Wednesday, January 11th, 2023


Plastic Tac Toe

"On the morning of the day I had decided to go without using plastic products — or even touching plastic — I opened my eyes and put my bare feet on the carpet. Which is made of nylon, a type of plastic. I was roughly 10 seconds into my experiment, and I had already committed a violation." AJ Jacobs once wrote a book on trying to live by the rules of the bible. That was probably a breeze compared to his latest challenge: trying to live a day without plastics. NYT (Gift Article): Trying to Live a Day Without Plastic. It was an effort he couldn't complete alone. Not even the first few seconds of it. "I made my way toward the bathroom, only to stop myself before I went in. 'Could you open the door for me?' I asked my wife, Julie. 'The doorknob has a plastic coating.'" (We've all consumed so many microplastics, his associated body parts are probably coated with plastic, too.)


What More Can Brown Do For You?

"The Teamsters are trying to organize Amazon's warehouse workers, but they are limited in what they can do for Amazon's drivers. 'The sad part is that the government has allowed this independent-contractor model to basically exploit obligations of employers,' Sean O'Brien, the Teamsters leader, told me. 'It's really, truly diminished good middle-class jobs.' It's also made it difficult for UPS, with its full-time drivers and regular start times, to keep up. Perrone told me that he recently saw an Amazon Flex driver delivering a package to a neighbor's house at 5:45 a.m. 'People are waking up to packages on their front doorstep,' he said. He imagined what might be going through the minds of UPS executives: 'How can we compete with this nonsense?'" The New Yorker's Jennifer Gonnerman with an interesting look at a labor dispute that reflects a society that's been split into two strata: The orderers and the deliverers. UPS and the Package Wars.

+ Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court considers narrowing federal protections for unions


FAA Looks Like Fly By Night Operator

"Whatever the cause, the outage revealed how dependent the world's largest economy is on air travel, and how dependent air travel is on an antiquated computer system called the Notice to Air Missions, or NOTAM." Air travel across US thrown into chaos after computer outage. But don't worry, there's a telephone hotline-based backup system... "According to FAA advisories, the NOTAM system failed at 8:28 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday preventing new or amended notices from being distributed to pilots. The FAA resorted to a telephone hotline to keep departures flying overnight, but as daytime traffic picked up it overwhelmed the telephone backup system." (We can probably blame this guy...)

+ If your flight got cancelled or delayed, you can always kill some time watching politicians point fingers at each other. Here's the latest.


Cat Man Don’t

Years ago, our cat Emoji started spending a lot of time at a neighbor's house. The neighbor would often call and let me know Emoji had been there for hours (or more), and I'd go pick her up. Then she'd escape and go back. After a few months of this, my neighbor and I had to sit down and have the talk. It was clear our cat preferred our neighbors to us (partly because us included a couple beagles). And so it was that our cat disowned us and moved to a home with humans she preferred. Hence, this article from Lauren Collee in the LA Review of Books hits a little close to home. Except the ugly part. I exclusively deal with hyper-attractive pets. Ugly Cats and the Loneliness of Man. "I felt a weird vertigo; I could sense the neighbors developing the same story about Hildy as I had, except this time, I was the neglectful owner, and they were her happy ending. Sure enough, over the weeks that followed, Hildy began visiting the neighbors for longer and longer stretches, coming home only to be fed. They sent me photos of her lolling about on their laps, assuring me she was safe. Eventually, she stopped coming back to our place at all, and I stopped trying to collect her. We went out to the pub with them and talked about Hildy for hours. At the end of the evening, we invited them to take on full ownership."


Extra, Extra

Fur Trade: "The FDA Modernization Act 2.0, signed by President Biden at the end of December with widespread bipartisan support, ends a 1938 federal mandate that experimental drugs must be tested on animals before they are used in human clinical trials. While the law doesn't ban animal testing, it allows drugmakers to use other methods, such as microfluidic chips and miniature tissue models, which use human cells to mimic certain organ functions and structures." Wired: The US Just Greenlit High-Tech Alternatives to Animal Testing.

+ Watching the Detectives: "The subcommittee, approved on a party-line 221-211 vote, will be empowered to investigate any federal agency that collects information about Americans, even in cases of an ongoing criminal investigation — a carve-out at odds with the Justice Department's long-standing practice of not providing information about ongoing investigations." Commit a crime? Why not investigate the investigators? WaPo: House Republicans form committee to investigate the government. Whatever happened to the good old days when you just threw a fall-guy under the bus and moved on? Allen Weisselberg gets 5-month jail sentence.

+ The House Has a Poster Child: "It is amazing to realize that Walker lost by only a few points, when not so long ago, a candidate with his baggage (and inability to speak in coherent sentences) would have simply dropped out of the race. Surely, we'd reached the bottom of what even the most jaded voters would tolerate. Or so I thought until I started following the improbable tale of George Santos—so far, that does seem to be his name—the weird fabulist who has been elected to the Congress of the United States of America." It's sort of sweet that The Atlantic's Tom Nichols can still be surprised on the downside. Amazingly, George Santos Is a Member of Congress.

+ Drugstore Cowboys: "We want people to be uncomfortable going into a CVS that has a demonstration going on and to consider going to a different pharmacy ... We also want to put enough pressure on the companies to retract this decision and not get certified to sell abortion pills." Next frontier in the abortion wars: Your local CVS.

+ McMahon Overboard: "Last week Vince McMahon exercised his authority as the company's controlling shareholder to fire three of the WWE's board members and add himself and two former executives to the board. Two other WWE board members resigned following the move." This week, his daughter Stephanie McMahon resigned.

+ Globitussin: The Golden Globes returned, and like much of the content they celebrated, the show was meh. Here are the winners. Here are the red carpet looks. And here are the video highlights. (Jerrod Carmichael's opening monologue is about the only thing worth your time.)


Bottom of the News

The legal battle isn't over but, for now, "Geico is off the hook from paying a Missouri woman $5.2 million because she said she contracted a sexually transmitted disease in the car of a man who is insured by the company." (It turns out that 15 minutes could cost you a hell of a lot of car insurance...)

+ We in the Bay Area finally got a break from the rain ... for some hail. I happened to be outside when it hit. (Put the sound on for full effect...)