Friday, May 6th, 2022


The Devolution Will Not Be Televised

The first shots fired in the Ukraine invasion came from America. They were truth bombs dropped to show the world what Putin had planned and the lies he would use to try justify his actions. From then until now, information and truth have been key battlegrounds of this murderous invasion. The NYT analyzed more than 50 hours of Russian TV footage to piece together the war the Russians are seeing, which is wildly different from the one that is actually happening. "Russian television's convoluted and sometimes contradictory narratives about the war are not solely intended to convince viewers that their version of events is true, disinformation experts say. Just as often, the goal is to confuse viewers and sow distrust so audiences are not sure what to believe." If this sounds familiar, it's because it is. The goal of Trump's authoritarian style of messaging was never intended to get people to believe in a single truth. It was intended to overwhelm people with so many conflicting realities that they'd exhaustedly shrug, not knowing what to believe. As Steve Bannon once explained, "The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit." Garry Kasparov summed up the strategy: "The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth." It's all connected. NYT (Gift Article): The War in Ukraine, as Seen on Russian TV.

+ It's hard to get the truth in Russia, but not impossible. And that makes VPNs an important front. How millions of Russians are tearing holes in the Digital Iron Curtain.

+ If you missed yesterday's edition, there was a lot of interesting stuff. Derrick and the Dominos.


Half Life

"Nearly half of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to a survey from the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis support for LGBTQ youth, published its annual survey this week. The survey found rising rates of suicidal thoughts, as well as significant disparities among trans youth and LGBTQ youth of color." Let's assume this polling is off. Maybe it's only 25% or 10%. It's still one hell of a lot and the situation is being made worse by callous, pathetic politicians punching down to move up in the polls. Hate is not a victimless crime.


Class Struggle

"The fact that I took Earth science at all makes me something of an anomaly. In the United States, only 7 percent of high schoolers take Earth-science courses, according to a 2010 study. (Scarlett said that Earth-science education in the U.K. is not much better.) And I couldn't take AP Earth science in high school, because the course didn't exist back then. These days, the College Board does have two AP courses that are related to Earth science: environmental science and human geography. High school in particular matters because many of us stop taking science after that. Yet Earth science generally disappears from the curriculum after middle school." The Atlantic: Americans Are Missing a Key Stratum of Modern Knowledge. (Just one?)


Weekend Whats

What to WE: I've been counting down the days for the insanely well reviewed new album from Arcade Fire. The early release singles have been amazing. As soon as I'm done deeply informing and wildly entertaining you, I'm listening to WE. The band will also perform on SNL this weekend. And their upcoming US tour will be supported by Beck doing an acoustic show.

+ What to Book: "The untold story of how Vladimir Putin and the small group of KGB men surrounding him rose to power and looted their country." Want to understand how the hell Putin turned a country into a criminal operation? This is your book. Catherine Belton: Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West.

+ What to Watch: This week we've seen how the supposedly unavoidable price hikes at the gas pump turned into massive profits for oil companies. So it's the perfect time for Frontline's three-part series. The Power of Big Oil.


Extra, Extra

Training Brahs: "He has praised extremist groups. He has called for public executions of government officials he sees as disloyal to former President Donald Trump. In a post in 2020, he urged law enforcement officers to disobey COVID-19 public-health orders from 'tyrannical governors,' adding: 'We are on the brink of civil war.' Whitehead also has a day job. He trains police officers around the United States." Reuters: U.S. police trainers with far-right ties are teaching hundreds of cops.

+ Abortion Distortion: "Lingering claims circulate about abortion, including about the safety of it, who gets abortions and even who supports or opposes access to abortion. Here, seven popular claims surrounding abortion get fact-checked."

+ Hotel Explosion: At least eight are dead after a massive explosion destroyed a hotel in Havana. A gas leak appears to have been the cause.

+ We Crave a Different Kind of Buzz: "Swiss police say they have seized 500kg of cocaine from a shipment of coffee that was sent to a Nespresso factory." (It's probably a more environmentally friendly way to get your morning jolt.)

+ Winging It: "Hot Ones has turned from a semi-prank show cracking jokes in a semi-populated corner of the internet to a heavy hitter on the talk-show circuit, and more than most celebrity entertainment, it's actually entertaining." How eating spicy wings turned into must-see TV. Wings, Sweat, and Tears.

+ Sticking to One's Convictions: And, from WaPo, a lede that sums up the state of American politics: "An Indiana man who is accused of killing his cancer-stricken wife as she was seeking a divorce won his GOP primary this week from jail and will be on the ballot in November — if he has not been convicted."


Feel Good Friday

"I hope you don't start taking that for granted. Like it's old hat. It's just so unusual. It's otherworldly, on this level of this game." Shohei Ohtani matches 1919 Babe Ruth feat in history-making pitching performance in Boston. (Babe Ruth really didn't pitch for that long. Ohtani is something else.)

+ This High Schooler Invented a Low-Cost, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm.

+ Dave Eggers offers to replace books a South Dakota school board wants to pulp.

+ "In 2020, when amputee ultra runner Jacky Hunt-Broersma saw that Alyssa Amos Clark had broken the record for running 95 marathons in as many days, she thought to herself, 'Well, that would be interesting to try and do. Especially running on a prosthetic leg ...'"

+ Karine Jean-Pierre to become White House press secretary, the first Black and out LGBTQ person in the role.

+ 'She's my guardian angel': DoorDasher saves Massachusetts woman's life while delivering pizza.

+ After this week in news, I think we can all relate to Extreme Pogo Stick Riding.