September 1st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Social atrophy sets in, Trump's men in black, and quarter pounders can decompose.

“Research on prisoners, hermits, soldiers, astronauts, polar explorers and others who have spent extended periods in isolation indicates social skills are like muscles that atrophy from lack of use. People separated from society — by circumstance or by choice — report feeling more socially anxious, impulsive, awkward and intolerant when they return to normal life.” In the NYT, Kate Murphy explains why We’re All Socially Awkward Now. (Many of us have been staying in shape by screaming at each other on social media. Atrophied? I’ve never been this ripped.)


Fakes on a Plane

“Trump then described a plane ‘from a certain city this weekend, and on the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear.’ Ingraham asked where the plane was coming from, but the president demurred. ‘I’ll tell you sometime,’ he said. ‘It’s under investigation right now.'” WaPo: Trump blames people in ‘dark shadows’ for protest violence, cites mysterious plane full of ‘thugs’ in black. Trump also compared police shootings to golfers missing a big putt. “Shooting the guy in the back many times — I mean, couldn’t you have done something different? Couldn’t you have wrestled him? … But they choke. Just like in a golf tournament. They miss a three-foot putt.” (In the wake of George Floyd being killed by a knee to the neck, Trump compares police violence to choking.)

+ “The conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump pushed Monday that a plane ‘almost completely loaded with thugs’ had been set to disrupt the Republican National Convention was almost identical to a rumor that went viral on Facebook three months ago.” (As bad as many thought this presidency could get, it’s worse.)

+ Trump Defends Kenosha Shooting Suspect.

+ Next stop on the conspiracy theory express: Kenosha.


Check Yourself Before You Derek Yourself

“No checks and balances can redeem what we’ve unleashed. The reality is that half of the voters chose white supremacy, though saying that makes me a hypocrite. I was a much more extreme partisan than a vast majority of Trump voters and I never would have recognized that label.” If you’re surprised that President Trump refuses to publicly mourn the deaths of black victims of police violence but defends militia members who ride pickup trucks into different towns to shoot people dead, then you really haven’t been paying attention. It’s a good time to look back at Derek Black’s 2016 NYT Op-Ed: Why I Left White Nationalism (When he left, Trump was just getting settled in.)

+ Nick Saban leads Black Lives Matter march in Tuscaloosa. (These days can be painful and depressing. But don’t miss the good stuff. In 2020, everyone has to pick a side, and in many, many cases, the tide is rolling in the right direction…)


Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Come Home to Roost

“Imagine America, with its polarization and misinformation, if the vote tally swings wildly toward Joe Biden and Trump loses days later as the mail ballots are counted.” Because of predicted vote by mail trends, there’s a decent chance Trump could be leading in the polls on election night but be way behind when all the votes are counted. (Hence the constant attacks on voting by mail.)

+ Barr’s removal of career national security official, weeks before election, raises concerns. (There has to be a point at which our concerns can no longer be raised any higher. In other news, there are four more months in 2020.)


Cardi B At Risk

“Over the past few weeks, the evidence has strengthened that cardiac damage can happen even among people who have never displayed symptoms of coronavirus infection. And these frightening findings help explain why college and professional sports leagues are proceeding with special caution as they make decisions about whether or not to play.” Scientific American: COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even if You Haven’t Had Any Symptoms.

+ NYT: It Has Come to This: Ignore the C.D.C.


Tea Rex

“The appeal of poison for Russian assassins is twofold, according to a man who has lived much of his life on the wrong side of Putin, US financier and human rights campaigner Bill Browder.Poisons are notoriously difficult to trace and deaths are sometimes blamed on a victim’s existing health conditions. ‘On the other hand, everyone knows who did it,’s Browder says. Poison has become a kind of Kremlin calling card. ‘Putin likes to have it both ways … make a symbolic point but [escape] the consequences,’ he says. ‘The message is clear: if you challenge [him], you will die.'” The Sydney Morning Herald: Beware the tea: Why do Russians keep being poisoned?


A Vow … Then Silence

“Even for Last Chance, a rugged community in the forests above the Pacific Ocean where residents mill their own lumber and grow their own food, Tad Jones was particularly ascetic. He shunned electricity and plumbing. He once spent a year living in the hollow base of a redwood tree. For decades he took a vow of silence, scrawling in notebooks or on a tiny chalkboard when he had something to say. If anyone could outsmart a wildfire, friends thought it would be Jones.” A Vow of Silence, a Cabin in the Woods, a Terrible Wildfire.


Waste is Hip Again

“A senior EPA official on Monday said the updated rule would save the coal industry $140 million each year, and the agency estimated that the change would still reduce pollution by 1 million pounds annually compared to the 2015 rule because some plants would voluntarily adopt stricter controls than what the agency requires.” WaPo: Trump administration rolls back Obama-era rule aimed at limiting toxic wastewater from coal plants. (Apparently Covid alone isn’t killing enough Americans.)



“The plethora of charges includes forcible rape, sexual battery by restraint, forcible oral copulation, penetration by a foreign object, penetration by a foreign object on an unconscious or sleeping victim, assault with intent to commit rape, and lewd conduct with a minor.” And those are just the new charges against adult performer Ron Jeremy.


Bottom of the News

“The New Guinea Singing Dog, a dingo-like animal with a unique howling style, was considered extinct in the wild. But scientists reported Monday that the dogs live on, based on DNA collected by an intrepid and indefatigable field researcher.” NYT: Singing Dogs Re-emerge From Extinction for Another Tune. (Having returned in 2020, they sound just about how you’d imagine.)

+ Bloomberg: “Fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp. on Monday responded to a long-held myth that its burgers do not rot, saying its food would decompose in ‘the right environment.'” (What they didn’t say is that the right environment is an asteroid hitting Chernobyl, with just a hint of coal power plant wastewater.)

+ Following rumors on Twitter (that the administration blamed on the media), the president’s physician released a statement indicating that the potus did not have a stroke and that he “remains healthly.” Perfect. 180,000 dead Americans and Trump thinks we’re worried about his health.

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