Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Consumer Demand

The headline of Amanda Mull's latest piece for The Atlantic seems pretty obvious to anyone who has been to a mall. American Shoppers Are a Nightmare. But the content is a really interesting look at the history of retail and consumerism, and how it led to me nearly blacking out in rage when I drove two hours to a big box store only to find that the item I had reserved online was sold to another customer. "Even before the pandemic pushed things to further extremes, the primacy of consumer identity made customer-service interactions particularly conflagratory. Being corrected by a salesperson, forgotten by a bartender, or brushed off by a flight attendant isn't just an annoyance—for many people, it is an existential threat to their self-understanding."


Cuomo Has Fomo

"So many shoes have dropped in the Andrew Cuomo sexual-harassment saga that the governor could open up a Florsheim outlet out on I-90. And each time, as each allegation piled up and each Democratic official called on him to resign ... it surely seemed like the end of Cuomo's long reign. And yet it wasn't." NY Mag: How on Earth Does Cuomo Survive This? "The sexual-harassment report wasn't a bombshell; it was a nuclear blast. And yet."

+ Of course Chris Cuomo helped his brother manage the story. And of course that violation can't be allowed to happen without recourse. CNN suspended Jeff Toobin for a silly mistake that his colleagues forgave and that had zero relation to his reporting. But Chris Cuomo gets to stick around? Come on, CNN. CNN Is Still Standing By Chris Cuomo, Despite His Role In His Brother's Alleged Sexual Harassment Saga.


I’m U.K., You’re U.K.

"The optimistic scenario: Cases keep decreasing through August as the U.K. vaccinates more people ... But if the opposite happens, if cases skyrocket so much that hospitalizations also rise to overwhelming levels, then even higher vaccination coverage and future restrictions might be necessary, especially in the fall. The situation will be worse in countries with lower vaccination rates." The Atlantic: Watch the U.K. to Understand Delta.

+ England reopened amid a delta surge, then cases fell. Are there lessons for the U.S.? (Short answer: Keep getting more people vaccinated and check back in a week or two.)

+ "To me, the most confusing time in the pandemic was May 2020, as we exited lockdown and nobody quite knew what they should & shouldn't do (clean the mail? touch the dog?). But now is giving May 2020 a run for its money." UCSF's Bob Wachter with a very informative tweet thread on the latest Covid science and how he's reacting.

+ WHO calls for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September. (At issue is all the countries still waiting for first shots.)

+ Meanwhile, there are a whole lot of 2021 headlines that look like 2020 headlines. New York Auto Show canceled as delta variant spreads.


Parallel Universe

"In the decade I have been on Twitter, I've experienced the wrath of the anonymous internet mob a couple of times: once when I tweeted that ADHD (which I've been diagnosed with) was a symptom of late capitalism, and another time when I tweeted that gender transition should be like converting to Judaism, where you must be approved by an authority (I am trans and Jewish and was also joking). Both of these posts prompted retweets calling me horrible names and DMs containing death threats, but the outrage, if not justified in its magnitude, was at least legible: I had posted a controversial opinion, and people were reacting to it. In the case of my parallel-parking job, though, I was perplexed. How could such a banal tweet elicit such anger?" P. E. Moskowitz in Curbed: The Parallel-Parking Job That Ignited the Internet. (Information Superhighway Rage is the new Road Rage.)


Race Away From Olympics

"Timanovskaya is traveling under a humanitarian visa offered by Poland, where she's expected to head next after arriving in Europe. She has said she fears retaliation if she returns to Belarus after her refusal to compete in an event for which she hadn't trained blossomed into a political firestorm." Belarus Olympian Kristina Timanovskaya Leaves Tokyo And Lands In Austria.

+ As if we needed any more evidence that Timanovskaya's worries are valid... An Activist Who Helped Persecuted Belarusians Flee The Country Is Found Hanged.


Five Ring Circus

"First, an admission: I know very little about the sport of equestrian. That said, I do possess a lot of knowledge about Bruce Springsteen." Matthew Futterman writes a fun, entertaining article about covering Jessica Springsteen at the Olympics, which is really a blatantly obvious effort to get the Boss to read his work—a strategy I wholeheartedly endorse as I've written a few decades' worth of newsletters just to get Bruce to subscribe. NYT (gift article for ND readers): A Springsteen Fan Takes in a Springsteen Show at the Olympics.

+ Another 400m thriller that featured the top two competitors both breaking the world record. This time, Sydney McLaughlin took home the gold. (I think the two hurdling winners give humanity just the opportunity we've been waiting for: The chance to create a Super Baby!)

+ "She's officially confirmed her bid for the Olympic distance triple on the track and has won the first of the three events, the 5,000m — on the same day when she fell in the heat of the 1500m, got back up, and chased down the pack to win." Sifan Hassan goes for an incredible triple.

+ This Is How Horses Get To The Olympics, plus a bunch of other random questions and answers.

+ Are horses being spooked by a Sumo statue on the jumping course?


The Boastman Always Rings Twice

"One phone call changed my life. On Thursday, July 25, 2019, I was seated at the table in one of the two Situation Rooms in the basement of the West Wing. The bigger room is famous from movies and TV shows, but this room is smaller, more typically businesslike: a long wooden table with 10 chairs, maybe a dozen more chairs against wood-paneled walls, and a massive TV screen. This was the room where President Barack Obama and his team watched a feed of the Osama bin Laden raid. This morning, the screen was off. We were all focused intently on the triangular conference-call speaker in the middle of the table. President Donald Trump's communications team was placing a call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, and we were there to listen." Alexander Vindman in The Atlantic: What I Heard in the White House Basement.


K9 Lives

"Softbank Group Corp.'s Vision Fund 2 led a $75 million funding round for Embark Veterinary Inc., a genetics startup that seeks to increase dog lifespans." Bloomberg: SoftBank Backs Dog DNA Startup Embark. (Meanwhile, my cats are working on a plan to shorten human lives...)


Silent But Violent

"Beyond the more showy and recognisable type lurks a lesser known and essentially more dangerous sub-species. Where your standard overt narcissist is a wolf in wolf's clothing, the covert narcissist is a wolf in sheep's clothing. 'The more silent and subtle variation is often more confusing and sinister.'" Not all narcissists are grandiose. (Only the best of us are...)


Bottom of the News

"The collapse of an icy display that injured three at the Titanic Museum attraction in Pigeon Forge appears to be an accident, according to the Pigeon Forge Police Department." The iceberg at the Titanic Museum collapsed. No, really.

+ The flight attendant and nearby passengers restrained Berry in a seat with tape and a seatbelt extender. (I think I can wait a few more months to travel...)