This is The CruX: Periodic link curation, the narratives, investigative reporting, arguments, and dot-connecting we need for refining and weaponizing our own sense-making networks.
Today’s theme: All Your Engines
+“The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground” | The New York Times
“A key reason for the terrible financial results is that fracked oil wells show a steep decline rate: The amount of oil they produce in the second year is drastically smaller than the amount produced in the first year. According to an economist at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, production in the average well in the Bakken — a key area for fracking shale in North Dakota — declines 69 percent in its first year and more than 85 percent in its first three years. A conventional well might decline by 10 percent a year. For fracking operations to keep growing, they need huge investments each year to offset the decline from the previous years’ wells.
Because the industry has such a voracious need for capital, and capital costs money, fracking could not have taken off so dramatically were it not for record low interest rates after the 2008 financial crisis. In other words, the Federal Reserve is responsible for the fracking boom.“
“During our conversation, Cohen recalled a discussion at Trump Tower, following the then-candidate’s return from a campaign rally during the 2016 election cycle. Cohen had watched the rally on TV and noticed that the crowd was largely Caucasian. He offered this observation to his boss. “I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television. Trump responded, ‘That’s because black people are too stupid to vote for me.’””
+“The Man Who Turns Back New York City’s Clocks, Hand by Hand” | The New York Times
“He would regularly pass 346 Broadway, which was then a city-owned building near Worth Street with a grand, four-faced tower clock that had been broken for years. This bothered Mr. Schneider, for it was a visible reminder of how broken the city was during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.
He and a fellow worker, Eric Reiner, persuaded city officials to let them fix the clock during their lunch hours. Mr. Schneider had no experience with clock repair aside from his childhood years when he would take little clocks apart. “But,” he said, “I could never put them back together.”
Still, he was handy and willing.”
“Apple also indicated to Congress that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X “include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown.” A company support page doubled down, suggesting a “different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown” for the recent iPhone models.
None of which said definitively that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X would avoid the throttling altogether. That same page made it clear this week that they have not. As of iOS 12.1, released Tuesday amid a flurry of new iPads and heralding an inclusive generation of emoji, last year’s iPhones will face 2016’s performance limits as they age.”
+“Why Aren’t Democrats Walking Away With the Midterms?” | The New York Times
“I have written previously that the real threat of the Trump presidency isn’t economic or political catastrophe. It’s moral and institutional corrosion — the debasement of our discourse and the fracturing of our civic bonds. Democrats should be walking away with the midterms. That they are not is because they have consistently underestimated the president’s political gifts, while missing the deeper threat his presidency represents.
There’s a lesson here worth heeding. Our economic GDP may be booming, but our moral GDP is in recession. The tragedy of Pittsburgh illustrates, among other things, that the president cannot unite us, even in our grief. Whatever happens on Tuesday, Democrats will only win in 2020 if they find a candidate who can.”
+“The Arab Winter Is Coming” | The Atlantic
“For counterrevolutionary regimes, the top priority is to prevent a repeat of the 2011 uprisings, and they believe the best way to do that is to stay the repressive course. Which is why recent talk that MbS was doomed, or that he could be replaced after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was out of touch with the broad reality of the region. MbS is seen as a key member of the pack of new leaders remaking the Middle East, and the pack will stand by him. This dynamic also informs the continuing blockade of Qatar, as well as the war in Yemen; humanitarian concerns simply don’t matter next to the perceived efficacy of aggression.“
“The two most recent Republican presidents have entered office despite receiving fewer votes than their opponent in a national election, thanks to the electoral college, which systematically over-represents small states. (California gets one electoral vote per 712,000 people; Wyoming gets one per 195,000.) With the presidency in hand in the run-up to the 2020 census, minority rule will be further entrenched by adding a citizenship question to the census. This will result in systematic undercounting of the population in heavily Democratic areas, which will in turn further reduce their influence as legislatures draw maps based on the data.“
+“What Kind of Democrat Can Beat Trump in 2020?” | The New York Times
“[Corey Lewendoski] told me [Frank Bruni] that Mike Bloomberg worried him, because Bloomberg’s personal wealth would spare him the distraction of fund-raising, and that Joe Biden had the right instinct when he said that if he and Trump had gone to high school together, he would have “beat the hell out of him.”
He noted that Beto O’Rourke, the Senate candidate in Texas, had impressively crossed the threshold of celebrity. Andrew Gillum, the candidate for governor in Florida, had caught lightning, too.
The right Democrat would need a talent for attention and an appetite for aggression, Lewandowski said: He or she must “be willing to go toe-to-toe with someone who I believe to be the greatest counterpuncher that politics has ever seen.””
+“America’s Problem Isn’t Tribalism—It’s Racism” | The Atlantic
“A large number of Republican candidates, led by the president, ran racist or bigoted campaigns against their opponents. But those opponents cannot be said to belong to a “tribe.” No common ethnic or religious ties bind Heitkamp, Campa-Najjar, Delgado, or the constituencies that elected them. It was their Republican opponents who turned to “tribalism,” painting them as scary or dangerous, and working to disenfranchise their supporters.
The urgency of the Republican strategy stems in part from the recognition that the core of the GOP agenda—slashing the social safety net and reducing taxes on the wealthy—is deeply unpopular. Progressive ballot initiatives, including the expansion of Medicaid, anti-gerrymandering measures, and the restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, succeeded even in red states. If Republicans ran on their policy agenda alone, they would be at a disadvantage. So they have turned to a destructive politics of white identity, one that seeks a path to power by deliberately dividing the country along racial and sectarian lines. They portray the nation as the birthright of white, heterosexual Christians, and label the growing population of those who don’t fit that mold or reject that moral framework as dangerous usurpers.”
“Claiming as Clifford did that it is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence seems like a stretch. I think critics had a point – had – but that is no longer so. In a world in which just about everyone’s beliefs are instantly shareable, at minimal cost, to a global audience, every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential in the way Clifford imagined. If you still believe this is an exaggeration, think about how beliefs fashioned in a cave in Afghanistan lead to acts that ended lives in New York, Paris and London. Or consider how influential the ramblings pouring through your social media feeds have become in your very own daily behaviour. In the digital global village that we now inhabit, false beliefs cast a wider social net, hence Clifford’s argument might have been hyperbole when he first made it, but is no longer so today.”