Thursday, April 28th, 2022


Novel Romance

"Accepting his feelings was hard at first. But life with Miku, he argues, has advantages... She's always there for him, she'll never betray him, and he'll never have to see her get ill or die." Akihiko Kondo and Hatsune Miku seem to have a fulfilling relationship. What makes it unique is that Akihiko Kondo is a person and Hatsune Miku isn't. Actually, maybe that isn't as unique as it sounds. "Thousands of others are in devoted fictional relationships, served by a vast industry aimed at satisfying the desires of a fervent fan culture." NYT (Gift Article): This Man Married a Fictional Character. He'd Like You to Hear Him Out. I'm in no position to judge. I've been in a long term relationship with my MacBook Air for years. We're never apart. She sits on my lap. I caress her all day with my fingertips. She forgave me when I briefly cheated on her with an iPad. And she rarely uses a caps-lock tone even though she knows full well that someday I'll trade her in for a younger model.


They’re All Wasteless

"Attached to the Zero Waste Center is a thrift shop where local residents can drop off items they don't want anymore, so that others can take for free. All they need to do is weigh the item they take from the shop and log the weight in the ledger, so the shop can keep track of the volume of reused items." On Shikoku island in Japan, a small town called Kamikatsu made a declaration to become fully zero waste and carbon neutral by 2030. And they're getting close, but it's not easy. In the town's recycling facility, "residents can sort their garbage into 45 categories — there are nine ways to sort paper products alone — before they toss the rest into a pile for the incinerators." WaPo (Gift Article): Postcards from Kamikatsu, Japan's ‘zero-waste' town. I'm in no position to judge. I've been in a long term relationship with my MacBook Air for years. (Yes, I know that's the same line I used in the first item. In order to achieve zero waste, I'm recycling my jokes.)


Drop Some Knowledge

"The law that took effect in March 2021 and punishes anti-Pyongyang leafleters with up to three years in prison has been hotly debated in South Korea, with critics saying Seoul's liberal government was sacrificing freedom of speech to improve ties with rival North Korea." Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector-turned-activist, has a unique (and apparently illegal) way of defeating censorship and fake news. He drops leaflets from balloons into North Korea. (Someone should try flying paper airplanes into Fox News.) South Korean activist resumes flying anti-North leaflets.


Turn Out the Light, The Party’s Over

"It's no surprise that Musk disagrees with current company executives about their policymaking; he has said so from the start. Nor is it a shock that he would use his outsized platform to insult other people; it has been one his primary use cases for Twitter for years now. But I still find myself taken aback that Musk would single out individual policy executives for this kind of public criticism now. In three to six months, if and when the deal closes, Musk is free to clean house; it has been apparent for weeks that few if any of Twitter's current C-team will survive the transition. But to single out those executives today, while also responding sympathetically to right-wing conspiracy theorists, creates needless new turmoil at the company during an already turbulent time." Casey Newton: Musk flips Twitter the bird. And now Twitter's Vijaya Gadde is receiving death threats. This is the Twitter that Twitter has been seeking to avoid, but people like Jack Dorsey are sitting on the sidelines and letting it happen after saying that he trusts Musk's "mission to extend the light of consciousness." What he's extending is the reach of the platform's number one troll.


Extra, Extra

Rape: There are certain acts we don't like to describe or discuss, even in times of war. But they are common, especially during a rudderless, murderous excursion like Putin's Ukraine invasion. The Guardian: "Efforts are under way to get emergency contraception into Ukrainian hospitals as quickly as possible, as reports of rape after the Russian invasion continue to rise." Meanwhile, Biden is asking for an additional $33 billion to support Ukraine. "The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen. We either back Ukrainian people as they defend their country, or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities in Ukraine."

+ GDP Hole: "The economy's overall decline in the January-March quarter does not mean a recession is likely in the coming months. Most economists expect a rebound this quarter as solid hiring and wage gains sustain growth." US economy shrank by 1.4% in Q1 but consumers kept spending. Consumers gonna consume.

+ Spring Into Summer: "Summers have always been gruelling in many parts of India - especially in the northern and central regions. Even before air-conditioners and water coolers started selling in the millions, people had devised their own ways of coping with the heat - from keeping water cool in earthen jugs to rubbing raw mangoes on their bodies to ward off heat strokes." And it's getting hotter, earlier. Heatwave in India leaves millions struggling to cope.

+ Child Support Moderna seeks emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years. Meanwhile, millions of COVID-19 shots are going to waste in the US.

+ Source Material: "From 2014 to 2020, six small retailers in south and northeast Philadelphia sold more than 11,000 weapons that were later recovered in criminal investigations or confiscated from owners who had obtained them illegally." NYT: 6 Gun Shops, 11,000 ‘Crime Guns': A Rare Peek at the Pipeline.

+ Squeeze Play: "Rivalry between stars of a unique accordion-based style of music in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho has sparked years of deadly gang warfare that has turned the tiny country into the murder capital of the continent." BBC: The deadly accordion wars of Lesotho.


Bottom of the News

Lost for decades, Dorothy's dress from ‘Oz' up for sale. "It's one of the most recognizable outfits in American movie history, the blue-and-white checked gingham dress a young Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz." (Of course, some people see it as a gold and white dress.)

+ Today's headline that indicates a culture gone mad: The 7 Best Sleep Headphones for a Restful Night in 2022.