Thursday, September 9th, 2021



Let's start with something light. A decade ago, I mocked up a product called Cagematch 140. This was back when Twitter only allowed 140 characters and the idea of the product was to enable users to create Twitter interest groups where they could share tweets that would go out to community members, but not to their regular followers. I added some gamification so you could see a leaderboard and get an at-a-glance view of the hot topics and tweeters. This was my thinking: Twitter is always the most fun, engaging (and occasionally enraging) when everyone is talking about the same thing at the same time (Super Bowl, Oscars, Presidential Debates). A community feature can make that scenario a reality all the time. I love watching the US Open. I'd like to live-tweet a few hundred takes while I'm watching a match. The problem is that my behavior would drive 99% of my followers crazy. But what if I could temporarily shrink the Twitter universe down to just people who were into tweeting about that US Open match? Only they would see my tweets (and remarkable insights about Berrettini and Djokovic) and none of my regular followers would be bothered. I never actually made the product (follow-through has never been my brand). But now, ten years later, Twitter is finally rolling out a communities feature that mirrors much of what I mocked up (I even checked with @jack to make sure the idea was basically the same.) I predict that, if they roll it out widely and execute well, this will be Twitter's biggest product upgrade ever (aside from kicking Trump off the platform).


Roe is Me

"Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion she was seeking. She gave her baby girl up for adoption, and now that baby is an adult. After decades of keeping her identity a secret, Jane Roe's child has chosen to talk about her life." Joshua Prager in The Atlantic: The Roe Baby.

+ The Department of Justice is Suing Texas Over the State's 6-Week Abortion Ban.


Mandate With Destiny

"President Biden on Thursday will sign an executive order requiring most federal employees to get the COVID vaccine, without the option of getting regular testing instead." Good. More mandates.

+ L.A. is poised to become the 1st major school district to mandate COVID vaccines for students. Good. Your ignorance doesn't get to put my kids at risk. More mandates.

+ Meanwhile, the deaths of teachers and the spike in cases isn't enough to keep Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from fighting tooth and nail to outlaw school mask mandates. At what point does placating one's base drift into manslaughter?

+ After two teachers died of Covid-19 in one week, a Texas school district implements mask mandate. (Maybe other Texas school districts shouldn't wait for the deaths. That would be nice.)


Forever Landmine

"Afghanistan is my sucking chest wound, and always will be because — despite what we've seen these recent weeks — wars do not end with a withdrawal or retreat or retrograde or the signing of a peace treaty. Instead, they ebb and flow within the memories of those who were there and the ones who received an unfortunate knock on the door one day from people in uniforms. On those battlegrounds, there is a permanent shattering. It's the real 'forever war.'" AP: A U.S. Marine, a curious Afghan boy, an unfathomable moment.

+ "Taqi Daryabi and Nematullah Naqdi from daily newspaper Etilaatroz said they were beaten for hours with rifle butts and electrical cables, for covering a protest led by women." This Is What a Free Press Looks Like Under the Taliban. (The Taliban even described journalists as the enemy of the people. Oh wait, that wasn't the Taliban.)


Rurallying Cry

"Rural students are far less likely to go to college than their urban and suburban counterparts, and they're less likely to finish once they start." NYT Mag (gift article for ND readers): The Tragedy of America's Rural Schools. (If rural Americans and inner city Americans ever realized they were victims of the exact same systemic unfairness and got together to demand changes, it would be a remarkable political force. That's why some politicians are so dedicated to keeping them apart, and keeping them hating on each other. The hate is by design.)


Food, Inglorious Food

"Vitamins or whole foods; high-fat or low-fat; sugar or sweetener. Will we ever get a clear idea about what we should eat?" Short answer: No. Longer and more interesting answer here: The food wars.


Flex, Lies, and Videotape

"The most violent videos languished for years, lost or ignored in a digital vault. Louisiana State Police troopers and top brass alike would often look the other way, even as officers took to official messaging channels to banter about their brutality." AP: Beatings, buried videos a pattern at Louisiana State Police.


ATF Yourself

"President Biden has pulled David Chipman's nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the face of opposition from gun rights groups, Republican senators and a few Democrats." Biden Withdraws His Nominee To Lead The ATF. (Phew. We almost took a tiny step in the direction of less insane gun policies. Please resume machine gunning each other down.)


Foiled Again

"When the voracious Caldor Fire raced through the forested Phillips Tract near Sierra-at-Tahoe, it destroyed dozens of cabins but spared a couple. One was wrapped in what looks like aluminum foil."


Bottom of the News

"The real Boris Vishnevsky says the two challengers not only changed their names, a common enough practice in Russia, to confuse voters, but that the candidates' election photos had been fashioned to resemble Vishnevsky's appearance." Think our elections are crazy? Check out this story: Russian Opposition Candidate Boris Vishnevsky Faces Two Other Boris Vishnevskys on Ballot.

+ A woman was late for her flight. So she told airline workers there was a bomb on the plane.

+ Norman Lear said: "I can't recall a more engaging read." Harry Shearer said, "Like his daily newsletter, the book is breezy, funny, outraged, and filled with wordplay." My mom said, "Wait, they read your newsletter for free every day but then refuse to pre-order your book? You should have gotten into real estate." Let's go!

+ IndieBound | Amazon | | Green Apple (signed copies).