Friday, January 28th, 2022


Paying Through the Nose

That's it. Breathe it all in. Bill Clinton may not have inhaled. But, even during Covid and with your mask on, you do. And that's why retailers have you right where they want you. The smell that's all around you may not even consciously register with shoppers, but it registers at the register. While you're focused on what you see when you're shopping, store owners are focused on what you smell. And that's where people like Spence Levy come in. He sells the smells that make you follow your nose. "'Many people, in the beginning, were very hesitant. 'Why would I want to spend money on that?' So, he offered stores a free trial of his machines and would come back a week later. 'They were like, 'Wow, people stayed longer,' Levy said. They 'ran their own studies and told us that...people...purchased more, they came back more often.'" (The spend-inducing odor must be pretty similar to the smell of computer laptops, because my family spends a hell of lot shopping on those.) Morning Brew: Smell that? Scents are a key part of a store's identity, even in Covid. (This is one of those times that I'm glad my favorite odor is a combination of cash and leather. Forget napalm in the morning, money in my wallet smells like victory.)


Dose, But No Cigar

We (justifiably) spend a lot of time on vaccine hesitancy. But let's pause here to celebrate just how much vaccine has been plunged into human arms. As of this week, 10 billion doses have been administered globally, and 25.15 million are now administered each day. Yes, some stubborn people are still abstaining, but in less than half the time it usually takes humans to come up with an effective vaccine, this one has become more popular than cocaine at Studio 54. That's the good news. The bad news is that, like at Studio 54, there is a velvet rope between people and good stuff. Only 9.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. And in many cases, those doses aren't nearly as good as the stuff wealthy countries are getting.

+ The effectiveness of vaccines has been solid across the board. But there are clearly other factors at work in some places. NPR: Africa may have reached the pandemic's holy grail.

+ During the Novax Djokovic saga, I wrote: "If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Novax didn't break isolation while positive, but instead faked a positive result to get out of Australia's vaccination requirement." BBC did more than just hypothesize, and my bet is looking pretty good. Novak Djokovic: Doubts over timing of Covid test.

+ NYC Mayor's Office Tells New Yorkers: Get a COVID Test if You've Been Anywhere Near Sarah Palin. (She still seems less toxic than she used to be.)


Talibanana Republic

"No longer are fighters like Mr. Omer sleeping under the stars, avoiding airstrikes and planning ambushes against foreign troops or the Western-backed Afghan government. Instead, they are wrestling with the same economic hardships gripping their countrymen, with the same threat of Islamic State attacks and with the raucous, puzzling, winding streets and back alleys of Kabul, a city of about 4.5 million people that they are practically strangers to." Some pretty amazing reporting in this NYT Gift Article: On Patrol: 12 Days With a Taliban Police Unit in Kabul. This article presents a hell of a lot of differences between us and them, but one notable similarity: "Their phones are the focus of much of their downtime."


Weekend Whats

What to Dave: I got a ton of reactions to my lead item yesterday. If you missed it or want to share, I posted it on Medium: "As the son of two Holocaust survivors it may surprise you that on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I'm making the following request: Forget the Holocaust."

+ What to Watch: The Italian drama Gomorrah on HBO about a the Naples mafia is one of the best and most (globally) popular shows of the past decade. Warning that it's quite violent. Think of it as The Sopranos without any of the levity. The fifth and final season just dropped.

+ What to Comedy: Aziz Ansari has a good, short comedy club set up on Netflix. It's being wildly overanalyzed in the media. It's comedy. Relax. While the comedy club set is good, Ansari's theater gig from 2019 is great. Aziz Ansari: Right Now.


Extra, Extra

Snow 'Clone: "The low pressure area responsible for this blizzard will undergo a process known as bombogenesis, and it's therefore referred to as a bomb cyclone." Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine. An atmospheric scientist explains: What is a bomb cyclone? And possibly related from GQ: The Rescue Artists of the New Avalanche Age. (These guys might want to head towards Boston...)

+ Infrastructure Weak: "At least 10 people were injured when a snow-covered bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed early Friday, just hours before President Biden was due to visit the city to highlight his push for infrastructure improvement." (Can we stop pushing for infrastructure and start building?)

+ Vlad's Nads: "Russia is a country of 142 million people with a hollowed-out petro economy about the size of South Korea's. Together, Europe's big three powers—Germany, France, and Britain—dwarf Russia in terms of wealth and population; the whole of democratic Europe, even more so. And yet, Europe is of secondary importance in this crisis even though it is happening on its own continent. For the West, the obvious reality is that America still calls the shots." The Atlantic: The Battle for the Future of the West.

+ Keep Your Shirt On: The Tongan taekwondo and skiing athlete Pita Taufatofua won't be baring his greased torso during the Beijing Olympic opening ceremonies. He's staying in Tonga to help with post-Tsunami recovery. This video has some incredible shots of just how massive that volcanic eruption really was.


Feel Good Friday

"I crossed the 200 Guinness World Records broken milestone with one of the 5 hardest for the most kiwis sliced in one minute using a samurai sword while standing on a swiss ball ... I revisited my very first record – longest duration blindfolded juggling, this time extended the record from 22 minutes 7 seconds to 32 minutes 7 seconds." Idaho man says he completed his goal of breaking 52 world records in a single year.

+ "That's how Gans ended up in a British military jeep, speeding through the heart of the Reich as it crumbled, on a 400-mile quest to save his parents. He had food rations, a few extra tanks of gas, a machine gun, a handgun, a bag of grenades and — to drive — a young private named Bob. Also, the brakes on the jeep did not work." WaPo (Gift Article): The Jewish commando who rescued his parents from a Nazi concentration camp.

+ Moderna launches clinical trial for HIV vaccine that uses mRNA technology.

+ Kansas City Chiefs fans donate thousands to children's hospital fund named for Josh Allen's grandmother.

+ Brittany Bowe to Compete in 500m Race at Winter Olympics After Giving Up Event Spot to Teammate.

+ Bidens introduce their new White House cat, Willow, who jumped onstage at a 2020 campaign stop. (If they think humans are tough when it comes to approval ratings, wait until they find out what Willow thinks of them.)

+ In closing, Go Niners.