Friday, February 2nd, 2024


Made in the Shade

All right, just hear me out. Yes, we're a little behind when it comes to addressing our climate challenges. But what if we could slow the problem down a bit? Here's the idea: An umbrella. Wait, before you start throwing shade, you should know it's gonna be a really big umbrella and it's gonna be really far away. NYT (Gift Article): Could a Giant Parasol in Outer Space Help Solve the Climate Crisis? This is a rare climate-related win win. If it works, the scientists behind the project will have saved the world. If not, the rest of can enjoy the shade-nfreud associated with watching them fail.

+ Until we're covered in shade, Punxsutawney Phil can still carry out his assigned duties, which includes accurately predicting the end of Winter a whopping 33% of the time. This year, Phil declared an early spring.


You Don’t Know How Good You Have It

Once again, the jobs report numbers exceeded even the more optimistic projections. It's pretty clear we've avoid the dreaded recession many thought was unavoidable. US economy adds 353,000 jobs, blowing past Wall Street expectations. The weird thing is that even with a series of great job reports, many Americans are convinced they're living through the economic equivalent of the story of Job. "A 55% majority of Americans overall say they feel Biden's policies have worsened economic conditions in the country, while just 26% believe his policies have improved conditions and another 19% say they've had no effect – numbers that are nearly unchanged from last summer. A near-universal 91% of Republicans say that Biden's policies have worsened the economy." Even if you take Biden out of the question, 71% of Republicans say the economy is getting worse.


Check Mates

"Each player, we're all unique in our own skill sets, just like each chess piece on the board. Knowing what each piece does and how to use them to their best ability, that's similar to basketball." That's the Warrior's sharpshooting philosopher Klay Thompson on a trend that's taking over the NBA (and a lot of other people). GQ Sports: Why Be a Point Guard When You Can Be a Grandmaster? Inside the NBA's Chess Club.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: Benjamin Herold follows five families in very different places to track the unraveling of America's suburbs. The excellent Alex Kotlowitz described the book as "astonishingly important." Herold's prose is smooth and he's created a very detailed, rich ethnography. Check out Disillusioned.

+ What to Watch: Curb Your Enthusiasm's final season is going to give you more of what you're used to from the show. Which is exactly what we could use right now.

+ What to Read: "A person, especially a child, walking away from such a crash would be a small miracle; surviving in the Amazon for more than a week without supplies was almost too much to hope for." William Ralston in The Atavist: The race to find four children who survived a plane crash deep in the Amazon.


Extra, Extra

Don't Stop Believing: "Excessive concern about deepfakes could become a problem of its own. If the first-order worry is that people will get duped, the second-order worry is that the fear of deepfakes will lead people to distrust everything. Researchers call this effect 'the liar's dividend,' and politicians have already tried to cast off unfavorable clips as AI-generated." The Atlantic (Gift Article): AI in Politics Is So Much Bigger Than Deepfakes. (The big risk of all the faking and lies is that people don't know what to believe so they throw their hands up and stop believing anything.)

+ Zuck Everlasting: In the same week Mark Zuckerberg got hammered by a Senate committee, his shareholders are getting hammered to celebrate the company's earnings. Meta's $200 Billion Surge Is Biggest in Stock-Market History. "It was only a couple of years back the Facebook owner suffered the single biggest market value destruction in stock-market history." If you missed my take on the Senate hearings on Wednesday, it was met with a lot of heading nodding around the internet. Bad v Worse.

+ Race Back in Time: "Wood stared at her class. She tried to make eye contact with every teenager. Anyone, she reminded herself, might be secretly recording her — or planning to report her." WaPo (Gift Article): Students reported her for a lesson on race. Then she taught it again. (It's insane that it takes this much effort to let a kid read a good book.)

+ This Fight is Real: "Though McMahon denied the accusations in last week's suit, he resigned one day later as executive chairman of the board of TKO Group, WWE's parent company. He also stepped down from the TKO board of directors and no longer has a role with WWE." WWE founder Vince McMahon is under federal investigation surrounding sex trafficking allegations.

+ Taint That a Shame: "Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis admitted she had a personal relationship with an outside prosecutor she appointed to manage the election interference case against former president Donald Trump and his allies but denied claims that the relationship had tainted the proceedings." If it didn't taint the proceedings, it allows others to more easily taint it. WaPo: Fani Willis admits relationship with prosecutor on Trump Georgia case.

+ Mama's Got a Squeezebox: "Adele, born Adele Zerilli in 1925, was constantly listening to Top 40 radio [he] was growing up, getting her son on his feet to dance with her. She scrimped to buy him his first electric guitar and she encouraged him to be a musician." So we have a hell of a lot to thank her for. NYT (Gift Article): The Mother Who Gave Springsteen His Rock 'n' Roll Spirit died at 98.

+ Not Being Even Steven: Even though his whole political pitch is that he's a role model and great family man with great values, "the reality of Steve Garvey's life is more complex. The 75-year-old has struggled with debt, been repeatedly sued, faced a bitter divorce, and got two women pregnant before quickly marrying a third woman, his current wife, in a scandal that briefly made him a national punchline in 1989. He pledged in interviews at the time to take 'moral and financial responsibility' for the children. Speaking publicly for the first time, the two children involved in the paternity imbroglio, now adults, told The Times that their mothers repeatedly tried to arrange meetings and phone calls for the children with Garvey, but he declined to communicate." Steve Garvey touts 'family values' in his Senate bid. Some of his kids tell another story. (I'm partly linking to this story because I can't stand unqualified clowns who want to start their political careers at the top but can't be bothered to come up with any policy positions. I'm mostly linking to it because I hate the Dodgers.)

+ Free Bird: "The pigeon's ordeal began in May when it was captured near a port in Mumbai with two rings tied to its legs, carrying words that looked like Chinese. Police suspected it was involved in espionage." Indian police clear a suspected Chinese spy pigeon after 8 months in bird lockup.


Feel Good Friday

"Large breeds and breeds with flattened faces had shorter average life spans than smaller dogs and those with elongated snouts, the researchers found." The Dogs That Live Longest, by a Nose. (This one is for my beagles.)

+ "Farrah said kneading dough is therapeutic both physically and emotionally." They gather to bake bread each week, then give away thousands of loaves.

+ FCC moves to outlaw AI-generated robocalls. (Please also make unsolicited political texts illegal. I'm going crazy!)

+ "Video of the unusual rescue Saturday was shared on social media by Queensland Police on Thursday. It showed the toddler sitting inside the glass-walled box filled with plush toys, blissfully unaware of his predicament." (Maybe because his predicament was what he was working towards.) Toddler gets stuck after climbing into a claw machine looking for a toy in Australian shopping mall.

+ The race to build climate-resilient coral reefs.

+ Elephant family work together to save baby stuck in mud. (This reminds me of something that once happened to me in the dressing room in the husky section at Macy's.)