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Get a weekly roundup of the best Substack posts, by hacker news affinity:

Top posts of the month

By hacker news affinity
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Letters from an American 113 HN points 12 Sep 22
I was playing around in yesterday’s post, because my “crazy rare find at Buddy’s wharf” was, of course, Buddy himself. Took yesterday off and am going to take tonight, too. First time since September 15, 2019, I’ve taken more than a single day off, but our wedding seems like a worthy occasion, no?
Letters from an American 46 HN points 04 Sep 22
It was a beautiful afternoon and evening on the water... and a long enough kayaking trip that I have been sound asleep with my head on my writing table for a couple of hours. Going to take that as a sign that I should go to bed and finish the history of our intelligence system another day.
Letters from an American 22 HN points 26 Sep 22
End of summer. No matter how much I love what I do, I never doubt that he has the better office. I'll see you tomorrow. [Photo by Buddy Poland.]
Letters from an American 21 HN points 10 Sep 22
Crazy rare find at Buddy’s wharf this week. Lots going on in the world, but I’ve got family and friends in town, and am putting everything on hold until tomorrow. [Photo by Buddy Poland.]
Letters from an American 11 HN points 19 Sep 22
Today’s photo is a meditation on love and faith found early one morning in “a collection of stuff in the yard of a man who lives on the outermost inhabited island on the coast of Maine,” as my photographer friend Peter Ralston put it. I'll see you tomorrow.
Letters from an American 10 HN points 16 Sep 22
This morning we awoke to news that rail carriers and union leaders had reached an agreement to avoid a national rail strike that would have badly tangled the supply chains that are just now starting to move efficiently again. That, in turn, would have affected everything from drinking water—the chlorine to purify urban systems is shipped by train—to consumer goods, costing up to $2 billion a day and likely sparking job losses and contributing to the inflation that has only recently begun to ease.
Letters from an American 9 HN points 18 Sep 22
In 1761, 55-year-old Benjamin Franklin attended the coronation of King George III and later wrote that he expected the young monarch’s reign would “be happy and truly glorious.” Then, in 1776, he helped to draft and then signed the Declaration of Independence. An 81-year-old man in 1787, he urged his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to rally behind the new plan of government they had written.
Letters from an American 7 HN points 25 Sep 22
In Arizona, Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson has restored a law put into effect by Arizona’s Territorial legislature in 1864 and then reworked in 1901 that has been widely interpreted as a ban on all abortions except to save a woman’s life. Oddly, I know quite a bit about the 1864 Arizona Territorial legislature, and its story matters as we think about the attempt to impose its will in modern America.
Letters from an American 6 HN points 13 Sep 22
Many thanks for all your good wishes on our marriage. Someone saw the picture and wrote, “Heather is betting on the future.” I am indeed. And there are reasons to be hopeful about that future. When I last wrote about the news, on Friday, Ukraine was launching a counteroffensive against the Russian troops occupying their territory, but it was still too early to be sure of what was happening. Now it is clear: over the weekend, Ukrainian forces drove Russian troops back, retaking more than 1000 square miles of Ukrainian territory and handing Russia a humiliating operational defeat.
Letters from an American 6 HN points 17 Sep 22
The big story in the news over the past couple of days is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes to fly about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. The story is still developing. Although DeSantis is the governor of Florida, the migrants appear to have come from Texas, and it currently appears that they were lured onto the planes—paid for with taxpayer money—with the false promise of work and housing in New York City or Boston. In addition, there are allegations from a lawyer working with the migrants that officials from the Department of Homeland Security falsified information about the migrants to set them up for automatic deportation. As I write this, it is not clear what their actual status is: have they applied for asylum and been processed, or are they undocumented immigrants?
Letters from an American 6 HN points 31 Aug 22
The big news until shortly before midnight tonight was that businesses do indeed seem to be coming home after the pandemic illustrated the dangers of stretched supply lines, the global minimum tax reduced the incentives to flee to other countries with lower taxes, and the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act spurred investment in technology.
Letters from an American 6 HN points 05 Sep 22
One hundred and forty years ago, on September 5, 1882, workers in New York City celebrated the first Labor Day holiday with a parade. The parade almost didn’t happen: there was no band, and no one wanted to start marching without music. Once the Jewelers Union of Newark Two showed up with musicians, the rest of the marchers, eventually numbering between 10,000 and 20,000 men and women, fell in behind them to parade through lower Manhattan. At noon, when they reached the end of the route, the march broke up and the participants listened to speeches, drank beer, and had picnics. Other workers joined them.
