May 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Cicadas Gone Wild, Deep-Sixing the 6th

Cicada years are already pretty weird. But this time, there’s a fungus that’s making things full on crazy. “The insects have no idea what’s happening. The fungus, however, is ‘pulling the strings’ and making the cicadas want to mate with everyone. Males that are infected will continue to mate with females, but they’ll also pretend to be females so they can spread the fungus to even more partners.” This seems like a reasonably good predictor of what human behavior will look like during our post quarantine summer. Hopefully humans won’t experience all the Cicada symptoms. In addition to pushing mating season into overdrive, “the fungus takes over their bodies, causing them to lose their lower abdomen and genitals.” And still, in the cicada world, there’s no shortage of wingmen.



“Republicans have sought to derail the commission, including insisting the panel have a scope broader than the Jan. 6 attacks, and following the lead of former President Donald Trump, some have bluntly attempted to revise the narrative of what happened during the deadly riots.” Mitch McConnell is the latest to oppose the bipartisan Jan. 6 commission, calling it “slanted” (which it is, towards democracy). It must be nice for these folks to call off an investigation in which they might be implicated.


Mac’s Daddy

“Two decades ago, as Apple’s operations chief, Mr. Cook spearheaded the company’s entrance into China, a move that helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world and made him the heir apparent to Steve Jobs. Apple now assembles nearly all of its products and earns a fifth of its revenue in the China region. But just as Mr. Cook figured out how to make China work for Apple, China is making Apple work for the Chinese government.” A very detailed report that highlights what it takes to do business in China, and the powerful role of corporations in our increasingly connected world. NYT: Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China. “Apple built the world’s most valuable business on top of China. Now it has to answer to the Chinese government.”


Mind Your Own BiBi’s Wax

Yesterday I mentioned that there’s little evidence pressure from Biden would have a major impact on Netanyahu, and today we see that scenario playing out. Shortly after Biden announced “that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” Netanyahu indicated his determination to continue Gaza operation.

+ Slate: For Netanyahu, Israel’s Fight With Hamas Is Going Just Fine. “Two weeks ago, he was about to lose his job. Now, he’s stronger than ever.” (This is pretty accurate, but like many articles and comments on the matter, it ignores that fact that Hamas benefits from the fighting as well. The people not benefiting are citizens, especially children.

+ Vox: What’s happening in Israel and Gaza is the near-inevitable result of a grim status quo. “Both Israeli and Palestinian leadership have basically accepted the painful political status quo in Gaza, seeing the violence and humanitarian suffering it causes as bad but basically tolerable as part of an effort to secure their hold on power.”


Choice Cuts

“Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law Wednesday a measure that would prohibit in Texas abortions as early as six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant — and open the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others.” Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures.



“Volunteers scrutinized ballots for, of all things, bamboo fibers. Only later, after the shift, did I learn that this was connected to a conspiracy theory that fake ballots had been flown in from South Korea.” Jennifer Morrell in WaPo: I watched the GOP’s Arizona election audit. It was worse than you think. A company called Cyber Ninjas is hunting for bamboo fibers and cheese dust. (It’s all funny until someone loses a democracy.)


Covid, Ego, and Superego

Even with undercounts, India just set another record for daily coronavirus deaths. And India’s problems will contribute to massive delays in getting vaccines to neighboring countries.

+ The European Union is opening up to vaccinated tourists, Fauci explains the CDC mask guidance, and Texas prohibits county, city, school district, and governmental officials from requiring masks (apparently, you can be too safe). Here’s the latest

+ “We call this vaccination on demand. If it’s here, it’s hard to say no.” On The Road With The Vaccine Van. (This gives new meaning to Van Life. In this case, if the van’s a rocking, it’s ok to start a knocking.)


Mob Deep

“Previously, the office was investigating former President Donald Trump’s namesake company in a solely civil matter with New York Attorney General Letitia James focusing on whether the company improperly valued its assets for loan and tax purposes. However, now the state’s investigation has entered ‘a criminal capacity.'” (Or over capacity in this case.) New York’s Probe Into Trump Organization Is Now A Criminal Inquiry.


House Flies

“‘I meditate a lot, practicing non-attachment,’ Johnson says. Actually the couple know quite a bit about attachment and emotions because they’re both psychologists. They met during their training. But even with their psychology skills, they’ve been feeling frustrated.” It’s Harder Than Ever To Buy A House, And Bidding Wars Keep Breaking Out.


Bottom of the News

“The sea cucumber’s posterior is so much more than an exit hole for digestive waste. It is also a makeshift mouth that gobbles up bits of algae; a faux lung, latticed with tubes that exchange gas with the surrounding water; and a weapon that, in the presence of danger, can launch a sticky, stringy web of internal organs to entangle predators. It can even, on occasion, be a home for shimmering pearlfish, which wriggle inside the bum when it billows open to breathe. It would not be inaccurate to describe a sea cucumber as an extraordinary anus that just so happens to have a body around it.” The Atlantic: The Body’s Most Embarrassing Organ Is an Evolutionary Marvel. (Now I have anus envy…)

+ “A beach inspector called the police, and the men were promptly arrested for indecent exposure.” A Scandalous History of Speedos. (The shortest pants I’ve ever worn to the beach were a pair of jeans…)

+ An amazing photo of a West Texas thunderstorm.

Copied to Clipboard