Wednesday, October 7th, 2020


Lightning Crashes

Maybe 2020 isn't so bad after all. Yes, there are the politics, the pandemic, the president, the poverty, the PPE, the prejudice, the protests, the propaganda, the pandemonium, the partisanship, the peril, the perished, the ploys, the plundering, the pollution, the pain, the pettiness, and the precariousness of it all. But you're just focusing on the negatives (particularly those starting with the letter P). It's really not that hard to find Positive news if you take the time to look (and look, and look, and look). So that's what I did. Ladies and gentlemen, the US could see the fewest recorded deaths from lightning strikes this year. OK, it's true that unimaginable strikes hitting the Bay Area last month triggered some of the largest fires in California history, and while we're on the topic of weather, 2020's September was the world's hottest September on record, but you can always find a negative if you want to. Let's stick with our bolt of good news. "Fourteen people have died from lightning strikes in the US so far this year. And because peak lightning season in the Northern Hemisphere takes place during June, July and August, the worst is likely behind us. Even if a few more deaths are reported in the next three months, the overall toll will still be below what we usually see, says John Jensenius, a meteorologist and lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council." (Just to be safe, I'm spending those three months inside and away from electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, metal doors or metal window frames.)


The Other Guy

We spend all our time covering Trump. But there is another guy running for president. He's currently has a double digit lead in the polls. And he's got a message. Yesterday, Joe Biden delivered his own Gettysburg address. Take a break from the craziness and see what you think. "As I look across America today, I'm concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life, not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare. Instead of treating each other's party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy. This must end. We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country. A spirit of being able to work with one another. When I say that, and I've been saying it for two years now, I'm accused of being naive. I'm told, 'Maybe that's the way things used to work, Joe, but they can't work that way anymore.' Well, I'm here to tell you they can, and they must if we're going to get anything done."


The Separationists

"'We need to take away children,' Mr. Sessions told the prosecutors, according to participants' notes. One added in shorthand: 'If care about kids, don't bring them in. Won't give amnesty to people with kids.' Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants." The crisis before Covid: We Need to Take Away Children. There are plenty of Americans who read the words of Jeff Sessions and nod enthusiastically. Thomas B. Edsall in the NYT: If Trump Loses the Election, What Happens to Trumpism? "We don't know whether these people used to be Republicans or Democrats or whether they were just on the outside of politics. But we know that they are Trump supporters now, and they are the people who actually favor things like the child separation policy at the southern border."

+ Speaking of the family separations at the border, the architect of that policy, Stephen Miller, is the latest Trump official to test positive for Covid-19. This creates a matchup of two diabolical pathogens: one, a freakishly rare mutation that infected our world and mercilessly destroyed countless lives in innumerable ways; the other a virus called Covid-19. (I suppose we now know that the virus can travel from bat to human and back to bat.)


Void Rage

"In a barrage of tweets, Trump pressed for passage of these chunks of assistance, an about-face from his abrupt and puzzling move on Tuesday afternoon to abandon talks with a longtime rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat has rejected such piecemeal entreaties all along." In about-face, Trump seeks to salvage parts of virus aid.

+ Nashville songwriter Andrew Leahey was given dexamethasone to prepare for major brain surgery. It made him feel great — but he also lost his grip on reality.



Eddie Van Halen has died at 65. He rewrote the guitar anthem rule book with Eruption and other riffs. For a decade, every kid in America who picked up a guitar tried to play this song, including my brother in law Henry, who was basically hitting it out of the park when he was about twelve. In 2020, we're all Running with the Devil. I hope we start outrunning him soon.


Antitrust Nobody

"To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons. By controlling access to markets, these giants can pick winners and losers throughout our economy. They not only wield tremendous power, but they also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them." Congress releases blockbuster tech antitrust report. Does a middling super power like the United States stand a chance against the tech giants?


It’s Really Not Debatable

"The physician tested positive for the virus in early July and died on 19 September after spending over two months in hospital. She had worked in a Houston emergency department, and a family member says she reused personal protective equipment (PPE) day after day due to shortages." Texas doctor, 28, dies of Covid: 'She wore the same mask for weeks, if not months.'

+ Dr. William Foege, "a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health titan who led the eradication of smallpox asked the embattled, current CDC leader to expose the failed U.S. response to the new coronavirus, calling on him to orchestrate his own firing to protest White House interference." It is a slaughter.

+ One imagines the human toll of the virus will be a key topic in tonight's VP debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, the head of America's Coronavirus Task Force (a distinction hard to spruce up on one's resumé). And those controversial plexiglass barriers? According to one epidemiologist, they "are really only going to be effective if the vice president or Kamala Harris are spitting at each other." (In other words, they might come in handy.)


Prime Cut

"The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded this year to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna [of UC Berkeley, Go Bears] for their work on 'genetic scissors' that can cut DNA at a precise location, allowing scientists to make specific changes to specific genes. 'This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.'" 2 Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize In Chemistry For Genome Editing Research.


More Derek Dominoes

"Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer facing murder charges in George Floyd's death, has posted $1 million bail, his attorney, Eric Nelson, said Wednesday. 'I can confirm he is no longer in our custody,' said Sarah Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections."

+ White Gun-Wielding St. Louis Couple Reportedly Indicted By Grand Jury. (Imagine being described as a gun wielding couple in America and having everyone know exactly who that means.)


Bottom of the News

"An Austin Public Library employee is accused of fraudulently buying and stealing at least $1.3 million in printer toner, and storing it in the garage of his home." (There ain't a jury in the world who would convict him...)

+ Stat of the day: In a few days, more people in Trump's orbit tested positive for coronavirus than in all of Taiwan.

+ 35 Lesser-Known Inventions of Famous Inventors.

+ 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.