Friday, January 7th, 2022


Hard Boiled Detective

In this era where part of America believes one thing and the other part believes another, is there any topic on which we can all agree? Maybe this: ‘Cage-Free' Is Basically Meaningless, and Other Lies Your Egg Carton Is Telling You. Cage Free: "The birds that laid these eggs weren't kept in cages, but that doesn't mean they ever went outside, or weren't crammed into an overpopulated barn." Free Range: "In some cases, this can mean access only through a 'pop hole,' with no full-body access to the outdoors and no minimum space requirement." (Not unlike covid home quarantine.) Is this big, breaking news? No, but it's one of those Fridays when we need to start things sunny side up. I'd rather we'd agree about the insurrection or mask-wearing, but let's at least agree on brunch.


We Are the World

Whether we choose to believe it or not, we're all in this Covid thing together. As long as swaths of the world are unvaccinated, variants will emerge. We need a cheap vaccine any country can make. And we may have one, in Texas. A Texas team comes up with a COVID vaccine that could be a global game changer. "The real beauty of the CORBEVAX vaccine that Drs. Hotez and Bottazzi created is that intellectual property of this vaccine will be available to everybody ... So you can get manufacturers in Senegal, and South Africa and Latin America to be able to produce this particular vaccine."

+ From Vox: Rapid tests, omicron, and you. "Should we be swabbing our noses or our throats for at-home tests? Do rapid tests even detect omicron at all? Are PCR tests the only results we can trust right now?" (I'm, er, asking for a friend...)

+ LAT: Orange County reports third COVID-19 death of a child younger than 5


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: In 14 Peaks on Netflix, Nepali mountaineer Nirmal Purja embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world's 8,000-meter peaks in seven months. (If you need an inspiration boost, Nims will give it to you.)

+ What to Watch: Silent Sea is a Korean series on Netflix that tracks a perilous 24-hour mission on the moon where explorers try to retrieve samples from an abandoned research facility steeped in classified secrets. It's about a world short of water and ethics. It starts slow, but hold on.

+ What to Book: Jennifer Egan's follow-up to A Visit from the Goon Squad is coming out in a few months, so this is a great time to read (or re-read) this remarkably good novel.

+ What to Read: "What if Hillary Clinton had spent the months leading up to the election arguing that Trump was working to rig it? What if after the election, Clinton refused to concede and insisted that Trump and his cronies had cheated? And what if it didn't stop there?" If you missed it yesterday, please check out and share this thought experiment by the prolific and always excellent Dave Pell. Blinded By The Lie: Trying to find some understanding a year after the insurrection.


Mandate with Destiny

"Two lawyers, representing Ohio and Louisiana, argued by telephone after recent positive COVID-19 tests, state officials said. But the COVID circumstances did not appear to outweigh the views of the court's six conservatives that the administration overstepped its authority in its vaccine-or-testing requirement for businesses with at least 100 employees." Supreme Court skeptical of Biden's workplace vaccine rule. (It's worth reading that above quote a few times.)

+ "The most immediate consequence will be a repeal of the mandates. The government estimates that these rules would save hundreds or thousands of lives every month. So the court will exacerbate the omicron wave while ensuring that thousands more people needlessly die from COVID. Despite these high stakes, the longer-term consequences are arguably worse." Slate: The Hidden Agenda Behind the Attack on Vaccine Mandates.

+ Time: The Enormous Stakes of Biden's Vaccine Mandates at the Supreme Court.


Arbery Killers Get Life

"Three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced Friday to life in prison, with a judge denying any chance of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and initiated the deadly pursuit of the 25-year-old Black man." (Reminder: Without the viral video, there would have never been a trial. And there's usually not a viral video.)


Save Yourself

"It was a powerful speech, an angry speech. A necessary speech. It was also a speech that Biden wanted very much not to deliver. Because doing so meant acknowledging that, although Trump may be out of office, Trump and Trumpism have not been banished but live on as the dominating, unpleasant reality of American political life, a year after his appalling refusal to accept the election results should have exiled him forevermore from the public space. Whether or not Biden uses Trump's name, it is hanging over his Presidency." The New Yorker: Biden, Back Into the Breach.

+ OK, so what? He gave the speech. We're still in the same boat we were in before the speech. Now what do we do? Richard L. Hasen has some ideas in the NYT (Gift Article): No One Is Coming to Save Us From the ‘Dagger at the Throat of America.'


Kazakhstan Crackdowns

"Kazakhstan's authoritarian leader says he has ordered security forces to 'fire without warning', amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also said "20,000 bandits" had attacked the main city of Almaty, the epicentre of protests sparked by a fuel price hike. He blamed foreign-trained 'terrorists', without giving evidence." BBC: Kazakhstan unrest: Troops ordered to fire without warning.

+ Dramatic scenes from Kazakhstan's massive protests and crackdown.

+ Vice: One-Fifth of Global Bitcoin Mining Capacity Taken Out by Kazakhstan Protests. (Ever worry about this whole Bitcoin thing?)


To Sir, RIP with Love

"Poitier was the first actor to star in mainstream Hollywood movies that depicted a Black man in a non-stereotypical fashion, and his influence, especially during the 1950s and '60s as role model and image-maker, was immeasurable." Sidney Poitier, Regal Star of the Big Screen, Dies at 94. Oh man, my youth was just a series of Poitier movies. Patch of Blue, To Sir with Love, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Many more. What a run.

+ Sidney Poitier: a life in pictures.


CD Crowd

"Wallen's bad-boy behavior likely helped sales of his release, Dangerous: The Double Album. The album was the top seller across genres, with 3.2 million units sold." Morgan Wallen and Adele topped music sales in 2021.

+ CD Sales Have Increased for the First Time in 17 Years. (I'm sure this has nothing to do with folks preparing for end times...)


Feel Good Friday

"The dog, called North, kept Grga Brkic warm after he fell while out hiking and was unable to move. The other two hikers with him were unable to reach them, so they raised the alarm." ‘A real miracle': dog saves injured hiker stranded in Croatian mountains. (The guy's lucky he didn't bring his cat.)

+ 'Real-life Lassie': Dog leads New Hampshire police to her injured owner following crash. (I'm trying to pressure my beagles to be a little more helpful around the house.)

+ Preet Chandi is the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica. (She might be the only one in the world who didn't get omicron during this period.)

+ I need to briefly pause to send this direct message to one of my sisters: Coca-Cola is making boozy canned Fresca.

+ Partying passengers stuck in Mexico after airlines decline to fly them home. (When you party so hard that international leaders chime in, it's something.)

+ Drone carrying a defibrillator saves its first heart attack patient in Sweden.

+ Peruvian statue's giant penis thrills tourists but vandals are turned off. "Visitors stop for selfies with 9ft representation of fertility symbol from pre-Columbian Mochica culture but phallus already damaged." I know a damaged penis doesn't sound like feel good news, but when you're packing 9 feet, a few nicks and dents here and there aren't a big deal.