Thursday, March 9th, 2023


The Battle of the Budge

President Biden fired the first salvo in what promises to be a heated battle that could define the 2024 election cycle. Biden's budget calls for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, a deficit reduction, and an effort to shore up medicare. From AP: Budget highlights Biden's ‘values' as he eyes 2024 campaign. "With Republicans in control of the House, there's no chance that President Joe Biden's new budget plan will become law as it stands. Instead, the financial blueprint that he's announcing in Philadelphia on Thursday will serve as a political talking point for a president preparing to run for reelection." So far, the GOP budget counterproposal is: Not what he said.

+ "Advisers stress that the budget, which significantly overlaps with past Biden policy proposals from his first two years, reflects his fiscal vision with significant investments in manufacturing, climate, education, paid leave and health care, all paired with a menu of tax increases on corporations and wealthier Americans." Biden's budget lays groundwork for high-stakes battles ahead.

+ The politicians can debate the details, but no one can question the enormous wealth inequality that plagues America. Consider this example: "In Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, just eight households held more wealth than the bottom 50% (nearly half a million households), according to the Silicon Valley Index."


Celibate and Tackle

"The use of data is emblematic of a new surveillance frontier in which private individuals can potentially track other Americans' locations and activities using commercially available information. No U.S. data privacy laws prohibit the sale of this data." WaPo (Gift Article): "A group of conservative Colorado Catholics has spent millions of dollars to buy mobile app tracking data that identified priests who used gay dating and hookup apps and then shared it with bishops around the country." So many things about this are so wrong.


Linguisticked Off

Noam Chomsky is not a fan of ChatGPT. NYT (Gift Article): The False Promise of ChatGPT. "For all the seemingly sophisticated thought and language, the moral indifference born of unintelligence. Here, ChatGPT exhibits something like the banality of evil: plagiarism and apathy and obviation. It summarizes the standard arguments in the literature by a kind of super-autocomplete, refuses to take a stand on anything, pleads not merely ignorance but lack of intelligence and ultimately offers a 'just following orders' defense, shifting responsibility to its creators." (ChatGPT responds: "Bro, I'm in beta!")


Pong Hits

"Alcorn received a call from the bar owner that their machine had malfunctioned. Arriving to inspect the inner hardware, Alcorn opened the cabinet and was met with an avalanche of quarters. The game had stopped working because it was too successful: Its start mechanism had been overrun with coins." ‘It changed the world': 50 years on, the story of Pong's Bay Area origins.


Extra, Extra

Leo Politics: "Leo declared in a slick but private video to potential donors, he planned to 'crush liberal dominance' across American life. The country was plagued by 'woke-ism' in corporations and education, 'one-sided journalism' and 'entertainment that's really corrupting our youth.'" And when Leonard Leo looks to change something, it's worth taking note (and being worried). His last project was remaking the Supreme Court. ProPublica: Inside the "Private and Confidential" Conservative Group That Promises to "Crush Liberal Dominance."

+ Climate Model: "The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a multi-billion-dollar program that pledges government dollars toward developing low-carbon energy. The policy is aimed at boosting the country's manufacturing sector and takes aim at China's dominant position in the clean energy technology supply chain." And it's working well enough that other countries are racing to adopt something similar. Biden's big, bold green spend sends shockwaves around the world, including Canada.

+ Don't Trod on Me: "Instantly he recognized the driver: It was his father, Mitch Seavey, a three-time Iditarod winner who, in addition to being Dallas's mentor, happened to be his primary rival. Mitch's dogs had flown down an icy creek bed and veered off course; as he tried to turn sharply back to the trail, his sled tipped over and slammed him to the ground. The impact had bruised his ribs and torn his labrum ... Dallas streaked by his injured father." It's a dog eat dog world. GQ: The Saga of the World's Greatest Dogsledder—and the Fight Over the Future of the Iditarod. (My beagles are currently wrapped in a blanket.)

+ Appraise the Roof: "This time the couple decided to 'white wash' the house. They removed family photos and art work, books, hair products and anything else that might indicate that a Black family lived there. They also asked a white friend to be present at the house and greet the appraiser as if she were the homeowner and to display some of her family photos in the house. The Austins were not at home during the appraisal. The new appraiser concluded the house was worth $1,482,500 – nearly half a million dollars higher." Black couple settles lawsuit claiming their home appraisal was lowballed due to bias. Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate Austin are friends who do great things for the community. This experience has led them to do big things for the country as well.

+ To Life, To Life, LeChaim: "Topol began his long association with the starring role of Tevye the milkman in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" in 1967, appearing in the West End production, which ran for 2,030 performances. He starred in Norman Jewison's 1971 film version." Chaim Topol, Tevye in Film and Stage Versions of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,' Dies at 87. Sunrise, sunset.


Bottom of the News

"The state concluded the license plate 'LUVTOFU' could've been seen as a reference to sex instead of admiration for bean curd. The motorist insisted there was no mistaking his intent because the back of his car had several tofu-related stickers." Maine motorists appeal to keep naughty vanity license plates. Luv tu fu?

+ "UFC President Dana White is selling slap fighting as the next big thing in combat sports, putting his money and the resources of one of the world's foremost mixed martial arts organizations behind the Power Slap League. The Nevada Athletic Commission has sanctioned the league for competitions in Las Vegas." Slap fighting: The next big thing, or unsporting stupidity? (It's basically social media being performed in real life.)