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Weekend link dump for January 17

“David Hasselhoff is auctioning off KITT from Knight Rider“.

“The ongoing breach affecting thousands of organizations that relied on backdoored products by network software firm SolarWinds may have jeopardized the privacy of countless sealed court documents on file with the U.S. federal court system, according to a memo released Wednesday by the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts.”

“For Biden’s Justice Department, tackling domestic terrorism will now be front and center.”

“Even Trump Loyalists Can No Longer Defend His Legacy”. But don’t let that let them off the hook even a little.

“Every Republican—all 147 of them but especially Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz—who voted to overturn election results even after the insurrectionist mob of terrorists drove them out of the House and Senate chambers must be held to account and ostracized. Hitting them where it hurts by taking away their big donors is exactly the right lane for the [Project] Lincoln gang to be in.”

That defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell looks pretty solid.

“The PGA of America will strip Donald Trump of the 2022 PGA Championship, which is scheduled to be held at Trump National Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.” There’s similar action in Scotland, affecting Turnberry.

“When historians eventually tally the cost of the Donald Trump era, the manifold indecencies of which culminated in Wednesday’s sacking of the United States Capitol during a failed insurrection, golf will not be counted among its casualties. The game will instead be portrayed as Trump’s refuge, something he did while ignoring a pandemic that has claimed 365,000 lives, refusing to acknowledge a resounding electoral defeat, and inciting feeble-minded fascists to violence that left five people dead at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the best case scenario.”

“It is the main cause of our current crisis – and of the difficulty in solving it. Today’s Republican party is one where it is considered divisive to take decisive action against a faction that was trying to hunt down Democratic _and_ Republican politicians a few days ago.”

“Preferring such lies seems strange, given that they involve a massive evil conspiracy that includes nearly everyone at every level of government and in every institution. It’s an awful thing to imagine that the entire world is out to get you and that the situation is so dire that you’ve got to arm yourself and begin stockpiling food so you can flee to the woods as your only slim hope for survival. But it’s an even more awful thing to reach the point where you consider your whole life — your job, your family, your home, your church, your passions — as so entirely meaningless and unrewarding that you’d be better off as someone on the run from such a massive, evil conspiracy.”

RIP, Michael Apted, award-winning director of the 7 Up documentary series and much more.

RIP, Pat Loud, matriarch of the family featured in An American Family, the first TV reality series.

“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.”

“Republican Attorneys General Association Encouraged Supporters To Attend Wednesday’s Action At The Capitol”.

“I’ve received several DMs from friends asking what do to about parents/family members who believe misinformation regarding the election, vaccines and COVID. Here’s a research-based thread to help explain the roots of these beliefs and how to (and how *not* to) address them.”

Losing his law license should be the first of a very long list of consequences for Rudy Giuliani.

Facial recognition technology is still a bad thing, even if right now it is being used against bad people.

“If you want to understand the real Deep State, the biggest thing you need to know is it’s institutional, impersonal, and operates on a national scale.”

Here’s one thing Parler was good for.

As far as I’m concerned, Elizabeth Smart has a lifetime pass to do most anything she wants.

RIP, Siegfried Fischbacher, the “Siegfried” part of Siegfried & Roy.

“I think it’s reflective of where Trump’s own status is these days in which he has relatively little to offer and people don’t want to be associated with him generally. The fact is he’s not going to get the A team.”

RIP, Joanne Rogers, pianist, humanitarian, and widow of Fred “Mr.” Rogers. You should read this LA Times profile of her, it’s terrific.

““Unity” begins with repentance, and Republicans should get started. Supporting Trump’s removal from office and instituting his permanent exile from American politics are the necessary first steps.”

RIP, Charlie Thomas, former owner of the Houston Rockets.

“Situation with new #sarscov2 variants is becoming harder to follow (and not just because of the names), so let me try and give a brief overview: Where are we at? What should we be worried about? And how worried?”

Weekend link dump for January 10

“Which Side Are You On?”

“Train your children to think of mass-death as good and thrilling and they’ll grow up to be the kind of people who simultaneously deny and celebrate a global pandemic.”

“There is no reason, frankly, for any of the PAYGO rules to still exist.”

“We resolve to double down on measures to protect ourselves, our families, and our community so we may endure the current surge of COVID-19 cases. We all can do our part by covering our faces anytime we are with anyone outside our immediate household, by maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance, following hand hygiene and environmental control measures, and by not going to work or school when feeling unwell. Masking, including while indoors, is safe and more effective in preventing COVID-19 — including the coronavirus mutation first seen in England — than any other tool we have available today and clearly works to prevent transmission of the virus.”

“The price we paid for Rutherford B. Hayes was too damn high.”

RIP, Tanya Roberts, actor best known for Charlie’s Angels and That 70’s Show. It was then reported that she was still alive, and then reported later than she had in fact passed away.

Solicitation to commit election fraud is a felony under both federal and Georgia law. Donald Trump and everyone else in the room with him should be prosecuted for it. And given how many times he tried to call Brad Raffensperger, there are surely more such calls out there that we don’t yet know about.

And no, recording the call was not in any way wrong or criminal.

“Ordinary people worn out by the dramas and lies of the past four years have a right to refuse to take Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters seriously. To reject further debate with people whose views are completely incoherent is not only understandable, but sensible.”

How to save the Postal Service, and let it thrive.

My kids never knew about the PBS Kids show Caillou, and it seems that makes me lucky.

If you’ve been saying to yourself “What I need in my life right now is a life-like replica of David Hasselhoff that is fourteen feet tall“, boy is today a good day for you.

“WTF Is Going On In The Georgia US Attorney’s Office? And how can Donald Trump make it worse?”

“In October 2020, KrebsOnSecurity looked at how a web of sites connected to conspiracy theory movements QAnon and 8chan were being kept online by DDoS-Guard, a dodgy Russian firm that also hosts the official site for the terrorist group Hamas. New research shows DDoS-Guard relies on data centers provided by a U.S.-based publicly traded company, which experts say could be exposed to civil and criminal liabilities as a result of DDoS-Guard’s business with Hamas.”

The mot pirated TV program of 2020 is The Mandalorian.

“Certainly a basic problem here is that Capitol Police, under the jurisdiction of Congress, were not prepared for yesterday’s attack. But when we ask what happened yesterday, a significant part of the equation is that the various agencies charged with handling such situations – federal marshals, DHS, FBI, DOJ, National Guard, et al – were under the control of the person who was trying to whip the crowd against Congress.”

Go look up the word “superfetation”, then come back and read this story. Pretty damn amazing.

Help the FBI identify and find the insurrectionists. Some of them are already facing consequences, but so much more is needed.

RIP, Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame manager for the LA Dodgers.

“They bankrolled Donald Trump. They applauded his tax cuts. They cheered as the stock market soared. Now, the sound coming from some of the president’s wealthiest donors is this: silence.”

“A voting machine company sued former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell on Friday, accusing her of spreading false conspiracy theories about November’s election that Republican President Donald Trump lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.” They’re seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

One last goodbye to Alex Trebek.

It’s taken them way too long, but finally the far right insurrectionists are getting deplatformed.

“If you are a rank-and-file Republican, the kind of person who listens to your party’s elected officials and friendly media outlets, you have been marinating in anti-democratic beliefs for years: that Democrats are fundamentally hostile to the American way of life, that people telling you otherwise cannot be trusted, that you have an obligation to fight against tyranny on your own.”

RIP, Theodore Lumpkin, Jr, Tuskegee Airman.

All right, fine Sean Hannity did not have his Lifetime Pasta Pass revoked.

“Career officials at the State Department filed a second unprecedented dissent cable condemning President Donald Trump for inciting the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and urging top administration officials to consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. The dissent cable is the second such cable sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week, reflecting widespread shock and anger in the diplomatic corps at Trump’s actions and Pompeo’s own response to the political crisis. The protest against the sitting U.S. president by American diplomats is largely unparalleled in the department’s nearly 232-year-long history.”

“One thought I keep returning to: if there were a functioning federal government we’d be seeing regular press conferences updating the public on on-going arrests, health status of the injured, progress of the investigation. As far as I can tell there hasn’t been a single one. Nothing from DOJ, FBI, Capitol Police, the Pentagon. Normally you might expect such information to be channeled through press conferences at the White House. But, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s not clear or perhaps too clear which side the White House is on.”

Weekend link dump for January 3

Welcome to 2021. It’s got to be better, right?

Here’s your Jon Swift Memorial Roundup for 2020.

“JPS Health Network is experiencing something of a quarantine baby boom, seeing as many as three times the number of babies born in a shift as are expected on an average day.”

“Common holiday cookie shapes, he’s found, don’t typically fit together very neatly. Bulbous Santas, candy canes, and gingerbread men tend to leave lots of dough scraps behind. In his quest for a festive yet efficient cookie cutter, he’s designed a shape that can punch out neat ranks of cookies with minimal leftover dough.”

“The big picture lesson from 2020 is that ensuring an accurate result isn’t enough. Elections also have to be able to prove to a skeptical public that the result really was accurate.”

“Operation Warp Speed is set to miss the first distribution goal it laid out, Trump administration officials said last week”.

“Almost everyone agrees that the ATF is in trouble. But this obscure federal agency may be President-elect Joe Biden’s best chance at having a real impact on gun policy—if he takes the opportunity to restore the beleaguered agency’s reputation and revive its mission.”

“The end of the year is usually a good time for retrospection and one of our favorite traditions: digging into the archives and recognizing the best cybersecurity stories of the year. Stories so good, we wish we had written them ourselves.”

Reality TV Couple Check In: Who’s Still Together and Who Split in 2020″.

“Amongst other things that we are worried about — the big things, the things that actually matter — when I think what we do for a living going forward, I start worry about just the future of entertainment because I don’t know what it looks like. It’s hard to imagine being in a writers room, it’s hard to imagine being on a set, how do you shoot a scene with 200 extras ever, how do you go on location in someone’s house, who in their right mind will let us into their house to shoot a scene. It seems so crazy to imagine going back to the old ways that we did this. We will figure something out because we always do. Hollywood has a knack for ingenuity, and there is a long way to go with the other, more important issues before we get to that point but I’m very nervous to figure out how this works after this is all over.”

Apparently, there was a bucatini shortage this year. I should pay closer attention to these things.

Predicting the future is hard.

“Kelly Loeffler’s Conflict of Interest Is Even Worse Than Reported”.

RIP, Pierre Cardin, fashion designer and entrepreneur.

RIP, Luke Letlow, incoming freshman Congressman from Louisiana, from complications related to COVID-19.

Beam me up, Scotty.

“There is a likely future in which America’s immune system learns lessons from COVID-19 but its collective consciousness does not.”

