A Slap in the Face

Turn the Other Cheek, Biden His Time

This is a story that could serve as a metaphor for what it feels like to read the news these days. But it’s also a metaphor for several other trends in America, including the fact that a lot of people are thrilled by a “sport” that others assume must be some kind of slapstick comedy. NYT (Gift Article): In Las Vegas, a Violent Sport Sparks Controversy. “Referees and the medical staff onstage at the Cobalt Ballroom at the Fontainebleau Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas late last month rushed to check on Marusarz. Any hesitation in the cheering and applause from the 3,500-person crowd was alleviated when someone with a clear view of the ring yelled out that Marusarz was still breathing. The atmosphere had the boozy jocularity of a bachelor party. Dumpling raised a fist, grinning in triumph as the announcer declared him the victor. Marusarz remained unmoving on the floor. The whole fight, if you can call it as much, lasted about 30 seconds. Most fans agreed that it was the highlight of the evening’s eight-bouts event, in which one pair of competitors after another stood their ground and exchanged earsplitting slaps.” This gruesome spectacle is almost as hard to watch as a televised presidential debate.

+ I covered this topic last may: Slappy Ending. As I said then, there’s got to be some connection between our raging politics and culture wars and the fact that we’re inventing new—and ever more basic—ways to pummel the hell out of each other. I’ve been beating myself up trying to understand it.


Biden His Time

You may have noticed that the debate over Biden’s role at the top of his ticket has not abated. One reason is certainly insiders and donors expressing concern. But the extent of the coverage (at the expense of any other coverage) is a bad look for the media. Even NATO coverage is should he or shouldn’t he coverage. Margaret Sullivan: The media has been breathlessly attacking Biden. What about Trump? “The media coverage is overkill – not only too much in quantity and too breathless in tone, but also taking up so much oxygen that a story even more important is shoved to the back burner. That bigger story, of course, is the former president’s appalling unfitness for office, not only because he tried to overturn a legitimate election and is a felon, out on bail and awaiting sentencing, but because of things he has said and done in very recent weeks.”

+ Tom Nichols in The Atlantic (Gift Article): “After President Joe Biden’s disastrous recent public appearances, he and his supporters are attacking media outlets for a double standard in coverage of him and his opponent. They’re right, but that double standard is structural and, unfortunately, will not end during this campaign.”

+ As frustrating as it is to think about the coverage, it’s even more upsetting to think about the stakes. For that we turn first to Timothy Snyder who looks at the options moving forward. “The question, broadly, is whether the United States will continue to exist. Donald Trump has made it very clear that he will seek to change our regime to one of an authoritarian type.” And from Ron Brownstein: How Biden’s 2024 choice could reshape the Senate and Supreme Court for years.

+ Don’t take their word for it. Check out the Project 2025 plan. (Media Project 2024: Make people aware of Project 2025.)

+ McSweeney’s sees the humorous side of all of this: Relax, the Only People Panicking About Biden Are Political Insiders, the Media, and Literally Everyone Else.

+ Meanwhile, the GOP continues to pledge their allegiance to Trump, knowing full well who his is and what he has planned. Haley says she is releasing her convention delegates and urging them to support Trump.


Elevated Discourse

“Through my research on elevators, I got a glimpse into why so little new housing is built in America and why what is built is often of such low quality and at high cost. The problem with elevators is a microcosm of the challenges of the broader construction industry — from labor to building codes to a sheer lack of political will. These challenges are at the root of a mounting housing crisis that has spread to nearly every part of the country and is damaging our economic productivity and our environment.” NYT (Gift Article): The American Elevator Explains Why Housing Costs Have Skyrocketed. (The fact that there are still people who enter elevators without first letting those inside exit explains everything else.)


Molecule to Be Kind

“Researchers at the University of Delaware are proposing a new recycling technique that breaks down blended fabrics using chemicals and microwaves. The researchers say the process takes 15 minutes and can dissolve any blend of cotton, polyester, nylon and spandex into molecules that can be used to make new fabrics or products like dyes, electronics and tires.” WaPo (Gift Article): Why scientists think they may finally have found a way to recycle clothes. (This will come in handy if I ever decide to stop wearing the same 4 T-shirts.)

+ Nature: ‘Chemical recycling’: 15-minute reaction turns old clothes into useful molecules.


Extra, Extra

Hug the Throne: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been hosted by President Biden at a state dinner and lavished with praise by White House officials, who describe ties with India as ‘one of the most consequential relationships’ for the United States. But this week, Modi reminded the world that he has another close relationship — with ‘my dear friend Vladimir Putin.'” WaPo (Gift Article): Modi bear-hugs Putin in Moscow, marking deep ties between Russia and India.

+ Napoleon Complexity: “France, with its presidential system, has no culture of coalition-building compromise. ‘We know nothing of that, we are a nation of would-be Napoleons,’ said Nicole Bacharan, a political scientist.” France Learns a New Word: Ungovernable. (It’s like those French have a different word for everything.)

+ Hot Ticket: Tourists still flock to Death Valley amid searing US heat wave blamed for several deaths. “I was excited it was going to be this hot. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kind of like walking on Mars.” (If you think it’s exciting now, just wait.) Meanwhile, in Texas, rising temperatures bring new risks to communities without electricity (and AC) after Hurricane Beryl.

+ Bud, Where’s My Car: “In 2022, more than 105,000 cars were stolen in Canada – about one car every five minutes. Among the victims was Canada’s very own federal justice minister, whose government-issued Toyota Highlander XLE was taken twice by thieves.” How Canada became a car theft capital of the world.

+ The Story is Coming Out: “I knew this day was going to come … I knew that it was going to come out, and I knew that I would be having conversations like this.” WaPo (Gift Article): Alice Munro associates say they knew of abuse. “A biographer of the Canadian writer says he was among those who knew that Munro’s daughter had been sexually abused by her stepfather.”

+ Copen Mechansism: “Tourists will be rewarded with free food and activities if they participate in environmentally friendly tasks while visiting Copenhagen, the city’s tourist board has announced.” Rewards for tourists who litter pick in Copenhagen. This is far cry from the water gun shooting response that locals in Barcelona are trying out.


Bottom of the News

“Pastor Todd Holmes told WJHL that the AR-15 was just one of many giveaways at the church, and he thought it was appropriate since it was in honor of Independence Day.”

+ Yi-Chen Xie of Taiwan is The 2024 World Latte Art Champion. (OK, impressive. But I said Oat Milk!)

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