem. The A**holes are.)

+ Lower Extremities: “Rogers’s trajectory shows the political and financial incentives of going to extremes. After losing her earliest races as a mainstream Republican, she moved further and further right until she beat an incumbent by campaigning as the more conservative choice. Now, after a year of fanning bogus allegations about election fraud and other false claims, she is the most successful fundraiser in the Arizona state legislature.” WaPo: Arizona lawmaker speaks to white nationalists, calls for violence — and sets fundraising records. (The current way we fund and vote rewards the most extreme positions.)

+ Danger Zone: “Boyd, the special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, cited physical health issues, including cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, strokes and reproductive health problems, as well as ‘incredible mental health problems associated with living in these places because people feel exploited, they feel stigmatized.'” Millions suffering in deadly pollution ‘sacrifice zones’, warns UN expert.

+ Hurt, So Good: Broadcast News, Body Heat, Children of a Lesser God, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Big Chill, Altered States. William Hurt, what a run.

+ Tom Foolery: Few people get to witness their own funeral and hear all the tributes. Tom Brady basically did that with his retirement from the NFL. And he must have liked what he heard, because he’s not quitting after all. (You know the world has gone mad when people from Florida are un-retiring.)


Bottom of the News

SNL hit it out of the park with their parody of Amazon Go.

+ The Winners of Sony World Photography Awards for 2022.

+ Keith Richards on quitting smoking cigarettes after 55 years: ‘I just don’t miss it.’

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