RIP, Dawn Wells, actor best known as Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, of causes related to COVID-19.

RIP, Joe Clark, high school principal on whom the movie Lean on Me was based.

“As Statues Of America’s Racist Past Were Removed This Year, So Were Tattoos“.

Apparently, the guy who invented the CueCat is now one of Rudy Giuliani’s “election experts”, now making crazy claims about the Georgia Senate runoffs.

RIP, Paul Westphal, Hall of Fame player and coach mostly with the Phoenix Suns.

Weekend link dump for December 27

“When Usually Solitary Octopuses Get Together, Odd Things Happen”.

“Atlantic City Is Offering Bidders The Chance To Blow Up A Former Trump Casino”.

“What If There’s a COVID-22? How Should We Handle It?”

You’re not helping, guys. Not helping at all.

“That means don’t book liars, don’t show fighting for the sake of fighting.”

“So, one has to ask: What were the worst things to lie about in 2020, and who among those who told those lies had the most responsibility to do better? The first part is easy. Lies about subjects of national importance, such as the election and COVID, rise, like pond scum, to the top. The second part of the question takes you to people who, at least in theory, have more power at their disposal than your run-of-the-mill Proud Boy-adjacent meme-maker. Therefore, in the spirit of holiday cheer and the impending joy that will come in slamming the door shut on 2020, and to memorialize this remarkable age of outrageous, magical, and maniacal thinking, here are my offerings for the year’s worst takes from politicians and other political figures aside from Trump himself.”

“A pluralistic society needs to insure that people of faith, as well as those without any faith, have a role in the public square. But the defiance of the church during the pandemic has come with a cost. The pandemic in 2020 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of antiquity did, but today’s reflection carries the potential to repulse rather than attract.”

“Five Tips for How to Actually Change an Anti-Masker’s Mind, According to Experts”.

Leave Fairytale of New York alone!

More than you ever wanted to know about various jokes on The Simpsons.

RIP, Francesca Kaczynski, also known as Bean, Beanie or Beans. Cancer truly, truly sucks.

RIP, KC Jones, Hall of Fame player and coach for the Boston Celtics.

RIP, Phil Niekro, Hall of Fame pitcher known for his knuckleball.

Weekend link dump for December 20

Face shields aren’t quite enough to fully protect you from COVID.

Two words: COVID penis. Make sure you get that vaccine when it’s available for you, OK?

“I get it. It’s a pandemic. If ever there was a time to give up, this is it. Don’t be pressured into half-assing your holiday lights. If you’re fortunate enough to be housed — in suburban Disneyland or anywhere else — you have done enough this year. I’d rather you give up before you murder the inflatable elves every morning or deaden your soul with projector lights at night.”

“U.S. government agencies were hit by a “global intrusion campaign” of cyber-attacks that exploited a flaw in the update of a software company, cyber-security firm FireEye said, which the Washington Post reported was a breach by Russian government hackers.”

RIP, John le Carré, master British spy novelist.

“Shortly before six o’clock Eastern Time, in Sacramento, California, fifty-five Democratic members of the Electoral College cast their votes for Biden, raising him above the threshold of two hundred and seventy. The 2020 election result was now official, pending only the formality of a ratification by the U.S. Congress, on January 6th.”

RIP, Ann Reinking, Tony Award-winning actor, dancer, and choreographer.

RIP, Ann Criswell, longtime food editor, writer, and evangelist in Houston.

How much Star Wars is too much Star Wars?

Lots of info about that SolarWinds hack.

“Let’s Talk About Simulated Sex: Intimacy Coordinators Two Years On”.

RIP, Catie Lazarus, writer, comedian, and creator of the talk show/podcast “Employee of the Month”.

“The City of Detroit wants attorney Sidney Powell to pay—literally—for her reality-adjacent dog and pony legal challenge to Michigan’s election results.”

“Trump failed to steal the election because he and his legal team are incompetent criminals, not because our democratic institutions defeated him. Saying that our democracy proved resilient against Republican attempts at subversion is like saying the fences at Jurassic Park proved resilient against raptors.”

Joe Biden should use every legitimate power at his disposal as President to do everything at once. No sequencing or playing for buy-in. You win an election. You gain certain legitimate powers. You use them. Period. Should Biden be open to bipartisan compromise? Absolutely. The door should be open. But it would be a grave mistake to spend any time coaxing anyone to come through it. We’ve played that game enough. Biden should always be willing to talk but not to delay.”

“How fingerprint and firearm experts use misleading math to appear infallible.”

RIP, Jeremy Bulloch, actor and the original Boba Fett.

One of the more interesting election maps you’ll see.

“This means that the set of potential victims is not just (just!) the 18,000 SolarWinds customers who may have downloaded the compromised updates, but also all of those 18,000 organizations’ customers, and potentially the clients of those second-order organizations as well—and so on. So when I say the SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign will last years, I don’t just mean, as I usually do, that figuring out liability and settling costs and carrying out investigations will take years (though that is certainly true here). The actual, active theft of information from protected networks due to this breach will last years.”

RIP, Bear Dalton, wine expert, Rodeo fixture, general mensch and man about town.

Weekend link dump for December 13

An oral history of the demise of the Southwest Conference, 25 years later. I was there for that Rice-UH game, with the MOB as always. In fact, it’s one of the rare times when I wasn’t playing in the band but doing something else. The halftime show was basically a funeral, and I was tapped to be in the casket that was brought out onto the field as part of the show. I was dressed in a Brunhilde costume, and at the designated moment I emerged from the casket to portray “the fat lady singing”, thus signifying the end. (I had a stunt double who did the actual singing, into an off-stage microphone. I was just there for the visual.) Anyway, it’s a good trip down memory lane.

“Thawing permafrost is releasing microorganisms, with consequences that are still largely unknown”.

“If you want to see a close-knit cabal of self-styled experts picking our economy’s winners and losers by subsidizing their favorite unprofitable firms, which then drive more efficient competitors out of business by selling products at a loss — all while substituting their judgement for the judgments of millions of investors, making decisions without proper vetting, embracing fads, spending promiscuously, ignoring warnings from impartial experts, and handing economic power to charismatic liars — don’t look to Washington, D.C., in the age of Obama, but to Silicon Valley in the age of Adam Neumann. Or, more simply, to see how privatized central planning works, consider WeWork.”

“AI has cracked a problem that stumped biologists for 50 years. It’s a huge deal.”

“At almost every step of this pandemic, we have failed magnificently as a country. And in ways that we just really didn’t need to fail.”

“The crisis threatening the republic goes far deeper than bad acting lawyers. But a central threat to our public institutions is the lack of stigma which attaches to sowing public distrust in the electoral system or even trying to throw out or alter the results of election results you don’t like. We are all glad these efforts aren’t making much progress for this election. But the very attempt is an assault on our public institutions and our republic. For a democracy, willfully sowing doubt about integrity of an election is the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater.”

“The only thing Biden will have real control over is his administration and what it does. And his North Star, his organizing principle, should be doing as much good on as many fronts as fast as possible. Blitz.”

Dionne Warwick is your new queen of Twitter.

“But I know a little something about Grover Cleveland. And Donald Trump, you’re no Grover Cleveland.”

“Magic Castle, the exclusive club for magicians in Los Angeles, is facing accusations of sexual assault, harassment, discrimination and racism leveled against its management, members and performers.”

RIP, Chuck Yeager, US Air Force officer and test pilot who first broke the sound barrier.

RIP, Dick Allen, MLB great who played for the Phillies and White Sox and belongs in the Hall of Fame.

RIP, Fred Akers, former UT football coach who succeeded Darrell Royal.

“The battle against pathogens reshaped the inner working of buildings, too. Take that familiar annoyance for New Yorkers: the clanky radiator that overheats apartments even on the coldest days of the year. It turns out that the prodigious output of steam-heated buildings is the direct result of theories of infection control that were enlisted in the battle against the great global pandemic of 1918 and 1919.”

RIP, Ray Perkins, former coach of the NY Giants and the University of Alabama.

RIP, Karl Kilian, owner of the Brazos Bookstore and co-founder of the Inprint literary non-profit.

“Over 80% of [restaurant] workers (83%) report that their tips have declined during COVID-19. This decline is severe: nearly two thirds (66%) report that their tips have declined by at least 50%.”

RIP, Deb Price, first nationally syndicated lesbian newspaper columnist. IIRC, her column ran in the Houston Post.

RIP, Sigmund Jucker, Holocaust survivor and co-founder of the iconic Three Brothers Bakery in Houston.

RIP, Charley Pride, first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, you can still make the Elf table read to support Georgia Democrats in the Senate runoff.

Weekend link dump for December 6

“In its 244-year history, the United States has never prosecuted a president (that is, outside the specialized judicial theater of impeachment). Not that some didn’t deserve it. The reticence is understandable. Locking up a former commander in chief would be politically divisive and potentially set a dangerous precedent. Would holding him accountable restore faith in the justice system or further erode it? But for Trump, whose antics and incompetence contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands, who attacked the very foundation of the democratic institutions that made the United States a beacon, and who pushed the nation to the threshold of autocracy, the American people might be willing, even eager, to take the risk.”

Everything you wanted to know about the Word of the Year for 2020.

“Bail reform in the county that includes Chicago had no impact on new criminal activity or violent criminal activity of defendants who were released before trial, according to a new study.”

“President Donald Trump’s demonization of mail-in voting may have cost him votes in the recent election. Now, his demonization of Georgia’s entire electoral system is hurting his party’s chances at keeping the Senate.”

Fire all the Trump minions ASAP. We can’t move forward as long as there are people in positions of power holding us back.

The story of the 1917 Halifax explosion, and the reason why the people of Nova Scotia send a Christmas tree to Boston every year.

“It’s an embarrassment that in 2020 that the country that played such an integral role in building and then commercializing the Internet has fallen so woefully behind other nations in developing suitable policy and regulatory measures to address the resulting risks. And it’s not just embarrassing, it’s actively harmful—to consumers whose personal data is being stolen or exposed on a regular basis and to companies that lack clear guidance on how they should be protecting their customers’ data.”

“Across America, this type of honest confusion abounds. While a misinformation-gorged segment of the population rejects the expert consensus on virus safety outright, so many other people, like Josh, are trying to do everything right, but run afoul of science without realizing it. Often, safety protocols, of all things, are what’s misleading them. In the country’s new devastating wave of infections, a perilous gap exists between the realities of transmission and the rules implemented to prevent it.”

“Yes, that’s right: for just $20, you, too, can have a Richard Simmons Chia Pet growing your own home.”

“Earth is 2,000 light years closer to the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole than previously thought”.

