Friday, June 12th, 2020


Silicon Valley Forge

"In the years before the virus, critics began to prophesy that a handful of tech companies would soon grow more powerful than the government. Their scale and influence, and their ability to manipulate public opinion and shape markets, would permit them to reign unimpeded. That warning, however dark, didn't quite capture the emerging strategy of these firms—a strategy that was in fact taking shape before the pandemic began—or the graver threat they pose. Rather than supplanting government, they have, in essence, sought to merge with it." Franklin Foer in The Atlantic: What Big Tech Wants Out of the Pandemic. One thing is for sure, when we finally get to the other side of this pandemic, big business will be bigger than ever. And big tech will be the biggest example of that reality.


Nothing is Over

"Thanks to the effort of millions of people, we were close to a great success story. But because of the failures of Trump and Chauvin, of the CDC and the WHO, of public-health experts and Fox News hosts, we are, instead, likely to give up—and tolerate that hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens will die needless deaths. Pandemics reveal the true state of a society. Ours has come up badly wanting." The Atlantic's Yascha Mounk has been disturbingly prescient about this pandemic. Hopefully this headline is where the streak ends. The Virus Will Win. (Long term, we'll 'win.' But the cost will be high. And one thing's for sure. In the words of John Rambo, "Nothing is over!")

+ My own prediction: Our weird resistance to doing something as simple and painless as wearing masks will be written about in history books. And like me, most historians will have a hard time explaining it. LA Times: A revolt against wearing masks creates a new coronavirus danger as California reopens. (The more we learn, the more effective masks seem to be. But even if wearing one did nothing other than make your fellow citizens feel better, that should be enough.)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: My brother-in-law Douglass is a Black pastor (most recently at SF's famous Glide Church) who grew up hearing the stories about the Tulsa Massacre. He and his group of fellow pastors are all huge fans of a show that they felt finally depicted important truths about race, history, and that event (one that is back in the headlines because of Trump's sick plan to resume his rallies in Tulsa on Juneteenth). That show is Watchmen. It not only got the race angle right enough to be lauded by those who know the story well, it's also an awesome show. And yes, we're still waiting for our own Damon Lindelof, the show's amazing creator, to complete the final chapters of Something, Something, Something Murder, but he's been busy winning a Peabody Award. Congrats, my friend.

+ What to Read: For some background on the massacre, this is what happened in Tulsa in 1921.

+ What to Book: In another life (and during a different era of riots), I taught African American literature at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn. Here are a few books I'd recommend from that class. Native Son, by Richard Wright. Fences, and every other play by August Wilson. And The Bluest Eye and Beloved, by Toni Morrison (I wrote my college thesis on it.)

+ What to Worry About: If you missed it yesterday, you should probably check this out. I like to pretend I'm woke. But, Guys, I Think My Dad's in Antifa.



"In Hood River, Oregon, antifa were, according to screenshot of a fake Instagram story, calling on followers to 'root loot do anything in your power.' In Spring Hill, Tennessee, there was a 'busload' staying at the Holiday Inn, prepping to loot Walgreens at noon. In Wenatchee, Washington, bands of men dressed in black were surveilling potential targets. In Payette, Idaho, a plane full of protesters was circling overhead. In Honolulu, antifa had been flown in from the mainland. In Billings, Montana, some claimed agitators had been spotted by the National Guard. In Nebraska, they were creating Craigslist ads offering to pay people $25 a day to 'cause as much chaos and destruction as possible.' In Sisters, Oregon, they were planning to show up at the local Bi-Mart." Anne Helen Petersen: How The Antifa Fantasy Spread In Small Towns Across The US.

+ Protest misinformation is riding on the success of pandemic hoaxes. (Lies and conspiracy theories are tearing America apart.)


Mosquito (East) Coast

"For Homo sapiens, the mosquito is still by far the deadliest creature on the planet. While extracting blood to nourish its eggs, the female mosquito kills approximately 1 million of our kind each year." And rising temperatures seem to bring some deadly mosquitoes to a region near you. A Deadly Mosquito-Borne Illness Is Brewing in the Northeast. (Hey, you wanted something to take your mind off Covid19, and murder hornets didn't seem to catch on...)


Bundle of Oy

"The Unbundle concept, first coined by the music entrepreneur Trevor McFedries, is best thought of not as an alternative to defunding but as a kind of framework to see how bloated modern police work has become—and how a bit of disentangling could make cities safer places for everyone." Derek Thompson: Unbundle the Police. American policing is a gnarl of overlapping services that should be demilitarized and disentangled.


The Week in Weakness

"I know it is hard to remember all the crazy things that happen in the course of a week in Trump's America, but I will try hard to remember this one: a week when I saw troops in the streets and worried about a years-long economic crisis; a week when an untamed pandemic killed up to a thousand Americans a day; a week when massive nationwide protests suggested that our dysfunctional, gridlocked political system might finally actually do something about the plague of police brutality and systemic racism. And then there was the President, who chose to spend the week refighting the Civil War—on the losing side." Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: Trump Hates Losers, So Why Is He Refighting the Civil War—on the Losing Side? (Because, as he's shown from the Central Park Five, to Birtherism, to the BLM protests, the one thing he clings to more than winning is his own deep-seated racism.)

+ Meanwhile, "Those wishing to attend President Trump's rally next week in Oklahoma must agree not to sue the Trump campaign or host venue in the event they contract the coronavirus." (Don't sign the waiver. Don't go near the virus. And stop drinking the Kool-Aid.)


Vial Signs

"We have to keep the door open to give capacity to those who really are successful in the end. We don't want to be portrayed in the press as the ones who were unable to package the best vaccine." One of the concerns when it comes to finding a vaccine: We're gonna need a lot of those tiny bottles. Reuters on the potential bottleneck.


Cuddle Fishing

WaPo: "Single people in need should find a 'cuddle buddy' or 'sex buddy' with whom they can safely partner during the pandemic." (As far as I can tell, people stuck at home with their whole families are the ones who could really use a cuddle at this point.)

+ Mel Magazine: Quarantine has revved back up the wholesome tradition of car sex. (Well, now my kids will know why we're always out of gas even though my wife and I no longer have a commute.)


Feel Good Friday

"I have a commitment to deliver supplies to my community in Guaynabo. I would have had more than enough reason to hide from the risks and just stay home. My reward for this commitment: the face of hope. Every person who sees my little white truck with red and blue stripes and the eagle with the words 'United States Postal Service' can see that we are committed. And that fills my heart with pride." NPR: Dear Class Of 2020: Graduation Messages From Front-Line Workers. (This was a great idea...)

+ Here are 8 new habits people want to keep post-lockdown.

+ The Bachelor casts Matt James, the first Black male lead in franchise history. (Babysteps...)