Friday, February 11th, 2022


The Truck Stops Here

The trucker protest is still roadblocking parts of Canada and the writing on the mudflaps suggests the convoy could be headed to a city near you. The Department of Homeland Security "has received reports of truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers." In Ottawa, the movement (or lack thereof) is about populism, but it's not about popular opinion. "News coverage of the convoy, especially from sympathetic anchors on Fox News, may lead Americans to believe that Canada is in the midst of a far-right popular uprising. In reality, the mainstream consensus in Canada about Covid-19, and the nation's institutions in general, is holding. The so-called trucker movement is on the fringe, including among Canadian truckers — some 90 percent of whom are vaccinated." And it's not about the bottom line for truckers. Even the teamsters have denounced the blockade. But even a fringe movement can have a middle of the road impact when its members have 18 wheelers and are convinced the world is big rigged against them.

This is not to say that all this axle rose out of nothing, and the support the convoys are getting (some from the GOP) didn't just fall off the back of a truck. But the truckers are hardly reinventing the wheel. "Lurking below the surface is the same undercurrent of populism that powered the January 6 Capitol insurrection and the yellow vests movement: a powerful current fed by disinformation, conspiratorial thinking and deepening social divides." And to quote the greatest trucking song of all time, when it comes to closing those social divides, we got a long way to go and a short time to get there.


Never Putin His Place

"Mr Biden said he would not send troops to rescue Americans if Moscow invades Ukraine.
He warned that "things could go crazy quickly" in the region." BBC: Joe Biden says US citizens should leave Ukraine now.

+ 15 year-old superstar skater Kamila Valieva, a gold medal favorite, is now facing international heat after a positive drug test. (They may have to change their name to the Russian Olympic Subcommittee...)

+ "Vladimir Putin's Russia has perfected the art of flouting the rules, whether the venue is the Olympic arena, international diplomacy or meddling in other countries' elections from the comfort of home. And it has suffered little consequence for its actions." At Olympics and beyond, getting away with it is Russia's way.


Shiffringe Element

"However artificial the setting, there is something compelling when people dare to show their humanness in public. It would have been easy for Shiffrin to invent a story to explain away her weakness. Instead, she did something remarkable: She publicly demonstrated what it means to be a human being in confusion and pain." Michael Gerson in WaPo: Mikaela Shiffrin's Olympic heartbreak offers an important message to viewers: You are not alone. (So much of sports viewing is less about who wins and more about the story. And Shiffrin gave us one. She came in ninth in the Super G, and that was one of the best stories of the Olympics so far. Shaun White came in 4th place in his final Olympics, but again, the story trumped the result as White broke down in tears and his much younger competitors lined up to give him a round of applause.)

+ White passed the torch to Japan's Ayumu Hirano who put together two super human half pipe runs to take home the gold. Hirano's second run had the potential to be the Games' most controversial moment when the judges inexplicably gave him a second place score for the greatest half pipe of all time. Luckily, his third run was even better. The NYT: See How Ayumu Hirano Made Olympic History in Halfpipe to Win Gold.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Pam and Tommy on Hulu is an interesting watch. You start out hating Tommy Lee (who can't be as stupid as he's portrayed) for his terrible behavior. Then you hate Pam Anderson for her bad taste in men. Then you hate the guys who stole and distributed the video. Then you hate the internet for so quickly and easily being used for nefarious purposes. Then you hate the people who made the show which just seems to pile on to what was already a terrible experience for Pam Anderson. Then you hate yourself for watching it. What's not to love?

+ What to Read: "I've never really liked my personality, and other people don't like it either. In grad school, a partner and I were assigned to write fake obituaries for each other by interviewing our families and friends. The nicest thing my partner could shake out of my loved ones was that I 'really enjoy grocery shopping.' Recently, a friend named me maid of honor in her wedding; on the website for the event, she described me as 'strongly opinionated and fiercely persistent.' Not wrong, but not what I want on my tombstone. I've always been bad at parties because the topics I bring up are too depressing, such as everything that's wrong with my life, and everything that's wrong with the world, and the futility of doing anything about either ... my editors wanted me to see if I could change my personality, and I'll try anything once. Maybe I, too, could become a friendly extrovert who doesn't carry around emergency Xanax." Olga Khazan in The Atlantic: I Gave Myself Three Months to Change My Personality. The results were mixed. (I'm working on a parallel project, but instead of changing my personality, I'm giving everyone else in the world three months to change theirs...)

+ What to Hear: Eddie Vedder's new star-studded album Earthling just dropped. Start with Long Way Home, an obvious homage to Tom Petty. Bonus: Here's Bruce Springsteen interviewing Eddie Vedder about the album.


Extra, Extra

Are You Ready for Some Crypto? Some commercials airing during Sunday's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams are more than just product placements. They are attempts at persuading viewers to seriously consider cryptocurrency investments and sports betting, activities that have to do with money but with a whole lot more financial risk involved. Ads for crypto companies and sports betting sites will be all over the Super Bowl. And SI: The Super Bowl Will Be a Crypto Ad Onslaught. Meanwhile, Americans are expected to consume about 1.42 billion chicken wings on game day.

+ But Her Emails: "Former President Donald Trump's alleged improper handling of White House records while he was in office and after he decamped to Florida has prompted fresh scrutiny over whether he flouted federal law and, if he did, whether he can be held accountable for doing so." (Alleged. Ha! Improper handling. Ha! Ha! Held accountable. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!) And, Records obtained by Jan. 6 panel don't list Trump's calls. (Maybe he'll be held accountable for that, too. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! )

+ Car and Race: "While it claims to not tolerate racial harassment or discrimination at its factories, Tesla's investigations of complaints are not compliant with law." California sues Tesla over alleged rampant discrimination against Black employees.

+ Scotus Operandi: Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: "The 6–3 majority-conservative Supreme Court is dangerously out of step with a demographically and culturally changing America." (In other words, it is precisely what the Federalist Society built it to be.)


Feel Good Friday

"32-year-old man in Lincolnwood, Illinois was arrested by police after breaking into an elderly woman's home and holding her hostage for 17 hours. Police were called by the woman's family to do a wellness check after she failed to send her daughter the usual morning Wordle puzzle."

+ "For Audrey Soape, the father-daughter dance is a big social event and always a highlight of her year. This year, though, as it was drawing near, the 11-year-old was filled with dread. Audrey's father died in March. Just five weeks later, she also lost her grandfather, who would have been her stand-in date to the dance." WaPo: Her dad died. So her favorite NFL star took her to the father-daughter dance.

+ WaPo: A stranger bought this Broadway star a ticket years ago when he couldn't afford it. They just reunited.

+ A new program in Canada gives doctors the option of prescribing national park visits.

+ Two teenagers fell through the ice in a Missouri lake. A group of firefighters just happened to be doing ice rescue training nearby.

+ Dollywood Parks and Resorts will cover 100% of tuition, fees and books for any employee.

+ A man has been rescued from the sea after a dog spotted him struggling and barked non-stop to alert its owner. (My beagles only bark nonstop to alert me to the fact that they are barking nonstop.)