“Nowhere are these regulatory disparities more counterproductive and jarring than in the border areas between restrictive and permissive states; for example, between Washington and Idaho, Minnesota and South Dakota, and Illinois and Iowa. In each pairing, one state has imposed tough and sometimes unpopular restrictions on behavior, only to be confounded by a neighbor’s leniency. Like factories whose emissions boost asthma rates for miles around, a state’s lax public health policies can wreak damage beyond its borders.”

“European Space Agency is sending a giant claw into orbit to clean up space junk”. All hail the Space Claw.

“Let’s just spell this out: Republicans have no credibility, moral authority, or any other legitimate justification to object to anyone nominated to Biden’s proposed Cabinet. None. Nada. Zilch. And anyone who they fail to confirm—for any reason short of wanton lewdness or an undisclosed, serious criminal offense—should be afforded “acting” status by President-elect Biden.”

RIP, Maria Jimenez, longtime Houston civil rights activist.

How to stay warm when it’s cold outside. My preference is to stay inside, but that’s not always practical. Gotta walk the dog, after all.

RIP, Rafer Johnson, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, who later worked on the Robert Kennedy campaign and helped subdue and capture Sirhan Sirhan.

“Singapore is the first country in the world to approve lab-grown chicken products“.

Where’s the outrage?

Maybe now wasn’t the best time for a swingers convention. And honestly, how could anyone not have known that?

RIP, David Lander, actor best known as Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley.

Weekend link dump for November 29

“Every single person I have encountered who was misinformed on COVID-19 referenced the president’s dishonesty on Fox News or social media. For Americans to believe a politician over experts is horrifying to us nurses on the front lines. This is insane. I have never seen anything like it.”

RIP, Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, where iconic movie scenes from Contact and Goldeneye were filmed.

“To paraphrase Janney, Trump will provide a sense of relief to white Americans who felt dishonored by his defeat.”

“In a landmark series of calculations, physicists have proved that black holes can shed information, which seems impossible by definition.”

“Why COVID-19 vaccines seem to work better than expected”.

“I’m not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump & his fitness to be POTUS.” On that list: John Cornyn, not that you’d ever see any evidence of it in real life. Not on that list: Ted Cruz, because Trump has always been so complimentary of his family.

That’s Emmy award-winning Governor Andrew Cuomo to you, pal.

“Now that he’s lost his office to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump is facing the prospect of finally having to deal with both Carroll’s claim and a similar defamation lawsuit filed in New York by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. Legal experts say that both women’s cases could proceed quickly once Trump returns to civilian life. And that means the soon-to-be-former president could imminently face the question of either settling their claims or going to trial over the truth of their allegations.”

“Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remains on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.”

RIP, David Dinkins, first Black mayor of New York City.

RIP, Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.

RIP, David Maas, one half of the magic act Quick Change.

“As I’ve said before, this is not the worst or most urgent problem created by ingratitude. The harm that it does to the ungrateful is not as much of a priority as the harm it causes them to do to others. But it may be easier to get those trapped in the bondage of ingratitude to see the harm they’re doing to themselves than it will be, at first, to get them to see the harm they are doing to others. Like Ebenezer Scrooge or Zacchaeus, they’re perhaps more likely to recognize their need for repentance and the obligations of gratitude when the focus is on the consequences for them.”

“In a civic democracy willfully and knowingly spreading lies to overturn or undermine confidence in a free and fair election is the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. It amounts to a crime against the people and the republic. Generic lying has strong first amendment protections. But bringing those lies into court does not. There are ample grounds for seeking legal sanctions against the lawyers who have polluted the courts with these frivolous claims with the clear intent of undermining the republic itself.”

RIP, Bruce Boynton, civil rights pioneer who inspired the Freedom Rides on 1961.

RIP, Diego Maradona, Argentine soccer legend.

“Utah helicopter crew discovers mysterious metal monolith deep in the desert”. Because 2020, man. Oh, and now it’s gone, which is not suspicious at all.

RIP, Dave Prowse, actor best known for playing Darth Vader.

Weekend link dump for November 22

Three reasons why Joe Biden won back Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

A few words from Alex Trebek’s widow, thanking people for the nice things they’ve had to say about her husband.

“Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten. This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them.”

“Let’s count down the 50 worst people over this entire train wreck of an administration. We’re avoiding all the awful outside allies and toadies, from Sean Hannity to Lil Wayne, Jerry Falwell Jr. to James O’Keefe, the late Bob Murray to Vladimir Putin to Diamond and Silk. We focus on the people paid by taxpayers (and Trump campaign donors) to destroy the country and the planet. Plus, of course, Rudy Giuliani.”

What will the press do without Trump? How will we function without a towering political figure to kick and be kicked around by? And, what will the press do about Trump? Once he’s out of office, how much longer will we allow him to set the news agenda?”

“A new report from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights a bleak reality: Measles, the highly contagious but vaccine-preventable viral illness, infected at least 860,000 people and killed over 200,000 worldwide in 2019—a roughly 50% jump in deaths from 2016. Sadly, the covid-19 pandemic is likely to make this situation even worse.”

“Baltimore Museum of Art’s restrooms to be named in honor of John Waters, for donating 375 pieces of art”.

Be careful about allowing site notifications.

Kazakh-Americans are not pleased with Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.

Some advice for handling the 2020 holiday season.

More than you wanted to know about Jerry Falwell, Junior and Giancarlo Granda – if that name doesn’t ring a bell, it will as soon as you click the links.

RIP, Lindy McDaniel, longtime relief pitcher for the Yankees and other teams.

“The suggestion that doctors — in the midst of a public health crisis — are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge.”

“I wasn’t going to share this, but I think doing so is a public service, so here we go: it’s likely that my 12yo daughter has Covid. The past 3 days have been crazy, but I think telling the story of how this happened is important.”

“So will there come a time—before the inauguration on January 20—when Americans who care about democracy and who yearn for an effective response to the COVID-19 crisis can breath easy? With Trump at the helm, the answer is…probably not. But there are some upcoming dates to anticipate.”

RIP, Ira B. Scott, longtime educator and oldest living member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

“One of the things happening in South Dakota is an infection rate that’s among the worst in the nation, at about 8,000 cases per 100,000 people. In Vermont, another small, rural state with a Republican governor, Gov. Phil Scott has embraced safety measures, and the differences are pretty stark. Like South Dakota, Vermont has fewer than 1 million residents, most of whom don’t live in cities. It has about 500 cases per 100,000 people. That’s the lowest rate in the nation.”

“But COVID-19 works slowly. It takes several days for infected people to show symptoms, a dozen more for newly diagnosed cases to wend their way to hospitals, and even more for the sickest of patients to die. These lags mean that the pandemic’s near-term future is always set, baked in by the choices of the past. It means that Ricketts is already too late to stop whatever UNMC will face in the coming weeks (but not too late to spare the hospital further grief next month). It means that some of the people who get infected over Thanksgiving will struggle to enter packed hospitals by the middle of December, and be in the ground by Christmas.”

Weekend link dump for November 15

As a reward for making it through these past few weeks, please enjoy this amazing aerial photo of the Astrodome, from its early days.

“After four years of a president who couldn’t abide pets, dogs will once again cavort on the White House lawn.”

“The strategy to wage a legal fight against the votes tallied for Biden in Pennsylvania and other places is more to provide Trump with an off-ramp for a loss he can’t quite grasp and less about changing the election’s outcome, the officials said.”

“Post on polling in 2020. TLDR: projections based only on past voting returns better predicted 2020 results than poll averages in battleground states. I review how we used this to decide to spend in GA, then ask what might went wrong with polling in 2020?”

The law is coming.

“It’s not a stretch, then, to think that the organization with the most influence over what Americans believe, including about Donald Trump, is Facebook. And Twitter, as the shared watercooler of the entire media industry, probably isn’t far behind.”

“Pat Nixon was the first first lady to wear pants in public. Hillary Clinton was the first first lady to be elected to a public office. And now, Jill Biden is projected to become the first first lady to keep her full-time job outside of the White House.”

“Biden has several serious challenges ahead of him to curb the coronavirus’s exponential growth. First, he won’t take office for several months, which means the virus will continue to spread largely unabated if nothing is done. But perhaps most importantly, his administration needs to regain shattered trust in public health officials and agencies. He’s not just starting from scratch in creating a federal response; he’s facing a deficit with nearly a year of disinformation and deep politicization of the virus and its risks.”

“French media having to explain to readers who @GrittyNHL is as part of their election coverage wasn’t on my 2020 bingo card, but it’s definitely my fave moment of the cycle so far.”

Election Precedent 2020.

“If we have a safe, effective vaccine come out of clinical trials in the coming weeks, but we are not fully ready for a vaccination program, that will be a self inflicted national wound. A delay that could cost many thousands of lives.”

“What is clear is that it is no longer useful to clump millennials and Gen Z together as shorthand for youth. They may not have noticed it, but the upper cohort of millennials are fast approaching middle age. The second they try looking at themselves in a Gen-Z-approved upward camera angle, they’ll find that out for themselves.”

“The end of democratic self-government is not a thing one has a legal plan for. That’s like asking what my plan is for closing a demonic hell mouth that opens in my backyard. Die. My plan would be to die. I’m not Keanu Reeves.”

“President-elect Joe Biden looks to have won more than 300 electoral votes while winning the popular vote by more than 5 million votes. It was a more lopsided win than George W. Bush’s defeat of John Kerry in 2004. As a percentage of total electorate, Biden’s electoral mandate is on par with Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Heck, Biden swept every state mentioned in Steve Miller’s “Rock’n Me” (hat-tip to Jason Isbell for that observation). It’s a big win, by any measure.”

RIP, Disco Kroger. Houston’s grocery scene will never be the same.

The near future landscape for the NBA, NHL, and MLB.

RIP, Tommy Heinsohn, basketball Hall of Famer, and Boston Celtics legend.

There were more votes cast in 24 of the 36 Congressional races in Texas than in the entire state of Wyoming.

“So with his flight, [Vic] Glover is not only making history as the US gets back into the business of human spaceflight, he will become the first Black person to live on the space station. This seems like a shocking fact. The space station has now been inhabited for more than 20 years, after all, and 126 humans have lived there during that time. But none were Black. Six African-American astronauts visited the space station during shuttle missions, but none stayed aboard as long-term crew members.”

My initial favorite for a new Jeopardy! host is Ken Jennings, but I have to say, LeVar Burton would be an outstanding choice.

RIP, Lucille Bridges, American hero.

RIP, Paul Hornung, football Hall of Famer who won a Heisman, an NFL MVP, and multiple NFL titles with the Packers.

Weekend link dump for November 8

Assessing the COVID-19 risk on airplanes.

“If Donald Trump is reelected, he will continue to downplay the threat of the coronavirus, and more Americans will fall ill.” Hopefully byt the time this runs, that will no longer be a concern.

