Friday, March 4th, 2022


Nature vs Nurture

Adolf (better known as Adi) and Rudolf Dassler were just starting to hit it big in the shoe business when a rift emerged—leading to one of the more notable family feuds in modern history. It may have been that their wives didn't get along. It may have been "Rudolf's increasing suspicion that his brother Adi was behind his conscription into the army and thus his short imprisonment." Whatever it was, the breakup was permanent. Adi stuck with the brothers' original shoe company (Adidas) and Rudolf broke away to start his own rival company (Puma). It's rare that a family fight ends with both parties moving on successfully. More often such fights end up with all parties being worse for the experience. In recent years, driven by insane news narratives and vile politics, America has been in an ever-worsening family feud, and that feud even extends to individual families. Alan Feuer in the NYT (Gift Article): Son Testifies Against Father in Jan. 6 Trial. "On Thursday, the son, Jackson Reffitt, faced his father from the witness stand in Federal District Court in Washington, testifying against him in a remarkable tableau that captured the painful rupture in one family — and in some ways the nation — caused by the events of Jan. 6, 2021. 'He said, ‘If you turn me in, you're a traitor,' Jackson Reffitt told the jury as his father watched him intently from across the courtroom and then looked down. 'And traitors get shot.'" (Thankfully, the apple fell a hell of a long way from this tree.)

+ The idea of a family feuding because some members are being duped or radicalized by false information is a sad reality not limited to Americans. Consider the case of Oleksandra and her four rescue dogs who have been sheltering in the bathroom of her flat in Kharkiv since the Russian invasion began. "The 25-year-old has been speaking regularly to her mother, who lives in Moscow. But in these conversations, and even after sending videos from her heavily bombarded hometown, Oleksandra is unable to convince her mother about the danger she is in. 'I didn't want to scare my parents, but I started telling them directly that civilians and children are dying,' she says. 'But even though they worry about me, they still say it probably happens only by accident, that the Russian army would never target civilians. That it's Ukrainians who're killing their own people.'" BBC: 'My city's being shelled, but mom won't believe me'

+ The false news narratives that divide even blood relatives can be life and death matters. That's why controlling the news is so important to dictators, authoritarians, mass-murderers, and others intent on clinging to minority rule. NYT: Last Vestiges of Russia's Free Press Fall Under Kremlin Pressure. It's people like Putin who refer to the press as "the enemy of the people."


We’re Done Here

"The rush in the rich countries to declare the pandemic 'over' while it continues to ravage the global South is completely predictable—in fact, the same trend has played out again and again. Infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV that are now seen as 'Third World diseases' were once serious threats in rich countries, but when incidence of these diseases began to decline there, the global North moved on and reduced investments in new tools and programs. Now, with COVID-19, the developing world has once again been left to fend for itself against an extremely transmissible virus without the necessary vaccine doses, tests, and treatment tools. Some pandemics never truly end—they just become invisible to people in the global North." Spot on piece in The Atlantic: The Pandemic Is Following a Very Predictable and Depressing Pattern.


Seize the Pay

So far, whatever the world is trying isn't doing much to deter Putin. So the world should at least dial things up. Here's an interesting idea from Michael Doyle, Dorothea Koehn and Janine Prantl in WaPo (Gift Article): Seize, don't just freeze, Putin's billions. "It is time to seize the frozen assets and use them to support humanitarian aid in Ukraine and the more than 1 million Ukrainians forced to flee as refugees. If and when Ukraine is freed from Russian occupation, any remaining funds can be used to help rebuild the country. In the meantime, the seizure would relieve the European taxpayers who will pay to support the refugees and punish the responsible aggressors."

+ Ukraine posts gory photos to sow anti-Putin dissent, but the tactic may violate the Geneva Conventions. There's one photo that breaks no international agreement but tells a universally understood story of senseless acts of violence. A father's grief. A tender touch. A new country. And more photos from The New Yorker: Inside Kyiv's Metro, a Citywide Bomb Shelter.

+ "Unshaven and wearing a military T-shirt, a haggard President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Thursday hosted his first news conference since the war began, inviting journalists into his office building, now fortified with sandbags. In an animated briefing, Zelenskyy, whose defiance has made him a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, laid out the state of negotiations with Russia, voiced pride in his people, pleaded for a no-fly zone and spoke frankly about fear of dying." Ukraine's Leader Meets the Media.

+ Russia has gotten more violent and, with their attack on a nuclear plant, more reckless. Here's the latest from BBC and CNN.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: "Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives." That's the basic gist of Severance, a new series from Ben Stiller. It's really good so far. I have my own version of this at home. When my kids start yelling at me, I just flip open my laptop, pop in my AirPods, and boom, personal life surgically divided.

+ What to Book: No one knows the ins and outs of tech's early heydays better than my friend Laurie Segall. She was there (I know, because I saw her!). She covered tech's most influential figures before they were titans. Her book is essentially a backstage pass to the humans before they were the figures you read about today. It's also the story of woman coming into her own in the boy's club of Silicon Valley. Get Laurie's book today. Special Characters: My Adventures with Tech's Titans and Misfits.

+ What to Read: "A boycott to stop a vote is extraordinary under any circumstances, but experts said they were stunned, given the magnitude of the country's current economic challenges. 'It's an enormous dereliction of duty,' Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, told me. Stiglitz, a progressive professor at Columbia University who has advised Democratic presidents, stressed that 'the Federal Reserve is the most important economic institution in the U.S., and the U.S. is the most important economy in the world. To leave this many vacancies is just mind boggling to the rest of the world. It is just amazingly irresponsible.'" The excellent Jane Meyer in The New Yorker doing what she does best. Explaining how lobbying and big dollars run the whole damn show, regardless of the stakes or what would benefit the average American: How Fossil-Fuel Companies Are Stonewalling Sarah Bloom Raskin's Nomination to the Fed.


Extra, Extra

Babysitting Pretty: The jobs numbers beat predictions again. Meanwhile, fewer jobs have seen more dramatic pay hikes than babysitting. (Something about being locked in the house with one's kids for a couple years can make childcare seem a whole lot more valuable.)

+ Swamp and Circumstance There is no swamp creature swampier than Roger Stone. And now, thanks to his narcissism and addiction to being filmed, WaPo has the tapes to show that. The Roger Stone Tapes.

+ Lack of Choice: Abortions after 15 weeks are one signature away from being banned in Florida.

+ Block Chain-gang: "Like most things in the crypto world these days, Friends With Benefits — a group that has been compared to a 'decentralized Soho House' and a V.I.P. lounge for crypto's creative class — is succeeding at generating hype and making money ... Friends With Benefits is what's known as a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO — a kind of digital co-op that uses cryptocurrency tokens to coordinate access, make payments and vote on group decisions." (Full disclosure: I know the founder, Trevor McFedries, and he occasionally lets me hang out with him for free!) NYT: This Social Club Runs on Crypto Tokens and Vibes. (Funny, none of my social interactions involve tokens. But most of them involve tokin' ...)


Feel Good Friday

How Humans of New York became a one-man philanthropy machine. NY Mag: Brandon Stanton's Empire of Empathy.

+ Veselka, beloved New York restaurant, becomes place of unity for Ukraine. I love this place.

+ Airbnb setting up free housing for up to 100,000 Ukraine refugees. Also, a guy I know helped set up this site to helped launch this site that matches fleeing Ukrainians with Europeans who have space to house them. Spread the word.

+ People who test positive for Covid can receive antiviral pills at pharmacies for free.

+ Firefighters rescue dog from icy pond.

+ An injured bald eagle learns how to fly again.