Thursday, May 28th, 2020


Generation F’d

Millennials, like generations before them, have taken a lot of hits from their elders. But the truth is that their generation is doing pretty well considering they've been dealt some of the worst cards in American history. WaPo: The Unluckiest Generation. "Gray Kimbrough, an economist with American University ... points out the oldest millennials, such as himself, lived through the 9/11 terrorist attacks and entered the labor market in the recession that hit around the same time. They spent their early years struggling to find work during a jobless recovery, only to be hit by the Great Recession and another jobless recovery. And, of course, yet another recession." For some reason, this depiction makes me think of the end of the first Rocky movie. America: "Ain't gonna be no rematch." Millennials: "Don't want one."


Social Distortion

Following a Twitter factcheck, President Trump is preparing an executive order targeting social media protections. The order will be legally challenged and won't amount to much. It's a political move we've come to expect in Opposite World. Trump's social media threats aren't just an attempt to distract you from 100k virus deaths. They're also an attempt to distract you from the fact that no candidate in history has benefited more from the current state of social media. And don't kid yourself. Big tech will come out of this pandemic much more powerful than before.

+ Mark Zuckerberg rejected Twitter's Trump fact check in an interview on Weds. "I think we've been pretty clear on what I think the right approach is, which is that I don't think that Facebook or Internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth." A decent headline for this quote would be Guy Largely Responsible for Obliteration of Truth Doesn't Want to Be the Arbiter of Truth. And Zuck would have to agree. Later in the same interview, he explained: "There are lines, and we will enforce them, but I think in general you want to give as wide of a voice as possible, and I think you want to have a special deference to political speech." In other words, there is an arbiter of truth. It's Zuckerberg.



The US Death Toll has officially reached 100,000. America and the world have been forever altered. We've been inundated by news. We can think of little else but this pandemic. But there's something missing. WaPo's Marc Fisher provides a solid reflection on American at 100K. "There have been few expressions of public grief — no gold stars in the windows of homes where people died, no outcry for national unity or memorials, as happened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In this trauma, the enemy is unseen; there is no one against whom to mobilize the nation's energy, anger and frustration ... Despite a death toll that has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes, it remains early in the course of the epidemic. There has been as yet no national requiem, no moment that captured the collective sense of loss, no president standing atop the ruins, rallying the nation through a bullhorn."

+ ProPublica: 100,000 Lives Lost to COVID-19. What Did They Teach Us? (More importantly, what have we learned?)


Gimme Three Steps

The NYT Upshot reports that, even in the hardest hit areas, The World Is Still Far From Herd Immunity for Coronavirus. WaPo cites experts who explain why Coronavirus may never go away, even with a vaccine. So it makes sense to find places where the virus has been controlled, and where societies have been able to function on a reasonable level. NPR: Some Countries Have Brought New Cases Down To Nearly Zero. How Did They Do It? (Three big factors: Leadership, Masks, Truth.)

+ A thick but interesting report from Science Mag: "From epidemiological data, countries that have been most effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 have implemented universal masking."

+ Meanwhile, back in America: Bad state data hides coronavirus threat as Trump pushes reopening. And ‘Sorry, no mask allowed': Some businesses pledge to keep out customers who cover their faces. (Remember the big three: Leadership, Masks, Truth.)


Context Book Example

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for police officers to be arrested after the knee to the neck killing of George Floyd. He's also calling for calm as protests in the area have gotten serious. "Please, please, Minneapolis. We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy." Star Tribune: As Mayor Frey calls for officer's arrest, violence intensifies in Minneapolis.

+ "I read somewhere that you're never gonna care until it hits your front door. We are here now, knocking in the front door." Deadly Chaos Erupts in Minneapolis as Fires Rage Over Police Violence.

+ "The video of Floyd's death is horrific but not surprising; terrible but not unusual, depicting a kind of incident that is periodically reenacted in the United States. It's both necessary and, at this point, pedestrian to observe that policing in this country is mediated by race." Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker: The Death of George Floyd, in Context.


Larry, Tony, and the Health of a Nation

"'How did I meet Larry? He called me a murderer and an incompetent idiot on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner magazine' ... Nearly every anecdote in our brief interview had the same plot: the country's best-known AIDS activist publicly abusing the country's best-known AIDS doctor — and then privately apologizing afterward, saying he hadn't meant it, that it was just how to get things done." Don McNeil Jr in the NYT: ‘We Loved Each Other': Fauci Recalls Larry Kramer, Friend and Nemesis.


The Age of Aging

"I called Constantine Yannelis up, and he told me that he and his co-authors were continuing to work on the study, which had found a correlation between private equity-owned nursing homes and their quality ratings—after private equity comes in, nursing homes tend to reduce their staffing, with an eye toward efficiency. 'There is also a preliminary,' and here Yannelis stressed the word preliminary, 'correlation between private equity ownership of nursing homes and Covid deaths.'" Lucy Shiller in The Baffler: Aging in Place: On Covid-19 and the lucrative world of 'senior living.'"


Cash Registers

"I've long had a complicated relationship with touring, and the pandemic has made it only more difficult. I always knew what life on the road was costing me. But I didn't fully appreciate what it gave me until suddenly it was gone." Rosanne Cash on the pandemic as a clarifier: I Will Miss What I Wanted to Lose. (Oddly, the thing I miss most in isolation is being alone. I'm getting tired of running fake errands...)


A Touching Story

"The coronavirus has shuttered the adult entertainment industry, so enterprising performers are turning to platforms like OnlyFans to sell their product directly to consumers. It's a trend that could change the way the industry works forever." The Ringer: P-rn Takes On a Personal Touch in the Pandemic. (Wait, isn't the whole point of p-rn the personal touch?)


Feel Good Thursday

"Part Indiana Jones, part Anthony Fauci, part That guy- who thrives at every damn sport he tries, Dr. Johan Hultin is the hero we need now. He may be 95, but his work as an adventurer/pathologist—two times traversing the Alaskan wilderness to solve the riddle of the 1918 pandemic—is helping fight the coronavirus today." SI: Into the Wild. Twice. For Mankind.

+ Couple married for 70 years reunited after months apart due to coronavirus restrictions.

+ "As Stejna's condition worsened, Gunn said they called to say what they thought were their final goodbyes. She thanked Stejna for everything she had done for her. When Shelley's husband, Adam Gunn, asked whether Stejna was ready to go to heaven, she replied, 'Hell yes.'" 103-year-old Massachusetts woman beats coronavirus, celebrates with Bud Light. (Saint Peter should use the extra time to stock up on Bud Light. Beers in heaven. Almost like a next draft...)