Wednesday, March 27th, 2024


Deuces Wild

My ethics around picking up after my beagles during a walk have never truly been put through the paces. The true test is how a dog owner behaves when no one is looking. When you own a pair of howling beagle brothers, someone is always looking; often, half the neighborhood is. I'd like to think I'd do the right thing in any setting. But I'm not sure I'd want to frequent the L Trail on Mount Jumbo in Missoula where a now infamous vigilante, "armed with multi-colored rolls of plastic pet poop bags he buys by the box on Amazon," roams the trails looking to shame the locals who leave behind the output of their dog's behind. The fecal-matter obsessed vigilante has a bark worse than his bite, but the bark has gotten pretty loud. One could argue a man who spends much of his day picking up after dogs even though he's doesn't own one has lost his sh-t. Or maybe he's uncovered a key example that proves people can't get their sh-t together. "Even if you frequent this trail, you may not have seen the Bag Man—he's shadowy like that, and crepuscular—but you will have seen his droppings. After every walk, he leaves a printed note at the Cherry Street trailhead surrounded by bags of dog sh-t in red, orange, blue or green. The color changes daily. 'These are feces left on this trail yesterday, bagged by your neighbor today,' reads a typical note, printed on white office paper and formatted to reveal an above-average command of Microsoft Word." In a story that is broadly about community, society, and the complex relationship humans have with rules, Jacob Baynham worked like a dog to stay on the hot and steamy trail of this story and drop a load of knowledge about a man who couldn't let sleeping dogs lie. Dog Duty. (As to why you should give a sh-t about this story: "There are as many as 89 million dogs in the U.S., collectively manufacturing about 24.4 billion pounds of poop each year—more than the weight of 33 Empire State Buildings.")


Face Reality

People generally think about facial recognition technology as something that provides an extra layer of security. But it's increasingly being deployed by governments around the world to provide an extra layer of authoritarian control over dissent. "While authorities generally pitch facial recognition as a tool to capture terrorists or wanted murderers, the technology has also emerged as a critical instrument in a very particular context: punishing protesters." Rest of World: The changing face of protest. "Mass protests used to offer a degree of safety in numbers. Facial recognition technology changes the equation."

+ "A company called Clearview AI has scraped the internet to gather (without consent) 30 billion images to support a tool that lets users identify people by picture alone. Though it's primarily used by law enforcement, should we have to worry that the eavesdropper at the next restaurant table, or the creep who's bothering you in the bar, or the protestor outside the abortion clinic can surreptitiously snap a pic of you, upload it, and use it to identify you, where you live and work, your social media accounts, and more?" A discussion with NYT journalist, author of Your Face Belongs to Us, and one of the few people named after a Led Zeppelin song (not kidding), Kashmir Hill: About Face (Recognition).


Bet the Overabundance

"Since the beginning of March alone, betting-related controversies have swept through sports. A former Jacksonville Jaguars employee was sentenced to 6½ years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing $22 million from the team and wagering with it on FanDuel and DraftKings ... Then, the Los Angeles Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, in the wake of media inquiries about $4.5 million in wire transfers sent from Ohtani's bank account to a Southern California bookmaking operation under federal investigation ... And Monday, ESPN reported that Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter is under investigation by the NBA following multiple instances of prop betting irregularities over the past several months." ESPN: Are sports betting scandals proving cynics right? That's one good question. Another much bigger question is how a generation of people already addicted to their phones will be impacted by access to sports betting so ubiquitous that they're actually carrying casinos on their pockets.


Secondhand News

"'This is an unprecedented situation and a big deal,' said study lead author Duncan Agnew, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. 'It's not a huge change in the Earth's rotation that's going to lead to some catastrophe or anything, but it is something notable. It's yet another indication that we're in a very unusual time.'" A faster spinning Earth may cause timekeepers to subtract a second from world clocks. (Ok, but which second?)


