June 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Things are blowing up across the country, Fiona's Hill Tweet Blues, and a Googler's private force.

You can’t start a fire without a spark / This gun’s for hire / Even if we’re just dancing in the dark. There’s something weird going on across America. And no, I don’t mean the pandemic. Or the recession. Or the protests. I’m talking about the personal fireworks trend. And it’s lit. In my lit review of topic, I’ve found that, along with institutions and norms, a lot of M80s and firecrackers are being exploded—and it’s happening from NYC to San Francisco, with a nonstop string of complaints on social media. Are these bombs bursting in error? Is it some weird counter-protest? Or are people just home and bored? Slate suggests the last option: Yes, You’re Hearing Way More Fireworks Than Usual. “Both the people who are selling explosives and the government officials who are complaining about them agree that the pandemic is probably what lies behind their respective stories.” (When in doubt, blow shit up.) America, it seems to me you lived your life / Like a Roman Candle in the wind / Never knowing who to cling to / When the reign set in…


Humanity Kettle

“‘Human-caused ecological pressures and disruptions are bringing animal pathogens ever more into contact with human populations,’ David Quammen wrote in his 2012 book ‘Spillover,’ ‘while human technology and behavior are spreading those pathogens ever more widely and quickly.” NYT Mag with a very interesting look at How Humanity Unleashed a Flood of New Diseases. (And I thought we had lost all humanity…)


Hill Tweet Blues

John Bolton titled his book, The Room Where it Happened. But the room where it happened was the room where the impeachment hearings took place. Bolton was nowhere in sight. People like Fiona Hill were. In her recent conversations with The New Yorker’s Adam Entous, “she offered a unique look at the dysfunction, the misogyny, and the corruption that have proliferated in Trump’s White House. She remained convinced that public service was a necessary and noble calling, but worried that partisan politics was hobbling the country and endangering its security. ‘We’re doing this to ourselves now,’ she said. ‘The Russians don’t have to do a thing.'” What Fiona Hill Learned in the White House. “After Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary, was interviewed on ’60 Minutes,’ Trump complained that she wasn’t attractive enough. When officials were discussing the possibility of a new position for Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Trump said he didn’t like how her cheeks looked. He complained to officials that Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, wasn’t sufficiently aggressive toward migrants—and she was too short … some of Trump’s top advisers, including Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, began referring to Hill as ‘the Russia bitch.'”


Rope Dope

“Within the speedway, the ban appeared to be successful. But outside, a rolling protest of vehicles flew large Confederate banners, and merchants were selling souvenirs with the flag’s image. An unidentified pilot flew a small plane over the speedway, trailing a large Confederate flag and a banner with the words ‘Defund NASCAR.'” NPR: Noose Left In Black NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace’s Garage Stall At Racetrack. This is terrible, but not surprising. The arc of history doesn’t just bend towards justice. It has to be bent. There’s always resistance. Keep the pedal to the metal.


Serge Protection

“For the past five years, GSD has been quietly using high-tech systems to rapidly deliver humanitarian assistance during high-profile disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic. These range from drones and super-yachts to a gigantic new airship that the outfit apparently hopes will make it easier to get aid supplies into disaster zones.” Google Founder Sergey Brin Funds a Secret Disaster Relief Squad. (Editor’s note: Holy crap.)


OK is Not Good Enough

“The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium.” NYT: The President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa.

+ I covered the rally yesterday, with a little help from the Neil Diamond song, I Am I Said. I’d never call my own work genius, but if someone else had written it, I would give it that label. The song just works for the moment.


Maui Wowie

“A catastrophe never came. Instead of a massive, uncontrolled outbreak, Hawaii has recorded the fewest Covid-19 cases per capita in the country.” How Hawaii Became a Rare Covid Success Story. Ohana, na na na na, na na na, goodbye…

+ What We Know—and Really Don’t Know—About the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines.


Shower Cap

“Now couldn’t be a weirder time to question washing. I’ve spent the past three years reporting on how our notions of what it means to be ‘clean’ have evolved over time—from basic hygiene practices to elaborate rituals that involve dozens of products targeted at each of us by gender and age and ‘skin type.’ At the same time, the incidence of immune-related skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis has risen in the developed world, while acne is as pernicious as ever, despite the constant stream of expensive new medications and unguents sold to address it.” James Hamblin in The Atlantic: You’re Showering Too Much. (Not these days…)


Billy Not Idle

“After the meeting Flanigan decided to visit others. And as his Instagram filled with photos of the encounters, friends started clamoring for a Flanigram.” Billy Flanigan has pedaled 3,000 miles, delivering one smile at a time.


Bottom of the News

A new study suggests that Women Don’t Want to Date Men With Cats. (Whatever happened to being down with OPP?)

+ Why NASA Designed a New $23 Million Space Toilet. (A couple months ago, I would have paid that just for toilet paper.)

+ Apple is announcing a bunch of new stuff at WWDC today. Here’s a running list.

+ 5 Governors, 1 State, 1 Message: Wear a Mask. All former presidents should get together and deliver the same message. Their silence is deafening.

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