“Pajiba Investigates: Does Everyone In The Buffyverse Have Syphilis?”

What are the odds?

I am 100% on board with putting Weird Al Yankovic in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

You can buy a video from Amazon Prime Video, but you won’t actually own it.

“Should you recycle your disposable mask?”

“Blaire Erskine has pretended to be a stranded MAGA supporter, Jerry Falwell’s daughter, and the wife of a notorious anti-masker. The gag: How many folks think her satires are real.”

“I’ll bet you never thought you’d have to explain the doctrine of laches to your neighbors before this election was over.”

This woman is a hero.

RIP, Geoffrey Palmer, versatile British actor.

RIP, Alex Trebek, legendary host of Jeopardy!. 2020 isn’t done with us yet.

Weekend link dump for November 1

Have you voted yet? You have one last chance on Tuesday. Don’t blow it.

“Consider, Wyllie says, the extraordinary chain of events that would need to happen to successfully spread SARS-CoV-2 on a surface. A sufficiently large amount of the virus would need to be sprayed by an infected person onto a surface. The surface would need to be the right kind of material, exposed to the right levels of light, temperature, and humidity so that the virus does not quickly degrade. Then the virus would need to be picked up—which you would most likely do with your hands. But the virus is vulnerable there. (“Enveloped” viruses like SARS-CoV-2 do not fare well on porous surfaces like skin and clothing.) And then it needs to find a way inside you—usually through your nose or your eye—in a concentration big enough to get past your mucosal defenses and establish itself in your cells. The risk, Wyllie concludes, is low.”

“Since August, world governments have pledged more than $12 trillion in stimulus spending to dig their way out of the coronavirus-caused economic downturn — a truly mind-boggling amount of cash that represents three times the public money spent after the Great Recession. How does that compare with the money that would be needed to fight climate change? That’s the question behind a new paper published last week in the journal Science. According to the analysis, the money countries have put on the table to address COVID-19 far outstrips the low-carbon investments that scientists say are needed in the next five years to avoid climate catastrophe — by about an order of magnitude.”

“As football fans tailgated without masks outside Texas Tech University’s 60,000-seat stadium in West Texas this weekend ahead of the Red Raiders’ homecoming game, it was easy to forget that Lubbock — a rural county of 310,000 — has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country.”

RIP, Lee Kun-Hee, transformative CEO of Samsung.

“Coffee Machine Hit By Ransomware Attack—Yes, You Read That Right”.

“It’s been embraced for saving money, hated for its lack of sound privacy, blasted for reinforcing sexist behavior, and even cited as a reason people considered leaving their jobs, which have led many to call, repeatedly, for the end of the open-plan office. The pandemic may finally make that happen. According to a new survey of tech companies, fewer than half of offices with fully open plans expect to keep that layout in the post-pandemic era. For some offices, the open plan is already on its way out.”

“What I’m getting from all of this is, Jill – much to everyone’s surprise – saw the light at the end of the crunchy hairspray-covered bangs, and she decided to start living as a Duggar in name only. This kind of makes sense when you remember the awful shit that allegedly went on in their house with her older awful brother Josh Duggar (and how her parents allegedly swept it under the rug).”

“In rural America, resentment over COVID-19 shutdowns is colliding with rising case numbers”.

“A No. 1 Song Written by a Solitary Songwriter Is Becoming a Thing of the Past”.

RIP, Billy Joe Shaver, legendary Texas singer/songwriter.

The TV show Dallas make have helped to hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.

“Joe Biden has been declared the winner of Nickelodeon’s “Kid’s Vote,” but not before a group of internet users attempted to steal the mock election — because of course they did.”

“President Donald Trump left several thousand of his supporters stranded at Eppley Airfield after his event in Omaha Tuesday night.”

For your consideration: How the Texas GOP Went Off the Rails in 2020, and Texas Democrats Went Missing for Decades. Can They Come Back Tuesday? Answers to these and other questions, hopefully coming soon.

“Allow me to put that concern to rest: No, white evangelical support for Trump has not harmed and cannot harm evangelicals’ witness. Because white evangelical support for Trump and for Trumpism is its witness. This is the gospel that white evangelicalism proclaims and embodies. This is the testimony it offers and the witness it bears to the world. This is the community embodied in its churches, schools, para-church ministries, Bible colleges, publications and publishing houses. This is the news it has to share with a fallen world.”

RIP, Sean Connery, Academy Award winner and the best James Bond.

RIP, Herb Adderley, Hall of Fame cornerback and multiple-time Super Bowl winner.

How all day voting went in Harris County.

Weekend link dump for October 25

“A Disturbing Twinkie That Has, So Far, Defied Science”.

I could not possibly care less about the future job prospects of current Trump staffers. Let them struggle to find honest work, maybe it will help them understand their prior decisions.

Scalzi on living in Trump Country, four years later.

RIP, Tab, diet soft drink of choice for many an 80s-era sorority sister.

“The concept of containing hot spots isn’t new, but it’s being tested under new pressures as authorities try to avoid a dreaded resurgence of illness and deaths, this time with economies weakened from earlier lockdowns, populations chafing at the idea of renewed restrictions and some communities complaining of unequal treatment.”

“A Long List of Shady Financial Mysteries Trump Still Refuses to Explain”.

“Senator David Perdue (R-GA) attacked Kamala Harris with a racist trope and then refused to apologize. Who is backing his campaign? A bunch of corporations that claim to be committed to fighting racism.”

“In 2017, President Donald Trump and the Wisconsin GOP struck a deal with Foxconn that promised to turn Southeastern Wisconsin into a tech manufacturing powerhouse. In exchange for billions in tax subsidies, Foxconn was supposed to build an enormous LCD factory in the tiny village of Mount Pleasant, creating 13,000 jobs. Three years later, the factory — and the jobs — don’t exist, and they probably never will.”

“How TV’s Top Cop Shows Are Changing Their Approach to Law & Order”.

“President Donald Trump’s sprawling political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire.”

Whatever they were wasting money on, it wasn’t paying legal bills.

“Given current polling of the presidential race, it is possible to imagine three scenarios, either on November 4 or on days soon thereafter: a narrow Trump victory in the Electoral College, with a huge loss in the popular vote; a Biden landslide in which Trump claims he lost because of a “rigged” election; or a very close and potentially flawed election going into overtime that could lead to a prolonged struggle over the presidency and the country. Each of these presents its own set of challenges for American democracy.”

“Both sides of the landmark showdown over marriage equality have announced that whatever differences they may have had, the one thing we can all agree on is that Amy Coney Barrett doesn’t belong within an abortion protest buffer zone of the United States Supreme Court.”

Susan Collins is very disappointed with this story.

“Phil Collins’ ex-wife and the man she left him for (VIA TEXT!) have apparently launched an armed occupation of Collins’ $33M Miami mansion, and I have no idea why you people are tweeting about anything else.” I haven’t even read the linked story because the deep-cut Genesis puns in the replies were so good.

In more conventional music news, this is amazing: “I, Tom Lehrer, and the Tom Lehrer Trust 2000, hereby grant the following permission: All the lyrics on this website, whether published or unpublished, copyrighted or uncopyrighted, may be downloaded and used in any manner whatsoever, without requiring any further permission from me or any payment to me or to anyone else.” It’s the hits plus a lot of songs I did not know. But act fast, this website will be taken down in 2024.

RIP, Spencer Davis, rock and blues musician best known for “Gimme Some Lovin'”.

“In this regard, it made perfect sense for Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar to stream themselves playing Among Us, a multiplayer game where players work as a team to figure out who is sabotaging the crew of their spaceship, on Twitch to 400,000 viewers alongside Piker, Pokimane, and other popular streamers on Tuesday night. Their game play, and exhortations to the audience to vote, were being watched by mostly younger and largely sympathetic minds that have been primed by Destiny, Piker, and others.”

RIP, James “The Amazing” Randi, magician, skeptic, debunker of bullshit. Mark Evanier adds a few words.

RIP, Shelley Buschur, Houston art car artist.

“If the U.S. had followed Canadian policies and protocols, there might have only been 85,192 U.S. deaths—making more than 132,500 American deaths ‘avoidable.’ If the U.S. response had mirrored that of Germany, the U.S. may have only had 38,457 deaths—leaving 179,260 avoidable deaths.”

RIP, Jerry Jeff Walker, Texas music icon. 2020 truly is the worst.

Weekend link dump for October 18

It’s a Big Bang fight, and I am here for it.

“A kidnap and murder plot targeted Gretchen Whitmer. It’s no coincidence she’s a woman.”

Some giant shark news to brighten your day.

Please enjoy this lovely profile of Mandy Patinkin.

“It’s blatant corruption, of course. The payment of cash to the privately held businesses of a sitting president in exchange for that president personally bending government decision-making in your favor is definitively corrupt. It’s not even the usual method of brazen American corruption, forking over huge “campaign” donations in an attempt to curry such favors; nope, this money is going into Donald Trump’s pockets. He keeps it. Trump is making personal bank off the powers voters gave him.”

“It’s a serious threat that serious people should take seriously.”

RIP, Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame second baseman for the Reds and Astros.

“As TV shows begin to return to air this fall, showrunners have had to decide whether or not to incorporate the coronavirus pandemic into their future storylines. From video chat-inspired comedies about quarantine to medical dramas facing the biggest medical story in generation, here’s how shows are incorporating COVID-19 into upcoming episodes.”

If only one person makes it to Final Jeopardy, is it still Final Jeopardy? (I got the question right, btw.)

“I ask you to do me a favor. Suburban women: will you please like me? Please.” (Spoiler alert: They do not and will not.)

“Given the kind of year 2020 has been, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected. But, it’s also important not to ignore what’s in front of us today. Trump is a president who is deeply underwater with only a few weeks to go in an election that lacks many of the things – like a deeply unpopular opponent and significant third-party support – that benefitted him back in 2016.”

Rudy Giuliani’s daughter urges you to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“As school districts deal with budget cuts brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, many are switching to solar power to reduce costs.”

How to improve a billboard.

“Some amount of lying, and even more hypocrisy, is inevitable in politics. The Democratic Party isn’t immune. But it would be a mistake to confuse the acts of bad faith that have saturated Republican conduct for garden-variety hypocrisy or lying. These contradictions don’t point to a lack of self-awareness or passing acts of shame-faced expediency. Republicans and professional conservatives revel in double standards because by embracing double standards they claim power over their opponents. The Republicans have become a party that celebrates rulebreaking, because they have come to see rulebreaking as a show of strength. Their moral compass, inverted by their single-minded pursuit of self-interest, now points south.”

“I love that my mom aims to be polite even if the person she’s talking about is spiritually something akin to a boil on the left ass cheek of Satan, but Black elders have earned the right to be especially venomous, given what his victory in the 2016 presidential election signified.”

