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The Day After

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Morning Reading – Thursday, January 07, 2021

What happened yesterday was a travesty, an embarrassment, a very sad and dark day for America – provoked by a president. “I love you,” he said to his supporters. It’s time for change. Our leaders need to react.

Trump’s Reckoning—and America’s | The New Yorker

On his way out, Trump is leaving destruction—actual, not metaphorical—in his wake. What wreckage will tomorrow bring?

The day Trump broke the GOP – POLITICO

Republicans started the day losing the Senate. They ended it with President Donald Trump’s supporters losing their minds.

It’s time to deplatform Trump – The Verge

It’s time for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to remove Trump.

Trump and Twitter – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Turn off Trump’s account.

Update from Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook

We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.

Opinion | Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed. – The Washington Post

Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.

Opinion | Impeach and Convict. Right Now. – The New York Times

For five years, Republicans let him degrade political culture by normalizing his behavior. For five years, they let him wage war on democratic norms and institutions. For five years, they treated his nonstop mendacity as a quirk of character, not a disqualification for office. For five years, they treated his rallies as carnivals of democracy, not as training grounds for mob rule. For five years, they thought this was costless. On Wednesday — forgive the cliché, but it’s apt here — their chickens came home to roost.

U.S. Capitol Insurrection Was a Trump Show, From Start to Finish – Bloomberg

It was inevitable, perhaps, that one of his final presidential acts would involve stoking an assault on the Capitol. It’s not inevitable, though, that the Pandora’s Box he inherited and so gleefully opened will remain a permanent fixture.

MO Sen. Josh Hawley to blame for mob, Capitol coup attempt | The Kansas City Star

This revolt is the result, and if you didn’t know this is where we’ve been headed from the start, it’s because you didn’t want to know.

The Capitol Invaders Enjoyed the Privilege of Not Being Taken Seriously | The New Yorker

The invaders may be full of contempt for a system that they think doesn’t represent them, but on Wednesday they managed to prove that it does. The system, which shrugged off their violence like it had been a toddler’s tantrum, represents them. It’s the rest of us it’s failing to protect.

FBI — FBI Seeking Information Related to Violent Activity at the U.S Capitol Building

The FBI is seeking information that will assist in identifying individuals who are actively instigating violence in Washington, DC. The FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol Building and surrounding area in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.

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Vote Counting Wednesday

reflection of gray mosque on water
Photo by Kendall Hoopes on Pexels.com

Morning Reading – Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Today is the day when the U.S. Congress officially counts the Electoral College votes for the presidential election. We are finally here. We are hoping for a rational process today!

Did the Coronavirus Escape From a Lab? – New York Magazine

What happened was fairly simple, I’ve come to believe. It was an accident. A virus spent some time in a laboratory, and eventually it got out. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began its existence inside a bat, then it learned how to infect people in a claustrophobic mine shaft, and then it was made more infectious in one or more laboratories, perhaps as part of a scientist’s well-intentioned but risky effort to create a broad-spectrum vaccine. SARS-2 was not designed as a biological weapon. But it was, I think, designed. 

Covid-19: U.S. Has Been Down This Vaccine Rollout Road Before – Bloomberg

Just as the U.S. is now struggling to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, so did the nation struggle in the mid-1950s to distribute the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk. There were shortages, mistakes and self-inflicted impediments. In some ways, the parallels are striking. To delve into the history of the polio vaccine is to realize that it has lessons for the here and now.

My January 6 Trump Protest Nightmare – The Atlantic

He could have said, “Any mass gathering right now is going to put police officers and Secret Service agents at much greater risk of getting sick or dying.” But he values the lives of others too little to have done so. He chose instead to feed his own ego at the price of American carnage.

Opinion | Jeff Flake: ‘Trump Can’t Hurt You. But He Is Destroying Us.’ – The New York Times

Today, the American people deserve to witness the majesty of a peaceful transfer of power, just as I saw, awe-struck, two decades ago. Instead, we find ourselves in this bizarre condition of our own making, two weeks from the inauguration of a new president, with madness unspooling from the White House, grievous damage to our body politic compounding daily.

