Thursday, October 8th, 2020


Sparks, Fly

The challenge was not particularly great for either candidate in the Veep debate. President Trump had set an impossibly low bar last week, and Mike Pence managed to slither over it, displaying a serial killer's ease with lying, while oozing so much oleaginous, syrupy, unctuousness that I had to squeegee my TV screen. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris's bar was even lower. All she had to do is not kill 200,000 Americans during the debate, and she'd win. Aside from Mike Pence's pink eye and Kamala's stink eye, the night's star, right out of central fly casting, was the fly that landed on Pence's head, and then just stayed there for more than 2 minutes. The fly's landing spot made sense as Pence's head has been up Trump's ass for four years, and it had perfect timing; by the time the fly landed, we were both vomiting every few seconds.

+ WaPo: In VP debate, Trump is again the issue as Pence tries to change the focus.

+ The New Yorker's Susan Glasser on Mike Pence's Trumpian Makeover (which was the real story of the night because so many others have undergone a similar metamorphosis). "The more I listened to Pence the more I realized that the Vice-President of 2020 is no longer the deeply conventional, if fervently right-wing, evangelical of four years ago ... He has been changed, and radically so, by his association with the President, and Wednesday night showed something both new and disturbing: Pence has come to resemble a lower-decibel Trump, lying with a fluency and brazenness that might have shocked his former moralistic self."

+ Meanwhile, the president referred to the next VP as unlikeable, a communist, and a monster. So when I hear that there's an outside chance the next debate will be called off, I say that sounds pretty fly to me.



One bit of news from the VP debate was that Pence, like his boss, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. That makes this story all the more disturbing (and it's already disturbing as hell). 13 charged in militia plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer as hostage, overthrow Michigan government, feds say. Even if Trump gets the boot, we're gonna be dealing with these jackboots for a long time.

+ Reuters: Cellphones in hand, 'Army for Trump' readies poll watching operation.


Newer England

"Truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs." In an unusual but understandable move, the New England Journal of Medicine just got political (in 2020, everything is political). Dying in a Leadership Vacuum.


Stuck in the Middle With “Flu”

Because the virus emergency has eased in some media centric cities, you may have the idea that it has eased across America. That would be the wrong idea. Wisconsin Is Opening A 530-Bed Field Hospital As Coronavirus Cases Continue To Surge.

+ Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn rebel against Cuomo's Covid-19 clampdown on their neighborhoods. (Fanaticism, in any form, is a greater long term threat than Covid 19.)

+ NYT: Nearly One-Third of Covid-19 Patients in Study Had Altered Mental State. (And one continues to display those symptoms every few minutes on Twitter.)


Think Outside the Pox

"Thanks to a vaccine developed in 1796 by British doctor Edward Jenner and the efforts of the scientific community, the disease has been completely erased - although it took nearly two centuries to do so. Smallpox remains the only human disease to have been eradicated this way." BBC: We are in the grip of a pandemic like none other in living memory. While people are pinning their hopes on a vaccine to wipe it out, the fact is most of the infections faced by our ancestors are still with us.


Kilogram and Gramps

"They contacted the couple's son and insisted he put them in touch with a person who they said had 50 kilograms of cocaine that belonged to them. The cocaine was to be returned, or else they were to be paid the $3.5 million value of the drugs, the complaint said. A photograph showing the couple alive in captivity was sent to their son. Officers from the province's police force, the Sûreté du Québec, rescued the victims from a house in Magog on Sept. 29 after the authorities traced cellphone messages to the area and recognized trees in the background of the photograph." NYT: New York Grandparents Are Kidnapped and Taken to Canada.


Can We Stick a Fork in This?

"Almost immediately after the bus parked in the outer reaches of the Thriftway parking lot, a surveillance camera recorded pickup trucks and an ATV arriving and parking around the bus. An older man wearing a bulletproof vest tried to push open the bus door. More men strolled up and asked Chevall if they were there to protest. The family's German shepherd mix barked madly. Lowe nervously walked past the men to go shop for dinner ingredients while the rest of the family stayed on the bus. In the store, Lowe overheard clerks talking to each other in the produce section, voices tinged with fear. 'Have you heard they're sending antifa?'" Wired: The True Story of the Antifa Invasion of Forks, Washington.


Emphasis on Live

"I got a call from the show letting me know I will no longer be able to play ... I respect the show's decision, because I know that I put them in jeopardy and I take ownership for this." NPR: SNL Nixes Morgan Wallen Appearance After Singer Violates COVID-19 Safety Protocols. The show made the right call. Morgan Wallen took ownership of the mistake. Bookmark this because it's a rare chain of events in 2020.

+ NYT: Reopening guidelines implemented by the state of New York prohibit the public from attending live television shows — unless the show pays its crowd like cast members. So SNL sent its audience home with paychecks.


Geez, Louise

"Glück is the 16th woman to win a literature Nobel, and she already has a bookshelf's worth of heavyweight awards: a National Book Award, a National Humanities Medal and a Pulitzer Prize for her 1992 collection The Wild Iris." Nobel Prize In Literature Awarded To U.S. Poet Louise Glück.


Bottom of the News

"It took store manager Jackson McLean a moment to realise what the issue was with the posting, he said. Then he figured out that "something about the round shapes" could be suggestive of breasts or buttocks." Why some onions were too sexy for Facebook. (Pro tip: Just pair the suggestive onions with some false political advertising and they'll be approved in no time.)

+ "Two former detention officers and their supervisor were charged Monday after an investigation found inmates at the Oklahoma County jail were forced to listen to the popular children's song, Baby Shark, on a loop at loud volumes for extended periods of time." (At least they didn't play the first debate on loop...)

+ Australian pro surfer Matt Wilkinson's narrow escape from shark caught on camera. Matt's lucky he doesn't taste good.