RIP, Bernard Cohen, ACLU lawyer who successfully argued for the plaintiffs in the case that outlawed bans on interracial marriage.

Weekend link dump for October 11

Kimberly Guilfoyle sure sounds like a boss from hell.

So, what happens if a Presidential candidate dies or becomes incapacitated before Election Day? No reason, just asking.

“For The First Time, Scientists Successfully Extract DNA From Insects Embedded In Tree Resin“. Just please don’t clone the velociraptors, that’s all I ask.

Doug Emhoff is a mensch.

“The choice the Senate — and, thus, America — faces is simple: To keep the filibuster is to accept continued legislative paralysis, a Senate that acts not as the cooling saucer of the American political system but as the deep freezer of the legislative branch. To eliminate it is to court the whirlwind of governance — to accept that your opponents may win elections, to risk their agenda passing into law. Nightmares prowl both paths. But which do we fear more: being unable to govern, or being able to govern?”

“Marriage equality is one of the top issues targeted by the very wealthy far-right activists that we have battled all along.”

Go for it, Dolly.

“Cities Turn Parking Spaces Into Dining Spots And No One Seems To Mind”.

“Below, STAT outlines eight of the crucial unknowns about the president and the course of his illness, and how it could shape broader the political and public health spheres.”

By the way, one of the treatments the President received was based on stem cells, which Amy Coney Barrett (among others) considers to be morally equivalent to murder.

“Also, lying about one’s illness and clearly ignoring medical advice is not courage or strength. It’s reckless stupidity. It shows weakness. It claims too much.”

“A remote structure consisting of a supermassive black hole, several primordial galaxies, and copious amounts of gas finally explains how some of the earliest black holes were able to grow so quickly.”

“Because the chamber was designed to lock with a metal ring underneath the user’s penis, the researchers said it may require the intervention of a heavy-duty bolt cutter or an angle grinder to free the user.”

RIP, Eddie Van Halen, guitar god.

RIP, Johnny Nash, singer-songwriter best known for “I Can See Clearly Now”.

“We used to reject court packing as a dangerous game. Now we believe it may be the best way to restore the Court’s legitimacy.”

“Good on the BBWAA for removing Kenesaw Mountain Landis — and his history of racism — from MLB’s MVP awards”.

RIP, Monica Roberts, transgender and civil rights activist, blogger, and much more. A terrific person, and her loss leaves a big void and many broken hearts, but we will fight on in her honor.

RIP, Whitey Ford, Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Yankees.

Weekend link dump for October 4

“I will confess to a deep pessimism about American politics right now. We stand on the precipice of a legitimacy crisis — minoritarian rule has become the norm, an unpopular president has all but promised to refuse to accept a loss at the polls, and a political system that has only ever worked with weak parties is proving unable to govern amid the collisions of strong ones. But there is a glimmer of an optimistic tale that can be told, too. And, to my surprise, it revolves around McConnell, and the vision of the Senate that he is convincing Democrats to embrace, the reforms he might, at last, convince them to make.”

“What Do Two New Studies Really Tell Us About Coronavirus Transmission on Planes?”

Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modeling of a prodigious University of Queensland undergraduate student.” Did you ever read an old Superman comic, where he’d travel to the past by flying faster than the speed of light, but he was completely unable to change the events of the past because anything he did was either prevented or subverted by various cosmic forces? It’s like that, apparently.

This is the end of the coronavirus pandemic. And this is how it could happen in the United States: By November 2021, most Americans have received two doses of a vaccine that, while not gloriously effective, fights the disease in more cases than not. Meanwhile, Americans continue to wear masks and avoid large gatherings, and the Covid-19 numbers drop steadily after a series of surges earlier in the year. Eventually, as more and more Americans develop immunity through exposure and vaccination, and as treatments become more effective, Covid-19 recedes into the swarm of ordinary illnesses Americans get every winter.”

“Here are some key takeaways from the Times’ reporting [on Donald Trump’s tax returns]”.

“No matter how many crazy things happen, the fundamentals are the same: The president is a greedy racist and misogynist who does not understand his job.”

RIP, Jay Johnstone, colorful former Major Leaguer who played for multiple teams and wrote several funny books about his experiences. (Actual quote from his onetime manager Tommy LaSorda for his first book, Temporary Insanity: “Johnstone wrote a book? With what, shaving cream? A fire extinguisher?”)

“Now, 8 1/2 months after an infection doctors had never seen before claimed its first victims in China, the pandemic’s confirmed death toll has eclipsed 1 million, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.” Jay Johnstone, whom I eulogized above, is one of those one million people.

“Meet the Abortion Patients Calling Out Ted Cruz on His Abortion Lies”.

“There are at least five fundamental ways in which fact-checking as an independent proposition has always been problematic”. (Article is from last year, but it could have been written this week.)

“In the longer term, though, our president’s adventures in tax avoidance should also provide a great opportunity to build political momentum for rebuilding our our battered, broken-down Internal Revenue Service, a policy item that should be high on Democrats’ to-do list if they retake power.”

Not sure I buy the argument that Republicans will lose interest in Trump once Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, but I’m open to it.

In case you wanted to know more about the 911 outage on Monday.

“Dogs are being trained to sniff out COVID-19, and they’re better than the tests”.

“This is why Trump’s contemptuous remarks about his Christian supporters are so similar to the decades of bewilderedly contemptuous comments he’s made about members of the military, veterans, and prisoners of war — others who, in Trump’s view, stupidly and perversely regarded some calling as higher than the pursuit of money.”

The months of the year if they were named for the metric system. It goes delightfully downhill from there.

RIP, Mac Davis, singer, songwriter, actor, TV personality.

RIP, Helen Reddy, singer best known for “I Am Woman” and “Delta Dawn”.

“A British zoo has had to separate five foul-mouthed parrots who keepers say were encouraging each other to swear.” My heroes.

“The timeline of events leading up to the disclosure of President Trump’s diagnosis point overwhelmingly to some mix of a coverup and gross negligence and likely both.”

“We don’t know their names, but it’s a certainty that Trump has been in proximity to a number of service workers and others there for his safety and comfort over the past week. From White House staff to workers at the fundraisers he held—including one at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, where an undocumented housekeeper cleaned up after him for years—to the employees at his Virginia golf club where he played on Sunday, to the military personnel who make up the crew of Air Force One, and of course his Secret Service detail, Trump has been served and waited on and protected even as he refused to wear a mask and kept top aide Hope Hicks’ positive COVID-19 test secret.”

“Here’s a list of all of the Republicans who have tested positive for coronavirus since last Saturday”.

RIP, Bob Gibson, Hall of Fame and all-time great pitcher for the Saint Louis Cardinals.

RIP, Ron Perranoski, pitcher and pitching coach mostly for the Dodgers, who won two World Series with that team.

RIP, Timothy Ray Brown, first person cured of HIV.

Weekend link dump for September 27

We don’t have Election Day, we have Election Season. That’s a good thing, and it’s been a thing for decades now.

“A group of some of the most revered and longest-active environmentalists issued a dire warning to the next generation of activists on Monday: Don’t vote for the Green Party this year. And don’t sit out the election either.”

“Why I Changed My Mind About the Caster Semenya Case”.

“Los Angeles is just one of a number of US cities now plotting a comeback from the pain of the pandemic by tackling another, but longer-term, emergency—the climate crisis. By extending measures to turn streets over to pedestrians and cyclists, bolstering jobs in clean energy or building of new defenses to risks such as flooding, some US cities are attempting a “green recovery” to COVID-19.”

“With all the talk about expanding the Supreme Court and adding new states, why no discussion of adding a couple hundred seats to the House? We did it nearly every decade for 150 years. It’d also make it less likely that the electoral college picks the popular vote loser.”

“The price — and big potential payoff — of turning Texas blue”.

“A Notorious COVID Troll Actually Works for Dr. Fauci’s Agency”. Not anymore, apparently, but still.

“Our top newsrooms need to start producing campaign coverage with a clear, relentless message: that Trump is unfit and democracy is in danger. His constant lying alone is enough to justify taking this approach; it is an affront to journalism’s central mission, of telling the truth.”

The degradation of the CDC, turning the world’s premier public health institution into another propaganda arm, would be the biggest atrocity of the Trump administration, if it weren’t for literally everything else.

RIP, Roy Head, Houston-based R&B singer best known for the 1965 hit “Treat Her Right”.

RIP, Adeline Fagan, a 28-year-old New York native who was completing her second year of residency as an OB-GYN in Houston. She tested positive for COVID-19 in July and had been on a ventilator since mid-August.

Just go read these two posts from Teh Slacktivist about white evangelicals, Q-Anon, and tentacle porn.

And then, if you really want to scare yourself, read this Atlantic article about the looming electoral disaster that awaits us when Donald Trump refuses to concede.

“I thought, ‘It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?”

“The ongoing pandemic has had weird consequences for both food producers and consumers. Stores have found their shelves bare due to both panic buying and producers cutting back on the variety of items they make, and with stadiums closed peanut farmers have been sitting on a mountain of unsold legumes. Now, thanks to movie theaters largely being closed as well, the same thing is happening to farmers raising corn destined to be popcorn.”

RIP, Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame running back for the Chicago Bears, also well known for his appearance in the movie Brian’s Song.

“Surprise! The ‘real people’ in Trump ad campaign are actually Republican operatives“.

“Even allowing for some variability in the accuracy of the economic modeling and underlying assumptions that drive our analysis, we conclude that Biden’s economic proposals would result in a stronger U.S. economy than Trump’s.”

“Nearly 500 National Security Experts Endorse Biden For President”.

“Every time Trump spouts this kind of garbage, he is revealing that he is TERRIFIED. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Terrified. His **existential** fear is losing. And he knows that there is a very good chance he is going to lose. And he can’t do a damn thing about it. He will be a LOSER.”

Weekend link dump for September 20

“Several elements of those historic failures exist today: political disunity, economic collapse, the possibility of a razor-thin electoral margin, and corrupt challenges to the results. But none of those other transitions incorporated all of that at once, and a deadly pandemic. And none of them featured someone like Donald Trump. Whether he wins, loses, or just decides that he’s won, the whole nation must prepare to navigate treacherous territory this winter.”

“According to documents obtained by Motherboard from state departments of agriculture, at least hundreds, perhaps thousands of Americans planted the [mystery seeds from China].”

“The American system of government has proven to be far more fragile and norms-dependent than most public policy professionals and politics nerds had thought possible. It may only take one more president of limited moral constraints to topple it entirely. And given that impeachment and removal have proven to be an empty threat, the only deterrent to a future Trumplike president and their enablers will be the fear of being held legally and financially accountable for wrongdoing after leaving office.”

