Wednesday, October 21st, 2020


Make Pumpkins Great Again

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown won't air on ABC this year, instead it will only be available on Apple TV Plus. I know that's not the biggest news of the day. It's not even the day's biggest news about an oversized, round, orange, pulp-filled head. But it's more troubling than it seems. Yes, the internet divides us. But, increasingly, so does access to TV shows. I've largely given up on us sharing a common reality, but now we're not even sharing a common fiction, as Lucy pulls away the football just as people who can't afford to carve out enough jack for elite television were about to kick it (even though for some, pay TV prices seem like Peanuts). I'm not suggesting we need to call in the National Gourd, but this is just one more way for a nation unable to squash beefs or patch up differences to sow the seeds of division.


Purdue Process?

"As part of the plea deal, the company admits it violated federal law and 'knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet' the dispensing of medication from doctors "without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice," according to a copy of the plea agreement obtained by the AP. The company is also required to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation and potential other prosecutions. But even before the deal was announced, it was facing resistance from state attorneys general, Democratic members of Congress and advocates who wrote Attorney General William Barr asking him not to make the bargain with the company and the family. They said it does not hold them properly accountable and they raised concerns about some of the details." OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to plead to 3 criminal charges as part of a settlement of more than $8 billion. (If we were playing Jeopardy, the answer would be: "How much does it cost to get away with mass murder?")

+ From The New Yorker earlier this month. Patrick Radden Keefe: The Sackler Family's Plan to Keep Its Billions.


In Loco Parentis

"Unlike the 2,800 families separated under zero tolerance in 2018, most of whom remained in custody when the policy was ended by executive order, many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered that they be found." Lawyers say they can't find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration. Cruelty and ineptitude is a bad combination.

+ "This may not have been every girl's dream wedding, but for the bride, Katie Waldman, it was perfect. Stephen, 34, and Katie, 28, had fallen in love—as young people do—while figuring out how to separate children from their parents at the border. Now, thanks to Katie, Stephen was officially off the market. It didn't throw her that half the country was blasting him as a white nationalist due to a recent cache of leaked emails, or that one chunk of his family had disowned him. No, this was the 'perfect day,' Katie tweeted, and Stephen Miller 'the perfect man.'" Evgenia Peretz in Vanity Fair: Super Bad True Love Story. (America must consciously uncouple from these monsters on November 3.)


Altared States

"Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family. They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it." Pope calls for civil unions for same-sex couples, in major departure from Vatican doctrine.

+ Not all Catholics are moving in that direction. For example, the woman about to get a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. AP: Barrett was trustee at private school with anti-gay policies. Maybe Biden should pack the court with the Pope.



"A NASA spacecraft descended to an asteroid Tuesday and, dodging boulders the size of buildings, momentarily touched the surface to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for return to Earth. It was a first for the United States — only Japan has scored asteroid samples." We generally try to avoid asteroids, but in 2020, anything is preferable to being stuck on Earth.

+ "For most of human history, the only way for scientists to get their hands on an asteroid was to wait for small chunks of one to fall through Earth's atmosphere and smash into the ground. Incoming rocks can break apart and even vaporize during their fiery descent, so the world's inventory of meteorites—the names given to asteroids once they've made it through the atmosphere—consists of only the hardiest samples." The Atlantic: A Handful of Asteroid Could Help Decipher Our Entire Existence.


Fortune Crookie

"As he raises questions about his opponent's standing with China, President Trump's taxes reveal details about his own activities there, including a previously unknown bank account." NYT: Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits.

+ "His longtime agenda has been curtailing government, and at the Labor Department he has overseen the rewriting of dozens of rules that were put in place to protect workers. As the coronavirus has overrun America, Scalia's impulse has been to grant companies leeway rather than to demand strict enforcement of safety protocols." The New Yorker: Trump's Labor Secretary Is a Wrecking Ball Aimed at Workers. (I'm starting to sense a trend...)

+ "Senior officials throughout various departments and agencies of the Trump administration tell CNN they are alarmed at White House pressure to grant what would essentially be a no-bid contract to lease the Department of Defense's mid-band spectrum -- premium real estate for the booming and lucrative 5G market -- to Rivada Networks, a company in which prominent Republicans and supporters of President Donald Trump have investments."


Death’s Doorjam

"I would classify this as a silver lining to what has been quite a hard time for many people." NPR: Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates.


This is (Among) Us

AOC "made her Twitch debut tonight to play Among Us and encourage viewers to vote. She also, very quickly, became one of the platform's biggest broadcasters: her stream peaked at 435,000 viewers around the time of her first match." Which brings us to an important question. What is Among Us? The NYT's Taylor Lorenz explains: Everyone's Playing Among Us. (I was gonna play, but I read the game's name as Among U.S., and that sounded too dangerous.)


Search and Seizure

"Over the last two decades, Google has made changes in drips rather than big makeovers. To see how search results have changed, what you'd need is a time machine. Good news: We have one of those!" How does Google's monopoly hurt you? Try these searches.


Bottom of the News

"In the film, released on Friday, the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat's daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist." Rudy Giuliani faces questions after compromising scene in new Borat film.

+ That provides a perfect segue into my look into Jeff Toobin's Cocktober Surprise. (Who am I kidding. Anything would have made a perfect segue.) If you missed it yesterday, my sister said my work established me as the Philip Roth of our generation. That seemed a bit extreme, until I went back and looked at some of Roth's titles: The Human Stain, The Anatomy Lesson, Zuckerman Unbound, Everyman, Letting Go, The Professor of Desire, and The Humbling. She may be onto something.