Monday, July 27th, 2020


Flattening the Curve Ball

We hadn't done what was necessary to get the virus under control, but we thought we could somehow let baseball slide under the radar. I never thought the season would get underway, but once it did, I didn't balk. I was as happy as anyone to sit in my hermetically sealed man cave and crack open UV-light treated peanuts with rubber gloves. But Covid-19 already has us caught in a pickle. Forget one, two, three strikes... The Miami Marlins just got thirteen strikes at once; and they're out. "The 2020 MLB season, all four days and 46 games of it, was fun while it lasted. Now the grim reality of the real world is back—not that it ever left, or stopped interfering with the league's plans—and bringing a coronavirus outbreak with it." MLB Already Has a Coronavirus Outbreak. What Happens Now? (Like it's done repeatedly in the past, Covid-19 just hit the cover off our story.)


Divide and Conquer

"To the protesters, the men inside the battened down courthouse are at best thoughtless political minions, at worst murderous henchmen. To the agents inside, the demonstrators that pack the downtown each night are violent anarchists, an angry sea of humanity bent on hurting — or even killing — federal agents doing their job." AP: On Portland's streets: Anger, fear, and a fence that divides. (The whole point of sending federal agents into Portland was to divide and incite. The wall of moms and leaf blower dads have inspired America. Breaking windows, lighting fires and getting violent helps Trump and distracts from the BLM message.)


Leadership Wreck

"The rest of the world sees the United States not as a leader in dealing with the coronavirus but as the country with the highest number of coronavirus infections and covid-19 deaths, and with the disease far from under control. European nations have responded with the unprecedented step of blocking Americans from entering their countries.
From abroad, the United States is seen as having lost confidence in itself as it grapples not only with the pandemic but also with long-standing political divisions and a racial reckoning over the treatment of black Americans. The perceived loss of confidence among Americans in turn has led others to question the United States' appetite or capacity for a collaborative leadership role at a time when the health and economic crises call out for committed global cooperation." A must-read from WaPo's Dan Balz. Since the beginning of the Trump era, I've felt like the domestic damage could ultimately be fixed. But America's role in the world might not return for a generation, if it gets there at all. America's global standing is at a low point. The pandemic made it worse. Balz doesn't let Obama entirely off the hook in the piece either.


Deep Sixed

The Senate GOP is looking to reduce the weekly unemployment insurance enhancement from $600 to $200. The concern is that some people are making more money by not working. "University of Chicago researchers found that for two-thirds of people who lose jobs, their unemployment benefits exceeded what they had been earning. The researchers even drilled down into specific low-paying jobs to see how those who kept working earned less than those who weren't. For instance, unemployed janitors were eligible to collect 158% of their pay, while the typical retail worker can get 142% of what they regularly earn." NPR: $600 A Week: Poverty Remedy Or Job Slayer? (These numbers also need to be viewed outside the prism of the pandemic. Too many Americans are getting paid way too little money for full time jobs while my stock portfolio goes up and up, Covid or no Covid. The system is broken.)


Maybe It’s Not Just a Phase

"This phase is called Phase 3 efficacy testing, and it is designed to see if the vaccine actually prevents disease. Up to 30,000 volunteers will be assigned to one of two groups. One group will receive two injections spaced approximately 28 days apart of mRNA-1273, as the vaccine is known. The other group will receive an injection containing only salt water." Moderna's Covid-19 Vaccine Candidate Heads To Widespread Testing In US.

+ "Making a vaccine quickly is hard enough but distributing one worldwide offers a host of other variables, and conflicting forces may work against the effort: The infrastructure powering the global economy is scaling down for a protracted downturn just as pharmaceutical companies need to scale up for the biggest and most consequential product launch in modern history." The World's Supply Chain Isn't Ready for a Covid-19 Vaccine. (It would be ironic if world governments commandeered cruise ships to deliver the vaccine...)


Membership Has its Privileges

"Police unions enjoy a political paradox. Conservatives traditionally abhor labor unions but support the police. The left is critical of aggressive policing, yet has often muted its criticism of police unions—which are, after all, public-sector unions, an endangered and mostly progressive species. In their interstitial safe zone, police unions can offer their members extraordinary protections." The always excellent William Finnegan in The New Yorker: How Police Unions Fight Reform.

+ Speaking of unions: Teachers Are Organizing To Protest School Reopenings Before The Coronavirus Is Under Control. (This is the part of school re-openings that politicians keep leaving out of the equation. Parents, kids, and district leaders are easy sells compared to teachers, who could be risking their lives.)


Try a Little Tenderness

"In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among 'our people' in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said." WaPo: One question still dogs Trump: Why not try harder to solve the coronavirus crisis? (Why not try harder to accept that he's exactly what he's shown himself to be?)

+ Speaking of "our people," Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for Covid-19.


Archie and Jugheads

"Prince Harry, who grew up in the media spotlight, is said to be particularly upset about the level of harassment he and his family are being subjected to on a daily basis and refuses to allow his wife and son to be 'fodder' for the tabloid press, whom he reportedly blames for the death of his mother, the late Princess of Wales. Last year he spoke about how he feared Meghan was 'falling victim to the same powerful forces' as Princess Diana." Inside Prince Harry and Meghan's New Paparazzi Lawsuit. The photos were taken via a drone. The semi-royal couple is fully right on this issue. How the hell can this be legal? And why the hell are people so starved for photos of a baby?


Oh Just Never Come Back

"The decision to extend the remote work policy well into next year indicates that one of the world's largest tech companies is bracing for a long pandemic — and could prompt other businesses to follow suit." Google will let employees work from home until at least next summer.


Bottom of the News

"His company is building a mask that serves as a combination walkie-talkie, personal secretary and translator. It can record its users' voice, projecting it to someone else's smartphone — all the better for social distancing — or transmuting it from Japanese into a variety of languages." NYT: We'll Be Wearing Masks for a While. Why Not Make Them Nice?

+ Some American holdouts are finally giving in and wearing masks in public. Yay! But they wore masks with swastikas. Oh...

+ FastCo: Drive-through strip clubs are a thing now. (At my age, I'll stick with the fast-food drive throughs where I'm known as a customer who makes it rain.)