Friday, July 14th, 2023


A Time For Reflection

As we enter a week of intensifying heat, during which temps could approach 130 degrees in some places, let's pause for reflection. Not sober, ethical, personal reflection. It's too late for that. I mean the kind of reflection that can bounce the sun's rays away from the Earth's surface. That goal drove researchers at Purdue to create the whitest of white paint. Now all we need to do is coat the planet in it. NYT (Gift Article): To Help Cool a Hot Planet, the Whitest of White Coats. "The paint's properties are almost superheroic. It can make surfaces as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit cooler than ambient air temperatures at midday, and up to 19 degrees cooler at night, reducing temperatures inside buildings and decreasing air-conditioning needs by as much as 40 percent. It is cool to the touch, even under a blazing sun, Dr. Ruan said. Unlike air-conditioners, the paint doesn't need any energy to work, and it doesn't warm the outside air."

+ American workers might want to apply this stuff like sunscreen, because according to WaPo (Gift Article), forcing people to work in deadly heat is mostly legal in the US. " ... Legislators in Florida, where 11 workers died of heat-induced causes since 2017, according to OSHA data, rejected legislation that required employers to implement outdoor heat exposure safety training programs, provide cool drinking water, shade and rest breaks in hot conditions ... In Texas, lawmakers nullified heat safety ordinances in Dallas and Austin as part of a sweeping statute that stripped local governments' rights to regulate workplace issues ... [according to one lobbyist] 'What was happening was we had some rogue cities that maybe stepped too far over their skis and ventured into some areas that they shouldn't have ventured into.'" (If there's one thing you don't need in Texas this summer, it's skis.)

+ Death Valley visitors drawn to the hottest spot on Earth during ongoing US heat wave. (Save the airfare. The heat will come to you, eventually.)


Two Strikes Against You

Even with the widening and ever-damaging economic divide, Americans haven't seemed to be willing to get behind workers. But things could get personal as major strikes, the actors and writers strike already happening, and the UPS strike that looks likely, are gonna take away the shit you love most: Your stuff and your shows.

+ AI is one of the issues being disputed in Hollywood. According to SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator, studios "proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day's pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity on any project they want, with no consent and no compensation."


Orcastrated Attack?

"In the past few years, boaters have reported more than 500 interactions with orcas, which can include benign encounters such as bumping the vessel or a curious orca swimming around the boat. But in about 250 cases, the Orcas have done actual damage, including serious damage to about 60 vessels and the sinking of three boats." So what gives? Are Orcas getting pissed that we're overheating the oceans and filling them with microplastics? According to most experts, they're probably just playing. WaPo (Gift Article): Are the orcas out to get us? What to know about recent attacks.

+ This strikes me as a classic NPR headline: Revenge of the killer whales? Recent boat attacks might be driven by past trauma.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Given the focus on AI in the Hollywood strike, now would be the perfect time to catch up on the latest season of Black Mirror on Netflix, starting with the very timely episode, Joan is Awful. Netflix itself is being parodied, but they're so damn big they don't care.

+ What to Note: There are many Notes apps to choose from these days. My top choice is Bear (Mac, iOS) and version 2.0 has just been released. Give it a spin.

+ What to Listen/Watch: Originally filmed in September 2022 and broadcast live from Laurel Canyon to more than 100 IMAX theaters nationwide, Brandi Carlile: In the Canyon Haze - Live from Laurel Canyon is streaming on Max. It's one of America's greatest artists at the top of her game.


Extra, Extra

Aspartame Blame Game: WHO says aspartame causes cancer. Or might, possibly cause cancer. But probably only in large amounts. And the FDA disagrees. And no one is really providing the health data that matters: how does the risk of aspartame compare to the risk of good, old fashioned sugar. It's all enough to drive you to drink.

+ Helter Shelter: We can play city v city politics, but the truth is that homelessness is on the rise across the country. "Family homelessness in the U.S. is on the rise in an alarming sign of how the increasing cost of goods, the ever-tightening housing supply and the end of most pandemic-era benefits are putting pressure on Americans." I touched on this topic the other day, including the incredible amount of money California has spent, only to see things get worse. Gimme Shelter.

+ House Goes Ballistic on Defense: The crazy obsessions of the House GOP are impacting real issues. "House Republicans united to narrowly pass major defense policy legislation on Friday that restricts the Pentagon policies on abortion access, medical care for transgender troops and diversity."

+ The Six is In: ProPublica: Close to 100,000 Voter Registrations Were Challenged in Georgia — Almost All by Just Six Right-Wing Activists.

+ Serial Killer Arrest: "A man arrested in connection with a long-unsolved string of killings on Long Island known as the Gilgo Beach murders has been identified as an architect who has been living for decades across a bay from where the remains of 11 people were found."

+ Haze Maze: NYT: "Northwestern fired baseball coach Jim Foster on Thursday, just days after the university terminated football coach Pat Fitzgerald in the wake of a burgeoning hazing scandal that's rocked the Big Ten school." Willie the Wildcat could be the last one standing.


Feel Good Friday

"While the Supreme Court scuttled President Biden's efforts at widespread debt forgiveness, these borrowers are about to get an email from the U.S. Department of Education, notifying them that their debts will soon be automatically erased." Student loan forgiveness is on the way for more than 800,000 borrowers.

+ "I actually started to feel value. The whole tournament kind of instills you with that." Homeless World Cup makes US debut in California and scores victories beyond the field for players.

+ Take a break from the heat and check out all the positive environmental stories from 2023 so far.

+ Kentucky man finds over 700 Civil War-era coins buried in his cornfield.

+ Hundreds of golden retrievers gather in Highlands. (And it was still quieter than a walk with my two beagles.)

+ And let's end strong: The 2023 Comedy Pet Photography awards.