Unlevel Playing Fields, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday
Of all places, we like to think of playing fields as having a level playing field. But, alas, one of the last places where people from different socioeconomic backgrounds actually mix and mingle is increasingly becoming a sad reflection of the economic divide. Matt Richtel in the NYT (Gift Article): The Income Gap is Becoming a Physical-Activity Divide. "A combination of factors is responsible. Spending cuts and changing priorities at some public schools have curtailed physical education classes and organized sports. At the same time, privatized youth sports have become a multibillion-dollar enterprise offering new opportunities — at least for families that can afford hundreds to thousands of dollars each season for club-team fees, uniforms, equipment, travel to tournaments and private coaching. 'What’s happened as sports has become privatized is that it has become the haves and have-nots.'" When we fail to interact with one another, we all lose.
2. Helena Bucket
"In their complaint, filed in 2020, the young activists seized on language in the Montana state Constitution that guarantees residents 'the right to a clean and healthful environment.'" NYT: "Sixteen young Montanans have sued their state, arguing that its support of fossil fuels violates the state Constitution." (Gift Article): In Montana, It’s Youth vs. the State in a Landmark Climate Case. (This is going to be one hell of an episode of Yellowstone.)
3. Coaxial of Evil
"It’s one of at least six private undersea cable deals in the Asia-Pacific region over the past four years where the U.S. government either intervened to keep HMN Tech from winning that business, or forced the rerouting or abandonment of cables that would have directly linked U.S. and Chinese territories. The story of those interventions by Washington hasn’t been previously reported." The battle over China and Internet privacy isn't limited to TikTok. Reuters: U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves – over internet cables.
+ "The House Energy and Commerce Committee was gathered, it said, to investigate 'how Congress can safeguard American data privacy and protect children from online harms.' And on that, the hearing revealed plenty." Wired: The interrogation of CEO Shou Zi Chew highlighted US lawmakers’ own failure to pass privacy legislation. (It’s silly to pretend there’s no peril associated with a China-owned social network tracking our kids. But the national risk posed by our divisive, often anti-democratic Congress—many of whom pocketed cash from US social media players before going after TikTok—is much, much greater.)
+ While we're on the topic of social media, remember how Twitter was purchased by a self-described free-speech absolutist? Whoops. Twitter blocked 122 accounts in India at the government’s request.
4. Weekend Whats
What to Watch: It's probably too obvious, but just in case you missed the news, allow me play a role I rarely get to play: The bearer of good tidings. Succession is back, baby. For a less obvious viewing experience, I'd suggest being transported to a different world in every way by watching The Elephant Whisperers on Netflix.
+ What to Reid: Reid Hoffman knows as much about Chat AI as anyone. He's probably the main reason its been incorporated into Bing, a move that officially began the current AI arms race. He's a lot less worried about it than many of us are. He wrote a book about its potential - with the help of Chat-GPT-4. "Impromptu: Amplifying Our Humanity Through AI, written by Reid Hoffman with GPT-4, offers readers a travelog of the future — exploring how AI, and especially Large Language Models like GPT-4, can elevate humanity across key areas like education, business, and creativity. But, it’s not just a book, it’s a conversation. In a first, Hoffman doesn’t just write about GPT-4; he interacts and writes with GPT-4, letting readers see the technology’s capabilities." I'm still worried, but I'm always interested in Reid's perspective. (There's even a free PDF of the book.) I like to think Reid wrote the book with a computer program because he assumed my schedule was too full.
+ What to Hear: The first time I heard Inhaler, I thought to myself, "Uh, this singer must be a pretty big fan of Bono, since he sounds a lot like him." Well, it turns out that Elijah Hewson is Bono's son. But forget the nepo baby critiques. Inhaler is a really good band. Check out Cuts and Bruises. (Start with Love Will Get You There and These Are The Days). Elijah is still only my second-favorite Hewson child. Eve Hewson holds the top spot.
5. Extra, Extra
Sold a Parents Bill of Goods: "The debate took center stage in the House this week, where Republicans broke into cheers after narrowly advancing their 'Parents Bill of Rights,' Friday’s vote followed a contentious 16-hour committee hearing and a bitter floor debate over the legislation, whose sponsor argued would 'bring more transparency and accountability to education' and whose opponents derisively rebranded the 'politics over parents act.'" Just what you want, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz in charge of education. ‘Parents’ rights’: Republicans wage education culture war as 2024 loom.
+ On a Gender Bender: "Gov. Andy Beshear said in a written veto message that the bill allows 'too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children...My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.'" Kentucky governor vetoes sweeping GOP transgender measure. That veto will soon be overridden because stoking fear of society's most vulnerable is at the heart of the education culture wars. Georgia governor signs bill banning most gender-affirming care for trans children.
+ Going to the Mattesses? "Americans are moving hundreds of billions of dollars out of banks - especially smaller, regional banks - into larger institutions, as well as money market funds, government bonds, high-yield online savings accounts, even cryptocurrencies and gold." Bye, banks: Recent turmoil is spurring many to move their money.
+ Flame Thrower: "Former president Donald Trump warned early Friday of 'potential death & destruction' if he is charged in Manhattan in a criminal case." We already experienced death and destruction. That's what the other charges are about.
+ Trash Talk: "What makes humans different from other species? To environmental engineer and Santa Clara University professor Stephanie Hughes, it's the fact that we produce things that can't be used again in nature. We break the cycle." Garbology is the study of trash. This is why students love it. (Too bad the name is taken. Garbology would have been a perfect headline for the story about the GOP's Parents Bill of Rights.)
6. Feel Good Friday
"The births are a 'big dill,' says the zoo, because the radiated tortoise, native to Madagascar, is a critically endangered species whose numbers are in decline." Finally living up to his nickname, a 90-year-old tortoise named Mr. Pickles just became a father of 3. (Meanwhile, the Hare has like 4000 kids at this point.)
+ "Cox’s story is as unlikely as the instruments he somehow wills back to life and into the hands of the most talented on the planet. Raised in a log cabin in the North Carolina woods, Cox got into a science and math-focused public boarding school in nearby Durham as a teen, only to decide that math and science weren’t his jam." The Calif. guitarmaker whose work is loved by Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift.
+ WaPo: She was accepted by 54 colleges and got $1.3 million in scholarship offers. (Sure, but 53 of those were safety schools...)
+ "Bystanders and police who attended the scene told Elyse and Bella that without their help, the younger girls would likely not have survived." Bravery medals for Ballina women who raced into 'rough, crazy' surf to save drowning girls.
+ "A dog who went missing in Farmington, New Mexico, in 2015 surprised everyone by turning up in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, in 2023." New Mexico Dog Missing for 7 Years Found 1,700 Miles Away Walking Down South Carolina Road. (He was carrying a rudimentary map that had been given to him by the family cat.)