Monday, August 7th, 2023


Bjorn to Run

I'm not what you'd call a good traveler. I have anticipatory anxiety even when it comes to what most people consider pleasure travel and regularly need a second carry-on just for Imodium. And no matter where I go or how much fun I'm having, I can't wait to get back home to my routine. Even listening to the band Journey stresses me out. In other words, Torbjorn Pedersen pretty much lived my nightmare. WaPo (Gift Article): He visited all 195 countries without flying. It nearly broke him. (I'm not sure I could even open up 195 travel-related browser tabs.) "Pedersen encountered his first hurdle when he said he couldn't find a boat to take him from Norway to the Faroe Islands in December 2013. After about three weeks, Pedersen said, a shipping company let him on board. 'That kind of stuff seemed hard at the time...But that's child's play compared to what I had coming.'"

+ Pederson's goal was to travel on roughly $20 a day. Even the pleasant stories seem to include a twist, for example, his stopover in Tuvalu. "It is gorgeous. The surf is amazing, the sky is beautiful, and the people were so kind and helpful. But I didn't expect to be there for two months." CNN: Man who visited every country without flying has finally returned home.


Red Zeppelin

"Gautam Adani, Jack Dorsey, Carl Icahn. Nate Anderson has picked them off one by one. In mere months this year, he erased as much as $99 billion of their combined wealth while knocking $173 billion off the value of their publicly traded companies. In an era when prominent short sellers have retreated from the limelight — fretting lawsuits, short squeezes and government probes — the deft researcher has emerged as the gutsiest bear around. Allies say he's risking civil suits, physical attacks and potentially even overseas arrest." Anderson runs a small but highly influential short seller called Hindenburg Research. And you don't want him to come out with a report on your company. Bloomberg (Gift Article): Short Seller Hindenburg Nabs Tiny Gains Off $173 Billion Carnage. As the headline implies, Hindenburg doesn't seem to making all that much profit from the pain it causes others. What drives Anderson "is exposing what he sees as misbehavior and knocking down companies he deems offensively overblown. One competitor calls it the classic mindset of a short seller: a compulsion to understand how the world is screwed up and call it out." (Let's hope his calls are right...)


What Viktor Spoils

"Viktor Orbán's systematic dismantling of liberal institutions in Hungary has made him the titular head of a global national-conservative movement, which currently includes Giorgia Meloni of Italy, Marine Le Pen of France, Santiago Abascal of the Vox party in Spain, Jaroslaw Kaczynski of Poland's Law and Justice party, Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud in Israel, the far-right Sweden Democrats party, and now America's MAGA Republicans. Each of these right-wing populists takes what they like from Orbán's menu. Among its ingredients are a fantasy theory that liberals rule the world, a values campaign that denies gay men and women a place in the family, and protectionist economic policies that transfer public assets to party insiders. Add to this one-party rule that dismantles checks and balances, a politics that defines all opponents as enemies of the nation, and a vision of cultural struggle that identifies schools and universities as a crucial battleground for the control of future generations." The Atlantic: Why the Populist Right Hates Universities.


Missouri Loves Company

"Dinner theater has all but disappeared across the United States, even at the cheesiest tourist destinations, but in Branson dinner and a show thrives, even outside of the traditional dinner theater setting. At Mel's Hard Luck Diner, a '50s-themed diner that's the 'home of the Singing Servers,' waiters serenade the crowd with show tunes and pop hits, reaching for soaring high notes over the clatter of silverware on plates. At Fall Creek Steak & Catfish House, servers playfully toss soft yeast rolls to patrons as they sit at their tables ... Even at Billy Gail's Restaurant, a local mini-chain and popular breakfast spot, everyone stops and stares as servers bring out massive 14-inch pancakes that drape over the edges of a regular dinner plate. Here, every single meal has some element of showmanship, and the people who work in these establishments are determined to make sure that you have a good time — even if you don't want to." In Eater, Amy McCarthy takes us to Branson, Missouri, a wholesome, family-friendly tourist destination where everyone's trying to sell you something. Dinner Theater and Loathing in Baptist Vegas.