Extra, Extra

Troubled Waters: "By now, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police were aware of the ship's condition and quickly moved to stop oncoming traffic. They were calm and decisive, but seemed unaware of the impending peril. 'I need one of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side,' an officer radioed at 1:27 a.m. 'Hold all traffic on the Key Bridge. There's a ship approaching that just lost their steering. So until they get that under control we gotta stop all traffic.'" ‘The whole bridge just fell down.' The final minutes before the Key Bridge collapsed. And from Vox: The Baltimore bridge collapse is only the latest — and least — of global shipping's problems. "From drought in the Panama Canal to the Houthis in the Suez to pirates off Somalia, we're all paying the price."

+ Plan BB: "He has brought far-right extremists into the mainstream of government and made himself, and the country, beholden to them. His corruption is flamboyant. And he has made terrible security decisions that brought existential danger to the country he pledged to lead and protect. Above all, his selfishness is without parallel: He has put his own interests ahead of Israel's at every turn." Anshel Pfeffer in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Benjamin Netanyahu Is Israel's Worst Prime Minister Ever. "However one views the war in Gaza—as a justified war of defense in which Hamas is responsible for the civilian casualties it has cynically hidden behind, or as an intentional genocide of the Palestinian people, or as anything in between—none of it is Netanyahu's plan. That's because Netanyahu has no plan for Gaza, only one for remaining in power." (You don't have to be a geopolitical expert to see the parallels between Bibi and Trump.)

+ Mifepristone Deaf: "This case is about a handful of physicians seeking to wield their 'conscience objections' to abortion as a cudgel against everyone's access to safe reproductive care throughout the country. So, it was heartening to see that the majority of the Supreme Court doesn't have the conscience to take it seriously. It was harrowing, however, to hear at least two justices embrace the plaintiffs' foundational theory: that a long-defunct federal law already bans medication abortion, and maybe procedural abortion as well—and that the courts can revive this ban once they get their hands on the right case." Slate: The Current Attack on Abortion Pills Will Fail. The Next One Will Be So Much Worse.

+ You Be Nilin': "These NIL deals are not for much money. For smaller brand deals, players will sometimes just get the product as payment, with maybe enough to share with their teammates. When you hear about players making six or seven figures per year, they either have major brand partnerships — Caitlin Clark with Nike, Angel Reese with Reebok — or are receiving a de facto salary from the donor-funded NIL collective that supports their school. Still, though, for lesser-known players, it can be important to strike while the March lights are hot." WaPo (Gift Article) on just how fast today's college hoops players can cash in on fleeting March Madness fame.

+ Lie-tmus Test: "Those seeking employment at the Republican National Committee after a Trump-backed purge of the committee this month have been asked in job interviews if they believe the 2020 election was stolen, according to people familiar with the interviews, making the false claim a litmus test of sorts for hiring." (In retrospect, NBC News should have asked the same question.) WaPo (Gift Article): Was the 2020 election stolen? Job interviews at RNC take an unusual turn.

+ Losing My Religion: "Religion's negative teaching about LGBTQ people are driving younger Americans to leave church. We found that about 60% of Americans who are under the age of 30 who have left religion say they left because of their religious traditions teaching, which is a much higher rate than for older Americans." NPR: People say they're leaving religion due to anti-LGBTQ teachings and sexual abuse.

+ Nappy Ending: When do you know you live in a aging society? When adult diapers represent a bigger market than baby diapers. Japan nappy maker shifts from babies to adults.


Bottom of the News

"This is why I liked reading about Stephen King's coke addiction so much. At least he admitted what it took, and it wasn't a color-coded email system." Kelly Stout in Esquire: Is It Even Possible to Become More Productive? This story reminded me of one I wrote several years ago called The Avalanche of Options. "Looking back on it now, the first time I truly felt the need for a note-taking app was when I started researching note-taking apps."

+ "The Doritos and Cheetos maker said the platform will make it easier for consumers to find the 25 products within its portfolio that have the seasoning." PepsiCo creates Flamin' Hot brand to highlight fast-growing chip flavor.