Friday, May 20th, 2022


Board Stiff

A confession: I am a SAWDAS. In layperson's terms, that's a Surf Addict Who Doesn't Actually Surf. It's one of the many activities in which I enjoy being an active non-participant. But I read the books, I watch the documentaries, I shop at the stores, and although I hate sand, I do enjoy visiting famous surf sites, especially those with an on-location taco truck. I am a full believer in Jeff Spicoli's adage that, "Surfing's not a sport, it's a way of life, it's no hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let's party!'" I do that all the time. I just party indoors. The only shoe brand I wear is called Olukai, a company most famous for making beach sandals (although I've never worn any of those). I never wear a bathing suit (or even shorts), and my Samoan family members are regularly embarrassed sitting next to me in jeans on the beach. For some reason, seeing grown men in flip-flops makes me angry. The only time I come close to hanging ten is if I'm making an inappropriate innuendo about my anatomy. But I love all kinds of waves. I am basically the Laird Hamilton of internet surfing. I recently switched from Spotify to Tidal, in part for the better sound quality, but mostly just because it felt more on brand. In my mind, Puka Shells are still in style. Like me, Kalani Lattanzi doesn't ride a surfboard. Unlike me, he does surf waves, including some of the biggest in the world. But he does it on his body. At Jaws (which, for those of you who aren't experts like me, is a really big ass wave), "when a 20-foot wave approached, he kicked his fins and swam ferociously to catch it. Without the support of a surfboard, Lattanzi tautened his body and extended his arms onto a handplane, a board about the size of a serving platter." (I love watching this guy body surf from my couch while having a snack on a literal serving platter.) NYT (Gift Article): Riding the World's Biggest Waves, Without a Surfboard.


A Teachable Moment

"Solomon stood listening inside her fourth-grade classroom at Key Biscayne K-8 Center, part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The kids were at lunch. She glanced around at the neatly labeled black buckets of supplies, pictures of former students and a small sign reading, "If you can't be kind, be quiet." She looked down at the diamond wedding ring she had worn since marrying her wife, Hayley Solomon, in Coconut Grove almost exactly four years ago. She wondered: Could she be herself and stay a teacher in Florida?" WaPo (Gift Article): This Florida teacher married a woman. Now she's not a teacher anymore. (It's 2022.)

+ Oklahoma lawmakers pass one of nation's strictest abortion bills banning procedure from fertilization. (These backwards ideas should be banned from fertilization.)


Monkey Don’t

"The current outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. are different and very concerning. The first case, which was identified in the United Kingdom on May 7, fit the traditional pattern: The individual had recently traveled to Nigeria. But several others hadn't recently been to endemic countries, and some had had no obvious contact with people known to be infected. This suggests that the ... virus may be surreptitiously spreading from person to person, with some number of undetected cases." Ed Yong in The Atlantic: So, Have You Heard About Monkeypox? (Relax. This is nothing Web3 can't handle.)

+ The Conversation: What is monkeypox? (Don't blame monkeys. It really has nothing to do with them.)

+ Meanwhile, Covid (or as I like to call it, Pre-Monkey Pox) is rising in almost every state. I'm gonna worry about Covid and Monkey Pox just as soon as I get done worry about this: Invasive jumping worms have made their way into California, and scientists are worried.


Weekend Whats

What to Stare At: We recently hung a Samsung Frame TV in our living room. When you're watching it, it's a pretty good TV. When it's off, it displays the art of your choice, from famous pieces to your own photographs. And the 2022 model has some kind of matte technology that shows no reflections, so it really looks like art. I absolutely love it.

+ What to Read: "A time traveler from the 1930s would have no difficulty identifying the Putin regime as fascist. The symbol Z, the rallies, the propaganda, the war as a cleansing act of violence and the death pits around Ukrainian towns make it all very plain. The war against Ukraine is not only a return to the traditional fascist battleground, but also a return to traditional fascist language and practice. Other people are there to be colonized. Russia is innocent because of its ancient past. The existence of Ukraine is an international conspiracy. War is the answer. Because Mr. Putin speaks of fascists as the enemy, we might find it hard to grasp that he could in fact be fascist." Well, it's time to get a grasp on it. Timothy Snyder in the NYT: We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist.


