Wednesday, October 18th, 2023


All the Rage

"We will not stand by and do nothing again." Joe Biden referenced the Holocaust during his speech in Israel during which he reiterated the US support of Israel. But he also offered words of caution rooted in America's own experience following 9/11. "Justice must be done. But I caution this, while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it. After 9/11 we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes." Biden spoke of the plight of the hostages, the need for humanitarian aid, and more during a speech he made before leaving Israel. It's worth a watch.

+ Biden's trip was impacted by the bombing of a hospital in Gaza that led to the cancelation of his scheduled meetings in Jordan and resulted in mass protests in the region. It's notable how quickly Western media took Hamas at its word and blamed Israel for the hospital bombing. The media needs to pause, gather facts, and wait for definitive proof, but it should predisposed to believe the word of a democracy and an ally over that of a murderous, terrorist organization. NYT: "American officials say they have multiple strands of intelligence — including infrared satellite data — indicating that the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday was caused by an armed Palestinian group." And here's the BBC on what video, pictures and other evidence tell us about Al Ahli hospital blast. There's the political story, the media story, and the messaging story. We shouldn't lose sight of core story: The massive and tragic loss of life. As I said last week, the loss of life among innocent Palestinians in Gaza is heartbreaking. If you can't feel that, you've lost your humanity and there's really not much left to fight for.

+ There's one group that has suffered both the terrorist attack of October 7 and the ensuing onslaught of Israeli airstrikes. The hostages. "Imagine enduring both. The roughly 200 hostages Hamas carried away at gunpoint were awakened at dawn by the terror of a missile onslaught and faced the darkness of Gaza beneath the thunder of Israeli munitions. They form a kind of human bridge between two realms." Time: The Families of Israelis Held Hostage by Hamas Speak Out.

+ At least 15 journalists killed in Hamas-Israel war.

+ "I start with this portrait to emphasize the extreme asymmetry of the conflict now unfolding in Gaza: the truly deranged nature of Hamas's decision to initiate a war against the region's preeminent military power—and to do so in a fashion of almost unimaginable brutality that necessarily brings the full weight of Israeli military power against a territory, teeming with civilians, which the militia cannot possibly hope to defend; the impossibility of effective Israeli military operation in Gaza without horrifying civilian death and destruction; and the concurrent impossibility of refraining from conducting such an operation given the extreme proximity of these two populations across this line and the need to prevent similar atrocities in the future." Benjamin Wittes with a detailed look at the ethical questions often obscured by the fog of war. On Strategy, Law, and Morality in Israel's Gaza Operation.

+ Here's the latest from BBC, CNN, and NBC.


House Arrest

Yesterday, the scoundrel and election-denying Jim Jordan fell short of his quest for the House speakership when 20 of his GOP colleagues voted against him. Following an increased pressure campaign, another vote was held today. This time 22 of GOP colleagues voted against him. While I feel a deep sense of relief that Jordan is not the Speaker of the House (for now), this sh-tshow is anything but a cause for celebration. As many as 200 of his colleagues did vote for Jordan. That's just unthinkable, except for the fact that it follows and undeniable trend that shows no signs of abating. Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic (Gift Article): The Threat to Democracy Is Coming From Inside the U.S. House. "The preponderant majority of House Republicans backing Jordan is attempting to elevate someone who not only defended former President Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election but participated in them more extensively than any other member of Congress."


Forecast Calls For Weather

"When danger appears, an alarm goes off in the brain, activating the body's sympathetic nervous system — the fight-or-flight system. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is activated. Hormones, such as epinephrine and cortisol, flood the bloodstream from the adrenal glands. The heart beats faster. Breathing quickens. Blood vessels dilate. More oxygen reaches large muscles. Blood pressure and glucose levels rise. The immune system's inflammatory response activates." The body's reaction to stress is natural. The amount of stress that many people are under is anything but. And it's deadly. WaPo (Gift Article) with their latest piece on America's life expectancy crisis. Stress Is Weathering Our Bodies From the Inside Out.


You Can Checkout Any Time You Like…

"At the bottom of all the supposed convenience, you do actually just need a lot of people to operate a store." I like to think I've become a pretty decent self-checkouter, but the system isn't working as anticipated. Lots of interesting points in this piece from Amanda Mull in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Self-Checkout Is a Failed Experiment.


Extra, Extra

Xi Loves Me, Xi Loves Me Not: Underpinning the the global response to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza are the makings of a new world order as superpowers choose sides. NYT (Gift Article): New Global Divisions on View as Biden Goes to Israel and Putin to China. "As President Biden visited Israel on Wednesday, seeking to display steadfast American support for the country, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was in Beijing, seeking to display his 'no limits' partnership with China's top leader, Xi Jinping. The two contrasting trips show how vastly the global political landscape has been redrawn by Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and how that changed landscape is on full display in the war in Gaza."

+ Sending Digital Owls to Athens: "Athens, Georgia, is home to the University of Georgia, and the police there are used to college town-type crimes: break-ins, bar fights and assorted rowdiness. That kind of thing. But the 911 call that came in on the night of March 13, 2019, was unlike anything the Athens-Clarke County Police Department had ever encountered." A crazy tale from the crypt from CNBC: The secret life of Jimmy Zhong, who stole – and lost – more than $3 billion. "Zhong's emergency call that winter evening sent investigators down a long digital trail that led back to the earliest days of bitcoin and revealed a dark truth about the universe of hackers and coders responsible for the creation of cryptocurrencies. It's a world where heroes and villains traded places and could even be the same people. None of it would go at all the way Zhong wanted."

+ Burial Plot: "Authorities entered the funeral home's neglected building with a search warrant Oct. 4 and found the decomposing bodies. Neighbors said they had been noticing the smell for days." This is not what families had in mind when they opted for green burials. Remains of at least 189 people removed from Colorado funeral home.

+ Give Me Some Good News, Stat: Meet the 2023 STAT Wunderkinds: "This year, as in past years, we've found inspiring stories and innovative research. All are blazing new trails as they attempt to answer big questions in science and medicine."

+ Family Business: Catalytic converter thefts have been a big story for years. And one family had a whole lot to do with that story: Family behind $600 million nationwide catalytic converter theft ring pleads guilty. (Is it weird that my first reaction to this story was wishing that my family spent more time doing things together?)

+ Ja Rules: "Before being drafted by the Grizzlies with the No. 2 overall pick in 2019, scouting reports on the high-flying point guard out of mid-major Murray State revealed little in the way of red flags. 'Zero," said one veteran NBA scout who scouted Morant for a lottery team in position to draft him. "He was the consummate coachable teammate, a choirboy. Underrecruited. Didn't have many scholarship offers. Played with a chip on his shoulder. Glowing stuff. Nothing. There was absolutely nothing." ESPN: 'Then the alligators got him': Inside Ja Morant's 18-month downfall. Let's hope he says see ya later to those alligators and goes back to being a good, and remarkably entertaining, dude with a bright future.


Bottom of the News

"The 33-year-old entrepreneur flew from his home city of London to Jakarta, then boarded another flight to a regional airport. A car service drove him to a pier, where he climbed onto a janky speedboat and hummed across the ocean for 90 minutes until he reached an uninhabited mass of land covered in palm trees and dense brush. The boat turned around and left, and Saul-Garner remained marooned there for 10 days, alone and nearly resourceless. He slept in a hammock, subsisted on coconuts and crab, and spent his days foraging for firewood." The wild business of desert island tourism. (I'm not a big fan of coconuts, but 10 days in a news desert sounds pretty good.)

+ The 2023 Photomicrography Competition Winners Will Make You Appreciate Earth's Minute Details.