Wednesday, March 17th, 2021


Tour De Trance

"I think I've discovered the key to an active lifestyle. His name is Cody Rigsby, and he looks like a piece of Disney fan art — the kind where cartoon princes are rendered as photo-realistic living boys ... Logging on to one of Rigsby's sessions feels like syncing up with a human iPhone, always swiping toward some new distraction. It keeps me just stimulated enough to alleviate the monotony and discomfort of exercise without prompting me to do any of my own mental work." The NYT's Amanda Hess explains how Peloton classes are a new genre of content: a total curation of the mind. This is Your Brain on Peloton. (This is especially true for me. I just watch Peloton classes from bed. I call it Pillowton.)


Alcohol Pass

"At the beginning, we reveled in our drinking, clinking our "quarantinis" and cheering when states like California relaxed alcohol regulations to allow takeout cocktails as a lifeline to struggling restaurants. But the past year also saw a surge of interest in sobriety. At least 13% of people intend to take a month off drinking in 2021, according to a new Wine Market Council poll." SF Chronicle: Pandemic drinking shows America's all-or-nothing attitude toward alcohol: binge or be sober.

+ While there's an up and down quality to our drinking, there are signs that it's been mostly up during the pandemic. NPR: Sharp, 'Off The Charts' Rise In Alcoholic Liver Disease Among Young Women.


How The West Was Lost

I have a friend who's been living in Uganda for the past few years. He's been ready to come back to U.S. for a few months, but he's currently waiting out the American Covid scourge. Things have gone relatively well in Uganda where the country locked down immediately, mask-wearing was nearly universal, and businesses re-opened last July. This comparison follows a pretty clear trend. The countries that figured they were best situated to manage a global pandemic have performed poorly, while many that started with a health care deficit have done quite well. David Wallace-Wells in NY Mag: How the West Lost COVID. (2020 was a good year to bet the underdog.)


Being There

"Nearly a decade later, the Justice Department and state regulators are suing Google over the same multibillion-dollar smartphone contracts that investigators for the Federal Trade Commission flagged years ago — and arguing that the deals present some of the strongest evidence that Google has built a monopoly." Politico: The government's lawyers saw a Google monopoly coming. Their bosses refused to sue. One of the under-told stories of the internet is the way Google used the mass migration to mobile to gradually replace the internet with itself. It was a huge business risk — going from a search engine to a destination — but it's paying off for them. (Though like many big tech stories, that doesn't mean it's paying off for us.)


Spa Shootings

"Robert Aaron Long, accused in three shootings about an hour apart Tuesday in Cherokee County and northeast Atlanta, told investigators he frequented the types of businesses he allegedly targeted: massage parlors. And though six of those killed were Asian, investigators said it's too early to call the shootings hate crimes." Shooting suspect says he targeted spas because of sexual addiction. "Cherokee County sheriff says 21-year-old bought gun hours earlier."

+ "Though overall hate crimes decreased by 7% in 16 major US cities in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased 149%, first spiking in March and April when COVID-19 began its spread."


Absence Makes the Heart Grow Squander

The NYT with A Close-Up Picture of Partisan Segregation, Among 180 Million Voters: "Democrats and Republicans are effectively segregated from each other, to varying degrees by place, according to the Harvard researchers Jacob Brown and Ryan Enos. And at least over the past decade, they believe this partisan segregation has been growing more pronounced ... 'We know that with groups in general, when they're separated, bad things happen,' Mr. Enos said. 'That has proved true with racial segregation, and religious and ethnic divides — patterns of separation that make it easier to demonize one another, and harder to share resources or power.'" This is absolutely critical. It's so much easier for politicians to demonize "the other side" when citizens don't interact with the other side (and realize that we're often mostly on the same side...)


Twitter Insurrection

"The Tampa teen who took control of well-known Twitter accounts last summer and used them to solicit more than $100,000 in Bitcoin pleaded guilty to state charges Tuesday in exchange for a three-year prison sentence."

+ "As the investigation matures, it's becoming increasingly clear that many of the roughly 800 people who breached the nation's Capitol may never face any legal consequences because they were allowed to simply walk away from the scene."


Equid Pro Quo

"There is one place, closer to home, where the adventurous can find equine steak. In South Florida (really, where else?), only 20 minutes from South Beach, festers a hotbed of open-air abattoirs. Butchers make good money: Horse meat can start at $7 a pound from a tired nag and increase to five times that from a racehorse, whose flesh some believe can cure impotence. They may source their meat from Craigslist, buying horses for a few hundred dollars or by falsely promising to give rescues a good home. When all else fails, the horse butchers become horse thieves." And then there's the guy who's trying to stop them. David Gauvey Herbert in Bloomberg: The Horse Meat Vigilante.


I Wanna Party With You

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

Talk about dominance... Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dogs in America for 30 straight years. So the real battle is for second place. And this year, we have a new silver medalist. German Shepherds are out, and French Bulldogs are in.

+ Biden's dog is returning to the White House after his biting incident. According to the president, "85% of the people there love him." (My Beagles would love that kind of approval rating in my house.)

+ Spanish Driver High On Cocaine Caught Doing 160 MPH In A BMW. (This is basically all of us the day the pandemic ends...)