Friday, November 3rd, 2023


This is Africa

Many of us know the aches and pains associated with getting older. It turns out that countries experience something similar as their populations age, putting pressure on the economy, the social safety net, and health systems. "Caregivers in Italy, which is expected to have 12 percent fewer people by 2050, are experimenting with robots to look after the aged. The prime minister of Japan, where the median age is 48, warned in January that his society was 'on the verge' of dysfunction." Having a top-heavy society is the opposite of what's happening in Africa, a continent experiencing a youth movement that will have impacts across the region and around the world. "Within the next decade, Africa will have the world's largest work force, surpassing China and India. By the 2040s, it will account for two out of every five children born on the planet ... By 2050, one in four people on the planet will be African, a seismic change that's already starting to register. You can hear it in the music the world listens to. You can see it in movies, fashion and politics. You can sense it in the entrepreneurial drive of young Africans, and the urgent scramble for jobs. You can see it in the waves of youth who risk all to migrate, and in the dilemmas of those who remain." Declan Walsh in NYT (Gift Article): The World Is Becoming More African.



Crypto is complicated. Apparently fraud isn't. It took a jury only 4 hours to find SBF guilty on all charges. "FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried's spectacular rise and fall in the cryptocurrency industry — a journey that included his testimony before Congress, a Super Bowl advertisement and dreams of a future run for president — hit rock bottom Thursday when a New York jury convicted him of fraud for stealing at least $10 billion from customers and investors." FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried convicted of defrauding cryptocurrency customers.

+ "Bankman-Fried's back was to his parents. He was talking to his lawyers, Mark Cohen and Chris Everdell. He appeared to be shaking. He did not look back to see his parents until he was being escorted out. As he glanced back, Fried crumpled, and her husband steadied her." Sam Bankman-Fried gambled on a trial and his parents lost.

+ "During the trial, it emerged that Mr. Bankman-Fried had spent $15 million on private plane travel. He never did much to disguise the fact that he lived with some of his FTX pals in a $35 million penthouse. The question of whether these young people should be sleeping on the beach instead of living the high life if they were truly following the doctrine of effective altruism never seemed to get asked." David Streitfeld in the NYT (Gift Article): Sam Bankman-Fried's Wild Rise and Abrupt Crash. "It's impossible to read the sad saga of Mr. Bankman-Fried without thinking he, and many of those around him, would have been better off if they had spent less time at math camp and more time in English class. Sometimes in books, the characters find their moral compass; in the best books, the reader does, too."


Tent Up Demand

"An internal spreadsheet, created by two organizers and updated by assigned administrators, keeps track of around 60 folks per tent. Most of them are young women, but no one under 18 is allowed. Based on a ranking system gathering everybody's total time, the longer you've been in a tent, the higher the chances of being one of the first in line. A fan named Carmen tells me she's spent more than 300 total hours, or 12-and-a-half days, in the tents." Worried a friend or loved one is getting a little too into Taylor Swift? Trust me, it could be worse. Meet the Argentine Taylor Swift Fans Who Have Been Camping Out for the Eras Tour Since June.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: "In one of the most grueling and psychologically challenging endurance races in the world, a hundred runners come together to take on a treacherous, continuous one mile loop in the mountains of Tennessee for over 30 straight hours….until only one is left standing." You may find the main protagonist, Chadd with two Ds, a bit odd or even a bit irritating. But you'll end up taking him on every run, hike, or hill you climb. Just. One. Mile. And if you've never seen it, don't miss The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.

+ What to Pod: "When I think about this conference with over 12,000 registered people, with opening talks by the governor of Colorado and over 500 other speakers, I can only wonder, am I tripping? I think not. It's not that I'm tripping, it's that culture is tipping." Excellent overview from Reveal on the unlikely mainstreaming of psychedelic drugs. America Goes Psychedelic, Again.

+ What to Wear: The new Pro Democracy t-shirts and hoodies sold like crazy this week. The NextDraft store also features a new, brandless version of the "I Am the Algorithm" shirt. Get your new threads here.

+ What to Hear: During the past couple weeks of the Middle East crisis, I've been hearing Dire Straits Brothers in Arms in my head. It's a great, sadly timely, song on a great album. "Someday you'll return to / Your valleys and your farms / And you'll no longer burn to be brothers in arms."


Extra, Extra

No Middle Ground: "We've provided Israel advice that only the best of friends can offer on how to minimize civilian deaths, while still achieving its objectives of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists and their infrastructure of violence." Antony Blinken is back in the Middle East, Netanyahu says Israel opposes temporary ceasefire unless all hostages are freed, US drones searching for hostages, IDF targets ambulance in Gaza, saying Hamas is using them for transport, Israeli officials recommend those traveling abroad to avoid 'openly displaying Israeli and Jewish symbols,' Hezbollah chief breaks his silence. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and NBC.

+ Contain Yourself: "When I was homeless, people just didn't think I was real, they wouldn't even acknowledge me. This place, it's a blessing. It gives me hope and motivation to do something different with my life." Silicon Valley City Wants to Ease Housing Crisis With $150,000 Cargo Containers.

+ Rubbing Salk in the Wound: "This may be difficult to believe in our increasingly contentious era, but America in the '50s and '60s had no widespread anti-vaccine movement. Vaccines were viewed as a remarkable innovation that could save millions of lives by preventing potentially deadly diseases." Jonas Salk, the man who cured polio, 'would be shocked' by anti-vaxxers, experts say. (I didn't cure polio and I'm shocked too.)

+ Death by a Salesman: "After Kenneth Law lost his job as a low-level cook at the Royal York hotel, he found another way to make money: peddling suicide kits on the internet. Now, he's been linked to the deaths of over 100 people around the world—and their grieving families want justice." Toronto Life: Merchant of Death.

+ Retirement Plan: "Moving to Florida for early retirement, a native New Jerseyan in her 50s is finding her third act to be the most fun in a community where the average age is 79." NYT: The Youngest Senior. "One of her favorite activities these days is tech support."

+ Michugas: "Parsing another team's signals is allowed in the NCAA if you get them off a TV recording ... but 'in-person scouting' is prohibited; Stalions seems to have tried to work around this by recruiting random people who lived in the area of other stadiums to do the job, then paying them back on Venmo—a gig economy, if you will, for football crimes." Michigan Football's Ridiculous, Dumb, and Unfortunately Altogether Perfect Scandal.


Feel Good Friday

"Some automotive tech students at a high school in Virginia have been working all year to fix up a car to surprise a single mother with six kids."

+ If you missed it earlier this week, read it now. Champions of Breakfast.

+ "Artist Tiffany Shlain's sculpture 'Dendrofemonology' chronicles women's achievements stretching back 50,000 years, on the eve of an election in which women's rights are at stake." If you're near the Mall in DC this weekend, check it out!

+ Vaping by high school students dropped this year.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): A falcon lost his ability to fly. Now the bird is an artist in Vermont.

+ ‘Dogs should eat as well as humans': high-end canine cucina opens in Rome.

+ "A long conversation with the legend about returning to the stage, being in a grandpa chat with Bruce Springsteen, and working with Arnold Schwarzenegger again." Danny DeVito Has Never Heard the Term "Short King."