Tuesday, July 21st, 2020


A Colonized Society

Feeling like you can't deal with the constant flow of bad news every time you go online? Don't say, Uncle. Say, Ant. Frustrated and need to let off a little steam? Don't rant, Ant. Having one of those days when you just can't? Drop the C and Ant instead. That seems to be the mantra of a whopping two million people who have voluntarily colonized themselves into a Facebook group where everyone pretends to be an ant. (Sounds like this is the queen of clubs.) The founder of the group, who is as shocked as the rest of us about its popularity, explains the attraction: "I think people are really into escapism right now. We try to watch Netflix to take our minds off of what's happening in the media and in the world. … In the group, you don't have to be yourself. You don't have to worry about the problems in your daily life. You sit down, be ant for 20 minutes. It gives you a little bit of serotonin, and you're back on your game." (OK, you don't have to drone on about it!) WaPo: Feeling antsy? Join the club. This is a case where the bug is a feature, not a bug. As an added benefit, you don't have to worry about getting ants in your pants because, in the Zoom age, no one wears those anymore. But think carefully before you become part of the group. I hear that once you join the ants, you can never flea. (Sorry, some people deal with all the bad news by joining ant groups, I deal with it by doing whatever this is. I certainly don't mean to be a pest.)


Bed Spread Sheets

"The pandemic has presented unique challenges for officials grappling with a fast-moving and largely unpredictable foe. But the story of the Billie Jean King facility illustrates the missteps made at every level of government in the race to create more hospital capacity in New York." NYT: This Hospital Cost $52 Million. It Treated 79 Virus Patients. (The saddest part is that those numbers don't sound that far off from ones I've seen in other health care stories over the years.)


Portland Fail Blazers

"Ordinarily, a person ... who is confronted by anonymous men in military-type fatigues and ordered into an unmarked van can reasonably assume that he is being kidnapped and is the victim of a crime." You may agree or disagree with the protesters in Portland. You can certainly oppose any violence or vandalism. But as Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes explain in The Atlantic: Nothing Can Justify the Attack on Portland. (Not even desperate political moves leading up to an election.)

+ "For decades, conservative activists and leaders have warned that 'jackbooted thugs' from the federal government were going to come to take away Americans' civil rights with no due process and no recourse. Now they're here—but they're deployed by a staunchly right-wing president with strong conservative support." David Graham: America Gets an Interior Ministry.

+ On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century author Timothy Snyder: "This is a classic way that violence happens in authoritarian regimes, whether it's Franco's Spain or whether it's the Russian Empire. The people who are getting used to committing violence on the border are then brought in to commit violence against people in the interior." Michelle Goldberg in the NYT: Trump's Occupation of American Cities Has Begun.


Meet By-Products

"The defendant had agreed to tell Mike and his family everything about the murder and to plead guilty. In return, he would be spared the death penalty and instead spend his life in prison—but only if the Lileses felt satisfied that he had told the truth. This arrangement, brokered by Jacksonville's newly elected state attorney, was essentially unprecedented in the history of homicide prosecutions in the United States." Eli Hager with a very interesting look at restorative justice efforts in Florida—that also provides a close look at criminals and crime victims. They Agreed to Meet Their Mother's Killer. Then Tragedy Struck Again.


Together We’re Giant

The Giants' Gabe Kapler became the first manager or coach in a major American sport to take a knee during the anthem. (Kapler has a tattoo that says, "Never Again" with a flame and the dates of the Holocaust on his right calf. He's given some thought to these issues.) Trump Tweeted his opposition to the kneeling and said, "The game is over for me!" Those could be the first true words he's ever Tweeted.

+ In addition to sending out the message of unity, the Giants also sent out "Alyssa Nakken, who became the first woman to coach on-field in a major league game, when she took over duties for the Giants at first base." (I really doubted that we'd get baseball back in any form. Even with the fake crowd noise and cardboard cutouts in the seats and me sitting at home in rubber gloves wiping down my peanuts and Cracker Jack, it's a welcome distraction.)


Meddle Mettle

Joe Biden on Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections: "If elected president, I will treat foreign interference in our election as an adversarial act that significantly affects the relationship between the United States and the interfering nation's government. I will direct the U.S. Intelligence Community to report publicly and in a timely manner on any efforts by foreign governments that have interfered, or attempted to interfere, with U.S. elections. I will direct my administration to leverage all appropriate instruments of national power and make full use of my executive authority to impose substantial and lasting costs on state perpetrators." (It's amazing that this position stands in contrast to the current administration.)


Calling Them Heroes Isn’t Enough

"If day after day, you're waking up and dealing with patients that are extremely ill, some of whom wind up in the ICU and dying, it just takes a cumulative toll on our anxiety and burnout. It's exhausting every day trying to deal with this." UCSF study shows health workers grappling with pandemic anxiety.

+ This article also mentions a great program set up specifically to help our frontline health care professionals. Hundreds of therapists are volunteering their time. My friend Mike Levin helped to start the program. My friend Jeff O'Keefe's ad firm designed the site and is helping to spread the word. My friend Dave's daughter is spending her pandemic summer working for the organization. And I get the easy part. I donated money. And now I'm asking you to do the same.


Cohen of Silence

Michael Cohen was sent back to prison over tell-all book on Trump, suit claims. "The suit said the book will detail Trump's behaviors behind closed doors such as making 'pointedly certain anti-Semitic remarks against prominent Jewish people and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.'" (Shocking...)

+ Mary Trump's book sold 950,000 copies. On the first day.


Call of Duty’s Call of Duty

"While members of military e-sports teams offer the regular gaming skill set, they're also on-screen talent and recruiters. Instead of approaching a recruiter behind a table in a school cafeteria, kids can hang out with one who is playing their favorite video games and replying to their chat messages for hours on end." The US Military Is Using Online Gaming to Recruit Teens.


Bottom of the News

"A dog named Cleo who disappeared from her home in Kansas earlier this month turned up a few days later at her old home in Missouri, about 50 miles away." (The new home must really suck.)

+ "I filmed this video because my daughter raised this calf from birth and every time she comes home from school she calls him and he comes running." Wow.