Tuesday, September 27th, 2022


Punked Rock

The universe is a dangerous place and the threat of asteroids has left humanity between a rock and a hard place. Luckily, there are some stone cold rock stars at NASA working to develop a defense system that is suddenly all the rage in the 'roid world. In what could be the most historic shot since David took down Goliath, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) successfully hit and altered the course of an asteroid "that is just 560 feet across — or about half the length of the Eiffel Tower — with a tiny spacecraft that was launched from Earth nearly a year ago." In the words of a great sage, "Whoa, whoa, nice shootin', Tex." How important is it that our aim was true? For that, let's look back at an incident that took place about 66 million years ago, when "an asteroid that was between 6 and 10 miles wide slammed into the waters off the Yucatán Peninsula, near what is now Chicxulub, Mexico. The energy released by the resulting explosion had the force of 100 trillion tons of TNT, equivalent to 10 billion Hiroshima nuclear bombs. Mega-tsunamis swamped the surrounding coasts, and more than 1,000 cubic miles of vaporized rock were blown into the sky ... All in all, it was a very, very bad day to be a dinosaur, or, for that matter, just about anything else living on Earth. More than 75 percent of the planet's species would die out in the final — so far, at least — of the planet's five great extinction events." In other words, this is a really big deal, and NASA's scientists weren't just getting their rocks off. Welcome to the new stone age.

+ The Atlantic: Maybe We Won't End Up Like the Dinosaurs.

+ "Looks to me like we're heading straight in." It all sounded a little like a Spacegasm.


Courage Unveiled

"Amini's death has become a rallying cry, sparking protests across dozens of cities and towns, including the capital Tehran. Women have taken to the streets, brazenly removing their required head coverings and burning them as others record the protests on cell phones." Iran protest deaths reportedly soar.

+ The New Yorker: Iran's Ferocious Return to the Belligerent Policies of the Revolution's Early Days.

+ Amid protests, Iran's Guard strikes Kurdish groups in Iraq. They're so terrified of freedom that they bomb those who unveil the truth.

+ "I Wish I Had An Ounce Of Their Bravery": Iranian Women Abroad Are Watching Protesters Back Home With Pride And Fear. This is the fight, in America and abroad. Secularism vs extremism. Sanity vs craziness. Women's rights vs violent wrongs. Protests have erupted all over the world.


Benito Fungus

"A century after Benito Mussolini's 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy's first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy's first woman premier." How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy. (It's worth noting that Italy was an early adopter when it came to these kinds of politics before WWII.)

+ "In the United States, the most relevant lesson comes not only from the disturbing victory of the fascist-linked Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), but also from the fate of the former strongman of the Italian right, Silvio Berlusconi. Sunday night, the man who reshaped modern Italian politics, in many ways setting an example for Donald Trump to follow, suffered a humiliating fifth place finish, supplanted by his more radical protegées. That result may preview the future of a post-Donald Trump Republican Party." The Lesson for America From Italy's Election. (We're already seeing politicians trying to replace Trump by being more extreme.)

+ Surprise, surprise. The most bombastic GOPers are super impressed with Italy's new far-right leader.

+ This might be a good time for the US to actually have an ambassador in Italy...


Appreciate Ordinary, People

I was off for Rosh Hashanah, yesterday. Sarah Wildman marked the day with a must-read essay in the NYT (Gift Article): I Don't Need My Life to Be Remarkable. "Orli's recovery from brain surgery was rapid. Two weeks after she was released, she was on a bicycle in Menemsha on Martha's Vineyard, at a friend's borrowed home, an unchanged 1920s clapboard house that offered a glimpse of the sea, a breeze off the water. She began reading like she had never read before, swallowing books whole; she got on a surfboard again. Each of those precious days was, indeed, a 10, but it was the fours and fives I began to crave: just lying on her bed, talking, watching her eat pasta and ask for more, seeing her swim. Even the ones and twos — when our car broke down and we needed to find a tow truck off island — felt like wins. What is a transportation problem but a manageable hassle, really? At least we were together, and not in a hospital." And we all say, Amen.


Extra, Extra

Ian the Terrible: "Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba on Tuesday as a major hurricane, with nothing to stop it from intensifying into a catastrophic Category 4 storm before it crashes ashore Wednesday in Florida, where officials ordered 2.5 million people to evacuate." Here's the latest from CNN.

+ Oath Bound: "In the highest-profile prosecution so far stemming from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the founder of the Oath Keepers and four others individuals linked to the far-right, anti-government group go on trial Tuesday on seditious conspiracy and other charges stemming from the deadly assault." AP: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes' path: From Yale to jail. (It's a total fail if we don't indict the real whale.)

+ Drawn and Quarterbacked: "After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre's pet project, a university volleyball arena, the retired NFL quarterback tried two years later to get additional cash from the state's welfare agency for another sports facility, new court documents show." Text messages show Brett Favre sought welfare money for a football facility. (Even Favre's text messages get intercepted. This could be one of the most pathetic schemes ever and it's just starting to get the coverage it deserves.)

+ If You Come at His King, You Best Not Miss: "One week after stunning the chess world by resigning from a game after making just one move, reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen has broken his silence to accuse Hans Niemann, 19, of cheating."

+ Cena Shooting Star: "John Cena has just set a new record — and it didn't happen in the wrestling ring. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the actor and WWE superstar for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish foundation, coming in at 650."


Bottom of the News

"'I'm glad I can make people happy with my art and they can hang it in their homes,' he said on a recent Monday at the Chase gallery. He was standing before one of his works, 'The Professor,' a large, Cubist-like painting of a man rendered in acrylic and oil that stands four and a half feet high — as tall as the artist himself. "This one I did when I was younger, when I was 8," he added shyly." NYT (Gift Article): Six-Figure Artworks, by a Fifth Grader. Andres Valencia's paintings have sold for more than $125,000. And he's 10 years old.

+ For those not familiar with the NFL, this is not where punts are suppose to go.

+ Trump-linked SPAC changes address to UPS Store as investors pull more than $130 million. (Wow, no one saw this coming...)