Tuesday, March 8th, 2022


The Carrot or the Dipstick

Vladimir Putin has no doubt been surprised at the pace at which American and European leaders have been able to grease the skids and put unprecedented sanctions in place. Now he's in for another crude awakening as Biden further refines the U.S. response, backing a bipartisan plan to ban Russian oil. This lube job is no pump fake. It's going to have an impact on Russia and it's going to raise our prices as we fill'er up with UnVladed Gas. An AP explainer: What does a US ban on Russian oil accomplish? Let's hope it doesn't end up with political infighting here in America. This is bipartisan. Yes, it will cause pain, but we're trying to save democracy.

+ It's amazing how many world conflicts come down to sociopathic malignant narcissists and oil. Speaking of greasy losses for Russia, McDonald's finally closed its restaurants across the country. If you invade an innocent country, then no, you can't have fries with that.

+ "I have the fitness, the youth, and the training—it would be selfish of me not to use it. If rockets are wasted on me instead of some children, I'll take that deal anytime." Time: Meet the Foreign Volunteers Risking Their Lives to Defend Ukraine—and Europe. 20,000 people from 52 countries have volunteered to fight in Ukraine. (Damn, I felt pretty brave just tweeting about it...)

+ ‘I can help them': one man's journey from Portland to Ukraine's frontlines.

+ "The new Russian politics of aggression now has a symbol: the letter 'Z.' The symbol does not appear to have been conceived in the Kremlin. Rather, it seems to have come to prominence organically, to satisfy some need for an expression of national unity in a time of war—even if Russia continues to claim that there is no war." Masha Gessen in The New Yorker: Z Is the Symbol of the New Russian Politics of Aggression. (Z seems to have a lot in common with Q.)

+ "The images have put the business of tracking Russian supply lines, normally the occupation of secretive government agencies, into the public sphere, making them staples of TV news broadcasts and inspiring armchair generals around the world to offer their advice on how to attack the column." Seemingly stuck Russian convoy hides mysteries.

+ Boy of 11 flees to safety in Slovakia by himself.


Lead Zeppelin

"Researchers used blood-lead level, census and leaded gasoline consumption data to examine how widespread early childhood lead exposure was in the country between 1940 and 2015. ... The scientists from Florida State University and Duke University ... found that 90% of children born in the U.S. between 1950 and 1981 had blood-lead levels higher than the CDC threshold. And the researchers found significant impact on cognitive development: on average, early childhood exposure to lead resulted in a 2.6-point drop in IQ." Half of US adults exposed to harmful lead levels as kids. (I'd have an insightful take here if I hadn't been born into an era where we were basically huffing lead.)


Numb and Number

"On May 24, 2020, as the United States passed 100,000 recorded deaths, The New York Times filled its front page with the names of the dead, describing their loss as 'incalculable.' Now the nation hurtles toward a milestone of 1 million. What is 10 times incalculable?" Ed Yong in The Atlantic: How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal? "The united states reported more deaths from COVID-19 last Friday than deaths from Hurricane Katrina, more on any two recent weekdays than deaths during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more last month than deaths from flu in a bad season, and more in two years than deaths from HIV during the four decades of the AIDS epidemic."

+ As virus cases go from 1 to 24,000, New Zealand changes tack.

+ Scenes from Hong Kong's COVID-19 crisis.


Dark Times in Sunshine State

America is fighting Putin. Florida is fighting gay kids. "Florida's Senate passed a bill on Tuesday with a measure aimed at limiting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Parental Rights in Education is the official name of the bill, but critics have dubbed it the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, arguing that it would make life at school harder for LGBTQ kids."

+ Florida to be first state to recommend healthy kids not get COVID-19 vaccine, contradicting CDC.


Extra, Extra

Nerf Wracking: "Second Amendment types like to joke that the AR15 is a gun guy's equivalent of a Barbie doll: There are lots of exciting accessories to buy. The same could be said of toy weapons' platforms. In the decade after the Longshot's release — a period in which some 113,000 American students experienced gun violence at school, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post — its sales helped Nerf revenue grow tenfold, to $400 million." NY Mag with a photo-essay on the weird world of Nerf wars. The Navy SEAL–ification of Nerf and the lucrative evolution of toy guns that are tricked out for war. (It's all sort of funny, but don't call these guys soft. These cosplayers are loaded to the hilt.) For some more background, here's a brief history of Nerf.

+ No Leg Up on Competition "First, to get a prosthesis. Then learn to walk. That kept the depression at bay. 'If you're busy doing something,' he says, 'you're not worried about doing nothing.' He had no idea that he'd keep stretching those goals until he would eventually refashion himself into a new athlete, competing on an even larger stage with equipment he'd created—and, remarkably, outfitting his opponents with the same. That old Monster Mike? He was nothing compared to the Cyborg Mike to come." GQ: The One-Legged Snowboarder Who Built an Ingenious Prosthetic for Himself—and His Opponents.

+ Yacht-See: "A 19-year-old Florida college student who tracked Elon Musk's private jet trips, then expanded to Russian oligarch flights, is now drawing a bead on Russian billionaires' mega-yachts."


Bottom of the News

"If you are fed up of a mundane desk job, aren't bothered by austere conditions and have an affection for the hirsute, a potentially ideal new role has opened up in Montana: a grizzly bear conflict manager." (I wonder if I can still qualify if I had to Google the definition of a few of those words?) Wanted: grizzly bear conflict manager – grappling with bears not required.

+ "A New York City man who needed to be rescued twice on consecutive days while hiking in a northern Arizona mountain range is urging others to pay more attention to winter weather than he did." (So he effed up twice and his first reaction was to issue advice to others? This guy would absolutely love Twitter.)