Now That We Found Gov

The American Rescue Plan has been passed and checks are being deposited into people's bank accounts. Will the cash register? "Biden's bill was designed to send regular monthly checks to millions of American families, so it will be palpable that the government is helping them in a tough moment. Gone are the work requirements, the sensitivity to the risk of inflation, and other centrist concerns that have been at the heart of Democratic programs for decades." Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker: Biden's bill is a sign that our democracy isn't completely broken, and may convince Americans that government can solve problems. (Money can't solve all your problems. But it can solve the problem of needing some more money.)

+ Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: "The passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 symbolizes more than an ideological divergence on public policy; it reflects a radically different theory of governance. The Democrats are no saints, but they've come to believe that both the viability of their party and the sustainability of American democracy depend on their capacity to broaden their appeal to right-leaning voters. Trump wanted to punish his enemies; Biden must convince Trump supporters that he is not their enemy. Defeating Trump was but a battle; defeating Trumpism is the war." (In other words, this stimulus doesn't punish red states, it helps them.) Biden Chooses Prosperity Over Vengeance.


Shorting Pessimism

"A reporter who has tracked decades of gloomy trends sees things lining up for roaring growth." NYT Upshot: 17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin.


Lab Bats

"All the U.S. diplomats cared about was that these scientists had discovered three new viruses that had a unique characteristic: they contained a 'spike protein' that was particularly good at grabbing on to a specific receptor in human lung cells known as an ACE2 receptor. That means the viruses were potentially very dangerous for humans—and that these viruses were now in a lab with which they, the U.S. diplomats, were largely unfamiliar." Politico: In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened.

+ "While political leaders trade threats, the pandemic has made Americans even more reliant on China's manufacturers." Peter Hessler in The New Yorker: The Rise of Made-in-China Diplomacy.

+ NYT: Brazil Needs Vaccines. China Is Benefiting.

+ Want more visibility into these China stories? Avoid Beijing, where the visibility is about two inches at the moment, as a sandstorm and pollution send readings off the scale.


A Teachable Moment

WaPo with an interesting collection of takes about How the pandemic is reshaping education. "There are a lot of positives that will happen because we've been forced into this uncomfortable situation," said Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the school superintendents association. "The reality is that this is going to change education forever." (For one thing, Zoom could mean that snow days are over...)

+ The New Yorker: Why Learning Pods Might Outlast the Pandemic. (The learning pod that happened in my house is being condemned, boarded up, and surrounded by a chernobyl-like exclusion zone.)


Clot in a Trap

France, Germany and Italy are the latest countries to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot concerns (though WHO says the concerns are unwarranted). Meanwhile, several European countries are undergoing new lockdowns as a third wave has emerged. (I know people are eager to be inside maskless with others, but it doesn't make sense for Americans to let down our guard when we're this close to beating the virus. We didn't listen to the warning signals from Europe last year at this time. Have we learned anything since?)


Capitol Crime

"Sicknick died from injuries he sustained while responding to the attack by pro-Trump rioters. Authorities have not determined whether the spray assault was the cause of Sicknick's death." Two arrested in assault of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.


Awards and All

The Grammys nailed what one hopes will be its last pandemic-limited event. The show was good, the performances were excellent. Slate: This Year, the Grammys Were Actually … Good? Here are all the winners.

+ The Oscars will be dramatically different this year because most of the nominees went straight to streaming, so many of us will have actually seen the movies this year. Here's a look at this year's nominees. And the 17 biggest Oscar nomination shockers.


Tuck and Troll

"It's not what Carlson says about her that's so bad. It's that his disproportionate focus on her before his audience of millions has unleashed ever more troll attacks. Lorenz called that 'an attempt to mobilize an army of followers to memorize my name and instigate harassment.' And, she wrote, 'the scope of attacks has been unimaginable. There's no escape.'" Margaret Sullivan in WaPo: Online harassment of female journalists is real, and it's increasingly hard to endure. (Fox News encourages these attacks. If you're an advertiser on Fox News, it's no longer possible to pretend you're unaware of that fact.)


Bookeaters’ Bash

I'm on the board of 826 Valencia, and our annual gala is going virtual this year. It's always a great event, and this year's special guest is Zadie Smith. She'll be joined by Dave Eggers and a collection of young writers that will amaze and delight you. Here are the details about the March 25th event. It would be great to have you join the fun.


Bottom of the News

"Many companies have some sort of lofty mission statement that flies out the window the second it gets in the way of business, but Yoshida's own son compared him to a cult leader in his dedication to The Cycle of Goodness. (You might say Yoshida was the Steve Jobs of zippers.)" Everything you ever wanted to know about Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha (you may know it better as YKK, the letters on your zipper.)

+ The engineers building ridiculous dart blasters that Nerf won't touch.