January 25th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Tipping Gone Mad, America's Crime Scene, Lifeguard Legend

I occasionally frequent a small, local corner grocery store in San Francisco. At the checkout counter, the credit card reader serves up a screen that asks me what percentage I’d like to offer as a tip. On one hand, it seems weird to tip when there were no services rendered. On the other hand, one does feel like a jerk bypassing the tip screen by clicking the none button. And there’s the modern rub. At the conclusion of almost every human transaction, well-honed software pressures consumers to tip, as the employee and other customers look on. I consider myself an over-tipper in situations where tipping is traditional. But how often is too often? I’ve been happy to see that my neighborhood Starbucks drive-thru now gives me the option to tip—especially since my daughter’s orders usually require a PhD in Coffee Mixology to interpret and execute. But should you be asked to tip your mortgage broker? The amount of money Americans spend on tips is continuing to rise and the software that drives the behavior is continuing to improve. So you can expect the requests to keep coming. AP: Is tipping getting out of control? (I just asked ChatGTP if I should be tipping it. The response: “As an AI, I do not have the ability to receive or use tips.” Maybe it’s not as smart as we think it is…)


We Don’t Need Another Hero

Here’s a uniquely American lede from AP’s MaryClaire Dale: “In a country with more guns than people — and one emerging from three years of isolation, stress and infighting amid the pandemic — Americans are beginning 2023 with a steady barrage of mass slaughter.”

+ “There have been 39 mass shootings in the first three weeks of 2023, including one in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, which left at least seven people dead on Monday and another in California’s Monterey Park over the weekend in which 11 people were killed.” More mass shootings in U.S. than days in 2023 so far.

+ NYT (Free Article): Amid a Plague of Shootings, Bystanders Become Heroes. Civilians, armed or not, have put their bodies on the line to stop gunmen. But in a nation trained to ‘Run, Hide, Fight,’ many say it should never have come to that. “We should always call a hero a hero and thank them for selflessly putting their life on the line. But it makes me so angry that we never stop to think about the fact that we shouldn’t be asking average civilians to be heroes. I don’t want my husband or my children to have to be heroes.” America has gone from being a crime scene to a self-imposed war zone. Too bad legislators don’t have the courage of those who stop mass shooters. They Run, then they Hide. They never fight.


It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Antitrust

Last week, I discussed that while the internet is littered with the corpses of companies that have fallen victim to Google’s search dominance, ChatGPT presents a new kind of challenge for the company. Google has had a similar winning record when it comes to fighting off antitrust challenges. Is this one different? Casey Newton in The Verge: Why Google is facing its most serious antitrust challenge to date.


Lifeguard Off Duty

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational depends on just the right conditions. “The Eddie is only held when waves are consistently 40 plus feet at Waimea Bay during the winter big-wave surfing season … which is rare. As a result, the competition has been held just 10 times in its 39-year history.” This year, the swells lined up to allow the event to take place. But the results were even more rare than the conditions. A local lifeguard named Luke Shepardson won the top prize. Before and after his winning rides, he could be seen back in his lifeguard tower ensuring the safety of the other surfers and thousands of fans. Kendall Baker in Axios on the Super Bowl of surfing and its Hollywood ending.

+ Surfer: Honolulu County Lifeguard Wins Historic Big-Wave Event at Waimea Bay. KHON: After winning The Eddie, Luke Shepardson goes back to work. And a cool video of one of Shepardson’s rides.


Extra, Extra

Tanks Giving: At long last, the U.S. and Germany announced “they would send battle tanks to Ukraine after pressure from NATO allies and Ukraine to supply the advanced armored vehicles as Kyiv prepares for a possible new Russian offensive.”

+ Stock Answer: “Major corporations are buying back their own stock at alarming rates. But whom does the practice really benefit?” The Hustle with a good explainer: What the hell are stock buybacks?

+ One Condition: “As a historian and a biographer, I am used to conducting research, examining other people’s lives in search of patterns and insights. That spring, I became the research subject.” Beverly Gage in The New Yorker: Nobody Has My Condition But Me. Being studied “makes me lucky, in one respect. Far too often, women who present with hard-to-diagnose illnesses are told that the symptoms are no big deal, that the problem is in their head. They spend years going from doctor to doctor, in a desperate search for someone, anyone, who’s willing to help.”

+ Classified Ad Nauseam: Classified documents found at Pence’s Indiana home. These stories only serve to muddy the waters. There is only one classified documents case where the politician in question refused to give the documents back. All of these things are not like the other.

+ Kevin Forbid: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy reiterated Tuesday that he will block Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from serving on the House committee that oversees national intelligence, saying the decision was not based on political payback but because ‘integrity matters, and they have failed in that place.'” (Weird. We were all expecting the best from McCarthy…)

+ Keep Nom and Carry On: These days, movies often seem like a category for TV shows that didn’t get picked up. That said, here’s a look at the 2023 Oscar Nominations. And the 19 Biggest 2023 Oscars Snubs and Surprises. And here’s where to stream all the noms once you’re caught up with Yellowstone.

+ Symbolic Gesture: “It suggests the last common ancestor we shared with chimps used similar gestures, and that these may have been a ‘starting point’ for our language.” Humans and wild apes share common language.


Bottom of the News

“At least 71 drivers in NYC have gotten tickets so far for violating noise rules during a yearlong pilot program of the system. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection now has plans to expand the use of the roadside sound meters.” Obnoxiously loud car? A traffic camera might be listening. (Violators should be charged with low self-esteem.)

+ The 18 Best Live Sports Experiences on Earth.

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