Opinion | Have Trump’s Lies Wrecked Free Speech? – The New York Times

The essence is that the business model of advertising added to the editor-free world of the internet, means that it pays for them to make us crazy. Think about the comparison to the processed food industry: they, like the internet platforms, have a business that exploits a human weakness, they profit the more they exploit, the more they exploit, the sicker we are.

The Electoral College Isn’t Supposed to Work This Way – The New York Times

“The possibility that politicians of either party could change an election’s outcome through postelection manipulation of the Electoral College is destabilizing. And the idea that the vice president, sitting in the chair as presiding officer of the joint session of Congress to “count the electoral votes,” could decide on his own to ignore electors certified by the states and replace them with impostors certified by no one leads straight to the end of democracy.”

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First Tuesday

Photo by Scott Loftesness

Morning Reading – Tuesday, January 05, 2021

How Donald Trump’s Presidency Ends – The Atlantic

A tall metal barricade has been erected at Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, and is covered top to bottom with signs—welcome proof that as Donald Trump maneuvers to defy the Twelfth Amendment and cling to power, the First is very much intact. you’re fired, one sign reads.

The Beleaguered Chroniclers of the Trump White House

“The greatest challenge in covering this White House has been to aggressively seek out the truth. But how do you strive to be fair and accurate when you’re covering a president who is calling you a traitor?”

Giant Viruses Can Change Their Hosts’ DNA – The Atlantic

Leave it to viruses, however, to keep surprising us: Giant viruses don’t just kill their hosts. In some cases, according to a recent study, they can keep their hosts alive and become part of them.

Sourav Chatterjee awarded prestigious mathematics prize – Stanford Today

“When you’re going to have this one mathematical idea that is a leap, it’s completely unpredictable,” he added. “I might be taking a shower, or driving my car. But that moment when the big idea comes, it’s just amazing.”

My best photographs of 2020 – Charlotte Gibb Photography

When I reflect on everything that happened in 2020, it is a wonder I was able to make art at all.

COVID-19 concerns: Air New Zealand crew to overnight in Hawaii instead of US mainland

Air New Zealand explains that the Hawaii stop will allow “our crew members to overnight in Honolulu rather than Los Angeles” in an effort to reduce the risk of crews catching the virus on the mainland, where positivity rates have climbed as high as 15% and up.

Electric car sales jump to record 54% market share in Norway in 2020 but Tesla loses top spot – MarketWatch

However, Tesla’s TSLA, +0.73% popular midsize model — the bestselling car in Norway in 2019 — fell to second place in 2020, losing out to Volkswagen’s VOW, +0.18% Audi e-tron with Volkswagen’s ID.3 in third.

The Beatles saved me in 1970. Can music save others in 2021? | 48 hills

I have not the slightest doubt that I survived adolescence because of four musicians I never met, but whose sounds permeated my life from the age of about 10. Two of them are still with us, though at the ages of 78 and 80 we can’t be sure for how long. They were in a band together a long time ago and you might have heard of them. Their names are Paul and Ringo.a

Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach on the Drama of ‘Walk On By’ – WSJ

Hal had just three lyric lines. They would become the song’s opener: “If you see me walking down the street / and I start to cry, each time we meet / Walk on by.” I came up with a melody line and we evolved from there. 

The Art of Coincidence: Street Photos of Special Accidental Moments

Because we are surrounded by coincidences, it is often difficult for us to pay attention to them. The camera is an amazing tool to preserve the moment and in the perspective of time also to infuse it with additional meanings.

5 Ways to Be Creative with Your iPad in 2021 – Holly Pixels

What was it Bob Ross said? “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Yeah, let’s do that. 

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First Monday of 2021

Morning Reading – Monday, January 4, 2021

Let’s hope American democracy survives this week. This morning’s stock market action certainly reflects uncertainty – about both this as well as the state of the Covid pandemic. It’s a time to be hopeful about this new year – but we’ve got these huge irritants from 2020 still lingering and fouling everything up.

