Morning Reading – Monday, December 28, 2020 – Day 362
What I’m reading: The Patch by John McPhee. A collection of some of his previously unpublished short writing. As usual, a delight to read!
The Plague Year | The New Yorker (Lawrence Wright)
Infections often rose in counties where Trump held a rally. The surge in infections and deaths mocked his assertions that we were “rounding the turn.” The disease stalked him; it encircled him. On October 25th, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, declared, “We are not going to control the pandemic.” The Administration had given up. Covid couldn’t kill Donald Trump, but it could defeat him.
The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright—who has reported on Al Qaeda and the Church of Scientology—has followed the story of the pandemic unfolding in the United States since the first lockdowns in March. Wright walks David Remnick through key moments of decision-making in the Trump White House: from the reaction to the earliest reports of a virus to botched mask mandates and testing rollouts, up through the emergency-use authorization of the vaccine.
White House officials didn’t explain why the president decided to suddenly back down and sign into law a bill he had held up for nearly a week and had referred to as a “disgrace” just days earlier.
I read Boom Town by Sam Anderson over the holidays – a great book! Below is one of the best reviews of Boom Town that I came across…
Book review of Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, its Chaotic Founding, its Apocalyptic Weather, its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis by Sam Anderson – The Washington Post
What Anderson is tracing is the creation of a narrative, the story the city tells about itself. “I have come to believe, after my time there,” he observes, “that Oklahoma City is one of the great weirdo cities in the world.” The people to whom he introduces us in “Boom Town” bear this out.
Last but certainly not least, in October, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for Crispr genome editing. It was both a stunning choice (as a DNA-altering tool, Crispr has only been around for 8 years) and a completely expected one. Crispr has completely revolutionized biological research since its arrival in 2012
“2020 reinforced the fact we nerds have known: Network is just omnipresent,” says Om Malik, a venture capitalist at True Ventures. “We aren’t going online. We live online.”
Tracing the first steps of a fantastic voyage – SF Gate (Chris McGinnis)
During my senior year in high school I read a book by James Michener called “The Drifters,” about a group of American kids who ran off to Spain, bought an old VW camper van and rambled around that country, which added fuel to the fire growing in me to get out of town.
Can’t we ring in 2021? We have vaccines. We have a new President, who is merely the devil we know and not the actual devil. “Conversations with Friends” will première on Hulu in the spring, and we are very likely to see thin, sexy Irish people smoking and cheating on one another. That’s all true. But 2021 is going to be bad
Suffice it to say that Champagne is not for everyone this year; such is the weight of the world we inhabit.
When this pandemic is over we need to take a deep look at a future where anger and selfishness over power begins to wane.