Wednesday, October 14th, 2020


Mein Kampf or Yours?

"She researches and carefully formulates identities vivid enough to thrill any white extremist. And then she infiltrates. She's Ashlynn, an Aryan princess wielding guns and deer blood who asks for love letters from her would-be Nazi suitors on the dating website 'The results were like a car crash between Nicholas Sparks and Mein Kampf,' she writes. She's also Tom, a short, depressed incel angry at feminist bitches, his cystic acne and weak wrists showcased on, where membership requires listing your reasons for being an incel. In an American and European chat room hell-bent on a race war (Vorherrschaft Division), she's a seductive Nazi darling coaxing information out of a Ukrainian Nazi (screen name: Der Stürmer)—a great admirer of Hitler and the Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant." Writer Talia Lavin spent about a year catfishing white supremacists online. The result: personal trauma, predictions of a 'bloody' election season, and the realization that many extremists aren't holed up in basements—they're bit players in our daily lives. Vanity Fair: In the Tangled World of Far-Right Chat Rooms, White Supremacists Are Getting Organized. This is not a drill.


Amy Stony Barrett

Amy Coney Barrett says nothing during her confirmation hearings even though she could literally say anything and still be confirmed. Can a president pardon himself? Can you legally intimidate voters at polls? Should a president unequivocally commit to a peaceful transfer of power? Even on that last one, she told Cory Booker, "To the extent that this is a political controversy right now, as a judge I want to stay out of it, and I don't want to express a view." Well, everything is a political controversy right now. That's the point. Here's the latest from WaPo on the Supreme Court nomination that should be sued by Seinfeld for being a show about nothing.


Base Desires

I could live to be a thousand and not understand how more than 40% of Americans can still look at Donald Trump and see a president. While I've covered the unreality news bubble that some of these voters live in, it would be a mistake to think that's the only thing propelling Trumpism. In the NYT, Thomas B. Edsall provides a very interesting look at why Trump maintains support in some circles, and why Biden's lead is far from making this election a sure thing. "The question of the hour, though, is what happens if and when Trump himself is taken out of the political equation. In what guise might the ethnonationalism he has mobilized re-emerge? Can Biden contain the forces that are now on the loose? How likely is the country, or the world for that matter, to reach a state of near ungovernability? Is there any candidate, or any movement, that represents a way out of today's extreme partisanship? Or are we venturing toward the point of no return?"

+ "Those who would minimize the threat that Trump poses take solace in his personal weaknesses: his laziness, his ignorance of the mechanics of government. But the president is not acting alone. The Republican politicians who normally might have been expected to restrain Trump are instead enabling and empowering him." David Frum in The Atlantic: Last Exit From Autocracy. America survived one Trump term. It wouldn't survive a second.

+ Think these are exaggerations? NYT: "The Justice Department sued a onetime close friend and aide to the first lady, Melania Trump, on Tuesday to try to recoup the profits from a tell-all book that disclosed embarrassing details about her, the third lawsuit in recent months where the department has taken on a White House antagonist."

+ Unmasking probe commissioned by Barr concludes without charges or any public report.

+ A new Harvard study shows that President Trump is the main vector of misinformation about mail-in voting. Folks, this all amounts to Authoritarianism 101.


Hate For Profit

The New Yorker's Andrew Marantz: Why Facebook Can't Fix Itself. "In theory, no one is allowed to post hate speech on Facebook. Yet many world leaders—Rodrigo Duterte, of the Philippines; Narendra Modi, of India; Donald Trump; and others—routinely spread hate speech and disinformation, on Facebook and elsewhere. The company could apply the same standards to demagogues as it does to everyone else, banning them from the platform when necessary, but this would be financially risky." Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Andrew, you've just won a free Portal for getting that answer right!

+ Facebook says it will finally ban anti-vaccination ads. Just this week, Facebook suddenly believed in the Holocaust and is worried about antivaxxers. Translation, they think Biden is going to win.


Roll Out the Peril

"The design, testing, and mass production of multiple vaccines has never been attempted on this type of timeline, making this moment a turning point in the development of vaccines to respond to new disease threats. But the complexity of that work may pale in comparison to what comes next — the rollout of hundreds of millions of doses of never-before-used vaccines across the United States and, eventually, around the world." Helen Branswell in Stat: 7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.

+ Two Major COVID Clinical Trials Were Paused Over Safety Concerns — Which Is Exactly How Trials Should Work.

+ "Even as testing remains insufficient in much of the country, 16 states each added more new cases in the seven-day period ending Monday than they had in any other weeklong stretch of the pandemic." Here's the latest on the pandemic from the NYT.

+ Meanwhile, in Crazyville, a proposal to hasten herd immunity to the coronavirus grabs White House attention but appalls top scientists. "The online document claims that thousands of doctors and scientists have signed it, as well as hundreds of thousands of people in the general public. Britain's Sky News reported last week that some of the names are transparently fake, such as 'Dr. Johnny Bananas' and 'Dr. Person Fakename.'" (Darn, Dr. Johnny Banana was my p-rn name...)


Fentanyl Desperandum

"Fentanyl, an incredibly dangerous and potent drug, is driving the rise in deaths. Of the 468 people who died of overdoses through August, 319 had fentanyl in their systems. Other drugs are often laced with it, and many of those who died probably didn't even know they consumed it." S.F. drug overdoses fueled by fentanyl are spiking, figures show. "It's already killed four times as many people as COVID. Where's the urgency?" (I'm guessing we'll see similar surges in other parts of the country.)


Zen and Jerry’s

"For this story, reporters interviewed a wide range of health researchers, public officials and academic experts to ask them which states were standouts in their management of the pandemic. What we heard repeatedly were lessons culled from a handful of states that others could follow." Which states had the best pandemic response? Damn you, Vermont, you're starting to piss me off as much as New Zealand!


So Fowl and Fair a Day

"Wait a minute. A quintessential 'American' food might actually be Scottish?" The Surprising Origin of Fried Chicken. Just wait, Vermont will take credit for this too,


Tree Hugger

"The female tiger is seen embracing a tree, rubbing herself against the bark to leave her scent and mark territory." (Yeah, right. We've all used that excuse). Hidden camera's hugging tiger wins wildlife photo award. Look, I don't want to be controversial or divisive, but the young Pallas's cats on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest China were flat out robbed.


Bottom of the News

"Like many travelers around the world, Jesse Katayama found his dream trip thwarted by the spread of Covid-19. But after an unexpected seven month stay in Peru, Katayama is finally crossing 'visit Machu Picchu' off of his bucket list -- and he got to enjoy being the only tourist there." This guy is almost patient enough to wait in line to vote in America.

+ Missouri Man Lists Frozen Discontinued Taco Bell Tacos For Sale at Only $200. (Related: Medical cannabis is legal in Missouri, but recreational cannabis use is not.)