A moment of grave danger for US democracy | Financial Times

Extraordinary as it may seem, what amounts to an undeclared coup d’état is being attempted in the US. It will almost certainly fail. But the next two weeks will severely test the strength of America’s institutions — and the courage of its public officials.

“But as infection rates in the Bay Area climb during the winter surge, and I.C.U. beds finally start to fill up, the lesson to take from Berkeley, San Francisco, and many other successful cities isn’t that, by listening to science, an educated and careful population can stop the spread. It’s that, even within a city that has systematically priced out the most vulnerable populations, an outbreak can still happen. The virus will find vulnerable people where they live—even if it’s in barns on the outer edges of the city, even if almost nobody knows they exist.”

What the San Francisco Bay Area Can Teach Us About Fighting a Pandemic – The New Yorker

“But as infection rates in the Bay Area climb during the winter surge, and I.C.U. beds finally start to fill up, the lesson to take from Berkeley, San Francisco, and many other successful cities isn’t that, by listening to science, an educated and careful population can stop the spread. It’s that, even within a city that has systematically priced out the most vulnerable populations, an outbreak can still happen. The virus will find vulnerable people where they live—even if it’s in barns on the outer edges of the city, even if almost nobody knows they exist.”

Airline workers face mask resistance with scant government backup – The Washington Post

As the man returned from the lavatory with a mask dangling from one ear, a flight attendant asked him to put it on properly. “Why? Is something going on that I should know about?” the passenger asked, before grabbing the mask and ripping the string. “Damn it, I guess I can’t wear it now.”

We Must Keep This Republic – The Atlantic

“These past four years and this week have shown, as no doubt the weeks, months, and years to come will show, that the challenge remains—that free and democratic government was, is, and will always be a fraught and uncertain enterprise. But despite the damage, on the evidence, the people of the United States and their institutions will meet that challenge.”

Divided U.S., Not Covid, Is the Biggest Risk to World in 2021, Survey Finds – Bloomberg

“With the global economy still in the teeth of the Covid-19 crisis, the Eurasia group sees a divided U.S. as a key risk this year for a world lacking leadership.”

Predictions for the state of travel in 2021 from our editor – The Points Guy

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how important human interaction is and that one of the most amazing aspects of travel is that it teaches us about others. As we all venture out in 2021, I hope that we view our trips through a new lens and realize just how lucky we are to travel.”

Love Hurts — a song recorded 60 years ago by the Everly Brothers has had a colourful afterlife — FT.com

Heartbreak, it seems, is never out of style.

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The Weekender

Photo by Scott Loftesness

Morning Reading – Saturday, January 02, 2021

Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then shadow sweeps it away. You know you’re alive.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

As Understanding of Russian Hacking Grows, So Does Alarm – The New York Times

At a minimum it has set off alarms about the vulnerability of government and private sector networks in the United States to attack and raised questions about how and why the nation’s cyberdefenses failed so spectacularly.

Airline workers face mask resistance with scant government backup – The Washington Post

As the man returned from the lavatory with a mask dangling from one ear, a flight attendant asked him to put it on properly. “Why? Is something going on that I should know about?” the passenger asked, before grabbing the mask and ripping the string. “Damn it, I guess I can’t wear it now.”

What I Ate on My Weight Loss Journey of 2020 | by Mark Suster | Jan, 2021 | Both Sides of the Table

Eating matters 10x more than working out. Both are important but as they say “you can’t outrun your fork.” In periods where I did MONSTER work outs (running 13 miles / day and still hiking afterwards) but eating more than normal I still gained weight. In periods where I worked out much less (or not at all) but stuck to my eating plan I always lost weight. It’s the simple.

Some people can eat anything and not gain a pound. How metabolism affects the calories you burn each day. – The Washington Post

If you really want to give your metabolism a jolt, the easiest way is to bump up your muscle mass and activity level. By increasing muscle mass, you’ll also increase the base number of calories needed to maintain those muscles. Instead of complaining about a slow metabolism, you can try to turn it up to be at least a bit quicker.

