Sunday, August 9th, 2020


Mail Chauvinism

You'd think the one thing everyone would agree on in the world's foremost democracy is the importance of counting every vote. But it turns out that's one of the primary areas of disagreement, and the current battleground is the battle weary US Postal Service. AP: The success of the 2020 presidential election could hinge on a most unlikely government agency: the U.S. Postal Service. Current signs are not promising. "The Postal Service already was facing questions over how it would handle the expected spike of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, but several operational changes imposed by its new leader have led to mail backlogs across the United States as rumors of additional cutbacks swirl, fueling worries about the November vote." Trump puts his stamp on everything, even your mail.

+ Politico: Trump aides exploring executive actions to curb voting by mail.

+ Vox Explainer: As November nears, the Postal Service is facing a crisis that could interfere with the election.

+ WaPo: "Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy." (They're trying to De-joy your November.)


Politcal, Science

The bad news. The U.S. just hit 5 million coronavirus cases as debate lingers over the path forward. The good news. While political leaders are failing, medical leaders just keep on keeping on. And they're getting much better at saving lives. It feels weird to end on good news, so here's one more update by way of Gallup: One in Three Americans Would Not Get COVID-19 Vaccine.


Executive Disorder

NYT: President Trump signed a series of executive orders that "include an eviction moratorium, a new benefit to supplement unemployment assistance for workers and a temporary delay in payroll tax liability for low- and middle-income workers. They could give renters a break and ease payments for some student loan borrowers. But they are likely to do little to deliver cash any time soon to Americans hit hard by the recession."

+ WaPo with an interesting look at what is actually in the four orders: "He is ordering a payroll tax deferral, not a cut, meaning the taxes won't be collected for a while but they will still be due at a later date. On housing, he instructs key officials to 'consider' whether there should be a ban on evictions. He also insists that state governments pick up the tab for some of the unemployment aid ... in reality, only the one on housing is an actual executive order. The other three actions are marked as 'memorandum,' which carries less heft." Here's another memorandum: We need actual governing, stat.


Cancel Culture

"According to the latest figures, for example, Addison County, Vermont, has virtually vanquished COVID-19. In the past seven days, they have had only two new cases. But Addison County is home to Middlebury College, which, according to its website, hosts students from 49 states. When young people from coronavirus hot spots such as Georgia, Florida, and Texas arrive for class, Addison County's infection rate will almost certainly grow." The Atlantic: Yascha Mounk famously published an article titled, Cancel Everything, early in the pandemic. We didn't listen. His latest advice: Cancel College. We're so damn good at canceling things these days, but we're not canceling the things to save our lives.

+ Remember the viral photo showing a crowded hallway at Georgia's North Paulding High School that got a student suspended and then unsuspended? (I don't expect you to remember it since it was shared like 3 days ago...) The school has reported its first nine cases.


October Surprise

"Six to eight weeks. For proof, look at Germany. Or Thailand. Or France. Or nearly any other country in the world." This is the most perplexing part of the whole pandemic. We know if we shut things down the right way, there's relief on the other side. Without doing the right thing, we have months of uncertainty. NYT Editorial Board: America Could Control the Pandemic by October. Let's Get to It. Wouldn't this be an October surprise that would make everyone happy?


Self Immolation

"A fire inside a police union building led authorities in Portland, Oregon, to declare a riot and force protesters away from the offices as violent demonstrations continue in the city that had hoped for calm after federal agents withdrew more than a week ago." The Wall of Moms and Leaf Blower Dads won a huge political messaging victory in Portland. Those committing violence and vandalism threaten to undo that win. And they're also drowning out the actual point of the protests. Black people in Portland struggle to be heard amid protests.


Byte Me

The plaintiff will be given 15 seconds for opening arguments... "NPR has learned that the lawsuit will argue that President Trump's far-reaching action is unconstitutional because it failed to give the company a chance to respond. It also alleges that the administration's national security justification for the order is baseless, according to the source." TikTok To Sue Trump Administration Over Ban, As Soon As Tuesday. (Let's compromise and just ban Tik Tok until my daughter is old enough to move out of the house...)


Nasal Passage

"In 2019, the FDA approved Spravato for patients with major depressive disorder who hadn't responded to other treatments. Now, the agency is adding patients who are having suicidal thoughts or have recently attempted to harm themselves or take their own lives." Nasal Spray Is A New Antidepressant Option For People At High Risk of Suicide.


Not So Great Grandpa

Jessica Garrison reveals how a contract killer's 35-year run of murder and mayhem in California's Central Valley reflects a far more widespread injustice: "'I'm going to be honest with you,' the genial-seeming grandfather told one detective from Tulare County, California, one afternoon in June of 2013. 'I killed a lot of, several people, in your county, OK? There was a reason for them and somebody had to take them out.'"


Bottom of the News

"The automatic rice cooker is a mid-century Japanese invention that made a Sisyphean culinary labor as easy as measuring out grain and water and pressing a button. These devices can seem all-knowing. So long as you add water and rice in the right proportions, it's nearly impossible to mess up, as the machines stop cooking at exactly the right point for toothsome rice. But creating an automatic rice cooker was not so easy. In fact, it took decades of inventive leaps, undertaken by some of the biggest names in Japanese technology." The Battle to Invent the Automatic Rice Cooker. (I'm glad I learned about this because my BBQ'd rice hasn't been working out well...)

+ Brain scientists haven't been able to find major differences between women's and men's brains, despite over a century of searching. (They should come to my house. They'd learn the superiority of the female brain in like ten minutes, which is how long it would take me to forget they even did the study...)