Dis Mount

President Trump gave a perfect Fourth of July weekend speech at Mount Rushmore. Why was it perfect? Because all the divisiveness and racism were out in the open. And, thanks to the lack of social distancing and the little airtime given to the virus, so were his anti-science and anti-competence failures around containing Covid 19. What better weekend could there be than this, with stone-faced former presidents looking down, for Americans to be given a clear and simple choice about the future direction of the country? You want Mount Rushmore, or Mount RushLimbaugh? "President Trump's unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination, crystallized by his harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement Friday night at Mount Rushmore, has unnerved Republicans who have long enabled him but now fear losing power and forever associating their party with his racial animus." WaPo: Trump's push to amplify racism unnerves Republicans who have long enabled him. Let's be clear about one thing. Trumpian Republicans are NOT being unnerved by Trump's amplification of racism. They're being unnerved by the fact that Trump's amplification of racism is resulting in terrible poll numbers. Former Republican Ohio governor John Kasich: "They coddled this guy the whole time and now it's like some rats are jumping off of the sinking ship. It's just a little late. It's left this nation with a crescendo of hate not only between politicians but between citizens ... It started with Charlottesville and people remained silent then, and we find ourselves in this position now ... I'm glad to see some of these Republicans moving the other way but it reminds me of Vichy France where they said, 'Well, I never had anything to do with that.'" The Rushmore speech makes saying, "I had nothing to do with that" an impossibility. Every politician, indeed every American, now has to to pick a side.


A Mall Order

"Brick-and-mortar retail was in the midst of seismic changes even before the pandemic. Analysts say as much as a quarter of America's malls may close in the next five years." With Department Stores Disappearing, Malls Could Be Next.

+ Will malls disappear, or will they become something different? "At the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, a suburb north of Seattle, an adaptive reuse project already in progress suggests that America's vast stock of fading shopping infrastructure could indeed get a second life as places to live. Such transformation could even bring malls closer to the 'village square' concept they were initially envisioned to become." CityLab: The Dying Mall's New Lease on Life: Apartments. (After having my ideas, jokes, and opinions eye-rolled away for years, I can't wait to tell my daughter we're moving to the mall.)


Divided We Fall

"The United States is different. In nearly every other high-income country, people have both become richer over the last three decades and been able to enjoy substantially longer lifespans. But not in the United States. Even as average incomes have risen, much of the economic gains have gone to the affluent — and life expectancy has risen only three years since 1990. There is no other developed country that has suffered such a stark slowdown in lifespans." NYT: The U.S. Is Lagging Behind Many Rich Countries. These Charts Show Why.


Dining Fable

"Worried about putting themselves and restaurant staffers at risk, many Americans have turned to home cooking as a safer, more ethical option. But what may seem safer for consumers can still be deadly for the low-paid, often immigrant workers who make up America's sprawling food supply chains." A Buzzfeed investigation: Who Died for Your Dinner? (I'm glad I had a big lunch...)


The Shithole World in His Hands

"We can see how other countries are dealing with the pandemic. Some are doing well, especially those that have decent bureaucrats, respect for science, and high levels of trust: South Korea and Taiwan, Germany and Slovakia, much of Scandinavia, New Zealand. Some countries are not doing well, especially those run by divisive populists on both the left and the right: Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and, of course, the United States. But even within this latter group, we stand out." Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: Trump Is Turning America Into the ‘Shithole Country' He Fears.

+ I wonder if Trump really cares about being a shithole country, as long as he gets to be the shithole's most popular entertainment draw. Windsor Mann: Donald Trump Is All Done Caring. "His politics are an extension of his ego—which is why, at his rallies, he tells the crowds how big his crowds are and not what his policies are. Trump says he'll hold rallies after he wins the 2020 election, too—even though he will be ineligible to run for the presidency again. Instead of holding rallies for the purpose of getting elected, Trump wants to get elected so he can keep having rallies ... Instead of using Twitter to advance his political agenda, Trump uses the presidency to advance his Twitter agenda."


Trust Exorcism

"The authors contend such an erosion of trust can become self-reinforcing. 'One can envisage a scenario where low levels of trust allow an epidemic to spread, and where the spread of the epidemic reduces trust in government still further, hindering the ability of the authorities to contain future epidemics and address other social problems.'" WaPo: Coronavirus will undermine trust in government, ‘scarring body and mind' for decades, research finds. (And trust in government wasn't exactly having a heyday before the pandemic hit...)


Beach, Please

"In a particularly American fashion, we've turned a public-health catastrophe into a fight among factions, in which the virus is treated as a moral agent that will disproportionately smite one's ideological enemies—while presumably sparing the moral and the righteous—rather than as a pathogen that spreads more effectively in some settings or through some behaviors, which are impervious to moral or ideological hierarchy." Or to put it another way: Scolding Beachgoers Isn't Helping.


Camera Man

"Although his wife's anxiety was sky-high, Rashad knew the decision wasn't about him. Nor was it solely about today or yesterday. More than anything, he did not want his two young sons to grow up in a world that resembled 2020." The Man Whose Surveillance Camera Sparked a National Uprising. "Rashad West went from hardworking teen to college athlete to restaurant owner by the age of 26. Then he single-handedly proved that George Floyd was not resisting arrest."


Take Me Out of the Ballpark

"Honestly, I still don't feel that comfortable." Mike Trout, one of the best players of the era, still doesn't feel comfortable with pandemic baseball. And he's not alone. I'll still be surprised if we see an opening day at the end of this month, or any time this season.


Bottom of the News

"Lots of people ride the Italian scooters known as Vespas in Indonesia. But Rebel Riders modify their Vespas to the extreme. They use scrap metal, tree branches, anything they can get their hands on to create one-of-a-kind vehicles." Let's roll.

+ Kanye West Announces 2020 Presidential Run. 2020 is like, "Whatever..."

+ Missing the noises of coffee shops or offices? Check out MyNoise.