May 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Pet overload, Germ Warfare, Burnout.

The dog days of summer are already here. So are the cat days. “Approximately 12.6 million U.S. households got a new pet last year after the pandemic was declared in March 2020.” Because of this newly found puppy love, it’s increasingly difficult to get an appointment at the vet, where animal doctors were already stretched pretty thin before 2020 started raining cats and dogs. And this could remain a pet peeve for a while. Long story short, if you’re looking for a new career, “veterinary positions are projected to grow 16% by 2029, nearly four times the average of most other occupations.” AP: COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out. My beagle Rye has been under the weather and his vet said the next available appointments are several weeks out (and I even tried puppy dog eyes). Animal health care is now basically the same as human health care.


Germ Warfare

“Just as in World War II, America was the arsenal of democracy in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic, our nation is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world.” Biden lays out plans to share more vaccines with the world.

+ “The only way around the zero-sum competition for doses is to greatly expand the global supply of vaccines. On that point, nearly everyone agrees. But what is the fastest way to make that happen? On that question, divisions remain stark, undermining collective efforts to end the pandemic.” NYT: What Would It Take to Vaccinate the World Against Covid? (Sadly, the answer to that is probably more clear than how we get vax-hesitant Americans to accept their good fortune.)


Partners in Crime

“Bibi and Hamas each exploited or nurtured their own mobs to prevent an unprecedented national unity government from emerging in Israel — a cabinet that for the first time would have included Israeli Jews and Israeli Arab Muslims together. Like Trump, both Bibi and Hamas have kept power by inspiring and riding waves of hostility to ‘the other.’ They turn to this tactic anytime they are in political trouble. Indeed, they each have been the other’s most valuable partner in that tactic ever since Netanyahu was first elected prime minister in 1996 — on the back of a wave of Hamas suicide bombings.” Thomas Friedman in the NYT: For Trump, Hamas and Bibi, It Is Always Jan. 6. (You can be angry at Netanyahu and reject some Israeli policies. But make no mistake about what Hamas is and is doing. They’ve stated their goals plenty of times. Believe them.)

+ “That meeting decades ago remains essential to understanding how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is used by those who aren’t directly impacted to advance their own agendas, and how differently it features in the Middle East today compared with even two decades ago.” Kim Ghattas in The Atlantic: The competition for influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia has for decades affected the prospects for peace.

+ “Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he hasn’t yet seen any evidence supporting Israel’s claim that Hamas operated in a Gaza building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.”

+ Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive.


A Near Miss.

“In 2018, Mississippi passed a law forbidding abortions after 15 weeks. This measure had two purposes: to restrict abortion, yes, but also to contest Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion rights.” With a new case, The Supreme Court Is Taking Direct Aim at Roe v. Wade.

+ Anti-Abortion Activists Had A Plan To Get To The Supreme Court. It Worked.


It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away

Jill Lepore in The New Yorker: Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition? “To question burnout isn’t to deny the scale of suffering, or the many ravages of the pandemic: despair, bitterness, fatigue, boredom, loneliness, alienation, and grief—especially grief. To question burnout is to wonder what meaning so baggy an idea can possibly hold, and whether it can really help anyone shoulder hardship. Burnout is a metaphor disguised as a diagnosis.” (I suggest you take two similes and call me in the morning. But I’m a compete idiom when it comes to these things.)

+ Burnout may be a metaphor. But overwork is all too literal. Overwork Killed More Than 745,000 People In A Year, WHO Study Finds. (Maybe I should start delivering the day’s top nine stories.)


Three Times a Shady

“Mr. Donohue’s three fingers, Snopes pointed out, symbolize the number ‘three.’ After his first victory, he waved one finger. After his second victory, he raised two. And after his third, he showed three fingers.” Ben Smith in the NYT: I’ll Take ‘White Supremacist Hand Gestures’ for $1,000. “How hundreds of ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants talked themselves into a baseless conspiracy theory — and won’t be talked out of it.” (Is Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? still on the air?)


And They’re Offed

“The terrible parade of dead horses at Santa Anita in 2019 drove the sport into an identity crisis, and not just in California. I heard it when I talked to horse people in Florida, Maryland, New York, and especially bluegrass Kentucky, the industry’s headquarters: the defensiveness, the virtue signalling, the pleas for understanding—but we love our horses. The opponents of racing seemed increasingly confident that it would soon go the way of circus elephants, dolphin shows, dog racing, all the discredited animal entertainments.” The excellent William Finnegan in The New Yorker: Can Horse Racing Survive?


Sinko De Mayo

“Due to a phenomenon called subsidence, the metropolis’s landscape is compacting—and parts of the city are now dropping a foot and a half each year.” Wired: Mexico City Could Sink Up to 65 Feet.


Tourist Trap

Republican congressman Rep. Andrew Clyde, who denied there was an insurrection and likened Capitol rioters to tourists, was photographed barricading the chamber doors against them. (Fortunately for him, his backers don’t believe what they see with their own eyes.)


Bottom of the News

“Based on the breakdown, Komodo dragons are better warriors than kangaroos; alligators metaphorically hit harder than cheetahs; and a honey badger has a better chance of beating a horse than the other way around. Unarmed humans, meanwhile, won their fights just 17 percent of the time—putting us in second to last place, far behind ostriches (28 percent) and slightly ahead of geese (14 percent).” Most humans are pretty realistic about their chances in a fight with an animal. But about 6% think they can beat a Grizzly Bear. (And they should probably be encouraged to try.)

+ Engineers Work to Silence Loud Hum on Golden Gate Bridge. (I’m in the minority around here, but I like it. Of course I’ve always been a sucker for a good hummer.)

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