Time Takes Its Crazy Toll
January 2, 2020
We hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. We did as we caught up on family time, sleep, and running (some people’s form of relaxing). Daily Pnut’s Tim even broke a personal record on a local hill he always runs during the holidays – I’m also at ease with the knowledge that I will likely no longer be able to run faster than that time as I age.
We hope everyone has a fantastic 2020 and wish everyone well this next decade (as a listener of NPR we learned that “People Can’t Even Agree On When The Decade Ends.”).
Time is something that I couldn’t help but endlessly think about this holiday season. This growing obsession with time probably has much to do with the aging of my parents and my kids. I want to have flow and be lost in time but I’m also scared when time seemingly disappears as I want more of it. And I can’t seem to answer one of life’s most important questions: am I properly prioritizing my time (and attention)?
As someone who collects quotes, I know and have used Daniel Kahneman’s quote: “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.” (That quote if anything creates stress because one begins to think whether one’s current thoughts are important or should one instead attend to another idea?) I can’t help but think that 2020 will indeed be a really important year: USA elections, the rise of China, the nationalization of the internet, global warming, and whether a quote by Isaac Asimov bears true: “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science [and technology] gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
– Dylan Thomas
(A famous quote used in Interstellar. Right now Australia unfortunately seems to be in Interstellar conditions. We saw the movie about six years ago but it only feels like that was a few weeks ago.)
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Getty Images News via Getty Images
There and Back Again
No festive celebration marked the end of 2019 at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Instead diplomats were hunkered down inside as hoards of pro-Iranian protesters swarmed outside chanting “Death to America!” Some protesters forced their way inside the embassy and several outbuildings were set on fire.
On Wednesday American forces used tear gas to dispel the crowds and end a siege that could have been an explosive crisis for the Trump administration. The two-day standoff evoked memories of earlier attacks on American embassies in Tehran and Benghazi, Libya.
The conflict began six days ago with a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that killed an American contractor and wounded several Iraqi and US servicemen. US officials blamed Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia with close ties to Iran. On Sunday American forces retaliated with airstrikes on five sites controlled by the militia in Syria and Iraq, killing at least two dozen people and wounding twice that many. Iraqi officials denounced the US airstrikes, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Iraqi authorities had previously contained anti-American demonstrations, but on Tuesday thousands of protesters were allowed to march on the compound unimpeded. President Trump tweeted that Iran “will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.” For good measure he added: “They will pay a very BIG PRICE!” Wednesday Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded with a taunting tweet: “You can’t do anything.”
- US troops deployed to Middle East after Baghdad embassy siege (Guardian)
- Pompeo postpones Ukraine trip due to situation in Iraq (CNN)
- Hospitals and Schools Are Being Bombed in Syria. A U.N. Inquiry Is Limited. We Took a Deeper Look. (NYT, $)
New Year, Same Protests
- Hong Kong’s 2020 began peacefully enough, even as protesters in costumes and families with children were attending a huge New Year’s Day rally. Sadly the event ended in mass arrests and street clashes, signaling the continuation of an anti-government movement now in its eight month.
- Police fired tear gas and used water cannons on crowds in Wan Chai and the financial district of Central; at least 400 people were detained on charges including illegal assembly and possession of offensive weapons. It was among the largest numbers of arrests in a single day since turmoil over an extradition bill began last spring. (Guardian)
- Money pumped into China’s economy in attempt to fight slowdown (Guardian)
- Inside China’s Push to Turn Muslim Minorities Into an Army of Workers (NYT, $)
- Trump Pushes For Lofty Nuclear Pact With Russia And China (NPR)
- Stolen Research: Chinese Scientist Is Accused of Smuggling Lab Samples (NYT, $)
Why Can’t We Be Friends? Why Can’t We At The Very Least Not Nuke Each Other?
- And the start of 2020 could see the end of a nearly two-year bromance between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Kim announced on Wednesday he was shedding his country’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile testing, warning the world would be witnessing a new strategic weapon “in the near future.”
