Thursday, November 16th, 2023


The Scene of the Crime

Disturbing, violent images. Ongoing, sometimes violent, protests. Relentless coverage. Americans experience a lot of this when it comes to certain foreign wars. We get less of it when it comes to the endless war within; the relentless gun violence carried out with weapons of war on communities across the country. Somehow, gun violence doesn't seem to trigger us. But maybe that's because it's so often covered as a political, cultural story instead of what it really is: a human one. WaPo (Gift Article) is trying to change that with its series on the AR-15 and the devastation is has wrought. Terror on Repeat. The article begins with an editorial note: "The photos, videos and personal accounts below are extremely disturbing and may be too upsetting for some people." Imagine a culture in which being made aware of the damage caused by AR-15s could be too upsetting, but keeping them legal seems, to many, hardly upsetting at all.

+ "It was kind of a hobby that got out of hand." Alta on a new book: American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15.


Stat 101

As sports fans see the odds everywhere, the odds of increased gambling problems keep going up. The latest place we're seeing the trend is on college campuses. "An estimated 2% to 3% of U.S. adults have a gambling problem. The portion of college students with a problem, however, is potentially twice that number – up to 6%." I predict we'll see this among high school kids and maybe even down to junior high. Sports gambling was a draw back when you had to find a bookie and jump through hoops to lay a bet. Now its marketed nonstop during games and its as available as your front pocket. Colleges face gambling addiction among students as sports betting spreads.


Hazed and Confused

"Emmanuel Aguirre, a 30-year-old software engineer in the Bay Area, had Covid at the end of 2020. Within a month, he said, his life was transformed: 'I felt like I was permanently hung over, drunk, high and in a brain freeze all at once.' He stopped dating, playing video games and reading novels, though he managed to keep his job, working remotely. Some of his physical symptoms eventually abated, but the brain fog has lingered, disappearing at times only to steamroll him days later." Aguirre is hardly alone. NYT Upshot (Gift Article): Can't Think, Can't Remember: More Americans Say They're in a Cognitive Fog. "Adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s are driving the trend. Researchers point to long Covid as a major cause."


Here’s Looking at You Kid

"It's also about someone dealing with growing older. Especially an older woman — a person who often disappears in our society." Dorothy Wiggins is 98, but far from disappearing, she's a mainstay on the scene of a new kind of NY high (or maybe low) society. NYT (Gift Article): At 98, She's a Social Media Star. Wiggins is not exactly a fan of the medium that's made her semi-famous: "TikTok feels stupid to me ... You need more than a momentary thing. I watched ‘Casablanca' the other night. Now that's the perfect length for a movie. I just think it's bad for concentration and that it's going to make people stupider." (Captain Renault: "What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?" Rick: "My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters." Captain Renault: "The waters? What waters? We're in the desert." Rick: "I was misinformed.")


Extra, Extra

Sin, War: "Five years ago, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, scrawled a note on a document that he knew Egyptian intermediaries would hand to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Take a 'calculated risk' on a ceasefire, Sinwar wrote in Hebrew." Bibi took that risk and many others. Now, Yahya Sinwar is being hunted by the IDF. Bloomberg (Gift Article): Hamas Mastermind Who Tricked Israel Is Top Target in Gaza Tunnels. Here's the latest from BBC, Times of Israel, and NBC.

Pelosi Attacker Guilty: "The jury deliberated for about eight hours before finding David DePape guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. DePape, who faces up to 50 years in prison, did not react as the verdict was read." Man who attacked Pelosi's husband convicted of federal assault and attempted kidnapping charges.

+ Not Elon Wolf: Another day, another post, another descent into full-blown antisemitism. Elon Musk agrees with antisemitic X post that claims Jews ‘push hatred' against White people. Yair Rosenberg in The Atlantic: Elon Musk's Disturbing ‘Truth'. "Just because Musk's affirmation of white-nationalist ideology was the unsurprising outcome of his online radicalization spiral doesn't make it any less devastating—or dangerous." I've been warning about Musk for years. Here's a more dire warning. None of his enablers care about this stuff at all. Dan Primack in Axios: "Elon Musk yesterday wrote 'You have said the actual truth,' in response to an X post that claimed Jewish communities support 'dialectical hatred against whites.' The original poster also implied agreement with the statement, 'Hitler was right.' ... No investment firms that backed Musk's takeover of X, nor those that have backed his other ventures, made public statements of opposition or condemnation. Instead, they cowered."

+ Fire and Ice: "While the idea of magma rising was no doubt scary for tourists visiting the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, which was closed as a precaution, Iceland's residents have learned over centuries to live with their island's overactive geology. So, why is Iceland so volcanically active?"

+ Santos Clause: "New York Republican Rep. George Santos, who represents parts of Long Island and Queens, announced today he's dropping his bid for a second term after a House ethics report blasted him for criminal activity and lying to voters." (Wait, crimes and lying are now frowned upon in the modern GOP?) Ethics report finds Santos used campaign funds to pay for OnlyFans, Botox, Sephora.

+ Fake News: "Federal prosecutors arrested two men on Wednesday and seized more than 200,000 counterfeit handbags, clothes and other luxury items worth $1.03bn, making it 'the largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in US history.'"

+ Dog Tale: A Hiker and a Terrier Climbed a Peak. The Dog Came Home 72 Days Later. "On October 30, a hunter on horseback discovered Moore's body. Standing nearby was a small white dog—it was Finney, and she was alive. When news trickled through the community that Finney had survived 72 days in the backcountry, she became an overnight superstar."

+ Mike Drop: "Mike Tomlin bears responsibility for fielding a team that cannot move the ball or stop its opponent from doing so on a regular basis. He also bears responsibility for winning anyway, which is what Tomlin does every year. The other stat that's key to his legend is that he has coached zero losing seasons." The Steelers have one of the league's worst offenses. And one of its worst defenses. They're 6–3.


Bottom of the News

"With the departure of the National Zoo's giant pandas earlier this month, the U.S. will soon be without any of the beloved bears." But wait. Panda diplomacy might be back. China may send new giant pandas to U.S., Xi says.

+ "In October, after 28 years, the group finally reached the final page. So last week, they looped back to the beginning to keep going." 28 years reading 1 book, and no one knows what it's about. (Ah, Joyce!)

+ A $1.35 billion lottery winner is suing the mother of his child, saying she told his family about the money. Never ask me about my business...