5 May 2023 NPR’s Morning Edition: Jake’s Takes

1.  ‘British Coronations Project’ examines 10 centuries of coronation history. This would be a fascinating project if things were better in the world. I’m not so sure that this matters as much as they want it to matter, but the coronation is happening and it hasn’t happened in 70 years, so it is a natural time for reflection. The British people are not the monarchy, but they are a very interesting culture. I would rather know more about what is happening in their economy and political situation right now. The royals are not of interest to me, and they never have been.

1.    U.S. employers added 253,000 jobs in April, Labor Department reports. The job market overall seems to be strong, and the Fed signaled an end to raising the interest rates because inflation is cooling, which means that we may be on the road to economic recovery. This is hopeful.

2.    Advocates in Florida clamor for a fix for the formerly incarcerated who want to vote. Voting rights are important especially since so many votes have come down to the wire. Every vote is of value, and we should do all we can to preserve the integrity of the system.

3.    Who dumped hundreds of pounds of cooked pasta by a N.J. creek — and why? Better than toxic waste, this semolina sludge is still a problem. Hundreds of pounds of anything dumped is a weird thing. Can you imagine the culprits carrying the pasta out there looking both ways a few times and then dumping it? What kind of strange crooks are these?

4.    The promise and perils of the multi-billion dollar influencer industry. It started on a box of Wheaties. I don’t think that cereal still even exists. People emulate their idols and will purchase whatever they recommend. That’s just the nature of influence. Many people do it just for the fun of being aligned with someone they love, of showing their allegiance and loyalty. Since the advent of social media, this business model has boomed into a huge industry. There are all different levels of influencers, and the use of influencer marketing works for some businesses. It is not without its own art, however. There is nothing in culture that can simply be applied in a mathematical sort of way without some nuance, some finesse. Influencers must learn how business works in order to make their position valuable to brands. This is not going away, however, so it is a good topic to follow.

5.    From Slayer to Tito Puente, drummer Dave Lombardo changes tempo. Slayer has always been one of those misunderstood bands. They are a satanic thrash metal band, which sounds about as bad as it can get. One look at their lyrics and you will understand their tone. It would be a mistake to take them too seriously, however, as the music is a fictional exploration of darkness. They are not advocating for evil as much as they are expressing what it may sound like. The fact that Lombardo can switch from a gory hellish insanely fast musical style to something that is soulful and syncopated shows that it is all a convincing fiction.

6.    Hate-fueled violence is growing even as Proud Boys are convicted for extremism. What kind of music are they listening to? Some people have a hard time separating fiction from reality. This is evident in groups like the Proud Boys who were started as a joke and have evolved into a domestic terror organization. To resort to violence against something as docile as a drag show is truly appalling. The Left is poking the bear on this one, but that is their prerogative. When someone shows that they are willing to commit violence in opposition to your identity, it becomes a contest of wills. Are they going to remain quiet and cower because a group of overdramatic conservatives are riled up against them? Not likely. Both sides are somewhat disenfranchised, and they have more in common than they might think.

7.    California’s epic snowpack is melting. Here’s what to expect. Unfortunately, what we cannot expect is that we will put that water to good use. How long will we remain victims of the weather? Why don’t we invest in solutions to our most basic problems? This is something absurd about our culture in this moment. We will ignore evil business practices to get phones that connect us to the Internet, but we are without action when it comes to securing the most vital elements.

8.    Bourbon is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. Sober Derby omits the alcohol. We have too many guns and too much booze in our culture and anything that pushes in the opposite direction is an equalizing force. We need equilibrium and this is pointing in that direction.

9.    Couple fights for equality and safety for gay people on tribal land. Why in the world is it so hard for people to leave gay couples alone? What in the world possesses people to butt into other people’s private business when it comes to same sex love? It is seriously one of the strangest things about human behavior. The fear of homosexuality is one of our greatest shortcomings.

10. Millions of people will gather to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III. Even though royalty is only symbolic and lacks real political power there is something magnetizing about the transfer of the monarchy. If not for any other reason than the history of wars surrounding this moment. It is a kind of historical echo, an inherited interest in what happens with the crown. Millions of people gathering anywhere for any reason is remarkable. That’s hard to even imagine.

11. Mexico is taking over the pop charts. What specific genre is dominating?. This is an interesting development, and I hope that it continues so that we can learn more about our neighbor to the south. There is so much anger shown towards Mexico by the GOP in this country, it is refreshing to see love directed at them as well. Hopefully there will be a balance.

12. A swarm of bees delays a Delta Airlines flight from Houston to Atlanta. Good. We need the bees much more than we need airplanes. Bees have become symbolic of the health of our environment as they pollinate so many plants and are a vital part of the ecosystem. Flying quickly from state to state is much less important.

13. Gun assaults on children more than doubled during COVID’s height, study finds. We knew that there would be a cost to locking people down and as the data comes out it is more disturbing than we feared. Those who made the decisions to have people stay at home knew that there would be consequences, but they didn’t have any data to back their decisions. Now that we have lots of data, hopefully it will be a more informed discussion next time, if it happens again.

14. Even with efforts to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, default threats impact states. Our national deficit is owned mainly by the U.S. public. That’s the irony of this situation. It is U.S. citizens who bought bonds from the government who will be cheated out of their payments if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling. When they talk about not being able to pay their bills, they are talking about not paying U.S. citizens. I think that if we shared that information more, there would be more pressure to quit using this moment as a tool of negotiation. I’m quite sure that the American public would not like to see their money being used as a tactic for controlling the budget.

15. How Jordan Neely’s death fits into issues of health, homelessness and public safety. Occasionally, a tragic death becomes symbolic of a larger national issue. Once again, a white man has choked a black man to death in public without anyone stopping the murder. This pattern is too close to ignore. The excuses are flowing like melting snowpack. It is not acceptable. There are always other options. The murderer must be held accountable, and we will have to have more national conversations about violence and inequality in our culture. What a shame.

16. Arizona Democrats consider if 2024’s election will be a Biden-Trump rematch. I’m not sure what this means. Why does Arizona have this the spotlight in this story? It is looking more and more likely that this will be the case, but what part does Arizona play?

17. WHO says COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency. A very dark era in our world’s history has officially come to an end. Now all of the other health emergencies are taking up the headlines, the symptoms caused by how we handled COVID-19. That is the tragic part of this story: the virus is no longer the threat, the treatment is.

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