Tuesday, May 11th, 2021


The Furious Fast

These days, everyone wants to be a loser. In America, the vaccinated are easing their way back to events they've avoided for more than a year. But for some, the promise of re-entry is being preceded by urgent efforts to shed some of those pandemic pounds. The new FOMO: Fear of Maxing Out. NYT: In recent weeks and months, as people have ventured out more often, business has jumped for companies that sell plans to help lose weight. And Americans can be a little gluttonous even when it comes to dieting products. "Demand is so high that customers are reporting delays in their orders and shortages of popular foods, and bidding wars have popped up on eBay for out-of-stock snacks." I was husky going into the quarantine, and if anything, I think I lost a little weight constantly running around the house trying to avoid my family.

+ "The buffet as a concept still remains—it's merely adapting to our collective belated realization that routinely sharing tongs with strangers is perhaps not ideal, germ-wise." FastCo: RIP, all-you-can-eat buffets: A eulogy for a pre-COVID-19 pastime I'll weirdly miss a lot. (I don't care if I have to wear a hazmat suit and intake food via a sterilized tube. I'm going back to the Sizzler salad bar. The radical anti-buffet movement will not cancel my lunch.)


Juvenile Haul

Fifteen minutes after regulators on Monday expanded the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12, NextDraft's designer Bryan Bell had his daughter first in line at the local pharmacy. Bryan actually had to inform the pharmacist of the news, and after they did a quick Google search, they gave his daughter the shot. My own daughter greeted the news by insisting she wasn't going to get vaccinated because she hates getting shots. I informed her that she would have to make the sacrifice for her health, the safety of others in the community, and to maintain the authenticity of Daddy's brand.

+ Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Bryan. The Alantic's Derek Thompson looks at 3 Explanations for the Vaccine Slowdown.

+ This oughta do the trick. McDonald's is changing its coffee cups to promote the Covid-19 vaccine. (People, the vaccine is the most special sauce of all!) Meanwhile, NOLA event will give free pound of crawfish to vaccine recipients.


Middle East Enders

"A confrontation between Israel and Hamas sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem escalated Tuesday as Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least two Israelis."

+ "Let's see, what happens when TikTok meets Palestinian grievances about right-wing Israeli land grabs in Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem? And then you add the holiest Muslim night of prayer in Jerusalem into the mix? Then toss in the most emotional Israeli holiday in Jerusalem? And a power play by Hamas to assume leadership of the Palestinian cause? And, finally, a political vacuum in which the Palestinian Authority is incapable of holding new elections and Israel is so divided it can't stop having elections?" The NYT's Tom Friedman: Israelis, Palestinians and Their Neighbors Worry: Is This the Big One? (It's definitely the never-ending one...)


Working, Out

"A nationwide shortage of restaurant workers is emerging as one of the defining quirks of the nation's economic recovery from the pandemic. The unemployment rate remains elevated at 6.1 percent, but even as dining establishments aggressively hire workers, data and anecdotal reports suggest they are having trouble luring anywhere near enough staff." WaPo: As his restaurants' customers return, a Miami chef is missing a critical ingredient: Workers.

+ Before you start blaming Florida, this is not just a Miami trend. Bloomberg: Job Openings in U.S. Surge to a Record High 8.12 Million. "The number of vacancies exceeded hires by more than 2 million, the largest gap on record and evidence of current hiring challenges. Many employers say they are unable to fill positions because of ongoing fears of catching the coronavirus, child-care responsibilities and generous unemployment benefits."

+ Biden says unemployed offered jobs must take them or lose benefits.


Delhi Case Study

"Consider this: at current procurement rates, the entire population of India between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, around 600 million people, could be vaccinated twice for the cost of this landscaping. But instead of doing something about tens of thousands of deaths each day, Modi is doing a renovation." In the NY Review of Books, Atul Dev on Narendra Modi's monument to himself in Delhi: Modi's Folly.


Innocence and Sensibility

"During his 21 years on death row, Quin has been the epitome of a prison success story. He entered at an unimaginable low, as lost as a soul can be. And through prayer, sobriety, reconciliation with his family, and longstanding correspondence with pen pals, he has found a way to lead a meaningful life, and even to enhance the lives of others. The victim's family — who is also Quin's family — has forgiven him. Quin is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on May 19." NYT: Quintin Jones Is Not Innocent. But He Doesn't Deserve to Die.

+ Kansas City man is innocent in 1978 murders and should be released, prosecutors say.


China Down

"The data casts a fresh spotlight on one of the ruling Communist Party's biggest long-term socio-economic challenges as it turns 100 this year: How to keep the economy humming and incomes rising while the population shrinks and ages." China's Birthrate Drops, As Census Data Warn Of Aging Population.

+ The above story refers to the human population in China. The bot population is growing like a weed. AP: Army of fake fans boosts China's messaging on Twitter.


Don’t Fugetaboutit

"I tend to agree with those people who liken Trump to a mob boss who doesn't have to say the words. Historically, it's been very hard to prosecute the mob boss for these precise reasons." Two of the best in the biz, Dahlia Lithwick and Preet Bharara, look at how close are we to criminal charges for Donald Trump.


Van Life is Strange

"How could the man who sang so empathetically about a girl dying of tuberculosis in 1967's 'T.B. Sheets' now speak and sing so callously about a disease that has claimed the lives of more than 3 million people worldwide? There is no easy answer to this question, but there are episodes and details from his past that help elucidate how he might have adopted this distasteful and dangerous new point of view." LA Times: What happened to Van Morrison? The fall from eccentric genius to conspiracy theorist. (At this point, Van can't even confirm that the girl is brown-eyed.)


Bottom of the News

"Millennials just got the news from Gen Z: Your jeans are bad. Specifically, late-aughts skinny jeans are bad. The kids have an answer: width. Their jeans have wider legs and tapered ankles, or maybe they flare out with a little kick. They have lighter washes and high waists. That's right. Gen Z has discovered mom jeans. Naturally, this means war." The Jean War between millennials and Gen Z cannot be won.

+ Brad Stone writes that the voice for Amazon's virtual assistant, which the company has never revealed, is Colorado-based Nina Rolle.

+ Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Enjoy Weeklong Vacation 17 Years After Their Split. (This matters because it means we're one step closer to Gigli Two.) It's like my wife keeps telling me. Every relationship needs a 17 year break.