- Kim had halted such tests hoping negotiations with the US and his personal relationship with Trump would prompt the lifting of crippling sanctions. But the North’s December 31 deadline passed without the US making any concessions.
- So rather than reporting on Kim’s annual New Year’s Day speech, state media was covering different remarks Kim was uttering, like his country “will shift to a shocking actual action” that will make the US “pay for the pains sustained by our people.” (NYT)
- What Kim Jong-un’s Latest Threats Say About His Trump Strategy (NYT, $)
Additional World News
- Plane crash fatalities fell more than 50% in 2019 (BBC) Good news.
- Global markets end 2019 with healthy gains (BBC) And more good news.
- A Couple Unwittingly Threw Away $20,000. The Dump Gave It Back. (NYT, $) Good people.
- Former Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn Stuns Japan By Escaping Country Ahead Of Trial (NPR) & Another escape story: It’s 50 Below. The Past Is a Horror Show. You’d Dream of Escaping Too. (NYT, $)
Sometimes You Just Gotta Stop And Smell The Justice
- During his annual report on the state of America’s judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts stated his concern that Americans “take democracy for granted.” America currently sits in a time of inner turmoil between the various branches of government, leading Mr. Roberts to urge fellow federal justices to maintain the public’s trust as the new year comes around.
- Roberts has always chosen a theme for his annual reports, with last year’s report focusing on the “me too” movement. This year, Roberts attempted to show the exemplary efforts of his peers by speaking on their un-recognized feats and endeavors to better the future of America.
- In his report, he noted: “I am confident that many other federal judges, without fanfare or acclaim, are playing similar selfless roles throughout the country.” (CNN)
- A reflection on history and time: It’s 2020 and you’re in the future (Wait But Why)
- Fewer Births, More Deaths And Immigration Stunt US Population Growth (NPR)
- Stuck With Census Policy, More States Pass Laws To End ‘Prison Gerrymandering’ : Code Switch (NPR)
- In a Homecoming Video Meant to Unite Campus, Almost Everyone Was White (NYT, $)
- Firings at Trump Property Cap Year of Purging Undocumented Workers (NYT, $)
- IRS Reforms Free File Program, Drops Agreement Not to Compete With TurboTax (Pro Publica)
- Illinois governor pardons 11,000 for low-level marijuana convictions (Guardian)
- 2nd Senate Republican Questions Impartiality of Impeachment Trial (NYT, $) & Opinion | Trump is openly calling for his trial to be as corrupt as possible (WaPo, $)
A Few Good and Bad Men & What’s The Difference Between Navy Seals and Instagram Influencers?
- Former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher faced murder charges which could have sentenced him to prison for the rest of his life just one year ago. Today, he models for his own lifestyle clothing brand.
- Chief Petty Officer Gallagher was acquitted of charges last summer and has on numerous occasions been praised by President Donald Trump, who at a political rally heralded him as “one of the ultimate fighters.”
- President Trump lead the charge to free Gallagher of any criminal charges, despite scrutiny by military and political officials.
- Chief Gallagher has appeared regularly on Fox News and other news outlets, using his past controversies as a springboard for his clothing brand and potential business opportunities. Chief Gallagher also set up an online shop selling T-shirts that mock the Navy and the SEALs who testified against him in court, calling them “mean girls.”
- Trump Has Scrambled the Military’s Constitutional Role (Atlantic, $)
- Faulty Equipment, Lapsed Training, Repeated Warnings: How a Preventable Disaster Killed Six Marines (ProPublica)
- Two stories on amazing Navy Seals: My Semester With the Snowflakes and I’ve met this real life superhero at the Pat Tillman Foundation Leadership Summit. He’s real. Maybe he’ll go Interstellar one day.
- International Space Station astronauts play with fire for research (Guardian) & ‘Man on the Moon’ moment – the year’s big breakthroughs (CNN) More good news to start the year right.
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