Friday, November 5th, 2021


Numerical Values

4 Days Until My Book Comes Out: Get Please Scream Inside Your Heart now at Amazon, IndieBound, or anywhere you want!

A Jew, a BIPOC, some AAPIs, and a colonialist walk into a bar. That's not the beginning of a joke. It's what California's students could be seeing on math word problems in the future. The laudable goal of the math recommendations are to close the racial gap in math achievement. But is math really the right class to teach social justice? And at a moment when partisan politics is laser-focused on schools and school boards, is there any way that X will equal something other infinite culture wars? NYT (Gift Article): California Tries to Close the Gap in Math, but Sets Off a Backlash. "The draft rejected the idea of naturally gifted children, recommended against shifting certain students into accelerated courses in middle school and tried to promote high-level math courses that could serve as alternatives to calculus, like data science or statistics. The draft also suggested that math should not be colorblind and that teachers could use lessons to explore social justice — for example, by looking out for gender stereotypes in word problems, or applying math concepts to topics like immigration or inequality ... An open letter signed by hundreds of Californians working in science and technology described the draft as 'an endless river of new pedagogical fads that effectively distort and displace actual math.'" (I'm a humanities major out of UC Berkeley, so displacing actual math with paragraphs about social justice plays right into my strengths. Will it do the same for my home state? I'll let you do the math.)

+ I'm on the board of 826 Valencia. And our fearless leader Bita Nazarian recently explained why one of the best ways to improve literacy is to focus on writing.


Load Bearing

I have to go to the bathroom pretty much every time I realize that there is no bathroom available to me. So this one hits me right in the gut. City Lab: Where Did All the Public Bathrooms Go? "According to a 'Public Toilet Index' released in August 2021 by the U.K. bathroom supply company QS Supplies and the online toilet-finding tool PeePlace, the U.S. has only eight toilets per 100,000 people overall — tied with Botswana. (Iceland leads their ranking, with 56 per 100,000 residents.)" Great, now if I ever go to Botswana, I'm gonna have to go to the bathroom the entire time.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Acapulco on Apple TV is a light, breezy, family show. And sometimes a family can use one of those. If you're up for something a little less breezy, the third and final season of Narcos Mexico just dropped on Netflix.

+ What to Hear: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats are getting better with age. Their new album keeps that streak alive. Check out The Future. (Start with Survivor and What if I.)

+ What to Dave: I share this quick article covering my book that comes out on Tuesday not (solely) as promotion, but because many of you have been reading me for years and I want you to understand why I wrote Please Scream Inside Your Heart. SF Chronicle: Reliving a bad year with a Bay Area writer whose family has seen much worse. Thanks so much to those who pre-ordered. As a one-man show, my newsletter couldn't have grown without you. And the same is true for my book. So let's rock the hell out of Amazon and And if you feel the need to share, by all means, share! (I'll have a couple cool announcements and events to share next week.)


Eyes on the Pfiz

"Pfizer said it will ask the FDA and international regulators to authorize its pill as soon as possible, after independent experts recommended halting the company's study based on the strength of its results." Great news on the antiviral front: Pfizer says COVID-19 pill cut hospital, death risk by 90%. (There's no political rage around the antivirals, so they don't get as much discussion. But this is huge.)


Ship Ah…Oy!

"A backlog of idle ships parked just miles from the [LA] shore have become the symbol of a nation gripped by shortages, from labor to goods. And the American public is starting to notice the effects as shelves lay bare in parts of the country ... Insider chartered a boat and brought along a logistics expert to find out what's causing the backlog, what can be done to alleviate it, and who's to blame."

+ Part it is that we have so many empty containers and no where to put them. NPR: A tech CEO got big attention for his plan to ease the backlog at Los Angeles ports. "Yesterday I rented a boat and took the leader of one of Flexport's partners in Long Beach on a 3 hour [tour] of the port complex. Here's what I learned." (Maybe we have too many people renting boats and further slowing down the boat traffic?)


Tackle Box

"By the time he put the pads on for the first time in grade school, his coaches often forced him and his teammates to do hundreds of up-downs and sprints, and practices would include 'bull in the ring.' The drill would require one player to stand in the middle of the field, with teammates surrounding him. Then the coach would call one of their numbers and send them sprinting from any direction to tackle him. Today, the drill probably would get a coach fired." (I did all the drills in this paragraph, and I still didn't end up being all that tough.) WaPo: Tough love or verbal abuse? The new lines in coaching are hard to define.


Teen But Not Heard

"A 9-year-old girl in Rochester, New York, pepper sprayed as she sat in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car, crying for her dad. A teenage girl at a Texas pool party, wrestled to the ground by an officer. An Iowa teen, pepper sprayed by police as she waited for the bus after school." The Marshall Project: Police Hurt Thousands of Teens Every Year.
A Striking Number Are Black Girls


Jersey Boys

"Durr on Thursday pushed back on an oft-repeated storyline that his campaign spent less than $200 to unseat the senate president. Durr says he spent somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in the campaign." How a little-known New Jersey truck driver defeated a top state Senate power broker.


Circuit Breakers

"Over its 10-year history, The Verge has reviewed hundreds of products: smartphones that have changed the way that we communicate, take photos, and engage with the world; incredible laptops that pack the power of a gaming PC into a portable package; and consoles that have revolutionized how we play. These are not those products." The Worst Gadgets We've Ever Touched.


Feel Good Friday

"A lifetime of brutal injuries and misfortune robbed the world-renowned pianist João Carlos Martins of the ability to play his instrument. And then along came an eccentric designer and his bionic gloves." How the Maestro Got His Hands Back.

+ U.S. economy adds 531,000 jobs in huge hiring rebound.

+ "Cecilia joined her father at his grand piano covered in stickers and, as McMahon played, the two sang the heartwarming song he wrote for her called 'Cecilia and the Satellite.'"

+ How Berkeley's Yogurt Park, one of America's oldest frozen yogurt shops, has endured for 44 years. (My patronage has been a factor.) While we're in the neighborhood: Bay Area couple takes hilarious engagement photos at Berkeley Bowl.

+ NYT: In Venezuela, a Rum Maker Offers Gangsters a Life Outside of Crime.

+ And if you missed it, here's my list of the top feel good stories of 2021 so far.