Monday, August 10th, 2020


The Demagogue Ate My Homework

As schools resume, either online or off, we're getting more data about kids and coronavirus. "A report from leading pediatric health groups found that more than 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March. As of July 30, there were 338,982 cases reported in children since the dawn of the pandemic." While the positive cases are going up, kids still are much less likely than adults to experience serious symptoms. That said, there's a lot we don't know, and summer is drawing to an end. WaPo: As schools reopen, much remains unknown about the risk to kids and the peril they pose to others.

+ Meanwhile, a tale from Georgia: North Paulding High School opens. Student shares photo of crowded hallway. Principal suspends student. Public outcry. Principal un-suspends student. 9 teachers and students test positive. School moves to online learning. Please write, "Covid-19 doesn't care what you think" a hundred times on the chalkboard.


Official Seal

"The Chinese lockdown was more intense than almost anywhere else in the world. Neighborhood committees, the most grassroots level of Communist Party organization, enforced the rules, and in many places they limited households to sending one individual outside every two or three days to buy necessities. If a family were suspected of exposure to the virus, it wasn't unheard-of for their door to be sealed shut while tests and contact-tracing were being conducted." A very interesting look at the China lockdown from The New Yorker's Peter Hessler: How China Controlled the Coronavirus.

+ There have been less draconian examples: 100 days without COVID-19: how New Zealand got rid of a virus that keeps spreading across the world.


Uncle Sam I Am

"Trump has always been malignant and incompetent. As president, he has coasted on economic growth, narrowly averted crises of his own making, and corrupted the government in ways that many Americans could ignore. But in the pandemic, his vices—venality, dishonesty, self-absorption, dereliction, heedlessness—turned deadly. They produced lies, misjudgments, and destructive interventions that multiplied the carnage. The coronavirus debacle isn't, as Trump protests, an 'artificial problem' that spoiled his presidency. It's the fulfillment of everything he is." Slate's William Saletan with a blow-by-blow account of how the president killed thousands of Americans. It's worth noting that he still has a perfectly reasonable chance of being reelected. That remarkable disconnect is a more serious threat than he is.

+ "Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America's decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country." Wade Davis: The Unraveling of America. Don't read these accounts because you hate America. Read them because you love it.



One reason for the great electoral disconnect is that millions of Americans are confronted with a relentless stream of falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and outright lies. One of the biggest reasons this is the case is because of the false equivalence those lies are given in the name of supposedly remaining unbiased. Ben Smith nails it in the NYT: How Pro-Trump Forces Work the Refs in Silicon Valley. "Facebook, Google and Twitter are making the same mistakes the news media made decades ago, looking for balance rather than confronting the plain reality of the moment." Giving lies and truth equal weight is not being unbiased. It's being a liar.


Lebanon Compliance

"Although Diab's resignation had appeared inevitable after the catastrophe, he seemed unwilling to leave and only two days ago made a televised speech in which he offered to stay on for two months to allow for various factions to agree on a roadmap for reforms. But the pressure from within his own Cabinet proved to be too much." AP: Lebanon's government resigned Monday amid widespread public fury at the country's ruling elite over last week's devastating explosion in Beirut.


Defending Your Life

"Most states don't allow someone to claim self-defense when they are an aggressor. But most states also say that when police are acting in their official capacity they can't be aggressors for purposes of self-defense law." The Marshall Project: Why It's Not So Simple To Arrest The Cops Who Shot Breonna Taylor.

+ They want "power because that is essentially their state of grace in their secular religion ... They want to run peoples' lives so they can design utopia for all of us and that's what turns them on ... They're not interested in compromise, they're not interested in dialectic exchange of views. They're interested in total victory. It's a secular religion. It's a substitute for a religion." WaPo with William Barr's views from opposite world. Believe it or not, he's talking about his opposition, not his allies. And he say's "Their tactics are fascistic."


Photo Crop

"Kodak stock plunged 30% Monday after a $765 million loan from the US government to help make drug ingredients was put on hold, as regulators are reportedly looking into allegations of insider trading." Shocker. The same people who made money on the stock probably shorted it before the loan was put on hold.


Bear Witness

"The shot elicited barely a whimper, a smattering of cheers and claps reminiscent of his college days at nearby Cal, but it was one that deserved the kind of delirium you expect in such moments on golf's biggest stage. Collin Morikawa will have to settle for the shot seen -- but not heard -- around the world, an epic drive to the 16th green Sunday at TPC Harding Park that set up an eagle putt and a 2-shot victory at the PGA Championship." Colin Morikawa was unreal during the final round at the PGA Championship, bringing home major at the age of 23, for himself, and Cal. Go Bears.


Six and Stones

"Baker and his wife Ann spent the last nine months preparing Sam for the route. Joe Baker started climbing at age 9 and has decades of experience. Training at home to maintain social distance due to the pandemic, Sam practiced ascending a rope by going up a line to the second-story deck at his house. Once on top, he'd climb over the railing, run down the stairs and do it again. He repeated this 30 times a day. His dad once set up a portaledge on the retaining wall outside the house so the two could sleep out for the night." 6-Year-Old Climber Ascends Yosemite's Iconic Lost Arrow Spire, Flies Kite. (I got my son to walk around the block with me and my beagles and I felt like a hero...)


Bottom of the News

"57 percent of those studied said COVID-19 and wearing a mask has made them much more aware of their own bad breath." A small silver lining: People are brushing their teeth way more after smelling their breath with a mask on. (I find it hard to relate to people doing more hygiene during the pandemic...)

+ "How can you wear a mask when you're stuffing your face? You can't." And what's the point of going to a movie theater if you can't get popcorn and red vines? There isn't one.