Monday, March 22nd, 2021


Swab Mentality

"Some in Guilford say the feud started with a backyard fist-fight when the cousins were kids. Others say it began later, when their fathers passed away. Despite jointly running the company for two decades, the two have never been seen on the factory floor together, according to a dozen former and current employees. Even family members can't recall when the cousins last spent time together." For years, this was just another family feud. But then Covid hit and the lives of Americans suddenly depended on a pair of cousins running a company headquartered in Guilford, population 1,500, who can't stand being in the same room together. Bloomberg/Businessweek's Olivia Carville with an amazing swab story: America's Covid Swab Supply Depends on Two Cousins Who Hate Each Other.


Iguana Get Away?

"Pepper-spray balls, SWAT teams and a military-style vehicle rolling down Ocean Drive." Yes, you guessed it. Spring Break in Miami Beach is on, and it's going full Florida Man. Party's over: Miami Beach closing causeways, imposing spring break South Beach curfew.

+ The Guardian: Toilet-invading iguanas among invasive species now banned in Florida. (No raging Covid parties? No toilet lizards nipping at your private parts? Come on Miami, what kind of Spring Break is this?)



"Growing numbers of health officials and advocacy groups worldwide are calling for Western governments to use aggressive powers — most of them rarely or never used before — to force companies to publish vaccine recipes, share their know-how and ramp up manufacturing." NYT: Rich Countries Signed Away a Chance to Vaccinate the World. "It was like a run on toilet paper. Everybody was like, 'Get out of my way. I'm gonna get that last package of Charmin,' said Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale epidemiologist. 'We just ran for the doses.'" And for now, other countries have no way to roll their own.

+ And it's not just about ethics. "Lack of supply and lopsided distribution threaten to leave entire continents open as breeding grounds for coronavirus mutations. Those variants, if they prove resistant to vaccines, could spread anywhere in the world, including in Western countries that have been vaccinated first." WaPo: Drug companies defend vaccine monopolies in face of global outcry.

+ Ethics and health not doing it for you? How about straight up politics. Biden's next challenge: Vaccine diplomacy. "China has gotten a head start on vaccine diplomacy, sending millions of doses all over the globe, including to Latin America. Experts say it's in America's interests to compete in the race to vaccinate the world, and the calls to start doing so are getting louder."

+ Meanwhile, many of those fortunate enough to live in the right place at the right time are determined to do the wrong thing. The US is about to reach a surprise milestone: too many vaccines, not enough takers.


Worsted Yarn

"Jessica Marshall Forbes, one of the site's two founders, remembers the early days of Ravelry well. 'You know, we just wanted to make a nice Web site about yarn,' she told me. 'I look back on it now, like, ‘Oh, it wasn't so bad.' Because look what we're dealing with now.'" The New Yorker: How Politics Tested Ravelry and the Crafting Community. (They used to be a such a close-knit community...)


As Tears Go Buy

"These creators are unafraid to be open and emotional about the books that make them cry and sob or scream or become so angry they throw it across the room, and it becomes this very emotional 45-second video that people immediately connect with,' said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble. 'We haven't seen these types of crazy sales — I mean tens of thousands of copies a month — with other social media formats.'" Elizabeth A. Harris in the NYT: How Crying on TikTok Sells Books. (Too bad that doesn't work for newsletters. I cried through every edition of 2020 and it wasn't worth a dime.)


Working the Sling Shift

"But organizers say the union effort is not a fight over a $15 or $16 wage — though Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made nearly $75 billion in 2020. It is a matter of morality, of just who will make money off their labors. It's a question of good and evil, about what is righteous, and just, and fair. For these workers and the organizers who have traveled from across the South to support their unionization effort, this is their David and Goliath story. What they want is dignity." Vox's Kim Kelly takes you to Bessemer, Alabama, a town of 27,000 that has become home to the the most important labor battle in the country. An Unholy Union. (This David vs Goliath story has a new twist: Goliath sells sling shots, and they're available for next day delivery...)


Put a Lid On It

"Their feasibility study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, finds that if applied statewide, the panels would save 63 billion gallons of water from evaporating each year. At the same time, solar panels across California's exposed canals would provide 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually." Wired: Why Covering Canals With Solar Panels Is a Power Move. (Oh, I'd totally cap that...)


Outgoing Male

Those who have seen Minari may have been curious about the chick culling scenes. Well, it's a thing. A big thing. "Male chicks don't lay eggs, and they fatten up too slowly to be sold as meat. Across the globe, culling has become the default strategy for the egg industry to eliminate unwanted hatchlings." The Atlantic: Billions of Day-Old Chicks Are Shredded, Gassed, and Suffocated.


Flour Child

"Pashman has documented his three-year effort to invent a new pasta shape, have a die-maker create a mold and then ultimately sell it. 'If you were to ask me which has kept me up more in the past three years — my actual children or this pasta shape — it'd be a tough call.'" For Pasta Lovers Bored By Spaghetti, There's A New Short, Wavy, Sauce-Holding Shape. Looks OK, but Radiatori is still my top pick. Although, now that my son is getting into tennis, I've been having the occasional bowl of Rachette.


Bottom of the News

"On his feed, Kirby has showcased Seattle pastor Judah Smith's $3,600 Gucci jacket, Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes's $1,250 Louboutin fanny pack and Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado's $2,541 Ricci crocodile belt. And he considers Paula White, former president Donald Trump's most trusted pastoral adviser who is often photographed in designer items, a PreachersNSneakers 'content goldmine,' posting a photo of her wearing $785 Stella McCartney sneakers." WaPo: Preachers and their $5,000 sneakers: Why one man started an Instagram account showing churches' wealth. (Jesus would never have walked on water in shoes this expensive.)