January 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Food Waste, Soccer Mom Goes Nuclear

We need to talk about spoiled brats—not the kids, the sausages. And to do that, we need to start by joining Dan Graeter as he digs through garbage cans. “Some of the carts were filled with neatly tied bags. Others were strewn with loose debris — diapers, cat litter, fistfuls of maggots — that Mr. Graeter had to scoop into trash bags himself. Mr. Graeter threw the waste into the back of a box truck and brought the load to a transfer station, where Tyvek-clad workers dumped each household’s trash onto folding tables and recorded the weight of items in nine different categories, like produce, leftovers and nonfood waste.” Once the garbage was sifted, a team moved to the next step: organizing the trash into categories. This wasn’t just to share how many pounds of food were being wasted or what impact food waste has on the environment (in the United States, “food waste is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as commercial aviation”), but also to quantify how much that uneaten food impacted a family’s bottom line. The goal was to motivate folks to stop tossing their cookies, and it worked — which is a big deal since Americans waste about a third of the food they purchase. NYT (Gift Article): How Central Ohio Got People to Eat Their Leftovers.


Boston’s Uncommon

“I was struck by the relationships between this Harvard-educated physician and the people the van encountered. His patients, and prospective patients, were sleeping on benches, arguing drunkenly with statues in parks. For me, the night’s tour was a glimpse of a world hidden in plain sight. In American cities, visions of the miseries that accompany homelessness confront us every day — bodies lying in doorways, women standing on corners with their imploring cardboard signs dissolving in the rain. And yet through a curious sleight of mind, we step over the bodies, drive past the mendicants, return to our own problems. O’Connell had spent decades returning, over and over, to the places that the rest of us rush by. Some months later, I contacted him and asked for another van ride. I followed him around with a notebook on and off for the next five years.” Tracy Kidder in the NYT Mag (Gift Article) on Dr. Jim O’Connell’s long crusade to care for Boston’s homeless. ‘This Is What We Do While We’re Waiting for the World to Change.’ Let’s hope 2023 is the year we make some progress on this issue.


Kev on the Red Line

Poor Kevin. The insurrectionists had an easier time getting into the Speaker’s office. This process could be over by the time you read this. Or it could be over never. In the meantime, we have no functioning Congress and Kevin McCarthy has currently failed to become Speaker eight straight times. Here’s the latest from CNN.

+ There is something schadenfreudingly funny about all this. But it’s a dark humor. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick on why these jokers are no joke. Another January, Another Attempt at Destabilizing the Government. “Watching Kevin McCarthy being ritually humiliated in round after round of voting—especially as payback for his refusal to take the events of two years ago this week as a sober warning—is schadenfreude on skates. It’s tempting to want to sit back and enjoy watching the chaos muppetry cave in on itself for the second straight day, as a political party that can no longer make claims to be serious, or to have serious leadership, is left flopping on the beaches for the delectation of us all. Except, of course, the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and Jan. 3–? of 2023 are not at all unrelated.”


Pitch Forks

“The obstacle du jour is Gregg Berhalter, the once and possibly future men’s national team head coach. The parents are Hall of Fame player Claudio Reyna and his wife, Danielle, a roommate and teammate of Berhalter’s wife at the University of North Carolina’s storied women’s soccer program. And the child, though he’s 20 years old, is Gio Reyna, the Borussia Dortmund attacker who sulked for a few days after Berhalter told him he’d have a limited role at the World Cup.” How did a 31 year-old fight between a couple who have been married for decades become top sports news? It has something to do with playing time. The Guardian: Soccer parents gone wild: behind the stunning Reyna-Berhalter family feud.


Extra, Extra

Bord at Work: “The White House is expanding a pandemic-era program allowing the administration to quickly expel people from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti who illegally cross into the country from Mexico.” President Biden is heading to the border to address one of the most pressing, and most fraught, policy areas. Biden announces new border control measures and legal pathways to some migrants.

+ “Did We Win?” “We are in the situation where we wanted to allow him to gradually wake up as the rest of his body was healing and last night, he was able to emerge and follow commands and even ask who had won the game.” Damar Hamlin is still on a ventilator but he appears to have all his brain function and he’s communicating with doctors via writing. Here’s the latest.

+ Prime Cuts: It what promises to be a theme in 2023, Amazon follows Salesforce’ layoff announcement with (a bigger) one of their own. Amazon CEO says company will lay off more than 18,000 workers.

+ Family Business: WaPo: “The Mexican army Thursday captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged major fentanyl trafficker and son of notorious kingpin Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, just days before President Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to Mexico.” (We’ll see if this arrest is for show or if it holds. Last time he was arrested, violence forced officials to release him, and that violence is picking up again.)

+ Chat Roulette: “New York City students and teachers can no longer access ChatGPT — the new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that generates stunningly cogent and lifelike writing — on education department devices or internet networks.” This is like trying to stop a tsunami with a sandbag. This kind of AI is just warming up and we’ll see much more powerful versions in months, not years. If you want to learn more, AI will be happy to narrate an AI-authored book on the topic.

+ Circular Firing Squad: “Parts made by more than a dozen US and Western companies were found inside a single Iranian drone downed in Ukraine last fall.”

+ Advice for Middling Authors: GQ: Here’s How Author James Patterson Writes Thirty-One Books at the Same Time. “If you can write beginnings and ends, you can make a nice living as a writer. If you write middles, you win Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes and stuff. But with beginnings and ends, you’re going to do okay.” (Shoot, I always thought the key was writing puns…)

+ Wed Man Walking: “According to a criminal complaint, the couple got married in March. Following the wedding, Amanda Chapin forged the signature of one of her husband’s children on a power-of-attorney document, then demanded her husband amend his house deed so she would get the home if he died.” Woman charged with repeatedly poisoning husband.


Bottom of the News

Texas is pretty determined to control a woman’s body. But when it comes to testicles, anything goes. Texas Is Having A Testicle Festival & You Can Taste Them Battered, Fried Or Grilled.

+ Texas A&M hit with rare tech before tipoff for jersey error. “Shortly after leaving the court following final warmups, the Aggies realized managers had left their game jerseys at the team hotel. They double-timed it back to grab them, but officials hit them with a delay of game penalty — officially deemed an administrative technical foul — because the start had to be postponed a few minutes.” (I know many parents who will read this story about forgetting jerseys and think, “This school seems like a perfect fit for my child.”)

+ “A fire that broke out at a Wisconsin dairy plant on Monday night sent a river of melted butter flowing across the factory floor and into nearby storm drains, where it clogged a historic water artery.” Grabs popcorn…

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