“All startups seek to disrupt and disintermediate a smug status quo, or originate and dominate an entirely new niche. But what makes a brand a bland is duality: claiming simultaneously to be unique in product, groundbreaking in purpose, and singular in delivery, while slavishly obeying an identikit formula of business model, look and feel, and tone of voice.”

“Over the years, this page has commented on the scientific foibles of U.S. presidents. Inadequate action on climate change and environmental degradation during both Republican and Democratic administrations have been criticized frequently. Editorials have bemoaned endorsements by presidents on teaching intelligent design, creationism, and other antiscience in public schools. These matters are still important. But now, a U.S. president has deliberately lied about science in a way that was imminently dangerous to human health and directly led to widespread deaths of Americans. This may be the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy.”

“Are you used to identifying, all the way down to your soul, with your Hogwarts house, but you also don’t want to support transphobia? Here are some alternate ideas for you!”

“High in the toxic atmosphere of the planet Venus, astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life.”

“In the libel, journalism and risk world there’s the pre-Gawker suit world and the post-Gawker suit world. Some of difference is actual changes in case law. But it’s not mostly that. It’s also the climate of uncertainty created by the outcome of the Gawker case – a major publication really was sued out of existence without even the ability to appeal the judgment or get a review on the law. The case was funded by a billionaire who wanted to retaliate for coverage he didn’t like. It is also because of novel legal strategies and the increased willingness of the extremely powerful to use the courts to get the press to heel.”

“But if there is a line Donald Trump could cross that would forfeit the loyalty of his core supporters—including, and in some respects especially, white evangelical Christians—I can’t imagine what it would be. And that is a rather depressing thing to admit.”

The epic rock battle between Dave Grohl and Nandi Bushell is the purest, most wholesome, and most life-affirming content on the Internet.

RIP, Ronald Bell, musician and co-founder of Kool and the Gang.

“I’m sure you know this by now, but the reason ABBA wore those wild costumes was because Swedish tax law would only let you write off costumes/clothes as business expenses on your taxes if you couldn’t possibly wear them on the street.”

“[Sarah] McBride overwhelmingly won a two-person Democratic primary for a state senate seat. And the makeup of her district, with its large base of registered Democratic voters, all but assures that McBride will win the seat in November, making her the nation’s first openly transgender state senator.”

“Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

RIP, Rich Connelly, longtime local news reporter and columnist. His magnus opus was a long essay on surviving Tropical Storm Allison, called Wading for Godot, and you should read it even if you’ve never experienced a Houston flooding event.

“Hey, quit laughing! It’s not an ignominious end to a glorious legal career. Dersh is on top of his game, ready to take on the world, primed to hit the nude beaches for an impromptu lecture on presidential prerogatives. Look out, Martha’s Vineyard, here he comes!”

“It may be a nice idea for Congress to establish a commission to protect our elections, but the Republican Party is committed to the opposite which is why they’d never go along with Coats’s idea.”

“Dames don’t audition for you; you audition for them. We loved her, she was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character.”

“Facebook is best understood as a fantastically profitable nuclear energy company whose profitability is based on dumping the waste on the side of the road and accepting frequent accidents and explosions as inherent to the enterprise.”

Happy 100th birthday, Roger Angell!

Weekend link dump for September 13

“A Brief Explainer on OnlyFans and Why Celebrities Joining It May Be A Bad Thing”.

“The pandemic is forcing Democrats to ask: How important is door-knocking, anyway?”

“Actually, no, that’s not quite right. I do not need to “hope” that you agree. I know that you agree. I know this because everyone agrees. Which is why you and I don’t get any brownie points or cookies or special commendation for agreeing with such a self-evident, bare-minimum moral stance.”

RIP, Lou Brock, MLB Hall of Famer who broke the single season and career stolen bases records while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.

RIP, William Pursell, Grammy-nominated composer and pianist.

Jeopardy! welcomes Ken Jennings back into the fold.

“What if we get a safe and effective vaccine, and people choose not to get it?”

“How many wounded warriors have stepped forward to attest to Trump’s care and concern for them? How many Gold Star families have stepped forward on Trump’s behalf? How many service families? The silence is resounding. And when such voices do speak, they typically describe a president utterly lacking in empathy to grieving families, wholly uncomprehending of sacrifice and suffering.”

“According to a new study, which tracked anonymized cellphone data from the rally, over 250,000 coronavirus cases have now been tied to the 10-day [Sturgis Motorcycle Rally], one of the largest to be held since the start of the pandemic. It drew motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country, many of whom were seen without face coverings inside crowded bars, restaurants, and other indoor establishments.”

“so I just got the electric beard clippers and held him upside down while I shaved off his butt hair“. You want to know what that was all about, don’t you?

“Season 20 will mark the final season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

“Early Signs Point to ‘Mulan’ Outpacing ‘Hamilton’ on Disney+, Even With Premium Price”.

“Not to mention my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.”

RIP, Diana Rigg, Tony- and Emmy-winning actor best known for The Avengers and Game of Thrones.

“For me, that’s why Woodward’s recording does contain useful information. Trump didn’t believe his own bullshit. He simply lied and people died.”

“Here’s a list of all the NBA arenas being turned into voting sites for this year’s election”.

“A woman in Exeter, N.H., whipped off her shirt and voted topless after she was told she couldn’t cast her ballot while wearing a political T-shirt.”

“Zookeepers at the Saint Louis Zoo were surprised to see their oldest snake coiled around a clutch of freshly laid eggs because she hadn’t been near a male in more than 15 years.”

RIP, Tony Vallone, longtime Houston restauranteur.

“The NFL chooses not to get that, and instead thinks it can walk a tightrope between insulting your intelligence and offending racists. It’s not possible. Not that this was in any doubt before, but Chiefs fans audibly put the lie to any notions of compromise when they booed a group of black men pleading, silently, not to be treated like shit.”

“Imagine you were an alien who landed on planet Earth, and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and that masks were an effective way to prevent the spread. And yet when you went around, you saw some people not wearing them and some people wearing them, and you tried to figure out why, and it turned out it was their political party.”

“The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.”

RIP, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, lead singer and co-founder of Toots and the Maytals.

Weekend link dump for September 6

“There are many differences between Bush and Trump as individuals, and many differences between their administrations. But both of them represent a Republican Party soaked in contempt for, and mistrust of, the federal government. When you don’t respect, or even like, the institution you lead, you lead it poorly. When that institution is incredibly, globally important — as the US government is — leading it poorly can invite global catastrophe. And sure enough, under the last two Republican administrations, it has. There is continuity here, of the most consequential sort: a continuity of terrible outcomes.”

“So, no. The public domain is not, in fact, a sure bet for the popularity of Heinlein and his work. Not now; possibly not ever.”

“Orbiting the Milky Way galaxy just once takes the sun approximately 220 million to 230 million Earth years“. Or roughly the length of the year 2020.

“So if I might humbly suggest, the next time a Trump supporter hits you with “but the tweets,” ask them which tweets they mean and why they were objectionable. This is especially true for political reporters conducting interviews.”

“Regardless of the objective realities, Democrats will consistently anticipate loss or worry about loss while Republicans will consistently be confident of victory. This is a good rule of thumb regardless of the objective realities of the moment, to the degree they can be known.”

“The latest Military Times poll shows a continued decline in active-duty service members’ views of President Donald Trump and a slight but significant preference for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming November election among troops surveyed.”

RIP, John Thompson, Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach at Georgetown, first Black coach to win an NCAA tournament.

“Federal Bureau of Investigation documents warned that owners of Amazon’s Ring and similar video doorbells can use the systems — which collect video footage sometimes used to investigate crimes — in order to watch police instead.”

“If you are an adult who has a young human in your life, please do not teach them that being scared of someone who doesn’t look like them is OK, please. This is a trend that needs to stop. Because we are humans. We have feelings.”

Men’s “wellness” is a scam, too.

Leave Lily alone!

The next TV project for the Game of Thrones guys sounds pretty cool.

“You have entered the ghost of a Pizza Hut. Savor the moment as you would a personal pan pizza.”

“I know many Trump supporters in real life, and none of the above excuses would apply to them. They are educated. They are well-off. Their lives are stable. They have access to the internet and know perfectly well how to find better information. They can see as well as I can that long lists of public-facing life-long republicans have rejected Trump. They are choosing chaos, pain, and death for everyone else, while demanding normalcy for themselves.”

“A former top Department of Homeland Security official who resigned in April says the Trump administration is creating the conditions for domestic extremism to flourish in the United States.”

“Number two, boneless chicken wings are just chicken tenders, which are already boneless. I don’t go to order boneless tacos. I don’t go and order boneless club sandwiches. I don’t ask for boneless auto repair. It’s just what’s expected. Number three, we need to raise our children better. Our children are being raised to be afraid of having bones attached to their meat. That’s where meat comes from, it grows on bones. We need to teach them that the wing of a chicken is from a chicken, and it’s delicious.”

“This is the great irony of the Trump era: It has never felt like more is happening, and yet American political opinions have never been so immovable.”

RIP, Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame pitcher mostly for the Mets, and one of the all-time greats.

“Whoopi Goldberg Urges Disney World to Build Wakanda Park in Memory of Chadwick Boseman”.

Star Trek: Discovery announced that season three will introduce the first non-binary and transgender characters in the history of the Star Trek franchise.”

RIP, Wick Allison, Dallas writer and publisher of D Magazine.

Seriously, what planet is Ted Cruz from?

“The fallen service members I helped receive and carry during this part of the journey to their final resting place were not “losers” or “suckers”. They were selfless and heroic, and I had the honor of being among the first to hold them when they returned home.”

Weekend link dump for August 30

“Covid now 3rd leading cause of death. Even at “only” half current death rate, Covid would kill
– 4x as many as from suicide, kidney disease
– 3x as many as flu and pneumonia
– 2x as many as diabetes
– More than Alzheimer’s, stroke, lung disease, injury (including opiates)”.

“A Texas Program Has Achieved Remarkable Success in Protecting Rare Sea Turtles. So Why Does the National Park Service Want to Defund It?”

How to solve the riddle from the trailer to the new movie The Batman.

RIP, Gerald Hines, real estate developer who shaped the Houston skyline.

Platform, schmatform. Long live the king!

“Owning the libs and pissing off the media. That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it.”

“So now, instead of serving as a symbol of Trump’s successes, the RNC will serve as a symbol of everything he’s done wrong. While other countries reopen schools and even sporting events with fans, the US continues to report 40,000 or more new coronavirus cases a day.”

“Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives — and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.”

RIP, Justin Townes Earle, singer-songwriter and son of Steve Earle.

The Falwells and the pool boy. I have a feeling there’s more to come in this saga. I only wish Jerry Senior were alive to see this.

