LBN Examiner 10/23/2022


This holiday season, grandma’s favorite sugar cookies might be missing a crucial ingredient. While inflation has infiltrated much of the grocery store, few items have been affected more than butter, which, could spell a holiday disaster. The problem starts with cows – Rising costs for feed and labor have led farmers to reduce their cattle herds, causing a series of ripple effects: Milk production was down 1% through June, compared to a typical annual growth rate of 1.5%-2.5%. The dairy pecking order gives bottlers first priority; then manufacturers of ice cream, yogurt, and cheese; then butter churns, which have been left in short supply. Making matters worse, butter churns usually produce most of their butter in the first half of the year, storing it in preparation for the holidays.

How bad is it? – Some might say we’re nearing a meltdown: Butter prices are up ~25% YoY, trailing only eggs – the leading grocery store inflation item, up ~40%. Butter in cold storage facilities was down 21% in July to its lowest level since 2017. Butter producers are telling retailers not to offer heavy discounts during the holidays in case they can’t replenish supply, and some bakers are now hoarding butter to build up their own “butter army” for the holidays. On top of all this, the latest foodie trend, with 10.5B+ views on TikTok, is charcuterie-style “butter boards.” Of course, a solution to all this would be turning to margarine.

Human-Rat Brains:

Clumps of human neurons implanted into the brains of newborn rats have successfully integrated into the animals’ brain circuitry, according to a study published yesterday. The procedure is expected to shed light on psychiatric disorders like autism by illuminating how genetic mutations influence neural circuits. Stanford researchers, led by Dr. Sergiu Pașca, reported the clumps of human cells – known as organoids – replicated millions of new neurons over several months, wiring themselves into the rat’s brain. The grafted tissues were shown to be integrated when they responded to a puff of air on the animals’ whiskers, among other tests. The team will use the procedure to observe how diseased organoids grow within neural circuits, which isn’t possible in an isolated petri dish. The novel technique raised ethical questions, with the team consulting ethicists prior to experimentation on questions of animal welfare and how to classify organisms with hybrid brains.

D.C. Tent Cities Stain The Nation’s Capital:

In the past two years, homeless encampments have exploded in Washington D.C., as both the city and federal governments lifted enforcement measures during the COVID-19 pandemic – and made it a no-brainer for itinerants to lay down roots by providing for their every need. A tour of the district’s major tourist areas this week found at least 35 vagrants in residence at a National Park Service site two blocks from the White House; more than 20 in the green spaces surrounding the State Department complex; and five across the street from the infamous Watergate Hotel. And these sites accounted for less than 5 percent of the estimated 120 tent cities in Washington D.C.

“It’s wicked and it’s medieval,” said Robert Westover, 59, a longtime resident exasperated by the staggering surge. “We’re really letting people suffer on the street like animals? Somehow that’s progressive?” The decay and destitution on display shocks foreign tourists. “‘The land of milk and honey’ – it means that in America you don’t lack anything,” said Elvis Shu, 39, a first-time visitor from Cameroon. “I know people don’t get hungry here, so I’m surprised indeed.” Moti, 48, a vacationer from Israel, said, “We didn’t expect to see the homeless here near the White House.”

Examiner – Lens:

An injured man speaks on his mobile phone at a site of a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 10.

‘Coke’ Dealers Boldly Peddle Drugs On Sidewalks Of Broadway In NYC:

It truly is the Great White Way. Things have gotten so bad in New York City that drug dealers are brazenly selling what appears to be cocaine – sometimes neatly assembled on sidewalk tables – on Broadway in trendy NoMad and farther north in Times Square. Some of the drug-slingers openly solicit, saying, “Weed, coke. Weed, coke” as pedestrians walk by, a disgusted local restaurateur said. Observers saw two different buyers approach dealers on the corner of West 27th Street and Broadway earlier this month and hand over cash in exchange for plastic baggies containing a mysterious white substance. And in Times Square, another spotted a makeshift table with what appeared to be pre-rolled joints on West 41st Street – and was told by the dealer that they could get cocaine there too. In NoMad, one man wearing an Amazon vest did not even bother hopping off his bike before riding off with the goods. A few minutes later, another man approached the dealers and walked away with a white substance in a baggie.

