The Handbasket

The eternal abyss has gained a new member. Plus, it's this week's news.

The Handbasket

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Hey Friends,

I hope you didn't choke on your Peeps last week. Those vicious little monsters may come in a cute package, but they are not your friends, according to California. They come with the dye, Red No. 3, a toxic chemical that has been linked to cancer and is banned in Europe and Western Western Europe, also known as California.

The sugar rush alone could put you in a coma, but we both know we'll eat them if they are at arm's length, so please consume with care. Hopefully, Peeps are not the only thing you got in your Easter basket last weekend.

That's not all I have to say about baskets today.

I'll get to that in a minute...

But first, let's get to The News.

Quickly: If you enjoy this issue, would you smash that like button down below? 👇 --> 👍. It helps me know when I'm on the right track.

Hot Takes

Week 15 of 2023

Abortion Pills

Just last week, a conservative judge ordered the FDA to withdraw its approval of an abortion pill, mifepristone, widely used in a two-pill process for abortions since the FDA approved it in 2000. A federal appeals panel overturned the ruling on Wednesday, saying that the pills should remain available but could not be sent through the mail until a lawsuit on the matter is resolved. Critics of medication-based abortions have been vocal lately, advocating for another form of abortion, popularly called "gun rights." On the other hand, critics of strawman arguments say that punchline was not a good one, but neither are the poverty rates for young mothers. (more)

My Take: Here is my article, Burned At The Stake.

The Nashvillians

Republicans who hold a supermajority in the Tennessee House of Representatives enacted a procedure that is rarely used (and to make it seem like a long time, let's call it "only three times since the Civil War") to remove three Democrat lawmakers from their seats. The three joined protesters in calls for gun regulation during session, in the aftermath of a mass shooting in a Christian school in Nashville. After a vote of expulsion, the two black legislators were removed, and the white legislator retained her seat, although Republicans deny that race was a factor. The act of removing the members of the House drew sharp criticism nationwide, resulting in calls from people all over Tennessee and even across the world. Both ousted legislators have since been voted to be reinstated as of Thursday. (more)

Unintelligence Leak

Several sensitive military documents were snapped on a spy camera (actually just a smartphone) and released on the chat app Discord and eventually on Twitter. The documents exposed several intelligence secrets like Biden's breakfast routine (oatmeal and Fixodent) and possibly critical information about the war strategies of Russia and Ukraine. The US intelligence authorities initially looked for a Jason Bourne type who was "armed" but later described the suspect as a gamer with skinny "arms" and acne. The suspect, Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, was the leader of the chat group in question. Teixeira's home was raided Thursday afternoon, and he was arrested shortly after, and his Nintendo Switch has been confiscated. (more)

Clarence "Jet Setter" Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has enjoyed some fabulous vacations gifted to him by a wealthy friend and billionaire, Harlan Crow. Since the news made it to the public eye, he's faced scrutiny for accepting the bribes gifts without reporting them. Other than vacations and private jet rides, Thomas' friend has given him various gifts, such as a Bible that once belonged to abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a gift which quelled most evangelicals' moral concerns. It seems that several of the gifts have been collectibles, including historical artifacts, artwork, and more, although Thomas and his wife are better known for collecting accusations of ethics violations. (more)

Bragg Sues Gym (Jordan)

The Manhattan AG is accusing Jim Gordan (it's a soft G, but please correct me if this is the incorrect spelling) of interfering in an active investigation by pressing him for confidential documents. Gym, who also goes by Jim (pronounced gym), an election denier, was himself elected in an election, which happens to be the same one he says was rigged. None of that has to do with the suit against him. (more)

We Didn't Start The Fire

A blaze at a recycling plant in Richmond, Indiana, has forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents to flee the massive plumes of smoke from a fire that is expected to burn for days, according to city and state officials. This presents an excellent opportunity to listen to the Billy Joel song on the subject unless, of course, you did start the fire. (more)

The Colorado River

The Colorado River water level has been depleting over the years to the point where some experts are calling the area a thirst trap. The water level has now become an issue for several states who depend on the river as a water source. After the three states that depend on it most, California, Arizona, and Nevada, did not land on an agreement on their own, the federal government released a report offering potential solutions, which in summary, included reducing the allowance equally to each state or to do nothing and die. (more)


It's still a thing. Just less. (more)

That's it for the news. Now here's The Gist.

The Handbasket

The Gist

The eternal abyss has taken a new member this week. Substack, the popular newsletter medium, has expanded its feature set by adding New Twitter to its platform, now known cleverly as "Notes." It's a place where you can post updates in an endless social media feed, or discover other people's notes if you follow them, or – and get this – if you don't. I discovered the news of Notes when chatter spread that Elon Musk had exerted himself with another tantrum on his free speech platform, where he blocked the liking and sharing of links coming from Substack, presumably because they are now competing with Establishment Twitter. The blow was mostly ignored but felt, if only just a little, below the belt.

For most readers, you don't know what platform I publish on. And that is by design. Because I want you to receive what you opt to receive. Not to have your dopamine receptors hacked by a platform that is not designed to serve you but to make you the servant.

But Substack is now the TikTok of places to find writers. They launched their new feature, and now the decision engine is in charge. The day Notes launched, I was immediately fed a never-ending stream of bait and notifications. And it will continue endlessly, at inopportune times, if you don't get to your notification settings first. Substack's founder said this:

"While Notes has some visual similarities with other online media feeds, the big difference is in what you can’t see. Notes is powered by paid subscriptions to writers, not by ads. That changes everything."

It all seems so innocent and clean to be able to share snippets of your thoughts and "Restack" others, but the engine has been started, and the algorithm is now the driver. The Robot Corporation will do as it is programmed to do, and the venture funding will incentivize its speed in doing so. Substack is now the system.

We took refuge in the writers we love, offering the 1400 word morsels we cherish because we were sick of being told what we liked (and still being required to like it manually). A place we might have chosen as a refuge from the algorithm has been engulfed by an even larger algorithm, a power greater than any app or website. The place we have found respite has now become the place we are fleeing.

This highlights to me the value of social media in our society. In the beginning, it was a place to write your own missives and read that of others. Then you could add your own bling and select your top 8 friends. Then a newsfeed came, which you liked easily, but it soon learned to like you. Subsequently came an endless feed of what a math equation wants for you, depleting your ability to want on your own.

The result is that the world we live in is subject to the convulsions of the world we think we are creating. People do not have the power to build a community as much as they might think it. The world is not closer together but rather more divided than ever. There is no onramp to the afterlife that we’ve missed. We’re already on the highway. We’re not awaiting an escort or receipt of any traveling mercies. We are already in the inferno. This is the handbasket.

Recently, I published this article about the impact of corporate nature. Through the story of the train that derailed in Palestine, Ohio, spilling tons of hazardous waste, I explain how these events are not just catastrophes. They are in the budget. Warning, there's a paywall on this one, but there's a link at the opening to a free trial for anyone who wants to take the plunge.

Robot Corporations
Why the Norfolk Southern train crash was not just an accident. It was the most likely outcome.

That's it for this week.

You've worked hard this week. Thanks for making it to the end. Thanks for supporting The Lorem Ipsum, and thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend!

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