5SR - March 29, 2024

Hitha on Star Trek, a desk diary, and local news' unlikely owner

A quick refresher - I’m Hitha Palepu, the founder of #5SmartReads. If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere, I’m most active on Instagram and write a weekly newsletter about smart, random things (check out the most recent issue). Looking forward to connecting there!

One of the most important news topics that we’re not talking enough about is the business of news - who owns it and why, what drives revenue, and how this impacts the purpose of the news (to inform the public).

In Richmond, California, the local newspaper is owned by the company whose business impacts the climate of the community the most - Chevron.

And when smoke erupts from the city’s refinery or a pipeline burst and leaked hundreds of gallons of diesel in the nearby bay, that critical news doesn’t get reported.

And this isn’t just happening in Richmond. It’s also happening in West Texas, New Mexico, and Ecuador, where Chevron facilities loom large over the towns.

There’s more to this story than this brief summary, and I hope you take the time to read this piece - and support nonprofit newsrooms like NPR, The 19th*, Capital B, ProPublica, and Floodlight with your e-mail signups and donations, if you’re able.

Star Trek is my husband’s and my comfort show. He’s partial to TNG, whereas I veer to Voyager and the first two seasons of Discovery.

We are a Trekkie family, and it’s the main reason we subscribed to Paramount+ (also for Paw Patrol for Rhaki, but I digress).

Trek makes me hopeful for the future. The show has shown the power of humanity and what we could be if we let go of ills of the past. It has incredible storytelling, characters, and episode plots in every genre.

It’s some of the best television you’re not watching.

This look at Trek’s rebook for Paramount+ is a fantastic read for Trekkies and for those who want a satisfying behind-the-scenes peek at making franchise television with immense resources.

My opinion? This would be a significant and necessary step for Boeing, and I hope the board accepts this proposal.

And while it’s rare, it’s not entirely unprecedented (Chrysler appointed the president of the United Autoworkers to their board in 1980).

Getting the board seat is one thing. Having the board actually listen is quite another matter (and hasn’t happened in previous instances). But given the serious safety and culture issues facing Boeing and the trust in engineers over executives at the moment, I hope their board chooses to act differently.

Desk Tour: Iman Hariri-Kia (Olivia’s Substack)

I love a peek in how people live and work. I love the little details - a specific pen they use to write their to-do lists, how they log and organize their countless ideas, what’s in their background of a Zoom.

I love it all. So naturally, I’m an early and immediate fan of Olivia’s Desk Tour series, and of Iman Hariri-Kia’s desk in particular.

I also love her ideal day of work at her desk:

“I've been spending my mornings sitting at my desk in my PJs, drinking an iced coffee with vanilla almond creamer, answering emails, and handling scheduling. After getting ready for the day, I'll usually dedicate several hours to writing or revising (either a chapter of a WIP, my newsletter, or a freelance writing assignment). I'll break in the afternoon to eat, then read on the chaise by my window. It's my favorite spot to annotate books I've committed to blurbing, because I keep my reading journal on the sill and have a view of the freedom tower. Finally, I'll wrap the day by doing a Zoom call or podcast interview back at my desk, which gives me a chance to show off my hall of fame. My friends call it "my shrine," which always makes me laugh.”

This is heartbreaking. And things could - and likely will - get worse:

“Sahar Fetrat, an Afghan researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Two years ago, they didn’t have the courage they have today to vow stoning women to death in public; now they do.

“They tested their draconian policies one by one, and have reached this point because there is no one to hold them accountable for the abuses. Through the bodies of Afghan women, the Taliban demand and command moral and societal orders. We should all be warned that if not stopped, more and more will come.””

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