Is France High?

Today is 4/20, a marijuana-celebrating holiday that has its roots at my alma mater, San Rafael High School. In the ensuing decades, 4/20 was referred to as Burnout Day. But since then, as pot use has become less demonized, more common, and increasingly legal, 4/20 has evolved from Glaucoma Treatment Day, to Medical Marijuana Day, to, let's be honest, just "Day." The mainstreaming of marijuana makes a recent decision by a French court all the more perplexing. Roger Cohen in the NYT: "The highest court in France has ruled that the man who killed a Jewish woman in 2017 in an anti-Semitic frenzy cannot stand trial because he was in a state of acute mental delirium brought on by his consumption of cannabis. Kobili Traoré, who has admitted to the killing and is in a psychiatric institution, beat Sarah Halimi, 65, before throwing her out the window of her Paris apartment to cries of 'Allahu akbar,' or God is great, and 'I killed the devil.'" I'm living proof pot doesn't cause antisemitism. And this case is further troubling evidence that antisemitism is on the rise in Europe, even as there's a serious unwillingness to call it what it is.


The Greatest Fritz

Vice President Walter Mondale has died at the age of 93. In an era when we read endless negative stories about politicians, it's worth noting that many of them are really good people. In that spirit, let's celebrate the life of Walter Mondale with a great, moving story from my (virtual) friend Joe Trippi.

+ "Harry Truman, Roosevelt's final VP, didn't even learn about the Manhattan Project to build the atom bomb until after FDR died and he took over as the commander-in-chief. Dwight Eisenhower's view of his No. 2, Richard Nixon, can be summed up in his reply to a reporter who asked for an example of an idea of Nixon's that the president had adopted: 'If you give me a week, I might think of one.'" Fred Kaplan in Slate: The Vice Presidency Was a Joke Before Walter Mondale.


Fossil Records

It's not just 4/20. There's other smoke in the air. "Carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to jump this year by the second biggest annual rise in history, as global economies pour stimulus cash into fossil fuels in the recovery from the Covid-19 recession." One hoped those few months of crystal clear air would be a motivator.


W.H.O Knows

I'm lucky enough to live in a neck of the woods where Covid cases are down quite substantially, vaccines are being lined up for as soon as they're available, and tiers of activities are slowly being rolled back towards normality. It's enough to make one feel the end of this nightmare is nigh. But the regional and worldwide numbers tell a wildly different story. Covid-19 deaths are accelerating, WHO warns, as world records most cases ever in a single week.


Sequest Diagnostics

Everyone in America is anxiously awaiting the Derek Chauvin trial verdict. That includes the president: "I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it's overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn't say that unless the jury was sequestered now." Even with a jury sequestered, I still think it's a bad idea for presidents to comment on criminal trials in progress, even if the former president commented on everything. Since I'm not a president, let me say of the evidence that I think it's overwhelming. But we've seen this show before. So prepare for anything.

+ NPR: Minnesota Students Walk Out Of School To Protest Racial Injustice. (I was teaching high school in Brooklyn when a group of my students left to join a march against racial injustice. That was 1992. At long last we've got to actually change this narrative.)


Stroke That, Reverse It

"He did not suffer an allergic reaction to the chemical irritants dispensed by rioters, Diaz told the Post, nor was there evidence of internal or external injuries ... Sicknick died after suffering strokes." Talk about a pretty massive narrative change: Brian Sicknick Died Of Natural Causes.


I Link Your Milkshake

"The secret menu reveals a business model that goes beyond a right-to-repair issue, O'Sullivan argues. It represents, as he describes it, nothing short of a milkshake shakedown." Andy Greenberg in Wired: They Hacked McDonald's Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War.

+ "The attackers used that (a fish-tank thermometer) to get a foothold in the network. They then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat, and up to the cloud." That time A Casino Got Hacked Through a Fish-Tank Thermometer


For Dead (and One Photographed) in Ohio

"'That picture hijacked my life,' says Mary Ann, now 65. 'And 50 years later, I still haven't really moved on.'" Patricia McCormick in WaPo with an interesting look back at The Girl in the Kent State Photo.


A Ted Turner

"Previously, Nugent declared that the ongoing global crisis was somehow 'not a real pandemic' and people who choose to wear masks — often in compliance with local ordinances — are 'sheep.'" Ted Nugent Tests Positive for COVID After Calling Pandemic a Hoax. It's as real as cat scratch fever.


Bottom of the News

And we'll close the 4/20 edition with this. I Got High to See if Weed Would Help Me Work Out. "Weed, a peaceful and chill substance, might seem opposed to a task that requires energy and initiative. However: It also makes mundane stuff more fun." (The only thing better than getting high and working out is getting high and not.)

+ "Old-school lubes are full of weird — and probably toxic — chemicals. It's time to go natural." Why You Should Be Using Organic Lube. (At my age, I need the preservatives...)