Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021


Hertz So Good

If you've decided to cancel your holiday travel plans, at least you get to avoid what promises to be an extra helping of the indignity that accompanies the car rental experience. If you're still heading out, here's a fun article to read while you're waiting for your rental car employee to finish speed-typing a tome into their circa 1989 PC. Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic: The Absurdity of Renting a Car Will No Longer Be Tolerated. "Why is that car-rental employee typing for so long? We'll never know. Why are the printers so old and loud and broken? Who could say! Will you ever get a straight answer as to how much insurance to buy, or whether to prepay for gas, or why it's forbidden for you to drive this rental car out of the state of Florida? What does the pandemic have to do with Avis allegedly repossessing a rental car from someone's driveway in the middle of the night in Teaneck, New Jersey, and then allegedly claiming to know absolutely nothing about it, in one of the oddest stories I have ever read? And what does the pandemic have to do with the stream of complaints about rental-car companies on the Better Business Bureau website, a surprising number of which come from people who insist that they do not smoke yet they have been charged as much as $450 for allegedly smoking in a car?" (It could be worse. One of my relatives who has left the building was so irritating that I often rented two cars. One for him. One for the rest of us.)

+ I'll probably skip NextDraft for the next few days, though no one can predict how addictions work. If you need some extra me, I can recommend the perfect book!


Joe Biden Saves Christmas

"Global supply chain problems that have led to long delays in manufacturing and shipping could ripple outward, slowing package deliveries to millions of Americans in the weeks and days before Christmas, experts warned. The prospect even became a talking point in conservative attacks on President Biden's policies." But thankfully, Santa doesn't watch Fox News and you ordered early. NYT (On-time Gift Article): Why Christmas Gifts Are Arriving on Time This Year. (Or why you just ran out of excuses...)


Cancel Nothing

Yascha Mounk famously wrote a 2020 piece in The Atlantic titled, Cancel Everything. Shortly thereafter, we did. Today's Mounk headline in The Atlantic: Omicron Is the Beginning of the End. Which leaves the question: "Will the 'new normal' mean that the disease poses less of a risk? Or will people ignore COVID even as it continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people every year?"

+ One example of the new abnormal: Sports Leagues Are Overrun With COVID. But They Are Playing On.

+ Some potentially good news: Case drop may show South Africa's Omicron peak has passed.

+ Some definitely good news: Pfizer pill becomes 1st US-authorized home COVID treatment. "The efficacy is high, the side effects are low and it's oral. It checks all the boxes. You're looking at a 90% decreased risk of hospitalization and death in a high-risk group — that's stunning." I know you're bummed. A few days ago, we canceled our plans to attend the world premiere of the new Matrix movie in SF because of Omicron. So believe me, I get it. But we're gonna beat this thing. We have our proven tools and we're getting new ones. Just stay safe a bit longer and give health workers a break.


Winter Breakdown

"Stanford University will hold classes online for the first two weeks of its winter quarter, and it's urging students to get boosters and receive a negative test result before returning to campus. Other institutions moving classes online to start the new year include Harvard University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Kean University, among many others." Some colleges and universities will start the new year online as Omicron spreads.

+ "After almost two years of remote schooling, restricted gatherings and constant testing, many students are isolated and depressed." NYT (Gift Article): Another Surge in the Virus Has Colleges Fearing a Mental Health Crisis. (Almost every college kid I know is in this boat. The transition to college is hard enough. The transition during a pandemic is brutal.)


Working on the Blockchain Gang

"Carter is part of a wave of executives and engineers leaving cushy jobs at Google, Amazon, Apple and other large tech companies — some of which pay millions of dollars in annual compensation — to chase what they see as a once-in-a-generation opportunity. That next big thing is crypto, they said, a catchall designation that includes digital currencies like Bitcoin and products like nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which rely on the blockchain." Here's a preview of the story that will dominate tech news in 2022. The New Get-Rich-Faster Job in Silicon Valley: Crypto Startups.


Koch Ring of Power

"When COVID began its spread across the United States in early March 2020, states responded by locking down to varying extents. All 24 Democratic governors and 19 of the 26 Republican governors issued weeks-long stay-at-home orders and restrictions on non-essential businesses ... Before long, business-aligned groups — particularly those connected to fossil fuels — began targeting the public health measures threatening their bottom lines. Chief among them were groups tied to billionaire Charles Koch, owner of Koch Industries, the largest privately held fossil fuel company in the world." How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On COVID. (Political movements don't just happen. They are funded. And often, those doing the funding couldn't give a shit about those doing the protesting.)


Cliff Diving

"From 2019 to 2020, the age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 16.8%. This single-year increase is the largest since the first year that annual mortality data for the entire United States became available. The decrease in life expectancy for the total population of 1.8 years from 2019 to 2020 is the largest single-year decrease in more than 75 years." CDC Report Shows Steep Drop in US Life Expectancy in 2020.


Cowboy Booty

"The honky-tonk bar under neon lights on the town square serves Grand Teton Amber Ale and Yellowstone Lemonade. The Cowboy Coffee Co. offers bison chili, and the Five & Dime General Store sells Stetson hats and souvenirs made from bullets. In this tourist-friendly Western town, home to four celebrated arches fashioned from elk antlers, lawyers and estate planners draw customers with something far more exclusive. It's called the 'Cowboy Cocktail,' and in recent years the coveted financial arrangement has attracted a new set of outsiders to the least populated state in America." How Wyoming became one of the world's top tax havens.


Canoe Perspective

"'I felt like I followed that light shining all the way across the country ... My journey was one of illumination. So to finally see that beacon up close, that flame of liberty, after seeing it in so many people I met across this land, it was overwhelming.' Traveling by river became metaphoric: Just as rivers connect towns and cities, Mr. Moore said, he began exploring connections between people often separated by race, class and political stripe. 'I wanted to see the country up close and personal at this interesting time, with the pandemic and all the political strife, to find out what it actually means to be American today.'" NYT (Gift Article): Two Years, 22 Rivers, 7,500 Miles. Crossing America by Canoe.


Bottom of the News

"Authorities said they found a gun under the passenger's seat while searching the car and discovered the drugs while searching the passenger. The man said the drugs were not his, but didn't say who the drugs belonged to." Florida man with drugs around penis denies they were his. (And my guess is that about 60 million Americans believe him.)

+ Buzzfeed's picks for most powerful photos of the year. And Inside Hook's look at the 50 Best Memes of 2021.