Extra, Extra

Technical Howl: It took approximately 72 hours (or about the average) for Donald Trump's latest lawyer John Lauro to destroy his reputation by throwing nonsense into the court of public opinion. In one interview, he claimed that Trump's overt efforts to overthrow an election was at most, a "technical violation of the Constitution." Meanwhile, Lauro, Trump, and all the longterm enablers are arguing that Trump is only being charged as part of a Democratic plot to beat him in the election (even though most if not all of the key witnesses are Republicans and despite the fact that we all saw the crimes being committed in real time). But here's the rub. People believe this crap. "Most Republicans said that the probes were an attack on people like them and a huge majority said the investigations were aimed at blocking Trump's 2024 candidacy. More than 6 in 10 people overall, and just under two-thirds of independents, also said that was an appropriate description of the investigations." WaPo (Gift Article): A majority of Americans think the Trump probes are about 2024. (Sane people need to reproduce more.)

+ Pro Fusion: "A group of U.S. scientists say they have repeated their landmark energy feat — a nuclear fusion reaction that produces more energy than is put into it. But this time, they say the experiment produced an even higher energy yield." WaPo: U.S. lab says it repeated fusion energy feat — with higher yield.

+ It'll Be a Riot: "Social media influencer Kai Cenat is facing charges of inciting a riot and promoting an unlawful gathering in New York City, after the online streamer drew thousands of his followers, many of them teenagers, with promises of giving away electronics, including a new PlayStation. The event produced chaos, with dozens of people arrested — some jumping atop vehicles, hurling bottles and throwing punches." Social media influencer faces charges of inciting riot after thousands cause mayhem in NYC. (This is the kind of enthusiasm I'd like to see from NextDraft followers! You people never riot.)

+ Goal Kicked: "The casual cruelty of the game of soccer was on full display as the U.S. women's national team was eliminated from the 2023 Women's World Cup by the smallest of margins." What Went Wrong for the USWNT? (I'm no expert, but it definitely has something to do with not scoring goals.) What a silly way to end a competition!

+ Me and My RV: "His Prevost Marathon cost $267,230, according to title history records obtained by The New York Times. And Justice Thomas, who in the ensuing years would tell friends how he had scrimped and saved to afford the motor coach, did not buy it on his own. In fact, the purchase was underwritten, at least in part, by Anthony Welters, a close friend who made his fortune in the health care industry." NYT (Gift Article): Clarence Thomas's $267,230 R.V. and the Friend Who Financed It. (I've criticized Thomas in the past, but even I have to admit ... the guy must be a hell of a friend.)

+ Doll(ar): "This makes Gerwig the first-ever solo female filmmaker with a billion-dollar film." Barbie Surpasses $1 Billion Globally After 17 Days of Release.

+ The Other Blight Meat: You may not want to know how the sausage is made. You definitely don't want to know about the bacon. A disturbing new investigation exposes the stomach-churning practice that goes into making your bacon.

+ Pump Shaker: "All gas stations in Oregon can now allow customers to pump their own gas under a new law signed Friday, lifting a ban on self-service in the state dating back to 1951." Jersey is the last holdout.


Bottom of the News

"Thanks to social media and Google maps, homes that are even moderately well-known can now be inundated with people eager to take selfies or relive on-screen moments. This can come as a surprise to the homeowners, who find themselves fielding requests for tours or overhearing impromptu singalongs." WSJ (Gift Article): The Hell of Living in a Home With Any Celebrity Connection.

+ Italian mafia fugitive Vincenzo La Porta caught in Greece thanks to football photo. Beats the guy who was caught after a Google Maps sighting.

+ Scenes from a dog surfing competition in Pacifica.

+ This is some pretty shocking news. According to a recent study, using marijuana may affect your ability to think and plan.