Hot Dog Warfare

Canadian apologies, A 'meating' in Russia, and this week's news.

Hot Dog Warfare

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Hey Everyone,

The air quality in the Midwest is so bad I can barely see through it to type this email. Thanks to Canadian wildfires, it smells like smoke, and constant apologies.

Don't know what I'm talking aboot? Just go outside in the midwest, or pass any Candian in a doorway.

Okay, soory. Let’s get to The News.

Hot Takes

Week 26 of 2023

beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Ian Hutchinson / Unsplash

Negative Action

The Supreme Court struck down race-based admissions at Harvard and U.N.C. yesterday, which looks like it ends decades of Affirmative Action, a policy aimed at increasing minorities' participation in colleges and elsewhere. Based on research in California, a ban on affirmative action decreased the diversity of schools, but there's no denying the data is complicated. But so are poverty and generations of familiar advantages, as I've written about here and here.

Biden took to the podium, arguing that "this is not a normal court" and that colleges should not abandon their commitment to diversity. Conservatives called it "a positive step forward," presumably referring to the progress made for white people and families from generational wealth. (more)

State Der-election

In other Supreme Court news: The Supreme Court ruled this week that states do not have free rein to decide how elections work with impunity. The case, which was about North Carolina's congressional maps, has angered many Republican-led states. According to reports, one official warned that this ruling could cause elections to be subject to the whims of voters. (more)

Hot Mic. Cold Coke.

CNN released a recording of Donald Trump, which seems to portray him sharing classified military documents about a proposed attack on Iran, and then asking someone to bring in some cokes. According to expert analysis of the audio, the recording was a sponsored post in partnership with Coca-Cola Bottling Company, suggesting Trump may be pursuing a career as a social media influencer. The concern with this is not related to the highly classified materials he shared but that Coca-Cola tightly controls its brand, especially brand colors, and Coca-Cola Red does not pair well with Orange. Trump claims the recording is "just another hoax," but we have plenty of documentation that Donald Trump has a love affair with Coke. (Here's more including the recording.)

Beat The Heat

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the temperatures. The biggest thing is the size of this tragedy. A 14-year-old lost consciousness and died on a hike in temperatures around 119 degrees at Big Bend National Park, and his stepfather, when rushing to get help, crashed his vehicle and died as well. Texas, this season has seen historic temperatures due to climate change. (more)

Madonna's Grill is Postponed

Madonna is recovering from a serious bacterial infection and will need something like a prayer. According to one source, a doctor commenting on the situation said she was nearly unrecognizable, but mostly from plastic surgery and the addition of gold teeth. She is expected to have a full recovery from the infection. (more)

Better Than Goodenough

John B. Goodenough Died at 100 years old this week. He was the Nobel-Winning Creator of the Lithium-Ion battery, which his life shows us, is not the only thing that lasts longer, but this guy, unfortunately, is not rechargeable. (more)

That's it for the news. Now here's this week's Feature.

Hot Dog Warfare: The Wagner Uprising

Feature Story

Once a Hot Dog Seller, now a mercenary with a bald head glistening from the juice of his steamed buns and soaked franks. A meathead and a killer for profit. Yevgeny Prigozhin is the creation of a Russia migrating from socialism to a market-based economy.

Last weekend, Yevgeny Prigozhin rebelled against Vladimir Putin in a chaotic episode spanning 36 hours. It ended abruptly with a quick exit from Russia after a sudden uprising turned into a deal. The Russian and Belarusian presidents negotiated a de-escalation and dropped all charges against the Wagner boss, a long-time ally of Putin. He would just walk out of Russia, unopposed, and go to Belarus with shards of destroyed Russian military equipment as souvenirs on his private jet.

Prighozin invaded Russia. He shot down six military helicopters. He took command of towns along the way like he was choking down tubes of meat covered in cheap bread and bright yellow mustard. He captured a major city, contained military leaders, and started toward Moscow. According to the latest reports, Russian General Sergei Surovikin knew in advance about the rebellion.

Putin let him go.

So someone exacts aggression toward Putin's leadership, and in response, he plays the Simon and Garfunkel card? "Maybe we just break up because you’re getting too much attention, and my fingers are too short?"

That makes sense. That's what anyone one of us would do.

Except me. If someone tried to overturn The Lorem Ipsum, I would email them into the ground, spamming every inch of their inbox with unwieldy copy surrounded by distracting gifs. And I wouldn't send them to Belarus to live in mid-European dictatorial luxury on donated military properties. I would make them spend more time on Facebook, surrounded by all those strange posts from "Swifties 2.0" and "90s Meme Town" and other "suggested for you" content. And no one would ever like their posts, ever.

Surely, Putin would do the same. At least some version of that, if his history of poisoning his enemies who attempt an uprising.

For a little history, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin was caught stealing when he was 18, and 2 years later, in 1981, he was caught a second time and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He ended up being released after serving nine years.

Well, evidently, his prison days had gotten him interested in hot dogs, so he started selling them in an open-air market in Leningrad.

But weiners weren't enough for Prigozhin, so he got into several other businesses, including groceries, casinos, construction, restaurants, and market research. In the USA, we call that a write-off for literally everything you could ever do, including enjoying a foot-long.

Speaking of hot dogs, somewhere along the lines, he met Vladimir Putin, who was on his own journey to prominence, and the two hit it off, likely because of their endearing love for processed meats and fascism. Prigozhin was granted several government contracts over the years, including some of the largest catering contracts, building him enormous wealth, much of it because of his connection to Putin. By 2012, he vacationed on his 115-foot yacht and traveled on his private jet.

He went from prison to oligarchy in 22 years.

He eventually started the Wagner group in an effort to support Russian military efforts the government needed to keep at arm's length, at one point receiving the equivalent of a billion-dollar budget. Their operations have expanded to Africa and The Middle East, and more recently, they have been a key operative in the invasion of Ukraine. Just recently, the Wagner Group was pulled out of Ukraine.

A Chaotic 36 Hours in Russia.

On Saturday last week, Prigozhin and his troops took control of the Russian city Rostov-on-Don before turning his troops toward Moscow, causing officials to fear he was attempting to overthrow Putin. Prigozhin denies it, saying he was just going to protest the war (and, I assume, a rival hot dog business). His efforts ended abruptly, he backed down willingly, and he was immediately exiled in a matter of a couple of days.

Putin is thanking his armed forces for ending a civil war. It makes sense that Putin seemingly let him off without a fight? Right? Why wouldn't he? While he seems to be moving to punish allies of Prighozhin, he seems to remain mostly quiet on Prighozhin himself. Is it because he is so threatened by Prigozhin's power he has to bide his time? Did they plan the whole thing together as a false flag to rile up public support? Is Putin allergic to emulsified meat trimmings extruded from a tube? There are too many questions to ask.

It also makes sense that Prigozhin would want to build an empire over decades and destroy it in a weekend, with a bite to the hand that feeds him. Doesn't it? Perhaps he's found himself in a corner where his crooked hot dog will be found out. But whether these dogs are steamed or grilled, they are not the franks you're looking for. There's clearly more to the story.

(Here's the latest from CNN)

That's it for this week.

Thanks for being here and sharing around the world.

Have a great weekend!

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