April 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Jerry Springer's Legacy, EV's Hidden Underbelly

Jerry Springer, who has died at the age of 79, went from being the mayor of Cincinnati to being the ringleader of one of the most brutish, coarse, uncouth, tasteless reality talk shows on TV. It’s hard to imagine that in our current landscape his career trajectory wouldn’t have gone in the opposite direction. By today’s standards, Jerry Springer had a show that featured calm debate among fellow moderates being queried by a mild-mannered, fact-focused journalist. He would have had to dramatically crazy things if up he wanted to make it into national politics. Consider this tame episode featured in the Mental Floss look at 12 Wild Facts About The Jerry Springer Show. “A 1998 episode titled ‘I Married a Horse’ featured a British man who married his horse. Cameras went overseas to film the man and his ‘wife.’ A disclaimer opened the segment: ‘Sexual contact with animals is illegal in this country and most of the Western world. This is the first film to examine a subject which many find deeply disturbing.’ Some stations found the episode so upsetting that they refused to air it, opting instead to broadcast a rerun of ‘Past Guests Do Battle.'” OK, that sounds a bit outlandish, but it’s hardly the stuff of C-Span. Or this from The Hollywood Reporter: “In one episode, a purported sex worker lost her dentures when she got into a fistfight; in another, mother-and-daughter dominatrices brought out their ‘slave’ and rode him around the studio.” That’s the kind of Jewish space laser-free content discarded by MTG for being too refined; something better left to the PBS Newshour crowd.

At one point, Springer was called out for describing transgender guests as “trannies.” His response: “I honestly had no idea that you’re not supposed to use that term so now we’ll find another term to use … But, yeah, I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people so obviously I’ll just change the term. There’s no argument there.” That might be OK for a talkshow host, but it would render Springer unelectable in places like Montana where a transgender House member was just exiled, or in Kansas, where lawmakers just imposed sweeping anti-trans bathroom law.

Springer usually kept his own political career separate from the absurd, but as THR reports, not always. “The two did collide in 1974, when the political and the prurient came together in an incident that derailed Springer’s dream of becoming a major politician. Then a Cincinnati councilman, he was found guilty of soliciting prostitutes (astonishingly, he had paid them with checks).” If only he hadn’t paid his bill. He could have been president.


Plunder Road

Electric vehicles are awesome for what comes out (or doesn’t) of them. But they can be problematic when it comes to what goes in. “While electric vehicles are essential to reducing carbon emissions, their production can exact a significant human and environmental cost. To run, EVs require six times the mineral input, by weight, of conventional vehicles. These minerals, including cobalt, nickel, lithium and manganese, are finite resources. And mining and processing them can be harmful for workers, their communities and the local environment.” WaPo (Gift Article): The underbelly of electric vehicles.

+ For much more on how the demand for batteries, from your car to your phone, is felt on the other side of the world, check out Siddharth Kara’s book, Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives.


Live/Work Space

Want people to return to American downtowns? Have them live there. “Across the country, office-to-housing conversions are being pursued as a potential lifeline for struggling downtown business districts that emptied out during the coronavirus pandemic and may never fully recover. The conversion push is marked by an emphasis on affordability. Multiple cities are offering serious tax breaks for developers to incentivize office-to-housing conversions.” AP: Cities reviving downtowns by converting offices to housing.

+ More on this trend from The Hustle: The developers who see dollar signs in abandoned downtowns.


ABC World

“It’s difficult to visit Hawaii without running into an ABC Store. There are a lot of them — 40 to be exact — in the roughly 3.5-square-mile vicinity of Waikiki on Oahu. These convenience stores sell groceries, souvenirs, liquor and apparel, and they’re located on street corners, inside hotels and resorts, and in shopping plazas.” Here’s the backstory: How ABC Stores became Hawaii’s ubiquitous chain.


Extra, Extra

The Accuser: Carolyn Bryant Donham has died at the age of 88. You may not recognize the name, but you will recognize the historic crime with which she’s associated. Donaham was “the White woman whose accusation led to the 1955 lynching of Black teen Emmett Till in Mississippi – and whose role in the brutal death was reconsidered by a grand jury as recently as last year.”

+ Son and Law: “Hey Dad. Thanks for setting aside time to meet with me, it means a lot to me … There are a lot of important issues passing through the legislature right now. For my own sake I’ve chosen to focus primarily on transgender rights, as that would significantly directly affect a number of my friends … I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights.” Greg Gianforte’s son is one of many lobbying the Montana governor against trans bills. And, Dwyane Wade explains why he relocated his family from Florida to California.

+ Smoke Signal: “U.S. cigarette smoking dropped to another all-time low last year, with 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers.”

+ Shedding Some Light: “In each case, though, the slowed-down footage showed that the insects always tried to keep their backs aimed toward the light, a result the team confirmed by gluing little motion trackers on the insects.” NYT: Why Are Insects Drawn to Light? A Perennial Question Gets a New Answer.

+ Disney Spells: Ron DeSantis says Disney lawsuit a political stunt with no merit. (Weird. That’s exactly how I describe Ron DeSantis.)

+ We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Cruise: “The World is a residential cruise ship that has been sailing around the world for the last 20 years. About 10 to 12 of its condos go on sale annually, and cost between $2 million and $15 million.”


Bottom of the News

Name That Yoon: OK, who had South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol singing American Pie at a state dinner on their bingo card? (No word on whether he and Biden were drinking whiskey and rye.)

+ Celebrate Carol Burnett’s 90th Birthday with a collection of scenes when the actors on her show broke character and completely lost it.

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