Monday, September 13th, 2021


The Death Star

Over the past few years, we learned the hard way about the limits of American exceptionalism. But there's one area where the American empire still has a notable empirical edge: dying. For some reason, when it comes to that final item on the to-do list, we've become more efficient than our European counterparts. Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: Why Americans Die So Much. "We're a long way from a complete understanding of the American mortality penalty. But these three facts—the superior outcomes of European countries with lower poverty and universal insurance, the equality of European life spans between rich and poor areas, and the decline of the Black-white longevity gap in America coinciding with greater insurance protection and anti-poverty spending—all point to the same conclusion: Our lives and our life spans are more interconnected than you might think."

+ The pandemic era might not help us lose our leadership position. The U.S. is falling to the lowest vaccination rates of the world's wealthiest democracies.


Press Box

It won't come as a surprise that fake news is on the rise. But there's an even more nefarious global trend. No news at all. Press freedoms crumble as authoritarianism spreads. "Press experts argue that the rhetoric from the Trump administration inspired other world leaders looking to consolidate power to target the press."


This is the End of the Innocents

"There have been no 9/11-scale terrorist attacks in the United States in the past 20 years. Meanwhile, according to the most recent estimates from Brown University's Costs of War Project, at least 897,000 people around the world have died in violence that can be classified as part of the war on terror; at least 38 million people have been displaced due to these wars; and the effort has cost the US at least $5.8 trillion, not including about $2 trillion more needed in health care and disability coverage for veterans in decades to come." Vox: The enormous costs and elusive benefits of the war on terror.

+ On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we rightfully mourned the lives lost on that day. But there have been many other lives lost since. And the majority of those victims were equally blameless. That includes the final act of the U.S. war in Afghanistan: a drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 people. Evan Hill: "Our latest investigation shows how a man the military saw as an 'imminent threat' and 'ISIS facilitator' was actually an aid worker returning to his family."


Popular Mandate

"I'm encouraged to see the president taking this step, but we did it because it was just the right thing to do. And because of that, we were comfortable doing it a month ago. And by the end of this month, we will have all of our employees vaccinated." United was ahead of the White House when it comes to mandating vaccines. The result? It's working. And Delta Air Says New Covid Policy Is Boosting Worker Vaccinations. (Delta Air is a hell of lot better than delta air.)


Smoked Salmon

"Of the estimated 16,000 spring-run Chinook that made the journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to this curve in a creek and others like it across the Central Valley, about 14,500 have died." WaPo (gift article for ND readers): California's disappearing salmon.

+ "To see how summer nights have gotten hotter in recent decades, we charted 60 years of daily weather data from nearly 250 U.S. airports that have kept consistent weather records." NYT (gift article for ND readers): Why We're Experiencing So Many Unusually Hot Summer Nights.


Never Mind

"You know there is really something wrong, and that your pain is real, but the doctor is here telling you that your illness is mental, and in need of mental treatment. Perhaps they think that you have a delusion, or that you're lying because of some kind of personality disorder? Convincing friends, family and colleagues – not to mention medical professionals – that your pain is not ‘mental' might well be how you have defended the reality of your condition." Joe Gough with an interesting piece in Aeon: The mind does not exist. (There goes my memoir title.)


California Poll

"That it's even happening in the first place — and who the leading Republican contender is — is an example of how politics has shifted in the state and reflects a national shift toward sharper partisanship." The California Recall And Its Very Real Political Consequences, Explained. It's a farce. Our state is burning and our health systems are stressed because of Covid, and we're wasting time on an election between elections.

+ "What the polls say, when we'll get results and what it would mean if Gavin Newsom loses." FiveThirtyEight: Everything You Need To Know About The California Recall Election.


Just Say Novak

"I was just glad that, finally, the run is over. At the same time, I felt sadness, disappointment — and also gratitude for the crowd and for that special moment that they've created for me on the court." Novak Djokovic came up just short of his quest to win a calendar year grand slam. But in doing so, he showed he's human. That was a lesson tennis crowds needed to learn. Djokovic's bid for year Slam ends against Medvedev. Just look at this photo of Novak reacting to the crowd chanting his name as it became clear he wouldn't reach his goal. At long last, he felt the tennis love.

+ Daniil Medvedev earned his way to his first grand slam title. And in a US Open dominated by youth, he went full kid by borrowing a celebration from a video game.

+ "British teenager Emma Raducanu arrived in New York last month with a ranking of 150th, just one Grand Slam appearance to her name and a flight booked to head out of town after the U.S. Open's preliminary rounds in case she failed to win her way into the main tournament." Qualifier to champion: Britain's Raducanu, 18, wins US Open. Unthinkable. Raducanu said her initial goal was to win enough prize money to replace her lost AirPods.


Running on Fumes

"Most gas stations barely turn a profit on their core product, and when the price of oil goes up they may even take a loss on it. Battling small margins, cutthroat competition, and the looming threat of electric vehicles, many gas stations are more reliant than ever on secondary revenue streams." The Hustle: Why most gas stations don't make money from selling gas.


Bottom of the News

Yes, Saturday was a very busy day in college football. But this is the internet. So it shouldn't surprise you that a cat stole the show.

+ "Just like some parents, the researchers used a sweet treat to coax the cows to push through a gate and urinate in a special pen. And it took only 15 days to train the young calves." Scientists potty train cows. (A lesser man might be tempted to make a bowel-moovement joke here, or come up with a pun like Calf-strain, but not me.)

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).