March 16th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Not Getting Any? You're Not Alone.

“Generalized anxiety is at a higher level: there are threats to health, well-being, jobs, education or medical treatments. We’re not seeing friends or family. That increased anxiety can affect us inside the bedroom: people are reporting being more distracted, or that they find it harder to be in the moment, that they have more intrusive thoughts or more negative automatic thoughts.” All of these could be reasons why you’re not getting any these days. The Guardian: How the world lost its libido – and how it can get it back. “In research conducted by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University last year, nearly half of the respondents reported a decline in the frequency of sexual behavior, including masturbation.” (I guess I’m an outlier when it comes to my existential-dread coping mechanisms.)



Brandon Boulware, the father of a transgender daughter, testified during a hearing asking Missouri lawmakers to stop discriminating against trans youth. And it’s probably the best three minutes you’ll have this week.

+ “After years of feeling trapped in the wrong body, Chloe was beginning to feel free. Then headlines began appearing about politicians in her state — and across the country — trying to take away the treatments that had given Chloe this newfound confidence. A national debate soon emerged about transgender girls like Chloe and whether they should be allowed to play on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity. To Chloe, it was yet another reminder of the hostility facing transgender people, but especially transgender girls and women.” WaPo: A transgender girl struggles to find her voice as lawmakers attack her right to exist.


Coyote Ugly

“Border crossers are vulnerable to rumor and misinformation. The criminal cartels that traffic in people are only too glad to offer deceptive hope. The best way for an American administration to deter migration—and save lives—is to communicate a clear and consistent message: Do not waste your money; do not risk your life; do not try to enter the United States without authorization.” David Frum in The Atlantic: Biden Has a Border Problem.

+ “The migrants’ hopes have been drummed up by human smugglers who promise that President Biden’s administration will welcome them. Instead, the United States is expelling them back to Mexico, where they wait along with tens of thousands of others hoping to cross. The pressure, and desperation, is quickly building among families stuck in Mexico, as shelters and officials struggle to help them.” NYT: On Mexico’s Border With U.S.,
Desperation as Migrant Traffic Piles Up

+ DHS chief: U.S. pacing for more border encounters than in the last 20 years. (My quick take: Putting border politics aside, if we really want to address this issue, we have to address America’s role in turning some regions into killing fields. In other words, we have to end the war on drugs. And the whole issue is only going to get more complicated and more dire as climate change makes some regions less habitable.)


Something is Gotten In The State of Denmark

“We know that poverty is not inevitable because poverty has declined very substantially in many countries. The population of Denmark was once as poor as the population of Ethiopia today, but since then poverty declined and living conditions improved: average incomes increased more than 25-fold, the child mortality rate declined from more than a quarter to less than half a percent – one of the lowest levels in the world – and Denmark is today one of the countries where people report to be most satisfied with their lives.” Max Roser with a very interesting, very graphical look at how much economic growth is necessary to reduce global poverty substantially.


Astra Not?

“Many scientists have argued that even the loss of a few days in vaccinating vulnerable people could be far costlier than the impact of any rare phenomenon.” Europe is contending with a slow vaccine rollout and an increase in more lethal variants. The suspension of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine is coming at a bad time and might not be warranted. EU regulator ‘convinced’ AstraZeneca benefit outweighs risk. (The warning to Americans here is crystal clear. But we’ve distorted those messages in the past.)


The Squadfather

“Expected to last at least two years, the trial is known as ‘Rinascita-Scott,’ or ‘Rebirth Scott.’ Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor driving the case, explained that its name refers to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who spent eight years in Italy fighting against narco-‘ndranghetist organizations and died upon returning to the United States in a car accident. The trial is dedicated to his commitment. It’s been called the trial of the century in some Italian newspapers, but curiously, no television news stations are reporting on it, it never ends up on the newspapers’ front pages, and it’s not even creating political controversy.” There are 335 defendants in The Silent Trial of the Century.


Different Strokes For Different Folks

“In the popular imagination, polygamists are presumed to be right-wing misogynists and polyamorists to be decadent left-wingers, but the two groups share goals and, often, ways of life. In the years I’ve spent talking to members of both communities, I have found that it is usually the polygamists who are more cognizant of common cause.” Andrew Solomon in The New Yorker: How Polyamorists and Polygamists Are Challenging Family Norms. “From opposite sides of the culture, parallel campaigns for legal recognition may soon make multiple-partner marriages as unremarkable as same-sex marriages.” (Watchu talkin’ about, Willis?)


Yaphet Accompli

From Alien to Raid on Entebbe to Live and Let Die to Midnight Run to the incredible Homicide: Life on the Street, Yaphet Kotto was a generation and genre spanning actor. Actor Yaphet Kotto dies at 81. He was also one of the first Black/Jewish actors to get a lot of roles. Here’s one of his great scenes on Homicide, a show that paved the way for a lot of great TV.


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

“Had enough Zoom meetings? Can’t bear another soul-numbing day of sitting on video calls, the only distraction your rapidly aging face, pinned in one corner of the screen like a dying bug? Well, if so, then boy do we have the app for you. Meet Zoom Escaper.”

+ The Bread That Made an Entire Island Hallucinate. Unbeknown to them, residents on tiny Alicudi were basically tripping on acid. (We could have used this recipe during the bread baking boom of 2020.)

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