Wednesday, April 26th, 2023


You’ve Been Rejected

During my senior year, a clerical error led to the rejection of every UC Berkeley applicant from the two high schools in our district. It took a while for the district to figure out what had happened. In the meantime, I was left with a dreaded thin envelope from Cal. I reacted by writing an article for the school paper called, The Wrath of Cal (yes, I punned then, too) in which I spent many paragraphs describing my rejection and rabidly wishing ill will on the university. My principal sent the article to the head of admissions at Cal who responded by immediately accepting me into the university, saying "Dave Pell is exactly the kind of student we want." (Full disclosure: This was back in an era where getting into a UC was humanly possible.) Since that unexpected plot twist, none of my subsequent rejections — from grad schools to book proposals to romantic pursuits to the aggressively tiny rejection letters the New Yorker used to send out — have gone quite as well. But there's something to be said for turning rejections into fuel or fodder or fun, as opposed to letting them fester. Apparently, finding something other than rage and depression in rejection is a thing now. NYT (Gift Article): Sorry, You've Been Rejected. Now Let's Party.


Resistance is Futile

"It is far too soon to say what the lasting impact of ChatGPT will be—it hasn't even been around for a full semester. What's certain is that essay-writing chatbots are here to stay. And they will only get better at standing in for a student on deadline—more accurate and harder to detect. Banning them is futile, possibly even counterproductive." MIT Tech Review: ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it. "The narrative around cheating students doesn't tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better." (Whatever it does, it's going to do it faster than we can imagine.)


Buyback Stabber

"Bed Bath & Beyond filed for bankruptcy on April 23, 2023, and some analysts are blaming the billions of dollars the retailer spent on share buybacks as one of the reasons for its downfall. In total, the company has spent nearly US$12 billion buying back its own stock since 2005, including $1 billion in 2021 alone – cash that could have potentially helped stave off bankruptcy." What are stock buybacks, which critics are blaming for hastening Bed Bath & Beyond's bankruptcy? A finance professor explain.


Trans Am

"Montana Republican leaders will vote Wednesday on censuring or expelling lawmaker Zooey Zephyr, a transgender state representative who's been silenced on the state House floor since last week after telling colleagues they would 'have blood on their hands' over their votes to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender children." Montana transgender lawmaker faces censure or expulsion.

+ "An 18-year-old student at Nashville Christian School, was banned from going to their prom because they wore a suit and not a dress."

+ "The opening sentences of the memorandum, titled 'Texas Department of Agriculture Dress Code and Grooming Policy,' include the following language: 'Employees are expected to comply with this dress code in a manner consistent with their biological gender.'" Texas Observer: AG Commissioner Sid Miller's New Dress Code. (Ag me with a spoon.)

+ Why is this punching, down victim-creating nonsense being pushed on Americans? Sadly, because it's working in some places. "The maker of Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch, said Tuesday that two of its executives were taking a leave of absence after the beer was featured in a social media promotion by a transgender influencer. Bud Light's sales have slumped amid calls for a boycott because of the advertisement and criticism of the company's response to the backlash, which included targeted harassment of one of the executives who is on leave." Our decency has taken a leave of absence.


Extra, Extra

International Call: "Unlike the West, Beijing has sought to appear neutral on the Russian invasion. But it has never hidden its close ties to Moscow, or condemned the invasion, and last month President Xi paid a two-day state visit to Russia." Ukraine's Zelensky holds first war phone call with China's Xi. Zelensky described the call as "long and meaningful."

+ Kabul Bomber Killed: "A ground assault by the Taliban killed the Islamic State militant who spearheaded the August 2021 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that left 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans dead during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan."

+ It's a Brawl World, After All: "Disney is suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alleging his administration waged a 'targeted campaign of government retaliation' against the company's "protected speech." In the lawsuit, Disney claims DeSantis 'threatens Disney's business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.'" (Even Goofy thinks DeSantis is a mickey mouse leader.)

+ Shell Shock: It's been overshadowed by the Tucsession drama, but the fall of the head of NBC Universal is big news in media. Shell Shocked: How a Sex Scandal, Big Egos and Putin Led to Jeff Shell's Sudden, No Payout Exit From NBCU.

+ Blizzard Warning: "British regulators on Wednesday blocked Microsoft's $69 billion purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard, thwarting the biggest tech deal in history over worries that it would stifle competition in the fast-growing cloud gaming market."

+ BFF: When Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon got fired, they both called the same lawyer. Meet Bryan Freedman, the Hollywood heavyweight who could secure them mega-million payouts.

+ Off Label: "Of 25 gummy products analyzed, 22 (88%) were inaccurately labeled, with only three products containing an amount of melatonin within 10% of the quantity declared on the label." Melatonin gummies may not contain what they claim.


Bottom of the News

"Little League season is underway and one New Jersey town is introducing an ingenious new rule to crack down on misbehavior after parents were caught on camera berating and yelling at referees and umpires at youth games." They have to ref or ump games themselves.

+ California's snow runoff could create seriously flooding. Could it also create another gold rush?