Thursday, May 4th, 2023


Take Me to Your Leader

During the first presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle, Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump if he would condemn the white supremacist and militia groups that had been showing up at various protests. Trump famously said, "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by." They did stand by, until January 6, 2021, when they helped plan and execute the insurrection of the Capitol. During the closing arguments of the trial involving several of the group's leaders, a federal prosector described the Proud Boys as Donald Trump's army. Today, the top members of that army were "found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a jury in Washington, DC, for their roles to forcibly prevent the peaceful transfer of power from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election ... The guilty verdict marks the third time that prosecutors have secured convictions for seditious conspiracy in the Justice Department's historic prosecution of those who breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021." The man who refused to condemn the group—and who was impeached for his role in leading the uprising for which they were just found guilty—is currently the top contender (by a wide margin) to lead his party into the 2024 election. Meanwhile, public opinion has changed when it comes to the insurrection. "Two years ago, just 9% of Americans said they strongly or somewhat approved of the takeover; now, 20% do. The share who approve of the takeover has increased 13 percentage points among Democrats (to 16%, from 3%) and 16 percentage points among Republicans (to 32%, from 16%)." These numbers are nothing to be proud about.


The Hurt Locker

"In other wealthy countries, it's the elderly who report the most chronic pain, which makes some sense. But in the United States it's the middle-aged — especially the jobless and people ... who did not graduate from high school — who suffer the most. It is a plague on the less educated." Nicolas Kristof in the NYT (Gift Article) with an interesting look at Why Americans Feel More Pain. "The big factor in pain differences is class. One study found that poor Americans are more than three times as likely to report pain as wealthy Americans. Another found that just 2 percent of those with graduate degrees report severe pain, while almost 10 percent of high school dropouts do."


You’re Invited to a Key Party

"Google's next step into a passwordless future is here with the announcement that passkeys — a new cryptographic keys solution that requires a preauthenticated device — are coming to Google accounts on all major platforms." You no longer need a password to sign in to your Google account.

+ Google's official move could herald in a change that's been a long time coming. The Conversation: What are passkeys? A cybersecurity researcher explains how you can use your phone to make passwords a thing of the past.



"It's a pervasive, tremendous problem ... It's gotten to the point that you can see something in season replicated within that season." NYT (Gift Article): Inside the Delirious Rise of ‘Superfake' Handbags. "Can you tell the difference between a $10,000 Chanel bag and a $200 knockoff? Almost nobody can, and it's turning luxury fashion upside down."


Extra, Extra

Regional Pain Syndrome: "The trigger was a series of media reports that Beverly Hills, Calif.-based PacWest was weighing a range of strategic options, including a sale or capital raise. Its stock continued to fall during Thursday trading, down more than 44% after being halted temporarily. Other regional banks under scrutiny from investors also plunged." Plummeting bank stocks test predictions that worst of the crisis is over. According to one study, close to 190 banks could collapse.

+ As the Crow Buys: Clarence Thomas Had a Child in Private School. Harlan Crow Paid the Tuition. I can't decide which is my stronger reaction: To be disgusted by the ethics of a Supreme Court justice or to want to make friends with Harlan Crow.

+ Family Members: "Three members of the Regier family now hold leadership positions in the Montana Legislature as the state's conservative shift has left even some Republicans wary." NYT: One Family Has Spearheaded Montana's Unflinching Conservatism. (This is like a really bad episode of Yellowstone...)

+ Woke Up Call: This throws a wrench in the attack on woke colleges. A group of UC Santa Cruz students celebrated Hitler's birthday. Some of these Banana Slugs need to be slugged.

+ Life of Pi: "Pi, an A.I. tool that debuted this week, is a twist on the new wave of chatbots: It assists people with their wellness and emotions." NYT My Weekend With an Emotional Support A.I. Companion. You can give Pi a spin. I tried chatting with it a couple times but I couldn't think of anything to say and grew tired of the interaction. In that way, it was remarkably similar to my experiences with humans.

+ I Jured it Through the Grapevine: "I am obviously very happy with the outcome of this case, and it looks like I'm not going to have to retire from my day job, after all. But at the same time, I am unbelievably frustrated that baseless claims like this are allowed to go to court at all." Jury finds Ed Sheeran didn't copy Marvin Gaye classic.


Bottom of the News

"Two creative West Coast teens made an impressive entrance over the weekend when they rolled up to their high school prom in a a M3A1 Stuart tank they reportedly rented for $1,000." (This is the way I showed up for every date so I'd have a good excuse when I bombed.)