Tuesday, September 21st, 2021


Oh That’s Deep

Today's lead story brings to mind a Bruce Springsteen chorus. I'm going down, down, down, down. I'm going down, down, down, down. I'm going down, down, down, down. I'm going down, down, down, down. In the song, going down is perceived, as it often is, as a negative. But for freedivers, it's a goal, even if that trek is much more ominous than the one traveled by Springsteen's protagonist. Which brings us to Vertical Blue, "the Wimbledon of freediving ... For all the complex techniques required to succeed, the objective is remarkably simple: Go as deep as you can go on one breath and return to the surface without passing out or dying." Sink into this beautifully written deep dive by Daniel Riley in GQ: The Secrets of The World's Greatest Freediver. "Today, there is one diver who goes the deepest, who blends the physical and metaphysical like no one else in the sport. Watching the 34-year-old Russian Alexey Molchanov dive can be dangerously disorienting. Seemingly anyone else attempting what he does would die. It is like watching the world's best rock climber scale a sheer face with ease, only the inverse. That's one way to think of what he's doing: Free Solo but for drowning. Free Solo but down. And no one alive goes down like Alexey Molchanov." (That's what sea said.)

+ While we're down here, let's check out the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021 winners.


Cinema Verite

George Holliday died at the age of 61 on Sunday. You might not recognize the name. But, even though he was a plumber by trade, he shot one of the most influential films of the twentieth century, one that heralded an era when the power of video can shake the media, politics, and the culture to its core. "Holliday was awakened by a traffic stop outside his San Fernando Valley home on the night of March 3, 1991. He went outside to film it with his new video camera." George Holliday, Who Shot The Video Of Officers Beating Rodney King, Has Died. As far as I can remember, this was one of the first times people refused to believe what they were seeing with their own eyes, which is now a widely accepted motus operandi. At the peak of the LA riots, Rodney King famously asked, Can we all get along? Man, did we get that answer wrong...


Trying to Be Diplomatic

In his first UN address as president, Biden urged more urgency on climate change, used the pandemic to describe our interconnectedness, defended the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and may have served up the Biden Doctrine in the process: "We're opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world." (If history is any indication, it might turn out to be relentless diplomacy with a side order of bunker busters.) Here's the full speech.


I Want You To Show Me The Wei

"Zhao Wei spent the past two decades as China's equivalent of Reese Witherspoon, a beloved actress turned business mogul. She directed award-winning films, sold millions of records as a pop singer and built a large following on social media, amassing 86 million fans on Weibo, China's Twitter -like microblogging site. She also made a fortune as an investor in Chinese technology and entertainment companies. Today, the 45-year-old star has been erased from the Chinese internet." WSJ (Gift article for ND readers): China's Biggest Movie Star Was Erased From the Internet, and the Mystery Is Why.


Dose Y Dose

Johnson & Johnson vaxers could be the tortoise that beats the Moderna hare. "A two-dose version of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine provides 94% protection against symptomatic infection, the company said Tuesday -- making a two-dose regimen of J&J's Janssen vaccine comparable to a two-dose regimen of Moderna's or Pfizer's. Plus, the company said, adding a booster dose to a single shot of the vaccine raised immunity even more, and should also protect people strongly against infection." So J&J was pretty good. And J&J&J&J is really good. This isn't the first time I've said this: We need more Js.


The Chair Tabled

"Many people I know over 40 — maybe 35 — resent new social mores that demand outsized sensitivity to causing harm. It has been jarring to go from an intellectual culture that prizes transgression to one that polices it. The shame of turning into the sort of old person repelled by the sensibilities of the young is a cause of real psychic pain." Michelle Goldberg with an interesting take on college cancel culture and the show, The Chair. NYT (gift article for ND readers): The Middle-Aged Sadness Behind the Cancel Culture Panic. (Most of my middle-aged sadness is focused on the fact that I'm middle-aged.)


Over the Borderline

"A law enforcement officer on horseback is seen in the Al Jazeera video swirling long reins near a group of migrants. Shortly beforehand, another individual on horseback is heard yelling at the migrants, saying, 'You use your women? This is why your country's sh*t, because you use your women for this.'" Biden administration expresses horror over images of Border Patrol confronting migrants. (The whole world sees this stuff.)


Trudeau Eyed

"Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party has narrowly won Canada's election, but it failed to secure a majority of seats. This is Mr Trudeau's third federal election win, but his critics say the poll was a waste of time. The Liberals are projected to win 158 seats, short of the 170 seats needed for the majority Mr Trudeau was seeking with his early election call." (We all spend too much time and money on elections as it is. Next time someone calls for an unscheduled election, let's vote on it.)


San Antonio Spurs Legal Challenge

"A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of a new Texas law has been sued by two people seeking to test the legality of the state's near-total ban on the procedure." This could be the case that challenges the Texas law.


Bottom of the News

"Police photos showed at least three buckets of chicken, about 10 cups of coleslaw, a large package of fries, and four large bags containing other KFC items." Men caught smuggling KFC into lockdown-hit Auckland. (OK, that's aukward...)

+ At 107, These Japanese Sisters Are The World's Oldest Identical Twins.

+ A headline that may very well put the nail in The Onion's coffin: Jeff Bezos pledges $1 billion to protect 30 percent of the Earth's land and sea. Ah, what the hell? I'll also do 30.