November 23rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A vaccine hat trick, new cabinet members, and don't take Noem for an answer.

Let’s make it a hat trick. Following the good news from Pfizer and Moderna, we now have more positive vaccine news to report; this time from the partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford. Using certain dosing strategies, the latest entrant into the vaccine races has hit effective rates as high as 90%. The Oxford vaccine uses more traditional methods, is cheaper, will be sold at nonprofit rates, and importantly, does not need to be transported at extremely low temps. Sarah Gilbert, the leader of the Oxford team: “We need to be able to make a lot of vaccine for the world quickly, and it’s best if we can do it with different technologies so that if one technology runs into a roadblock, then we’ve got alternatives, we’ve got diversity. Diversity is going to be good here, but also in terms of manufacturing, we don’t want to run out of raw materials.” We’re living a political nightmare. We’re also living a series of scientific miracles. Sit tight. Listen to the experts. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the tunnel isn’t that long. Just don’t take a detour to a Thanksgiving superspreader event.

+ “Although relatively easy and quick to produce compared to traditional vaccine-making, no mRNA vaccine or drug has ever won approval.” Stat with a very interesting look at the long rise of a medical breakthrough. The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race.


Blinken 182

“Mr. Blinken grew up in New York and in Paris, graduating from Harvard and Columbia Law School. The son of an ambassador to Hungary during the Clinton administration and the stepson of a Holocaust survivor, Mr. Blinken has often spoken of the moral example the United States sets for the rest of the world.” NYT: Biden Chooses Antony Blinken, Defender of Global Alliances, as Secretary of State. “He will be the first secretary of state in modern times to be raising toddlers while serving in office.” (That experience should help him during the transition.)

+ Blinken also has a band. Vice reviews his music. (Might I suggest opening with a cover of We Didn’t Start the Fire…)

+ Biden picks John Kerry to lead the administration’s efforts when it comes to climate change. (In a nice change of pace, the Biden administration will be opposed to climate change.)


When The Strike Force is Not With You

“At least some state and local Republican officials have defied the President and asserted the simple truth that so many of their fellow-Republicans in Washington have failed to acknowledge: the election was free, fair, and decisive.” The New Yorker: State and Local Republicans Standing Up to Trump Are Putting National G.O.P. Leaders to Shame.

+ Mitt Romney’s inspirations for bucking his party: his dad and his Black grandson.

+ “The Trump campaign’s legal team moved to distance itself Sunday from the firebrand conservative attorney after a tumultuous several days in which Powell made multiple incorrect statements about the voting process, unspooled unsupported and complex conspiracy theories and vowed to ‘blow up’ Georgia with a ‘biblical’ court filing.” Trump campaign legal team distances itself from Sidney Powell. It’s really something when a guy who gave a presser at a landscaping company and who was leaking sludge from his temples thinks you’re too whacked out to associate with.

+ “The coup was a farce at the time but how soon it turned to tragedy. They called it a constitutional crisis, but how soon it became a real one. Right now, the same thing is happening to you. I’m trying to warn you America. It seems stupid now, but the consequences are not. You’re being coup’d.” I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now.

+ Loren Culp lost Washington’s gubernatorial race by more than 545,000 votes, but he’s not conceding. (Great, now everyone’s doing it.)

+ What if Trump won’t leave the White House? A hostage negotiator, an animal-control officer, and a toddler whisperer have advice.


Don’t Take Noem For an Answer

“Kristi Noem’s devotion to keeping her state open has made her a celebrity in the Republican Party … One of the things happening in South Dakota is an infection rate that’s among the worst in the nation, at about 8,000 cases per 100,000 people … In Vermont, another small, rural state with a Republican governor, Gov. Phil Scott has embraced safety measures, and the differences are pretty stark. Like South Dakota, Vermont has fewer than 1 million residents, most of whom don’t live in cities. It has about 500 cases per 100,000 people. That’s the lowest rate in the nation.” Two Rural States With GOP Governors And Very Different COVID-19 Results.

