Tuesday, December 8th, 2020


The Taming of the Brew

Now is the winter of our discontent. But Spring came early for Margaret Keenan, a 90-year old woman from Northern Ireland who was the first person to get a post-trials shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. I know that brand name is a mouthful, but what's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And this is no ordinary thorn prick. Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? No, it's a needle, and it's good news. No more need to beware the ides of March. They bring good tidings. Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day. But the day gets brighter if thou doth not cough in mine face. We know who's on first, but what's on second? Tis a dude named William Shakespeare from Warwickshire who took the second prick at University Hospital Coventry. Who's got next? Et tu, Brute? What light through yonder window breaks? Tis, science! And they got the right ratio, Horatio. To be or not to be? Be! Be! Be Best, even. All it takes is wearing a mask and avoiding indoor dining for a few months. How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees? I know it's not easy, but you have to break a few eggs to make a Hamlet. A man can die but once. But zero times is better. This above all: to thine ownself be true. And occasionally tell the truth to others as well. Uneasy lies and lies and lies the head that wears the crown; in contrast to the head that got a PhD in Immunotherapy. Some are born great, others achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them by a good science teacher. And those who continue to lie about the virus, come, let's away to prison. You speak an infinite deal of nothing. Lord, what fools these mortals be! But all's well that ends well, assuming your governor is not Kristi Noem. I could go on, anon. But, brevity is the soul of wit, and this narrator doth need another hit.

+ There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. In other words, America may not have purchased enough vaccine.

+ And when will America welcome home again discarded faith, and pre-sold vaccine? Soon. The FDA tests are going well. Pfizer's Vaccine Offers Strong Protection After First Dose. "This is what an A+ report card looks like for a vaccine."

+ "Well, there's no point in dying now when I've lived this long, is there?" That's not Shakespeare, it's Martin Kenyon who also got the vaccine on day one. "I hope I don't get the bloody bug now."


Society on Speed

"You may be surprised to learn that of the trio of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines, the most promising, Moderna's mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.5 percent efficacy rate on November 16, had been designed by January 13. This was just two days after the genetic sequence had been made public in an act of scientific and humanitarian generosity that resulted in China's Yong-Zhen Zhang's being temporarily forced out of his lab. In Massachusetts, the Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. It was completed before China had even acknowledged that the disease could be transmitted from human to human, more than a week before the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States." David Wallace-Wells in NY Mag: We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time. (We are living through a medical breakthrough of epic proportions...)

+ WaPo: Rochelle Walensky, Biden's choice to run CDC is a respected specialist who is unafraid to speak her mind. The pick is earning near universal praise. And it will take a hell of an effort to fix what's been broken.


Behind the Screen

The site "attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon ... Yet there's another side of the company: Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags." The NYT's Nicholas Kristof with a powerful piece: The Children of P*rnhub.


Stop Her Before She Saves More Lives!

"Authorities in Florida on Monday raided the home of Rebekah Jones, a former state official who has said she was ousted this year for refusing to censor the state's coronavirus data. In a search warrant, an investigator with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said a person at Jones' home who was using her email address illegally gained access to a state-run communications platform and sent a group text Nov. 10 telling people that it was "time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead." Florida authorities raid home of ex-official who said she was ousted over coronavirus data.


Trying to Make Up For a Small Penn Is Not Working

"President Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to make an extraordinary request for help reversing his loss in the state, reflecting a broadening pressure campaign by the president and his allies to try to subvert the 2020 election result." WaPo: Trump asks Pennsylvania House speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state. (In addition to this being poor sportsmanship and unseemly, it's also a full on crime.)

+ WaPo: Pentagon blocks visits to military spy agencies by Biden transition team. (This isn't just sour grapes. There's something going on here that will become a big story.)


The Right Stuff

"On Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager, then a 24-year-old captain, pushed an orange, bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane past 660 mph (1,062 kph) to break the sound barrier, at the time a daunting aviation milestone. Sure, I was apprehensive,' he said in 1968. 'When you're fooling around with something you don't know much about, there has to be apprehension. But you don't let that affect your job." Chuck Yeager, 1st to break sound barrier, dies at 97.

+ Video: Chuck Yeager Breaking the Sound Barrier.


The Wrong Stuff

"There are concerns about the potential for another White House superspreader event, though it was unclear whether Ellis posed a risk when she attended." West Wing fears COVID spread after Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis attends WH party. (At this point, attending a White House holiday party is a lot more dangerous than trying to break the sound barrier ever was...)


Photo Finish

"As we approach the end of a year unlike any other in recent memory, here is a look back at some of the major news events and moments of 2020." Top 25 News Photos of 2020.


Hit Em With the Heeeeeeeeein

We all have the content we were most happy to have back during the pandemic. For me, major league baseball was right up there. But Howard Stern and Robin Quivers broadcasting from home was just what I needed. Happy to see that they just re-signed for five more years at SiriusXM.


Bottom of the News

"Novelists who have strayed into the more intimate realms in their recent writing will have breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after the Literary Review announced it had cancelled this year's Bad sex in fiction awards." Bad sex award cancelled as public exposed to ‘too many bad things in 2020.' (I don't get why anyone would cancel humor in a year when we need it the most.)

+ Every vote counts. No seriously. In Sausalito, "the race between Ian Sobieski and incumbent Joan Cox was decided by a single vote. According to the results certified by the Marin Registrar of Voters, Sobieski landed a seat on the council with 1,877 votes, while Cox received 1,876."