Thursday, July 7th, 2022


Johnson Goes Limp

After a never ending string of deceptions, scandals, and flubs—and the protest resignation of more than 50 members of his government—Boris Johnson's habitation at 10 Downing Street is finally ending. He announced his resignation with a speech that included this: "I know that there will be many people who are relieved and perhaps quite a few who will also be disappointed. And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them's the breaks." It's nice to know that in some Western democracies there's still a breaking point. Boris lied. Boris had scandals. And eventually his own party said enough is enough. But Johnson's scandalous track record isn't even in the ballpark of Trump, a relentless liar, cheat, and crook who defiled the Oval Office and ultimately led a violent attempt to overturn an American election. Too bad more members of his party still don't have the bollocks to start pledging allegiance to the flag instead of genuflecting toward Mar-a-Lago.

+ "As the political post-mortems on Mr. Johnson are written, the tumultuous events of the last week may come to encapsulate his career — one defined by a gleeful disregard for the rules, a shrewd instinct for public opinion, an elastic approach to ethics and a Falstaffian appetite for the cut-and-thrust of politics." NYT: Boris Johnson's messy exit encapsulates a tumultuous tenure as prime minister.

+ From Brexit to Partygate, a timeline of Johnson's career.

+ BBC: Five things that led to the PM's downfall. The items on this list are worthy of a downfall. But again, nothing on this list would break into the top 20 of Trump's transgressions.

+ Boris will be departing 10 Downing Street. Larry the Cat is staying.


Audit Trails

"The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are tiny — out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the I.R.S. targeted about 5,000, or roughly one out of 30,600." And yet, here's a really interesting coincidence, James Comey was on the list. And in 2019, with similarly long odds, Andrew G. McCabe got audited. NYT: Comey and McCabe, Who Infuriated Trump, Both Faced Intensive I.R.S. Audits. (Editor's note: I wasn't exaggerating in today's top story.)

+ "What would you do to stay relevant? That's always been a definitional question for D.C.'s prime movers, especially the super-thirsty likes of McCarthy and Graham. If they'd never stooped this low before, maybe it's just because no one ever asked them to." The excellent Mark Leibovich in The Atlantic: The Most Pathetic Men in America. (Time for these chumps to do an internal audit.)


The First Pick

"The blowout, later known as the Afro, became the dominant style. But it presented a new challenge to barbers like Mr. Morrow. 'The Afro caught everybody off guard,' he told Ebony magazine in 1970. 'Even Black barbers and beauticians in America were caught lacking the knowledge as well as the desire to style a decent Afro.' An inveterate innovator, Mr. Morrow spent years working on his pick design, at first making wooden picks in the back of his shop before he landed on a plastic version that could be mass produced. Eventually he had seven models, one of them a blow-dryer attachment, and he was selling about 12,000 picks a week. An inveterate innovator, Mr. Morrow spent years working on his pick design, at first making wooden picks in the back of his shop before he landed on a plastic version that could be mass produced. Eventually he had seven models, one of them a blow-dryer attachment, and he was selling about 12,000 picks a week." NYT (Gift Article): Willie Lee Morrow, Barber Who Popularized the Afro Pick, Dies at 82. "He built an empire around hair care products aimed at African American consumers, including a softener that inspired the Jheri curl."


It’ll Come to You

"He finds that forcing himself to do something or defining a specific goal — even for something he enjoys — never works. It's particularly difficult for him to move his attention from one thing to another. 'I think intention and willpower … are highly overrated ... You rarely achieve anything with those things.'" June Huh dropped out to become a poet. Then he got into math. Now He's Won a Fields Medal. (I know there's a lesson here somewhere. But I'm just gonna chill until it comes to me.)


Extra, Extra

Starving: "The spike in food, fuel and fertilizer prices sparked by the war in Ukraine is threatening to push countries around the world into famine, bringing 'global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale.'" I can name one dude in Moscow who couldn't care less. And in a Russian court, Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges. "Prosecutors allege that prior to her trip, Griner purchased two cartridges containing 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil for personal use."

+ Sting Wray: "Wray's speech was particularly notable because it took place at MI5's London headquarters and alongside the agency's director general, Ken McCallum, in an intended show of Western solidarity. 'We consistently see that it's the Chinese government that poses the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security, and by ‘our,' I mean both of our nations, along with our allies in Europe and elsewhere." China lashes out at US, British intelligence services.

+ Majoring in Econ: Jemele Hill in The Atlantic: "College-sports traditionalists were appalled last week when the Big Ten athletic conference announced that it will add UCLA and the University of Southern California to its membership in 2024—creating a seismic shift in the college-sports landscape that will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the two California powerhouse programs. This reorganization is the strongest indicator yet that college sports is cannibalizing itself." College sports have almost nothing to do with college anymore. That said, my Cal Bears just jumped two spots closer to the top of the Pac 12 10.

+ Grass Stain: We were set for a semifinal battle of good vs evil at Wimbledon. Sadly, good has an abdominal injury. "Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Friday's Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios."

+ The World is a Little Less Sonny: "I loved working with him. And the only Jew I knew who could calf rope with the best of them." So said Rob Reiner about James Caan who died at the age of 82. Misery, Elf, Brian's Song, and of course his greatest role in The Godfather. What a run.

+ Buoy Wonder: The Maldives is building the world's first floating city. Sadly, it's probably a need as much as a want.


Bottom of the News

"Chillicothe, Missouri, has an unusual claim to fame: It's the town where pre-sliced bread first debuted back in 1928. The state has even declared July 7, Sliced Bread Day, as an official holiday. But despite being less than a century old, the origin of this revolutionary pantry staple was almost lost to history." A Missouri town almost forgot it invented the greatest thing in the world: sliced bread.

+ The Chaise Longue Economy Seat could be the first time that spacing on an airplane has grown in a generation.

+ San Francisco went viral when our skies turned fully orange in 2020. Sioux Falls will see that orange and raise you a Derecho.