Seniors Can Stay Fit During the Pandemic With Basic Weight Training. Here’s How. | Barron’s

Concentrate on total body exercises like deadlifts, overhead presses, and power cleans.

3 Easy Workouts You Can Do While Sheltering at Home, According to an Exercise Coach | Barron’s

A brisk 30-minute walk around the neighborhood five days a week will keep you in decent shape. If you want to get fitter, take two or three 30-second sprints during that walk.

The Benefits of Sticking to New Year’s Resolution to Work Out More – WSJ

“In the past, we ignored activity if it was not at a moderately intense level, like brisk walking, but light-intensity activity has a lot of health benefits,” Dr. Richards said, particularly for people who are sedentary.

A Monster Wind Turbine Is Upending an Industry – The New York Times

The G.E. machines will have a generating capacity that would have been almost unimaginable a decade ago. A single one will be able to turn out 13 megawatts of power, enough to light up a town of roughly 12,000 homes.

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Welcome to 2021!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Morning Reading – Friday, January 1, 2021

The US reported a total of 345,737 deaths due to Covid-19 in the year 2020. By month:

February: 1
March: 3,768
April: 58,960
May: 42,099
June: 23,416
July: 26,164
August: 30,234
September: 23,341
October: 23,691
November: 37,172
December: 77,124

What Is Going To Happen In 2021 – AVC

I believe that we will continue to want to work from home, exercise from home, shop from home, watch first run movies from home, order in, livestream, and all of the other new behaviors we learned to enjoy and perfect in the last year. Where all of this shakes out will be the big reveal of 2021… –and– Climate will be to this decade what cloud was to the last one.

In Trump’s Final Chapter, a Failure to Rise to the Covid-19 Moment – The New York Times

Throughout late summer and fall, in the heat of a re-election campaign that he would go on to lose, and in the face of mounting evidence of a surge in infections and deaths far worse than in the spring, Mr. Trump’s management of the crisis — unsteady, unscientific and colored by politics all year — was in effect reduced to a single question: What would it mean for him?

Opinion | Josh Hawley’s heedless ambition is a threat to the republic – The Washington Post

What can be done? We can refuse to inhabit the lie. … And we must ensure that the aspirations of people such as Hawley — who has made the madness more mainstream — come to nothing. This begins with a simple and sad recognition: The ambitions of this knowledgeable, talented young man are now a threat to the republic.

For New Year’s Resolutions, Never Think You’re Too Old to Become a Beginner – WSJ

I had this feeling a few years ago when I suddenly realized, shepherding my young daughter to any number of classes and lessons, from swimming to piano, that I couldn’t remember the last new skill I had learned. I had gently ossified into a finished being, coasting along on midcareer competence.

How I Lost 65 Pounds In 18 Months Without Any Fad Diets or Gimmicks | by Mark Suster | Dec, 2020 | Both Sides of the Table

My wife said to me (I’m paraphrasing), “I wonder why in the past you weren’t able to get beyond your initial success and this time you were able to?” Because I was mentally ready to. It’s that simple. –and– You must weigh yourself every morning. Every single morning — good or bad. … Weigh yourself every day. Religiously. Obsessively.

In 2016, I decided I needed to get serious about weight loss. I was “morbidly obese” and my blood sugar levels were becoming ever more concerning. I had been on weight loss programs a couple of times earlier in my life but the results didn’t “stick” and I gained the weight back. I needed to fess up to reality and deal with my weight problem.

The keys to my success – echoing what Mark shares in the article I’ve linked to above – include the daily routine of weighing in (just before I step into the shower – it’s now totally a habit including entering my weight into the Health app on my iPhone.

