Tuesday, April 27th, 2021


Mourning Wood

It's been hard for me to get wood and, therefore, its rare that I've been able to lay the lumber. And it's not me. It's Canada. And climate change. And high demand. And a nasty beetle. In short, lumber prices are jacked. "'There are people who say, ‘Climate change isn't affecting me,' Janice Cooke, a forest-industry veteran and biology professor at the University of Alberta, told me. 'But they're going to go to the hardware store and say, ‘Holy cow, the price of lumber has gone up.'" The Atlantic: How a Hungry Canadian Beetle Helped Triple the Price of Lumber. To reverse this trend, we're gonna need to do more than knock on wood. (I know, I know. I nailed it.)

+ Leading with lumber allows us to revisit one of the internet's great satires (also from Canada). Maker Series: Artisanal Firewood.


Mask Around

The CDC has updated its mask-wearing guidelines. It's all mostly common sense. Fully-vaccinated Americans can now go maskless when doing physical activities outdoors alone or with members of your household, dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, or screaming into the void (of greater than 6 feet). Also, fully vaccinated people are allowed to pull down their masks long enough to yell, "Get fully vaccinated for eff's sake."

+ "It really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room." A new MIT study casts doubt on the inside 6-foot rule.



"I'm sitting in my apartment waiting to catch the disease. That's what it feels like right now in New Delhi with the world's worst coronavirus crisis advancing around us. It is out there, I am in here, and I feel like it's only a matter of time before I, too, get sick. India is now recording more infections per day — as many as 350,000 — than any other country has since the pandemic began, and that's just the official number, which most experts think is a vast underestimation. New Delhi, India's sprawling capital of 20 million, is suffering a calamitous surge. A few days ago, the positivity rate hit a staggering 36 percent." Jeffrey Gettleman, the NYT's South Asia bureau chief, on what it's like in India right now. ‘This Is a Catastrophe.' In India, Illness Is Everywhere. "A new variant known here as 'the double mutant' may be doing a lot of the damage. The science is still early but from what we know, this variant contains one mutation that may make the virus more contagious and another that may make it partially resistant to vaccines. Doctors are pretty scared. Some we have spoken to said they had been vaccinated twice and still got seriously ill, a very bad sign."

+ "The real number, experts fear, could be up to 30 times higher -- meaning more than half a billion cases." As Covid sweeps India, experts say cases and deaths are going unreported.

+ The US will share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines with India and other nations.

+ You can help too. Donate to the Hope Foundation's India Covid Response.


Would You Like to Play a Game?

"When Mr. Kaminsky was 11, his mother said, she received an angry phone call from someone who identified himself as a network administrator for the Western United States. The administrator said someone at her residence was 'monkeying around in territories where he shouldn't be monkeying around.' Without her knowledge, Mr. Kaminsky had been examining military websites. The administrator vowed to 'punish' him by cutting off the family's internet access. Mrs. Maurer warned the administrator that if he made good on his threat, she would take out an advertisement in The San Francisco Chronicle denouncing the Pentagon's security ... They settled on a compromise punishment: three days without internet. Nearly two decades after he lost his access to the internet, Mr. Kaminsky wound up saving it." The NYT's Nicole Perlroth with an obituary for Daniel Kaminsky.


Louisville Slugs

"The U.S. Justice Department has launched a wide-ranging investigation into whether Louisville Metro Police has engaged in a pattern of abuse and Constitutional violations in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor and accusations of racial injustice. Louisville joins Minneapolis as the second police department this month to face a federal probe by President Biden's administration." US Justice Department to investigate Louisville Metro Police force.


Census Sensibility

This year's census data will always be associated with a huge ass-terisk because the Trump administration did everything they could to stop the count. But the slow growth in the US population is likely an accurate stat. "Our past decade's sluggish rate had similar beginnings in the long shadow of the Great Recession. The drawn-out recovery saw many young adults struggling to enter the job market, delaying marriage and starting a family. That dealt a blow to the nation's birthrate. Then the pandemic hit last year and made matters worse." AP: Takeaways from census data.


The Plotz Thickens

"I always tell people that we've got to stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Yiddish. We have to speak the way regular people speak, the way voters speak. It ain't complicated. That's how you connect and persuade. And we have to stop allowing ourselves to be defined from the outside." James Carville: "Wokeness is a problem and we all know it." Carville's shtick can be a little meshuggeneh, but read his whole spiel and you'll have to admit it sounds pretty kosher.


They’ve Got ‘Som Nerve

"Elections officials reported Monday that they've received enough valid signatures to trigger a recall vote on Gov. Gavin Newsom. That means America's most populous state will hold just the second gubernatorial recall election in its history — a once-inconceivable outcome for deep-blue California's Democratic governor." California is heading toward a Newsom recall vote. What now?

+ The whole recall effort grew out of Newsom's handling of the pandemic. California now has the lowest coronavirus case rate in the US.


The Caged Bird Sings

"'When he goes to use the telephone, the whole ward gets blocked off,' one of the guards tells France TV. 'He's the only detainee in France I've seen for whom even the staff get blocked off. He passes by with two supervisors and a guard from the solitary confinement wing. Like a star. He's made into a star. Everybody watches him.'" GQ: The Secrets of the World's Greatest Jailbreak Artist.


Bottom of the News

"The candy brand is teaming up with makeup company HipDot for a limited-edition collection that includes a eye shadow palettes in 'milk chocolate' and 'white chocolate' with six shades in each, as well as two lip balms and two makeup brushes." Reese's is launching its own makeup line.

+ Woman kills man and his dog in hit-and-run while fleeing from another hit-and-run only moments before.