Monday, July 12th, 2021


Widow’s Peak

For years, studios have been toying with the idea of giving consumers the option to watch movies in theaters or from home. The quarantine accelerated those plans. And the numbers from Black Widow could plot the course forward in the watch where you want era. Disney simultaneously released the movie in theaters and on its Disney Plus service (for an extra $30). Marvel at these numbers: "The conglomerate says the superhero pic made more than $60 million on Disney Plus Premier Access during its opening weekend — a sizable 27 percent of its global $218.8 million hybrid streaming/box office debut." In short, Widow is in the black, and this is a key inflection point for movie distribution. Now if there were just a way to make popcorn at home that's as wildly and wonderfully unhealthy as theater popcorn.


Profit Sharing

"Its most successful leaders are considered apostles and prophets, including some with followings in the hundreds of thousands, publishing empires, TV shows, vast prayer networks, podcasts, spiritual academies, and branding in the form of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even flags. It is a world in which demons are real, miracles are real, and the ultimate mission is not just the transformation of individual lives but civilization itself into their version of God's Kingdom: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country." Stephanie McCrummen in WaPo: An American Kingdom. (I always thought the religion was the most under-reported aspect of the political shifts in America over the past several years.)


Cuba is Havana Moment

"We are not afraid. We want change, we do not want any more dictatorship." In Cuba, thousands rally against government as economy struggles. Covid, the economy, and internet access. Here's a look at three factors driving the protests.

+ "We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba's authoritarian regime." Miami Herald: Biden says U.S. stands with Cuban people.


Western Front

"More than 300,000 acres are burning across six states across the western United States on Sunday as the region battled yet another brutal heat wave that shattered records and strained power grids." And sadly, this is probably just the warmup.

+ "Winemaker Matt Naumann expected his fire insurance costs to skyrocket. The annual premium to insure his small vineyard and winery in Placerville (El Dorado County) had risen steadily over the last three years, from $7,000 per year to $8,500 to $10,000. After last year's catastrophic fire season, 'I figured, maybe they'll even rise by 50% or 100%,' said Naumann, the owner of Newfound Wines. Instead, his fire insurance was revoked entirely." Those who don't believe the science or what they're seeing sure as hell should believe insurance companies. This shit is real. SF Chronicle: As California wineries lose insurance, some fear this fire season will be their last.


Children of the Warn

"It may sound strange, given a year of panic over school closures and reopenings, a year of masking toddlers and closing playgrounds and huddling in pandemic pods, that among children the mortality risk from COVID-19 is actually lower than from the flu. The risk of severe disease or hospitalization is about the same. This is true for the much-worried-over Delta variant. It is also true for all the other variants, and for the original strain. Most remarkably, it has been known to be true since the very earliest days of the pandemic" David Wallace-Wells: The Kids Are Alright. Why now is the time to rethink COVID safety protocols for children — and everyone else.

+ I feel pretty good about my vaccinated kids and myself. But in my gut, I worry that these days of normalcy across the country are a temporary respite. "The US is averaging about 19,455 new cases over the last seven days, a 47% increase from the week prior." In regions with lower vaccination rates, "we're going to see a surprising amount of death."

+ As per usual, one of the core threats to America is Fox News. NYT (free gift article for ND readers). Despite Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated, Fox News Hosts Smear Shots.

+ Israel becomes first country to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

+ Hundreds of Thais inoculated with Sinovac are infected as cases spike in Southeast Asia.


Life is Messi

It was a very busy sports weekend across the world (and man, is it nice to have the distraction and to see people in the stands again). Novak Djokovic took a major step toward being called the greatest mens tennis player ever with his Wimbledon win, giving him 20 majors and tying him with Rafa and Roger. It's remarkable that we have one man who's won 20 majors in this era. But three? And the least likely of the three (at least early his career) is about to take over the top spot.

+ "Lionel Messi finally did it. Despite his storied career, there had long been something missing for the world's biggest soccer superstar as the 34-year-old had never been able to win a major international title with his native Argentina." Messi Finally Secures First Major Title With Argentina's Copa América Win.

+ In a crusher for the home team, Italy Defeated England In a Penalty Knockout To Lift The Euro 2020 Cup. (Ranked choice voting is better than penalty kicks.)

+ Sadly, but predictably, some of the missed penalty shots by England led to racist outburst online. England FA condemn racist abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho after Euro 2020 shootout loss. "We're disgusted that some of our squad -- who have given everything for the shirt this summer -- have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight's game."


Vatican Do Attitude

"The profile of the alleged abuser, by itself, was unusual: not a priest, but rather a teenage altar boy, who was said to have coerced a peer to engage in various sex acts night after night over six years. And then there was the purported location: inside the Vatican's own walls, at a youth seminary for the 15 or so altar boys who served the pope." WaPo: A teen was accused of abuse inside Vatican City. Powerful church figures helped him become a priest.


Celestial Virgin

Over the weekend, we took an important step towards democratizing space for billionaires. "If you think Richard Branson's space flight on Sunday morning was all about the pomp and simply served to feed the ego of a celebrity billionaire, you would not be wrong. Virgin Galactic hired Stephen Colbert to host the livestream, after all. R&B musician Khalid performed onstage following the mission. It was gaudy. It was showtime. It was absolutely a party. But make no mistake, this flight was also historic." Here's why Richard Branson's flight matters. (The flight may have mattered. Covering it live on cable news networks was basically a free commercial for Virgin...)

+ Don't believe me, take their word (or action) for it. Virgin Galactic gets set to sell $500 million in stock following Branson's successful flight.


The Seltzer Bubble

"Between the rambunctious 20-somethings ahead of us in line and the loud EDM music playing out of the check-in booth, I quickly felt a secondary pang of anxiety and realized that maybe the event wasn't for people like me, i.e. adults with bad attitudes. I wondered if it was too late to turn back. Instead, in a critical moment, I decided to embody the ethos of hard seltzer by telling myself to relax and to enjoy the experience." A Day Spent at Seltzerland... a Hard Seltzer Festival. (For the first few weeks of summer, my couch could be fairly labeled Seltzerland.)

+ Can I say one word in my defense? Seltzer.


Bottom of the News

"Last November, officials in nearby Carver county removed as many as 50,000 goldfish from local waters." Why? Well, for one reason, they grow to enormous sizes. Goldfish dumped in lakes grow to monstrous size, threatening ecosystems. (So, what, are people dumping goldfish into lakes because they find them too difficult to care for at home?)

+ WaPo: Crowds pack Bangladesh farm to see dwarf cow thought to be one of the world's tiniest.