Record Border Encounters – Over 2 Million:

More than 2 million people were stopped at the US-Mexico border during the past 11 months, with a record 2.3 million border encounters projected for the 2022 fiscal year, according to new figures from Customs and Border Protection. It marks the first time the figure has eclipsed the 2 million mark in a single fiscal year and represents an increase from the 1.7 million encounters for fiscal year 2021. The total is driven by a surge in migration from Central and South America, with the number of immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela up 175% from last year. In August, roughly one in five migrants had already been apprehended within the previous 12 months.

Examiner – Lens:

“One of the thoughts I always come back to is whether humor is helping, or if it’s preventing us from having very thoughtful, deep debates about how to solve the issues that threaten the world,” Judd Apatow says.

by Noah Rothman:

(Author and Associate Editor at Commentary Magazine)

** Dr. Gavin Newsom: The California governor has decided he knows best how to police California doctors when it comes to COVID. Starting January 1, according to a measure signed by Newsom last week, it will be illegal for doctors to spread so-called misinformation about the pandemic to their patients. Bottom line: Don’t question the orthodoxy, whatever that may be. Thing is, there’s a reason doctors have always been in charge of regulating other doctors (just like lawyers are in charge of other lawyers). They’re supposed to know more about medicine than, say, a politician who majored in poli-sci while going to college on a partial baseball scholarship.

** Why, If It Isn’t the Consequences of My Own Actions: In the spring of 2021, as New York University’s campus was emerging from pandemic-induced hibernation, 82 of organic chemistry Professor Maitland Jones Jr.’s 350 students affixed their name to a petition. “We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class,” the missive read. It added that “a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and well-being a priority and reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole.” NYU apparently agreed. The award-winning chemist and textbook author who is credited with redefining the pedagogical standards in his field was fired. “Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,” Jones wrote in a letter protesting his treatment. “In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,” he said of the pandemic’s effects on student performance. “They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,” Jones told The New York Times, “After several years of COVID learning loss, the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study,” the Times wrote of Jones’s ordeal. It wasn’t Jones’s decision to push off restoring pre-pandemic operations on campus until this year. That was NYU’s choice. It wasn’t Jones who taught students the lingua franca of the progressive cultural revolution and granted them outsize influence over their education. That, too, is an academy-wide phenomenon. And it wasn’t Jones who instituted an SAT/ACT-optional admissions policy for new students last year. Jones’s crime was simply to notice the deleterious effect these faddish phenomena were having on students. The undesirable consequences of this paradigm shift in education are hard to miss unless you’re trying to miss them.

** San Francisco’s Lowell High School plummeted way out of the top 100 in a national school ranking, in the first year that achievement data has become available since the school eliminated meritocratic admissions in favor of an “anti-racist” approach.

** San Francisco famously has more dogs than kids, and the bistro Dogue is there to serve them. Michelin-quality plates that appeal to the canine palate include “hand-cut filet mignon tartare topped with a poached quail egg,” “doggy petit gâteau,” “dogguccinos,” and a three-course tasting menu for Sunday brunch.

Examiner – Lens:

Former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg married businessman Tom Bernthal recently.

Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:

** If economists care about life as it’s actually lived, rather than the bloodless world of rational expectations, they need to pay attention to the stories people are being told about what’s to come. “Much of history revolves around this question: How does one convince millions of people to believe particular stories about gods, or nations, or limited liabilities companies?” Yuval Noah Harari wrote in “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” —- Peter Coy

** Like so many stories coursing through the American media-social-media complex, Britttany Griner has been transformed from a human being into a meme. That meme is resonating across our feeds, deepening the fissures we seem incapable of escaping. It is fighting the Russians’ battle for them, and they know it, and we don’t. We can’t see what should be readily apparent, so consumed are we by our seemingly unslakable desire to destroy each other. —- Peter Savodnik

