June 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Sonic Booms, Berlusconi Cover Artist, Streaming Goes Bust

During the Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert at Berkeley’s Greek Theater on Saturday, I was on the receiving end of an attempted murder. The show was good and the crowd was friendly, but I happened to be seated in front of a stone cold killer; one of those concert attendees who repeatedly screams a high-pitched Woooooo! — a sound intended to show enthusiasm for the experience, but one that hit an obstacle between its source and its intended recipient about 100 yards in the distance. That obstacle was my head. Or more specifically, my ears.

Maybe I’m being unfair equating this behavior with murder as the screamer was merely expressing relentless exuberance. The years her behavior took off my life were simply a side-effect of what is actually a pretty common behavior. While I’m still able to testify in the case, let me amend my accusation to say it was more manslaughter than murder, and my attacker is hardly the only perpetrator of this chronic sonic crime. There are plenty of them out there, and they’re trying to kill you, too. NYT (Gift Article): Noise Could Take Years Off Your Life. Here’s How. “Unpleasant noise enters your body through your ears, but it is relayed to the stress detection center in your brain. This area, called the amygdala, triggers a cascade of reactions in your body. If the amygdala is chronically overactivated by noise, the reactions begin to produce harmful effects. The endocrine system can overreact, causing too much cortisol, adrenaline and other chemicals to course through the body. The sympathetic nervous system can also become hyperactivated, quickening the heart rate, raising blood pressure, and triggering the production of inflammatory cells. Over time, these changes can lead to inflammation, hypertension and plaque buildup in arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.” (That’s exactly what I tried to explain to the 911 operator I called from the Greek Theater on Saturday night, but they couldn’t hear me over the Woooooo!-ing.)


Fall of a Roman Empire

“The media mogul served as Italy’s prime minister multiple times beginning in 1994, and his flamboyant lifestyle left a mark on popular culture, while his abrasiveness, coarseness, populist style, and constant legal woes trashed political norms and tainted Italy’s image in the world.” Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, has died at the age of 86.

+ See if this description of Berlusconi from Yascha Mounk in The Atlantic (Gift Article) sounds at all familiar: “His enemies consistently underestimated him because of his crassness, and drove voters into his arms by making all too evident their disdain for his supporters. He masterfully made political conflicts all about him and turned judicial proceedings to his advantage by casting himself as a martyr, likening himself to Jesus Christ. Although he consistently failed to deliver on his promises to reverse economic stagnation and political decline, he was able to retain the loyalty of a large segment of the population and dominate Italian politics for two decades.” The Corrosive Legacy of Silvio Berlusconi. “Berlusconi’s greatest triumph is not that he became prime minister of Italy on three occasions, or that he was a senator when he died, or that he remained a free man and one of the richest people in the country despite all the prosecutions—and convictions. It is that he was the principal founder of a tradition of demagogic politics that has defined the modern era in some of the world’s largest democracies, including Turkey, Brazil, India, and even the United States.”

+ Trump is like a performer of Berlusconi cover songs. Consider Silvio’s reaction when he was expelled from the Italian Senate in 2013: “No political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through.”

+ And of course, there were the Bunga Bunga parties.



“The high-stakes Writers Guild of America strike has focused attention on Hollywood’s labor unrest, but the really systemic issue is streaming’s busted math. There may be no problem more foundational than the way the system monetizes its biggest hits: It doesn’t.” NY Mag: The Binge Purge. Director Steven Soderbergh explains: “The entire industry has moved from a world of Newtonian economics into a world of quantum economics, where two things that seem to be in opposition can be true at the same time: You can have a massive hit on your platform, but it’s not actually doing anything to increase your platform’s revenue. It’s absolutely conceivable that the streaming subscription model is the crypto of the entertainment business.”


The Jungle Book

“On Friday, in the dead of night at the heart of the Colombian jungle, army radios crackled to life with the message the nation had been praying for: ‘Miracle, miracle, miracle, miracle.’ The military code revealed that four children missing in the jungle for 40 days had all been found – alive.” How children survived 40 days in Colombian jungle.


Extra, Extra

The Virus: “Criminals and gangs grabbed the money. But so did a U.S. soldier in Georgia, the pastors of a defunct church in Texas, a former state lawmaker in Missouri and a roofing contractor in Montana. All of it led to the greatest grift in U.S. history.” How billions in COVID-19 relief aid was stolen or wasted.

+ Chase Money: JP Morgan Chase reaches settlement with victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse. The “lawsuit claims that officials at the bank ignored warning signs about Epstein’s abuse because he was a wealthy client.”

+ Bord at Work: “Much of the migration to the United States in recent years has been driven by profound developments in Central and South America and in the Caribbean, where economic turmoil, natural disasters, and drug-related violence have brought many states to the brink of collapse, and where gangs and drug cartels often operate beyond state control.” Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker with a solid overview of the mess at the border and the sadly obvious reason we can’t fix it, or even really address it. America’s broken immigration system has spawned a national fight, but Congress lacks the political will to fix it.

+ Reddit and Weep: “Thousands of sections of the popular online message board Reddit are ‘going dark’ for two days starting Monday to protest controversial new fees the site is charging third-party developers.”

+ Florida Man: Paul Rosenzweig in The Atlantic (Gift Article) on The Three Biggest Obstacles to Convicting Trump. (None of them have anything to do with the severity of the crime or the strong evidence.)

+ Hitting the Green: “On the morning of April 18, Dunne sent Al-Rumayyan a message on WhatsApp. Al-Rumayyan responded a few minutes later. They spoke on the telephone for a while that day and agreed to meet in person in London later that month. It was the beginning of one of the most complicated deals in Dunne’s career.” How the shocking PGA Tour-LIV Golf deal went down.

+ 23 and Me: “At this event, Djokovic played 55 points in tiebreakers, the set-deciding interregnums. He committed zero unforced errors.” And that’s it really. Novak Djokovic, who just won his 23rd major, is a mental rock when it matters most. Novak Djokovic ‘Plays the Hits’ to Claim Another French Open Title. ” Tom Brady was among those in the Djokovic box. And this is fitting. Not only was this the NFL GOAT watching his tennis playing analog button up his GOAT credentials, but there are real substantive similarities here. Was Brady the NFL’s best athlete, possessor of the strongest arm, the most aesthetically pleasing quarterback? He was not. But he maximized every possible advantage, (micro)managed his body, and simply summoned his best when it mattered most. Same for Djokovic.” And from WaPo: “The man who fell to clay earth, splayed there and gazed skyward early Sunday evening had journeyed to that dirt so improbably across the past 12-plus years that it almost hadn’t made any sense.” Novak Djokovic stands alone after roaring to his 23rd Grand Slam title.

+ Canadian Makin’: On the fourth playoff hole of the 2023 RBC Canadian Open, Nick Taylor sinks a 72-foot putt for eagle. And then… Golfer Adam Hadwin was mistakenly leveled by security when celebrating.

+ Tooting Our Own Hornick: Kimberly Akimbo took home Best Musical at a Tony Awards that spent a lot of time focusing on the importance of writers (while putting on a show without them.) Ariana DeBose should get a Tony for her performance in the opening act in the Tony Awards. Wow.


Bottom of the News

Can a chatbot preach a good sermon? Hundreds attend church service generated by ChatGPT to find out. (Tech will merge with religion…before replacing it.)

+ The man who plays Miami Heat mascot Burnie had to go to a local emergency room Friday night after twice getting punched by UFC star Conor McGregor during an on-court bit during Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Miami.

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