It’s Always Hammer Time

"After being on the receiving end of enough aggression, everything starts to feel like an attack. Your skin thins until you have no defenses left. It becomes harder and harder to distinguish good-faith criticism from pettiness or cruelty. It becomes harder to disinvest from pointless arguments that have nothing at all to do with you. An experience that was once charming and fun becomes stressful and largely unpleasant. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way. We have all become hammers in search of nails." That's Roxane Gay channeling the lament so many longtime internet users feel about what a bummer social media has become. NYT (gift article): Why People Are So Awful Online. It would take a collection of our best and brightest psychologists and sociologists to fully address this issue. But a few things I've noted. Social media rewards those who love conflict. While the rest of us are up all night worrying about a flame war, they're sleeping like babies, happily nestled into their happy place. Relatedly, people at the extremes thrive on the conflict-riddled social media platforms. People in the sane middle are afraid to speak their minds because of a concern over being lambasted by one of those sides. And that fear is often driven by the attacks from people who are on your side of the political spectrum, but feel compelled to attack you because you're not far enough over to that side. (For example, I get way more hate email or general complaints from the far left.) Meanwhile, online discourse becomes more and more extreme, and less and less connected to actual in-person interactions between real life human beings. As Gay points out, online "every harm is treated as trauma. Vulnerability and difference are weaponized. People assume the worst intentions. Bad-faith arguments abound, presented with righteous bluster. And these are the more reasonable online arguments. There is another category entirely of racists, homophobes, transphobes, xenophobes and other bigots who target the subjects of their ire relentlessly and are largely unchecked by the platforms enabling them. And then, of course, there are the straight-up trolls, gleefully wreaking havoc."


Eight is Enough?

"'If I had any idea that the protest ... would escalate (the way) it did ... I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,' Hodgkins told the judge. He added: 'This was a foolish decision on my part.'" The first Capitol rioter to be sentenced gets 8 months for felony.


The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

"Human rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, according to an investigation into a massive data leak. The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organisations suggests widespread and continuing abuse of NSO's hacking spyware, Pegasus, which the company insists is only intended for use against criminals and terrorists." The Guardian: Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon. Here's some great coverage of the widespread use of this software against the wildly wrong targets.

+ Garland bars prosecutors from seizing reporters' records. Uh, thanks? It's almost like we're making the law reflect the purported values of the country.

+ Microsoft Exchange hack caused by China, US and allies say.


Olympic Ring Toss

"The Olympics is becoming an event that has not gained the public's understanding." That could be the understatement of the century as a huge percentage of the Japanese population opposes the Olympics being held during a Covid surge. While the words are understated, the actions are not. Toyota Cancels Tokyo Olympics TV Ads, CEO Won't Attend Opening Ceremony. Meanwhile, several athletes have pulled out or been quarantined after testing positive.

+ The Olympics are just a metaphor for the broader Covid story. That's true both globally: Rising cases cloud England's coronavirus "freedom day". (What we need freedom from is Covid). And nationally: Delta Is Driving a Wedge Through Missouri.

+ WaPo: In this summer of covid freedom, disease experts warn: ‘The world needs a reality check'. (Experts. You know, the people who warned us the first time around, right before 4 million died.)

+ "Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, understood what was going on. Mr. Lee is vaccinated, but he refused to be photographed getting the shot — the Covid shot, that is: He did post a photo of himself getting a flu shot last November. 'Getting a flu shot is more important than ever this year,' his Twitter post read. 'I got mine to help protect my granddaughters as we prepare to celebrate their first birthday.' Not a word about protecting children from the deadliest pandemic in a hundred years. None of this was surprising. Mr. Lee is not a leader who actually leads so much as a politician who reads the room." Margaret Renkl in the NYT (gift article): Dolly Parton Tried. But Tennessee Is Squandering a Miracle. (In Tennessee, thanks to Covid and the response to it, there are currently 12,544 fewer people in the room.)

+ Five Texas Democrats who fled state in protest test positive for Covid.

+ Here's a poll that should scare you. One in five Americans believes the US government is using the COVID-19 vaccine to microchip the population. (Covid didn't pick humans as targets by mistake.)


A New Ice Age

"From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink improve my chances for filling my dreams." Nashville Predators prospect comes out as gay, making NHL history.

+ One of my favorite articles of all time covered this topic. And it's been eleven years between its publication and this breakthrough. Mary Rogan in GQ: Out on the Ice. "Brian Burke isn't just a legend of the NHL. He's a fists-up, knock-your-teeth-out gladiator. But when his hockey-loving son came out of the closet and died soon after, he was thrust into a strange new role: advocate for gays in a macho sports culture."


Shoot, Shoot, Shoot for the Home Team

Over the weekend, America's two favorite pastimes collided when a Washington Nationals' was game suspended after a report of a shooting outside the stadium. Just look at these two photos I shared on Instagram. Ridiculous. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, but seriously, I really do care if I ever come back.


South Africa Violence

"The killings, as well as the widespread destruction of small, uninsured businesses in townships, underscore the bitter irony of this wave of violence born of anger at inequality: Most of its victims are the poor and dispossessed, and many are ethnic Zulus, members of the same tribe from which former president Jacob Zuma draws his most fervent support. It was his jailing last week that set off the protests that quickly devolved into the worst unrest South Africa has seen since apartheid ended in 1994." WaPo: ‘I am broken': South African communities are gutted by a wave of looting, arson and loss. (There are many drivers of the violence and failures on the part of South African security forces, etc. But it's worth noting that the trigger was the arrest of a former president...)


Removing the Gutter Guards

"The company says it has 321 bowling centers in North America, which is eight times more than its next-closest rival, and often owns its own real estate. Its assets also include the Professional Bowlers Association." Everyone is rolling into Spacs and going public. Even old school companies. Bowlero to go public at $2.6 billion.


Let’s Boil It Down

"The UK parliament is in the process of passing a new Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. The law will replace EU legislation, which legally recognizes that animals can feel pain and experience emotions." Do lobsters feel pain? The British Parliament wants to know.


Bottom of the News

"Both on Springsteen's official Web site and in his songbook, the word is 'waves.' And yet Springsteen uses 'sways' on page 220 of his memoir, which is also called "Born to Run," and in his handwritten lyrics, which were auctioned off a couple of years ago by Sotheby's." Jon Landau, the Boss's longtime close collaborator in matters musical and financial, offers a definitive answer about what Mary's dress is doing in 'Thunder Road.' Remnick in The New Yorker: A Springsteen Mystery Solved. (It's not whether the dress sways or waves. It's whether you see a blue dress or a gold dress.)

+ "Katie Hopkins, a 46-year-old media personality, was fined 1,000 Australian dollars (about $740) and escorted by police to the Sydney airport, where she boarded an afternoon flight bound for Britain after her visa was canceled by the government." WaPo: A far-right British commentator boasted about breaking quarantine rules, and Australia deported her.

+ Rattle and Hum: How one musician recorded a series of duets with the Golden Gate Bridge's ghostly hum. (I love the hum.)