Tuesday, January 25th, 2022


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Weakened

What's the point of the anti-mask, anti-vax nonsense from so many politicians? I mean, we know the point: riling people up, getting votes, winning. But what's the argument being made? As Kurt Anderson explains in The Atlantic, all the old arguments are, like so many unvaccinated Americans, dead. "The economy is no longer in jeopardy; unemployment rates and salaries have returned to pre-pandemic levels; GDP per person is higher than it was at the end of 2019; personal savings are growing, and businesses are starting up faster than ever; corporate profits and stock prices are at record highs. And for more than a year, we've had astoundingly effective vaccines that radically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. All of which means that for a long time now the right's ongoing propaganda campaign against and organized political resistance to vaccination, among other public-health protocols, has been killing many, many Americans for no reasonable, ethically justifiable social purpose." The Anti-Vaccine Right Brought Human Sacrifice to America.

+ False information is deadly to Americans, and it weakens America. As Fiona Hill explained, one of the reasons Putin is pushing on Ukraine now is because he senses America's weakness. The same folks who are weakening our communal immune system are weakening our global strength. "Democratic representative Tom Malinowski said in a tweet his office was fielding calls from Tucker Carlson viewers 'upset that we're not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine.'"

+ Midwit Bill Maher joked that "Joe Biden announced he will give away 400 million N95 masks. The masks come in three sizes: Small, Medium, and Virtue Signal." Trust me, I make fun of the left and I can take a joke. But on the day this joke was made, 3,896 Americans died of Covid. And besides, what the hell is wrong with signaling that you're virtuous? Isn't it worse to signal you're an asshole? By adding to the bullshit, Bill Maher finally lived up to his initials.

+ And it's not just bad rhetoric. It's bad reality. New Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin opened his tenure by going after his state's young kin by allowing parents to opt their kids out of school mask mandates (because school administrators aren't having a hard enough time managing this crap already). The result. Chaos. I'll leave the retort to Tom Petty on this one.

+ How terrible are some of the arguments? I'll let RFK Jr handle that answer with his take on vaccine mandates: "Even in Hitler's Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you can hide in the attic like Anne Frank did. Today the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run, none of us can hide." Two quick historical notes: Anne Frank was not hiding from people trying to SAVE her life. And (checks notes) hiding in the attic didn't work...

+ How powerful is the false information? Here's NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton on why he won't get vaxxed or wear a mask: "I think it's highly recorded now, there's 150 I believe now, it's over 100 professional athletes dead — professional athletes — the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court." Even Joe Rogan doesn't believe that nonsense...


When the Dow Breaks

We know that researchers have learned a tremendous amount about Covid trends by studying sewage. It turns out that while they were down there, they found my stock portfolio. Ugh what a month. The only thing worse than the shrinkage are the headlines that pretend to know exactly why the badness is happening. Whatever the combination of factors, stocks continue to fall sharply as a bout of market volatility continues.


Baby Boom

Debate over sending Americans monthly checks "tended to focus on its effect on parents. Detractors worried that the measure would deter parents from working, while supporters argued any blowback on labor would be minimal. But an equally if not more important question came up less often: What does the expanded child tax credit mean for children? A new study suggests that direct cash payments like the tax credit might meaningfully alter the neurological development of newborns in families that receive the money." Can giving parents cash help with babies' brain development?


Cosmos Def

"Thirty days after its launch, the tennis court-size telescope made its way into a parking spot that's about a million miles away from Earth. From there, it will begin its ambitious mission to better understand the early days of our universe, peer at distant exoplanets and their atmospheres and help answer large-scale questions such as how quickly the universe is expanding." NPR: The James Webb telescope reaches its final destination in space, a million miles away.

+ "The observatory's unprecedented infrared measurements might at last bridge a growing rift between astronomers over how fast the universe is expanding."

+ It's a great day for science. It's a terrible day for a young Alvy Singer's homework.


Extra, Extra

Don't Bogart That Pipeline My Friend: "An undersea pipeline set to deliver gas from Russia to Germany has become exactly what the two countries have always insisted it would never be: A weapon in a geopolitical crisis." (Energy is so often at the heart of geopolitical crises...)

+ Rein of Terror: Climate change makes you worry about the future. It makes Sami reindeer herders worry about the present. A video: Life in the Arctic: the reindeer herders struggling against the climate crisis.

+ Reversible Shirt: "Tennis Australia reverses course on ban of Peng Shuai protest." Excellent. Yes, it's a small thing. But small things add up to big things.

+ Dropping a Deuce: At long last, you can forget your Number 2 pencil. The SAT is moving online. (I knew computers would eventually catch on.)


Bottom of the News

"Domesticity has never been so dangerous, as these daredevils jump from planes, scale mountains and head to the bottom of the ocean, all in pursuit of a little excitement, a great view and perfect creases." Mel Magazine: The Finely Pressed, Death-Defying World of Extreme Ironing.

+ Think playing football at Lambeau in January is cold? Trying running a marathon in Oymyakon, Yakutia's Pole of Cold.

+ Julian Lennon to auction NFT of Paul McCartney's notes for Hey Jude. Hey Jules, Na na, na na na na, na na na. Like, hell na.