Friday, June 4th, 2021


Social Lubrication

The return to what was once normal is already feeling a little weird. For some single people, this summer promises to be a fruitful and active one (Rabbit, Run). For people who have been stuck in the house with their families, a little alone time could be nice (Rabbit at Rest). For all of us, returning to social events is going to take some getting used to (Rabbit Redux), especially when it comes to recalling how to make small talk (Rabbit Remembered). In The New Yorker, Anna Russell wonders: what if we're scared to go back to normal life? The Age of Reopening Anxiety. "After a lonely year, in-person socializing feels both exciting and alien, like returning to your home town after a long while away. Will everything still be there? Will you have any friends left? Will you have anything to say? Conversation, even on a bar stool, feels creaky and unpracticed. The joints need oiling." (Just take it slow or you'll end up needing a rabbit test.)

+ Buzzfeed: Not Everyone Is Excited About Hugs Making A Comeback.


Troubled Adolescence

"I am deeply concerned by the numbers of hospitalized adolescents and saddened to see the number of adolescents who required treatment in intensive care units or mechanical ventilation." CDC head urges parents to get their teens vaccinated against COVID-19.

+ Heart reaction probed as possible rare vaccine link in teens. (My doctor friends say it might be a good idea for teens to wait a day or two after second shot before doing vigorous exercise. But GET THE SHOT.)

+ On one side you have the whole medical establishment telling you to get vaccinated. On the other side you have this: Anti-vaccine protesters, dressed up as Marvel superheroes, camp out in front of Disneyland.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: You're going to love and learn from poker champion Annie Duke's Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts. The smartest decision you can make right now is to read this book.

+ What to LA: "Los Angeles lacks the bedrock Americana that anchor towns like Chicago, New York, and Boston. In terms of identity, it doesn't attach to the state of California the way that Houston and Dallas serve Texas. As for international ties, Miami has Latin America, Seattle has Canada and Asia, but Los Angeles, perhaps /the/ city of globalism, has everybody. We're Angelenos first, Californians second, Americans third or not at all." Rosecrans Baldwin in The Atlantic: L.A. Is a City State. After you've read this LA story, get Baldwin's excellent new book: Everything Now: Lessons from the City-State of Los Angeles.

+ What to Watch: My favorite mode of traveling to different countries is via Netflix international series. My latest trip is Undercover. A fast-paced binge.


Hijacking Freedom

"In the new video, which was staged like a typical television studio interview, Protasevich appears to have wounds on his wrists from his handcuffs, and at one point he breaks down in tears." WaPo: Detained Belarus dissident breaks down in state TV interview, renewing fears of coercion and torture. (This flouting of international law and torture is taking place in front of the world's eyes. Whatever goes unpunished becomes a norm.)


Opioidian Slip

"Federal Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, N.Y., moved the controversial deal forward despite objections from dozens of state attorneys general, setting the stage for a final vote by the company's creditors expected this summer." NPR: Sackler Family Empire Poised To Win Immunity From Opioid Lawsuits. (El Chapo should have hired the Sackler family lawyers.)


Eye to Ay Yai Yai

Mike Pence on January 6: "You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day." (In fairness to Pence, I've never seen eye to eye with anyone who called for a mob to murder me.)

+ "Facebook said it is suspending former President Donald Trump's accounts for two years following its finding that he stoked violence ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection." (My 12 year-old daughter's had worse punishments for overusing TikTok.)


The Defense Rests

NYT: F. Lee Bailey, Lawyer for Patty Hearst and O.J. Simpson, Dies at 87. "Mr. Bailey flew warplanes, sailed yachts, dropped out of Harvard, wrote books, touted himself on television, was profiled in countless newspapers, ran a detective agency, married four times, carried a gun, took on seemingly hopeless cases and courted trouble, once going to jail for six weeks and finally being disbarred." (If you gotta go, that's a hell of a paragraph to ride out on.)



"One ball made its way into an NL dugout last week, where players took turns touching a palm to the sticky material coating it and lifting the baseball, adhered to their hand, into the air. Another one, corralled in a different NL dugout, had clear-enough fingerprints indented in the goo that opponents could mimic the pitcher's grip. A third one, also in the NL, was so sticky that when an opponent tried to pull the glue off, three inches of seams came off with it." SI: The inside story of how rampant pitch-doctoring in MLB is pumping pitchers up and deflating offenses.


Animal Crossing

"A bipartisan Senate version of the transportation bill being hammered out in Congress includes $350 million for wildlife crossings and corridors." NYT: How Do Animals Safely Cross a Highway? Take a Look.


Feel Good Friday

"In four years he has helped to clear more than 2.4 million square feet of land. In the process, he has found 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance." After Years Of Detecting Land Mines, A Heroic Rat Is Hanging Up His Sniffer. (And yet, the rodent from Ratatouille gets the movie deal.)

+ AMC Theatres' Surprise Stock Winners: Meet the Pizza Delivery Guy Who Turned $800 Into $65,000.

+ Vaccination Rates are Going Back up Thanks to the Teens.

+ 94-year-old woman receives high school diploma. (She's gonna defer college for a few years.)

+ Biden recognizes Pride Month with an official proclamation after Trump refused during his time in office.

+ Florida boy, 7, swims an hour to shore to save father and sister.

+ WaPo: A student was barred from graduation for wearing the wrong shoes. So a teacher gave him the shoes off his own feet.

+ Meet the armless archer aiming for gold at the Paralympics.

+ A 2-year-old from California is the youngest American to become a member of Mensa. (If we were gonna have a 2-year-old run the country for 4 years, why couldn't it have been this one?)