August 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

College football checks the scoreboard, why mail is a battleground, and Russia's vaccine?

In an effort to reverse the current trend in college football, Mike Pence, head of America’s Coronavirus Tweet Force posted the following: “America needs College Football! It’s important for student-athletes, schools, and our Nation. These Great athletes have worked their whole lives for the opportunity compete on the college gridiron and they deserve the chance to safely get back on the field!” Yes, they do. But the issue isn’t whether they’ve worked hard enough, it’s whether the administration has. In sports, all that matters is what’s on the scoreboard. You can’t lose yardage on every play and get the win just because you raise your hands in victory and dump a bucket of Gatorade on your coach. You can’t come from behind on a last second field goal when you’ve spent the entire game on the sidelines insisting it’s a hoax. Or as my high school football coach used to say, you can’t make chicken cacciatore out of chicken shit. The way to have college football back is the same way to have everything else we want back. Lock it down for 6 weeks. Beat this damn thing. And get back to living. In the meantime, the crowd is doing the wave, but it’s not the right kind of wave.

+ “Of all the hurdles impeding a 2020 college football season, there is one roadblock that has gone mostly overshadowed, buried beneath the other more prominent obstacles, such as testing, travel, a bubble-less college campus and quarantine requirements. That hurdle? The heart.” SI: Cardiac Inflammation the Next Virus Hurdle for College Leaders.


Letter Rip

“Over all, 24 states and the District of Columbia have in some way expanded voter access to mail ballots for the 2020 general election, with the broad goal of making it easier for people to vote amid a global health crisis.” Why is the mail system a focal point? NYT: “If recent election trends hold and turnout increases, as experts predict, roughly 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices this fall, more than double the number that were returned in 2016.” (How roughly is the question.)


The Cold, Hard Truth

“The good news: The United States has a window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 before things get much, much worse. The bad news: That window is rapidly closing. And the country seems unwilling or unable to seize the moment.” Helen Branswell in Stat: Winter is coming. (And that’s real Winter, not metaphorical Winter, though both are in the forecast.)

+ Nature: How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond.

+ Russia’s approval of virus vaccine greeted with some alarm. Speaking of alarm, the world just passed 20 million cases.



“Riot police violently suppressed thousands of protesters who poured into the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, to challenge the results of Sunday’s hotly contested presidential election. President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron first for 26 years, claimed a landslide victory in the election, which was marred by accusations of vote-rigging.”

+ “Belarus’s main opposition leader says she took a ‘very difficult decision’ to leave the country, after disputing an election result she claimed was rigged.”


A Secret Vice

“In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.” NYT: Biden’s V.P. Pick Is Said to Be Imminent. In normal times this would be the leading story for about two weeks. I suppose one has to make a prediction: Kamala.


Subway Sandwiched

A cool interactive from the NYT: What Happens to Viral Particles on the Subway? My particles are moving to the next car before we find out…

+ Every thinking person knows that wearing a mask in public is the right move. But there’s another factor to consider: the kind of mask. Researchers created a test to determine which masks are the least effective.


This Might Make U.S. Feel a Bit Auckward

“These three days will give us time to assess the situation, gather information, make sure we have widespread contact tracing so we can find out more about how this case arose and make decisions about how to respond to it once we have further information.”Auckland, New Zealand has been put on what they call alert level 3 lockdown (“people will be asked to stay at home, while bars and many other businesses will be closed”). They discovered 4 cases.


Big Box Stores

“The company is in talks with Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the United States, to convert former or current JCPenney and Sears stores into distribution hubs to deliver packages.” Amazon may take over old JCPenneys and Sears to try and speed up deliveries. Damn, that’s harsh. We’re gonna kill your business and then use your corpse as a distribution center…


Original Cast

“I live in New York City, in downtown Manhattan, on the seventh floor of a 13-story apartment building. Two or three times a week, I wake up early, ride the elevator down to my lobby and say good morning to my doorman, in the custom of millions of city dwellers everywhere. But on the particular days I’m describing, my next move isn’t so familiar: I plant myself in the middle of West 12th Street and commence fly-casting.” Jon Gluck in the NYT: Fly Casting on City Streets Is Weird. That’s Why I Love It. (Jon, if you catch anything, do yourself a favor and throw it back…)


Bottom of the News

“Disney’s recently acquired 20th Century Fox TV studio is the latest to have the ‘Fox’ name dropped, with the company announcing today that it’ll be rebranding the studio to just 20th Television, as part of a larger rebrand for all of Disney’s TV studios.” Disney has no Fox left to give as it renames TV studio to 20th Television.

+ The latest pandemic trends: Roller skating and tie dye.

+ Trump erroneously says 1918 Spanish Flu ‘probably ended’ WWII, which happened two decades later. (Give him a break. He said, probably…)

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