Saturday, August 22nd, 2020


Seeing Sherwood Forest Through the Trees

Everything about the market is crazy these days. During an economy-crippling pandemic, stock indexes (driven by a few mega-winners) have soared. One part of the story is the rise of the individual investor, driven in part by the commission-free enabled trades offered by Robinhood. But on the market, the individual investor tends to be at a disadvantage. And this story is probably no different. Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Robinhood takes the data of individual traders and sells it to the rich. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Forbes: The Inside Story Of Robinhood's Billionaire Founders, Option Kid Cowboys And The Wall Street Sharks That Feed On Them. "The problem is that Robinhood has sold the world a story of helping the little guy that is the opposite of its actual business model: selling the little guy to rich market operators with very sharp elbows." Is Robinhood the band of outlaws known as the Merry Men or just another Sheriff of Nottingham?


Blood Vessel

"Whether in Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, or Miami-Dade County, it will breed in clean water supplies, it will come indoors, it will make a beeline toward human odor, and it will bite when the sun is up, circumventing bed nets that protect at night. Masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 won't make a difference. Neither will staying at home, unless you live in a closed, air-conditioned house. No other mosquito is so perfectly suited to live with, and on, human beings." In The Atlantic: Joshua Sokol on The Worst Animal in the World.


Smoke on the Water

"Two fires that sparked this week have quickly burned hundreds of thousands of acres this week, and quickly joined the top-five largest wildfires in California history." I live within earshot of SF's fog horns. This week, they've become smoke horns. Raging Bay Area wildfires now among top-5 largest in California history.

+ "Beginning late last year, in what is already known as [Australia's] Black Summer, bushfires burned through 46 million acres, or 72,000 square miles; killed several billion animals, pushing a number of species to extinction or the brink of it; flooding Sydney with air so thick with smoke ferries couldn't navigate its harbor and fire alarms in office buildings rang out ... The situation today in California isn't yet quite as grim, although this week CalFire advised every citizen of the state — all 40 million of them — to be prepared to evacuate." NYMag: California Has Australian Problems Now.


Opposition Party Crasher

"He is in a coma after drinking what his supporters suspect was poisoned tea; they accuse the authorities of trying to conceal a crime." BBC: Alexei Navalny: Putin critic arrives in Germany for medical treatment.

+ "Navalny's importance is not about popularity. The Kremlin's arrests and disinformation campaigns have raised enough suspicions among voters that polling shows he would not win a national election, even in the unlikely event of a fair fight. Instead, Navalny's challenge to Putin's regime rests on his innovative ideas and organizing strategies that have made him a force in Russian politics." How Alexei Navalny revolutionized opposition politics in Russia, before his apparent poisoning.


Barr Anon

"Brennan also told Mr. Durham that the repeated efforts of Donald Trump and William Barr to politicize Mr. Durham's work have been appalling and have tarnished the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice, making it very difficult for Department of Justice professionals to carry out their responsibilities." NYT: Justice Dept. Questions Former C.I.A. Director for 8 Hours. Officials saw signs of Trump taking help from the Russians. A Senate panel led by the GOP found evidence of it. So what do they do? Investigate the investigators.


English Go Dutch

"Customers do not need to present government vouchers or some British version of food stamps. The participating establishments just knock 50 percent off the bill — up to the limit — and charge the government for the rest." BBC: Boris Johnson is splitting the check with millions of Britons who dare to dine out. (They'll throw in a free appetizer if you openly sneeze.)

+ "Three pop concerts are being staged on one day in Germany to enable scientists to investigate the risks of such mass indoor events during the pandemic."


Follow Your Nose

"The tests have become a common feature before guests can be allowed into parties at the affluent seaside communities -- and cost up to $500 per person, says Rashid, who runs a members-only medical concierge service. And unlike regular tests, where people are waiting for days or even weeks, clients get their results on the spot." In the Hamptons, some hosts are paying for party guests to take rapid coronavirus tests at the door. (This is basically how it should be working across America by now, everywhere from offices to schools. Go to place. Take test. Get cleared. Enter place.)


Admission Creep

"In a sentencing hearing over Zoom, US district judge Nathaniel Gorton also ordered Loughlin to pay a $150,000 fine and serve 100 hours of community service." Lori Loughlin was sentenced to two months in prison for her role in the college admissions scam. (The rest of us were sentenced to 13 months of this story...)


Say Hello to My Little Font

"To create its typeface, Goldman hired Dalton Maag, a stately 29-year-old British design firm that crafted Bookerly, used on Amazon's Kindle e-readers, and the BBC's BBC Reith, which is distinctly British, with subtle hints of calligraphy. Goldman's brief was clear: The bank wanted something that was so legible you could read strings of numbers on a phone screen or a smartwatch but that would still look good on 50-foot billboards." Josh Wagner and Joel Stein in the NYT: Goldman Sachs Has Money. It Has Power. And Now It Has a Font. (This reminds me of the Tony Montana quote in Scarface: "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the font.")


Bottom of the News

"David Pecker has been put out to pasture, and AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer, will soon cease to exist and merge with a company that markets face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and vitamin supplements." And with Pecker out, this is the perfect time to revisit what was perhaps the greatest NextDraft blurb of a generation. DICKPIC, LIGHTNING.

+ A teddy bear took a foul ball right off the head.

+ Massive Times Square Krispy Kreme flagship with ‘glazed waterfall' gets opening date after coronavirus delay. (This is a truly American return to normalcy...)