Wednesday, July 8th, 2020


End Times at Ridgemont High

Every parent I know wants to get Back to the Future, and would do anything to make this Superbad pandemic lift so we can tell districts to Bring it On and finally send our kids Back to School. Ferris Bueller has had enough days off. But you'd have to be Clueless not to see the Risky Business associated with an Election driven, Dazed and Confused return to school that is somehow magically going to turn a potential Dead Poet's Society into a High School Musical. One doesn't have to be a Real Genius, or even particularly Booksmart, to realize that the Dangerous Minds who clung to Weird Science and continue to refuse to follow the advice of their own experts are responsible for the Breakfast Club snub. Trump can Say Anything he wants, threaten to cut off federal funds, or try to blame our unreadiness on the Cruel Intentions of political opponents or the supposedly Mean Girls in the squad. But the truth is that this is a Grease fire of Porky's own making. And Juno I'm right. Until we have the will to slow the pandemic and an actual plan (aside from All Cap tweets) to reopen schools, it's bye, bye miss American Pie. We should have listened when we were told to Vote for Pedro.

+ Trump: "In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS." I wonder if that has anything to do with them DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THE VIRUS? (P.S. In Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, it's summer.)

+ Trump says Harvard's move to online courses due to virus is 'ridiculous.' "We want to get our schools open, we want to get them open quickly, beautifully, in the fall." (Bro, it may not be Autumn, but we're in the fall right now.)

+ Harvard and MIT sue to block Trump's plan to bar international students from the US if classes are online-only. Harvard president Larry Bacow: "The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness." (If Larry's Good Will Hunting for something other than cruelty and recklessness with this administration, he's going to be disappointed.)


Sweden What?

Sweden might be a good example to learn from in this pandemic. But not for the reasons some people think: "Sweden's grim result — more death, and nearly equal economic damage — suggests that the supposed choice between lives and paychecks is a false one: A failure to impose social distancing can cost lives and jobs at the same time." NYT: Sweden Has Become the World's Cautionary Tale.

+ America also has a claim to the cautionary tale mantle. We just passed 3 million cases, and some regions are seeing record surges.


San Quentin Tarantino Movie

This is local story for me that's sadly become a national one. Trapped Inside San Quentin During an Explosion of COVID-19. "It's like a horror movie when you're watching like a monster inch its way towards you and you haven't no way out, you have nowhere to run." And the way Covid made its way into San Quentin has to rank as one of the absolute worst decisions of the entire pandemic. "On May 30, the prison of about 3,500 people on the edge of San Francisco Bay had zero coronavirus cases. Then California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials transferred 121 people to San Quentin from the California Institution for Men in Chino, which was struggling with a fierce outbreak. Some of the men, who had medical risk factors and hadn't been tested for up to four weeks, were packed onto buses where a handful fell ill even before they arrived at San Quentin."


Ad Nausea

"Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday. Google's platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue." Bloomberg: Google, Amazon Funnel Money to Virus Conspiracy Sites: Study. Creating a seamless way for brands to (often unknowingly) fund hate and misinformation sites is one of the biggest problems in tech.

+ NYT: "Facebook has not done enough to fight discrimination on its platform and has made some decisions that were 'significant setbacks for civil rights,' according to a new independent audit of the company's policies and practices."


Here, Right (Used to) Matter

"Vindman has endured a 'campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation' spearheaded by the President following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry last year, according to his attorney, Amb. David Pressman." Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, is retiring from the US Army.


Birth Control Panel

Buzzfeed: "The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration Wednesday, granting businesses and universities the ability to refuse to provide birth control coverage for their employees for religious or moral reasons."


Little Fires Everywhere

"Since June, fires or explosions have erupted at six factories and other facilities, two of them military in nature—the Parchin missile-production plant and the Natanz nuclear site." Fred Kaplan in Slate: Why Do Things Keep Blowing Up in Iran?


Letter Rip

"It is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes." In Harpers: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate. "This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away." (And, mic drop...)


Pillar Mike

"I don't give a shit about liking you or you liking me. What I give a shit about is if your policies are going to benefit me and my community in a way that will help us get a leg up in America." GQ: The Political Education of Killer Mike. "How Michael Render—a rapper from Atlanta who also happens to be a Second Amendment–loving, Bernie Sanders–boosting, unapologetically pro-Black businessman—became one of the loudest and most original political voices in the country." (And Run the Jewels has released one of the best albums of the year.)


Bottom of the News

"But as L.A. has become an infection hotspot and soaring case counts have prompted mandatory closure of many counties' dine-in restaurants and bars, the idea that a high-risk enterprise like a crowded soundstage could proceed unaffected seems increasingly far-fetched." Don't blame the messenger, but we're gonna run out of TV.

+ "What makes this century-old startup story especially poignant today is that Dixie cups, as they came to be known, achieved only moderate growth for 10 years." Then the Spanish Flu arrived. FastCo: How Dixie cups became the breakout startup of the 1918 pandemic.

+ The Winners Of The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards.

+ The Change the Twenty Program Tubman 20 Shirt sales are going through the roof. And for every $20 shirt purchased, my wife Gina and I will donate $20 to a Donors Choose K-12 program focused on Black history, literature, equality, and/or racial justice. Get your shirt and spread the word. Make it hurt me! And please spread the word.