Adam Gopnik, writing at The New Yorker, warns us that "thin-skinned authoritarians" like Donald Trump "do not arrive in office and discover, as constitutionalists do, that their capabilities are more limited than they imagined. They arrive, and then make their power as large as they can." Despite living through both George W. Bush and Scott Walker, I still wanted to believe that, once elected, Donald Trump would find it harder to impose his will than he anticipated, but I'll guard against that vain hope from now on. Also, Mr. Gopnik reminds us that "Hitler wasn't Hitler -- until he was," meaning that, like the "blizzard of lies" Mr. Trump foists upon us with "liberal" media help, each "shock" gets "tempered by acceptance." (Also, too, he has lots of Alexander Pope quotations, which always recommends a person.)
Shockingly, for-profit college corporation Apollo Education Group announces that two of its colleges, including the famous University of Phoenix, would stop putting forced arbitration clauses in student contracts. But there's a catch: Apollo is about to get assimilated into the Vistria Group, making it a privately-held corporation that will no longer be required to disclose litigation or investigations publicly -- so we may never know how well it's doing on its promise. Still, if the arbitration fairness movement can penetrate the for-profit college sphere, that's a good sign.
Greensboro, NC now allows "participatory budgeting," where the city's residents can decide how to spend at least some of the city budget. The city presently only allows residents to budget about one out of every thousand dollars, and some of you may regard this as a mere safety valve for citizen frustrations, but one out of a thousand dollars today can more easily turn into two or three or twenty tomorrow, and it doesn't always take much to improve folks' quality of life -- a bench at the bus stop or some shade at a public pool might do.
Abrahm Lustgarten, writing at ProPublica, wonders if the seemingly-endless climate change-induced drought in the American West has doomed the desert dam. Desert dams tend to hold water in giant artificial lakes with lots of surface area, meaning that the Glen Canyon Dam's Lake Powell, for example, loses over 160 billion gallons of water just to evaporation every year. When you can't keep reservoirs full, you start wondering if you should even keep them around at all, or whether you can combine two reservoirs into one, as at least one proposal would do with Lake Powell and Hoover Dam's Lake Mead (though surely you also see the hand of the Las Vegas casinos in that proposal).
18-year-old Texas stepdad accidentally shoots and kills his three-year-old stepson after pointing his gun at him and saying he would shoot him if he didn't stop jumping on the bed. It took some work to get this story out of witnesses, which says (to me, at least) that this actually was a tragic accident, and not the moronic hijinks of some Springer-cam wannabe. But that doesn't change the fact that people need to stop watching so much TV, not just because it makes violence seem as amusing as I presume it seemed to the shooter, but because it takes precious time away from being an actual hero to someone in your life.
Finally, Laurel Raymond, writing at ThinkProgress, tells "The Incredible Story of NASA's Forgotten 'Rocket Girls'" -- a group of female computers who (in the absence of adequate mechanical computing devices) crunched the numbers that helped send astronauts to the moon. It's not an entirely happy story -- in 2004 (under Tha Bush Mobb, I feel compelled to note), NASA took away the engineering position of a woman who had been an engineer there for almost half a century, only because she didn't have a bachelor's degree -- but it's a necessary and frequently uplifting story. Nathalia Holt's book Rise of the Rocket Girls will migrate to my reading list pronto.