Friday, February 19th, 2021


To Summerize…

I know what you did last summer. Nothing. I'm less sure about what you're gonna be doing next summer. But it's looking increasingly likely that 'something' is a distinct possibility. James Hamblin: A Quite Possibly Wonderful Summer. "Rather than an abrupt end to the pandemic, the coming months will be more like the beginning of an extended and still-volatile tail of the outbreak globally. What that will look like, and how long it will last, depends on how nations cooperate and coordinate—or fail to. Regardless of how quickly the immediate threat of viral illness subsides in the U.S., America's choices in the coming weeks and months could mean the difference between a pandemic that ends this year and one that haunts everyone indefinitely." (The one thing I've enjoyed during the pandemic is being able to avoid so many social events. 20 years from now when someone invites me somewhere, I'll respond that I still don't feel quite safe.)

+ Bloomberg: A U.S. Vaccine Surge Is Coming, With Millions of Doses Promised.

+ Data finds Pfizer vaccine highly effective after first dose, can be stored in normal freezers.

+ For now, Israel is the world's vaccination petri dish. Vaccinated Israelis to enjoy bars and hotels with green pass.


Breaking News

"The law is a response to years-long complaints from news outlets around the world about the role that Google and Facebook — and their mammoth digital ad businesses — have played in the decline of journalism and the decimation of its business model in the internet age. The two companies have responded in different ways: Google is making deals with Australian news publishers; Facebook is cutting them off entirely." Vox: Why Facebook banned news in Australia. (And how does one switch to Facebook Australia?)


Weekend Whats

What to Read: "Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?' the server was instructed to recite. A polished tray with chilled bottles and highball glasses was already prepared for either response. Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits. The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, 'never beforehand.' The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other." Jessica Sidman in the Washingtonian: Trump Hotel Employees Reveal What It Was Really Like Catering to the Right Wing Elite.

+ What to Hear: Holly Humberstone is new rising star on stations ranging from alt rock to adult contemporary. Why? She's really good. Start with Falling Asleep at the Wheel.

+ What to Watch: Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, has been one of the most talked about and highly reviewed new movies in a while. It's out on Hulu as of today.


Demo Day

"'We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world,' Biden said in the address just after taking part in his first meeting as president with fellow Group of Seven world leaders. That debate is 'between those who argue that – given all of the challenges we face, from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic – autocracy is the best way forward and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting those challenges.'" In his first international address, Biden urges allies to show democracies can still deliver.

+ U.S. Officially Rejoins Paris Agreement On Climate Change.


This is Not a Pipe

Among other things, Covid held up a mirror to our inequalities. Climate change will be like a magnifying mirror. Buzzfeed: The Deadly Winter Storm In Texas Has Exposed The State's Deep Inequalities. "With hundreds of thousands still left without power and water, the suffering of some of its most vulnerable residents has exposed a deep chasm between who can afford to escape the deadly cold and who can't."

+ Jerry Jones' Company Hits 'Jackpot' As Harsh Storms Send Natural Gas Prices Surging.

+ The Ted Cruz Cancun story is still frozen in time (and in the memories of Texans). "Cruz's approach to politics and Texas's approach to electrical generation flow from the same libertarian-inflected, low-regulation, small-government vision. In this worldview, the government's role is to set a set of minimal baseline requirements, offer market-based incentives to ensure they work, and then stay the hell out of the way." David Graham in The Atlantic: The senator's error is not that he was deliberately shirking his duty, but that he couldn't think of any way he could help.

+ If you're a plumber anywhere near Texas, you're gonna be busy fixing water pipes for a while.


Fast Food

Nowhere has the Covid inequality gap been as starkly visible as inside of meat plants. Workers got sick and died due in part to a lack of protection protocols while plant owners used the pandemic to push through long-wanted line speed increases. As U.S. pork plant speeds up slaughtering, workers report more injuries. "Under the new rule, pork plants can slaughter as fast as they want, as long as they prevent fecal contamination and minimize bacteria. Previously, the government-imposed limit was 1,106 pigs per hour."


The Royal Ennui

"A statement from the palace added Prince Harry and Meghan "remain much loved members of the family.'" Harry and Meghan not returning as working members of Royal Family. Why would they want to do the heavy work of being royal when they can go where the big money is: Netflix and podcasting.


Building Complex

"While 645-foot Millennium Tower in downtown San Francisco stands alone in how much it's dropped — about 16 inches over a decade, with one side sagging more than the other — big buildings are known to exert downward pressure. Engineers even plan for it. However, the aggregate impacts of building weights haven't been well studied." It's not just that seas are rising. The land is also sinking. SF Chronicle: Buildings like S.F.'s Millennium Tower are causing the Bay Area to sink under their weight.


Grand Theft

"Beverley Schottenstein said two grandsons who managed her money at JPMorgan forged documents, ran up commissions with inappropriate trading and made her miss tens of millions of dollars in gains. So she decided to teach them all a lesson." Bloomberg: At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons.


Feel Good Friday

"The largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world touched down on Mars Thursday, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). Confirmation of the successful touchdown was announced in mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California." And look, we're getting our first transmissions from the onboard cam.

+ Scientists have cloned the first U.S. endangered species, a black-footed ferret duplicated from the genes of an animal that died over 30 years ago. (I've been using the same technology on my jokes for years...)

+ These Texas Good Samaritans Are Helping Out Those in Need Amid Deep Freeze.

+ He opened his Gallery Furniture stores to people who fled Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019. Now he's doing it for those who have been hit hard by a deadly winter storm.

+ Texas Deputies Pay for Hotel Room That Stranded Family Was Unable to Afford amid Winter Storm.

+ Stranger buys boy a basketball hoop after seeing him shooting hoops into a trash can. (Some weeks it's hard to find feel good stories that aren't related to something that's pretty sad.)

+ A police bomb squad responding to a suspicious package call at an Ohio church made an unexpected discovery: six newborn kittens and their mother inside a duffel bag. Six cats? The bomb may have been less dangerous.