September 2021 – a month of fire and rain

By Morf Morford

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Angela Merkel is out and the Taliban is in

Angela Merkel is, of course, the soon-to-depart Chancellor of Germany, a role she held since 2005.

The Taliban is a male dominated, extremist, sometimes considered terrorist group, which took control of every aspect of Afghanistan from politics to schools and every day life.

September 11th

September will forever be defined by September 11th.

We have twenty years worth of commentaries, books, documentaries and conspiracy theories.

And a multitude of security protocols none of us would have imagined possible before that dreadful day.

If you remember, we veered from “Why do they hate us?” to “Don’t let the terrorists win” to “We’ll make them pay!’ and we went from feeling united on the world stage against a common enemy to vilifying, if not attacking each other for often imaginary slights.

“Electronic drugs” and digital detox

China, the producer and developer of the vast majority of online games, in a move that has repercussions around the world, has set up restrictions of gaming use and access.

As they put it, 85% of China’s minors have some kind of internet addiction, which the Chinese government calls “enemy number-one for [personal] growth.”

More than six in ten Chinese minors play video games online frequently, according to Chinese state media, while more than one in ten play games on their mobile devices for more than two hours each day during the school week.

With dramatic flair, “No industry can be allowed to destroy a generation,” wrote China’s Economic Information Daily on August 3.

Here in America, under what could be described as monopolistic capitalism, “dominating a market” by whatever definition, would be the ultimate definition of success.

Whether it is Amazon.com, Facebook, Apple, McDonald’s or Walmart or an industry like vaping or soft drinks, cultivating, even capturing, an exclusive, if not obsessive customer base is a corporate ideal.

In China however, the clear message to those next generations, and the biggest companies in China, is that there is no power greater than the ruling Communist Party.

On a related note, China is banning all cryptocurrencies.

Statue of Robert E. Lee removed

A 12 ton, forty-foot tall statue of Robert E. Lee was removed from Richmond, Virginia – the one-time capital city of the Confederacy.

This statue was the largest in the state and had been the center of race-related protests for years.

It had been there since 1890.

File this under “What could go wrong?”

A start-up named Colossal announced that they have secured funding that could bring thousands of woolly mammoths back to Siberia and northern Canada.

They will use gene editing technology to resurrect the long-lost creatures.

To put it mildly, there are near infinite ethical quandaries around resurrecting extinct animals, especially when scientists don’t know very much about their biology and behavior.

There are also a few biological hurdles to pass before any baby mammoths are running around the Siberian tundra – including building an artificial uterus that can host a 200-pound fetus for its nearly two-year-long gestation period. More details can be found here – https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/sep/13/firm-bring-back-woolly-mammoth-from-extinction.

Meet Sophia

Sophia is what’s known as a social robot, meaning she was designed specifically to interact with humans.

Sophia has spoken to audiences across the globe (in multiple languages), been interviewed on countless TV shows, and even earned a United Nations title (a first for a non-human).

The projection is to begin mass-producing Sophia and three other robots in 2021 and then sell “thousands” of the bots before the end of the year.

Is she/it a blessing or a menace to humanity? You can meet her/it here – https://youtu.be/Z8kmdBbSmbE.

COVID news

For those statistical nerds out there, as of mid-September, one in 500 Americans has died of COVID (https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/15/health/us-coronavirus-wednesday/index.html?)

That ratio is one in 300 in Mississippi.

Mississippi and Alabama, for the first time in their histories, reported that they lost population by having more deaths than births in 2020. (https://www.waff.com/2021/09/17/alabama-saw-more-deaths-than-births-2020/).

Meanwhile in France

For the first time in our shared history, our most long term ally, France, recalled its ambassador in protest of a nuclear-powered submarine deal between the USA, the UK and Australia.

And in local politics

The local (27th Legislative District) was roiled by the unexpected resignation of Senator Jeannie Darneille. Darneille had served the 27th for about twenty years.

She resigned to take on a position in charge of women’s prisons across the state.

Her temporary replacement (for the duration of her term) will be decided by the Pierce County Council.

2021 is killing it

Murders in the US rose 30% between 2019 and 2020, according to annual crime statistics released by the FBI. This is the biggest single-year jump since record-keeping began in 1960.

Despite the rise, the homicide rate remains lower than that of the early 1990s.

St. Louis was number one with a homicide rate more than 10 times the national average.

Overall crime fell by 6%. You can see the details here – https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/explorer/crime/crime-trend.

R. Kelly

R&B superstar R. Kelly was found guilty on nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a New York jury.

The racketeering charge—typically used to prosecute mob bosses—was linked to Kelly’s oversight of a sex ring that targeted and exploited young girls for more than twenty years.

More charges are expected later.

Speaking of weather

In September, our rain returned – with a vengeance.

One of our longest driest stretches was ended by one of our wettest.

Welcome to the new Pacific Northwest weather.

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