Thursday, March 3rd, 2022


Keep Calm and Bury On?

What should we do about a longtime global criminal who is again thumbing his nose at the free world and who launched a war that has already resulted in the killing of thousands (including his own soldiers), the shaking of the post-Cold War order, and the movement of more than a million Ukrainian refugees — a war that just about every official is now warning is about to get a lot worse? For the answer, I'll turn things over to two experts with the same general view of the conflict and the same end goal, but with different takes on how America and NATO should respond. I encourage you to read both views.

Tom Nichols: Stay Calm. "Every measure of our outrage is natural, as are the calls for action. But emotions should never dictate policy ... I realize that this is easy for me to say. I am not in Kyiv, trying to spirit my child to safety. I am not watching the Russians approach my town. When I finish writing this, I will reassure my wife and sit down to share dinner with her in a quiet home on a peaceful street. But public figures and ordinary voters who are advocating for intervention also do so from the comfort of offices and homes where they can sound resolute by employing clinical euphemisms such as no-fly zone when what they mean is 'war.' ... If Putin reckoned on a quick victory and a dash to the West, that dream is over. He'll win on the ground in the short run, but in the end he'll be lucky to get out of Ukraine with his military intact—if he's even still in power."

Garry Kasparov with a Twitter thread: "We are witnessing, literally watching live, Putin commit genocide on an industrial scale in Ukraine while the most powerful military alliance in history stands aside ... There is no waiting this out. This isn't chess; there's no draw, no stalemate. Either Putin destroys Ukraine and eventually hits NATO with an even greater catastrophe, or Putin falls in Russia. He cannot be stopped with weakness."

+ Editor's note: Yesterday, as a kicker to my point about the parallels between disinformation in Russia and America, I linked to a video that was described as Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya peddling Trump's Big Lie. The translation was wrong. Recount Media took the video down and issued a correction. I immediately corrected the error on the web version of NextDraft and I'm calling it out here as well.


Between a Rock and a Hard Pace

Usually when business is unusually brisk, the people who run that business are feeling unusually happy. Not so for the proprietors of Domenick DeNigris Monuments and Mausoleums in the Bronx where business has been way to good for way too long. "'We probably have over 800 orders, it's so depressing,' said Don DeNigris, a third-generation co-owner of the company, which was founded in 1905 by his grandfather. 'We don't even count them anymore.' Mr. DeNigris added that they probably wouldn't complete all of the orders until the end of the year, explaining that demand had been up by '30 or 40 percent' over the past two years. The memorial industry has been hugely disrupted because of Covid-related demand, supply-chain issues and labor shortages." This is a backlog that is being felt by everyone in this business, and by the families of nearly a million Americans. NYT Gift Article: Tombstone Engravers Struggle to Keep Up With Demand.


Elephant, Man

In The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright looks at a curious legal crusade to redefine personhood. The Elephant in the Courtroom. "Habeas petitions are not often heard in court, which was only one reason that the case before New York Supreme Court Justice Alison Y. Tuitt—Nonhuman Rights Project v. James Breheny, et al.—was extraordinary. The subject of the petition was Happy, an Asian elephant in the Bronx Zoo. American law treats all animals as "things"—the same category as rocks or roller skates. However, if the Justice granted the habeas petition to move Happy from the zoo to a sanctuary, in the eyes of the law she would be a person. She would have rights. Humanity seems to be edging toward a radical new accommodation with the animal kingdom." (Humans also need to develop a radical new accommodation with other humans.)


Teach the Children? Well…

"Lawmakers in at least 17 state capitols and Congress are pushing legislation that would require schools to post all instructional materials online. Their goal, at least in part, is to enable parents who distrust their children's schools to carefully examine teaching materials — enabling protests or, in some cases, giving people fodder to opt their children out. That includes materials on race and racial equity but also any other topic that might spark disagreement." A new era. The same old culture war scare tactics. First ban the books. Then ban the ideas. WaPo Gift Article: New transparency bills would force teachers to post instructional materials.


Extra, Extra

Conspiracy of Dunces: "The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol said Wednesday for the first time that its evidence suggests crimes may have been committed by former President Donald Trump and his associates in the failed effort to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Trump and his associates engaged in a 'criminal conspiracy' to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College."

+ Purdue the Right Thing? "In all, the plan could be worth more than $10 billion over time. It calls for members of the Sackler family to give up control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company so it can be turned into a new entity with profits used to fight the crisis. The deal would not shield members of the family from criminal charges, although there's no indication any are forthcoming." Purdue Pharma, US states agree to new opioid settlement.

+ Shots in the Dark: "The verdict brings to an end the sole criminal proceedings connected with the killing of Taylor, the 26-year-old EMT who was shot dead by police as they raided her apartment around 1 a.m. on March 13, 2020." The Ex-Cop Charged Over The Breonna Taylor Raid Was Found Not Guilty Of Wanton Endangerment. (This is the officer who fired shots into a neighboring apartment.)

+ Keep Your Mouse Trap Shut: "Insiders say CEO Bob Chapek is less willing than predecessor Bob Iger to take public political stands — including on LGBTQ issues and voting rights. The new Disney chief's rep replies that he 'does not bring any partisan agenda to work.'" Why Disney Won't Say Much About Florida's "Don't Say Gay" Bill. Or... Why It's Not a Good Idea to Depend on Corporations to Fix Politics.

+ Algorithm and Blues: Judd Legum: A far-right website created 36 days ago is more popular on Facebook than the Washington Post.


Bottom of the News

"Rocket science may take us to outer space. But it will be human relationships that determine if we thrive as a spacefaring civilization." Inside the Push to Study Sex in Space. ("Hey, you told me you could definitely get it up!?" ... "Yeah, but I was talking about the spaceship.")

+ Kottke: The Inventor of the Screw-In Coffin. (They always screw you in the end...)