Tuesday, October 13th, 2020


Hi Ho Bronze

"Today, and despite the president's own resistance, masks are widely accepted. Various polls show that the number of Americans who wear them, at least when entering stores, went from near zero in March to about 65 percent in early summer to 85 percent or even 90 percent in October. Seeing the president and many White House staffers stricken by the virus may convince yet more Americans to wear masks." No one has done a better job of sharing the often grim analysis and predictions of scientific experts than the NYT's Donald G. McNeil Jr. So when he shares some optimism, it's worth noting. As he explains, the months ahead will be difficult. But the medical cavalry is coming, and the rest of us know what we need to do. Despite the lack of leadership at the top, sane Americans have done a pretty good job taking the advice of experts. And despite constant attacks on the scientific community, that community just keeps on keeping on. And the drugs are coming. "Some are already modestly successful, such as the antiviral drug remdesivir and steroids like dexamethasone. But in the near distance are what Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine specialist, has called 'the cavalry' — vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. They are likely to be far more effective."

+ "We also have to be prepared to accept less-than-perfect solutions, such as rapid tests and masks, to bring society to a sustainable equilibrium of normalcy, rather than toggle between draconian lockdowns and ruinous free-for-alls for another year. A silver bullet may be months away, or longer. But bronze bullets abound." Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: How to Keep a Fall Surge From Becoming a Winter Catastrophe. (George RR Martin could probably tighten up that headline a bit.)


The Superspreader in Chief

Not everyone is pulling their weight. "The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are among the major outlets that have declined to assign reporters to travel with Mr. Trump as he returns to the trail this week, saying they do not have assurance that basic precautions will be taken to protect reporters' health." NYT: As Trump Flouts Safety Protocols, News Outlets Balk at Close Coverage. (The media should have skipped these lie-filled, monstrous political rallies from the beginning. Yes, their job is to cover the president ... in normal times. These times are not normal.)

+ The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci demanded that the Trump campaign refrain from using him in future campaign ads.

+ Top general did not give his consent to be used in Trump political ad.


Original Twin?

In the first day of questioning, Amy Coney Barrett wouldn't say whether she'd overturn Roe v Wade, or the Affordable Care Act, or much else (which is, in fairness, pretty common in this setting), but she did explain her originalist views: "I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn't change over time, and it's not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it ... I would say that Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor and, as I said when I accepted the President's nomination, that his philosophy is mine, too ... But I want to be careful to say that if I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett." She also wouldn't say whether a president has the power to delay an election. Here's the latest from CNN.


Courting Lines

"When Elizabeth Brownlie showed up at Chastain Park to cast her ballot at 10:45 a.m. Monday, the 32-year-old Atlanta resident expected to wait up to two hours to vote. But after an hour and a half of standing in line, Brownlie was still nowhere near the entrance to the polling place inside the park gym. With an appointment to get to, she left. 'For me, it's very, very, very important and [it was] disheartening ... to have that experience. Voting should not be this difficult.'" Experts say hourslong lines in Georgia for early voting are a sign of voter enthusiasm, not suppression. I'm no expert, but I am a white guy from a pretty wealthy community and if you added up the total time I've spent in line to vote in my entire life, it wouldn't break 20 minutes.

+ More than 10-hour wait and long lines as early voting starts in Georgia.

+ Appeals court allows Texas governor to close multiple ballot drop-off sites. (Rule of thumb: Vote for those who want you to vote.)

+ California Republican Party Admits It Placed Misleading Ballot Boxes Around State.


I Can Fix It

"Seven months ago, zoom was a verb, my wife wasn't my barber, and I'd never heard my father sobbing on the other end of the phone. In that world, I also didn't spend my Saturdays volunteering at what may be the United States' largest testing center for a novel coronavirus—but now I do. I look forward to it all week. Oddly enough, standing in a Dodger Stadium parking lot with Sean Penn barely ranks on the list of weird shit occurring in my life at this moment." In GQ, Rosecrans Baldwin explains How Sean Penn Went to War Against COVID. And Rosecrans went with him (at least once a week). "On Saturday afternoon, I return home feeling better, lighter, more hopeful than I did all week. One of the young volunteers told me during an interview, 'The thing I ask my friends: What are you going to say in a couple years about the part you played when shit went down? What did you do to make it better?'" (You can love or hate Sean Penn, but he's getting it done when we need it done. I wish that could go viral.)


Ardern Good Leader

"It's Friday night in the small town of Morrinsville and a handful of locals are waiting at the Golden Kiwi on the main street for a greasy parcel of fish and chips. It wasn't so long ago that Jacinda Ardern was behind the counter, taking orders at the nautical-themed takeaway joint. Now, the 40-year-old New Zealand Prime Minister is one of the world's most recognizable leaders." The small-town takeout store worker who won over New Zealand -- and the world. (Her secret is being a decent person with a brain.)


Pump Up The Stan

"The health club was opened late last year by Maryam Durani, 36, an indomitable women's rights advocate who has survived two suicide bombings, an assassination attempt and countless death threats — not to mention harsh public condemnation for opening the club." NYT: In Former Taliban Stronghold, Defiant Women Hit the Gym. (When you get tired of the fight, think of these women, and get pumped back up.)


Prevent Defense

"Twelve linebackers on the Trojans' depth chart in the fall of 1989, each with the strength of a man and the exuberance of a boy, swimming in everything USC has to offer: joy and higher education and adulation, endless adrenaline surges, alcohol, cocaine if they want it, steroids if they need them. Anything to feel fearless and reckless, wild and free ... Twelve college students. Five will die by age 50, their lives stamped forever with an early expiration date." Michael Rosenberg in SI: In 1989, USC Had a Depth Chart of a Dozen Linebackers. Five Have Died, Each Before Age 50.


Are You a Top or a Bot?

"Almost nobody buys sex robots—they're expensive, they're heavy, they don't fit in a bedside drawer. The idea that the future of sex will be slavering over custom-made silicon replicas is as interesting as it is unlikely. Think about it: The people interviewed in sex robot stories are never surprised to find themselves besotted with an inanimate object. In other words, the people who were going to be interested in having sex with a RealDoll knew they were interested in that kind of sex before RealDolls existed." But sex AI? That's cheaper, lighter, and on your favorite device. Wired: You Are Already Having Sex With Robots. (In that case, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.)


Bottom of the News

"And he was done. He put the phone in his pocket, went to the potato warehouse, punched in and nearly forgot about it. 'I almost didn't post it, but I was like, 'Let's post it and see what it does within an hour.' In its first hour on TikTok, the video gathered some 100,000 views. It now has more than 35 million. It has been crowned with meme status. According to figures from TikTok, 134,000 tribute videos have been made, inspired by Apodaca, totaling almost a half-billion views." TikTok Sensation: Meet The Idaho Potato Worker Who Sent Fleetwood Mac Sales Soaring. Sometimes we don't know what we need until we see it. And even then, sometimes we can't explain why we needed it. All I know is that while my daughter was doing her 400th Tik Tok dance of the night, I screamed out, "Why can't you be more like the potato guy?"

+ Pumpkin weighing 2,350 pounds wins California contest. (And I thought my pandemic weight gain was impressive...)