Saturday, July 25th, 2020


From Chad to Worse

From masks to the stimulus plan to the convention, this was a week of reversals from a president who rarely makes them. Of course, they are a reaction to the "fake polls" he keeps talking about. But voter sentiments won't determine the outcome of the 2020 election. Actual votes will. And there are many signs that casting and counting votes could be a big problem. In the year 2000, we had the hanging chad election, after which it took weeks to determine an outcome. You really think anything about 2020 is going to be less crazy than any other year in our lifetimes? Garrett Graff in Politico Magazine: 8 Big Reasons Election Day 2020 Could Be a Disaster. "Conversations with election specialists and security officials, plus analysis of recent government reports, make clear that there are eight distinct but connected challenges. At the technical end are the uncertain new voting technologies and processes put in place for the pandemic; on the geopolitical end, we face foreign adversaries energized by their success sowing confusion in 2016. And at the center is the unprecedented human factor: The dislocations and risks associated with voting in an uncontrolled viral outbreak. Add to that a year that has already seen unprecedented street protests and vivid displays of political violence, and an incumbent president who has already been impeached for attempting dirty tricks in this election, and who is uniquely likely to cast doubt on the results if he loses, and you have a combustible recipe." (And a pyromaniac in the White House.)

+ Voting by mail could be a big factor in November. The president is fully aware of that. NBC News: Trump's new postmaster general could corrupt a key institution ahead of Election Day.


A River Runs Through It

"The Amazon River is South America's essential life source, a glittering superhighway that cuts through the continent. It is the central artery in a vast network of tributaries that sustains some 30 million people across eight countries, moving supplies, people and industry deep into forested regions often untouched by road. But once again, in a painful echo of history, it is also bringing disease." An amazing photo essay from the NYT: The Amazon, Giver of Life, Unleashes the Pandemic.


Running Out of Patients

"In May, a survey of primary-care doctors found that nearly a fifth had temporarily closed their practices, owing to the pandemic, and two in five had laid off or furloughed staff. Primary-care clinics are tasked with keeping people healthy, and decades of research have shown that the care they provide is associated with better outcomes and lower costs." A key irony of a generational health crisis is that many in the health care business are going broke. The New Yorker: America's Looming Primary-Care Crisis.

+ Not everyone in the broader health care biz is going bust. NYT: Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine. "In some cases, company insiders are profiting from regularly scheduled compensation or automatic stock trades. But in other situations, senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high."


The Escalate Show

A video investigation by the NYT confirms that federal officers escalated the violence in Portland. I'm pretty sure that was the point. This is all political. We're in the middle of a wag the dog effort so pathetic that a US president is going to war with America.


Hanna and Her Twisters

"Hurricane Hanna rumbled toward the Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday, lashing the shoreline with wind gusts and rain and threatening to bring storm surge and possible tornadoes to a part of the country trying to cope with a spike in coronavirus cases." (Hurricane and fire season displacements are coming and Covid-19 isn't leaving. It's gonna be a problem.)


The Courage of Their Evictions

"The U.S. emblem was removed from the building, but the American flag remained near the entrance. Police set up barricades and cut off traffic from the street in front of the building on Saturday, while dozens of security officers urged onlookers to keep moving after taking pictures and videos. The closure is the latest escalation in tensions between the world's two biggest economies." Bloomberg: Crowds Gather in Chengdu to Watch American Diplomats Evacuate.


Social Distancing Isn’t a Contact Sport

"Every member of the Michigan State football team will quarantine for the next 14 days after a player and a second team staff member tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the school announced on Friday." (It's unclear how football can work in this environment.)


Watching Like Detectives

"A viewer emailed me last month," WFLA reporter Victoria Price posted online on Thursday. "She saw a lump on my neck. Said it reminded her of her own. Hers was cancer. Turns out, mine is too." Viewer spots Florida reporter Victoria Price's cancer growth.


Check Yourself Before You Rex Yourself

"The T. rex's eruptive demise at the bottom of the mine shaft illustrates the most important factor to consider when facing the giant saurian's pursuit. In the run for your life, its awe-inspiring, terrifying, stupefying size would be, in fact, your greatest advantage." Wired: How to Outrun a Dinosaur. You can never be too prepared.


Bottom of the News

"With weddings postponed and offices shut, business was bleak at Woodside Tailor Shop in Queens during the long months of pandemic lockdown. There was no need for party dress alterations, or any pressure for slacks to be hemmed. But about three months in, things started picking back up in June, with one particular service in sudden demand: People needed a bit more breathing room in their clothing." NYT: Tailors Know New Yorkers' Pandemic Secret.

+ From the most excellent Harry Shearer: "Son In Law" as performed by "Donald Trump."

+ Anthony Rizzo gave hand sanitizer to Orlando Arcia at first base in Cubs-Brewers opener. Awesome.

+ Some of the winners of this year's iPhone photography awards.