Friday, July 10th, 2020


Swelter in Place

Back in the old days, we used to talk about the weather. In the spirit of getting back to some semblance of normality, let's start with that today. Sadly, even the weather's not normal. "After a certain point, once it's been hot enough for long enough, it becomes even easier to get even hotter. And so that's why these things can often be really persistent, because once they've been around for a little while, they start to feed off of themselves." To the virus and the financial pressures, we're about to add a Heat Dome that will cover much of the US for the next few weeks. Wired: How a ‘Heat Dome' Forms—and Why This One Is So Perilous. "This coming in a summer when the Covid-19 lockdown has trapped people indoors, many without air-conditioning—and mass unemployment may mean that residents with AC units can't afford to run them. Deeper still, the heat and the pandemic are exacerbating long-standing and deadly inequities that will only get deadlier this summer." (But it's a dry heat...)

+ REM, Pop Song 89: Should we talk about the weather? Should we talk about the government? 2020: Either is fine by me...



NYT: "The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Thursday on multiple officials from China, including a senior member of the Communist Party, over human rights abuses against the largely Muslim Uighur minority, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing." (It's important to note that the US government is sanctioning people for a behavior that Trump told Xi was exactly the right thing to do). "The sanctions against Chinese officials were levied under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which was passed in 2016 and gives the United States the ability to impose human rights penalties on foreign officials. But the measures appear largely symbolic, as none of the officials are likely to hold significant assets outside China."


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: "Four strangers — a woman on the run, a brave refugee, a driven bureaucrat and a struggling dad — intersect at an Australian immigration detention center." It's a lot. And it's got a great cast. Stateless on Netflix.

+ What to Playlist: It's hard to concentrate these days, especially for those working from home. Here's a great collection of playlists that provides every style of concentration music and sounds you can think of. The Concentration Playlist.

+ What to Doc: "Even as lockdowns and other measures have been taken around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE has continued to detain people, move them from state to state and deport them." How Ice Exported the Coronavirus.


Poor Poor Pitiful Meme

"Other top White House advisers — including Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino — have also sought to buttress Trump's mood with events they thought he would enjoy, such as celebrating truckers by bringing 18-wheelers onto the White House South Lawn in mid-April or creating social media videos that feature throngs of his adoring fans, according to aides.
Advisers also have sought to boost Trump's mood by presenting him internal polling that shows him in a better position than public surveys." WaPo with another sad story: Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting himself.

+ Trump on Fauci: "Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes."

+ "The June 28 email to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was ominous: A senior adviser to a top Health and Human Services Department official accused the CDC of 'undermining the President' by putting out a report about the potential risks of the coronavirus to pregnant women." CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus response. "At a time when our country needs an orchestrated, all-hands-on-deck response, there is simply no hand on the tiller." (The hand is on the Twitter...)


Epilogue Jam

"As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world's metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. City dwellers reported hearing bird song, wind and the rustling of leaves. (Along with, in New York City, the intermittent screams of sirens). You could smell the absence of cars, too. From New York to Los Angeles to New Delhi, air pollution plummeted, and the soupy, exhaust-choked haze over the world's dirtiest cities lifted to reveal brilliant blue skies." The NYT's Farhad Manjoo has Seen a Future Without Cars, and It's Amazing. (The graphics are too.)


You Can’t Panhandle the Truth

"This was the first wave of the virus in Texas, centered on the meatpacking plants that run north from Amarillo toward Oklahoma. Each plant, in the early months of the pandemic, represented both a concentrated outbreak and an amplification of the problems that have become familiar across the United States: the confusion of messaging, the conflict between life and commerce, the conspiracy theories and the outright denial. Unless you were there, on the front lines, in the hospitals or in the hardest-hit communities, it all seemed invisible and abstract." The New Yorker: How Two Waves of Coronavirus Cases Swept Through the Texas Panhandle.


Probable Cosmetics

"He said usually people would have to factor in recovery at home when considering surgery but now that many people are working from home, this doesn't need to be considered." BBC: 'I can recover at home': Cosmetic surgeons see rise in patients amid pandemic. (Interesting. Now that I'm home all the time, I care about my appearance even less. And I already had a face for newsletters.)


Block Buster

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me." Giants' Buster Posey opts out of 2020 MLB season. This is mostly a story for Giants fans like me, but I'm linking to it here because I have a feeling Buster won't be the only MLB player to strike this pose.


The Fixer is In

"The 53-year-old was released from federal custody six weeks ago on a medical furlough due to the coronavirus and had returned to the courthouse Thursday for what was expected to be a perfunctory extension of his house arrest for the remainder of his prison term, which runs until November 2021." But now, Michael Cohen is back in prison after refusing to sign off on his release terms. The probation officers wanted to throw the book at him, but Cohen wants to be able to throw a book into the marketplace before November.


Feel Good Friday

"Tsai started receiving a ceaseless torrent of calls and queries from national labs, companies and health-care workers in need of help. 'Everyone was asking me about the respirators,' said Tsai, 68, who is originally from Taiwan and now lives in Knoxville, Tenn." The retired inventor of N95 masks is back at work, mostly for free, to fight covid-19. Immigrants make America better, folks.

+ Malala Yousafzai and Anousheh Ansari are two of the headline speakers at a cool, and free, global event being put on by OwnBackup and Salesforce. Check it out. Resilience.Work.

+ I've known only two perfect people in my life. One is that son of a bitch Martin Short; the other is Carl Reiner. Steve Martin in the NYT: Carl Reiner, Perfect.

+ NYT: Patrick Cashin spent two decades as the official M.T.A. photographer. From the bridges to the tunnels, he showed us some of his most stunning images.

+ Wimbledon to allocate prize money despite cancellation.

+ US Army soldier makes history by becoming the first woman to become a Green Beret.

+ Canada posts record job gains in June as services reopen.

+ Gary Larson of the Far Side is making new comics again.

+ And just for fun, I made myself president for 2 minutes and gave a quick speech.