Friday, June 26th, 2020


Murdoch, She Wrote

"Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary." Following the lead of its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's, Unilever announced it will pause Facebook and Twitter advertising for rest of 2020 due to 'polarized atmosphere' in U.S. This is a big company to be unileaving social media. Twitter and Facebook stocks are taking a hit.

+ If brands want to target polarization and deadly misinformation, the social networks (particularly Facebook), are a good place to start. But don't stop there. WaPo: New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic. "In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media's role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others. The end result, according to one of the studies, is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic — Fox News's Sean Hannity — reaches the largest audiences."


Hanoi Vey

"As coronavirus lockdowns loosen around the world, city leaders are scrambling to address a new problem: the prospect of gridlock worse than before the pandemic. From Shenzhen to Milan to Austin, officials are trying to coax people back onto buses and subways and reclaim road space for cyclists and pedestrians." NYT: Lockdowns Tamed Road Traffic. Here's How Cities Aim to Keep It Down (aside from the US federal strategy of just letting the virus run rampant). From the photo in this article, traffic in Vietnam looks like it can pretty Hanoiing.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: Baseball is supposedly coming back next month. I still find that hard to believe. But just in case, let's get warmed up with a great baseball doc that takes place far from the majors: The Battered Bastards of Baseball.

+ What to Read: "As the new President's actions set off alarm bells, the two began corresponding. They realized that there was no single organization doing what they were talking about: safeguarding basic principles, like checks and balances, and the idea that no one is above the law, against a perceived threat to democracy itself." Time with a great look at a great organization called Protect Democracy. Trench Lawfare: Inside the Battles to Save Democracy From the Trump Administration. Early on, these folks saw the threats we all see now, and they started doing something about it. I'm a proud supporter of Protect Democracy.

+ What to Watch: This is a great time to watch "Anna Deavere Smith's powerful one-woman theater piece about the 1991 Rodney King beating, the violent aftermath of the 1992 verdict, and the lasting impact of the L.A. riots on America's conscience." Twilight. And the only version I could find isn't the highest quality, but it's worth watching Smith's other amazing one woman show, Fires in the Mirror, about the Crown Heights Riots. (I taught high school in that neighborhood during this era.)


Stage Diving

"Last week, Vice President Mike Pence bragged that the country had made 'great progress' against the disease, highlighting that the average number of new cases each day had dropped to 25,000 in May, and 20,000 so far in June. That holiday has now ended." The Atlantic: A Devastating New Stage of the Pandemic.

+ "Since Memorial Day, Texas Medical Center hospitals have seen a thirty-six-per-cent increase in admitted COVID-19 patients; the number of infections citywide has grown by a hundred and fifty per cent. Texas Medical Center's I.C.U.s were at ninety-eight-per-cent capacity this week. Three weeks from now, if these trends continue, the city's I.C.U.s will be overwhelmed." The New Yorker: The Coronavirus Surge That Texas Could Have Seen Coming.

+ Texas Is Closing Down Bars Again and Limiting Indoor Dining as COVID-19 Cases Surge to Alarming Heights.

+ North Texas family shaken after 18 relatives test positive for COVID-19 following family gathering.

+ WaPo: "Americans are living through a split-screen pandemic: Their leaders are relaxing restrictions while their states set records for new coronavirus infections. Churches, beaches and bars are filling up, and so are hospital beds." Reopenings, record cases and full hospitals: America's dissonant response to the pandemic. (Dissonant is a pretty nice way to put it...)

+ Florida reports massive single-day increase of 9,000 coronavirus cases.

+ LA Times: Rising infections in younger people fuel California's new coronavirus spike. "As of Wednesday, 56% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 were 18 to 49 years old."

+ Taken altogether, this suggests it's a really good time to start listening to the scientists (actually, a better time would have been months ago). DJ Patil, former US Chief Data Scientist (and current excellent guy), with a very informative look at 6 lessons learned to get ready for the next wave of COVID. (Like so many others, DJ put his career on hold and has been working on Covid fulltime, often away from his family, for many months.)


Care Package

Sometimes, in this publication, I may give the impression that the administration isn't doing anything in the face of Covid. And that's not quite fair. They're trying to end the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic and a recession. "Eliminating the ACA would end medical insurance for more than 20 million Americans. It would also end widely popular provisions of the law, such as extending parents' coverage to children up to the age of 26 and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions." NPR: Obamacare Must 'Fall,' Trump Administration Tells Supreme Court.


Tear Jerker

Following an amazing piece of video journalism by the NYT that showed the wanton use of tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters, Philadelphia officials have announced changes to the way they'll handle protests.


Garage Mirage?

"Nascar officials on Thursday released a photo of the rope found in the garage stall of black driver Bubba Wallace that prompted a federal investigation that determined it had been there since last October." I'll let you be the judge. Does this look like your regular, run of the mill garage pull?


Pump Fake?

"They were required to wash their hands and to maintain social distancing: three feet apart for floor exercises, and six feet apart in high-intensity classes. The subjects could use the lockers, but not the saunas or the showers. They were not asked to wear masks." The NYT's Gina Kolata with a look at a very interesting study out of Norway. In Norway, Gymgoers Avoid Infections as Virus Recedes. Before you get too excited about the implications for America, you better take a look at this quote from one of the study's authors: "I personally think this is generalizable, with one caveat. There may be places where there is a lot of Covid, or where people are less inclined to follow restrictions."


Another One Bites the Dust

"There are signs that the cloud is living up to the hype. Michael Lowry, an atmospheric scientist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the cloud shattered the previous record for dust across the tropical Atlantic, as measured by the MODIS satellite." As it does every year, a Saharan dust cloud has arrived at the U.S. Gulf Coast. Only this time, it's bigger. Like, Godzilla bigger. (Something worse than expected happened in 2020? No way?)


Feel Good Friday

YouTube views of sourdough videos jumped 400% in coronavirus lockdown. I admit, I'm part of the problem. But I still haven't actually made any bread. I'm just into watching carb p*rn. Meanwhile, in a related stat, views of "workout from home" videos have more than tripled.

+ After viral video, GoFundMe for Chicago ice cream man surpasses $35K for his retirement.

+ Canada almost self-sufficient in PPE as Canadian businesses step up.

+ She was furloughed. So she became 'Lasagna Lady,' and made 1,200 pans of free lasagna for those in need.

+ Tom Morello Gives 10-Year-Old Shredder One of His Guitars: 'You Rock So Great.'

+ Subsurface ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa deemed potentially habitable. (Fire up the rocket. We can read the article on the way...)