Friday, January 22nd, 2021


Mutant Ninja Hurdles

Having a new administration is a real shot in the arm. But it doesn't change the fact that we need to quickly implement a plan to get vaccines out to more people. This is the race of our lives, not just because of what Covid-19 is, but because of what it's becoming. The mutations are here and they're spreading faster and could be more deadly. Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker: Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Beat the Proliferation of New Virus Mutation. "Occasionally, a slight error in replicating the genetic code creates a mutant variant that spreads more successfully and, when that happens, evolution takes over. Stopping transmission blocks the opportunity for viral mutation; it's the only thing that does. And the only means we have of standing in the way of the virus is vaccination. 'It's a race,' Brooks said. 'We've got to get people vaccinated before more of these mutations occur.'"

+ "This period is going to be a bit like a tsunami, in the way you stand on the beach and then suddenly you can see all the water retracts," as cases drop, Krause said. "Afterward, you will have the tsunami coming in and overwhelming you." WaPo: Denmark is sequencing all coronavirus samples and has an alarming view of the U.K. variant.

+Vox: Why scientists are more worried about the Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa.

+ WaPo: Walmart, Starbucks, Amazon and other corporate giants moving to speed up coronavirus vaccine rollout. (Good, it's about time the companies powerful enough to be nation states helped the the state of the nation.)



"You said I was joking about it. I was very serious about it. I wasn't joking. I don't want to be going back, you know, over history, but it is very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact. I can tell you, I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn't feel that you can actually say something and there wouldn't be any repercussions about it. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence — what the science is and know that's it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling." WaPo: Fauci, unchained.

+ On one hand it's a relief. On the other hand, it also sounds a lot like testimony in a depraved-indifference murder case. Fauci says lack of candor on virus likely cost lives.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: After her painting gets stolen, an artist finds the thief and thus begins one of the most complex, interesting, and engaging relationships I've ever seen in a documentary. The Painter and the Thief is available on Hulu, and rentable most everywhere else.

+ What to Poetry: America fell in love with Amanda Gorman during the inauguration. She was already great when she recorded Earthrise, her poem about climate change.

+ What to Hear: Of all the bands I've recommended, I probably got the most positive responses about The Black Pumas. Somehow, this relatively new group was included in the Biden Inaugural Celebration. Check out the performance and then stream the rest of the album.


Hungry, Heart

"An estimated 29 million adults and at least 8 million children are experiencing hunger because of the pandemic." Biden moves to increase food stamps during the pandemic. Biden is also "expected to sign an executive order on Friday aimed at raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 dollars an hour. It's the first step the Biden administration is taking to make good on a campaign promise to raise the United States' minimum wage." For the next steps, he'll need Congress.

+ Senate confirms Lloyd Austin to be first Black defense secretary.

+ My friend (and FCC member) Jessica Rosenworcel has been calling for officials to get broadband to homes in rural markets and inner cities where it's scarce. Her calls weren't heeded, but 2020 proved that she was right about the need, as students fell behind because of unequal access to online school. This foresight is just one of the many reasons it's great news that Rosenworcel was just named as acting FCC chief.


Try, Trial Again

The Senate will receive the articles of impeachment on Monday. There are still a lot of negotiations about when the trial will begin and questions on how much it will impact the pace at which Biden can get his cabinet confirmed.

+ I used to wake up wondering how we could have a president like Trump. Now, I wake up wondering how Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz can still have jobs. Senate Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against Cruz, Hawley After Capitol Riot.

+ Since we're on the topic of the Senate, consider this stat: "Once Warnock and Ossoff take their seats, the Democratic half of the Senate will represent 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half."


Justice Just Ain’t

"Williams, of Harrisburg, Pa., was arrested Monday. She faces multiple charges, including theft, trespassing and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson ordered Williams be released, with travel restrictions, into her mother's custody." This follows a couple of trends. Several of the Capitol attackers seem to live with their moms. And more importantly, many of them have been released pending trial. After a year in which racial differences in law enforcement took center stage, these releases provide a clear example. Here's a thought experiment. Imagine if the Capitol Insurrection had been carried our by a large mob of Black people. Think as many would be at home with their mommies right now? Let's take it a step further. Imagine that the mob of Black insurrectionists were incited by a Black president. Think he'd be playing golf on one of his courses today?


America’s Two Pastimes

"For years, Aaron had received thousands of letters, many of them racist, and many of which contained death threats against him and his family. The image of him rounding second base escorted by two jubilant white fans who had leaped onto the field became one of the most iconic in sports. Less known was that, as Aaron rounded the bases, his bodyguard, Calvin Wardlaw, sat in the stands, his hand secretly on his revolver, deciding in an instant whether the two young fans were hostile in their intent and whether he would shoot them." ESPN: Hank Aaron's lasting impact is measured in more than home runs. Aaron died at the age of 86.



"The picture emerging shows the inversion of Trump's fortunes since 2015, when he entered politics promising to remake the country in the image of his growing, swaggering business. Now, Trump returns to a business remade in the image of the country he led: beleaguered, indebted and toxically politicized." WaPo: Trump steps out of the White House and into a company in crisis.


Oversight Seen

"Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders." Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook.


Feel Good Friday

The stadium will have fewer than 25,000 attendees for this year's Super Bowl. Among them will be 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who are being given free tickets.

+ Sarah Thomas to Make History As First Woman To Officiate A Super Bowl.

+ "Senturk's daughter, Aynur Egeli, said she would take Boncuk home but the dog would run back to the hospital. A hospital security guard, Muhammet Akdeniz, told DHA: "She comes every day around 9am and waits until nightfall. She doesn't go in." Patient dog waits for days outside hospital. (My beagles want to know what kind of treats this dude has in his pocket.)

+ "I Think My Gmail Has Crashed": The Teacher Who Made Bernie Sanders' Mittens on Watching Them Go Viral.

+ Bernie is now selling a Bernie sweatshirt to raise money for charity.

+ Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced. (This totally kills my idea for really long extension cords...)

+ Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson thanks Buffalo Bills fans for donations after his charity raises over $400,000.

+ And the weirdest and most enjoyable look at the inauguration.