May 31st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Cowardly Lyin' and Why Your Allergies Are so Bad

“Scot Peterson ingratiated himself to the Parkland community after he became the school resource officer for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2009. He was honored by the sheriff’s office in 2014 as its school resource officer of the year for proving he was ‘reliable in handling issues with tact and judgment.'” That was then. Before Feb. 14, 2018, the day a gunman killed 17 people at the school where he worked. WaPo (Gift Article): He was called a ‘coward’ after Parkland. Now he faces trial. “Peterson is gearing up to defend himself at a trial that is believed to mark the first time a U.S. police officer faces trial in connection with alleged inaction during a school shooting.” What about the lawmakers in Congress who are guilty of inaction when it comes to limiting access to the weapons that enable these school massacres? Taking action on that issue would take a lot less guts than running into a building where bullets are flying. One parent of a murdered child explained he hopes this case sends a message to all school officers: “If you choose to do nothing, you will be held accountable.” Another parent of a victim said, “He was supposed to be ‘the good guy with the gun.’ It was his job to go into that building. And he froze … Even though the coward did not pull the trigger, he left my kid to die.” Choosing to do nothing? Leaving kids to die? It seems to me that behavior is not limited to those who were at the scene of the crime.



I’d like to publicly thank my older sisters for bringing home plenty of germs and leaving me relatively allergy free. According to research, there’s “something about being the youngest that was protective. And it’s probably the same theory that you’re just getting exposed to more germs on a day-to-day basis, and that, at a young age, that’s actually helpful because it helps to train your immune system so it’s not going to be oversensitive when the kid gets a little bit older.” NPR: Why our allergies are getting worse —and what to do about it. “If it seems like your seasonal allergies are getting worse over time, you’re probably not wrong. Estimates are that 30 to 40% of the world’s population now have some form of allergy, and medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail says allergic reactions — including everything from hay fever to eczema and asthma — are growing in the U.S. and around the world.”


Lost and Found

Vanity Fair currently has a book excerpt on Lost and The Untold Story of the Hit Show’s Poisonous Culture. The article calls out my friend Damon Lindelof and hints at racism in the making of the show. For his part, Damon admits failures on the set. People should tell their stories and share their experiences, but I worry when it seems like we’re spending less of our energy fighting the opponents of civil rights and more on allies in that fight who aren’t always perfect (and apologize when they’re not). Freud called this the narcissism of small differences, which is “the idea that the more a relationship or community shares commonalities, the more likely the people in it are to engage in interpersonal feuds and mutual ridicule because of hypersensitivity to minor differences perceived in each other.” Just this week, the right wing, BudLight-fearing mob is targeting Chick-fil-A (“a fast food restaurant they’ve often supported in the past given its Christian roots and its prior donations to anti-LGBTQ groups”) because of their crime of appointing a VP of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In short, we’ve got bigger fish to fry (and bigger chicks to fil-a). Second, any mention of Damon Lindelof’s connection to issues of race should by default mention his much more recent show, Watchmen, that focused on the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. As one of show’s stars, Regina King, explained, for many, this “was the first time they heard about Black Wall Street and had no idea that our opening depicted the [real] Tulsa Massacre which had not been taught in US history classes.”

If someone’s going to read the above book excerpt from Vanity Fair, I’d ask that they also read this excerpt from my book, Please Scream Inside Your Heart.

My favorite of the 2020 Emmy winners was Watchmen. First, because my friend Damon Lindelof created an amazing show and helped bring awareness of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to a broader audience as we entered a year when people would pour into the streets demanding racial justice. And second, because I was able to share a very important review with him.
My brother-in-law Douglass Fitch happened to see some Watchmen fan art I had purchased for my son and said, ‘Oh, I love that show.’ He told me that during one of his monthly meetings with a group of fellow Black pastors, the group’s organizer advised all the attendees to go home, get HBO, and start watching Watchmen because it was one of the first shows that told the story of Tulsa and really got race right. Doug was especially interested because his mother survived the massacre as a child and had shared stories with him over the years.

When the pandemic hit, Damon sent Doug one of the yellow gaiters worn by some of the Watchmen characters, and Doug wore it as his viral protection throughout the year.

Making Watchmen doesn’t make Damon a hero, but making mistakes as a much younger showrunner on Lost doesn’t make him a villain, either. There are plenty of those to focus on.


Cosplay it Again, Sam

“Vincent helped with traffic stops. He communicated with dispatchers using specific criminal codes about activities on the beat. He even assisted in an arrest helping to place handcuffs on someone suspected of violating a protective order. He did this as an eighth grader. His uniform was a costume. And no one realized he was just a kid pretending to be a cop.” This wasn’t the last time Vincent impersonated an officer. Matt Stroud in The Verge: Kid Cop Returns (Again and Again).


Extra, Extra

Diversity of Ruins : “After years of experimentation — often prompted by state-level bans on considering race in admissions — there’s no clear solution. In states requiring race-neutral policies, many colleges have seen enrollment drops among Black and Hispanic students, especially at selective colleges that historically have been mostly white. Now, as the Supreme Court decides the fate of affirmative action, colleges nationwide could soon face the same test, with some bracing for setbacks that could erase decades of progress on campus diversity. A ruling is expected by the end of June.” As Supreme Court considers affirmative action, colleges see few other ways to diversity goals.

+ Debt Tu, Bruté? Despite dissent, Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy both seem confident that Congress will pass their debt deal and avoid a global economic disaster. Let’s hope they’re right. From Vox: The biggest policy changes in the debt ceiling deal, explained.

+ Mother of All Battles: “When 15-year-old Sasha Kraynyuk studied the photograph handed to him by Ukrainian investigators, he recognised the boy dressed in Russian military uniform immediately. The teenager sitting at a school desk has the Z-mark of Russia’s war emblazoned on his right sleeve, coloured in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag. But the boy’s name is Artem, and he’s Ukrainian.” Ukraine war: The mothers going to get their children back from Russia.

+ Erdogan Again: “The opposition—the people themselves—who monitored the voting in classrooms, who posted videos of voter intimidation on Twitter, or worked together to assess election irregularities, have somehow not given up hope or energy in the past twenty years. But we will see many people leave Turkey in the next year—those with opportunities abroad, but also those under threat, especially people facing trumped-up charges of terrorism.” The New Yorker: The Turkish Elections Swung from Hope to Despair.

+ Party of None: “Food workers who showed up while sick or contagious were linked to about 40% of restaurant food poisoning outbreaks with a known cause between 2017 and 2019.”

+ Packing it On: “‘No one can see your weight — not even us!’ … Still, he acknowledged that stepping onto scales in public ‘can be daunting.'” Air New Zealand is weighing passengers before they board international flights.

+ Whale (is) Watching: “A beluga whale long believed to be a Russian spy has surfaced in Sweden, fueling concerns about his well-being and efforts to protect him from dangerous boat traffic.” Wait, what?


Bottom of the News

Say hello to my little friend… Al Pacino, 83, expecting with 29-year-old girlfriend, weeks after Robert Di Niro, 79, announces baby. (Deniro and Pacino went from being in Heat to being in heat.)

+ A Swedish newspaper is having AI rap its articles in an attempt to get young people interested in the news.

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