Friday, April 9th, 2021


Extra, Extra

If you're waiting for your crack at an available vaccine, I've got great news for you. We've got extra. But to score those shots, you might have to make a road trip. "On average, states have administered 76% of the doses they've received from the federal government. New Hampshire has administered the largest share of all states, at 89.8%, while Alabama has administered the smallest — only 61.4% of its doses." And here's the rub. "The supply-demand shift for the vaccine will happen earlier than expected — as early as the end of April — and before the nation reaches the 70-90% threshold for achieving herd immunity." Some of America is cutting the line. Some of America wants no part of a life-saving vaccine that science dropped into our laps in record time. And unsurprisingly, people are choosing to endanger themselves and others along partisan lines. Axios: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall.

+ As it was during peak Covid, misinformation and political hogwash is a deadly recipe. And the virus is not done with us. That's partly because of our unwillingness to follow simple protocols like mask-wearing, partly because of the vaccine trends above, and partly because the variants are coming. European woes have warned us before. And they're warning us again. NYT: Rise of Variants in Europe Shows How Dangerous the Virus Can Be.

+ Countries worldwide hit new records for virus cases, deaths.

+ I don't want to position our Covid fight as being all bad news. It's more like frustrating news in the face of what has been a miracle—in the scientific sense of the word. And no one has been more instrumental in that miracle than the woman who kept investigating the potential of mRNA even as academic institutions offered little support. "She grew up in Hungary, daughter of a butcher. She decided she wanted to be a scientist, although she had never met one. She moved to the United States in her 20s, but for decades never found a permanent position, instead clinging to the fringes of academia." Gina Kolata in the NYT: Kati Kariko Helped Shield the World From the Coronavirus. (That's a pretty good accomplishment to have on one's curriculum vitae...)


State of the Union

"It's requesting a hearing by the National Labor Relations Board, 'to determine if the results of the election should be set aside because conduct by the employer created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees' freedom of choice." NPR: It's A No: Amazon Warehouse Workers Vote Against Unionizing In Historic Election. And it wasn't close.


Formerly Known as Prince

"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband." Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace announces.

+ "Prince Philip: 99 years, 143 countries and one very famous wife." BBC: A husband but never a king. (Same.)

+ Prince Philip: A life in pictures.


Dwayne “Ba Rock” Johnson

"This wasn't just simple vainglory. It represented Gaetz's fundamental political philosophy: "If you aren't making news, you aren't governing." This approach to politics hasn't made him many friends in Washington or imbued him with the air of gravitas that ambitious politicians once craved. But as scandal has swirled around him, it has served as something of a shield." Ben Jacobs in NY Mag: Matt Gaetz (R–TV). Gaetz isn't going to survive this scandal, but this angle is part of a much broader trend. Governance has become less about governing and more about celebrity (Example, 2016-2020).

+ And guess who is to blame for this gradual merger of celebrity and politics. Voters! "The consumer research platform Piplsay found earlier this week that 58 percent of respondents said they would like to see one or both of the actors Matthew McConaughey and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson launch bids for the Texas governorship and U.S. presidency, respectively." I think this is a bad idea, even though I'd have insider access like never before as everyone else who lives in my house is Samoan. I'm like the Margaret Mead of newsletter writers.


Neck Vital Channel for Breathing

"Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, said the "primary mechanism" of George Floyd's death was 'asphyxia or low oxygen.'" (I know this is how trials work, but it's endlessly infuriating to listen to experts explaining that a knee to a neck for nine minutes can cause death through asphyxiation. We're all familiar with choking, strangling, and how important the neck is to breathing.) Here's the latest from CNN.


A 50 Year Line to Vote

"America doesn't suffer from an excess of civic energy that needs to be reined in and disciplined. It suffers from the widespread view that politics is conducted for the benefit of the well-connected few. Voting is the simplest, most electrifying way that ordinary people can make their voices heard. Anything that unduly inhibits it saps a people's democratic faith. Anything that enables it brings the governed closer to government. The only images from 2020 that conveyed joy were those of the faces of Americans who came out of isolation during the pandemic and lined up to be counted." The Atlantic's George Packer on Fred Wertheimer: The Man Who Waited 50 Years for This Moment. "Some things are worth half a century of effort. Fred Wertheimer has been campaigning for good government and against corruption in Washington since 1971."


Wide Angle Lens

The Council on Foreign Relations studied COVID-19 and Its Effect on Inequality and Democracy in five countries. This is what they found. "Beyond revealing inequalities and devastating public health, the pandemic has had two dangerous effects in all of these countries: COVID-19 actually has made socioeconomic inequality worse, possibly for years to come, and has significantly exacerbated democratic regression."


Holy Crap, You Can Be Half Pregnant!

"The news didn't feel real until the first ultrasound appointment, when the couple saw their baby on a sonogram screen and listened to the calming cadence of a steady heartbeat...But her excitement abruptly shifted to shock five weeks later at the 12-week ultrasound appointment, when the sonographer spotted something astonishing: It appeared as though Roberts was suddenly carrying two babies — one of which was considerably less-developed than the other. The room fell silent." WaPo: Woman gets pregnant while already pregnant. (At this point, the couple decided maybe it would be best if they just cuddled.)


Pong Hits

"Neuralink, Elon Musk's company focused on developing brain-machine interfaces, has posted a video to YouTube that appears to show a monkey navigating an on-screen cursor using only its mind." Elon Musk's Neuralink says this monkey is playing Pong with its mind. (Most humans can't even play Thought with their minds.)


Feel Good Friday

"I happened to be driving at the time. I almost had to pull over the side of the road. My jaw dropped. The most we'd received prior to this was $300,000. So to get $8 million was mind-blowing. I didn't know if it was real." Slate: What It's Like When a Billionaire Surprises You With $8 Million—No Strings Attached. MacKenzie Scott is giving money away, fast.

+ Colorado is on track to give teens three free therapy sessions to help them cope with coronavirus.

+ No one has been murdered in Norway so far this year. (Hopefully, this isn't like saying, "That pitcher has a no hitter going.")

+ "Fatima's gesture in the store snowballed into an army of volunteers that Syed and the other core members decided to call the Good Neighbor Project." Meet the 9-year-old girl whose simple act of kindness during COVID-19 spurred an army of volunteers.

+ Virginia becomes first Southern state to legalize marijuana.

+ Live, from the driveway: Local bands turn to playing private gigs during the pandemic. (Related: I'm thinking about doing daily readings of NextDraft from a mountain top.)

+ Watch Tommy Fleetwood Swish This Hole-In-One From 170 Yards. (At an interview at a celebrity golf tournament, I once asked Mick Fleetwood what he thought of the game. He answered, "It's really quite nice. It's like a giant game of pool table.)

+ Massive rockslide closes Highway 50 near Tahoe. (The feel good angle of this story is that I drove by the exact spot less than 24 hours earlier and there was not a rockslide...)