Monday, January 3rd, 2022


False Positive

Happy New Year. We have a problem. It's a false positive problem. Tens of millions of Americans are positive about falsehoods. At the top of the list is the aptly named Big Lie and its connections to the January 6th insurrection. You can look at the specifics. "Four in 10 Republicans have a different conception of who was involved in the first place, saying most of those who forced their way into the Capitol were left-leaning groups pretending to be Trump supporters." You can take the broader view: 52% of Republicans say those involved in the riot were "protecting democracy." Or you can pull back for a more general perspective: About a third of Americans think violence against the government can be justified. "A majority continue to say that violence against the government is never justified — but the 62 percent who hold that view is a new low point, and a stark difference from the 1990s, when as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified." (At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if 46% of Americans believe it's still 2021.)

+ "Our political life seems more or less normal these days, as the president pardons turkeys and Congress quarrels over spending bills. But peel back a layer, and things are far from normal." NYT Editorial Board: Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now. (Let's get that urgency out of the op-ed section and onto the front page where it belongs.)

+ "This is not the kind of thing I expected to ever worry about in the United States ... I kind of feel like a climate scientist from five years ago or [an] expert on viruses a couple of years ago, sounding the alarm and just hoping that we're not too late already." NPR: The clear and present danger of Trump's enduring Big Lie.

+ Margaret Sullivan in WaPo: If American democracy is going to survive, the media must make this crucial shift. The "pro-democracy coverage is not being 'centered' by the media writ large. It's occasional, not regular; it doesn't appear to be part of an overall editorial plan that fully recognizes just how much trouble we're in. That must change."

+ A reminder. Things can change in a hurry. "Lawmakers in Hong Kong's new 'patriots only' legislature swore oaths of allegiance on Monday as it sat for the first time following a new selection process that barred the city's traditional democracy opposition."

+ Unless those who attempted to overthrow a US election are punished and unless those supporting The Big Lie are held to account, the bad actors are just gonna keep laughing their asses off. Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is promoting an election fraud board game.


Aiming Lower

Boosters could be hitting the arms of adolescents soon as the FDA authorizes a Pfizer booster shot for children ages 12 to 15. The CDC just needs to give the plan a thumbs up.

+ Following the path forged by Rubik's Cube, Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmo, and Beyblades, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test was the hottest Christmas gift this year. Here's what you need to know about at-home rapid tests and their results.


It Gets Worse

Empires come and go. Terror groups rise and fall. And through it all, the Afghan people just trying to life a seminormal life are the victims. Parents selling children shows desperation of Afghanistan. "Aziz Gul's husband sold the 10-year-old girl into marriage without telling his wife, taking a down-payment so he could feed his family of five children. Without that money, he told her, they would all starve. He had to sacrifice one to save the rest. Many of Afghanistan's growing number of destitute people are making desperate decisions such as these as their nation spirals into a vortex of poverty."

+ Afghanistan: The Humanitarian Catastrophe is the Security Threat.


The Box and the Hound

"What's happening right now, though, is that a few private companies are disseminating a massive amount of the world's news and it's largely happening inside black boxes ... I think figuring out ways to both help and, in some cases, force, large platforms to be more transparent with news and civic content as it's in the process of being disseminated can ultimately help make social platforms better homes for public discourse — and in a lot of ways, help them live up to a lot of their original promise." A key former Facebooker is working with political leaders to make social networks more transparent. Ben Smith: A Former Facebook Executive Pushes to Open Social Media's 'Black Boxes.'

+ "I love the idealism of the Web3 vision, but we've been there before." Tim O'Reilly (who coined the term Web 2.0): Why it's too early to get excited about Web3. (At every step towards Web3, we need to consider the question we ignored the first time around: How might the bad guys use this?)


Making a Mountain Out of a Mole

"When the Canucks were at Climate Pledge Arena on Oct. 23, the Kraken's home opener, Popovici — sitting behind the Canucks bench — typed a message out on her phone, knocked on the plexiglass and got Hamilton's attention. 'The mole on the back of your neck is cancer.'" Kraken fan Nadia Popovici lauded for pointing out Canucks equipment manager Brian Hamilton's cancerous mole during game. (This is a good one, folks.)

+ Team owner's act of generosity leaves staff 'speechless,' in tears.


Forest-Alling The Inevitable

"By the standards of the megafires and gigafires of the last few years, the Marshall Fire was quite small — 6,000 acres, all told, once it was finally, poetically, brought to an end by snowfall on New Year's Eve. But following the driest and second-warmest fall in 150 years, the devastation was harrowing out of proportion to its scale, since unlike most wildfire it was not in wildland or forest but was — as the climate scientist Daniel Swain, who lives in Boulder, put it — an 'urban firestorm.'" David Wallace-Wells in New York Mag: The Return of the Urban Firestorm. What happened in Colorado was something much scarier than a wildfire.


Car and Striver

My only prediction for 2022 is that it will be the year the 2021 cars finally arrive. But even that is more of an aspiration than a prediction, as for me, the emoticon of the year was my Volvo's check engine light. My kids keep telling me to get a new car. And I keep telling them there are no new cars to get. Here's how the car shortage could change buying behavior forever.


Map Quest

"Thirty years ago, when Li Jingwei was four years old, a neighbour abducted him from his home village in China's Yunnan province and sold him to a child trafficking ring. Now he has been reunited with his mother after drawing a map of his home village from his memories of three decades ago and sharing it on a popular video-sharing app."


White Power Button

There were TVs in American households. And there was Betty White on those TVs. Betty White Was Always on TV She's owned the medium—in multiple ways—for its entire history.

+ 15 Amazing Facts About Betty White.


Bottom of the News

"You might dismiss the World's Best Rice as a marketing stunt; Toyo Rice only produces a few hundred boxes a year. But the concept that a person's palate can be trusted to rate and rank batches of plain white rice, like single-origin coffee or grower Champagne, has a mainstream following in Japan." The Tenacious Quest to Find the World's Best Rice.