In addition, I need to find a way to built in 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. Pre-Covid, that was a neighborhood walk most days. During Covid, I began the regular morning habit of using an elliptical trainer for 15 minutes or so first thing every morning. I also began wearing compression socks every day – which had a big impact on how my legs felt, seeming to make them “lighter” and less fatiguing when I walk. (Note: I highly recommend the Sockwell brand of compression socks. They’re not cheap but they seem to last almost forever – much longer than regular socks!).

In addition to paying a lot of attention to portion control, I totally gave up alcohol when I began my weight loss journey and haven’t had a drink in over four years. Eliminating the empty calories of alcohol was part of paying close attention to carbs in my diet as well.

Losing a lot of weight is one of the best things I’ve ever done – and, in classic fashion, I can truly say I wish I had done it years before!

Meanwhile, here’s a fun long post about carbs!…

Why Is There a Bucatini Shortage in America?

Being educated noodle consumers, we knew that there was, more generally, a pasta shortage due to the pandemic, but we were still able to find spaghetti and penne and orecchiette — shapes which, again, insult me even in concept. The missing bucatini felt different. It was specific. Frightening. Why bucatini? Why now? Why us?

The Liminality of Craig Mod – Chicago Review of Books

“One thing I’ve noticed is that I cannot photograph if I’m with someone,” Mod says. “It’s just really, really difficult […] to be present if I’m not alone. Being in that solitude and the mind space of solitude, almost [like] a mantra, like a meditative space of it, is critical for me to photograph in the way that that excites me or that feels true to it.”

Wow, Craig’s comment about needing to photograph alone is also my experience. There’s one exception – when I’m am out doing street photography with my friend Doug Kaye. Doug and I don’t seem to intrude on each other’s concentration – and we certainly don’t feel compelled to fill the silence with conversation. When we “work a block” we will work independently – and then flow back together when we conclude it’s time to search again for some better light or a better stage.

Working with a group – like in a photowalk – just doesn’t work as well for me as in a group setting there is an increased need to be participatory, having conversations, etc. which serve to break my concentration and pull me “out of the zone” I prefer being in when making photographs.

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The End of 2020!

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Morning Reading – New Years Eve – December 31, 2020

More of my photography: @sjl on Instagram

Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 99 years old today had he lived long enough to see the day. A member of the greatest generation, he would have been very disappointed at 2020.

Bay Area hit with 2 earthquakes Thursday morning

The San Francisco Bay Area was hit with two separate earthquakes early Thursday morning.

Happy New Year, don’t die – The Reformed Broker

I got a text the other day from the biggest smartass I know. Haven’t spoken to him in years. He said, “Happy New Year dont die”…
How does one respond to that? … Happy New Year, don’t die is a pretty fitting way to say goodbye to 2020. This one’s in the books. Another one to hang in the gallery. See you next year.

‘The Other Half of My Soul’: Widows of Covid-19 Bond Over Sudden Loss – The New York Times

“He made it back from two deployments, two separate, dangerous deployments. He came home and this is what killed him.”

Vaccination is going slowly because nobody is in charge – The Washington Post

How did we get from 100 million promised doses to just a few million people vaccinated? It is a lesson in misunderstanding American federalism and a failure of national leadership. The federal government and Operation Warp Speed saw their role as getting vaccines to the states, without considering what supports states would need to get vaccines to the people.

25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp – The New York Times

Politics stymied science, in a tension that would define the pandemic. China’s delayed initial response unleashed the virus on the world and foreshadowed battles between scientists and political leaders over transparency, public health and economics that would play out across continents.

Cowards Are Destroying the GOP – The Atlantic

Think about this statement for a moment: The incentives Josh Hawley and many of his fellow Republicans officeholders confront lead them to conclude that they should pretend the lie is true.

Sen. Sasse calls effort to overturn electoral college vote a ‘dangerous ploy’ – The Washington Post

“When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one,” he said. “Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters.”

8 Themes For The Near Future Of Tech 🔮 | by Scott Belsky

Like all of you, I am eager to move past the challenges of 2020. I’m hopeful that we emerge more productive from the “great refactoring” we all endured, and that we can all reclaim the ~30% of cognitive load that has been consumed by political craziness, gaslighting, and a seemingly never-ending stream of things to worry about.

