Monday, October 19th, 2020


Atlas Shrugged

Whether we like it or not, there are two major pandemic trends happening in America right now. First, cases are on the rise, a new wave is here, and for many states (10 of which reported their highest single-day coronavirus case counts last week), the darkest days are yet to come. Second, the administration's unforgivably poor performance around Covid-19 is getting worse as the views of the actual experts are pushed to the sidelines by an unqualified quack named Scott Atlas, who was brought onto the Coronavirus task force after the president saw his appearances on Fox News. Thanks in part to Atlas's influence, we have less testing, we have more people who don't believe in the value of masks and social distancing, we have a president who still seems to believe the pandemic is over even as he travels from hard hit state to hard hit state for crowded rallies, and we have repeated calls for the deadly stupid idea of letting herd immunity send the American body count through the roof. WaPo: Trump's den of dissent: Inside the White House task force as coronavirus surges.

+ Just yesterday, Atlas tweeted, "Masks work? NO" — an idiotic lie that was deemed false and harmful enough for Twitter to block it. At this point, the off course Atlas and his monstrous boss should just draw a chalk outline around America because they've turned it into a national crime scene.


Poll Halt

What do you do when demographic shifts begin to move in a direction you find unpleasant? You make it harder for those demographics to vote. Which brings us to Georgia (as one example). "The state's voter rolls have grown by nearly 2 million since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, but polling locations have been cut by almost 10%, with Metro Atlanta hit particularly hard." ProPublica: Why Do Nonwhite Georgia Voters Have to Wait in Line for Hours? (In America, if you see Black people in a long line, there's an election coming up. If you see white people in a long line, there's a new iPhone.)


Storming the Beaches of Normalcy

Ever wonder what it would look like if you could scroll through all the norm-busting that has taken place over the past four years? WaPo's Amy Siskind has been keeping a list, checking it twice, and finding out who's been naughty (we'll save nice for another time). "Experts in authoritarianism advise keeping a list of things changing, subtly, around you, so you'll remember. Days after the 2016 presidential election, I started a list. Each week, I chronicle the ways Donald Trump has changed our country. This selection, adapted from more than 34,000 entries — or about 1 percent of the total — focuses on the norms he and his administration have broken." This is not normal. (I suggest forming a team and and scrolling in shifts.)

+ The NYT with the case against Donald Trump: "Mr. Trump stands without any real rivals as the worst American president in modern history. In 2016, his bitter account of the nation's ailments struck a chord with many voters. But the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation's pressing problems because he is the nation's most pressing problem." (Sure, but this is his hometown paper. Don't expect others to be so positive...)


Advance Placement

"Advance NZ, a new party in the 2020 election that made its name by campaigning against Ardern's Covid-19 restrictions, vaccinations, the United Nations, and 5G technology, won just 0.9% of the vote, attracting 21,000 ballots from the 2.4 million New Zealanders who cast them." Why New Zealand rejected populist ideas other nations have embraced (a rejection that saved lives). Here's a hint: There are no Murdoch-owned media outlets in New Zealand. And there are also interviews like this.



"It's incredibly disturbing that the president of the United States — ten days after a plot to kidnap, put me on trial, and execute me...ten days after that plot was uncovered — the president is at it again, inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism." So said Gov Gretchen Whitmer, the latest target of Trump rally "lock her up" chants.

+ This often well-armed national rage will not be magically bottled up in November, regardless of the election outcome. In an interview with the NYT's Maureen Dowd, Sacha Baron Cohen lays it out: "'In 2005, you needed a character like Borat who was misogynist, racist, anti-Semitic to get people to reveal their inner prejudices,' he said. 'Now those inner prejudices are overt. Racists are proud of being racists.' When the president is 'an overt racist, an overt fascist,' he said, 'it allows the rest of society to change their dialogue, too.'"


Fox … Con

"In exchange for billions in tax subsidies, Foxconn was supposed to build an enormous LCD factory in the tiny village of Mount Pleasant, creating 13,000 jobs. Three years later, the factory — and the jobs — don't exist, and they probably never will. Inside the empty promises and empty buildings of Wisconn Valley." Josh Dzieza in The Verge: The 8th Wonder of the World. They may not have built Southeastern Wisconsin into a tech manufacturing powerhouse. But they built one hell of a metaphor.


I’d Totally Hit That

"A few months ago, a 51-year-old woman from Michigan named Wendy Wein sent an email to a man she believed was named Guido Fanelli, the proprietor of a website called Rent-A-Hitman. 'Got A Problem That Needs Resolving? With Over 17,985 U.S. Based Field Operatives, We Can Find A Solution Thats Right For You!' the website promised, along with a badge touting the site's HIPPA compliance. Wein, indeed, had a problem that needed resolving: as she recounted in her email to Fanelli, there was a man who had ripped her off for $20,000 (her ex-husband, as authorities later discovered), and she wanted him taken care of. 'I prefer not going jail. Thank you for your time,' the email concluded." RollingStone: You'd think no one would be stupid enough to book a murderer-for-hire on a website called RentAHitman. Bob Innes is here to tell you people are a lot dumber than you realize.


Damn, That’s Cold

"From factory to syringe, the world's most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates need non-stop sterile refrigeration to stay potent and safe. But despite enormous strides in equipping developing countries to maintain the vaccine 'cold chain,' nearly 3 billion of the world's 7.8 billion people live where temperature-controlled storage is insufficient for an immunization campaign to bring COVID-19 under control. The result: Poor people around the world who were among the hardest hit by the virus pandemic are also likely to be the last to recover from it."


Phone Home

"Beyond providing users with an opportunity to get a new phone for a fraction of its price, it helps companies boost sales by prompting more frequent upgrades, gives carriers a way to lure customers into long contracts, delivers more affordable devices for secondary markets and provides raw materials that companies can reuse to make new phones more environmentally friendly." Your old iPhone is worth big bucks. Here's why.


Bottom of the News

This seems like your average 2020 headline: Quadruple Amputee Arrested for Drunk Driving After Crashing into Police Car and Building in Mechanicsville. This dude is the Scott Atlas of road safety.

+ 8-Year-Old Twinkies Intrigue Fungus Experts.