Tuesday, October 18th, 2022


That’s the Ticket

"You've gotta ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" Dirty Harry made that line famous, but most states in the union have been asking the same question for years. Between mobile phones and the rise of legalized sports betting, it's hard to avoid gambling these days. Even Disney is getting in on the action via ESPN. But long before states began legalizing gambling for companies, they were running numbers operations of their own. Unlike casinos, the house doesn't always win. But the companies who administer the games do. Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker: What We've Lost Playing the Lottery. "It is so popular that it is both extremely lucrative for the private companies that make and sell tickets and financially crippling for its most dedicated players. One in two American adults buys a lottery ticket at least once a year, one in four buys one at least once a month, and the most avid players buy them at rates that might shock you." (It shouldn't shock you. When it comes to human vices, always bet the over.)

+ Jeff Maysh in The Atlantic: The $30 Million Lottery Scam. "How a Michigan real-estate broker became convinced he had cracked the lottery—and how he tricked his investors into financing his scheme."


What a Fuel Believes

Fiona Hill knows a thing or two about Putin, and she doesn't see him backing down. "Whenever he has a setback, Putin figures he can get out of it, that he can turn things around. That's partly because of his training as a KGB operative ... Another hallmark of Putin is that he doubles down." Hill also sees Putin "trying to get the West to accede to his aims by using messengers like billionaire Elon Musk to propose arrangements that would end the conflict on his terms. 'Putin plays the egos of big men, gives them a sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they're just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin.'" (Putin probably can't wait for Musk to own Twitter.)

+ In recent history, few things have proven to be more dangerous to national regimes and elected governments than protests over fuel prices. And thanks in large part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fuel protests are currently gripping more than 90 countries. (While we focus on the day to day politics of war and peace, it's important to pull back and remember that many conflicts are about three big things. Oil, Food, Water. And the order of those is going to change in the near future.)


Red, White, and Blue … and Green

"Foreign governments have long advanced their interests in Washington by paying Americans as lobbyists, lawyers, political consultants, think tank analysts and public relations advisers. But the hiring of retired U.S. military personnel for their expertise and political clout has accelerated over the past decade as oil-rich gulf monarchies have splurged on defense spending and strengthened their security partnerships with the Pentagon." A special report from WaPo (Gift Article): Retired u.s. Generals, Admirals Take Top Jobs With Saudi Crown Prince.


The Return of the King

"For those outside China, it's difficult to overstate Austin Li's level of fame. With 150 million followers, he used livestreams to sell millions of dollars' worth of products every night. That all changed in June: He disappeared in the middle of a stream after he presented a tank-shaped ice cream cake on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. When he vanished, many assumed he was gone for good. But in September he re-emerged, as suddenly as he left." Rest of World: The Return of the Lipstick King.

+ Xi is about to take a third term as he continues his run as China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. What Xi Jinping's decade in power means for people in China — in their own words.


Extra, Extra

Will America Choose Choice? "President Joe Biden promised Tuesday that the first bill he sends to Capitol Hill next year will be one that codifies Roe v. Wade — if Democrats control enough seats in Congress for Biden to sign abortion protections into law." Biden vows abortion legislation as top priority next year. (It's a worrying sign that voters need to be reminded that this is a big issue.)

+ Fog Cutter: "Her doctor suggested low doses of naltrexone, a generic drug typically used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction. After more than two years of living in 'a thick, foggy cloud,' she said, 'I can actually think clearly.'" Addiction drug shows promise lifting long COVID brain fog, fatigue.

+ Florida, The Series: "What is wrong with this state, man? Voter fraud? Y'all said anybody with a felony could vote, man." Ron DeSantis used confusion about a changed voting law to make some very public arrests to continue his habit of putting on show, regardless of who gets hurt.

+ Do Your Kids Have Gas? The latest app your teen will be talking about is called Gas. It's "an anonymous app that prompts teens to say nice things about each other. Last week, it became the No. 1 free social app in the App Store." (Once my kids see I've written about it, they'll never use it.)

+ Rat Race: "They have been trained since birth for this vital work. And for every land mine they find, during training and in the field, they're rewarded with a delectable mash of bananas and avocados, or maybe a few peanuts." These highly trained rats have sniffed out 150,000 explosives.

+ I Have a Glute Bridge in Brooklyn to Sell to You: NYT (Gift Article): The Fight for the Soul of Pilates. "The fight started on social media more than a year ago and has since moved to federal court. At issue is who has the right to share certain vintage photographs of the barrel-chested Mr. Pilates, who died in 1967 at age 83, as well as key materials related to his highly specific teachings." (I suggest a bend but don't break defense.)


Bottom of the News

""Think of it like a big protein shake. It's a way for them, over the course of one minute, to take in the equivalent of 150 pounds of food and then use that to produce eggs." WaPo (Gift Article): Are you a mosquito magnet? It's because of how you smell.