13 May 2023 NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday: Jake’s Takes

  1. Week in politics: Border immigration; debt ceiling talks; Trump’s CNN townhall. The expiration of Title 42 did not cause the massive rush predicted by the Right. It looks like in this case the Right was wrong. Why? Because Biden changed some things about immigration policy that make it higher risk for people to enter the country now than during the pandemic. There are consequences for breaking the law even for asylum seekers, and yet we didn’t hear much about that leading up to the day. The debt ceiling talks are starting to drive some people mad. It is a game of chicken and that makes a lot of people understandably nervous. Some of the reporting on NPR has been wild on this topic. Yesterday one of the reporters was interviewing a GOP congressperson and they kept cutting her off. It was amazing how little regard for decorum they showed. The bullies have a way of getting their way and people who disagree with them must be cleverer in how they deal with aggression. In a strange twist of media events, Trump appeared on CNN for a Town Hall program and got spicy with the interviewer there, too. Trump realized that there is a big section of the U.S. public that does not care about being civil. They want fights, and they want to see blood. It’s why the UFC is so popular. That’s a big part of the demographic. There is another side to the nation that is sickened by the fighting and want to have leaders who show diplomacy and have higher standards of decency. Trump is like a villain in the wrestling world, just a complete caricature of the bad guy. No matter how stupid he is, no matter how corrupt he has been, people continue to like his fighting spirit. It’s weird to say the least.

2.    Migrants are frustrated with the border app, even after its latest overhaul. One can only imagine how this must be. Migrants are already in such a difficult situation. It is hard to imagine how they even survive from day to day. They are travelers with no money, relying upon what to get their food and water? It seems nightmarish beyond belief, but they have phones that can access an app? How does that seem logical?

3.    Opinion: Books are not landmines. I have respect for people with beliefs that are different than mine. I’m open to the possibility that they may have answers to questions that I do not even know to ask. However, I do not respect banning or burning books. That is such a backwards approach to controlling the narrative. It is just bad marketing. If anything, it makes more people want to read those books and serves the opposite purpose than what was intended. Whatever you focus on increases. Instead of banning books, hype up your books, baby.

4.    Musk names NBC advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as new Twitter CEO. I have never been successful at gaining any traction on Twitter, and I’m fine with that. I thought that it was a stupid app from its inception and none of the changes it has gone through have interested me at all. It has such a seedy and slimy culture, and Musk needs to get back to playing with rockets. It’s the bottom of the bottom as far as culture goes in my opinion. Maybe that is because I don’t get traction there, maybe I don’t get traction there because I don’t like it. Either way, follow me on Twitter for more spicy takes about Twitter.

5.    How a cyberattack left one Indiana hospital reeling. There is no place that is safe. Our places of worship, our school, our hospitals are all being attacked. We must always remain vigilant, but that is not sustainable. Some changes must be made for us to go back to living decent lives. Only the wealthy have access to security, but maybe they do not either. We are facing crises on multiple fronts. It is time to slow down and reorganize some of our resources. Things have been changing at such a rapid rate, there is no chance that we are being efficient in how we allocate our resources. The time has come to reevaluate everything.

6.    Saudi Arabia is using sports to reform its image on the world stage. This story has been progressing over the past few years. Saudi Arabia has been one of the wealthiest countries in human history due to its massive oil reserves. As the world gradually switches to a different kind of energy, they have been actively investing in cultural events to maintain their global power in a different form. They created a professional golf league and paid some of the best golfers with insane amounts to leave the PGA. If anything, this is a lesson in how money and culture can change anything and everything. People want to be paid, and the public wants to be entertained. If you can do those things, then you have real power.

7.    When she was struggling with postpartum depression, ‘co-mothering’ saved her. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and it is a good time to think about some of the challenges that mothers face. It is a very intense thing to bring a life into the world, and the very existence of mothers is a blessing beyond compare. It is strange and cruel how the most vital parts of our existence are often treated with little regard. How the cultural pie gets sliced up can be a mystery sometimes. Postpartum depression is a real thing, and it has serious consequences. It is very important for women who become mothers to know what risks they face and what resources may help them to get through the challenging parts.

