1

The Fruit Standoff

The craziness of 2020 is behind us, but America is still a fruit basket case, and the fruit fights don't seem to be abating with the virus. For an example, let's take a look at two fruit stands along Route 31 in Elk Rapids, Michigan, where life should be a bowl of cherries, but opposing views on mask requirements are making it feel like the pits. "Differences that had always simmered beneath the surface were inflamed by the coronavirus pandemic and pushed many people in places like Antrim County into their tribal corners. Now the molten flow of anger over the presidential election and virus mitigation measures is hardening into enduring divisions over activities as simple as where people buy their fruit." NYT: Sweet Cherries, Bitter Politics: Two Farm Stands and the Nation's Divides. (With the effectiveness of vaccines, life has given us lemonade. But some people still prefer to drink the Kool-Aid.)

+ Maybe this will help solve the dilemma: People who wore masks were less likely to get sick.

+ "The former president refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the election he lost. His party's leaders are abandoning their commitment to democratic majority governance, and its voters insist that he won. Domestic terrorism threatens the nation's tranquility, and ordinary violent crime is on the rise too. Relaxing about the state of the country feels irresistible, but doing so would be unwise." This Isn't Normal, Either.

2

Memory Lane Change

"The drug has proved highly effective at reducing the plaques, called beta amyloid, that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. But does the drug actually slow the progression of the disease when it reduces the plaques? It's not yet clear." The FDA Has Approved A New Alzheimer's Drug. (But there's still a lot of debate about its effectiveness.)

+ "Beyond the status of this particular drug, some experts worry approval could lower standards for future drugs — an especially important question at a time when public trust in science is teetering." NYT with the backstory: Alzheimer's Drug Poses a Dilemma for the F.D.A.

3

Guatemala Cart Before the Horse

"Vice President Harris is in Guatemala City on Monday to kick off the first foreign trip of her time in office, a two-day mission aimed at trying to strengthen ties with Guatemala and Mexico and tackle tough and longstanding problems such as corruption, violence and poverty — some of the issues behind the record number of migrants from Central America seeking asylum at the U.S. border in recent months." The big question is whether Central American countries can make major policy changes without the U.S. making some. So much of the corruption and violence is related to the drug war. And more directly, guns from America are behind the very violence that sends so many fleeing north. American guns are a key driver in the migration crisis. When will the US address it?

+ WaPo: California's assault weapons ban overturned as federal judge compares AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife. "Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment." (This comparison makes it a pretty easy decision when you hear the words, "Gentlemen, choose your weapons.")

4

A League of Their Own

"Travel sports seem of our time, not simply in their aspirational striving to purchase an edge, to get ahead, but in the way they create inequity and separation within the culture. Most people don't have thousands of dollars to invest season after season in a nine-year-old third baseman. On a municipal level, most towns cannot compete with the lush facilities of the travel enterprises." But this isn't a story about baseball. It's a story about community and what it means that there are fewer and fewer places for people of diverse backgrounds to gather, even within a single community. Nicholas Dawidoff in The New Yorker: What Gets Lost as Little Leagues Get Smaller.

5

Emissionary Position

"Not even a global pandemic could stop carbon dioxide concentrations from spiking. They reached historic levels yet again in May 2021, the month that scientists compare CO2 concentrations from year to year." CO2 levels are at an all-time high — again.

+ Axios: Earth's carbon dioxide levels hit 4.5 million-year high. (We should still give it a few more months to determine if this is just a temporary outlier in the data.)

6

Manchin Music

"A key Democratic senator says he will not vote for the largest overhaul of U.S. election law in at least a generation, leaving no plausible path forward for legislation that his party and the White House have portrayed as crucial for protecting access to the ballot." Manchin's opposition clouds future of Dems' elections bill. "Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen." (We can't even agree that the Capitol insurrection was wrong...)

7

Leak Detectors

"At times, it seemed the only other people entertaining the lab-leak theory were crackpots or political hacks hoping to wield COVID-19 as a cudgel against China. President Donald Trump's former political adviser Steve Bannon, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chinese billionaire named Guo Wengui to fuel claims that China had developed the disease as a bioweapon and purposefully unleashed it on the world. As proof, they paraded a Hong Kong scientist around right-wing media outlets until her manifest lack of expertise doomed the charade." With the conspiracy nuts pushing the lab-leak theory, it made sense that the scientific community pushed back. But did we ever properly address the issue? Vanity Fair: The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19's Origins.

8

All Your Bezos Are Belong to Us

Look, up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane! Actually, it looks like your Amazon package. "In an Instagram post on Monday, the billionaire CEO of Amazon announced that next month he will be aboard Blue Origin's rocket New Shepard on its first flight with humans aboard. Bezos called the trip 'the thing I wanted to do all my life.'" Two weeks after leaving his Amazon CEO post, the billionaire is leaving Earth. (When I hit my midlife crisis, my wife wouldn't let me get a scooter because she felt they were too dangerous.)

+ In case space flight doesn't do the trick, there's this: Watch these UK commandos fly over the sea with new jet pack.

9

Meditate Modern

"Calm promises to give the anxious, the depressed, and the isolated—as well as those looking to be a bit more present with their family, or a bit less distracted at work, or a bit more consistent in their personal habits—access to a huge variety of zen content for $15 a month." The Atlantic: The App That Monetized Doing Nothing. (Tech apps stressed us out. So technology sold us another app to calm us down. And if you get too mellow, just chill, there will be an app for that too...)

10

Bottom of the News

"I thought it was weird he asked for it after we'd been doing drugs and getting wasted, like, 'This is the moment you ask for an NDA?' ... I tried to read it, even though I was super wasted, just to try to make sure what it was talking about. Then I said, ‘What's the worst that could happen? I'll just sign it.'" Buzzfeed: Want To Have Sex With A Celeb? Sign An NDA. (Whatever happened to I'll disclose mine if you disclose yours?)

+ The All About Photos award winners are pretty amazing.