Friday, January 6th, 2023


The Cardiac Kids

I'm not a physician and I'm hesitant to dispense medical advice, but since my mom always wanted me to be a doctor (being the writer of a newsletter with no revenue model coming in a close second), I'll pull out my Rx pad just this once to offer this health tip. If you're going to have a heart attack, have it at the fifty yard line of an NFL stadium. As the heart wrenching story of Damar Hamlin unexpectedly turns heart warming, the NYT (Gift Article) looks at the performance by the first responders who were in the building when Hamlin collapsed. This is not a job for the faint of heart. 'We're Going to Need Everybody': Recordings Captured Response to N.F.L. Crisis. "The first minutes in Cincinnati provide a window into how the N.F.L. prepared for an episode like the one at Paycor Stadium — a crisis that people around football both privately saw as inevitable and hoped would never come. The N.F.L. and its teams, the stewards of a violent sport that hinges on frequent collisions but brings in billions of dollars, ensure that dozens of medical personnel are present at each game." The 1980 Browns were known as the Kardiac Kids for playing several games decided in the final moments. This week, the nickname should be officially passed on to every medical professional who helped save Damar Hamlin's life—and those who save lives every day without anyone paying much attention.

+ Bills' Hamlin breathing on his own, joins team via video. "Hamlin even joined the Bills' team meeting on Friday morning via videoconference. He used mostly hand gestures — 'some staple things that (the players) know him for,' Bills coach Sean McDermott said — and told them with his voice at the end 'love you boys.'" (Imagine what he's gonna say to the people described in the article above.)

+ While this story is about the NFL, I don't think it's a particularly NFL story. Yes, the game is violent and risky, but this near death experience captured our attention because it's so unique. In some extreme sports, from big wave surfing to free-climbing, the risk of death is a large part of what brings in the sponsors and the ratings. Veteran surfer Marcio Freire dies at Portuguese big-wave break Nazaré.


C-SPAN and Chill

This one goes to eleven. Then it went to 13. And while Kevin McCarthy is getting closer, he still hasn't quite closed the deal on his speakership. It looks like he could get it done on Friday if he can scrape up just a little more soul to sell. Here's the latest. As I said yesterday, even if Kevin gets it done, the insurrectionists had an easier time getting into the Speaker's office.

+ If nothing else, the Speaker votes in the the House turned gladiator pit has made for some excellent, and highly unusual, C-SPAN. WaPo: With the House in chaos, C-SPAN shows footage Americans don't usually see. (I think I can speak for all Americans when I say how thankful we are that this access is a rarity.)

+ It's only fitting that this House nonsense that features the publicity-seeking crud of many election-deniers is playing out on January 6. When you don't hold people accountable for their crimes, they just get worse.

+ USA Today: Two years since the Jan. 6 insurrection, extremist groups are fragmented, but live on. (Some of them got concessions during this week's Speaker vote charade.)


The C Word

"On a sunny morning this past October, the Israeli-born roboticist sat behind a table in his lab and explained himself. "This topic was taboo," he said, a grin exposing a slight gap between his front teeth. 'We were almost forbidden from talking about it — ‘Don't talk about the c-word; you won't get tenure' — so in the beginning I had to disguise it, like it was something else." No, not that c-word. NYT (Gift Article): These Engineers Want to Build Conscious Robots. Others Say It's a Bad Idea. When it comes to AI, machine learning, and the accelerating pace of related tech advances, we're not going to have time to decide whether or not something is a bad idea. Either way, it's coming.

+ "Cybercriminals have started using OpenAI's artificially intelligent chatbot ChatGPT to quickly build hacking tools, cybersecurity researchers warned on Friday. Scammers are also testing ChatGPT's ability to build other chatbots designed to impersonate young females to ensnare targets." And this is just ChatGTP's early version. I've talked to folks who have tried the more advanced versions and their minds were blown. Similarly, this is a warm-up. Armed With ChatGPT, Cybercriminals Build Malware And Plot Fake Girl Bots.

+ ChatGPT creator OpenAI in talks for tender offer valuing company at $29 billion.


Weekend Whats

What to Read: The excellent Dave Eggers recently returned from a trip to Kiev and reports on the strangeness of life in a European town that is in a country at war. And yes, there's an app for that. The New Yorker: The Profound Defiance of Daily Life in Kyiv. "The technology is now so advanced that Ukrainian citizens can know, more or less in real time, where the Russian missiles are coming from and generally where they're going. In this case, Russia had just launched some seventy missiles, headed to sites all over Ukraine. The assumption was that they were directed at power substations, meant to cripple the country's electrical grid. Vladimir Putin's recent strategy has been to knock out the power in the depth of winter in hopes of breaking the spirits of everyday Ukrainians. So far this strategy has not worked."