Letters from an American 6 HN points 02 Sep 22
This morning, former president Trump told a Newsmax host that he was “financially supporting” some of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Calling it “disgraceful” that they are being prosecuted, he said that If reelected, he would look “very favorably at full pardons” for them and would apologize to them.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 24 Sep 22
Today, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who took over as the chair of the House Republican Conference after the party rejected Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her refusal to back the January 6 insurrection, released the House Republicans’ plan for the country.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 03 Sep 22
Just a week ago, a judge ordered the release of the affidavit on which the FBI applied for a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. That document revealed that Trump had taken highly classified documents from the government and held them in insecure locations. That document was horrifying, but it referred only to documents the government had already recovered, not the ones for which it would go on to search for on August 8.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 09 Sep 22
On this day in 1974, President Gerald Ford gave former president Richard M. Nixon “a full, free, and absolute pardon…for all offenses against the United States which he…has committed or may have committed or taken part in” during his time in the presidency.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 01 Sep 22
Not saying that Trump supporters are desperately trying to find a way to spin his theft, and subsequent hiding, of classified documents from the U.S. government, but there was actually an op-ed today in a major paper suggesting that the documents described by the Department of Justice and shown in last night’s explosive photo were just props because stacks of paper make Trump feel important.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 15 Sep 22
It appears that John Durham’s investigation into why the FBI opened an investigation into the ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian operatives is coming to an end. Durham’s investigation was a prime example of Trump’s attempt to use the Department of Justice not to enforce the nation’s laws, but to hurt his enemies, a charge former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman has made in his new book. Trump, Berman said, wanted his friends protected and his enemies—including former secretaries of state John Kerry and Hillary Clinton—prosecuted.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 06 Sep 22
Today, on the federal holiday of Labor Day, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted former president Trump’s request for a special master to review the nearly 11,000 documents FBI agents seized in their search of the Trump Organization’s property at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 07 Sep 22
When President Joe Biden called out “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans” last Thursday as representative of “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” he drew a clear line between those supporting the former president and those from all parties who support democracy. He quite deliberately drew a line between Trump supporters and “mainstream Republicans” who do not embrace the “extreme ideology” of their former allies.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 20 Sep 22
On Saturday, the anniversary of the day in 1787 on which the Framers signed the U.S. Constitution, Attorney General Merrick Garland administered the oath of allegiance to 200 immigrants in the Great Hall at Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants stopped on the island as part of their journey to the United States, and from 1900 to 1924, the Great Hall was filled with as many as 5000 new arrivals a day, sitting on benches under the high ceiling that had been tiled in the spectacular patterns of Spanish-born architect Rafael Guastavino—who came to the U.S. in 1881—where they awaited health inspections and registration.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 23 Sep 22
Big stories in different parts of the world today. The Russian mobilization—the first since World War II—appears to be aiming at 1 million new soldiers, rather than the 300,000 suggested yesterday. Officials are scouring villages to conscript men, especially ethnic minorities, to fill the quotas the government has established. Stories are circulating of men given only an hour to appear at recruitment centers, students being given draft notices while they were sitting in class, and workers taken off the job.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 27 Sep 22
A headline in the New York Times today read: “Factory Jobs Are Booming Like It’s the 1970s.” The story explained that more money in the hands of consumers thanks to federal stimulus spending, along with a new skepticism of stretched supply lines, has created a rebound in American manufacturing.
Letters from an American 5 HN points 22 Sep 22
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced today that he is mobilizing the Russian population to fight Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu put that number at 300,000 soldiers. At the same time, the legislature abruptly changed the laws to inflict harsh penalties on those who don’t report to military duty, who surrender, or who refuse to fight. Reports suggest that 20–40% of the soldiers from some units have quit.
Letters from an American 4 HN points 14 Sep 22
In an event at the White House today, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the First Lady and Second Gentleman, along with lawmakers and those who worked for the causes the law embraces, celebrated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the new law that lowers prescription drug costs, invests in new technologies to combat climate change, and raises taxes on billion-dollar corporations both to fund the new investments and to reduce the federal deficit.
Letters from an American 4 HN points 28 Sep 22
Today, President Joe Biden held an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to celebrate the lower drug costs possible thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed without any Republican votes in either the House or the Senate. Phasing in over the next few years, the measure will cap the out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $2000 a year and make vaccinations free for seniors on Medicare. If the price of drugs rises faster than inflation, drug companies will have to rebate the difference to Medicare. And Biden noted that today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the premium for Medicare Part B, which pays for doctor visits, will decrease this year.
Letters from an American 4 HN points 10 Sep 22
Today, President Joe Biden’s administration released an “economic blueprint” to show how the new laws and policies it has put in place “are rebuilding an economy that works for working families.” The Biden-Harris Economic Blueprint notes that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office in the midst of unprecedented crises, including “an economy that for many decades had been failing to deliver for working families—with workers and middle-class families left behind, stagnating wages and accelerating costs, crumbling infrastructure, U.S. manufacturing in decline, and persistent racial disparities.” In the past year and a half, it says, the Democrats have set the nation “on a new course,” investing in a historic economic recovery based on a long-term strategy to make lasting changes to the economy that will carry the nation into the future, making sure that no one is left behind.
Letters from an American 4 HN points 21 Sep 22
There is big news today out of Russia, where the legislative body abruptly passed harsh penalties on those who don’t report to military duty, who surrender, or who refuse to fight against Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian-installed officials in the parts of Ukraine occupied by Russia announced referenda for later this week on joining those territories to Russia.
Letters from an American 4 HN points 08 Sep 22
Today, in Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor undercut a key part of the Affordable Care Act, more popularly known as Obamacare. That law assigned to three different government bodies the task of deciding what preventative treatments—cancer screenings, vaccines, and so on—health plans must cover.
Letters from an American 1533 likes 29 Sep 22
More than 1.5 million Florida residents are without power as Hurricane Ian is pounding the southwestern coast and moving inland. The hurricane was close to a Category 5 storm when it made landfall about 3 this afternoon, with the predicted 12-foot storm surge materializing near Fort Myers. It has been slowing since it hit land, but the damage, including to this year’s orange crop, is already considerable.
Letters from an American 1115 likes 30 Sep 22
Today the Senate approved a short-term extension of government funding to prevent a shutdown. The deal funds the government until December 16 and also provides about $12 billion in aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion. The House is expected to pass the measure tomorrow.