Monday, February 10th, 2020


Bong’s Hit

Not only did Bong Joon-ho direct the first ever foreign-language film to win Best Picture, he did so with a bit of irony: Parasite won on a night without a host. Parasite beat out the evening's predicted winner, 1917 (maybe it's just too hard for Trump-era movie fans to relate to a time when Americans fought against authoritarianism). Here's a list of all the winners.

+ Bong Joon Ho's translator was the Oscar season's MVP, now she's writing her own film about her experiences. Maybe that will one day win best documentary. This year, that award went to the excellent American Factory, which looks at the challenges of a Chinese company setting up shop in the middle of America's Rust Belt. (It was backed by the Obamas, and it's huge in rural, red states.)

+ Cow Tipping Point: The night's acting awards went to Laura Dern, Brad Pitt, Renee Zellweger, and Joaquin Phoenix, who gave a heartfelt (and trippy) speech about the way we treat each other — including the way we treat cows. Here's a line about humans that probably wasn't part of your Academy Awards drinking game: "We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow." (Even more troubling are those who feel entitled to traditionally inseminate a cow.) The Hollywood Reporter: Oscars: 15 Most Memorable Moments. And from WaPo: 15 things to know, from Joaquin Phoenix's emotional speech to Natalie Portman's viral fashion statement.

+ Here are some red carpet arrivals, and a list of the evening's memorable looks. The most memorable looks in my house were on the adults' faces when one of the kids watching said, "Wait, Elton John is a real person?"

+ Of course the award for best makeup and hair went to the joker...Sort of.

+ If you're looking for the best acceptance speech, it actually came the night before the Oscars at the Independent Spirit Awards, and it was delivered by the Academy-snubbed Adam Sandler.


Cruise Control

"A cruise ship full of thousands of tourists is quarantined in a harbor as a contagious virus makes its way around the 17-deck luxury ship infecting new passengers daily. That might be a slightly Netflix-ified version of what's currently underway in Japan, but only slightly." Slate: Passengers Face Daily Worry Quarantined Aboard Luxury Cruise Ship Over Coronavirus. There are four cruise ships trapped by the virus, and there are 135 cases on the ship mentioned in the story above (even normal cruises seem like nightmare, this is truly travel hell). Meanwhile, 97 people were killed by the virus in one day. Here's the latest on Coronavirus from CNN.


Blood Money

The economy is roaring and the boom cycle has gone on years longer than usual. So why would roughly two in five American adults struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency? Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic: The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America. "This crisis involved not just what families earned but the other half of the ledger, too—how they spent their earnings. In one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were bled dry by landlords, hospital administrators, university bursars, and child-care centers. For millions, a roaring economy felt precarious or downright terrible."

+ "Wedged between a dental office and a liquor store in a Pennsylvania strip mall, the place hardly looks like a cogwheel of international commerce. But that's precisely what it is: part of a far-flung corporation that's raking in hundreds of millions a year thanks in large part to hard-pressed people." Family Builds $3.8 Billion Fortune, One Pint of Blood at a Time.


White Collared Green

"Surveys consistently show that the vast majority of the population considers white-collar crime more harmful than street crime and powerful offenders more odious than common criminals. Those intuitions are correct: An entrenched, unfettered class of superpredators is wreaking havoc on American society. And in the process, they've broken the only systems capable of stopping them." (Apparently, that's all the rage these days.) Michael Hobbes in Highline: The Golden Age of White Collar Crime.

+ "You don't look much like a criminal." ... "I'm a white collar criminal."


Vindman vs Machine

"Trump's attack came as Vindman spent the day at his home in Northern Virginia overseeing a birthday party for his daughter, the president's denunciation an ugly coda to the months-long political crossfire after Vindman's dramatic testimony in the impeachment hearings." WaPo: ‘Not just chilling but frightening': Inside Vindman's ouster amid fears of further retaliation by Trump. The Senate GOP was warned that history would be unkind to them. History came fast. It took about 48 hours for Trump to march a truth-telling American patriot out of the White House and spit in the faces of every senator who said Trump did something inappropriate but not worthy of removal. Luckily, they're used to him humiliating them by now...

+ Meanwhile, "Attorney General Bill Barr confirmed Monday that the Justice Department 'established an intake process' for information Rudy Giuliani gathered about the Bidens in Ukraine." (What did you think. They were gonna get the keys to the republic and just let it sit in the parking lot? This trip is just getting started.)

+ Lindsay Graham: "When I die God isn't going to ask 'Why didn't you convict Trump?'" (No, he's just gonna step aside and let McCain beat the shit out of you.)


Wing and a Prayer

"A core tenet of Jainism, a small but influential religion in India, is ahimsa, the practice of nonviolence and compassion toward all forms of life. On a wall of the Charity Bird Hospital, located within Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, a Jain temple with tall red spires, is a painting of a Jain king sacrificing his arm, then his foot and eventually his life to save a pigeon." Oliver Whang in the NYT: Meet the Bird Medics of New Delhi. These scavenging carnivorous birds can survive almost anything, except a city's passion for kite flying.

+ "'Horses have a way of seeing deep inside of your soul,' she said. 'They have a way of knowing just what you need when you need it.' That bond was part of what made the killings so unsettling, she thought. Horses are prey animals — they'll flee if confronted by a predator. But these horses are pets, too. They've been conditioned to trust humans, and they may well extend that trust to strangers who break into a barn in the middle of the night. These horses weren't dragged to their deaths. They walked there." Tampa Bay Times: Who's killing horses in Central Florida?


Toy Soldiers

"The move by the villagers to offer arms training to school-age children shocked the nation and made global headlines last month after local media broadcast images of children as young as 6-years-old toting guns and showing off military manoeuvres. While elders in the mainly indigenous community near the city of Chilapa privately concede young kids would not be used to fight cartel gunmen, they say their gambit to get the help of far-away officials in Mexico City is borne of desperation." Reuters: Inside Mexican village where children are armed.

+ WaPo: "The indigenous people of Ayahualtempa are arming their children. Is it for self-defense, or to get attention?" (Either way, it's another sign of desperation from a region ruined by the drug war.) Mexico's child vigilantes. "He was 13, a B student with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bicycle who got nervous around the girls in his middle school. Then, in November, as violence surged in the mountains of Guerrero state, the men of Ayahualtempa decided it was time for their sons to take up arms."


The Holey Land

"The flawed website for the app, called Elector, failed to secure personal details in the voter registry, which also included the address and gender of each voter, even those who did not use it." NYT: Data of All 6.5 Million Israeli Voters Is Leaked. (If the Israelis can't secure personal data, it's not securable.)

+ MIT Tech Review: The US says the Chinese military hacked Equifax. Here's how.


The Damn Fam is a Sham

"The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor." David Brooks with an article sure to get folks talking (or yelling): The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake. (That's certainly what everyone who's sat next to my family at a restaurant seems to think...)


Bottom of the News

"In March 2015, then 19-year-old Ed Pratt left his home in Somerset, England, on a mission to become the first person to circle the globe on a unicycle. Three years and 21,000 miles later—after crossing Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.—he rolled back to his starting point and a cheering 500-person crowd, successful in both his final dismount (he was worried about that) and a new record." Outside: In Case You Ever Want to Unicycle 21,000 Miles...Here's the gear to do it. (This is the most specifically targeted shopping guide in history...)