Tuesday, February 7th, 2023


Fish and Trips

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. But what happens when you take away all the fish? More broadly, what does climate change have to do with the rise of the far right? It goes something like this: The planet heats up, conditions change and making enough money or catching enough fish or growing enough food to feed your family becomes impossible, so the migration from unlivable areas to livable ones begins. NPR lays it out in this excellent interactive piece. Climate ripples and the rise of the right: "When the seas rise in Senegal, so do the fortunes of far-right political parties in Europe. This is the story of how those seemingly unrelated things are connected." This is a massive issue and it's only going to get bigger as conditions worsen. And that's no fish story.


Amid the Ruins

Sometimes tragedies like the earthquake in Turkey and Syria are almost too big to comprehend, especially when they strike in areas already suffering from some other nightmare like Syria's civil war, which (along with terrible weather) makes saving people even harder. As one doctor in Syria explains: "I'm literally taking a patient off a ventilator to give another patient a chance, having to decide which patient has more of a chance of surviving or not." What do human beings do in situations like this? They dig through the rubble and they keep digging. And this is why. AP: A young girl was rescued from under the earthquake wreckage in Jinderis, Syria. Her dad was standing by as she was pulled from the rubble.⁠

+ "Residents digging through a collapsed building in a northwest Syrian town discovered a crying infant whose mother appears to have given birth to her while buried underneath the rubble ... The newborn girl's umbilical cord was still connected to her mother, Afraa Abu Hadiya, who was dead, they said. The baby was the only member of her family to survive from the building collapse Monday in the small town of Jinderis, next to the Turkish border."

+ The death toll is 7,200, but that number has been rapidly increasing. Here's the latest from BBC, CNN, and NYT.


Peer Hunter

"After talking for nearly 10 hours, I had one last question. Had Cheney ever apologized? Whittington leveled his gaze at me. 'I'm not going to get into that,' he said after a short pause. His face was set. I could sense his discomfort. Harry Whittington wouldn't lie. He was too gracious for that." Harry Whittington died at the age of 95. He was an accomplished guy who lived a long life, but he will be remembered by historians as the guy who got shot by Dick Cheney. In this very interesting read, Paul Farhi dispels the myths about that incident. WaPo (Gift Article): The thing Harry Whittington refused to lie about.


What Would Jesus Dew

If you still watch commercial TV (as I do, for sports) you've probably seen one of the several "He Gets Us" commercials that are marketing Jesus. Well, we now know who's behind the Jesus TV commercials, and that there are about to be a lot more of them, including a Super Bowl spot. Just what we need. Another Jew to be accused of dominating media.

+ Speaking of Jewish tropes, earlier this week, Joe Rogan said Jews are 'into money' like Italians are 'into pizza.' The comment was made during a discussion of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was accused of antisemitism in 2019 after tweeting 'It's all about the Benjamins' in reference to why American politicians defend Israel. Of course, in that comment, Omar wasn't (just) suggesting Jews are into money, she was suggesting politicians are into money. Just like overpaid, idiotic podcast hosts.


Extra, Extra

Bard Doors Open: Yesterday, I reported on the impending AI meets internet search arms race. A few hours later, we were introduced to Bard, Google's version of ChatGPT.

+ Shell Game: "The water in Ogale, a rural community in Nigeria, is so toxic and polluted with oil that it comes out brown and stinks of sulphur. Children and families get sick just trying to bathe or stay hydrated. In Bille, a fishing community of around 45 islands surrounded entirely by water, there are no fish left. Oily water seeps into people's homes, and, without a source of income, money is scarce. The signs that once warned people of the dangers of chronic pollution are covered in rust." 13,000 People From the Niger Delta Just Sued Shell for Years of Oil Spills. "As the cases proliferate, Shell has moved toward leaving the region. In 2021, the company announced its plan to leave the Niger Delta and sell its onshore oil fields — leaving environmental disaster and any sense of obligation behind." And from New Lines Mag: The Oil Thieves of Nigeria. It's not just what they take, it's what they leave behind.

+ Austin City Hits Its Limits: "Life in Austin was offbeat, affordable, spontaneous, blithe, and slyly amused, as if we were in on some hilarious secret the rest of the world was unaware of. Even then, the place had a reputation for being cool, but in my experience it was just extremely relaxed, almost to the point of stupor." Today, offbeat has turned into a steady, rapid beat as Austin has grown and is now America's fastest-growing city. Meanwhile, longtime locals who can no longer afford the city are told to beat it. Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker: The Astonishing Transformation of Austin.

+ Stone Cold: According to Deadline, Yellowstone (the main and original series) could soon end because Kevin Costner wants out and a(nother) new series could emerge starring Matthew McConaughey. (I always though Yellowstone would ultimately end because there were no people left in Montana to kill.)


Bottom of the News

"These candy hearts are yet another expression of this huge societal change since the pandemic. It's this theme of attachment. Much of the world is going to settle down, and along with that they're looking not only for romantic love but also for deep, long-term attachment." Kim Severson in the NYT (Gift Article): The sweet messages on those valentine hearts require careful planning and editing from year to year. And they speak volumes about the state of our lives and loves. (They speak a lot more about the state of our blood sugar levels.)

+ A woodpecker stored over 700lbs of acorns in the walls of a California home.

+ "When a marathon isn't extreme enough, run backwards. Or dressed as a candy bar, or with a pineapple on your head." Meet the wave of runners aiming for a different kind of record. (This gives me a great excuse not to exercise today. I'm out of pineapple.)