What We’re Following
Jay Inslee announced he’s joining a crowded Democratic primary field already brimming with candidates, but the Washington governor is hoping he can stick out by centering his campaign on just one issue: climate change. The past four years have been the hottest on record, and without quick and major changes to the economy, there could be major environmental upheaval that could leave hundreds of millions of people without food or water. In one poll, nearly half of Democrats said climate change was their top priority, so Inslee is hoping to tap into that sense of alarm about the changing globe to beat out his many opponents. Though it’s early in the race, Inslee has a steep challenge ahead of him: He has close to no name recognition nationally and is lagging in the polls.
+ A new study suggests that, even as the planet heats up, it might not feel that way for Americans, since people can acclimate to the warmer weather.
A SpaceX launch scheduled for early Saturday will be the first time the Elon Musk-helmed company is sending up a spacecraft intended to transport humans. (An actual person won’t be on board this time, but rather a sensor-laden mannequin named Ripley.) If the mission goes well, astronauts could be headed to space in SpaceX spacecraft as early as July. No astronaut has gone to space on U.S. soil since the space-shuttle program was put on hiatus in 2011. Currently, American astronauts can only get to space through a launchpad in the middle of the Kazakh desert, which costs the U.S. both millions of dollars—and prestige. If Saturday’s launch is successful, it could spark a new era in human spaceflight where the commercial sector, not NASA, plays the leading role.
The longtime HBO president Richard Plepler announced his resignation, months after AT&T bought HBO’s parent company, Time Warner. HBO was once a channel of reruns and premium sports; in the 90s, when Plepler first joined the network, it began changing the field of original TV programming with shows such as Oz, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos. Plepler’s departure could herald even more dramatic changes on the horizon: HBO has faced increased pressure to compete with the streaming behemoths like Netflix and Amazon, which both have a flood of shows and movies to watch. HBO has ventured to be more bespoke in its approach, but under AT&T’s ownership, that strategy may not last for long.
14 Vietnam War veterans were in the same tight-knit platoon during the war, but fell out of touch shortly after each returned home. Then in 1981, one of them, wondering what had become of other members of the group, sent some letters. Julie Beck interviews these men, now all in their 70s and scattered all across the U.S., about how they became close when in Vietnam, and how they reconnected over the years:
“Terry Bradley: I remember I sent the letter out, and three days later, I’d called home. My wife said that someone had written to me, and I was shocked.
Julie Beck: Do you remember who it was?
Terry: It was a guy named Bill. It was a real long letter and I was real emotional about it, ’cause it was the first time anybody had written. But he was so upset about the war that he really didn’t wanna have anything to do with anything.
Beck: So he’s not really part of your group now?
Lee Barron: I talked to him. I had said, ‘It's looking like we're going to get together. And even though he was the first one to write back, he told me that he didn’t want to do it. He didn’t want to see anybody. It’s too many bad memories.
Terry: A few days later, I got another letter, and I was pretty excited about that, but at the same time, I'm thinking, I don’t know if these guys are crazy or if they’re drug addicts, drunks ... I was very glad to find out that my first impression was right. They’re all great guys.
In the beginning we were afraid, I think, to talk to each other on the phone. It took a couple of letters before we decided we’d better make a phone call. Once we did, the voices were the same, and that was really comfortable.”
Our Critic’s Picks
Read: These books-turned-movies—as well as movies-turned-books. (Did you know William Faulkner wrote screenplays?)
Watch: The actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial (and screenwriting) debut, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, is now available on Netflix. It’s an inspirational film based on the memoir of a Malawian engineer who saved his village from famine, and Ejiofor takes a nuanced approach.
Let’s Invent a New Holiday
At the beginning of the new year, we put out a call for holidays that you want to bring into existence, or that you simply wish were celebrated more widely—and you responded in force.
Now’s the time to tell us your favorite of these 12 finalists, selected from your submissions. The deadline for voting is Thursday, 3/7. Based on your selections, we’ll crown a winner, and celebrate the new festival accordingly.
Poem of the Week
On a thousand small-town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year—
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets,
and muse through their sideburns.