Tuesday, February 27th, 2024


Episodic Pics

Like most people, I'm a victim of a shrinking attention span. My internet-addled brain has a harder time focusing on longform material like books, long articles, and the anecdotes, opinions, and personal asides shared by others. But so far, my attention hasn't been divided when it comes to TV series. But maybe that's just a sign of my age. My teenaged kids rarely want to watch a family movie because of its length and always check the duration a series episode before committing to a communal viewing session. Should we be worried that the younger generation is unable or unwilling to focus even on something entertaining and fun? Or should I be worried that my kids see spending 28 minutes staring at a screen with me as a bit too much we time? There's no time to worry. If you do, you're likely to miss several episodes of a newish form of TV. The episodes are short (like, two minutes) but plentiful. MIT Tech Review: China's next cultural export could be TikTok-style short soap operas. "It's easy to compare apps like these to Quibi, a high-profile video service that infamously failed after less than a year in 2020. But these latest Chinese apps are different. They don't aim for slick, expensive productions. Instead, they choose simple scripts, shoot an entire series in two weeks, market it heavily online, and move on to the next project if it doesn't stick."


Make America Immigrate Again

"When a 22-year-old nursing student was found dead on a wooded trail at the University of Georgia in what's believed to be the first homicide on campus in nearly 30 years, it set off waves of grief and fear that shook the university to its core. But when a 26-year-old migrant from Venezuela was charged on Friday with kidnapping and murdering the student, Laken Riley, it did something else: It transformed Athens and Clarke County, a community of about 130,000 people some 70 miles east of Atlanta, into the latest flashpoint in the political fight over American immigration policy." NYT (Gift Article): Arrest of Migrant in Georgia Killing Turns City Into Latest Battleground on Immigration.

+ These days, everything quickly turns political. That's especially true when it comes to immigration and the border. "With President Biden and former President Trump making split-screen trips to the southwest border on Thursday, new data shows the issue is rising among voters." Immigration surges to top concern for Americans, new poll finds. Sadly, some politicians are a lot more interested in keeping this as a divisive issue and avoiding solutions (even if they negotiated those solutions themselves).

+ Some stories don't quite fit the current narrative. WaPo (Gift Article): The economy is roaring. Immigration is a key reason. "Immigration has propelled the U.S. job market further than just about anyone expected, helping cement the country's economic rebound from the pandemic as the most robust in the world."


Ad Nauseam

"It was a revelation—especially given the public outcry over Snowden's leaks—that agencies could just buy some of the data they needed straight from commercial entities. One technology consultant who works on projects for the US government explained it this way to me: 'The advertising technology ecosystem is the largest information-gathering enterprise ever conceived by man. And it wasn't built by the government.'" Byron Tau in Wired: How the Pentagon Learned to Use Targeted Ads to Find Its Targets—and Vladimir Putin.


I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun. Oh but mama that's where the fun is. — Bruce Springsteen, Blinded by the Light.

"His job is simultaneously so obscure that most people have never heard of it and so important that virtually every sector of the economy depends on it. His official title, one shared by no more than a few dozen Americans, is space-weather forecaster. Ever since leaving the Air Force, Tegnell has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, in Boulder, Colorado: ten hours a day, forty hours a week, three decades spent staring at real-time images of the sun." Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker: What a Major Solar Storm Could Do to Our Planet. "Disturbances on the sun may have the potential to devastate our power grid and communication systems. When the next big storm arrives, will we be prepared for it?"


Extra, Extra

Commitment Issues: It looks like Israel and Hamas are closer to a ceasefire agreement. Unless you ask Israel or Hamas. Israel and Hamas distance themselves from Biden's optimism on Gaza ceasefire deal. It makes political sense that Biden is in a hurry to get a deal done. The Middle East crisis has made its way to Michigan. On primary day, young Michigan voters are leading call to be 'uncommitted' to Biden.

+ Sinwar Zone: "The Israeli military is confident that Hamas leader Yehiya Sinwar, the alleged architect of the Oct. 7 attacks, is hiding inside a labyrinthine network of tunnels beneath southern Gaza. But he is surrounded by a human shield of hostages intended to deter an operation to capture or kill him, frustrating Israel's efforts to dismantle the terrorist organization and bring the more than four-month-long war to a close." WaPo (Gift Article): Hamas leader hiding in Gaza, but killing him risks hostages, officials say.

+ Smog Checkmate: Rest of World equipped gig riders across South Asia with pollution monitors. The readings were off the charts.

+ Navalny Deal: "Five sources told NBC News that a deal to free Navalny was in the works, although the swap was not thought to be imminent when Navalny's death was announced on Feb. 16. Two of those sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the mooted deal would have included reporter Evan Gershkovich and former Marine Paul Whelan." A deal to free Navalny was in the works, and allies say his death was no coincidence.

+ Rotten to the Core: "It's amazing in a bad sense what a catastrophic failure this was, ... Largely, the food supply regulatory system is based on an honor system." Lead-tainted applesauce pouches sailed through gaps in US food safety system.

+ King Hut: "'Is this great or what?' Young said, soundly weakly enthusiastic. 'I mean, I haven't thrown six touchdowns passes in a game in my life. Then I throw six in the Super Bowl!' Just then, someone in the crowd yelled, 'Joe Who?!' 'No!' Young said firmly. 'Don't do that!'" Peter King has been a constant in NFL reporting over the decades as America's official Monday Morning Quarterback. He's putting down his keyboard and he shares some thoughts on the way out. (He's not that old, he'll be around I think.) It's Time. Who's Complaining? Not Me.


Bottom of the News

"Just days earlier, after the last truckload of the 2016 harvest had been delivered, Underwood and Tran had sat together and mapped out the 2017 growing season, and what Tran would pay in advance for the tens of millions of pounds of peppers Underwood promised him. As usual, the agreement was verbal, sealed with a nod and a handshake, not contracts or lawyers. Then, on Nov. 10, at his vacation rental on Kauai, Underwood got a call with news that he could barely take in." What really caused the sriracha shortage? 2 friends and the epic breakup that left millions without their favorite hot sauce.

+ Omakase, but for coffee.