1

You Better? You Better? You Bet!

It was a very good year. It's hard to say that about much during the pandemic, but the scientific achievements we've witnessed will not only help us get out of this mess, they portend better days ahead. "We may soon have vaccines for many other diseases that have eluded our grasp. Efforts are already under way, for example, for an mRNA vaccine for malaria—a parasite that each year kills hundreds of thousands of people, mostly children, and is notoriously hard to vaccinate against. We may also finally get a new set of tools to better fight cancer." Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic: 3 Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better.

2

Race Against the Machine

"I'm proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into our administration, we will have met our goal." So said Joe Biden as the U.S. has hit 100 million vaccination injections. (Tip: At the end of the day, some pharmacies have extra doses and they will often give them to you before closing. Call and ask.)

+ It's all about timing. Cases are picking up in some states and in Europe, which tends to be a pretty good predictor of what's to come, Paris is locking down as France fears third wave.

+ CDC changes school guidance, allowing desks to be closer.

3

Weekend Whats

What to Hear: A NextDraft-approved band is out with their latest album today, and it's as solid as expected. Check out Today We're the Greatest from Middle Kids. You can start with the song R U 4 Me?

+ What to Not Hear: During a year when we're watching movies on the small screen, it makes sense that many of the Oscar contenders are small movies, not big blockbusters. Sound of Metal, the story of a metal drummer who loses his hearing, is one such movie, and worth a watch.

+ What to TV: This is a pick for a slightly narrower audience. If you live in a house filled with Samoans, including your mother-in-law, I highly recommend Young Rock. (And as a member of the community by marriage, I feel I'm in a position to tell The Rock to find himself a decent tailor. Watch the show and you'll feel the same. Malo Lava, Dwayne.)

4

Sharing a Blunt

"In a blunt opening statement before the talks in private, Mr Blinken said the US would 'discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies. Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability." China had similar words for the US. US and China trade angry words at high-level Alaska talks.

+ CNN: Beijing's crackdown in Xinjiang has separated thousands of children from their parents.

5

The Why Cuomosome

Pressure is building on Andrew Cuomo to resign. What could increase that pressure? A Ronan Farrow piece in The New Yorker: Cuomo's First Accuser Raises New Claims of Harassment and Retaliation. "In her first extensive interview, Lindsey Boylan sheds new light on a toxic workplace, as insiders detail the campaign to discredit her."

6

Joint Commission

"In some cases, staffers were informally told by transition higher-ups ahead of formally joining the administration that they would likely overlook some past marijuana use, only to be asked later to resign." The Daily Beast: Biden White House Sandbags Staffers, Sidelines Dozens for Pot Use. (This is idiotic. Here's a pro-tip: You better not establish the same policies for donors...)

7

Punt, Pass, and Count

Neither the CTE controversy nor the pandemic have had a negative impact on the NFL's bottom line. The league just signed a massive TV deal that includes an Amazon exclusive on Thursday nights.

8

Smoke Alarm

"Because pandemic restrictions limited travel and other activities, fine-particle pollution from the burning of fossil fuels dropped 13 percent between March and July compared to the previous year and dipped again in November and December." So it must have been a great year for clean air, right? Nope. WaPo: Smoke from wildfires wiped out the U.S. pandemic-related clean air gains in 2020.

9

Rope Dope

"There's an old saying in Texas about 'find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree ... You know, we take justice very seriously." During hearing on violence against Asian-Americans, Rep. Chip Roy brought up his state's proud record of ... lynching?

+ While he should be fighting Covid, Fauci is wasting time answering nonsensical, ill-informed, and Randpaulian attacks from Rand Paul. (This really is one of America's most dangerous threats. We're asked to waste time listening to idiots convince experts that they're wrong.)

+ 14 House Republicans voted against a resolution condemning the military coup in Myanmar. (They didn't condemn the one here either...)

10

Feel Good Friday

"This is the story of how the owners of Baltimore's most popular fusion restaurant drove to Vermont over the weekend to cook a meal. It's also a story about food and love and dying. And really, really amazing customer service." (Trust me, that's an understatement.)

+ Polystyrene waste is everywhere, and it's not biodegradable. Scientists just found a way to break it down.

+ "At the hospital Peyo tells his trainer which room he wants to enter next by stopping or raising his leg. Peyo is 15 and seems able to detect when humans have cancers and tumours. He stayed nearly two hours here, watching over a dying woman. ‘I accompany him but I let him do what he wants, he's the one who decides.'" The horse comforting cancer patients in Calais – in pictures.

+ 77-year-old substitute teacher who lives in his car gifted $27,000 check by former student.

+ A Baby Donkey in a hammock. That's it. That's the story.

+ WaPo: This teen makes tiny bow ties for shelter dogs to help them look spiffy and get adopted.

+ GQ: The Best Sex Toys for Couples Will Make Sex Even More Awesome. (Want to make my sex more awesome? Adopt my beagles for a few minutes.)