Friday, July 8th, 2022


Bullet the Blue Sky

It's always shocking news when a major leader on the international stage is shot to death. But it's especially so in a country where gun violence is nearly non-existent. "Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned the nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere." The shooter used a homemade gun. AP: Japan's ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech. Abe was only 67.

+ Land of the Rising Gun? "When I say people don't think about violent crime here, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, there are the Yakuza, Japan's famously violent organised crime gangs. But most people never come in to contact with them. Even the Yakuza shy away from guns because the penalties for illegal possession are just not worth it. Owning a gun in Japan is extremely difficult. It requires no criminal record, mandatory training, psychological evaluation, and extensive background checks including police interviewing neighbors. Consequently, gun crime virtually doesn't exist here. On average, there are fewer than 10 gun-related deaths in Japan each year. In 2017, there were just three." BBC: Shinzo Abe death: Shock killing that could change Japan forever.


Roe-ing Against the Tide

"The Court now practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they've just taken away." So said Joe Biden as he signed an executive order to protect access to abortion. The focus on voting and the need to reform the filibuster and codify women's choice into law was a clear indicator that there's only so much Biden can do with the current Congress. So how much did overturning Roe change polling numbers? FiveThirtyEight: Maybe Dobbs Did Change The Race. We'll Need More Time To Know For Sure.


Get Your Shit Together

"Fecal transplants can fix gut diseases, but finding the right donor stool is tricky. The solution, some scientists believe, is to keep a store of your own." Wired: Could Your Old Poop Cure You of Future Diseases? I've held onto my emotional shit for a lifetime, so this shouldn't be that much of a leap.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: It's a mood. It's the feel and grit of the city. It's a great new show about a chef who has to come home to run his family's sandwich shop. I'm loving The Bear on Hulu. And a bonus, the soundtrack is also great. (But binge the show first.)

+ What to Read: Here are a few great reads to curl up with over the weekend. The always excellent team at Epic Magazine takes us to the early 90s when few corners of the military were as misogynistic as the world of fighter pilots. This is the story of the women Navy officers who overcame that culture to fly the formidable F-14. Katie Hafner and Sophie McNulty: The Gauntlet. From Matt Sullivan in Rolling Stone: Did This Trump-Loving, Leopard-Hunting Dentist Kill His Wife? (From that description, I'd guess yes. But you have to read on to find out...) And a pretty weird one from BBC: A court in India has sent to prison a man who was found guilty of posing as the son of a wealthy landlord for 41 years. The BBC's Soutik Biswas pieces together a gripping tale of deceit and delay in justice.

+ What to Hear: Digable Planets was on the bill at my local county fair this week, and that reminded me to dig back into their amazing catalog. They were ahead of their time in terms of sound (and in the case of the song, La Femme Fetal, in terms of subject matter.) But start with their popular hits. Seriously, "I'm cool like dat" may be the most truthful lyric in music history.


Extra, Extra

Hanging a BA 5: At this point, this is the kind of news you know about by hearing from friends and family who have tested positive. "The BA.5 version of Covid-19 has become the majority variant of the virus in America in a matter of weeks, in a troubling development that comes amid what may already be America's second-largest wave of the pandemic. It also comes at a time when much of the US has relaxed nearly all Covid restrictions in public and life has largely returned to normal." WaPo: The worst virus variant just arrived. The pandemic is not over.

+ Wisconsin of Omission: "Wisconsin's conservative-controlled supreme court ruled on Friday that absentee ballot drop boxes may be placed only in election offices and that no one other than the voter can return a ballot in person, dealing a critical defeat to Democrats in the battleground state." (As long as we keep defining the limiting of voting rights to a defeat to Democrats, we're missing the story. This is a defeat to democracy.)

+ Starter Guns: "Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven't even yet started anything in earnest." Putin to Ukraine: Russia has barely started its action. (That's also bad news for Russian soldiers since some reports suggest 36,000 of them have been killed.) Meanwhile. Western leaders snubbed a G20 photo op with Russia's Sergey Lavrov. (That's a small price to pay for mass murder.)

+ Snap Shots: A very modern headline: Secret Service Director James Murray to step down, head to Snap. (Throwing yourself in front of a meme beats throwing yourself in front of a bullet any day...)

+ He Was Overcompensating: "Brexit, the solution to the problem Johnson and his supporters described, was based on a series of lies. The electorate was promised that departure from the EU would lead not only to fewer immigrants but to greater prosperity, more welfare spending, less crowded hospitals. Instead, six years after the vote, Britain is less prosperous and more unequal." Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: What Brexit Did to Boris Johnson—And Britain. It took a long, hard time, but Johnson's swollen promises were finally exposed by a party that no longer considers him a member.

+ Elon Strange Trip: This won't surprise anyone, but Elon Musk's Twitter takeover deal is in serious jeopardy. Thus, my return to using Twitter has a serious shot of happening.

+ Gone Too Late: "He passed away on June 27, 2022, living a long life, much longer than he deserved. He is survived by his three children, no four. Oops, five children. Well as of 2022 we believe there is one more that we know about, but there could be more. His love was abundant when it came to himself, but for his children it was limited. From a young age, he was a ladies' man and an abusive alcoholic, solidifying his commitment to both with the path of destruction he left behind, damaging his adult children, and leaving them broken." There's really nothing quite like an honest obituary.


Feel Good Friday

"Deep in southwest Virginia, there's a county fair where, last month, one woman won first, second and third place for best cookies. She also swept all three awards for candy and for savory bread. In fact, she won the blue ribbon for cake, pie, brownie, sweet bread and best overall baked good (that was strawberry fudge.) It didn't stop there. One woman dominated the awards at a Virginia county fair. Then the internet went wild. (Now this is what the intenet is supposed to go wild about!)

+ "Hiring slipped only slightly in June, with no sign of a looming recession." (Economics is a little more complicated than this, but it's feel good Friday, so enjoy!) And gas prices are finally coming down a bit.

+ A Suicide And Crisis Hotline Is Coming Called 988. Here's Everything To Know About It.

+ SI: Sandra Douglass Morgan Makes History as Raiders Team President. In this case, what happens in Vegas should be emulated elsewhere...

+ Biden awards Medal of Freedom to Gabby Giffords, Simone Biles, John McCain, and others.

+ Fin whales, once hunted to the brink of extinction, have returned to their historic feeding grounds in the Antarctic Peninsula in large numbers.

+ Experience: I rescued a camel from quicksand. (I once rescued my beagles from hot pavement by quickly guiding them to the shady side of the street.)