Tuesday, November 7th, 2023


Let’s Go Au Naturel

Over the years, we've seen a variety of food-related health advice come and go. Remember when fat was bad for us so we gorged on low and non-fat items that were loaded with sugar? I used to eat non-fat frozen yogurt by the quart before learning that was probably worse than ice cream. Then we learned it was the sugar that was bad, so we switched to gelato because it has higher fat and less sugar than regular ice cream. Now I'm at the age when the only frozen dessert my doctor recommends is an ice cube. The latest data we're getting suggests that the only food that really qualifies as food glorious food is the stuff that's not heavily processed. "In recent years, dozens of studies have found that people who consume a lot of ultra-processed foods have higher rates of weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases." In other words, don't trust the process. WaPo (Gift Article): Dietary guidelines may soon warn against ultraprocessed foods. "For the first time, the guidelines committee is examining the science on obesity and ultra-processed foods — industrially manufactured foods that have unusual combinations of flavors, additives, and ingredients, many of which are not found in nature. These include things like chicken nuggets, sweetened breakfast cereals, boxed mac & cheese, frozen dinners, potato chips and fast food." These guidelines just committed pantrycide on my kitchen. The only thing left is a jar of natural peanut butter and a couple handfuls of Ozempic.


Want to Get Away?

Wars. Trials. Disturbing election polls. If the latest deluge of upsetting news has you yearning to get away from it all, I've got the perfect place. It's about a million miles from the nearest headline. And thanks to the James Webb telescope, humans can now get to that place where they really want to go ... at least visually. "Nearly a million miles away, the James Webb Space Telescope just took a picture. Since transmitting its first data in late 2021, Webb has made stunning discoveries, including a plume of water spanning 6,000 miles in our solar system and a galaxy that formed only 390 million years after the Big Bang, or more than 13 billion years ago." (I'd make a joke about Mike Johnson and creationism, but the whole point is that were leaving such unreality—along with politics, along with all of Congress—a million miles away.) NYT Magazine (Gift Article) with an amazing interactive piece: The James Webb telescope is a giant leap in the history of stargazing. Our view of the universe will never be the same.


In Like Flynn

"More than 200,000 students who have started filling out college applications this fall are about to get good news. 'Congratulations!' the email will say. They're in." WaPo (Gift Article): Not done with your college application? No problem. You're in. "The email, to be sent Tuesday by the online portal called the Common Application, will convey offers of admission from 70 colleges and universities based on states where the students live and the grade-point averages they report. The offers are targeting those who would be first-generation college students or come from families with significant financial need. What's more is that those offers will go to prospective students even if they haven't completed their applications." (But these poor kids will miss out on the delightfully fulfilling right of passage experience of having their parent yelling at them to complete their college essays for a friggin' year...)


No Bridges, Just Tunnels

"The European Commission on Monday presented five principles for the day after the war ends: Gaza cannot be a haven for terrorists; Hamas cannot rule in Gaza; there cannot be a long-term Israeli security presence, nor forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza; and there must not be a continuous siege of Gaza. Sounds good. Does anyone have an idea of how to pull off and enforce these principles for longer than the time it takes to recite them, much less many years?" Fred Kaplan with a quick, solid overview of Why There's No End in Sight For the Israel-Hamas War.

+ Netanyahu says Israel will have security control over Gaza after war. This is exactly the wrong message to be delivering. Netanyahu is doing nothing to rally allies in the region, nothing to build trust, nothing to indicate this is about Hamas and not all Palestinians, nothing to stem settler violence in the West Bank, nothing to support the families of the hostages, nothing to unify Israel, and nothing to ease growing antisemitism around the world.
He was the wrong guy to protect Israel and he's the wrong guy to lead the country forward.

+ "Watching the battle unfolding in Gaza, I can see Fallujah's hell houses. Hamas's attack on October 7 was designed to elicit a specific, violent response from the Israelis. Hamas has turned the city of Gaza into a hell house. It has not only taken 242 hostages; it's taken the entire city and population of Gaza hostage. Hamas's goal isn't the liberation of the Palestinian people. Like al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hamas is a death cult." Elliot Ackerman compares what the IDF will face to what American soldiers faced in Fallujah. The Atlantic (Gift Article): A Knife Fight in a Phone Booth. "The images coming out of Gaza are beyond grim. They will worsen as Israeli troops push deeper into the city and enter the hell houses, to say nothing of miles of tunnels they'll have to navigate as they seek to free hostages. In an urban battle—whether in Fallujah, Bakhmut, Hue City, or Stalingrad—the city is usually destroyed. It becomes the one hostage that can never be rescued. It's difficult to see how Gaza City will avoid this outcome, or to understand how Hamas could deliver the citizens it purportedly represents to such a fate." (Let's hope this is somehow better than many experts predict...)

+ The suffering in Gaza is getting worse, even as safety corridors to the South finally open, the IDF is near Gaza's city center, Israelis mark one month since the Hamas massacre, US opposes re-occupation. Here's the latest from CNN, NBC, BBC, and Times of Israel.


Extra, Extra

The Rent is Too Damn Low: "In its bankruptcy petition, the company listed about $15 billion in assets and more than $18 billion in debt. It also has around $100 million in unpaid rent." NPR: WeWork files for bankruptcy in a stunning downfall from its $47 billion heyday. WeWork's downfall isn't stunning. What's stunning is the fact that a company renting (or re-renting) space ever had a valuation that high in the first place.

+ Mad Props: "The trip offered a vision of what aviation could look like years from now — one in which the skies are filled with aircraft that do not emit the greenhouse gases that are dangerously warming up the Earth." We were promised electric planes. And we might finally be getting them. NYT: Electric Planes, Once a Fantasy, Start to Take to the Skies.

+ Dire Straits: Another modern war that shows no signs of ending: The one Orcas launched against yachts. "A group of orcas managed to sink a yacht off the coast of Morocco last week ... as a crew with the boat touring group sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar" Killer whales sink yacht.

+ Green There, Done That: "Scientists have long thought that the glaciers in North Greenland have been stable — a vital condition, as they contain enough ice to raise the sea level by nearly 7 feet." But... North Greenland ice shelves have lost 35% of their volume, with "dramatic consequences" for sea level rise.

+ Chicken Scratched: "Tyson Foods is voluntarily recalling about 30,000 pounds of its dino-shaped chicken nuggets after some consumers reported finding small metal pieces in their patties."

+ Family Crest: "You could do worse than to age as the Silver Crest ages—no struggle, full acceptance. The bar jukebox works except when it doesn't. The Triple Play balls sometimes get stuck. Want a soda? You'll be having Sprite ... One day, we attempt some rough math. I calculate half a million eggs have been served here." San Francisco's 24-Hour Diner Stops the Cosmic Clock. "George is bartender, cook, janitor, maintenance man, and security guard. It means never locking the doors, no matter what."


Bottom of the News

"Though traditional book clubs have been a fixture of American social life for decades, some bibliophiles think they have lost the plot. These bookworms don't want to read books that don't interest them. Even worse is recommending a book the rest of the group hates. They dread the scheduled dinners where they feel bound to dish up smart-sounding hot takes, along with a side or dessert. So they are showing some spine and rewriting the book club, without the assignments or attitude. More people of all ages are gathering to read silently or discuss books they're reading on their own." Wait, your new idea for a book club is to gather and read your own book silently? I'm pretty sure someone thought of that before. It's called a library. WSJ (Gift Article): No, I Don't Want to Join Your Book Club.

+ Think cats are aloof? They make nearly 300 facial expressions. (299 of them express disdain. One indicates that they're picturing you as kibble.)