8.    Hernan Diaz on his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘Trust’. Hernan Diaz recently won the Pull it sir Prize for fiction alongside Barbara Kingsolver. It can seem like the world has moved away from serious writing with the proliferation of short form video content on social media taking up so much of our collective attention, but there are still writers out there doing the work to make literature happen. Pray for writers.

9.    The blues returns to Mississippi’s Parchman Prison Farm. The blues is one of the most American of musical forms. It is created from some kind of magical alchemy that players found inside themselves to transform bad feelings into beauty. Since the advent of the blues, it has influenced world music in uncountable ways. The world sings the blues maybe more than any other form of music.

10. Rep. Mike Lawler on the debt ceiling speech Biden gave in his district. Will this story result in another nothingburger, or is this really going to be the spark that sets off disaster. We have had enough. This economy is extremely tough, inflation is high, the Federal Reserve keeps raising interest on loans, and now we are involved in a game of chicken with the national debt limit. This is an egregious example of toxic politics with the U.S. American public paying the price once again. We need to reform our system and we need it now.

11. Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan says the country is under undeclared martial law. International news is critically important because we need visibility for accountability. While we will never have entirely objective news, we need multiple sources reporting on the events of the day if we are to stabilize the world and make it a safer place for our children and for future generations. Every era has its opportunity to make things better, and we must not fail in our pursuit of the common good.

12. 7 years after being paralyzed, a woman graduated from college. The human spirit manifests itself in surprising ways. It can be frustrating to deal with trying to send an email when the service is no good, but can you imagine the resilience you would need to graduate from college when you have been paralyzed?

13. The mayor of Las Cruces, NM on how the expiration of Title 42 will impact the city. So far, the events at the border have been quiet. The hype and the uproar have not resulted in a flood of migrants pouring over the border. Why did anyone think that in the first place? What kind of fear mongering has been used to rile people up when there was not that much to worry about? That kind of misreporting should carry some form of consequence. Lying to stir up hatred and potential violence should be a punishable offense.

14. Ukraine is expected to make a counteroffensive to take back Crimea. If Ukraine manages to resist the Russian invasion and even goes further to take back Crimea, this will be one of the most unexpected results from a war in modern history. Russia has been showing that they do not have the military capacity that most people thought, but it also reveals that the international support for Ukraine makes them a protected nation even if they are not members of the NATO alliance.

15. Saturday Sports: Lakers and Heat win; White House invitation for Georgia football team. The NBA finals continue to unfold, and NY is out. Los Angeles continues after beating the Golden State Warriors, and now it is all eyes on LeBron. James is positioned to win another championship making the conversation about the GOAT that much harder to decide. Jordan will always be some people’s favorite, but James is quickly becoming an undeniable contender.

16. Dog walking injuries can be surprisingly common. I would say it’s not that surprising, considering people’s lack of common sense when it comes to choosing dogs. People walk dogs bigger than they can control, two dogs at a time, and the fact that there are not more dog attacks or injuries due to being pulled is the only surprising thing to me. Few decisions humans make are more based on emotion than reason besides the choice of dogs.

17. Glenn Howerton on his new film about the rise and fall of BlackBerry mobile phones. I knew a girl whose dad was in marketing and came up with the name BlackBerry. He made millions off that one decision, and I was always impressed by how important a name can be. It turns out that even marketing can only go so far. Ultimately, the public will make their purchasing decisions based on product innovation, especially for high value purchases.

18. Anne Berest’s novel traces her family history and leads back to the Holocaust. When people try to recover from historical trauma, it can often lead to repressing family histories. Even when there is nothing as horrific as the Holocaust to recount, many family histories are incomplete to say the least. As such, the genealogy that leads to you is always rich and fertile grounds for storytelling.

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