Extra, Extra

Mad Props: "Current and former employees describe Russian state television as an army, one with a few generals and many foot soldiers who never question their orders." Masha Gessen in The New Yorker: Inside Putin's Propaganda Machine. It's critical to understand this stuff. Propaganda machines are all the rage these days...

+ Joementum: "The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic." Biden's approval dips to lowest of presidency.

+ Tour de Force: "Based on our review of evidence in the select committee's possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on Jan 5, 2021." Congress members led ‘reconnaissance tours' of Capitol before attack, evidence suggests. And, "Virginia 'Ginni' Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative political activist, urged Republican lawmakers in Arizona after the 2020 presidential election to choose their own slate of electors, arguing that results giving Joe Biden a victory in the state were marred by fraud." (We'll continue to learn more about who was in on it. Will we ever see any punishment?)

+ Hoops D'état: "On the eve of the current NBA playoffs, the league's games returned to state-run TV in China after a nearly three-year ban. It was a quiet return, with nary a word from New York or Beijing trumpeting the apparent end of a bitter conflict. NBA owners had remained largely silent throughout the ban, even as the league worked behind the scenes to repair a ruptured relationship that had cost hundreds of millions of dollars and laid bare the complexities of doing business with an authoritarian regime." NBA owners, mum on China relationship, have more than $10 billion invested there.

+ Counter Revolution: "Starbucks, put your money where your mouth is. Otherwise, I might have to put my hand where your counter is — again. End the vegan upcharge." A pretty interesting argument and the headline of 2022 so far. James Cromwell in WaPo (Gift Article): I glued my hand to a Starbucks counter. Here's why. (Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.)


Feel Good Friday

I'd like to pause to congratulate Taylor Swift and Adam Sandler for having the distinct honor of speaking at my nephew Jeremy Kaplan's two-day graduation from NYU Drama. Sandler took a photo with Jeremy at their hotel (which will one day be an NFT worth millions) and offered a special message to all in attendance. "You might be supporting these kids for a very long time. They are not leaving the nest anytime soon. This is a tough business they chose but there's still time to talk them out of it." (Don't worry, Sis. It could be worse. Jeremy could be going into newsletter writing.)

+ Engineering students created an edible adhesive tape to keep your burrito wrapped tightly. Of course, people who know how to roll a burrito roll them tightly without tape, which reminds me of this once viral post. Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito: A Fictional Letter Written to a Fictional Person About a Real Struggle.

+ "In this scenario, the apartments are NFTs and the investors are the owners. It's fundraising like we've never seen before and has the potential to turn the metaverse into a place for purpose. HomeStart is an early pioneer. And if they are successful, we will likely see more." The Metaverse Can Be a Force for Good in the Real World. Very cool idea: 100% of the proceeds go to HomeStart dedicated to preventing homelessness before it starts. More here.

+ "The objective, fund officials say, is to quickly seed projects that conventional peer-review panels would spurn because they are too risky and lack preliminary data. Each scout is given a 'hunting license to go out and, given their budget, find one, maybe two, maybe three great ideas that are going to languish' without funding." An awesome idea brought to life by Dave Sanford: New funding effort will deploy a corps of scientist ‘scouts' to spot innovative ideas. (Tired: Follow the Money. Wired: The Money Follows You.)

+ "That's right -- in between practices, games and press conferences while leading Golden State to its sixth Western Conference finals appearance in eight seasons, Curry was hitting the books to fulfill yet another promise ... And what better way to earn a degree all these years later than by writing his thesis on a topic close to his heart: advancing gender equity through sports." Steph fulfilling promise to earn degree was 'a long time coming.'"

+ WaPo: Viral story leads to donations of $1 million for coach of underdog debate team.

+ People look at me and say, ‘She won't be able to lift that.' I like surprising them. I'm a 79-year-old world champion powerlifter. I think I'll actually try surfing when I'm 79.