Wednesday, November 16th, 2022


It’s Not the End of the World (Yet)

Yesterday, I wrote about my failure to score Taylor Swift tickets for my daughter. Today, I'm going to lead with something decidedly less horrific by sharing Joel Achenbach's guide to contemporary doomsday scenarios — from the threats you know about to the ones you never think of. WaPo Magazine (Gift Article): Asteroids! Solar Storms! Nukes! Climate Calamity! Killer Robots! "We are not being paranoid when we recognize that human civilization has become increasingly complex and simultaneously armed with techniques for self-destruction. There are bad omens everywhere, and not just the melting glaciers and dying polar bears. We're all still unnerved by the pandemic. Meanwhile, there's this ancient threat called war. Vladimir Putin and his advisers keep rattling the nuclear saber. A nuclear holocaust is the classic apocalyptic scenario that never went away."


Rocket Manner

"Taller than the Statue of Liberty, the ochre rocket thundered into the sky around 1:47 A.M. ET, cleaving the darkness with a searing column of crackling fire and sending shudders through the ground near Cape Canaveral, Fla. Bound for the moon, it carried an uncrewed space capsule and a bounty of scientific payloads. But its most profound cargo is a psychic slice of the 'American Dream'—a promise that, at least in spaceflight, the U.S. remains exceptional, with capabilities, ambitions and achievements as yet unsurpassed." Scientific American: Artemis I Launches U.S.'s Long-Awaited Return to the Moon. If all goes well, a crewed mission could happen as soon 2024.

+ If fewer kids grow up wanting to be astronauts these days, this could be why. The social media rules are too strict. NASA's rules for astronaut posting. (No mooning allowed.)


Tree Hugger

"Like many Americans of his generation, Ryan Neil had discovered bonsai through the Karate Kid films. He was especially fond of the third movie in the series, which features dreamy shots of characters rappelling down a cliff face to collect a miniature juniper. In the films, the wise karate instructor, Mr. Miyagi, practices the art of bonsai, and in Neil's young mind it came to represent a romantic ideal: the pursuit of perfection through calm discipline. One day, after seeing bonsai for sale at a local fair, he rode his bike to the library, checked out every book on bonsai, and lugged them all home." OK, up until this point, Neil's experience is pretty similar to every other kid in America. We rode bikes after watching Breaking Away, we worked out nonstop after watching Vision Quest, we bought blow dryers after watching Saturday Night Fever. But while the rest of us were waxing off to the latest trends, Ryan Neil ended up studying bonsai under a demanding master in Japan for six years. Robert Moor in The New Yorker: The Beautiful, Brutal World of Bonsai.


He’s Running (From the Law)

OK, I guess we need to discuss the elephant-sized ego in the room. Without a single member of Congress in attendance, Donald Trump announced another bid for the presidency when he should be doing a bid in the joint for sedition. WaPo got the headline right. Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again. "The twice-impeached former president has been eager to declare his candidacy, hoping to get ahead of likely rivals and potential criminal charges." The NY Post when with: Florida Man Makes Announcement, Page 26. Trump basically had to run to position his criminal challenges as a witch hunt and to have a bargaining chip with a future GOP nominee should his own campaign fall short. We don't need cover this story nonstop. We don't need to obsess over this treacherous loser. There are 8 billion people on Earth. Somehow, we let one of them drive us crazy for four years. Time to give some other a**hole a chance.


Extra, Extra

Missile Blower: "Poland's president said Wednesday it appears a missile that landed just inside the country's border was from Ukraine in what he called an 'unfortunate accident.'" (But that accident was caused by a very purposeful invasion.)

+ Yale into the Void: "They make you feel like you're the best of the best, like this bright and shiny thing. But as soon as something's wrong, they want nothing to do with you." WaPo: Suicidal students are pressured to withdraw from Yale, then have to apply to get back into the university.

+ Undying Effort: "I'd come to Gstaad, a swanky ski-resort town in the Swiss Alps, to attend the first in-person Longevity Investors Conference. Over the two-day event, scientists and biotech founders made the case for various approaches to prolonging the number of years we might spend in good health. And the majority of them were trying to win over deep-pocketed investors." Inside the billion-dollar meeting for the mega-rich who want to live forever.

+ Hold My Ear: "An international team of researchers estimate that 24% of 12- to 34-year-olds are listening to music on personal listening devices at an 'unsafe level.'" One billion young people risk hearing loss from loud music.

+ They're Playing Our Song: Beyoncé and Jay-Z are now tied for most Grammy nominations.


Bottom of the News

John Fetterman Wore a Suit and Tie for His First Day at Congress. Obviously, this is a letdown. You can take the man out of the cargo pants, but you can never take the cargo pants out of the man...