Do Dogs Really Make Us Happier? – WSJ

But how exactly do dogs make us happier? In a previous study, Dr. Powell’s group had shown that owning a dog promotes the flow of oxytocin, a hormone that decreases our heart rate and fosters feelings of well-being and relaxation. Plus, she adds, dogs “encourage their owners to get out in nature, maintain a sense of routine, and stay in touch with their neighbors.

New Year’s Resolutions That Will Make You Happier – The Atlantic

Take 15 minutes on New Year’s Day and write down five things you are grateful for. Each evening before retiring, study your list for five minutes. Each week, update the list by adding two items. I personally do this, and I can tell you that the list gets easier and easier to build.

Opinion | The Year in Charts – The New York Times

If 2019 was the Year of Trump, then 2020 was the Year of Covid-19 and Trump. Only the most devastating pandemic in a century could have bumped our loudmouthed president into second place.

Opinion | 2020 Taught Us How to Fix This – The New York Times

It turns out that if you tell someone their facts are wrong, you don’t usually win them over; you just entrench false belief.

Opinion | My Joe Biden Story – The New York Times

I’ve known officeholders who could talk endlessly about policy or hand out political gossip as if it were candy. What I hadn’t encountered was a politician like Mr. Biden, willing to let his guard down and reflect on his vulnerabilities. I

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Final Wednesday

Morning Reading – Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A snippet of beauty appropriate for this time of year from the poem New Year Resolve by May Sarton:

The time has come

To stop allowing the clutter

To clutter my mind

Like dirty snow,

Shove it off and find

Clear time, clear water.

The Trümperdämmerung Is a Fitting End to 2020 | The New Yorker

Now that 2020 is finally almost over, I find that I don’t want to remember it at all. (Though you should read Lawrence Wright’s definitive account of this Plague Year in this week’s New Yorker.) Perhaps this is simply because Trump has remained so defiantly and obnoxiously unrepentant, continuing his antics all the way to the end. He does not want to let go, to cede the spotlight, to renounce his outsized claim on our collective consciousness. It is my protest, our protest, to want so desperately to do so.

Opinion | Coronavirus vaccinations are off to a very slow start. That should set off alarms. – The Washington Post

The vaccine rollout is giving me flashbacks to the administration’s testing debacle. Think back to all the times Trump pledged that “everyone who wants a test can get one.” Every time this was fact-checked, it came up false.

It’s not all bad! 20 things that made the world a better place in 2020 | WIRED UK

This is not a year we’ll look back on fondly. It began with Australia on fire and ends with more than 1.5 million dead in a pandemic. But there have been bright points in this annus horribilis. While many of us saved lives by hunkering down at home watching Netflix, a communal act of selflessness that shouldn’t be soon forgotten, progress was made in science, the environment, and even politics – Biden won!

Looking Back On Tech, Startups, And VC In 2020 – Semil Shah Blog

While the statistical odds of the world being put into lockdown because of a global pandemic were incredibly small, perhaps even smaller was the likelihood that a young mayor of a major U.S. city in a state without income taxes would not only woo and recruit technology founders, executives, and investors to his city on Twitter, but that he would engage in a way that triggered an ongoing dialog for weeks on end. Sure, parts of this have turned into a meme, but there is a real shift going on, not just in Miami.

How Texas Can Become the Next Silicon Valley – Bloomberg

Noncompetes lock that pool away; if all your potentially best hires are legally prevented from working for you, you might as well move your company out to the middle of Wyoming or the Philippines, where at least the rent is cheap!

Everybody Spies in Cyberspace. The U.S. Must Plan Accordingly. – The Atlantic

The recently revealed SolarWinds hack unfolded like a scene from a horror movie: Victims frantically barricaded the doors, only to discover that the enemy had been hiding inside the house the whole time.

