Tuesday, July 19th, 2022


Gnarly Wave

It's hot. That's true in the US where at least 40 million of us are sweating through heat warnings. And it's true in Europe where a long heat wave is getting even hotter and moving North, leaving a trail of wildfires in its wake. For those places used to heat, it's a big concern. For those places ill-equipped for it, it can be deadly. London, for example, is not used to Sahara temperatures. Heathrow recorded the UK's national record for the highest temperature ever registered at just over 104 degrees. Depending on where you live, that may sound pretty mild, but most homes in the UK don't have air conditioning. "As the panic has set in, many Brits have desperately sought novel ways of keeping their homes cool. One particularly odd solution has seen homeowners covering the glass of their doors and windows with aluminum foil to stop the sunlight coming in ... Other people are fashioning 'DIY AC units' by placing a bowl of ice cubes in front of a fan ... One British movie theater chain, Showcase, is offering free tickets to redheads on Monday and Tuesday to protect their unusually sensitive skin from the blazing sun." (Notably, it's the first time the UK's color-coded heat risk alert has hit the red level.) One London airport had to cancel flights because the runway buckled. Again, the temperature itself might not sound that high. But it's not how hot it is, it's where it's hot. Of course, climate change plays a role. But scientists also point to other factors. So let's start the day with humanity's favorite (and now, most urgent) topic: the weather. From the NYT (Gift Article): Why Europe Is Becoming a Heat Wave Hot Spot. "Researchers found that many European heat waves occurred when the jet stream had temporarily split in two, leaving an area of weak winds and high pressure air between the two branches that is conducive to the buildup of extreme heat." (Maybe this summer's splitting jet stream is the reason so many travelers in Europe end up in one city while their luggage ends up in another...)

+ Tour de France Pours Water on Roads to Keep Pavement From Melting.

+ There are, of course, places a lot worse off than Europe. UN secretary general António Guterres put the situation into perspective. "Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction ... We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands."

+ In the US, it's been in Joe Manchin's hands and he (along with every GOP senator) has turned a cold shoulder to doing something about heat. In an effort to untie his own hands, WaPo reports that Biden could declare climate emergency as soon as this week. (This week a few decades ago would be better, but we'll take any progress we can get.)

+ It turns out there are a lot of songs called Heat Wave, and many, many of the them are covers of the Glass Animal's hit. From foggy Sausalito (which is less of a sure thing these days), here's a playlist to cool you off.


You’re Being Followed

Politico on a uniquely dangerous tool: How Google's data can help states track abortions. "It wouldn't be hard to do, because states across the country are already using this kind of data for other investigations. And a POLITICO analysis found that many of the states that have criminalized abortion have relied increasingly on location data in recent years to probe crimes including robbery and sexual assault."

+ That's not the only danger posed by the phone in your pocket. Homeland Security records show 'shocking' use of phone data. "Despite claims by data brokers, no one who downloads an app thinks they are giving permission to waive their 4th Amendment rights and let the government follow their every move."


Getting Out of A Pickle

"Pickleball will save America. A lot of people think we're going to have a civil war if this election is close. We've got to get people out there playing pickleball with people who will vote the other way, so they don't want to kill each other. It sounds ridiculous and dramatic, but I kind of mean it. Pickleball can save us, and we need to be saved." Sarah Larson in The New Yorker: Can Pickleball Save America? (Better we attack each other with wooden paddles than AR-15s.)


Check Out Anytime You Want

"Stores today are catering to shoppers who perceive self-checkout to be faster than traditional cashiers, even though there's little evidence to support that. But, because customers are doing the work, rather than waiting in line, the experience can feel like it's moving more quickly. Store owners have also seen competitors installing self-checkout and determined they don't want to miss out." Nobody likes self-checkout. Here's why it's everywhere. Soon we'll just walk out of supermarkets and get charged for what we take. It's a reality being pushed by Amazon but that was predicted by my friend Jeff O'Keefe in an ad he wrote more than two decades ago called IBM Supermarket. (It's also his birthday this week, in case his co-workers need a heads-up.)


Extra, Extra

All Clear: "Students from grades 6 to 12 will have to wear see-through backpacks beginning in the 2022-2023 school year to "ensure that prohibited items are not included among the students' belongings." Students in a Dallas school district must wear clear backpacks after Uvalde shooting. (We don't need clear backpacks, we need clear thinking.)

+ Open Wound: "Gone, for now, are the big rallies, with their open calls for violence and ostentatious displays of military-style kit, and many of those who organized them. Gone, too, are most of the election audits and other inquiries into the results convened by Republican-controlled state legislatures and local governments, investigations that failed to produce evidence of meaningful fraud. What is left in their place is an insistence — a belief, a lie or an act of motivated reasoning, depending on whom you're talking to — that the election was stolen, which has fed a new wave of post-Trump activism on the right." NYT: How ‘Stop the Steal' Captured the American Right. Pushing The Big Lie is a right of passage in some districts. At Least 120 Republican Nominees Deny The Results Of The 2020 Election.

+ Founder Shares: "The more historically accurate conclusion is Justice Harry A. Blackmun's majority opinion in Roe v. Wade (1973), that 'at the time of the adoption of our Constitution, and throughout the majority of the 19th century, abortion was viewed with less disfavor than under most American statutes currently in effect. Phrasing it another way, a woman enjoyed a substantially broader right to terminate a pregnancy than she does in most States today." WaPo: A 1792 case reveals that key Founders saw abortion as a private matter. (This has nothing to do with the Founders or the law. It's about religion.)

+ Yes, Chef: "The actor genuinely did not see any of this coming, not least because there is zero sex in The Bear. 'There isn't a moment of any character being attracted to a person or a thing ... I mean, Lionel and the doughnuts is truly the most sexually charged [part of the show].'" The Bear: Out to Lunch With Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri. (It's so nice to see a solid show getting this much attention because of great word of mouth.)


Bottom of the News

"I'll start with an apology. I'm about to tell you a story about pigeons and buildings—particularly New York City buildings—and once you're done, you may not see those buildings in the same light ever again." FastCo: How one company has pigeon-proofed all of New York City.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): We asked Emmanuel the TikTok-interrupting emu about his sudden fame. (It's nice when the internet does what it was designed to do...)

+ A McDonald's and Dairy Queen In Missouri Are Having a 'Sign War,' And Things Are Getting Real Messy Real Fast. (It's also nice when a fast food sign does what the internet was designed to do...)