A Little Ditty
Too Small to Succeed
The trend of the big getting bigger has accelerated dramatically during the pandemic era. While most Americans struggled to keep food on the table, billionaires and the rest of the investor class enjoyed remarkable returns. Mom and pop stores saddled with a completely disappeared offline clientele went under, leaving deep-pocketed multinational players their pick of suddenly available (and discounted) storefronts. And so it is with the supply chain woes that show little sign of abating. "The largest multinational retailers like Amazon and Walmart have responded to the convulsions in the supply chain by chartering their own container ships, amassing empires of warehouse space and stockpiling products. Such options are beyond the reach of small companies." NYT (Gift Article): This Is What Happens When Globalization Breaks Down. Too small to succeed is the new too big to fail.
2. Logic Board Ape Yacht Club
"How do human beings acquire common sense? The short answer is that we’re multifaceted learners. We try things out and observe the results, read books and listen to instructions, absorb silently and reason on our own. We fall on our faces and watch others make mistakes. A.I. systems, by contrast, aren’t as well-rounded. They tend to follow one route at the exclusion of all other." The New Yorker: Can Computers Learn Common Sense? (I'd rather we focused on giving more humans beings the ability to learn it.) "A.I. researchers are making progress on a long-term goal: giving their programs the kind of knowledge we take for granted." If my laptop learns common sense, the first thing it will do is tell me to close it and get back to having an actual life.
3. Don't Call Me Daughter
"These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ukraine." Putin’s daughters targeted in US sanctions against Russia. Will that move a sociopath? When it comes to the world getting tough with Russia, consider the fact that only now is Putin's mafia state facing expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council. This is a government widely known for killing opposition leaders. Here's the latest from BBC.
+ "Many of his more obvious luxuries are embedded in state-owned enterprises and largely beyond the reach of Western sanctions." NYT: Why Tracking Putin’s Wealth Is So Difficult.
+ "The Russians were ill-prepared for Ukrainian resistance, proved incapable of adjusting to setbacks, failed to effectively combine air and land operations, misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend its skies, and bungled basic military functions like planning and executing the movement of supplies." AP: Russia's failure to take down Kyiv was a defeat for the ages. Russia's pathetic military performance is not even debatable at this point. But a big question is whether it will matter for civilians in Ukraine, as a poorly led Russian military transitions into full war crime mode.
+ "We’re lying to ourselves if we think that our troops cannot commit the same heinous crimes Russian troops are committing today. On an individual level, an American is no more morally perfect than his or her Russian counterpart. The difference is how each military organization responds to criminality. Our military’s culture of accountability took a blow when then-President Donald Trump pardoned both Lorance and Gallagher and was then cheered on by a morally loathsome minority of veterans and military fanboys who elected to side with Lorance and Gallagher against the many others in uniform who had testified against each man." Andrew Exum in The Atlantic: The brutal war crimes being documented in Ukraine are a warning Americans should heed.
"The influential figure of Carlson has pushed several false narratives to millions of Fox News viewers that have been eagerly embraced and recycled by Moscow and parts of the American right. Last month, for example, Carlson touted rightwing conspiracies that attempted to link Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to a discredited allegation that the US financed bioweapons labs in Ukraine." US rightwing figures in step with Kremlin over Ukraine disinformation. (It's all connected.)
+ "Forty-nine percent of Republicans and 52% of people who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election said Democrats are involved in the child-sex trafficking rings. And voters who consumed right-wing media were even more likely to believe it, such as people who get their news from conservative websites (58%) and those who trust Newsmax (56%) and One America News Network (54%)." Nearly Half of Republicans Now Think Top Democrats Are Running Pedophile Cabals.
5. Extra, Extra
Grid Pro Quo: "Forty states are experiencing longer outages — and the problem is most acute in regions seeing more extreme weather." Storms batter aging power grid as climate disasters spread. (If you live in one of the affected regions, you don't need to bother reading this article. And there's a chance you can't anyway because you're power is out...)
+ Throwing Them a Loan: "The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is again extending the moratorium on federal student loan payments, interest and collections, this time until summer's end, Aug. 31. The U.S. Department of Education also unveiled a plan to reset the roughly 7 million borrowers who are in default, using the pandemic pause to restore their accounts to good standing."
+ Plastic Surgery: "Samples were taken from tissue removed from 13 patients undergoing surgery and microplastics were found in 11 cases. The most common particles were polypropylene, used in plastic packaging and pipes, and PET, used in bottles. Two previous studies had found microplastics at similarly high rates in lung tissue taken during autopsies." Microplastics found deep in lungs of living people for first time.
6. Bottom of the News
A woman explains how she can reach 'deep' orgasm with no stimulation thanks to yoga. "Her feat is so impressive that it was detailed in a scientific journal, as medical professionals discovered she wasn’t lying." (And you thought she was just a poser.)
+ What source do Americans still trust when it comes to news? The Weather Channel. Ironically, the Weather Channel forecasted that it would be a cold day in hell before they topped this list.