+ Washington state, where the virus first reared its spiked head, is now seeing record hospitalizations.

+ Family members film PSA urging people to stay home after 15 of them get COVID-19 following birthday party.


Kenosha? Na Na…

“A 17-year-old from Illinois who is charged with killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin and whose case has become a rallying cry for some conservatives posted $2 million bail Friday and was released from custody.” Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail.


Charli and the Great Glass Elevator

“As Charli’s follower count grew, her popularity acquired a reflexive quality; essentially, she became a meme for other TikTokers to react to. There was a flurry of I don’t get why Charli is so popular posts, followed by backlash-to-the-backlash … ‘It became a runaway feedback loop… The more controversy there was about why she was popular, the more popular she became.'” The Atlantic on the rocketship rise of Charli D’Amelio: 98 Million TikTok Followers Can’t Be Wrong. (If my daughter and her friends are any indication, yes, for sure, they can.)

+ Of course you olds are still talking about Charli at 98 million when she’s already up over a hundred million.



“In Alabama, not having a functioning septic system is a criminal misdemeanor. Residents can be fined as much as five hundred dollars per citation, evicted, and even arrested. Rush’s sister Viola was once arrested for a sewage violation. But installing a new system can cost as much as twenty thousand dollars, which is more than the average person in Lowndes County makes in a year. Instead, Rush, like her neighbors, used a pipe to empty waste into the grass outside—a practice, called straight-piping, that is not uncommon in much of rural America. (At least one in five homes in the U.S. is not on a municipal sewer line.) Floods carry sewage across people’s lawns and into their living areas, bringing with it the risk of viruses, bacteria, and parasites that thrive in feces. Studies have found E. coli and fecal coliform throughout the Black Belt, in wells and in public waters. A United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty, visiting in 2017, said that the sewage problem was unlike anything else he had encountered in the developed world. ‘This is not a sight that one normally sees,’ he said.” Alexis Okeowo in The New Yorker: The Heavy Toll of the Black Belt’s Wastewater Crisis. (Meanwhile, at the beginning of the pandemic, the rest of us panicked when our local store ran short of our favorite brand of toilet paper.)


Mike Drop

“Here’s a typical exchange: at the time of our interview, the US election is still three weeks away, so we talk about that. ‘Every worst instinct in mankind has been played on [by Trump], and for me that’s just anathema. Biff is president!’ he says, with justified exasperation, given that Back To The Future’s evil bully Biff Tannen was modelled on Trump. I ask how he felt during the 2016 campaign when Trump mocked the New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a disability. ‘When you see your particular group mocked, it’s such a gut punch. It’s so senseless and cheap. There’s no way I get up in the morning and mock orange people.'” Michael J Fox: ‘Every step now is a frigging math problem, so I take it slow.’


I Might Have to Checker Out

“The seven-episode series is ranked in the top 10 most watched on Netflix in 92 countries, including first in 63.” Bloomberg: Netflix Says ‘Queen’s Gambit’ Draws Record 62 Million Households.

+ Can’t Find A Chess Set? You Can Thank ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ For That. (Be careful trying to buy a set in this environment. You could get totally rooked.)


Bottom of the News

“The busts underscored the continued challenges of persuading New Yorkers to follow safety guidelines even as a second wave of the virus hits, particularly as the winter months approach and parties move indoors.” NYT: Party at a Queens Sex Club With 80 People Is Shut Down by Sheriff. This gives new meaning to the term superspreader.

+ Andrew Cuomo to Receive International Emmy For ‘Masterful’ COVID-19 Briefings. (Trump should at least get a technical Emmy for best UV Lighting.)

+ The wait time at In-N-Out grand opening in Aurora hit a staggering 14 hours. Maybe, just hear me out, the problem is that we have too many imbeciles in America?

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