April 28th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

From Mayor to Homeless, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday

“In the years since the two old friends had fallen out of touch, Mr. Coyner had been pulled through a vortex of the same crises that were churning through many boom towns across the West: untreated mental illness, widespread addiction, soaring housing costs and a waning sense of community. After a life spent as a pillar of Bend’s civic life, Mr. Coyner had somehow reached a point of near total destitution, surrounded by the prosperity he had helped create.” Mike Baker in the NYT (Gift Article) with a story that seems emblematic of what’s happening in many American towns where times are really good except for those who have it really bad, for whom it seems worse than ever. It’s an epic, if tragic, tale of two cities in one lifetime. Homeless in the City Where He Was Once Mayor. “When his other daughter, Ms. Emick, held his hand and bowed her head, Mr. Coyner reached over and touched her head. She hugged him, the kind of embrace they had not shared in 35 years. She wondered how the city her father loved had missed so many opportunities to help him. If he had been a dog, she said, somebody would have rescued him long ago.”


School of Hard Knocks

One thing we can say after these pandemic years is that the kids aren’t alright. A lot of them were suffering before. And a whole lot more of them are understandably suffering now. “Even as the national emergency has receded, the mental health emergency has not: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said almost one in three American high school girls had considered suicide, and more than 40 percent of teens were persistently sad or hopeless. Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended for the first time that doctors screen children age 8 and older for anxiety.” WaPo (Gift Article) on the kitchen sink approach that could be required to get kids and teens out of this mess. One school’s solution to the mental health crisis: Try everything. “From home visits to grocery donations to therapy sessions to animal encounters, this Ohio campus is grasping for every possible remedy.”


We’re All Wasted

AI could save us a lot of time. Like everything else on the internet, it could also enable us to waste a lot of time. Maybe the whole thing will be a wash. Derek Thomspon in The Atlantic: AI Is a Waste of Time. “Economists have a tendency to analyze new tech by imagining how it will immediately add to productivity and gross domestic product. What’s harder to model is the way that new technology—especially communications technology—might simultaneously save time and waste time, making us, paradoxically, both more and less productive. I used my laptop to research and write this article, and to procrastinate the writing of this article. The smartphone’s productivity-enhancing potential is obvious, and so is its productivity-destroying potential.” Some days I wish AI would help me stop wasting so much time on the internet so I could find new ways to waste time on the internet.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: John Mulaney’s new Netflix special, Baby J, in which he chronicles the before and after of the drug-abuse intervention that saved his life, is a ten out of ten. Part standup, part one-man show, all excellent.

+ What to Hear: Here’s the same news covered two different ways. Me: The National has a new album out and its really good. My daughter: Taylor Swift has a new duet with some old dudes..

+ What to Read: Apple has released a collection of Steve Jobs’ speeches, interviews, and emails, all put into a book, which is totally free. Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words.


Extra, Extra

Baltogether: “Nearly a century later, Balto’s genetic blueprint is entering the annals of science, thanks to a massive new project that seeks to rewrite our understanding of mammalian evolution, unlocking knowledge that may help treat human disease and stave off species extinction.” WaPo (Free Article): A genome project cracks mysteries of evolution — and Balto the superdog.

+ Call of Duty: “A number of analysts believe China is eager to halt the conflict before there’s a massive escalation in the fighting as the spring’s muddy season passes, allowing offensive operations to begin again in earnest, and as Ukraine receives more military hardware from its Western allies.” China just called Ukraine for the first time in the war. The timing wasn’t accidental, analysts say. And how is Russia reacting to the impending counteroffensive? The same way Putin always reacts. By killing innocent civilians. 25 dead as Russian missiles hit cities.

+ Ban Pan: “South Carolina and Nebraska, two conservative states that have been pushing to ban abortion, on Thursday both failed to pass new bills prohibiting the procedure.”

+ Picking Up the Tablet: Vox: The Ten Commandments could be in every Texas classroom next fall. “I had believed that these religion wars had mostly cooled and even gone away. But it’s different now because we’re battling over nation and nationhood, and who’s an American, not battling over God and prayer.” (I wouldn’t underestimate the extent to which all of this stuff is about God and prayer.)

+ Our Bad: “The Federal Reserve says its own light-touch approach to bank regulation is partly to blame for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last month, and it promised more vigorous oversight in the future.”

+ Twit Happens: “It’s been exactly six months since Elon Musk took over Twitter, promising a new era of free speech and independence from political bias. But Twitter’s self-reported data shows that, under Musk, the company has complied with hundreds more government orders for censorship or surveillance.” (Free speech my ass.)

+ Robe Wards: Hey, we found an issue that unites all nine SCOTUS justices. They all pushed back on a new, enforceable ethics code.


Feel Good Friday

“A Michigan seventh grader, who took control of his school bus after the driver passed out, told his parents that he knew what to do because he watched the driver do it every day.” (This is how my kids know how to manage a lot of open tabs.)

+ He played more than 1,100 minor league games, and finally made an emotional MLB debut.

+ Think you were happy Tucker got fired? Meet the woman whose job required her to watch him every night.

+ Wrongfully convicted man freed after nearly 3 decades in prison meets his longtime pen pal for the first time.

+ Dream of walking his daughter down the aisle is fulfilled for exonerated Missouri man.

+ Oregon grocery store worker, 91, retires after raising more than $80,000 online.

+ Teen receives more than $9m in university scholarship offers. (So he could graduate only about $4 million in debt.)

+ James Corden just completed his last week of shows. Here’s a look back at The 10 best ‘Carpool Karaoke’ episodes of all time. Not on the list for some reason, but (one of) the best. Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke.

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