October 6th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Il Douché, and reinventing of fire.

In fairness, even for the highly practiced, it’s not particularly easy to endanger oneself, one’s allies, one’s nation, and one’s democracy in a single photo op. So let’s give Trump some credit for going full Mussolini as he departed the hospital, gasped for air during a photo op, removed his mask, and entered the White House where he compared Covid-19 to the seasonal flu. On one hand, thanks to Obamacare, a broke American who doesn’t pay taxes can still get health care. On the other hand, imagine you’re in a hospital waiting room saying goodbye to a loved one via an iPad this week, as the leader responsible for its continued spread is making a mockery of Covid-19.

+ “He is in the midst of an active coronavirus infection—and so, in the coming days, there’s a good change that he will pass the virus on to others who work at the White House, which has now become a viral hot zone.” The New Yorker: The Recklessness of Trump’s Return to the White House. And, from The Atlantic: The president’s behavior threatens the very employees charged with taking care of him.

+ Among those employees are those who have made peace with the idea of taking a bullet for the president. (They shouldn’t be victims of friendly fire, nor should their families.) NYT: For the Secret Service, a New Question: Who Will Protect Them From Trump?

+ “Il Duce—’the Leader,’ the name called out by the crowds in the videos—was a short, balding, unattractive man. But he prepared himself carefully for public appearances, showing a camera awareness ahead of its time.” Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: The president knows what Mussolini knew: Some audiences crave images that offer false reassurance and over-the-top displays of power. (Or making the connection between Il Duce, and Il Douché…)

+ Facebook removed and Twitter flagged a post from President Trump in which he falsely claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly “in most populations” than the flu.

+ The White House won’t say when Trump’s last negative coronavirus test was.

+ NYT: White House Is Not Tracing Contacts for ‘Super-Spreader’ Rose Garden Event.

+ There are a lot of articles in this section, but they all tell the very same story. A president and an administration that seem determined to continually endanger the American people while doing absolutely nothing to protect us, our democracy, or our role in the world. The vaccine for this will be available to every American on November 3.


When Life Gives You Lemon

On Monday night, Don Lemon complained about Trump that, “He has turned an American tragedy into a made-for-TV travesty.” But Lemon’s network broadcasted that travesty in real time, just as they have broadcast nonstop Trump coverage for four years. That is also a travesty.

+ Katie Couric: “All three networks just handed their entire broadcasts to an extended photo op for Trump. Thoughts? Honestly I find it infuriating. Why didn’t anyone have the balls to say we are not doing this? Please network executives. You were just played.”

+ How the media has abetted the Republican assault on mail-in voting.


Reinventing Fire

“The physics of large-scale wildfires remain so poorly understood that fire-modeling software is often effectively powerless to predict where they will next occur, much less how they will unfold once they do. If there is any good news, it is that … ‘the science for a lot of this stuff is under way.'”Wired: The West’s Infernos Are Melting Our Sense of How Fire Works. (Fires out west have morphed into the equivalent of quantum supercomputers, and humans are still fighting them with Windows 95.)

+ Outside with a very interesting look at how property owners are going to have to become part of the firefighting effort. The Future of Wildfire Fighting Is on All of Us.


Meadow Lark

Mark Meadows and other “top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process. Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines.” NYT: White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines.

+ CDC says coronavirus can spread indoors in updated guidance. (Ahhh, that must be why we’ve all been avoiding indoor group activities for the past six friggin’ months…)



“Vice President Pence is requesting that no plexiglass dividers be placed on his side of the stage at Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate, after an announcement Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates that dividers had been agreed to as a safety measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.” Pence, Harris teams at odds over plexiglass at debate. (Kamala Harris should wear a mask, a face shield, and a full hazmat suit to the debate and explain that, like the rest of America, she cannot trust this administration to protect her safety.)



The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer: Could the Coronavirus Stop Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Confirmation? (There are many technical issues that could come into play. That said, the Democrats are still bringing a knife to a Mitch fight.)

+ “Her nomination to the Supreme Court follows a lecture tour over the past few years in which she addressed academics, lawyers, University of Notre Dame alumni and private audiences. Those talks offer some insight into Barrett’s judicial philosophy and her meteoric ascent from law school professor to Supreme Court nominee.” USA Today: We binge-watched 15 hours of Amy Coney Barrett’s speeches. Here’s what we learned about her judicial philosophy.


Bear Witness

“Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the order that ballots received within the next two days would be exempt, but after that the witness requirement would be back in effect in South Carolina pending the outcome of the ongoing legal case on the merits.” Supreme Court reinstates South Carolina witness requirement for absentee ballots.


Bystand and Deliver

“To quell this violence, Dr Staub had a simple idea, one that hinges on the role of active bystanders like Ms Gogan and the diplomat who saved his life. ‘These people were heroic active bystanders who put themselves into great danger,” Dr Staub said. “They had a huge influence on my motivation to study what leads people to help others.'” A Holocaust survivor’s mission to train ‘heroic bystanders.’


Black Hole Sunshine

“Black holes are just what the name suggests — places where the gravitational pull is so great that nothing, not even light, can escape.” Or as NPR puts it: Perhaps fittingly for the year 2020, the Nobel Prize in physics has recognized research on black holes. (Given the year’s news cycle, I should share this award…)


Bottom of the News

“Nasa’s first new space potty in decades – a $23m titanium toilet better suited for women – is getting a not-so-dry run at the International Space Station before eventually flying to the moon. It’s packed inside a cargo ship set to blast off late Thursday from Wallops Island, Virginia.” ($23 million isn’t bad. I spent that much on a few rolls of toilet paper when the pandemic first hit.)

+ Why Amsterdam doesn’t have garbage days.

+ Americans are Drinking 14% More Often During Pandemic.

+ Hundreds of your fellow readers look better than you. Join them and score your Let There Be Light shirt now. The only way this shirt could be any better would be if it were N95 compliant.

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