Wednesday, February 26th, 2020


Glory Days

"Kids, gather 'round. Daddy wants to tell you a story about a special day online" ... Please, Dad. Not another story about the good old days before Russian bots and Bloomberg's media buys, when the internet had positive qualities and people went online without the anticipatory anxiety associated with Trump's next tweet ... "Trust me. Just pull your attention away from the ephemeral popularity of that silly TikTok dance and listen to this tale from a time when going viral really meant something. It all started on this day, five years ago, when two llamas escaped from an Arizona retirement community. I'll let the uniquely qualified folks at Buzzfeed take it from here" ... What's Buzzfeed? One of those stodgy old, news sites you're always going on about? The Oral History of 2/26: The Day Two Llamas and a Dress Tried to Save the Internet. "They were divisive, sure, but in the kind of low-stakes way that affirms, rather than threatens, our shared humanity. And they were purely joyful and universal in the way that the best things on the internet can feel. Simply put: We lost our shit, and we lost it together twice in the same day. And we had fun doing it. And we haven't seen anything like it since."


The Coronated Virus

"As new countries confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths on Wednesday, President Trump on Twitter called for a 6 p.m. news conference with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to discuss the spread of the virus. He accused the media of stoking panic about financial markets." WaPo with the latest. Coronavirus fears spook markets as outbreak spreads; Trump calls news conference, accuses media of panicking markets. (The true sickness in America is not coronavirus, it's politics. We can't even cover, prepare for, or mourn for those lost to an illness without it becoming just another story about Trump.)

+ We're gonna get a press conference and a lot of tweets. What we could probably use is someone to fill those 700 vacancies at the CDC.

+ "Those surgical masks? If you're not sick, you don't need to wear them — and you certainly don't need to buy every box your local pharmacy has in stock." WaPo: How to prepare for coronavirus in the US. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask.)


Cold World

"The baby wasn't moving. Her body had gone hot, then cold. Her father rushed her to a hospital, going on foot when he could not find a car, but it was too late. At 18 months, Iman Leila had frozen to death." Children Freeze to Death as Attack Prompts Largest Exodus of Syrian War.

+ The Guardian: 21 dead as targets including schools and nurseries bombed in Idlib.

+ U.N.: Humanitarian Crisis In Syria Reaches 'Horrifying New Level.' (When the world gives monsters like Assad and Putin a green light, they go.)


When I’m Down

"To prevent public opposition from turning into open rebellion, India's government detained Kashmiri politicians, arrested thousands of activists and academics, and imposed a complete communications blackout. Overnight, mobile phones and landlines stopped working, broadband lines were frozen, and text messaging stopped." Buzzfeed: No Email. No WhatsApp. No Internet. This Is Now Normal Life In Kashmir.


Fruity Rebels

"When I got word that the latter concept was expanding into something called Amazon Go Grocery, complete with a much larger selection of items to buy, I knew what I had to do. I had to steal from its newest product line, one that's much harder to carefully track with a mix of RGB and infrared sensors: produce. Could I pilfer some plums? Wrangle some watermelon? Bag a banana?" (I guess it wouldn't make sense to steal an Apple from Amazon...) Ars Technica: Amazon made a bigger camera-spying store—so we tried to steal its fruit.


Ferris Bueller’s Day On

As the director of the presidential personnel office, John McEntee is tasked with clearing the executive branch of those not deemed to be loyal enough to Trump. In a move that gives new meaning to senior management, he's now installed a young, loyal aide to help with the loyalty evaluations. Politico: A new senior leader at the White House personnel office: A college senior. (This kid can kill two birds with one stone if he writes his senior thesis on the rise of authoritarian regimes.)


Hertz, So Good

You may not know the name, Michael Hertz, but you've undoubtedly seen and appreciated his work. Hertz, the man who designed the map of the New York City subway system, has died aged 87.


Myopic Thunder

"Among Americans, rates of myopia have increased from 25% of people in 1971 to more than 40% today, according to the National Eye Institute. In the major cities of developed Asian countries, the rate exceeds 80% among students as they graduate from high school." The cause is not completely clear, but experts think it could be a combo of too much smartphone time and not enough exposure to daylight. Elemental: Something Is Causing Our Eyeballs to Elongate.


Togetherness of the Long Distance Runner

"Despite gruelling physical and psychological demands, ultrarunning is booming. Any run longer than a conventional 42.105km (26.2-mile) marathon can be considered an ultramarathon, but events are diverse, ranging from road and mountain races to multiple days of running through deserts. There has been a 1,000 per cent increase in the number of races taking place in the last decade and overall participation has skyrocketed." How ultrarunners are pushing the human body beyond all limits. (I have a theory that there's a pretty clear ratio between how far one runs and how one feels about one's family.)


Bottom of the News

"Eldred-Smith thinks that finger-pointing from outsiders may have waned in recent years. If nothing else, the community's increased exposure on social media has made more people familiar with it. But Eldred-Smith can't imagine a future in which her hobby is accepted by the mainstream." (Editor's note: "Same.") Inside the world of hyper-realistic baby doll collecting.

+ There's an Entire Industry Dedicated to Making Foods Crispy.

+ Spoiler alert: Apple won't let bad guys use iPhones in movies. (That's odd, because bad guys won't stop tweeting from them in real life.)

+ Looking for some midweek inspiration? How about a meeting between Greta and Malala.