Friday, December 17th, 2021


Passing Windmills

"We felt like we were going to lose our entire life. Everything we worked night and day for." What horrible scourge was attacking this person's town? A pandemic? A natural disaster? Locusts? No, windmills. Buzzfeed's Joseph Bernstein goes full blade runner as he takes you to the once aptly named Montcalm County for a front row view of a small town battle over wind energy. Prepare to have your mind blown. How A Facebook Fight Over Wind Power Predicts the Future of Local Politics in America. "Like higher-profile local battles over mask mandates and critical race theory, disagreements over wind policy have become intensely antagonistic and frequently hysterical. But unlike those issues, opposition to turbines isn't neatly polarized along red–blue lines: It often pits conservatives against conservatives and liberals against liberals. Nor does it revolve around a once-in-a-generation event, like a global pandemic. Instead, it's elemental — quite literally, in the air. In this sense, it may offer the purest example yet of the power of social media to warp local politics in 2021, to make a single emotional issue stand in for and subsume all others. For the future of civic life in the United States, Montcalm County is a dark forecast of the way the winds are shifting." It's always best to remain upwind of modern American political discourse.


Load and Lock

"He climbed into his truck and counted through his daily stack of eviction orders. 'Fifteen, sixteen — jeez Louise,' he said as he stacked them on the passenger seat. He strapped an extra magazine of ammunition to his belt and picked up his radio to call dispatch." WaPo (Gift Article) on Lock-'em-out Lennie as the pandemic moratoriums end. The return of the 10-minute eviction. "Normal seemed different to Lennie now, more relentless and unpredictable. Landlords acted increasingly impatient after months of falling behind on their collections. Tenants were more resistant to leaving their homes after months of government assistance. And Lennie could feel his own behavior shifting, too, in ways he was still trying to understand. 'It's not like I've gone soft, but maybe a little bit more lenient,' he said. 'More compassionate or understanding.' He waited at the entryway for a few more seconds, took out his baton, and started banging on the door. 'Hello!' he shouted. 'Maricopa County peace officer! Open up now!'


Weekend Whats

What to Read: If you missed it yesterday or want to share, I provided a very brief explanation of how a recent Ben Affleck interview with Howard Stern explains everything that's been bothering you about the news. Jennifer Garner Drove Me to Write This.

+ What to Watch: I know a miniseries about a pandemic that wipes out much of humanity doesn't sound quite fictional enough at the moment, but Station Eleven on HBO really is off to a great start.

+ What to Book: Michelle Zauner is having a good year. She has earned Grammy noms for her music (she performs as Japanese Breakfast) and her memoir, Crying in H Mart, seems to be on every book list and in every bookstore window. It's excellent. And H Marts are pretty damn fun, too.


Room Over Zoom

"Students who have been exposed to the coronavirus can safely continue in-person learning if they are regularly tested for the virus at school, avoiding disruptive at-home quarantines." That's the word from the CDC as America prepares for the Omicron surge. Here's the latest.

+ This wave has often been described less risky for vaccinated and boosted individuals, but more dangerous for health systems. And those health systems are already stretched to the limit. Weight of COVID pushing health care workforce to breaking point. Boost yourself to give health workers a boost.

+ A bit of good news. They're Already Past the Peak in South Africa's Omicron Ground Zero.


Mail Order

"Millions of American women will now be able to get a prescription via an online consultation and receive the pills through the mail. FDA officials said a scientific review supported broadening access, including no longer limiting dispensing to a small number of specialty clinics and doctor's offices." US regulators lift in-person restrictions on abortion pill.


Stone Wall

"I don't like to see the criminalization of constitutionally protected political activity. I think it's a slippery slope." No one knows more about slippery slopes than the slick, slimy, slithering Roger Stone, who appeared before Jan. 6 panel and invoked the Fifth. (Roger Stone would have to invoke the fifth for a discussion on any topic.)


Not Everything is a Racket

"By putting, as he phrased it, 'principles ahead of profit,' Simon and the Women's Tennis Association decided to do what the NBA, Nike, Microsoft, Starbucks, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs and innumerable other global businesses vastly greater in size, power and revenue have not. How was it that the WTA stood up to China's authoritarian regime? It owes to a swirl of factors, figures and fortune—all rooted in the specific history and legacy authored by the WTA's players over the last five decades." SI: Why Did the WTA Risk Everything for Peng Shuai? (Another way of putting it: Why do so few organizations ever put ethics above profits?)


No Pain No Gain

"U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in New York found that federal bankruptcy law does not give the bankruptcy judge who had accepted the plan the authority to grant that kind of release for people who are not declaring bankruptcy themselves." Judge rejects Purdue Pharma's sweeping opioid settlement.


Tik Tok, Tik Tok, Boom?

"School districts across the United States are cancelling classes on Friday, December 17th due to reports of threats that are supposedly being made on TikTok. Districts in California, Texas, Minnesota, and Missouri have said they plan to close down Friday in response, according to the districts and local media reports. Elsewhere, districts have said they plan to have heightened police presence or have emailed parents to say they've been investigating the allegations." Schools across US cancel classes over unconfirmed TikTok threats.


Feel Good Friday

"If you scrape those burned edges off the year's news, a lot of the stuff underneath is actually really good. We don't hear or don't think about it, because nothing grabs the attention like a thing gone wrong." 21 really good things that happened in 2021.

+ An ice cream man's funeral procession. (Trust me)

+ "This study not only showed some of the best remission rates we've ever seen in depression, but also managed to do that in people who had already failed multiple other treatments." Depression Treatment Is Turning Lives Around in Five Days.

+ An obit is rarely "feel good." But there are exceptions. A plus-sized Jewish lady redneck died in El Paso on Saturday.

+ WaPo: Hit by tornado, Arkansas nursing home aides shielded residents from falling debris with their bodies.

+ Northern Michigan man delivers toys to children in Kentucky.

+ Wind power becomes Spain's leading energy source for 2021. See how I started the news with windmills and then ended it with windmills? What comes around goes around and around and around.