All Aboard the Imaginary Train
The same dysfunctional politics that create a sense of hopelessness about the future of our democracy also make it impossible to get big things done. We're no longer a can-do nation, and it's not because of the doers, it's because of the politicians. For one example, hop aboard the high speed rail system that California has been developing since 2008—which was already decades after Europe and Asia began operating similar trains. Actually, hopping aboard will just land you in a pile of dust because California's high speed rail has been railroaded. "The state was warned repeatedly that its plans were too complex. SNCF, the French national railroad, was among bullet train operators from Europe and Japan that came to California in the early 2000s with hopes of getting a contract to help develop the system ... The company pulled out in 2011 ... 'They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.' Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018." Where do things stand? For a price of $33 billion, Californians were supposed have a high speed route from SF to LA by 2020. The current plan costs about $113 billion and will amount to "starter line" in the center of the state by 2030. Want to get from LA to SF quickly? At this point, the only thing you can board is an artist's rendition. NYT (Gift Article): How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails. The shortest distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco should have been a straight line, but the lobbyists and leaders instead led Californians into a statewide circle jerk.
2. Slaughter Under the Bridge
"The bombings in Kyiv were part of a nationwide barrage that hit more than ten cities. According to Ukrainian officials, the objective was to disable power grids and energy services ahead of the winter. In Kyiv, the missiles mostly appeared to have killed and maimed civilians." The New Yorker: Kyiv’s Peace Is Destroyed.
+ The terrorist targeting of civilians in large urban areas follows the destruction of the bridge that connects Russia to Crimea. The attack "struck a prime symbol of the project of Russian imperial restoration, an expensive structure designed to link a Crimea reincorporated into Russia with the motherland. It damaged a crucial supply route. It showed that Ukraine could reach deep behind Russian lines to hit, with exquisite precision, a key and extremely well-defended target. It was, above all, a personal as well as a national humiliation: This was Vladimir Putin’s pet construction project, and it was the most unwelcome gift possible on his 70th birthday." The Atlantic: Putin’s Regime Faces the Fate of His Kerch Strait Bridge.
+ That may be true, but while we're waiting for fate to materialize, Putin is determined to do as much damage as possible. To achieve that, he's put a new man in charge of the destruction. Sergei Surovikin: the ‘General Armageddon’ now in charge of Russia’s war.
3. A Lump of Coalinga
"The fire chief noticed it when he tested hydrants in August — a rare occurrence as Coalinga desperately seeks to conserve water — and the first one shot out a foot-long block of compacted dirt. The second one ejected like a can of Axe body spray. The schools superintendent could only think drought on the first day of school when a 4-year-old fell onto unwatered turf, breaking an arm; or when the chain saws dropped three coastal redwoods outside Henry F. Bishop Elementary that had withered and died. Superintendent Lori Villanueva even lost a portion of her own right lung last year from a drought-aggravated illness, valley fever, that’s caused by breathing soil fungus whipped up off the dry ground." Welcome to Coalinga, and the future of a lot of other places that are drying up. A California city’s water supply is expected to run out in two months.
+ "Ingomar turns tons of San Joaquin Valley-grown tomatoes into ketchup and tomato paste. The natural by-product of that process is water, which, until now, just went down the drain. 'We evaporate a lot of the tomato to create ketchup. And that evaporative condensate is what we catch. Then we run that through our purification process.'" An Australian startup is "growing" water for drought-parched California. (We just need to maintain enough water to grow the tomatoes in the first place.)
4. Offensive Huddle
"After a week of turmoil for Georgia Senate GOP hopeful Herschel Walker — one that began with the bombshell allegation he paid for an ex-girlfriend's abortion in 2009 — national Republicans are not backing out. Senators Rick Scott and Tom Cotton will join Walker at an event in West Georgia Tuesday afternoon, a campaign stop branded 'Huddle with Herschel.' Scott is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which confirmed its financial commitment to Walker last week. This comes days after former President Trump's PAC put down nearly $1 million for ads attacking Walker's opponent Sen. Raphael Warnock." (If you're gonna huddle with Herschel Walker, bring condoms.)
5. Extra, Extra
Pediatric Question: "Hospitals around the country, from regional medical centers to smaller local facilities are closing down pediatric units. The reason is stark economics: Institutions make more money from adult patients." NYT: As Hospitals Close Children’s Units, Where Does That Leave Lachlan?
+ Unwise Council: "Nury Martinez announced her resignation this morning from her post as Los Angeles City Council President following the release on Sunday of recordings of racist remarks she made in a meeting last October during a conversation between two other Latino councilmembers and the L.A. Labor Federation president." These are the kinds of people today's political environment attracts. After Outcry Over Racist Remarks, Nury Martinez Resigns As President Of The LA City Council.
+ West Side Story: "I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE." Twitter Locked Kanye West's Account After He Posted An Antisemitic Tweet. Kanye's therapist should go defcon 3 on his medication.
+ Fluoride Slide: "Residents of a small community in Vermont were blindsided last month by news that one official in their water department quietly lowered fluoride levels nearly four years ago, giving rise to worries about their children’s dental health and transparent government — and highlighting the enduring misinformation around water fluoridation."
+ Serial Filler: In what looks to be the final episode in the case dramatized by the podcast, Serial, "Baltimore prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges against Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee after DNA evidence supported his innocence."
6. Bottom of the News
As the economy struggles, Americans are cutting back on some items. Eating at restaurants and take-out are both facing cutbacks. TV and music streaming? Not so much. Americans really, really love their subscriptions.
+ "The winning gourd weighed in at 2,560 pounds and belonged to Travis Gienger, a horticulture teacher from Minnesota. Gienger also took first place in 2020 with a 2,350-pound pumpkin." A Minnesota pumpkin was crowned the winner at this year's weigh-off.