Wednesday, February 1st, 2023


As Mad as March

It's Black History Month. Except in Florida, where Gov Ron DeSantis has canceled February. Well, not quite, but given the state of the culture wars, particularly in the state of Florida, an eleven month year doesn't seem that far-fetched. Here's my idea for a three-part advanced placement course. First, teach students how politicians use culture wars and punching down to rile up voters who are then distracted by fear and rage, and ultimately ignore the economic and legislative issues that actually affect their lives. Second, cover the way that these obvious tactics are treated as real news by the media, which only adds to the problem. And third, explain how this media-inflamed rabble-rousing can create enough friction that institutions ultimately cave to the pressure. NYT (Gift Article): The College Board Strips Down Its A.P. Curriculum for African American Studies. "After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives."

+ This story is not so much about the details of the course requirements. I developed the curriculum for and taught African American literature classes at high schools in Brooklyn and Boston, and my mom created the curriculum for anti-semitism courses at several colleges, yet I still sometimes worry that my kids' schools focus too much of their efforts on identity-related material. Those matters are fair to debate. But this isn't about an actual educational debate any more than book banning is backed by intellectual reason. It's about the way things work and how certain issues come to dominate our attention and divide us. It's also part of a broader punching down model that works over and over, and has become a political arms war. Example: What do you do if your presidential campaign isn't taking off as well as you had hoped. Answer: Trump Promises to Go After Trans People if Re-Elected.


The Climb

"Most of the searchers didn't know Matthew Greene. Most hadn't met him. He'd climbed mountains, as they did, and that's why they went looking. Some went into California's Eastern Sierra shortly after he disappeared and found nothing. Others went back, year after year ... I didn't know matthew either. I've never rescued anyone. I'm just a reporter. When I first saw his face on a missing person flyer, I was sitting in a cubicle in Pennsylvania at the newspaper where I work. Matthew's halfsmile and pale blue eyes reminded me of a dear friend I'd loved and lost. Matthew and that friend, Anthony, didn't have any connection or much in common. People often pointed out that discrepancy over the years as proof I'd gotten lost in this story." Jason Nark about the elusive search for the body of a lost climber and the more elusive search for relief from grief. What We Search For.


Jock Strapped for Cash

"Did you perform work in more than one state? Given that this is the 21st century, there's a decent chance you did. You might have responded to several emails from your boss during a long weekend in Denver or spent a day on Zoom before skiing in the Poconos. But a state's department of revenue is unlikely to notice that you visited, or that you completed any work. Unless you're a professional athlete." Why athletes (and some remote workers) owe a ‘jock tax' wherever they go. (Sometimes, Steph Curry shoots a three-pointer from so far away, he has to pay taxes in two states.)


Cheat Chat

How do you keep kids from using AI programs to do their homework? You create AI programs to catch them. Even ChatGPT has a ChatGPT-detector now. Axios: ChatGPT sparks surge of AI detection tools. (Give students some credit, they'll find a way to cheat.)


Extra, Extra

He Even Retired More Than Other QBs: A year ago, almost to the minute, Tom Brady announced his retirement from football. Aside from a forgettable year for his Tampa Bay Bucs and his divorce, I don't really need to change of word from my coverage of retirement 1 to cover retirement 2. So here it is again: Grid Ironman: Tom Brady is the Tom Brady of Football.

+ Dreamer Interpretation: Republican-led states ask judge to shut down DACA program for immigrant Dreamers. "A ruling that shuts down DACA or declares the program illegal would likely be appealed to the 5th Circuit by the Biden administration, and the case could ultimately reach the Supreme Court." (Which, of course, is the point.)

+ Roadside Assistance: "The round, silver capsule — measuring roughly a quarter of an inch in diameter by a third of an inch tall, or the size of the pea — was found south of the mining town of Newman on the Great Northern Highway." A tiny but dangerous radioactive capsule is found in Western Australia.

+ Homem da Flórida: "Among the most popular traditions at Florida's Disney World are the daily character appearances that allow the public to get up close to the theme park's star attractions. Just a few miles down the road, beneath the palm trees of the lushly landscaped Encore resort at Reunion, Brazil's exiled former president appears to have embraced the custom." Exiled Bolsonaro lives it up in Florida as legal woes grow back home.

+ Hipster Hoopster: "A 22-year-old high school assistant basketball coach who allegedly posed as a player to take part in a junior varsity game has been fired, along with the rest of the coaching staff." If Tom Brady can play in the NFL at 45, why can't this person play middle school hoops at 22?

+ Sharing is Daring: "Netflix will require users to identify a 'primary location' for all accounts that live within the same household. Users will need sign into the home wifi of the primary location at least once every 31 days to ensure their device is not blocked." Netflix reveals first details of password sharing crackdown.


Bottom of the News

"The male northern quoll — a carnivorous mammal about the size of a small domestic cat — is walking so far and sleeping so little in its desperate search for a female mate that it may be causing its own early death." Either way, he's f**ked.