Friday, January 29th, 2021


Outer Circle of Life

Tech may have done a number on democracy and induced screentime related rage in your household, but it's been pretty effective at enabling you to maintain contact with your inner circle of friends and family. (The mute button has had its great moments as well.) But what about the people you used to see here and there, on occasion, or every day, that you know, but that you don't really know. Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: There's a reason you miss the people you didn't even know that well. "Understandably, much of the energy directed toward the problems of pandemic social life has been spent on keeping people tied to their families and closest friends. These other relationships have withered largely unremarked on after the places that hosted them closed. The pandemic has evaporated entire categories of friendship, and by doing so, depleted the joys that make up a human life—and buoy human health. But that does present an opportunity. In the coming months, as we begin to add people back into our lives, we'll now know what it's like to be without them." (On the flip side, once you have a chance to spend time away from your family, you might not want to go back home for a while.)


You’re Soaking in It

"If you want it in a sentence, I guess it goes something like this: The GameStop saga is a ludicrous stock mania born of pandemic boredom and FOMO, piggybacking off of a clever Reddit revenge plot, which targeted hedge funds, who made a reckless bet on a struggling retailer—and it's going to end with lots of people losing incredible amounts of money." Derek Thompson: How to understand what the hell is going on this week.

+ NYT: "A Massachusetts man who goes by 'Roaring Kitty' on social media helped fuel the frenzy around GameStop. His $53,000 investment in the company briefly reached $48 million in value." (That thing where you set out to eat the rich and you become an appetizer being served on a silver platter...)

+ Robinhood raises $1 billion of fresh funding from existing investors. (Steal from the rich, appreciate value, return to the rich. Someone's getting Robinhoodwinked...)

+ So What Is Short Selling? An Explainer.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Gomorrah, a series about the mafia in Naples, is one of my favorite shows. It's remarkably popular in Europe, and has the best soundtrack on TV. It's like the Sopranos without the humor, levity, or therapy. And the first three seasons are on HBO Max.

+ What to Read: "The wife brought that goddamn computer into this house in the first place. Ever since that computer came into the house, this family was ruined." Two decades before GameStop, there was a teen using AOL to move the market. This is an amazing blast from the past from Michael Lewis in the NYT in 2001: Jonathan Lebed's Extracurricular Activities.

+ What to Experience: Derek DelGaudio's In & Of Itself on Hulu. To say more would ruin it. Trust me. Watch.


Johnson Worth Pricking?

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is 66% effective in global trial, but 85% effective against severe disease. This would be viewed as amazing news if it weren't for the unthinkable effectiveness of Moderna and Pfizer. The J&J vaccine is one shot and doesn't need cold storage.

+ Pandemic help wanted: Fast food managers, road race experts.

+ Eighty million Covid-19 vaccine doses have gone out — but only 55 in a low-income country.


Kevin and Spacey

Kevin McCarthy manifested the nearterm destiny of his party as, shortly after blaming Trump for his role inciting the insurrection, he found himself on the way to Mar a Lago to kiss the ring. Turn out the lights, the party's over.

+ House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump face backlash at home.

+ Is she an outlier or the new direction of the party? Here's every disturbing conspiracy Marjorie Taylor Greene believes in, including the notion that the California wildfires may have been caused by Jewish Lasers. (When you get hit by a Jewish laser, it's a dry heat.) I don't know about other Jews, but I haven't even taken my laser out of the attic since Hanukkah.


Throwing the Cook At ‘Em

"At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement — the longer the better — and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible,' Cook urged. Later, the Apple CEO argued that there was a clear cost to the practice of over-prioritizing interaction and growth over more human concerns: 'polarization, of lost trust and, yes, of violence.'" GQ: Tim Cook on Why It's Time to Fight the Data-Industrial Complex. (iAgree)


No Smoking Dissection

"In a cruel twist, the breakthrough drugs that take the brakes off immune cells, which then attack the tumor, are less effective in never-smokers' lung cancer than in smokers'." Stat: ‘But I never smoked': A growing share of lung cancer cases is turning up in an unexpected population


Lincoln Blockheads

"These are embarrassing, avoidable, and credibility-destroying errors. That's a shame, because many of the names suggested by the committee are out-and-out no-brainers; if engaged earnestly, most San Franciscans could probably be convinced to accept a lot of these changes. But that didn't happen, and this is what you get when you perfunctorily cut-and-paste material from sources that would not be acceptable for a junior high school oral report, and then misstate and misinterpret even that paltry material." Joe Eskenazi: The San Francisco School District's renaming debacle has been a historic travesty. (Seriously, anyone who voted to remove Lincoln's name from a school building should be forced to step down. This is beyond stupid.)


The R.I.P. To Bountiful

"In a remarkable career of many decades, she refused to take parts that demeaned Black people and won a Tony, Emmys and an honorary Oscar." NYT: Cicely Tyson, an Actress Who Shattered Stereotypes, Dies at 96. (Both my wife and I remarked that it felt like hearing a relative had passed away.)


Feel Good Friday

"GM isn't just planning to electrify many of its cars in the years ahead — it's ditching combustion engines entirely. As CNBC reports, GM has unveiled plans to completely eliminate tailpipe emissions from new 'light-duty vehicles' (read: everyday cars) by 2035." GM plans to exclusively sell electric vehicles by 2035. (This is less about environmental concern and more about consumer demand. Buying Power=Power.)

+ Amanda Gorman will be the first poet to ever perform during a Super Bowl.

+ Student-run free grocery store helps feed town's hungry.

+ Biden's 2 dogs settle in at White House.

+ San Antonio 10-year-old cashes in on GameStop stocks he was gifted 2 years ago. (Smart kid.)