Tuesday, October 25th, 2022


Bugging Out

Here's something you may have said during a roadtrip. "When I was a kid, our windshield used to be covered with splattered bugs, but these days there are almost none of them splatting." Well, like your many other nostalgic utterances, this one may be wholly uninteresting to your family. But you're not wrong. "From 1996 to 2017, insect splatters fell by 80 percent on one of the routes Moller regularly travels. On the other, longer stretch, they plunged 97 percent. Conventional measures show similar trends, and more recent observations have seen even sharper decline." Is it the insect decline? Is it more aerodynamic windshields? Are insects commuting on side roads? In WaPo (Gift Article), Andrew Van Dam takes you inside the scientific search for answers. Wait, why are there so few dead bugs on my windshield these days?


Appease in a Pod

In a poorly considered, poorly timed, and generally infuriating move, "liberals" in Congress sent an open letter to the White House, calling for direct U.S. talks with Russia. WaPo (Gift Article, much in the same way this article is a gift to Putin): Liberals urge Biden to rethink Ukraine strategy. Apparently these lawmakers weren't satisfied with watching the Ken Burns produced documentary on America's weak initial response to Hitler and are determined to reenact it.

+ "By groundlessly suggesting that Ukraine is preparing to use a 'dirty bomb,' the Kremlin is testing the West—and potentially provoking a nuclear standoff." Tom Nichols in The Atlantic: Russia's ‘Dirty Bomb' Ploy. (Expect more of this, and maybe worse, as the US election approaches.)

+ Russian court rejects Brittney Griner's appeal over jail term.


Decrypting Crypto

"I didn't sit down and write 40,000 words to tell you that crypto is dumb and worthless and will now vanish without a trace. That would be an odd use of time. My goal here is not to convince you that crypto is building the future and that if you don't get on board you'll stay poor. My goal is to convince you that crypto is interesting, that it has found some new things to say about some old problems, and that even when those things are wrong, they're wrong in illuminating ways. Also, I'm a finance person. It seems to me that, 14 years on, crypto has a pretty well-developed financial system, and I'm going to talk about it a fair bit, because it's pretty well-developed and because I like finance." BloombergBusinessweek gives crypto the cover to cover treatment. The
Crypto Story: Where it came from, what it all means, and why it still matters


West End

A tiger doesn't change its stripes. But Adidas just changed theirs. The company "has cut ties with Ye, the musician and fashion designer formerly known as Kanye West, marking the end of a partnership that made the company billions but was soured by the artist's repeated brazen antisemitic and offensive remarks." (Maybe they should make it hurt even more and replace him with Pete Davidson.) A note to journalists: You don't have to include the nickname of an antisemite in every article. He didn't ask Jews what we wanted to be called. Kanye's rabid comments alone aren't necessarily a big story. But the rising antisemitism in America and across the world is. And so is the glee with which many faux news organizations welcomed Kanye West to their shows so they could spread the antisemitic screed using someone else's mouth.


Extra, Extra

Local Anesthesia: "Election conspiracy theorists ... are running for Congress, governor and secretary of state positions that oversee elections in state after state around the country. But an unknown number also are running for one of the 10,000 positions nationwide that administer local elections and oversee the people who actually hand out ballots, tally votes and report results." As bad as you already think the problem is, it's worse. Conspiracy pushers target races for local election posts. And of course, there's a special American twist to the story. Armed Vigilantes Are ‘Monitoring' Ballot Drop Boxes in Arizona Now.

+ Brazilian Cracks: "In speeches, interviews and hundreds of posts on social media, the president has consistently and methodically repeated those baseless claims and many others about Brazil's voting system. The result has been a yearslong campaign that has undermined millions of Brazilians' faith in the elections that underpin one of the world's largest democracies." NYT: How Bolsonaro Built the Myth of Stolen Elections in Brazil. Of course, this story sounds familiar to Americans. And the relentless attacks on voting in some of the world's major democracies is a big deal and a dream come true for authoritarians.

+ Character Building: "The creation of the proto­type is an unconscious and intuitive process. There's no choice involved, really. I have to do it like this, or my characters will turn out unnatural and dead. That's why, in the beginning stage of the process, I leave everything up to the Automatic Dwarfs." Haruki Murakami in The Atlantic: Where My Characters Come From. (I wish I could write fiction. No matter where my characters come from, they always end up being me.)

+ Turning the Tables: "Nearly half the total units accumulated during those first three days came in… vinyl sales." Taylor Swift‘s ‘Midnights' Is First Album in Five Years to Move a Million Units in a Week… and She Did It in Three Days.


Bottom of the News

"Every morning I walk around our town for what I call my Banana Walk. My wife dislikes the smell of bananas in the house, and I love her, so I take my banana and spend the next hour figuring out the universe, life, and while I'm at it, my work day. I watch the shops and restaurants open up, and see others walking with their dogs or strollers. I am grateful and my blood pressure thanks me too." Cool NYT (Gift Article) on The Little Rituals That Keep Us Going. Oddly, no one else mentioned watching TV six hours a day.

+ ‘World's dirtiest man' dies in Iran at 94 a few months after first wash.