Resolutions for 2021 after a year working from home | Financial Times

I never used to appreciate the phone. Between calling people for interviews as part of my job, I opted for WhatsApp or email. That was until I became overwhelmed by Zoomageddon.

You can escape this room, but you’ll never escape Google Docs – The Verge

“Escape: A Game” by Anthony Smith is styled as a choose-your-own-adventure game set in a series of interlinked Google Docs. You “wake up” from a mysterious dream in a cabin room filling with smoke, and are tasked with getting out.

When Nashville Bombing Hit a Telecom Hub, the Ripples Reached Far Beyond – The New York Times

“It is crazy to have a networking service center like that facing one of the busiest streets in the United States,” Mr. Gill said, suggesting that it would be better situated in a rural area: “Buy as much land as they can and put it behind as many chain-link fences as they can build and create Fort Knox.”

The 2020 Good Tech Awards – The New York Times

Perimeter, a small start-up in the Bay Area, makes collaborative mapping and data-sharing software for emergency workers. Its founder, Bailey Farren, is the 24-year-old daughter of a retired fire captain and a paramedic

How Disney tried to turn the Queen Mary into a Haunted Mansion at sea

It turns out, when you think something is haunted for long enough, it can actually start showing signs of a haunting.

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Three Days to Go…

Morning Reading – Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Photo by Scott Loftesness – 2017

Pandemic Year Two – The Atlantic

The pandemic will end not with a declaration, but with a long, protracted exhalation. Even if everything goes according to plan, which is a significant if, the horrors of 2020 will leave lasting legacies.

What Was Trumpism? – The Atlantic

“One of the most impressive [and] politically utile things Trump has done from the beginning is get his fans to internalize their support and perceive even a mild rebuke of him [and] his actions as a personal attack on them.”

Is Substack the Media Future We Want? | The New Yorker

Substack is a natural fit for the influencer, the pundit, the personality, and the political contrarian. It’s debatable whether this represents “a better future for news.” But it’s great business for Substack.

A Farm Family’s Business Caved In. Then the Neighbors Showed Up. – The New York Times

You know, I’d like to say, gee, it can’t be any worse than it was this year. But, you know, it sadly, it could always be worse. So we really don’t know what’s going to happen. Like I said, head down, butt up, push forward.

How 2020 Forced Facebook and Twitter to Step In – The Atlantic

Gone is the naive optimism of social-media platforms’ early days, when—in keeping with an overly simplified and arguably self-serving understanding of the First Amendment tradition—executives routinely insisted that more speech was always the answer to troublesome speech. Our tech overlords have been doing some soul-searching.

Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good – The New York Times

With so many people stuck at home and activities from concerts to movies off limits, people have been reading a lot — or at least buying a lot of books. Print sales by units are up almost 8 percent so far this year, according to NPD BookScan.

These Tech Companies Are Paying Workers the Same Rates Across U.S. – WSJ

“We’re not making this change to save money,” said Dan Spaulding, chief people officer of Zillow. “We’re making this change to retain our employees.”

Startup cynicism and Substack, or Clubhouse, or Miami, or … | TechCrunch

All three are bets of optimism: Substack believes it can rebuild journalism. Clubhouse believes it can reinvent radio with the right interactivity and build a unique social platform. And Miami is a bet that you can take a top global city without a massive startup ecosystem and agglomerate the talent necessary to compete with San Francisco, New York and Boston.

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Last Monday of 2020

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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.

Lawrence Wright on How the Pandemic Response Went So Wrong | The New Yorker

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.

Trump signs stimulus bill into law and averts shutdown – The Washington Post

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.

2020 Was a Breakout Year for Crispr | WIRED

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

Covid-19 made digital the default. Will it stay? – The Washington Post

“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.

Cancel New Year’s Eve Forever | The New Yorker

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

The Best Champagne to Buy in 2020 – Eater

Suffice it to say that Champagne is not for everyone this year; such is the weight of the world we inhabit.

Imagine – Gotham Gal

When this pandemic is over we need to take a deep look at a future where anger and selfishness over power begins to wane.