Friday, July 16th, 2021



I go out. Really, I do. I'm on a vacation with my son, and we've been eating indoors at restaurants and we even saw Black Widow in a theater. But whenever I'm out doing something normal, even though I'm vaccinated and know my personal risk is close to nil, I still have a nagging, ominous feeling that this is only a respite from the Covid storm. And the news isn't helping. "Los Angeles County will once again require people to wear masks indoors as the number of new COVID cases continues to rise at an alarming rate ... The requirement applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status."

+ CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky calls this the pandemic of the unvaccinated.

+ At least in America, we have the option to protect ourselves. Africa is not so lucky (and one imagines people there are repulsed by the anti-vaccine trends holding us up here). "The Delta variant is sweeping across the continent. Namibia and Tunisia are reporting more deaths per capita than any other country. Hospitals across the continent are filling up, oxygen supplies and medical workers are stretched thin and recorded deaths jumped 40 percent last week alone." NYT: Africa's Covid Crisis Deepens,
but Vaccines Are Still Far Off

+ Cases surge to 6-month high in Tokyo a week before Olympics.

+ "It's still pretty safe for fully vaccinated people to not wear masks, even indoors and even in mixed company. But it's a little less safe this week than last week, and it's likely to be a little less safe next week than this week, because Delta is spreading fast while vaccination rates have slowed and 32% of adults 18 and up (and 44% of the whole U.S. population) are still completely unvaccinated against Covid-19." Stat: Since the CDC's mid-May guidance on wearing masks, we're no longer all in this together.


Wag the Don

"A running concern for Milley was the prospect of Trump pushing the nation into a military conflict with Iran. He saw this as a real threat, in part because of a meeting with the President in the early months of 2020, at which one of Trump's advisers raised the prospect of taking military action to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons if Trump were to lose the election. At another meeting, at which Trump was not present, some of the President's foreign-policy advisers again pushed military action against Iran. Milley later said that, when he asked why they were so intent on attacking Iran, Vice-President Mike Pence replied, 'Because they are evil.'" Susan B Glasser in The New Yorker: 'You're Gonna Have a F--king War': Mark Milley's Fight to Stop Trump from Striking Iran. (The media didn't overstate the danger represented by Trump. They understated it.)


Weekend Whats

What to Read: "The CrowdTangle story is important, because it illustrates the way that Facebook's obsession with managing its reputation often gets in the way of its attempts to clean up its platform. And it gets to the heart of one of the central tensions confronting Facebook in the post-Trump era. The company, blamed for everything from election interference to vaccine hesitancy, badly wants to rebuild trust with a skeptical public. But the more it shares about what happens on its platform, the more it risks exposing uncomfortable truths that could further damage its image." Kevin Roose takes you Inside Facebook's Data Wars. Roose has a unique perspective on this topic since he runs the Twitter account that lists the most shared Facebook content every day. Take a look (you might want to pop some anti-nausea medicine first.)
What to Listen: I've been digging Beach Bunny lately. Nice chill summer sound. Start with Cloud 9.


Flood of Evidence

"The worst flooding in decades to affect Germany and parts of Belgium has killed at least 120 people as search and rescue efforts for hundreds of missing continue ... Meanwhile, German officials were quick to say that a warming climate is at least partially to blame for the catastrophic flooding. In these stories, pictures often tell the story better than words. And, wow.

+ "There are also global repercussions because land clearance is turning the Amazon region from climate friend to climate foe. A study published in Nature reveals forest burning now produces about three times more CO2 than the remaining vegetation is able to absorb." The Guardian: Amazon rainforest ‘will collapse if Bolsonaro remains president.'

+ Western US and Canada brace for another heatwave as wildfires spread.


Corp Development

"More companies that pledged to pause or rethink political donations after the Jan. 6 insurrection are once again donating to Republican lawmakers who voted against certifying President Biden's victory. The flow of money is a sign that the promises issued by corporate America were temporary, especially in light of razor-thin Democratic majorities." WaPo: American Airlines, other companies resume donations to Republicans who objected to election results. (This is an important reminder that for corporations, democracy is not the key bottom line.)


Scarf Out

"Companies in the European Union can ban employees from wearing a headscarf under certain conditions, if they need to do so to project an image of neutrality to customers, the EU's top court said on Thursday."


Hoe Down

I'm in Tahoe this week, and a story is playing out here that will sound all too familiar to resort towns across the country. Lots of visitors. Employee shortages. Rising housing and rental prices. "In Tahoe, the hiring crisis is reverberating across the region and inextricably tied to the housing crisis. Summer is a marathon of a season here, and historically, businesses have staffed up accordingly. This year though, with a shorthanded workforce, businesses are unraveling."

+ In other news from this region... CHP Truckee officials: Don't set your car on fire to scare away bears. (It feels like this message should have been delivered by Smokey the Bear.)


Baby’s Shower

"The Biden administration is reversing a Trump-era rule approved after the former president complained he wasn't getting wet enough because of limits on water flow from showerheads. Now, with a new president in office, the Energy Department is going back to a standard adopted in 2013, saying it provides plenty of water for a good soak and a thorough clean. The rule change will have little practical effect, since nearly all commercially made showerheads comply with the 2013 rule — the pet peeve of the former president notwithstanding." (In fairness, it takes firehose-level water pressure to remove Bronx Colors Boosting Hydrating Concealer in the shade Orange BHC06 from one's flesh.)


Blow, Bump, Crack, Then Dust

"The suitcase stashed with cocaine was intended to fall from a light aircraft into the hands of drug traffickers waiting on the ground in Baratili San Pietro, a town of about 1,200 people in Sardinia. Instead it landed on the roof of a home." Cocaine stash worth €9m lands on roof of home in Sardinia.


Feel Good Friday

"A Chinese man has been reunited with his son after a 24-year search that saw him travel over 310,000 miles on a motorbike across the country. Guo Gangtang's son had been snatched aged two by human traffickers in front of their home in the province of Shandong." Man in China reunited with son snatched 24 years ago.

+ "The Orioles first baseman and Home Run Derby invitee is the most magical story of the 2021 season -- just by being part of it at all." Trey Mancini's Remarkable Return. (The Giants having the best record in all of baseball is the most magical story. But this is a close second.)

+ WaPo: A man's dog was stolen. He found the thief, and instead of calling police, he got her into rehab.

+ Jason Sudeikis shows support for racially abused English soccer players.

+ WaPo: Three women discovered they were dating the same man. They dumped him and went on a months-long road trip together. (This is not the threesome the dude had in mind...)

+ MIT's newest robot can help elderly people get dressed. (I need a robot that can teach my aunt how to use the new flip phone I got her.)

+ So far in 2021, San Francisco's streets have seen fewer reports of feces than both 2020 and 2019. (This doesn't take into account that I've been away for nearly a week.)