Friday, July 9th, 2021


Bee Best

Zaila Avant-garde, an eight-grader from Louisiana, just became the first African American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And for Zaila, spelling is a side gig. She was already known for her hoops. "She currently holds three Guinness world records for her basketball skills, including a record for most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs." (Making her a promising avant-Guard.) Not cool enough? Check out who she thanked after the victory. "I'd like to say thank you to Bill Murray because the reason I knew that word ‘murraya' was because of the movie Lost in Translation, which when I was a little kid I used to listen to the soundtrack and so that's how that word was stuck in my head because it was spelled like Bill Murray's name."

+ Here's the moment Zaila won the bee, which shall from this day forward be known as Suntory time!


Government Sinks Teeth Into FAANG

"His executive order on competition contains directives for a dozen government agencies to take 72 measures — some big, some small — to shake up key markets for consumers, workers, farmers and small businesses." How New Biden Rules Could Make It Easier To Buy Hearing Aids Or Fix Your Phone. (After all these years of demanding the right to fix my phone, I'm dangerously close to having to admit I don't know how to fix anything.)


Weekend Whats

What to Hear: Me and the fam enjoyed Cruella (from home). But I thought the star of the movie was the soundtrack. It's a good way to kick off the weekend.

+ What to Book: "Once one of Silicon Valley's greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users' data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech." This is the story: An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang. Here's an excerpt to get you warmed up. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg's Partnership Did Not Survive Trump.


Night Sweats

There have been an endless string of extremely hot days scorching the West coast. But equally dangerous are the hot summer nights. NYT Upshot: Why Record-Breaking Overnight Temperatures Are So Concerning.


Fall Pass

"The nation's top public health agency is not advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible kids. And it's not offering guidance on how teachers can know which students are vaccinated or how parents will know which teachers are immunized." But the CDC is saying that vaccinated teachers and students don't need masks. (Son, time to shave the peach fuzz!)

+ Pfizer to seek OK for 3rd vaccine dose.


Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?

"Let me ask those who want us to stay: How many more? How many thousands more American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? And how long would you have them stay?" NYT: In Forceful Defense of Afghan Withdrawal, Biden Says U.S. Achieved Its Objectives. (Two things can be true at the same time. It's past time we pulled out of Afghanistan. And that pullout is going to pave the way for a tragedy.)


Avenatti By Nature

"A tearful, repentant Michael Avenatti, the brash lawyer who once represented Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening the company with bad publicity." (So I guess the presidential run is off.) Avenatti sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for extortion. I can think of the perfect cell mate.


Nice Twerk If You Can Get It

"TikTok — a social media platform best known for its sober, academic exploration of the heady subject matter frequently tackled by its user base — is currently rolling out plans to establish itself as a presence in the job recruitment space." TikTok Is Expanding Into Job Recruitment — What Could Possibly Go Wrong? "Users are now able to upload their resumes right alongside videos of themselves twerking to the Twilight soundtrack." (I guess that's good news for companies hiring twerkers.)


The Da Vinci Lode

"Leonardo's delicate silverpoint study 'Head of a Bear,' measuring just under 3 inches by 3 inches, and thought to date from the early 1480s, was included in Christie's summer 'Exceptional Sale' of high-value historical works of art assembled from a range of collecting categories." NYT: A Leonardo da Vinci the Size of a Post-it Sells for $12.2 Million.


Feel Good Friday

Death rates are declining for more than half of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S., according to a sweeping annual analysis.

+ Robot paramedic carries out CPR in ambulance in UK first.

+ Amputee who can only walk for 20 minutes at a time climbs England's three highest peaks.

+ A man who missed England's semi-final win over Denmark so he could donate stem cells has been given tickets to the final.

+ Giant pandas are no longer endangered. (But they're still giant.)

+ The Winners of The 2021 Audubon Photography Awards.