Tuesday, September 14th, 2021



If you were paying attention, none of this will surprise you. What looked like an unhinged madman with psychological pathologies pushed to the edge was an unhinged madman with psychological pathologies pushed to the edge. "I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this ... You've betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing." That's what Trump told Pence after Pence said he couldn't stop the election from being certified (of course, Pence called everyone he could think of, including former VP Dan Quayle, in search of a way to do his master's bidding). That's one of the interesting details in ‘Peril,' by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. But it's the more serious aspects that we need to focus on. Just like you, every sane person in the chain of command was worried Trump would completely crack up and start a war or launch a nuke, including his own chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. WaPo (gift article for ND readers): Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart.

+ What you thought you saw was what was happening. America teetered near the brink. And with the big lie still intact (and spreading to other elections) the danger hasn't completely passed. 2020 was an earthquake and—from the failure to vaccinate America, to the diehard allegiance to the big lie, to the relentless falsehoods spread on Fox News and social media, to the sick hatred that oozes over every American issue—we're still feeling the aftershocks. To understand and overcome the destruction of 2020, we have to reflect on what happened, and how technology, the media, and our relationship to fame played a role. This is why I wrote Please Scream Inside Your Heart: Breaking News and Nervous Breakdowns in the Year That Wouldn't End. It's also a celebration of the journalists who got this story right from the beginning. And, as Dahlia Lithwick pointed out in her blurb, "it's also a love letter to my own father, and the ordinary people who refuse to accept democracy as something we observe, rather than fight for."


Gram Cracked

"A story in three acts: 1. Facebook has repeatedly found that its photo-sharing app is harmful to a significant percentage of teenagers, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday. 2. The Journal cited internal Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed. 3. The company is in the process of making a version of Instagram for kids." CNBC: Facebook documents show how toxic Instagram is for teens. (Another hint that you should believe what you can see with your own eyes...)


A Word to the Pfiz

"Even in populations with fairly high vaccination rates, the unvaccinated are still the major drivers of transmission." FDA experts among group opposing US booster shot plan. But the Biden administration is taking cues from some Israeli data that tells another story. "The data, which is set to be made public as soon as this week, shows that the Pfizer vaccine's ability to prevent severe disease and hospitalization is waning over time." (Damn, I thought it would be enough when I told them to make mine a double.)


That Ain’t Chimp Change

Mailchimp, the newsletter service that sent this to you, just sold to Intuit for a cool $12 billion. More amazing than the number, which is damn amazing, is that the company never took any outside funding, making this the "largest-ever acquisition of a privately-held bootstrapped company. It's also a huge windfall for the founders of Mailchimp, which opted for profit-sharing instead of stock-based compensation for employees." When I first started with MailChimp, I used to call founder Ben Chestnut for tech support. Now I might call him for a loan. Congrats to him and the team.


Mammoth Task

"Church and his colleagues announced Monday that Colossal, a startup focused on 'de-extinction,' had raised $15 million for a project that involves CRISPR technology to genetically reengineer Asian elephants to be more like mammoths." Return of the mammoth? George Church-backed company launches with $15 million for elephant-sized quest.


Deliver Us From Evil

"Even before the thefts started, the city's 65,000 delivery workers had tolerated so much: the fluctuating pay, the lengthening routes, the relentless time pressure enforced by mercurial software, the deadly carelessness of drivers, the pouring rain and brutal heat, and the indignity of pissing behind a dumpster because the restaurant that depends on you refuses to let you use its restroom. And every day there were the trivially small items people ordered and the paltry tips they gave — all while calling you a hero and avoiding eye contact." The Verge: Revolt of the Delivery Workers.


Mass Transit

There are serious school-bus driver shortages around the country. How serious? The bus driver shortage is so bad that 250 National Guard members were activated to drive students to class in Massachusetts.


Temp Job

"Even weirder, though, is that some people might not even know McEnroe for tennis at all, but as the narrator of Mindy Kaling's Netflix series Never Have I Ever. Kaling's show is about an Indian-American girl named Devi struggling with everything teenage life can throw at her." John McEnroe on His Temper, His Teenage Angst, and His Voiceover Work on Never Have I Ever. (McEnroe has plenty of experience getting in people's heads. But this is weird.)



After a nine-year battle with cancer (that was hidden from the public), comedian Norm Macdonald has died at the age of 61.

+ Here are Norm's many appearances on Letterman, and 100 minutes of Norm.


Bottom of the News

"Nicki Minaj said she wouldn't be attending the celebrity-studded Met Gala on Monday because attendees were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and she is not. Minaj told her Twitter followers she hadn't 'done enough research' to make a decision ... But Minaj didn't stop there, following up with an eyebrow-raising story about her cousin's friend who received the COVID-19 vaccine and then called off his wedding because 'His testicles became swollen.'" (Wouldn't that be a reason to move your wedding date up?)

+ Lord of the Rings actors praise Italian man who lives as a hobbit. "Some think I am trying to escape from reality. Far from it. I am living my dream, my adventure. By purchasing that piece of land, I have removed it from a reality that I don't like and am shaping it the way I want." (He basically just described trying to escape reality. In fairness, they don't do media training in the Shire.)

+ The Met Gala made its comeback last night. Here are some of the best, brightest, and oddest outfits from NPR and Digg.