Thursday, February 20th, 2020


Sign of the Times

Reminder: On the road, hence the weird timing. Don't normalize this. Back to the regular schedule on Monday.

Let's take a moment to talk about America's pastime. No, not watching rancorous political discourse and then tweeting cognitively-biased hogwash into a bubbling pit of addle-brained zombies who couldn't care less (although that sport is a close second). I mean baseball. The Astros' sign stealing scandal broke during the offseason, and seemed to fade. Then came Spring Training. And it turns out the players aren't done talking about it. "Players everywhere, from Arizona to Florida, in spring training camps dotted throughout both states, have been outspoken in ways a buttoned-up sport like this has never seen. The scathing remarks, aimed at both their peers and the man who oversees their sport, have come from household names and fringe major leaguers, each new voice empowering the other, every day producing new triggers." ESPN: Why MLB players are speaking up about sign stealing like nothing else ever. (From the top down, truth, fairness, and a level playing field have been erased from so many American institutions. Maybe baseball players, like the rest of us, want to stop the bleeding. Sometimes it's not enough to rub a little dirt on it.)

+ "In 40 years of covering sports, I've never seen athletes so mad. I'm with them. 'Every single guy over there needs a beating,' the Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis said. "If someone cheated me out of winning the title … I would be F*^king irate!' LeBron James tweeted. '[They should] be out of baseball for the rest of their lives,' Hank Aaron said." Rick Reilly in The Atlantic: The Crookedest Team in Baseball History.


Yellow Submarine

If you've ever chatted with a NYC yellow cab driver, you know this story. Taxi medallions shot up to well over a million bucks a piece. Drivers took out loans to purchase them. Uber and Lyft came along. Medallion values dropped through the floor. Those drivers were financially ruined. Tech was supposed to disrupt big business. But somehow, it's always the little guy who gets run over. NYT: New York Attorney General Accuses N.Y.C. of Fraud Over Taxi Crisis. "The devastation that has happened across the taxi industry has been a deep betrayal by the city. Not only did they close their eyes to predatory practices and directly engage in inflating the prices but they then allowed in Uber and Lyft completely unregulated."


Regime Change

NYT: Lawmakers Are Warned That Russia Is Meddling to Re-elect Trump. "Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him." (Makes sense. The Russians are attacking! So Trump asks, "How will this hurt me and who can I destroy?" Another day in Insaneville.)

+ Roger Stone has been sentenced to more than three years in prison. (Whoever gets Roger Stone as a cellmate can justifiably claim cruel and unusual punishment) "Sure, the defense is free to say: So what? Who cares? But, I'll say this: Congress cared. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care." Need some hope that someone still has the Constitution's back? Here are some of Judge Amy Berman Jackson's greatest hits from the sentencing. (Read them now. Reread them after Trump pardons the creep.)

+ In other news that would be dominating your consciousness if there wasn't so much other similar news: Rohrabacher confirms he offered Trump pardon to Assange for proof Russia didn't hack DNC email.

+ "The acquittal vote ratified the authoritarian instincts of the president and the ideological convictions of his attorney general." The Atlantic's Adam Serwer, who has been a remarkably prescient voice on this topic, on The First Days of the Trump Regime.


Mississippi Burning

"As more staff leave, the threat to the remaining officers grows, making it harder to hire and keep workers. Guards say many colleagues don't show up for work every day, so it's common for a single officer to try to control 200 people in cells or dorms." The Marshall Project: Mississippi Prisons: No One's Safe, Not Even the Guards.


Vapor Where?

"In the US, the war on vaping is being pursued by activists, politicians and scientists who believe that tobacco companies are cynically promoting e-cigarettes as a means to get people addicted to nicotine, which will – sooner or later – lead them to cigarettes. In the UK, anti-smoking campaigners and health experts counter that for many adult smokers, vaping offers the best hope of avoiding a premature death." The great vape debate: are e-cigarettes saving smokers or creating new addicts?


The Stent is Too Damn High

A couple hours into the UFC-like Dem Debate, Chuck Todd said, "We are near the end here." When I heard that, I thought he was talking about America. There were heated exchanges about everything from communism to heart stents. I suppose the debate was effective in one sense. I went from fearing climate change to feeling like it couldn't come fast enough. One other postive: My kids have totally started behaving since I threatened to call Elizabeth Warren. Let's start there: Elizabeth Warren, unbound.

+ WaPo: This presidential race is a New York hate-throuple of white, 70-something males. (menage a nah...)

+ Ron Brownstein with the one aspect of the debate that may end up mattering most: "The consistent focus on Bloomberg, especially during the debate's highly contentious first hour, meant that Sanders was left relatively off the hook."

+ Before you draw a white chalk outline around Bloomberg's campaign, consider the impact he had on the only thing that seems to matter in today's politics. Mike Bloomberg's Debut Hands NBC News the Most-Watched Democratic Debate Ever.


When Viruses Go Viral

"Protests and clashes with riot police have broken out in several places after a mass email claiming to be from Ukraine's health ministry spread false information that there were five cases of coronavirus in the country, on the same day a plane carrying evacuees from China arrived. Protesters have smashed the windows of buses carrying evacuees and set fire to makeshift barricades." A Viral Email About Coronavirus in Ukraine Had People Smashing Buses And Blocking Hospitals.


Lego City

"Working with her husband for two or three hours every day, Ebel uses tubs and tubs of Lego bricks to assemble the ramps, and to date the pair have created 12 sets of ramps that have been installed in stores and shops in and around the town." One Woman and Thousands of Lego Bricks Are Building a Town Much-Needed Wheelchair Ramps.


Radio Head

"Doctors then woke her in mid-procedure so she could play to 'ensure the surgeons did not damage any crucial areas of the brain that controlled Dagmar's delicate hand movements." U.K. Patient Plays Violin During Unusual Brain Tumor Surgery. (Sometimes you don't want to get that song out of your head.)


Bottom of the News

"I'd never seen anything like that before. Up until then, maybe I was a little bit in denial that my son was as popular as he really is ... I'm like, 'He's just our son, he's just a kid.' To all these other people, he's something else." Behind that teenage TikTok star, there's probably a very confused parent. (I'm confused and my kids have like 12 followers between them...)

+ TikTok Challenges, Ranked by How Likely They Are to Maim or Kill You.