** Oscar Wilde is said to have quipped that “God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” Our species is capable of folly on a grand scale. Exhibit 4,000 in this litany of woe is the continued existence of open plan workplaces. For decades, research has found that open plan offices are bad for companies, bad for workers, bad for health and bad for morale. And yet they just won’t die. Human beings, if they are to thrive, need a bit of privacy – walls and a door. And yet employers, decade after decade, neglect to give workers what they need, refuse to do what’s in their own self-interest. —- David Brooks

** Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity – these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example. —- Andrew Sullivan

Examiner – Readers Have Spoken:


We asked Examiner readers in all 50 of the United States and in 26 foreign countries for their thoughts. The Examiner readers have spoken.



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** Hollywood’s secret problem solver: With a client list that has included Frank Sinatra and Tom Cruise, Brad Herman has smoothed out difficulties for Hollywood’s elite for more than 40 years. READ

** Of an estimated 20,000 bodies donated to medical research in the U.S. each year, a portion end up decomposing in open-air enclosures – to teach how bodies decay.

** Awkward, silent, karaoke: choose your own Lyft ride. READ

** Visualizing who we spend time with as we age. READ

** Cancer cells survive attacks from immune system T cells by self-repairing holes in the cell membrane, new study shows. READ

** More than one-fifth of the world’s reptiles are either vulnerable to extinction, endangered, or critically endangered, study says. READ

** Researchers discover a genetic cause underlying the autoimmune disorder lupus; single DNA mutation found to cause immune cells to identify healthy tissue as damaged or foreign. READ

** Chemists finally decode the structure of Pepto-Bismol. READ

** A Crime Beyond Belief – The story of a Harvard-educated lawyer who committed bizarre home invasions and a rookie cop who cracked a case that was thought to be a hoax. READ

** Visualizing Netflix’s big drop. READ

** High-resolution drone footage from Kansas’ recent tornado. WATCH

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Hilary Swank, 48, Reveals She Is Expecting Twins:

Hilary Swank has twin babies on the way! The actress, 48, told the “Good Morning America” co-hosts on Wednesday that she was “so happy” to share news of her expanding family. “This is something that I’ve been wanting for a long time, and my next thing is I’m gonna be a mom,” she gushed. “And not just of one but of two.”

Broken Windows, Broken Business Book:

“In New York, in the 90’s, they implemented a ‘broken windows’ policing policy, cracking down on minor crimes like subway-fare beating (not a small problem: a hundred and fifty-five thousand people were jumping the turnstiles every day), and car-window squeegeeing. The crime rate dropped. Public spaces began getting cleaned up.” – The New Yorker

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Off-The-Charts Events:

Heat waves in the U.S., wildfires in Europe, floods in Asia: This summer has shown how the climate crisis has made extreme weather a part of everyday life. Some of the worst recent damage has taken place in Pakistan. Floods have submerged more than a third of the country and killed at least 1,300 people.

“These off-the-charts events are going to happen more often, and this is just one of those examples,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. The floods followed a brutal heat wave in Pakistan earlier this year that led to temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists have already concluded that global warming made that heat wave much likelier.

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Examiner – Bookkeeping:

** New report finds 5.3 billion cell phones will likely become waste this year. READ

** World Wildlife Fund says wildlife populations have declined 69% since 1970. READ

** Pair of 1880s Levi’s jeans found in abandoned mine sells for $87,400 at auction. READ

Examiner – Reader Poll:


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Examiner – 20 Years – A Look At 2002

The LBN Examiner was founded on June 1, 2002, an incredible 20 years ago. Let’s take a look back at what was going on in 2002:

** On October 24, Twyla Tharp’s rock ballet “Movin’ Out,” set to the songs of Billy Joel, opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in NYC and ran for more than 1,000 performances.

** On October 26, the Moscow Theatre Siege, that started on the 23rd, ended after approximately 50 Chechen rebels and 150 hostages died when Russian Spetsnaz stormed the theater.

Examiner – A Different View:…

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