Friday, May 19th, 2023


Our First Kiss

Kiss the rock band was formed in 1973. Kiss the human behavior has been around for far longer. In fact, kissing may even predate humans. The First Kiss in Recorded History Dates Back Nearly 5,000 Years. (That's a hell of a lot of foreplay.) But according to a recent study, we can assume lip locking started long before that, even if Neanderthals didn't kiss and Hieroglyph. "A kiss can leave behind more than just the magic of the moment. Memories may be supplemented by oral herpes or the Epstein-Barr virus. It is surmised that Neanderthals and modern humans could have touched lips more than 100,000 years ago because of the presence of the microbe Methanobrevibacter oralis in both species." (If my personal experience is any indicator, it took another ten to twelve thousand years to get to second base.)



"Her food thoughts quieted down. She lost weight. But most surprisingly, she walked out of Target one day and realized her cart contained only the four things she came to buy. 'I've never done that before,' she said. The desire to shop had slipped away. The desire to drink, extinguished once, did not rush in as a replacement either. For the first time—perhaps the first time in her whole life—all of her cravings and impulses were gone. It was like a switch had flipped in her brain." Ozempic was originally prescribed to control blood sugar. It got a lot more popular when people realized it also helped control weight. Can it control everything? The Atlantic (Free Article): Did Scientists Accidentally Invent an Anti-addiction Drug? (What happens if you get addicted to Ozempic?)


You Gotta Fight for Your Write

"In addition to Durtschi and another Escambia County parent, the plaintiffs include the free expression organization PEN America, Penguin Random House and a group of authors of children's and young adult books. The suit seeks to have Escambia's book restrictions declared unconstitutional for targeting specific viewpoints and for infringing on the rights of students to receive information. Given the frenzy of book bans we're now seeing nationwide — The Washington Post reported that in several states, librarians can be sent to prison for giving kids the wrong books — the outcome will have national implications." Michelle Goldberg in the NYT (Gift Article): If You Care About Book Bans, You Should Be Following This Lawsuit.

+ Related: PEN America gala honors Salman Rushdie, his first in-person appearance since stabbing. "It's nice to be back — as opposed to not being back, which was also a possibility. I'm glad the dice rolled this way."


Weekend Whats

What to TV: I'm gonna go a little old school with this pick. I've lately been addicted to Parks and Recreation. It takes a while to get into its groove, but then you're still left with about 6 and 3/4s seasons of a quality sitcom featuring actors who were already famous or have subsequently become stars. So far my favorite line from the endlessly quotable Ron Swanson came when he was asked whether he had any history of mental illness in the family: "I have an uncle who does yoga."

+ What to Doc: To make a great surfing series, HBO followed Garrett McNamara to perhaps the sport's greatest wave. It worked. Season 2 of 100 Foot Wave is now out on HBO.

+ What to Pod: The NYT has spent a couple years honing its latest audio offering, and I have a feeling it's going to be huge. NYT Audio includes daily headlines, authors reading their own feature pieces, and audio versions of articles curated from around the internet. For now, the app is only available to NYT subscribers. (Bob Lefsetz has a good overview of why this is a big deal.)


Extra, Extra

Debt Bondage: " Debt limit talks came to an abrupt standstill Friday after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said it's time to 'pause' negotiations, and a White House official acknowledged there are "real differences" that are making talks difficult." (The entire world economy depends on some House GOP quacks. This is why you don't negotiate the debt ceiling.)

+ Baby Milo: "Now, he was haunted by the sound of Milo gasping for air and the sight of his body struggling to ward off a death that had been inevitable for three long months. 'To me it's just pure torture ... the law has created torture.'" WaPo (Gift Article) with one story of a family living under Florida's abortion law. The Short Life of Baby Milo.

+ Accounting Blessings: "It also could free up more money for critical weapons as Ukraine is on the verge of a much anticipated counteroffensive — which will require as much military aid as they can get." $3 billion accounting error means Pentagon can send more weapons to Ukraine.

+ Assad But True: It turns out that the worst part about cancel culture is that it's impossible to cancel Bashar al-Assad. Bashar al-Assad tells Arab League he hopes his return marks new era of peace.

+ Sink and Swim: "The scholars first estimated the cumulative weight of New York's buildings to be 1.68 trillion pounds, and then calculated the downward pressure these buildings exert on the mixture of clay, sand, and slit that make up most of the ground beneath the city's streets." New York City May Be Sinking Under the Weight of Its Skyscrapers.

+ Parking Break: I asked ChatGPT to contest my parking ticket. What followed was a thing of beauty.


Feel Good Friday

"Mothers and their tween and teen daughters aren't supposed to see eye-to-eye on many things. But these days, it seems, a mutual affection for Taylor Swift and her music is shaking up that whole dynamic." For many mothers and daughters, instead of a rift, there's Taylor Swift. (For many fathers and daughters, instead of a rift, there are headphones.)

+ Plastic pollution could be slashed by 80% by 2040, UN says.

+ ‘Mississippi miracle': Kids' reading scores have soared in Deep South states.

+ 93-year-old grandmother and grandson finish quest to visit all 63 national parks.

+ Novel Rutgers vaccine may provide more durable protection against SARS-CoV-2.

+ Worried about their grandkids' future, more seniors are taking up the climate fight.

+ It took commuting from L.A. to Berkeley by plane, but he'll finally graduate from Cal. Go Bears.