February 8th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

An American Gold For China

“Before Eileen Gu took to the air and spun 4½ times into a new echelon of fame, she called her mother. She needed to make a critical decision: Perfect a familiar trick, or unfurl one she had never done. Mom told her to play it safe. The daughter, 18 going on immortality, rejected caution. ‘Mom, executive call!’ Gu exclaimed. ‘Vetoed.'” Gu’s mom shouldn’t feel bad. Every teenager is predisposed to veto parental advice, and Eileen Gu is less likely than most to be swayed by the opinions of others. Gu grew up in San Francisco. But in the Beijing Olympics, she’s competing for China. Don’t like that? Oh, Gu hoo. She doesn’t care. It’s all much a Gu about nothing. Your slippery slope is her ski jump ramp. “Here’s the thing: I’m not trying to keep anyone happy. I’m an 18-year-old girl trying to live my best life. I know that I have a good heart and know that my reasons are for the common interest and greater good. No matter what I say, if people don’t have a good heart, they won’t believe me because they can’t empathize with people who do have a good heart. So in that sense, I feel as though it’s a lot easier to block out the hate now. If people don’t believe me and people don’t like me, that’s their loss. And also, they’re never going to know what it feels like to win the Olympics.” Well, Gu does know what it’s like to win gold, and she still has two more events. So you do you, Gu’s gonna do Gu. WaPo (Gift Article): Eileen Gu is an original, and the world is going to have to deal with it. (My teens are tougher on me and they can barely snowplow.)

+ Eileen Gu in the NYT: “I’m proud of the work I’ve done to cope with pressure by bolstering my self-esteem and minimizing my need for external validation. I focus on gratitude, perspective, and on the joy this sport brings me, regardless of whether I’m alone or in front of a worldwide TV audience. Though my views of myself and the world are constantly evolving, one thing is for certain: no matter how much time passes, I’ll always be a hopeless romantic when it comes to fear.”

+ Gu bidding America Adieu hits a little harder since the US has yet to win its first gold medal.

+ While the sports are fun to watch, the internet stars of these games are the weird smokestacks that would make better backdrops for a Bruce Springsteen song than a winter sport competition. There’s no real snow at these games. The outdoor scenes are depressingly ugly. Whatever the IOC was paid off, it wasn’t enough.

+ 5 Olympic skiers disqualified for baggy outfits.


(Don’t) Blame Canada

“The so-called ‘freedom convoy’ – which departed for Ottawa on 23 January – was the brainchild of James Bauder, an admitted conspiracy theorist who has endorsed the QAnon movement and called Covid-19 ‘the biggest political scam in history.’ Bauder’s group, Canada Unity, contends that vaccine mandates and passports are illegal under Canada’s constitution, the Nuremberg Code and a host of other international conventions.” 5G and QAnon: how conspiracy theorists steered Canada’s anti-vaccine trucker protest.

+ It’s antiscience, antihealth, and antireality. That’s a hat trick some Americans just can’t resist. Canada pushes back against GOP support for COVID protests.


Private Telegram

“In my several long conversations with Campo, he seemed deeply torn about Telegram. He still felt a profound admiration for Durov, and he saw the surges of new users as personal vindication for quitting his old job at WhatsApp. But he had started to wonder about the lack of transparency and insular culture around his boss—a man whose whims may increasingly influence the fate of democracy around the world.” Darren Loucaides in Wired: How Telegram Became the Anti-Facebook. “Hundreds of millions of users. No algorithm. No ads. Courage in the face of autocracy. Sound like a dream? Careful what you wish for.”

+ Peter Thiel has stepped down from the Meta board (to spend more time with Satan, Asmodeus, and Beelzebub.)


Oscar Pileup

The Oscar nominations (which these days seem like awards for shows not good enough to be made into television series) are out, with TEN nominations for best picture. Power of the Dog and Dune led the nominees. Here’s the full list. Here are the snubs and surprises. And here are the winners and losers from The Ringer: “No matter which movie you were rooting for, you likely came out of the nominations with at least something to be happy about. Unless, of course, you were rooting for House of Gucci.”


Extra, Extra

Vote Moat: In a 5-4 decision, the “Supreme Court handed down a deeply alarming decision that suggests that the Court’s Republican majority is about to cut away one of the few parts of the Voting Rights Act that it hasn’t already killed or gutted.”

+ Assurance Insurance: “I secured an assurance there would be no deterioration or escalation.” So said French President Emmanuel Macron after meeting with Putin. Russia responded, “Not exactly.” Meanwhile, Biden has threatened to shut down a key pipeline before it’s operational. What’s Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe?

+ (S)lander: “President Joe Biden’s top science adviser Eric Lander resigned Monday, hours after the White House confirmed that an internal investigation found credible evidence that he mistreated his staff.” (Sounds like that’s an understatement. His hair alone should have been cause for dismissal.)

+ Oh, Deer Lord, No: Widespread coronavirus infections have been detected in Iowa’s white-tailed deer. “Scientists worry the disease could mutate in animals and spread back to humans.”

+ Matrimoney: Feds arrest couple who allegedly laundered $1 billion in stolen bitcoins. (My wife and I need a hobby.)

+ Young Still Restless: Neil Young to Spotify workers: “Get out before it eats your soul.” (Neil Young is gonna be bummed to find out that Spotify is like the 348th worst internet company.)


Bottom of the News

“A Los Angeles nun and school principal who stole more than $800,000 to pay for a gambling habit was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison.” (See the subtle use of the habit pun by the AP. In the business, that’s what’s known as the NextDraft effect.)

+ Tom Brady is already hinting that he may change his mind about retiring.

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