Say Cheese

Rat Selfies, God's Crypto Tip

Relax. You’re not going to be required to consider your own behavior and there’s no need for your own thoughts to get involved. This isn’t about you. It’s about rats. These rodents are so self-absorbed and easily manipulated that, after just a little bit of training, they will enter a behavior loop in which they endlessly take photos of themselves. I know, pathetic right? In fairness, it’s not entirely clear whether the rats in a recent study were narcissistic or whether they were just easily addicted to consuming sugar and obsessively pressing buttons. Either way, what a species! A photographer trained two rats to take photographs of themselves. They didn’t want to stop. NYT (Gift Article). (And don’t worry, your irresistible urge to click this link doesn’t say anything about you.) Our Rodent Selfies, Ourselves. “Maybe being able to keep ourselves busy pressing buttons is its own reward. In a 2014 study, scientists concluded that many human volunteers ‘preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.’ Maybe we would rather sit around and push whatever levers are in front of us — even those that might make us feel bad — than sit with ourselves in quiet contemplation. But that’s precisely the sort of thing that might be too uncomfortable to sit around and contemplate. Especially when there are rat selfies to marvel over.” I wish I could see the look on your face when you see these photos. (Not really…)


The Hampshire Thing

Few things about the media are more disturbing that the breathless, blow by blow coverage of election races. But as Mark Leibovich explains, New Hampshire feels less like another stop on the campaign primary trail and more like the end of the road for any hope of a ballot that doesn’t include Donald Trump. The Atlantic (Gift Article): First in the Nation—And Last? “Donald Trump shares an essential trait with the voters of New Hampshire: a craving for flattery and affirmation. Residents here are accustomed to parades of candidates trekking up every four years to tell them how sacred their first-in-the-nation primary is, how discerning their famously ‘independent’ and ‘contrarian’ voters are. Politicians strain endlessly to convey how vital New Hampshire is to the process. But things feel precarious and a bit upside down here these days—more final whimper than first salvo.” (I was worried I was the only one who whimpered during election season.)

+ My favorite takeaway from this campaign stop is that many New Hampshire Trump supporters named the border as a key issue. Uh…


A Marquis Event

“Grady was carrying a basket of clothes to the laundry. Augie was going to the underground parking garage. They chatted about the weather and Summerfest. When they reached the basement, she went to the laundry room. He walked to his car, a 1977 Mercury Marquis. Less than a minute later, there was a massive explosion. Grady thought the boiler had exploded. But when she looked into the garage, she saw Augie’s car in flames. The blast shook the city. Paintings fell from walls and books tumbled off shelves. One woman said her recliner lifted off the ground. Tenants ran from the building as firefighters and police rushed to the scene. Augie Palmisano was my cousin. His murder has never been solved.” News stories come and go. Click, click, click. Real life sticks with you. Mary Spicuzza in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. My cousin was killed by a car bomb in Milwaukee. A mob boss was the top suspect. Now, I’m looking for answers.


Church Dues and Don’ts

“Investigators accused the couple of violating Colorado’s anti-fraud, licensing and registration laws. They alleged the cryptocurrency was promoted as a ‘low risk, high profit investment’ while it was actually ‘illiquid and practically useless.’ Cryptocurrency is usually able to be converted into cash or other currencies through a digital platform or trading exchange. ‘The Lord said: I want you to build this,’ Regalado said. ‘We took God at his word and sold a cryptocurrency with no clear exit.'” WaPo (Gift Article): Pastor accused of $3M crypto scam says he may have ‘misheard God’. (This is basically how I explained my portfolio’s performance to my wife.)


Extra, Extra

The Razor’s Edge Case: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, authorized the installation of the razor wire as part of a broader effort to deter migrants from crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. That included a 29-mile stretch of the riverbank in Eagle Pass, much of which is private land.” Razor wire at the border: Supreme Court says feds can remove barriers in Texas meant to block migrants. (Selling fake crypto seems more godly than installing razor wire.)

+ Taken: “The Israeli army says 24 of its soldiers were killed in Gaza on Monday – the deadliest day for its forces since their ground operation began. That includes 21 reservists who died in an explosion likely caused by mines that Israeli forces had placed in two buildings to demolish them”

+ Board at Work: The always excellent John Branch in the NYT (Gift Article): An Olympic Champion Goes in Search of a New Identity. “As she prepares to step away from surfing, Carissa Moore confronts a question that many people face when they make a change in life: Who am I if I don’t do this anymore?”

+ Margot Robbied: Chat GPT, can you write a treatment for a Barbie movie sequel? “Sure, the Oscars snub both the female director and the female star of one of the biggest movies in recent memory.” Here’s a complete look at the nominations. (FWIW, I didn’t really get the hype about Barbie and I thought Oppenheimer was very good, but not great. I liked Past Lives more than either.)

+ Every Direction: The great (and, oddly, not Jewish) director Norman Jewison died at the age of 97. Want to talk about range? In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, Moonstruck.

+ Raw Cooks: “Netflix has agreed to a $5 billion deal to screen World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship Raw program over the next decade, in the group’s biggest foray so far into streaming live events.”


Bottom of the News

“The game works like this: Every day, those hoping for free drinks send photos of their faces, a Wetherspoons pub name, table number and a plea for generosity to a Facebook page called ‘Wetherspoons The Game!’ Some 22 volunteer moderators check photos of the players’ IDs and pick a few dozen winners each night to post their picture and pitch, usually ensuring a few free rounds. Politeness is strictly enforced, with rude language resulting in exclusion from the group. Moderators shut down the posts when too many drinks are ordered. Tequila, in particular, seems to prompt a quick shut down.” WSJ (Gift Article): A New Drinking Game Is Sweeping Britain.

+ These Japanese beef croquettes are so popular there’s a 43-year waitlist.

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