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

1.    Advice from a recovering workaholic: break free. Being a workaholic is like being a food addict in that you need to keep doing it, so you are going to have to develop a health relationship to it. I don’t know if breaking free is the right phrasing. First, there is the violent verb to break. That’s not what someone who has a work addiction wants to hear. They are working to preserve something, not to break it. The second is the word free. That also is triggering to someone who is trying to work so they can make money, not be free. Maybe there is some good advice in there, but I would think that developing a health relationship to work and striving to create a productive but even work life balance is a better way to approach the problem.

2.    Sudan conflict threatens neighboring countries. We visit the Egypt-Sudan border. Modern borders in this region of Africa are much less important than the confluence of the Nile rivers and the ancient alliances between tribal peoples. The countries are an experiment in modern governance in a region that has only recently been independent. Sudan had a genocidal war against the people on its western periphery led by the horrifying Janjaweed, an Arabic militia armed and without mercy for the innocent.

3.    Post pandemic: Return to the office lags — effecting commercial real estate. This is a very bad piece of the puzzle. People have been doing what they can to respond to the changes made by the pandemic, but they have also been neglecting some very serious responsibilities. The office buildings that have been left empty are quickly becoming a serious problem for the banks that own the mortgages. If too many businesses default on those loans it can cause more banks to fail resulting in either a crisis or the strengthening of more big banks. The whole too big to fail philosophy is coming to an apex. It also means that some banks are too small to save.

4.    Students in Texas take friendship bracelet making to new lengths. Anything that engenders positivity today is pretty good. We need more friendship and more representations of it.

5.    A new breast pumping law, known as the PUMP Act, is now in effect. This is clickbait if I’ve ever seen any. Shoutout to the acronym innovators always finding some way to cram their concept into a catchy word/ phrase. What could this one stand for I wonder. Privacy Until Mothers Pump? Practice Up Moms Perfect? Please Understand My Primacy? We will see.

6.    Rooting for a Eurovision singer of the same name. Eurovision is a song competition, and the reporter gets to interview a singer with their name.

7.    Title 42 will end this week and that could lead to an influx of migrants. This is the top story of the week as we wait and see what will happen. Both mass killings that took place over the weekend in Texas are being attributed to this in one way or another. It’s hard to make that connection, although it is not entirely implausible. Both killers were Latinos, one of them apparently had interacted with white supremacist groups on social media and was wearing a patch associated with a right-wing extremist group. But, until we have enough evidence to back up these assumptions, they may be doing more harm than good. There is a sick narrative playing out either way you look at it. Expect more tension and potential violence as we approach the end of Title 42.

8.    Arab government representatives vote to return Syria to the Arab League. Syria is another country that we should research. Syria shares borders with Israel to the southwest, Lebanon to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq and Jordan to the east. It is listed as a State Sponsor of terrorism. The Arab League was founded in 1945 following WWII as an attempt to share control and responsibility over their combined territory, like NATO does for Europe. Syria was suspended from the League in 2011 and has just been reinstated. Syria is a country with very high food insecurity as the economic conditions make it difficult for more than half of the population to obtain adequate food.

9.    Closing arguments are set to begin in E. Jean Carroll’s civil case against Trump. If Trump is found responsible for having raped this woman and he still is elected as president for a second term, then it is going to be a very strange and sad day for our country. How can one person get away with so much vile behavior and still have supporters? It is uncanny.

10. AI apps are being used to help people connect on dating apps. This is funny, but it could be great. What if AI can do a better job of finding mates for people than they can do for themselves. Intelligence is intelligence, baby. Get it where you can.

11. Trizepatide, for treatment of adults with obesity, is on the fast track for FDA’s OK. Food addiction is a very serious problem, and this is not going to help. We rely upon drugs too much as it is. The solution for many people is to exercise more and eat better foods, but as long as there is money to be made with a drug they are going to keep pushing. When will the public decide to stop supporting the drug companies? It’s a tough situation, I understand, but there must be a better way.

12. Because of writers’ strike, MTV Movie & TV Awards was a different show than planned. This is only the beginning. I bet that they used AI to fill in for the writers, but that is not likely to be the story. It is going to be used more frequently as the writers have decided to stop working and for good reason. Striking is the only thing they can do, but sometimes it backfires. There must be a need for their work, and it doesn’t seem like the studios are going to budge.

13. California panel calls for billions in reparations for descendants of slaves. This is a more complicated issue than it appears to be. Conservatives are up in arms about it without fully understanding the concept. It has to do with the unfair treatment residents of California have undergone during the recent past. I’m not sure that it should be connected to slavery since that is not directly relevant to their claims. What they are trying to do is to make the state pay for having misbehaved towards Black Californians. I think that it is a good idea, and we should extend it to hold the state responsible for all their wrongdoings. There must be accountability in a democratic society and there has not been yet.

14. Astronomers spot what appears to be a sun-like star eating an orbiting planet. The universe has some terrifying aspects, and suns that eat planets is probably near the top of the list. What a thing to witness.

15. Multiple horse deaths before the Kentucky Derby reignites scrutiny about the sport. Betting on horse races was something Bukowski did. Many things he did were vile and toxic. Horse racing is our bull fighting. It is an outdated tradition that should be changed or stopped.

16. Police in Texas says shooting victims at outlet mall ranged from 5 to 61 years old. It is hard to ascribe motive to an act that has an element of such randomness to it. Plus, it is hard to understand what will stop this from happening. Does talking about it more motivate other people to do it, or will discussing the details help to prevent future acts? I think that we have to deal with this problem, but I do not know how to stop it from growing. I don’t think anyone does. We should at the very least try gun control and invest in mental health resources and economic opportunities.

17. The U.S. must deal with debt ceiling and growing debt level, Rep. Johnson says. The U.S. emerged from WWII as a leading global superpower. We had manufacturing as the base of our economy. Since the 70s, we have financed our status and it is time to return to some sort of economic sanity. The time to do that is after we raise the debt ceiling so we can cover our expenses.

18. ‘Vogue’ is looking for new models and the finalists will be chosen in June. I love fashion and I want to get into it more, but I have not found an angle yet. I plan to learn more in the coming months.

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