Monday, November 28th, 2022


Road Warriors

Seatbelts, improved auto frames, and airbags have made cars a lot safer. That's how things are rolling inside vehicles. "But as cars grew safer for the people inside them, the U.S. didn't progress as other countries did to prioritizing the safety of people outside them." Your best bet if your commute involves walking or biking: take a detour through Europe. In America, about 43,000 people died on the roads in 2021. Other countries have made an effort to protect pedestrians and cyclists, and it's working. The NYT Upshot (Gift Article): The Exceptionally American Problem of Rising Roadway Deaths. "'We know what the problem is, we know what the solution is,' said Caron Whitaker, deputy executive director at the League of American Bicyclists. 'We just don't have the political will to do it.'"

+ It turns out we don't have to look abroad for examples. We can look in Hoboken. CityLab: Where ‘Vision Zero' Is Working.

+ In addition to more pedestrians getting run over these days, more drivers are leaving the scene. Tamara Dean in The Guardian: What it's like to get hit by an SUV. "One Thursday afternoon, I stepped out to cross a city street – and woke up in hospital with broken bones and a brain injury. After I recovered, I started looking into why so many drivers just don't stop."


Let’s Go Dutch

While we're on the topic of political will, let's consider the focus on food production in the Netherlands. WaPo (Gift Article): Cutting-edge tech made this tiny country a major exporter of food. "The rallying cry in the Netherlands started two decades ago, as concern mounted about its ability to feed its 17 million people: Produce twice as much food using half as many resources. The country, which is a bit bigger than Maryland, not only accomplished this feat but also has become the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products by value behind the United States. Perhaps even more significant in the face of a warming planet: It is among the largest exporters of agricultural and food technology." Meanwhile, we're sitting around with our head up our nether regions.


Zero Sum Game

"The current protests erupted after a fire broke out Thursday and killed at least 10 people in an apartment building in the city of Urumqi in the northwest, where some have been locked in their homes for four months. That prompted an outpouring of angry questions online about whether firefighters or people trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other restrictions." The delayed action by first responders was the spark, but the zero-Covid policy is the built up fuel igniting China's first mass protests in years. AP: Crowd angered by lockdowns calls for China's Xi to step down.

+ The protests have spread geographically and in terms of subject matter. "For the first time in decades, thousands of people have defied Chinese authorities to protest at universities and on the streets of major cities, demanding to be freed not only from incessant Covid tests and lockdowns, but strict censorship and the Communist Party's tightening grip over all aspects of life." At the heart of China's protests against zero-Covid, young people cry for freedom.

+ Across China, blank paper becomes the symbol of rare demonstrations. So many slogans and phrases have been banned that protesters just hold up blank paper and let authorities read between the lines.


Left in Stitches

"More than 80% of the soccer balls made in Sialkot use hand stitching, a laborious process that makes the ball more durable and gives it more aerodynamic stability. The seams are deeper, and the stitches have greater tension than those sewn with machines. At manufacturer Anwar Khawaja Industries, stitchers get paid roughly 160 rupees—about $0.75—per ball. Each one takes three hours to complete. At three balls a day, a stitcher can earn about 9,600 rupees per month. Even for a poor region, the wages are low. A living wage for Sialkot is around 20,000 rupees a month, according to researcher estimates." Bloomberg with a remarkable photo essay that will kick you right in the gut: This Is Where Most of the World's Soccer Balls Come From.

+ "It hardly mattered what it was — half-empty bottles of soda, orange peels, dirty napkins — or who had left it behind. The fans went across the aisles shuffling the litter into bags before handing them to smiling — and clearly delighted — stadium workers on their way out. 'It's a sign of respect for a place,' said Eiji Hattori, 32, a fan from Tokyo, who had a bag of bottles, ticket stubs and other stadium detritus. 'This place is not ours, so we should clean up if we use it. And even if it is not our garbage, it's still dirty, so we should clean it up.'" NYT: Japanese fans went viral for cleaning up after a World Cup victory. Fans from other countries are following their example. (OK, now the globalists have really gone too far.)


Extra, Extra

Nickel Dimed: Indonesia's islands are some of the most biodiverse areas of the world. They are filled with dense jungle and teeming with wildlife. They're also home to some of the planet's largest reserves of nickel — a key component in many electric vehicle batteries." Welcome to the dirty side of the electric vehicle revolution. Rest of World: The dirty road to clean energy: how China's electric vehicle boom is ravaging the environment.

+ Tramplers Like Us: There weren't as many scenes of people getting trampled entering big box stores on Black Friday. But that's only because we were trampling each other online. The Hustle with a look at the numbers, including the fact that plumbers have the biggest Black Friday of all. Another thing that was popular over the holiday weekend: Football. Giants-Cowboys most-watched NFL regular-season game on record.

+ AshTag: "USGS warned on Sunday that 'residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness.'" World's largest active volcano starts to erupt in Hawaii.

+ Telles, Like It Is: "Robert Telles isn't willing to discuss how his DNA ended up under the fingernails of Jeff German. Or why his wife's car was spotted near the sixty-nine-year-old investigative reporter's house on a warm Friday morning in early September, a day before a neighbor discovered German's lifeless body at the side of his Las Vegas home. Or how an outfit matching the one worn by the suspect captured on security-cam footage wound up in Telles's home." But other than that, he's pretty chatty. Zoë Bernard in Esquire with the insane story of how an investigative piece on a small time politician led to murder. Murder and Loathing in Las Vegas.

+ Nose Ring: "A super-cartel that controlled one-third of the cocaine trade in Europe has been taken down in six countries." How super? Authorities seized 30 tons of cocaine. (That was a weeknight at Studio 54.)

+ Send a Raven if This Works: "The pigeons — Skinner had determined that they worked best as a trio — would be placed in the nose cone of a missile, which was dubbed the 'Pelican.' Each pigeon would be looking at a small electronic screen that would display the ground ahead of the missile. As the pigeons would peck away at the target, small pulleys attached to their heads would steer the missile. Unfortunately for the pigeons, they would be along for the ride up until the moment of impact." That time the Army tried to develop a missile guided by pigeons.

+ Lighting Bolt: Merriam-Webster says 'gaslighting' is the word of the year. (Unless they're just trying to mislead or manipulate us.)


Bottom of the News

"The man, referred to as Mr T. in court documents, was fired by Paris-based Cubik Partners in 2015 because he refused to take part in team-building activities and weekend social events, which his lawyers argued included 'excessive alcoholism' and 'promiscuity.'" Man Wins 7-Year Legal Battle To Not Have To Be ‘Fun' at Work. (I'm fighting for the same right at home.)

+ "While the company markets its Velveeta Shells & Cheese as being 'ready in 3 1/2' minutes, Amanda Ramirez says that's only the amount of time each cup needs to be microwaved — and that the actual preparation process, from stirring in water to letting the cheese sauce thicken, takes longer." A Florida woman sues Velveeta, claiming its macaroni takes longer than 3 1/2 minutes. Hopefully, it won't take that long to throw this garbage out of court.