“This lines up with something I’ve found in my own research with conservative Protestants: I heard over and over about their worries young people would walk away from their relationship with Christ, yet they placed blame for that almost exclusively on secular professors and the liberal media. They shouldn’t: As various social scientific studies of “religious nones” (nonbelievers) have shown, people are increasingly leaving Christian belief because of the politics and hypocrisy of Christians like Jerry Falwell Jr.”

“It’s skeevy, in other words, for the same reason the pastor’s unironic Ricky Bobby impression is skeevy — because we don’t know if he would know if his wife was really into this too. We cannot trust him to know, or to listen, or to realize if she wasn’t. And if she’s not — if she really does hate it when he does this — then something actually bad and not merely benignly kinky is going on.”

“Religious conservatives are essential to Trump’s base, so the people most inclined to see natural disasters as messages from God and now in a bind. Do they listen to the message, or ignore it?”

On survivorship bias and the home court advantage in the NBA.

“The more complicated answer is that the platform I’ve just described, like so much of the Trump-Republican program, commands support among only a minority of the American people. The platform works (to the extent it does work) by exciting enthusiastic support among Trump supporters; but when stated too explicitly, it invites a backlash among the American majority. This is a platform for a party that talks to itself, not to the rest of the country. And for those purposes, the platform will succeed most to the extent that it is communicated only implicitly, to those receptive to its message.”

RIP, Joe Ruby, animation writer and executive who co-created “Scooby-Doo”. Mark Evanier shared some thoughts about him.

“A lawsuit—launched back in June, but getting more attention now that the film’s just released its first trailer—[alleges] that Netflix’s Enola Holmes infringes on the copyright of Arthur Conan Doyle’s family, because it shows Henry Cavill’s Sherlock having legally actionaable feelings.”

A woman ran at me with a knife once. I was responding to a domestic and she flew out the front door, huge knife in hand, & came right at me. I drew my weapon, yelled “police”, told her to drop the knife. She didn’t. At some point, I’d drawn my weapon.”

RIP, Lute Olson, Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach at the University of Arizona.

RIP, Cathy Smith, backup singer better known for her role in the overdose death of John Belushi.

RIP, Chadwick Boseman, actor best known for Black Panther. He also played Jackie Robinson in the movie 42, and MLB was celebrating Jackie Robinson Day yesterday when Boseman passed. My 13-yea-old daughter emerged from her room at 10:30 PM last night to announce this news to me. She’s a huge Marvel fan and Black Panther is one of her favorites, and she was really upset by this. My deepest condolences to Boseman’s family and friends.

Weekend link dump for August 23

“Our school’s emergency bags are remarkably sparse. No band-aids, no first aid materials. We have one flashlight, one sign with my name to help my students find our class if they get separated during a mass exodus, one copy of my class rosters, and one Sharpie marker. Why a marker? Someone asked that very question at a staff meeting. The nurse explained, in a completely emotionless tone, that the Sharpie was so we could identify students and write their names on their bodies in the event of an incident.”

“What I’m getting at here is that people are what make videos work. People—given the license and resources to have fun—are the reason why viewers hit the play button. People are the reason why you hit that like and subscribe button. Even as BA grew from a sleeper hit to its own cinematic universe, what kept it successful was that the human element came through in moments congenial, frustrated, heartbroken, petty, and embarrassing. No one watches BA Test Kitchen because they’re fans of Condé Nast, or want to see Condé Nast succeed.”

“CBS Television Studios has signed an exclusive agreement with law enforcement and public safety advisory group 21CP Solutions to consult with the writing staffs of CBS crime procedurals and legal dramas”.

“The conclusion I’ve come to is that no one’s in charge. They’re not doing anything, per se. The party has lost all superego & runs entirely on id now – no strategy, no plan, no intentionality. All that’s left is a bunch of tired tropes & instincts that haven’t changed in decades.”

“We estimate that the reduction in annual lead emissions from deleading NASCAR and ARCA races yielded social benefits of $2.2 billion per year from avoided elderly mortality alone. This suggests that the cost of a gram of lead added to gasoline is over $1,100.”

“A Brief History of Why Donald Trump Hates the Postal Service”. It’s even more petty and small-minded than you think.

“But McConnell — and, to be fair, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — are acting as if the most important thing they want to achieve is for President Trump to be a one-term president.”

“Herman Cain and the Problems With Tweeting After Death“.

By the way, the Trump administration is also in the process of destroying the Customs and Immigration Service, but that’s getting a lot less attention than the Postal Service.

“A federal grand jury in Manhattan has indicted former Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, accusing him and three others of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a border wall fundraising scheme.”

Do better, Alamo Drafthouse. Come on!

“Reds play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman was caught on a hot mic using an anti-LGBTQ slur during Wednesday’s Reds doubleheader vs. the Royals.”

Despite Rule Changes, Baseball Games Go Longer Than Ever”. Are they taking those 7-inning doubleheader games into account, though?

Like it or not, you’re gonna get some COVID story lines on your favorite TV shows.

“A simple mathematical mistake may explain why many people underestimate the dangers of coronavirus, shunning social distancing, masks and hand-washing.”

“The core of Joe Biden’s politics is his talent at fulfilling the simplest of political and emotional needs: Joe Biden likes you. That was the message of this convention, and it’s the message that has always been at the core of his politics. Joe Biden likes you if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. He likes you even if you don’t like him, because it’s his job to like you, no matter how you vote.”

“COVID Update August 21: Public health is supposed to be above politics. For now, health is nothing but politics.”

Weekend link dump for August 16

“Wearing face masks that adequately cover the mouth and nose causes the error rate of some of the most widely used facial recognition algorithms to spike to between 5 percent and 50 percent, a study by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has found. Black masks were more likely to cause errors than blue masks, and the more of the nose covered by the mask, the harder the algorithms found it to identify the face.”

We are certain crime is rising when it isn’t; convinced our risk of victimization is higher than it actually is. And in a summer when the president is sending federal agents to crack down on crime in major cities and local politicians are arguing over the risks of defunding the police, that disconnect matters. In an age of anxiety, crime may be one of our most misleading fears.”

“Set aside questions about the extent to which being of good character means one is uncorruptable. If pressure from Donald Trump — and presumably some pro-Trump conservatives in Congress and the media — was enough to get Blackburn to repeatedly display bad character, doesn’t that indicate a problem with the Republican Party, not just with a few people in it?”

“Distant cosmic objects such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae are sometimes referred to by the scientific community with unofficial nicknames. As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful. NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“The world didn’t need men with guns standing a watch on the walls, ready to do furious violence against modern day Mongol raiders or BDSM-clad warboys, it needed toilet paper, sewing kits, and sourdough starter. Nobody was being asked to die (or better yet, kill) for their cause. They were being asked to wash their hands. To stay indoors. To wear masks. To sacrifice convenience and comfort for six weeks, maybe a few months, in order to break the back of the pandemic, to flatten the curve and save the world. For men who would bravely declare how they would do anything or endure any hardship for their family or prove their masculine bonafides, this should be no challenge whatsoever. They were being called not to die, but to stay at home and watch Netflix. And that’s where the people who invested the most in toxic ideas of manhood lost their goddamn monkey minds.”

“The Surprising Importance of Skunks in the History of Chicago”.

Did you see that video of the woman having her bridal photos taken in Beirut at the time of the explosion? The woman in question is a doctor from Michigan, and she raced off to help those who needed it following the blast.

“Enter the neck gaiter. This wide tube of fabric is worn around the neck (instead of the ears) and easily pulled up and down, to cover and uncover the mouth and nose as desired. But are they as effective as masks? Here’s everything you need to know about neck gaiters, according to experts, and where to buy the best ones right now.”

A few words about Dr. Seuss, on the 60th anniversary of Green Eggs and Ham.

“Disney has no Fox left to give as it renames TV studio to 20th Television”.

Wireless phone chargers are quite inefficient, and that has implications for the power generation industry.

RIP, Trini Lopez, actor and singer.

RIP, Sumner Redstone, former media executive.

“Airbnb will offer a one-of-a-kind vacation spot with its latest rental listing: the world’s last Blockbuster store in Bend, Oregon.” Will it be stocked with videos? That’s what I want to know.

RIP, Bill Yeoman, longtime football coach at the University of Houston, member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

A new ice cream truck jingle, to replace the one you remember from your childhood, which unfortunately has seriously racist roots. This effort was spurred by the Good Humor company, and funnily enough, the Good Humor truck that came to my block when I was a kid didn’t play that jingle. It just had some bells that the truck driver rang by pulling a cord. It was a different ice cream truck, the Mister Softee truck, that played this jingle.

RIP, Samuel Karff, longtime rabbi and ivil rights leader in Houston.

“This absurd formulation has created a massive incentive for American Presidential candidates to cheat and cheat big – for the candidate who doesn’t cheat, loses; or if you cheat just a little bit you lose and can be indicted. The candidate who cheats in a big way and wins escapes prosecution. We are in such a horrific situation right now with President Trump. Trump is struggling to win a traditional free and fair election and has begun cheating/law breaking/ignoring the Constitution at a level never seen before in an American election.”

“By now, it’s no secret that Trump and his allies are trying to sabotage the Postal Service. The question is what Democrats will do in response.”

“According to Major League Baseball’s current records and classifications, the players whom this year’s major leaguers will be honoring on Sunday were not major leaguers themselves. Because of the prejudiced decision of a committee that met more than 50 years ago, the Negro Leagues are still excluded from the official list of major leagues, much as Black players before 1947—and, in many cases, long after—were excluded from the American and National Leagues. Like those players, the Negro Leagues have been denied an opportunity to prove that they were as deserving of major league status as their white contemporaries. But for the first time, MLB is considering righting that wrong.”

Weekend link dump for August 9

“In much the same way that the toilet paper industry was overwhelmed by the coronavirus quarantine, so, too, is the agriculture industry dealing with a sudden and unexpected shift in their priorities.”

“While the killing of George Floyd has galvanized support for tearing down statues, renaming sports teams and otherwise removing markers of a (more) racist past, the renewed push for change hasn’t really touched the nation’s prison system. But some say it should. Across the country, dozens of prisons take their names from racists, Confederates, plantations, segregationists, and owners of slaves.”

“What am I getting at here is that everyone has different things that they want to see or experience at Comic-Con and too many of then act like the whole convention should only be about that.”

“We find that the workers who experienced larger increases in UI generosity did not experience larger declines in employment when the benefits expansion went into effect. Additionally, we find that workers facing larger expansions in UI benefits have returned to their previous jobs over time at similar rates as others. We find no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time.”

Deep Space Nine‘s Radical Depiction of Black Love”.

“This Push to Open Schools Is Guaranteed to Fail“.

