Thursday, January 28th, 2021


Dialing for Dollars

"Although individuals like this particular scammer are the ones responsible for manipulating victims on the phone, they represent only the outward face of a multibillion-dollar criminal industry ... These include sellers of phone numbers; programmers who develop malware and pop-ups; and money mules. From the constantly evolving nature of scams — lately I've been receiving calls from the 'law-enforcement department of the Federal Reserve System' about an outstanding arrest warrant instead of the fake Social Security Administration calls I was getting a year ago — it's evident that the industry has its share of innovators." NYT Mag's: Yudhijit Bhattacharjee with a very interesting look at the callers trying to trick you out of your money and the part time vigilantes trying to trick those callers into giving up their identities. Who's Making All Those Scam Calls? (These guys should all just get into day trading...)


Ticker Shock

"It's a breakdown of the central compact in our society where if young people play by the rules, they're supposed to have the same opportunities as their parents in previous generations, and that's not happening. Everything we do, from the stimulus to the tax structure, is all about helping rich people stay rich. People are fed up with that. Some of this is just mastery of new platforms that help people coordinate. But I also think young, bored men are the most dangerous people in the world and a lot of young men are at home and, quite frankly, not having sex and developing relationships with others that inhibit some of their instincts to gamble. I think if people were going out more, dating more, working more, they wouldn't need to hit the dopamine bag that is Robinhood. It's reckless and I think there's going to be a lot of tears, a lot of really depressed young men coming out of this. Investing is meant to be used to build a future. This is not building a future." Scott Galloway with some interesting takes on what's driving the Gamestop stock madness. An Elegant Revolution Followed by Slaughter.

+ The fun stopped, at least temporarily, when Robinhood blocked purchase of GameStop, AMC, and BlackBerry stock. Basically, Robinhood became Parenthood.

+ Axios: How GameStop exposed the market. (Maybe it also exposed Robinhood?)


March a Lago

"While pundits ponder the GOP's future -- and traditionalists hope to change course out of the wreckage left by Trump's insurrection -- Washington's power players and state activists have already made their choice. Highlighting the former President's lightning fast rehabilitation, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will visit Trump in Florida on Thursday after repudiating his own criticism of the incitement of the US Capitol riot." In the Republican Party, the post-Trump era lasted a week. (If your outrage over insurrection lasts more than for hours...)

+ "Many observers commented on the jarring mixture of Christian, nationalist and racist symbolism amongst the insurrectionists: there were Christian crosses and Jesus Saves banners, Trump flags and American flags, fascist insignia and a ‘Camp Auschwitz' hoodie. Some saw apples and oranges. But it was really a fruit cocktail: White Christian Nationalism." The NYT's Thomas B. Edsall talks to the experts about how The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets. (This is probably the most underreported factor behind Trumpism.)

+ Tim Kaine floats Trump censure as conviction grows unlikely. (Nothing beats sedition like a really good talking to.)


Gag Reflex

"The policy — known primarily as the 'global gag rule' or the Mexico City policy — banned international groups that receive US aid from performing, facilitating, or even discussing abortion. Biden also announced that his administration will "take immediate action to consider whether to rescind" another greatly limiting, anti-abortion policy, sometimes referred to as the 'domestic gag rule,' a fact sheet distributed by the Biden administration stated. This rule targeted Planned Parenthood by barring recipients of Title X family planning government funding from performing or referring for abortion." Biden Will Repeal One Of Trump's Major Anti-Abortion Policies.


The Threat Within

"This particular bulletin, issued through the department's National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism." AP: US terrorism alert warns of politically motivated violence.


The Shot Clock

"The public health workers were driving back from a vaccination site in rural Cave Junction, Oregon, on Tuesday when they got stuck in a snowstorm on the highway ... Normally, the trip takes about 45 minutes. But with a jackknifed tractor-trailer ahead of them, the crew realized they could be stuck for hours and the doses would expire. So the workers made the decision to walk from car to car asking stranded drivers if they wanted to be vaccinated, right there on the spot." Oregon health workers, stuck in snow, administer COVID-19 vaccine to stranded drivers. (Cut to a week from now when all those stranded drivers begin to realize they have super powers...)


Front of Mind

"The Frontline Workers Counseling Project includes some 500 volunteer therapists in the San Francisco Bay Area, while the Physician Support Line, started in late March, is a free, national support line of some 700 volunteer psychiatrists who provide peer support." NYT: Doctors, Facing Burnout, Turn to Self-Care. (A growing demand, some great services, and a nice mention of the The Frontline Workers Counseling Project co-founded by NextDraft's part time psycho-political analyst, Dr Michael Levin, who developed many of his ideas about narcissistic personality disorder by growing up with me.)


We All Need an Ax To Grind

"All three retailers report that the guitar was the most popular product they sold in quarantine. 'Based on what we saw in 2020, one thing is certain: The guitar is thriving,' says Reverb's David Mandelbrot. 'Orders and searches for guitars have been up significantly — including an increase in searches for popular guitar brands like Fender, Gibson, and Taylor — as well as searches for music gear that you pair with your guitar, like amps, guitar straps, effects pedals, and more.' Both searches for acoustic guitars and acoustic guitar amps were up by 50 percent year over year." Did Everyone Buy a Guitar in Quarantine or What? (This one is personal too, as I also grew up with David Mandelbrot, who is killing it as the CEO of Reverb; though I still think he should have listened to me when I told him to take the Gamestop gig.)


Royal Highness

"Stars of the period drama Bridgerton have thanked fans after Netflix announced that the show had become its 'biggest series ever.' The streaming giant said 82 million households around the world tuned into the show in its first 28 days online, surpassing the firm's own projections. The show hit the number one spot in 83 countries, including the US, UK, India, France and Brazil." (Between this and the Crown, it's pretty clear that people like to think about monarchies to take their minds off authoritarians. Come to think of it, the Tiger 'King' and the 'Queen's' Gambit fit the mold as well.)


Bottom of the News

"Outside of frigid climes, ice is always a miracle, even if the ingenious invention of vapor-compression refrigeration has made the miracle commonplace. Still, the ice most people make at home—tap water sloshed into plastic trays and left to rest on a freezer shelf, or thick half-moons disgorged by a built-in ice maker—has little to recommend it beyond its temperature. It is a blunt instrument of coldness." Helen Rosner in The New Yorker: Pellet Ice Is the Good Ice. (Reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover Sonic ice.")

+ Just a supercut of people saying the name David. (Sometimes this has to be about me.)