Wednesday, July 12th, 2023


Gimme Shelter

It's not that people in California don't care about homelessness or that the state, cities, and non-profits aren't willing to spend the money to address the issue. In the past four years, California has spent a whopping $17.5 billion to combat the problem. It's an oversimplification of a complex situation, but it's worth considering that "with $17.5 billion, the state could, theoretically, have just paid the rent for every unhoused person in California for those four years, even at the state's high home costs." Of course, for that to work, the state would need a lot more available affordable housing. The big question is how can we spend so much on the homeless issue and, in places like California, still see an increase in the overall number of homeless? NPR offers up four reasons why there's no end in sight. But it's also worth considering how we got here. The pandemic held up a mirror to America's flaws and the biggest one was laid bare: The wide and growing economic divide. It's the root of so many of the country's problems and it's obviously related to this one.


Sucked Dry

In The Atlantic (Gift Article), Justin Pot explains how Google's New Search Tool Could Eat the Internet Alive. "Instead of sending you off to other corners of the web, more search results appear within Google. Sort of like ChatGPT, it pulls information from various websites, rewords it, and puts that text on top of your search results—pushing down any links you see. In the process, it stifles traffic to the rest of the internet, lessening the very incentive to post online. With AI, Google Search might eventually set off a doom loop for the web as we know it." Google has actually been doing whatever it can to provide users with the answers and information they need without leaving Google for years. Until now, I considered the strategy to be one of the riskiest in tech. After all, Google's golden goose is the money they make when you click a paid link and leave their site. Now, facing the competition from ChatGPT and others, the strategy has become almost mandatory. But what will the web become once everything gets sucked into a few portals?


HBO Maxes Out

In the least surprising news of the day, Succession led all shows with 27 Emmy nominations, with The Last of Us and White Lotus coming in second and third. In other words, HBO did well. Meanwhile, Succession made Emmy history with three lead actor nominations for Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin and Brian Cox (everything is a competition with this family!). The Bear had 13 nominations, which seems low, considering its seriously awesome second season. (I call all my friends Chef, and if they don't get the reference, I make new friends.) Oddly, both The Bear and Barry are in the comedy category even though both are obviously dramas. Here are all the nominees. Of course, there are snubs and surprises.

+ The shadow hanging over all the nominations is an ongoing writer's strike that could soon be joined by an actor's strike. And the former could go on for a long time. According to Deadline, "the endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses."


Snyd Remarks

"ESPN later reported that Snyder's lawyer, John Brownlee of Holland & Knight, believed that Snyder's punishment was over as of Nov. 1, 2021. But Goodell refused to allow him back to league meetings. If Snyder could have lain low until the end of the season, owners and executives told ESPN, he might just have retained his team. But Snyder couldn't resist. Sources said they were told Snyder and the NFL saw opportunity in publicizing racist and anti-gay emails from one of the league's most prominent head coaches." In a wild, behind-the-scenes piece, Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham explain how the leak of Jon Gruden's email led to the fall of Commanders owner Dan Snyder. This reads like a game between the Rams and the Cowboys. There's no one to root for.


Extra, Extra

Thought Experiment: Putin "thought our unity would shatter at the first testing. He thought democratic leaders would be weak. But he thought wrong." So said President Biden. Here's the latest from the NATO Summit.

+ Truth Uncovered: "The company said in a statement that its decision to get out of Florida was a business decision necessary to manage its risk exposure in the hurricane-prone state." Farmers Insurance pulls out of Florida, affecting 100,000 policyholders. Farmers knows what we're all starting to know. John Hendrickson in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Boiling the Ocean. "Did you think it would all happen this fast? The heat domes, the thousand-year floods, the apocalyptic wildfires, that horrific orange sky? This summer's convergence of extreme events makes it feel like we're living in a CGI-laden disaster movie. But those epic blockbusters all offer the same material comfort: an ending. What we're experiencing is different."

+ A Star is Born: "The photo is gorgeous. It could easily hang in a museum, as if it were a large canvas painting produced by a collaboration of impressionistic and modern artists. But it is very real, showcasing the process of stars being born a mere 390 light years from Earth." The Webb telescope just offered a revelatory view of humanity's distant past.

+ Manson Follower Paroled: "Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, a former homecoming princess who at 19 helped carry out the shocking killings of a wealthy Los Angeles couple at the direction of the violent and manipulative cult leader, walked out of a California prison Tuesday after serving more than 50 years of a life sentence."

+ Inflate Rate: "Sharply lower energy prices continue to be a major factor pulling down overall inflation. Gasoline prices, for instance, are down 26.5% compared to a year ago." Inflation falls to 3% in June, lowest since March 2021.

+ Kundera: NYT: "Milan Kundera, the Communist Party outcast who became a global literary star with mordant, sexually charged novels that captured the suffocating absurdity of life in the workers' paradise of his native Czechoslovakia, died on Tuesday in Paris. He was 94." Even in translation, his words had an unbearable lightness. So great.

+ Bird Brains: Twitter Beat Out Threads for Coveted Taliban Leader Endorsement (that oughta lure back big advertisers), and at long last, Tommy Tuberville says ‘White nationalists are racists.' The next question for Tuberville to ponder: Are Nazis antisemitic?

+ Couch Serfing: "In 2019, Franklin's niece found three handwritten documents around the singer's home in suburban Detroit. One, dated 2014, was found underneath a couch cushion." A jury rules a handwritten will found under Aretha Franklin's couch cushion is valid. (After I die, all my kids will find under the couch is a collection of lost AppleTV remotes.)


Bottom of the News

"'Due to the increasing public safety risk, a team from CDFW and the Monterey Bay Aquarium trained in the capture and handling of sea otters has been deployed to attempt to capture and rehome her,' a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement." She Steals Surfboards by the Seashore. She's a Sea Otter.

+ Scheduled to debut in January, the vessel can accommodate 5,600 guests and 2,350 crew members. This is The World's Largest Cruise Ship. The horror, the horror.