Monday, September 18th, 2023


Hitting the Books

"What we saw here was someone saying the quiet part out loud. The goal is to sexualize children — to provide minors with sexually explicit material ... and then hide this content from the parents." What organization is Utah Senator Mike Lee talking about? A adult entertainment company? A group of escaped child predators? Lauren Boebert at a family musical? No, Lee is attacking the controversial organization known as the American Library Association. This gives new meaning to owning the libs. And it isn't just a one-off political attack. This is a movement. "Over the summer, state libraries in Montana, Missouri and Texas announced that they were severing ties with the ALA, imperiling their libraries' access to funding and training. The Texas decision was taken after state Rep. Brian Harrison (R) wrote to library leaders saying that 'the ALA works against parents by fighting to keep p-rnographic materials in public libraries.' Conservative legislators in at least nine additional states are urging their state libraries to follow suit and disaffiliate." WaPo (Gift Article): Red states quit nation's oldest library group amid culture war over books. Beatles vs Stones is a culture war. This is a cult war.

+ "The students wrote in emails that the book — and accompanying videos that Wood, 47, played about systemic racism — made them ashamed to be White, violating a South Carolina proviso that forbids teachers from making students 'feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress' on account of their race. Reading Coates's book felt like 'reading hate propaganda towards white people,' one student wrote." WaPo (Gift Article): Mary Wood's school reprimanded her for teaching a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Now she hopes her bond with students can survive South Carolina's politics.


Foreign Exchange

"As part of the deal, Iran gets access to nearly $6 billion of its oil revenues that have been frozen in a South Korean bank. That money was transferred to accounts in Qatar, and U.S. officials say it will be monitored to make sure it's used just for humanitarian needs — food, agricultural products, medicine and medical devises — that are not subject to U.S. sanctions." Iran frees Americans in a swap, gets access to oil money, release of Iranians in US.

+ "Five Americans who had been imprisoned in Iran have been freed and have landed in Doha, Qatar. They are expected to fly to the United States later on Monday." Here's the latest from CNN.


Hot in the City

"Preventing climate change is out of Singapore's control: The city-state emits less than 0.1% of global carbon emissions. But there is a surefire way to limit city temperatures, researchers say: Revive the natural processes that cooled the land before urbanization. Most cities do not have Singapore's wealth and centralized political system, which allow it to move quickly to build new infrastructure. But while some of Singapore's strategies to reduce excess heat are expensive, many of them are straightforward, and cheaper than planning for, say, floods or hurricanes." NYT (Gift Article) with an interesting interactive piece: How to Cool Down a City. "Singapore is rethinking its sweltering urban areas to dampen the effects of climate change. Can it be a model?" (Especially when the changes they're executing in Singapore are happening in about the amount of time it takes to get a bathroom remodel approved in America...)


Everybody into the Pool

"For parents across America, the school car line is a daily punishment. The stern, annoyed command from some poor teacher or volunteer to 'pull all the way forward, please!' The breakdown of the whole process when someone inevitably doesn't. The long minutes spent idling, spewing exhaust. The cones, and walkie-talkies, and little signs hung from rearview mirrors that help deliver so many kids, individually, right to their school's doorstep." The Atlantic (Gift Article): The Agony of the School Car Line. (When I was in elementary school, we walked to school. Even uphill, both ways, it beat carpool lines.)


Extra, Extra

Press Box: "Last week, as Christiane Amanpour celebrated her 40 years at CNN, she issued a challenge to her fellow journalists in the US by describing how she would cover US politics as a foreign correspondent. 'We have to be truthful, not neutral ... I would make sure that you don't just give a platform … to those who want to crash down the constitution and democracy.'" Margaret Sullivan: With democracy on the ballot, the mainstream press must change its ways. Meanwhile, Meet the Press kicked off the Kristen Welker era with a(nother) horrible Trump interview. Even NBC itself fact-checked the interview -- because so many people watch these interviews and then go back to do more research. Thank god the ghost of Tim Russert had Bills game to distract him on Sunday.

+ Line Backer: "On the tape, Blanchard continues with her onboarding script. She asks for King's call-back number, her address, any details about how to find her apartment, and she also asks her to make sure the door is unlocked, to set out Narcan on her coffee table if she has any, and to make sure any pets she might have are locked away someplace safe. This protocol is designed to ensure that if EMS is called, they can get to the caller as quickly as possible, since survival can be a matter of seconds." Slate: The Woman on the Line. "You hear my voice change? I knew she was going to overdose ... It's a sixth sense you develop when you do these calls. Within about five minutes, I know I'm going to have to call EMS."

+ On Brand? BBC: Russell Brand is facing accusations of rape, sexual assaults and emotional abuse over a seven-year period. "The accusers, who have not been named, include one who said she was sexually assaulted during a relationship with him when she was 16. Another woman says Russell Brand raped her in Los Angeles in 2012." Meanwhile, "In recent years Brand has largely disappeared from mainstream media but has built up a large following online with videos mixing wellness and conspiracy theories."

+ Bump and Grind: "Considering the costs of a pandemic, it's hard to imagine that we could overinvest in preparing for new infectious threats, related to this virus or others: in the U.S. alone, *covid*'s economic toll could reach fourteen trillion dollars by the end of the year—a sum approaching the G.D.P. of China. And yet the public and political will to confront contagion seems to have evaporated and, at times, transmuted into hostility to the very idea that we should do so. More than half the states have recently taken steps to restrict the authority of public-health officials, and opposition to well-established immunization requirements for childhood diseases has surged." Dhruv Khullar in The New Yorker: The Covid Bump. "Can we make progress on a problem when so few seem to care?" Here's some pretty amazing Covid-related news for anyone who has lost a cat to FIP. COVID Drugs Are a Miracle Cure for Cats.

+ Firestarter: After a predictable and justified backlash, Drew Barrymore has halted her talkshow until after the Hollywood strikes end. (It's pretty remarkable she thought this could go any other way.)

+ Crossing the Line: How fully has the NFL embraced gambling? NYT: There's a sports book inside the Washington Commanders' stadium.


Bottom of the News

"The U.S. Marine Corps is asking for the public's help in locating an F-35B Lightning II jet after the pilot ejected during a 'mishap' over the weekend."