+ What to Soap: For a long time, I've been seeing articles talking about the connection between the series Yellowstone and the red state blue state culture wars. My wife and I recently got hooked on the show and, well, you can ignore all the culture war thinkpieces. Yellowstone is basically Dallas, but in Montana, and without a character as compelling as JR. (And that's intended as a positive review.) Catch up on Peacock.

+ What to Read: "Sarah has tried for the past four years to find an apartment — her last steady residence was her college dormitory. When Sarah needs to get away from her mother and the rest of her life on the periphery of her grandmother's one-story ranch home in Culver City, California, she splurges on a motel. When she doesn't have the money, she gets more resourceful. She will sleep in her 2018 black Ford SUV, which she is still paying off. When it is not too cold, she pitches a green pop-up tent on the beach in Playa Del Rey. But most nights, Sarah closes her eyes in the garage next to her mother — and hopes for the best." Capital and Main with a look at a different, and perhaps more common, part of the homelessness issue. "As rents have soared and wages have failed to keep up, workers like Sarah, especially those in expensive areas like Los Angeles, struggle to afford a place to live." A three part series: No Way to Live.


Extra, Extra

Put a Bucket on Our Bucket List: "California has seen so much rain over the past few weeks that farm fields are inundated and normally dry creeks and drainage ditches have become torrents of water racing toward the ocean. Yet, most of the state remains in severe drought." In other words, California has to get a lot better at collecting the water nature presents. And we're not the only ones. The Conversation: How California could save up its rain to ease future droughts. In the meantime, an atmospheric river runs through it.

+ Idaho Suspect: Bryan Kohberger has been arrested for the murder of four college students in Idaho. He was "pursuing a PhD in criminal justice at Washington State University at the time of the killings." He should have studied harder. Idaho suspect in student murders thoroughly cleaned vehicle, also seen wearing surgical gloves multiple times outside family home.

+ TSA For Effort: "The list dates back to at least 2016, when the champions included dead sea horses in a brandy bottle from the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a bullet-bedazzled gas mask from Miami International Airport and a movie prop corpse at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In 2021, the honors went to a chain saw from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, bullets stashed in deodorant at Atlantic City International and meth wrapped in a burrito at Houston Hobby Airport." WaPo: Drugs hidden in candy, gun in a chicken: TSA's weirdest finds of 2022.

+ CES N'est Pas Une Pipedream: We were promised flying cars. And we just might be getting them. Cnet: CES 2023's Wildest Highlights: Flying Cars, Flying Boats and Folding Screens.

+ Hey, Mr DJ: "The show's general concept is straightforward enough. Touring musicians drop by one of the store's three cavernous locations, prowl the labyrinthine sales floor, grab up records by the armful for an hour or so, then blab about their purchases on camera." Amoeba Music asks, 'What's in your bag?' and no algorithm can compete. (Yup, it turns out people are more interesting than algorithms.)


Feel Good Friday

"In the foreground of the photo was the body of a prostrate young private with a corpsman tending to his chest wound. The caption identified the Marine as A.B. Grantham. The name rang a bell with Katz, now 85. The retired doctor living in Rehoboth Beach, Del., rummaged through old files and found what he was looking for." WaPo: A doctor saved a Marine's life in Vietnam. A photo just reunited them.

+ Biden awards Presidential Citizens Medal to several Jan. 6 heroes.

+ The FTC wants to ban noncompete agreements, which stop workers from moving to competitors or starting their own similar businesses.

+ President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill aimed at easing the cost for prisoners to call family and friends.

+ Jan 6 isn't only the anniversary of something bad. "Wheel of Fortune, one of the the longest-running syndicated game show in American television, premiered on NBC on January 6, 1975." And vowels have not gone up in price since then.

+ Some of The Best Movie Posters of 2022.

+ "Employers finished the year with a burst of hiring: The economy added 223,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate fell back to a half-century low of 3.5%."

+ Sick Deal Alert: The Kindle version of my book, Please Scream Inside Your Heart, in on sale for $3.99. And the audiobook featuring the smooth stylings of Peter Coyote is going for 18 bucks.