Monday, August 21st, 2023


Beyond the Shadow

In the past, I've described Elon Musk as an example of a modern scourge I call narcissistic victimhood; people who couldn't be benefiting more from the current state of things yet who are intent on convincing themselves that they are actually the victim of the current state of things. He's being robbed of free speech, even though he owns a social network and nearly every word he posts makes headlines. The overly woke system is rigged against people like him, even though, within that very system, he is the richest person in the world and arguably the most famous, too. He's the newsmaker and the news topic. He's won the economy and the attention economy. Like other narcissistic victims, Musk seems determined to be a geopolitical leader as well as a business and cultural one. Unlike some his counterparts, he's not (yet) wasting his time with pesky things like running for office. In the New Yorker, Ronan Farrow on the power Musk has amassed. "In the past twenty years, against a backdrop of crumbling infrastructure and declining trust in institutions, Musk has sought out business opportunities in crucial areas where, after decades of privatization, the state has receded. The government is now reliant on him, but struggles to respond to his risk-taking, brinkmanship, and caprice. Current and former officials from NASA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration told me that Musk's influence had become inescapable in their work, and several of them said that they now treat him like a sort of unelected official. One Pentagon spokesman said that he was keeping Musk apprised of my inquiries about his role in Ukraine and would grant an interview with an official about the matter only with Musk's permission. 'We'll talk to you if Elon wants us to,' he told me. In a podcast interview last year, Musk was asked whether he has more influence than the American government. He replied immediately, 'In some ways.' Reid Hoffman told me that Musk's attitude is 'like Louis XIV: ‘L'état, c'est moi.'" Elon Musk's Shadow Rule. (This is a really interesting article, but I quibble with the title. Even though Musk loves to throw shade, none of this is happening in the shadows. For a person with these personality traits who has become the poster child for people who can't stop posting, that would take the fun out of it. No, Musk is a power broker make for our era—one who operates not in the shadows but while taking a never-ending selfie.)


They’re Not That Grrreat!

"A 2019 policy requires companies that make unhealthy foods to include warning labels on the front of any boxes they sell in Mexico to educate consumers about things like excess sugar and fat. Any food with a warning label — like Kellogg's Fruit Loops or its Frosted Flakes, which typically contain more than 37 grams of added sugar in a 100-gram serving — is also banned from including a mascot on its packaging." With this spell the end for Tigre Toño and Sam el Tucán? And are laws like this heading north? Stat: Kellogg's is going to war over Mexico's nutrition label rules. A similar fight is coming to the U.S.


Wet Behind the Ears

On Sunday, Los Angeles had its rainiest summer day on record. So did San Diego. Death Valley had its second rainiest day in history. None of the rain totals in these places broke three inches. But it's different when things like this happen in places not used to, or prepared for, a lot of rain. So we got floods, property damage, power outages, school closures, flight cancelations, and more. Here's the latest from CNN. Storm Hilary slams California with floods and fierce winds. Our proofer RD's son just moved into his dorm for his freshman college year in sunny San Diego. His first two days of college will be conducted over Zoom.

+ Hilary in photos: See flooding, damage in Southern California after storm moves through.

+ Just to keep things on brand, the storm was joined by a Magnitude 5.1 earthquake in SoCal.


Some Light Tarmac Reading

"The incidents often occur at or near airports and are the result of human error, the agency's internal records show. Mistakes by air traffic controllers — stretched thin by a nationwide staffing shortage — have been one major factor. The close calls have involved all major U.S. airlines and have happened nationwide." An NYT (Gift Article) you may want to save for after your summer trips have concluded. Airline Close Calls Happen Far More Often Than Previously Known.


Extra, Extra

The Great Untracking: Laura Meckler in WaPo (Gift Article) with an interesting look at what happened when an Ohio school district rushed to integrate classrooms.

+ The Reign in Spain: "Spain won its first Women's World Cup title less than a year after a player rebellion, holding off England 1-0 on Sunday after Olga Carmona's first-half goal. Spain's first major international trophy made it the first European team to win the Women's World Cup since Germany in 2007." Olga Carmona scored the only goal in Spain's win. After the game, she learned that her father had died. Meanwhile, Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales was forced to apologize after kissing World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation. "It was without bad faith at a time of maximum effusiveness." (Maybe that sounds better in Spanish.)

+ After the Fire, The Fire Still Burns: President Joe Biden is heading to Maui where there are still more than 800 people missing. For the survivors, the trauma could go on for years. WaPo (GIft Article): After the blaze, coping with 'fire brain.'

+ One Flew Over the Coup Coup's Nest: There's an argument gaining steam among conservative legal thinkers that suggests "Trump and others who participated in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election are disqualified from holding office under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution." So we've got the indictments and we've got the legal theories. But somehow, Trump still has support among his base, a group that believes he's telling the truth more than other conservatives, religious leaders, or even their own family members. CBS: Poll finds Trump's big lead grows, as GOP voters dismiss indictments.

+ Rainbow and Arrows: In today's evidence that political hate speech leads to political hate action: "A California clothing store owner and designer was killed allegedly by a gunman who confronted her about a rainbow Pride flag outside her business and shot her after making disparaging remarks about the display."

+ Pediatric Gun Numbers: Axios: Gun deaths among U.S. children hit a new record high. "There were 4,752 pediatric firearm deaths in 2021, or a rate of 5.8 per 100,000 people — an 8.8% increase from the year before, the study found." Pediatric Firearm Deaths. 'Merica.

+ Graine Silos: "Research shows that women's migraines are more frequent, more disabling and longer-lasting than men's. Women are more likely than men to seek medical care and prescription drugs for migraines. And women who have migraines tend to have more mental health issues, including anxiety and depression." Women get far more migraines than men – a neurologist explains why, and what brings relief.


Bottom of the News

Skincare is important. Especially so if you have a whole lot of skin. NPR: This video from a humpback 'whale spa' shows skin care is serious — and social.

+ Yo, Hajime Miura is really good at YoYo. (You may have never seen a performer hold a crowd like this...)