Wednesday, September 8th, 2021


I Need to Vent

I've been yelling expletives across the street at people who cough or sneeze sans coverage for my whole adult life. Needless to say, that practice has only grown more prevalent during the pandemic. It drives me crazy. And speaking of crazy driving, this morning, in a parking lot, I powered-rolled up my window and literally swerved my car to avoid an open-air hack-cough and the germ cloud it blustered in my direction. Obsessive? Perhaps. Correct? Most definitely. As long as we're intermingling with others who insist on huffing and puffing, we need better ventilation and more effective ways to keep their germs from our lungs. It's good for preventing Covid. It's good for avoiding a lot of other respiratory illnesses as well. It's also probably good for my driving. Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic: The Plan to Stop Every Respiratory Virus at Once. "To understand why pathogens can spread through the air, it helps to understand just how much of it we breathe. 'About eight to 10 liters a minute,' says Catherine Noakes, who studies indoor air quality at the University of Leeds, in England. Think four or five big soda bottles per minute, multiply that by the number of people in a room, and you can see how we are constantly breathing in one another's lung secretions."


Spies Like Us

"In 'The Origins of Totalitarianism,' Hannah Arendt observed the early tendency of a totalitarian regime to draft private citizens to conduct 'voluntary espionage,' so that 'a neighbor gradually becomes a more dangerous enemy than officially appointed police agents.'" Which brings us to the Texas anti-choice law. Jeannie Suk Gersen in The New Yorker: The Manifold Threats of the Texas Abortion Law.

+ Technically, the Texas law could enable an unindicted rapist to sue the person who drives his victim to get an abortion. Greg Abbott's answer to that? Texas is going to "eliminate all rapists."


Cricket Battered

"In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this." The all-male Taliban government puts an end to women's sports. The EU with the ultimate understatement: "Upon initial analysis of the names announced, it does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see."

+ "Public and private worlds are sharply divided, and when a woman leaves her home she maintains a cocoon of seclusion through the burqa, which predates the Taliban by centuries. Girls essentially disappear into their homes at puberty, emerging only as grandmothers, if ever." Anand Gopal in The New Yorker: The Other Afghan Women. "In the countryside, the endless killing of civilians turned women against the occupiers who claimed to be helping them."

+ Afghanistan's last Jew leaves after Taliban takeover. (Good move. Shana Tova.)


Setting the 5K Record Straight

"About one in 5,000 vaccinated Americans have tested positive for Covid each day in recent weeks. The chances are surely higher in the places with the worst Covid outbreaks, like the Southeast. And in places with many fewer cases — like the Northeast, as well as the Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas — the chances are lower, probably less than 1 in 10,000. That's what the Seattle data shows, for example. (These numbers don't include undiagnosed cases, which are often so mild that people do not notice them and do not pass the virus to anyone." David Leonhard in the NYT (gift article for ND readers): The real chances of a breakthrough infection.

+ "One could reasonably predict that these people will be quite well protected against most — and perhaps all of — the SARS-CoV-2 variants that we are likely to see in the foreseeable future." If you had it in 2020 and got vaccinated in 2021, your immunity to Covid-19 could be superhuman.


Welcoming Committee

"In rural Minnesota, an agricultural specialist has been working on visa applications and providing temporary housing for the newcomers, and she has set up an area for halal meat processing on her farm. In California, a group of veterans has sent a welcoming committee to the Sacramento airport to greet every arriving family. In Arkansas, volunteers are signing up to buy groceries, do airport pickups and host families in their homes." The extremists and the haters make for clickable headlines. But they don't tell the whole story. NYT (gift article for ND readers): Americans Stretch Across Political Divides to Welcome Afghan Refugees.


The Inside Job

"And this is where things went wrong. It was (and is) fine to have a publication focused on insider politics. But it was not ideal when The Post, the New York Times and many other major mainstream news outlets drifted toward this model — and when they did so was particularly problematic." Perry Bacon Jr with a solid take in WaPo: How the rise of Politico shifted political journalism off course. (Although, this practice of covering politics like a sport hardly started with Politico.)


Omar Comin’

"Arguably the most memorable character on a show full of them, Omar became, in Williams's hands, a transcendent portrait of complicated Black male identity. He was a beloved breakout character, a victory for both Black and queer representation in an era when the complexities of queer identity, and Black identity, let alone queer Black identity, were rarely shown on TV." Michael K. Williams was more than just Omar from The Wire. But even if that had been his only role, it would have been a career to celebrate. Williams died at the age of 54.


It Was Like Printing Money

"Gilbert Michaels of West Los Angeles was accused of utilizing boiler-room telemarketing businesses to dupe victims into paying as much as 10 times the retail price for toner." California man, 79, sentenced to 4 years for charging small businesses and charities hugely inflated prices for printer toner. (If overcharging for printer toner is a crime, we better start building more jails.)


Cracking Toast

"In this short video, YouTuber Paul E.T. shows how you can make a Netflix-style true crime documentary about anything. Even stolen toast."


Bottom of the News

Sometimes podcast interviews can go a little sideways. But I stand by all of my statements, especially my denigration of 69. The Mom Swipes Left Podcast. "In the spirit of hardball journalism, we learn what Dave thinks about a Trump re-election; what he considers the fairest of news outlets; why he's not a proponent of 69; and his learned tips on how to shit in the woods."

+ Naked woman, 28, drives golf cart into police standoff scene with armed suspect. I'll let you guess the state.

+ The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on classical guitar.

+ A Brief History of Pickles.