Friday, October 1st, 2021


Lisbon Voyage

Imagine if we didn't have these stupid, deadly, often politically motivated fights about getting people vaccinated. Imagine if, as a country, united, we looked at the Covid vaccines as the oxymoron that they are: scientific miracles. Imagine if we didn't live in a country approaching 700,000 deaths that are continuing at an alarming pace, especially in certain regions where people are still doing their "research" while watching Fox News, sharing Facebook posts, and popping handfuls of horse dewormer. Imagine it. Or just check out Portugal, where it's actually happening. It's not perfect. The crisis is not over. And as they have been to date, Portugal's health experts remain vigilant. But, overall, and certainly by comparison, it's pretty damn good. "Lisbon is triumphant: a city of live music and partying, where early-risers might find sidewalks still sticky with beer. Traffic is back to normal as people settle into the rhythms of commuting to work. And the celebrity of the moment — on glossy magazine covers — is the former submarine commander who led the country's vaccination drive." WaPo (Gift Article for ND Readers): Portugal has nearly run out of people to vaccinate. What comes next?

+ "Merck & Co. said Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use."

+ California to require Covid-19 vaccination for students.


Dem Bones to Pick

The Dems are back at it on Capitol Hill, trying to get a infrastructure deal done, along with a much broader budget package. I'd skip this link and ignore the story until a deal either gets done or doesn't get done. It's not a sport. You don't need to follow the action. All that matters is the outcome. But keep this in mind: So many of America's problems can be traced back to the now historic economic divide. By comparison, $350 billion a year is a rounding error.


Weekend Whats

What to Hear: This will be a good sounding weekend for sure. Brandi Carlile's latest album just dropped. Bonus: Brandi Carlile Join Pearl Jam Onstage To Sing Better Man.

+ What to Paul: Yes, Rick Rubin needs a shave and a decent pair of sensible shoes. And yes, someone on the directorial team should have told Paul McCartney not to chew gum throughout episodes. But it is crazy fun to to listen to Paul talk about his creative process while playing back Beatles tunes (and to see how much crazy fun he has doing it). McCartney 3, 2, 1 on Hulu.

+ What to Watch: Scenes From a Marriage on HBO is intense (and yes, my wife wishes I could be more like Oscar Isaac). But it's rivetingly watchable. Another winner from producer extraordinaire Michael Ellenberg.

+ What to Order: My mom survived Kristallnacht before escaping WWII Germany. My dad was the only member of his family to survive. He joined the Partisans and lived a heroic life. My book, Please Scream Inside Your Heart, channels their messages about today's America. It's also funny. Order a copy now and hang on to the receipt for something fun soon. Amazon | | Green Apple (signed copies).


(Re)Do the Math

"More men died of police violence than of testicular cancer, or lymphoma, or STDs in the U.S. in 2019. Depending on where you get your information, that could come as a surprise, or a grave confirmation." CityLab: Police Violence Deaths Are Twice As High As Official U.S. Count, Study Finds. "Researchers estimate 30,800 people have been killed by police from 1980 to 2018 — far more than government data has captured."


A Womb With a View

"Jenny van Dongen at VU Amsterdam in the Netherlands and her colleagues have found that identical twins carry a characteristic pattern of alterations to their DNA, known as epigenetic changes, that isn't seen in people who didn't have twin embryos. These variations happen in early pregnancy and last into adulthood." DNA markers reveal if you shared a womb with twin that didn't survive.


Passing Notes

"One patient read the notes from her colonoscopy report, which included a reference to a 'time out.' The woman reportedly was upset by this, and called her doctor saying she was 'well behaved during the procedure and did not need a 'time out.' The good news is that the patient wasn't in trouble. What she didn't realize is that the 'time out' noted in her medical record referred to a crucial safety step that doctors are supposed to take before medical procedures and surgeries." NYT: As patients gain access to their own medical records, the notes left by doctors can sting. (When getting colonoscopy, I'm usually the one calling for a time out.)


This Sounds Wrong

"The report, obtained by BuzzFeed News via a Freedom of Information Act request, was originally classified as 'secret.' It concluded that the sounds accompanying at least eight of the original 21 Havana syndrome incidents were 'most likely' caused by insects." A Declassified State Department Report Says Microwaves Didn't Cause Havana Syndrome. (I don't know what is causing it. But I'd bet decent money that it's something. And not insects.)


You’re Better Than That

"After meeting someone for the first time, do you see yourself as a glittering conversationalist, a kind of Wildean wit whose bons mots sparkled and delighted? Or do you find yourself wincing at every possible faux pas, imagining all the ways you may have bored or offended? If you identify with the former description, you are in the minority. Multiple studies show the average person takes a rather low opinion of their conversational abilities, and the social impressions they leave." But don't be so hard on yourself. BBC: Why you make better first impressions than you think. (Every single person I know just muttered, "Not you, a**hole" under their breath...)


Field Goals

"I'm trying to get mad. Like, ‘Get out the way, here I come.' But I'm not trying to get so mad that I kill myself." Texas Monthly: Meet the Fearless Women of the Lone Star Mower Racing Association.


Feel Good Friday

"Ament weathered his own emotional storms, he said, with the help of a backyard skateboard ramp in a small and remote Montana town called Big Sandy, where he grew up. Skateboarding, he says from personal experience, is deeply therapeutic for disaffected youth in similar places." NYT (Gift Article for ND Readers): A Rock Star's Next Act: Making Montana a Skateboarding Oasis.

+ How three Jewish and Arab families swapped kidneys, saved their mothers and made history.

+ Culture Revolution: Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya is using his yogurt empire to help resettle Afghan refugees.

+ The police officer took a bruised toddler from an abusive home. She took his heart.

+ Could The Escaped Zebras Survive Roaming Around Prince George's County Forever?

+ "One photo in particular showing Conte and a group of other male dignitaries admiring the statue has gone viral in Italy, as the gleaner deftly covers her breasts with one hand and looks behind her at the sea, with the imagined sea breeze revealing the curvature of her bum to the assembled politicians." An Unnecessarily Sexy Statue Is Provoking Some Strong Feelings in Italy. (I'm not sure if this is actually feel good or not. But I have to admit, I'd like to feel it and see. The Statue of David thinks this is too revealing!)