Friday, December 3rd, 2021


Drill, Babies, Drill

"As a gunman opened fire at Oxford High School in Michigan on Tuesday, panicked students and teachers remembered their active shooter drills. They barricaded doors with desks and chairs. They covered windows and then huddled silently in corners or bathroom stalls. Some armed themselves with makeshift weapons like scissors and calculators. When a pathway looked clear, they ran. The chilling choreography is practiced at the school several times per year." NYT (Gift Article): After Michigan Killings, Students Praised Shooter Drills. But Do They Really Work? "Critics worry that the cumulative effects of these drills can harm the mental health of students." What if asking about shooter drills is the wrong question for America? Isn't it more damaging to mental health to require students to wrap their heads around the fact that as more kids get killed, it actually becomes even easier to get your hands on weapons designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible? Or that even something as sick as Sandy Hook didn't change America's gun laws because lobbying groups have more pull than decency and common sense? American kids don't need shooting drills as much as they need democracy drills. Maybe then they'll be able to reverse the maddening tide of gun violence.

+ AP: A prosecutor in Michigan filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of a boy who is accused of killing four students at Oxford High School. "All I can say at this point is those actions on mom and dad's behalf go far beyond negligence ... We obviously are prosecuting the shooter to the fullest extent. ... There are other individuals who should be held accountable." (There are also other organizations and institutions that should be held accountable.)

+ An Oakland County prosecutor says a teacher caught Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class, notified administrators, and contacted Crumbley's parents. His mom wrote to his son, "LOL. I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught." (Looks like the same goes for you, Ma.)

+ Threats prompt more than 100 school cancelations in Michigan.


Surge Control

We still have a lot to learn about Omicron. It's definitely spreading quickly. It seems to have a higher reinfection risk. The Biden administration's restrictions are pretty light compared to many of those in Europe. But that won't stop craven politicians and corrupted news orgs from using the latest variant to divide us, regardless of how many lives it costs. And when they do, keep this in mind. In South Africa, there are reports that the variant is hitting those under five particularly hard (I've only seen a couple sources for this. I hope it's a false alarm). Here's the latest. Bottom line: Covid got a booster. You should too.

+ Missouri health department found mask mandates work, but didn't make findings public.

+ An Italian man tried to dodge Covid jab using fake arm. (In America, we call that a moderate.)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Hawkeye is a fun new series on Disney Plus. It takes a little while for the action to kick in, but the arrows will fly.

+ What to Doc: The Beatles doc, Get Back, on Disney Plus is long. But it's also really cool to see how the songs that are forever in your head came out of theirs. It's also an interesting case study in management as clear bandleader Paul has to strategize how to get what he wants out of group of mates on the verge of going their separate ways. And if you think your significant other is high maintenance, John Lennon's will put that notion to rest. If you're looking for a more structured music documentary, and one that's only half the length at 4 hours, check out Peter Bogdanovich's Tom Petty doc, Running Down a Dream. It's the opposite of all those old VH-1 Behind the Music shows where everything goes wrong. For Tom Petty, almost every move went right.

+ What to Read: My friends at Pocket have put together a list of their top articles of 2021. There's enough to keep you busy until at least 2022.


Progress Report

"I made a halfhearted joke about how we were embarking on the classic father-son ritual of heading out to the mass vaccination site to protect him from the plague. I meant it ironically, but the truth is that for my son's generation, proms and plagues will be part of the rituals of growing up. There is a loss of innocence in that, but also a hard-earned realism: the knowledge that rare high-risk events like pandemics are not just theoretically possible but likely, in an increasingly urban and interconnected world of nearly eight billion people." Steven Johnson in the NYT Magazine (Gift Article): Could Covid Lead to Progress? (Among other things, there are lot of moments like this shared and examined in Please Scream Inside Your Heart which is as much a family story as a news one.)


The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly Off the Plain

"Think your area has had more rain than usual? You're probably right. Think your area has had less rain than usual? Again, you're probably right." USA Today on the stunning shift in the way rain falls in America. (At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if it fell upwards.)

+ Climate change brings a perfect storm of raw sewage and rainfall in cities that can least afford it.


A Bug’s Life

"For decades, the idea that insects have feelings was considered a heretical joke – but as the evidence piles up, scientists are rapidly reconsidering." BBC: Why insects are more sensitive than they seem.


Dude, Where’s My Crude?

"The Yasuní National Park is home to one of the most diverse collections of plants and animals on the planet. But beneath this 3,800-square-mile swath of forest lies another kind of treasure: crude oil. More than 1 billion barrels of it. Over the past 50 years, oil companies have extracted immense amounts of crude from the Amazon, causing the destruction of rainforest crucial to slowing climate change and jeopardizing the Indigenous tribes who rely on it." OK, who do we blame? What sickos would use oil extracted from a place we need to protect? Let me at 'em! Oh, wait. I am 'em. As oil companies carve up more of the rainforest, a new study says no place in the world uses more oil from beneath the Amazon than California.


Flush With Cash

A plumber found thousands of cash envelopes stuffed inside a toilet wall at Joel Osteen's megachurch. (This might be a sign that it's time for folks to stop flushing their money down the toilet.)


The Land Down Under the Table

"An international survey has found Australians drank to the point of drunkenness an average of 27 times a year, almost double the global average of 15." Australia is the drunkest country in the world.


Feel Good Friday

"More than 20 years ago, Mike Moffitt started getting a lot of calls from a Florida phone number. The older woman on the other end of the line was trying to reach her daughter, who lives in Maryland. But she kept dialing area code 401, instead of 410." Thanksgiving surprise: RI man finally meets Florida woman who's been calling him for years.

+ Student who sews sanitary pads for refugees now leads 1,000 volunteers.

+ Students create club to be cheerleaders for the arts.

+ Yes, there's a great Pacific garbage patch. But it's not a bad place to live.

+ Father-daughter team provides RVs to people who lost homes in California wildfires.

+ Olympic diver and knitter Tom Daley launches his own online knitting shop.

+ Vintage Photos of Venus and Serena Playing Tennis as Kids. (I've played a little tennis myself and these kids look like they have potential.)