These Little Town News Blues

Schedule Note: My kids are off from school this week. Delivery could be sporadic.

"When you lose a local newspaper, what you are losing is that person who shows up to cover the town council, the person who covers the school board and the local police beat. At a minimum, it provides transparency about what's going on in local government." Local news had been on the ropes for years, and in many places across the country, the pandemic brought the knock-out punch. The trend will enable local corruption to run amuck. And the absence of trusted, local voices leaves an information vacuum that is filled by national 'news' sources often dominated by lies and conspiracy theories. From The Post and Courier: Accountability suffers as newspaper closures grow.


Texas Coldem

"As the state deals with piercing cold, roughly 4.4 million Texas customers were without power as of midday Tuesday after the power grid failed." Millions Lose Power In Texas, Northern Mexico As Blackouts And Bitter Cold Continue.

+ "The cold itself posed a direct challenge to the power sources that the state was counting on. Wind turbines iced up. Coal piles froze." Vox: Why the Texas power grid is struggling to cope with the extreme cold.

+ In pictures: Snow blankets Texas. (Not the blanket they needed...)


The State of the Race

"Across the country, more than 27 million people have contracted the coronavirus, and 485,000 have died. That's the highest Covid-19 toll of any country and more than the coronavirus deaths in Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, the UK, Canada, and France combined. It exceeds the US death toll in World War II. It's also an underestimate, and doesn't account for all the people impacted by loss." Vox with a look at the pandemic's wrath so far: The virus was unsparing.

+ "I caught this virus before anyone had even died in Illinois. That was like a century ago, right? Now we're talking about Year Two, vaccines, new variants, a new administration, but for me it's still exactly the same. I'm always in this bed. I'm always in this room. I've been sick for the last 330 days. I force myself to keep track because otherwise time doesn't move. I feel like I'm in jail and putting tally marks on the wall." The latest in Eli Saslow's excellent as told to series: Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll start to feel better. (Imagine having to suffer all the pandemic related lies, conspiracies, and stupidity from your sick bed.)

+ Cases are down right now, with vaccines up and spring in the air. But the variants are coming. And we need to go faster. Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Averting a wave of new COVID-19 fatalities could require some dramatic, untested, and controversial strategies.

+ And the almost miraculously good news (in the scientific/secular sense): Israeli study finds 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 cases with Pfizer vaccine.


Adam’s Ribshot

The GOP members who had the moral courage to hold Donald Trump to account will be viewed favorably by history. But the present is being a jackass. NYT: Adam Kinzinger's Lonely Mission. "Adam Kinzinger, the six-term Illinois congressman, stands as enemy No. 1 — unwelcome not just in his party but also in his own family, some of whom recently disowned him. Two days after Mr. Kinzinger called for removing Mr. Trump from office following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, 11 members of his family sent him a handwritten two-page letter, saying he was in cahoots with 'the devil's army' for making a public break with the president." (Adam, my family thinks you're awesome.)

+ This is not an isolated thing. NC GOP votes to censure Sen. Burr after impeachment vote.

+ How corrupted and crazy? I'm glad you asked: "Compared with the Jan. 6-7 survey, the share of Republicans who said Trump is very or somewhat responsible for the events fell 14 points, to 27 percent. Over the same time period, the share of GOP voters who blamed President Joe Biden for the riot increased 4 points (to 46 percent) while the share who blamed congressional Democrats increased 10 points (to 58 percent)." Yes, you're reading that right. More Republicans blame Joe Biden for the riot than blame Donald Trump. (These are sad and dangerous times.)

+ Ron Johnson on Jan. 6 Capitol attack: 'This didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me.' (You didn't see what you just saw. This is fascist language 101.)

+ Leading House Democrat sues Donald Trump under a post-Civil War law for conspiracy to incite US Capitol riot.


Austin Power

"We had a conversation with one of our white friends, and she said 'No problem. I'll be Tenisha. I'll bring over some pictures of my family.' She made our home look like it belonged to her." My friends Paul Austin (who runs one of Marin's best non-profits) and Tenisha Tate (a high school principal) got screwed on their house appraisal. They thought it had something to do with race. So they got creative.


Job Description

"He has established a regular schedule, including coffee in the mornings with the first lady, meetings and phone calls from the Oval Office starting just after 9 a.m. and a return to his residence by 7 p.m. As he walks home along the Colonnade, he's often seen carrying a stack of binders or manila folders under one arm. He still brings a brown leather briefcase into the office." Usually, when a new president takes office, there are a ton of stories about his experiences during the first days and weeks. Nothing is usual these days, but Biden should get a little normal here and there. Inside the new President's routine: Oval Office fires and early bedtimes. (Beats Oval Office TV binges and all night rage tweeting...)


The Bez O.S.

"There are countless ways to measure Amazon's hold on American life. More people in the U.S. subscribe to its Prime service than voted for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden in the past election: more than 100 million, by recent estimates. Amazon reaps fully half of what people in this country spend online. It is the second-biggest private workplace in the United States, after Walmart, employing more than 800,000 people, most of whom will never set foot in the Seattle headquarters' plant spheres. Among Amazon's large Arizona-based workforce, most of it inside warehouses, one in three people was on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2017. Incidentally, Amazon, along with Walmart, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of an arrangement that allows food stamps to be used for online groceries, bringing in large amounts of government money. Bezos, Amazon's CEO, is the richest person alive." The Atlantic on a new book about how Amazon Has Transformed the Geography of Wealth and Power.


Being Too Defensive

"A goalie's glove, as in baseball, began as something closer to an actual "glove," and followed the contours of a hand. A leg pad followed the contours of a leg. Both were introduced to take away at least some of the sting of a catch or a block. The popularization of the slap shot in the 1960s, and the much lighter composite sticks that came later, changed all that. The goalie's silhouette—for protection, of course—correspondingly ballooned. The size of the net has stayed the same." The Atlantic: Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem. Maybe they've been eating too many biscuits... (That's a hockey pun, folks. No challenge is too great.)


Ice Capades

With the freezing weather comes viral videos. Here's a guy who made an ice bike with circular saws for wheels (don't worry, he realized the issue with that pretty early on). And here's an amazing view as someone skates on the see through ice that covers a lake. Some are enjoying the cold in a more chill way.


Bottom of the News

"From New Orleans to Tampa to Springfield, New Jersey — the only place the Bloomin' Onion definitely didn't come from was Australia." Who Really Invented the Blooming Onion? Peeling Open the World's Greasiest Mystery.

+ Nunchuck Ping Pong.