“Before the iPhone, Venmo, or Spotify, there were ringtones. You might remember them fondly as those lo-fidelity sounds we used to communicate our highly refined music tastes every time someone called our cell. But ringtones were so much more than that. A billion-dollar industry silenced seemingly overnight, ringtones laid the foundations of modern mobile consumer technology and set the stage for the app store and mobile commerce as we know it today. And they are proof that even silly-seeming products can have an impact long after their memory fades away.”

“Big majorities make it possible to do big things, and that’s what the country needs right now.”

“Be strong. Be of good cheer. Don’t cower. But keep notes of the unfolding crimes before our eyes. Because accountability must come. And it will.”

“Rezba’s exercise in psychological self-protection evolved into a bona fide mission. Soon she was spending a couple of hours a day scouring the internet for the recently dead; it saddened, then enraged her to see how difficult they were to find, how quickly people who gave their lives in service to others seemed to be forgotten. The more she searched, the more convinced she became that this invisibility was not an accident.”

Oh, just swimming a lap in the Olympic pool with a glass of chocolate milk balanced on my head. You know, the usual.

“Federal judges should not have to live in fear, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey said in a video statement Monday.”

“But a zombie movie purposefully trying to tap into the public’s current fears about killer viruses would do well to draw on the real world’s uneven response to the spread of covid-19, a dark part of our reality that isn’t likely to come to an end anytime soon.”

RIP, Pete Hamill, legendary New York columnist and author. I found what Jelani Cobb had to say about him to be thoughtful and provocative.

Please don’t drink hand sanitizer. Thank you.

“The Trump administration could be in the process of planning several October surprises, which would mean even more chaos in the run-up to the November election.”

A brief peek inside the Astrodome. I don’t know how old that picture is, but it’s cool regardless.

RIP, Terry Cannon, founder of the Baseball Reliquary.

Weekend link dump for August 2

The Space Force has a horse. Of course, of course.

“An extraordinary new archaeological discovery has revealed that humans arrived in the Americas at least 11,000 years earlier than previously thought – rewriting the human story of the continent and dramatically changing our understanding of world prehistory.”

We can virtually eliminate the virus any time we decide to. We can be back to a reasonably normal existence: schools, travel, job growth, safer nursing homes & other settings. And we could do it in a matter of weeks. If we want to.”

“There was no significant difference by mode of interview on any of four questions asking directly about Trump.”

“Not once in the hour did Stepien mention the coronavirus or how the campaign would handle messaging around the pandemic’s toll.”

“Biden has been able to grow his lead by keeping the focus on Trump — a job made easier by the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases.”

“When It Stops Being A Joke: Did We All Indulge Suspected Killer By Mocking Him?”

“Which is to say, dogmatic adherence to conservative orthodoxy is not even in the best interest of the conservative ideological project. If your primary concern is curtailing progressive redistribution, preventing the Democratic Party from taking power in the midst of a historic economic crisis should be a top priority. But a critical mass of congressional Republicans missed the memo differentiating what the conservative movement actually believes (that economic policy should be directed toward maximizing plutocratic prerogatives) from what it pretends to believe (that countercyclical spending doesn’t work). And so McConnell must reason with colleagues who genuinely think the party can revive the economy by removing all fiscal life support.”

“These Photos Of Lonely Baseball Mascots In Empty Stadiums Are A Whole Mood”.

You can add “being invited to throw out the first pitch at the Yankees-Nationals game on August 15 at Yankee Stadium” to the long list of things Donald Trump has lied about. Speaking as a Yankees fan, I’m very happy to hear that.

“Trump’s New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine“. And she’s here in Houston, so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

“A watchdog group is alleging that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has laundered $170 million through companies controlled by campaign officials as part of an effort to avoid disclosing which vendors it is really paying for services.”

“NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Launch”.

Hey, remember when Joe Biden suggested that Donald Trump might try to do unsavory things with the November election and people thought he was crazy? There sure were a lot of people who were very sure that was a crazy thing for Joe Biden to say. Not so crazy now, is it?

Three things Congress needs to do now to facilitate election security.

“Just to repeat that: Trump deliberately decided to let Americans die, in huge numbers, not because there was nothing that could be done, but because it was decided that it would “politically advantageous” to have people dying in states with Democratic governors.”

RIP, Wilford Brimley, versatile actor known for playing characters a lot older than he himself was.

Weekend link dump for July 26

The COVID risk chart we really need.

“Folks, this is the nature of child-rearing.”

“The detonation forever changed the course of history, ensuring the end of World War II and marking the dawn of the atomic age. After 75 years, the test is both revered for the scientific advancements it helped to usher in and vilified for the moral and diplomatic implications that still linger in its wake.”

One of the weirdest murder stories you’ll ever read, with implications for how crimes in outer space may be handled someday.

“Woman Who Refused To Wear Mask At Starbucks Wants Half The $100k In Tip Money Barista Got From GoFundMe Campaign”.

“The African continent is very slowly peeling apart. Scientists say a new ocean is being born.”

“The Roman Empire would have a better reputation if it had enjoyed more leaders like Augustus and Marcus Aurelius and fewer like Caligula and Nero, and someday a couple of thousand years from now there will be some blogger saying the same about America. Bad leadership matters, and George W. Bush and Donald Trump have provided the kind of leadership that leaves an indelible stain.”

“The key to Biden’s success is simple: He’s slicing into Trump’s coalition, pulling back the older, whiter voters Democrats lost in 2016. The Biden campaign’s insight is that mobilization is often the flip side of polarization: When party activists are sharply divided by ideology and demography, what excites your side will be the very thing that unnerves the other side.”

RIP, Vincent Mandola, longtime Houston restauranteur.

From the Bad Uses For Drones department.

“Trader Joe’s said it will change the names carried by some of its international food products in response to an online petition that called on the grocery chain to ‘remove racist branding and packaging.'”

“This is a thread of fun times I had while enforcing the new company policy of required masks at the grocery store I work at”. My God, so may people are huge entitled babies.

“Such resentment is a choice. It is not an easy choice, both because it is unpleasant and because it is laughably absurd. But if one is stubbornly determined to make such a choice, and to repeat it, and to stick with it, one can train oneself to ignore the absurdity of it and to learn to enjoy and to savor the bitter acquired taste of resentment. Stick with that choice long enough and you can lose your taste for anything else.”

“Guilt by association is really not a thing in American law.”

As long as we are rooting for Major League Baseball to be played in safety for its entire season, let us also root for someone to hit .400 during that season.

RIP, Pam Francis, Houston photographer known as the Annie Liebovitz of Texas.

MLB players take a knee on Opening Day. Good for them.

“Trump used northeastern states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which lowered their infection curve with strict stay-at-home orders, as part of a misleading argument that much of the US was free of the virus. What he didn’t say is that those states succeeded because they ignored his calls to reopen.”

“And so what I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude. I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. You can be married and accost women.”

RIP, Regis Philbin, best known for being Regis Philbin.

“There is no acknowledgement here that Ted Yoho, not lacking political and professional ambition himself, was also building his brand by deciding to accost Ocasio-Cortez in front of reporters. Nor is there acknowledgment that it worked for him.”

RIP, Olivia de Havilland, two-time Oscar winner from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Weekend link dump for July 19

“The North American Scrabble Players Association announced that derogatory language would be removed from the game’s official word list.”

The Far Side is producing new content, which is news we can all use in 2020.

“The beer industry, like so many others, demonstrates the failure of modern antitrust to prevent monopolies from both growing and abusing their power. The solution, then, must be structural. The antitrust agencies should stop any further consolidation in the industry. Smaller brewers should be allowed to compete freely, rather than simply angling for a Big Beer buyout because it is the only way to expand beyond their narrow confines.”

“NASA has unveiled new policies to protect the moon and Mars (and Earth) from contamination as human spaceflight advances.”

RIP, Kelly Preston, actor best known for the movies “Twins” and “Jerry Maguire”.

“But what if Trump wasn’t a trade-off for evangelicals? What if an obsession with manhood and toughness made a figure like Trump the natural fulfillment of their political evolution?”

“Four years later, swing voters no longer recognize much distinction between the president and his party. The GOP’s loudest Trump skeptics have either been evicted from Congress or converted to the faith. On impeachment, coronavirus, and just about everything in between, congressional Republicans have made the president’s cause their own. And the public has taken note.”

“We have the wealth in this country to care for people, and to set the herd-immunity threshold where we choose. Parts of the world are illuminating a third way forward, something in between total lockdown and simply resuming the old ways of life. It happens through individual choices and collective actions, reimagining new ways of living, and having the state support and leadership to make those ways possible. For as much attention as we give to the virus, and to drugs and our immune systems, the variable in the system is us. There will only be as much chaos as we allow.”

RIP, John Bland, civil rights activist and union leader who as a Texas Southern University student helped lead a lunch counter sit-in at a Houston supermarket that refused to serve Blacks.

RIP, Grant Imahara, electrical engineer and roboticist who hosted the popular science show MythBusters and Netflix’s White Rabbit Project.

“It is time for Dr. Anthony Fauci to quit government. Indeed, resigning might be the best thing he can do for the country’s public health — not to mention his own dignity.”

“If 20 Republican senators were to state that Stone’s bribery-tinged commutation is too much for them at last, that they are ready to hear the evidence and will not shut their ears to the facts as they did with the Ukraine impeachment, Trump could be out of the White House swiftly — perhaps even before the election in November.”

Give Suzi Quatro her props, y’all.

Roger Stone can, and should, be tried again by the next non-corrupt Justice Department.

“CDC says U.S. could get coronavirus under control in one to two months if everyone wears a mask”.

“Who’s Behind Wednesday’s Epic Twitter Hack?”

“One month ago today, @VP wrote this in @WSJopinion. I had a different take then — but he is head of the nation’s COVID taskforce. So I wondered if he was seeing something I wasn’t. Not only has Op-Ed turned out wrong. It was predictably so.”

RIP, Rev. C.T. Vivian, civil rights veteran who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and later led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

RIP, Rep. John Lewis, Congressman, civil rights leader, American hero.

Weekend link dump for July 12

“A surge in restaurant spending appears to predict a surge in coronavirus cases weeks later, a new JPMorgan study found.”

“Both the anti-quarantine protests that the far-right orchestrated in April and May and the recent civil unrest have accelerated the potential for more violence. I think it will pick up over the summer and especially into the fall as we head into the election.”

“But does any of that mean that any of these true believers really, truly believe that this is real? They will insist that they do. They will affirm that this is what they really believe, what they really think, what they really know. And they will insist that this is true as genuinely and sincerely as they are still capable of doing anything genuinely or sincerely.”

“It leads to this obvious question that few seem ready to ask: Has the nickname paid respect to Sockalexis and Native Americans? Has the Indians’ name really paid tribute? Has the execrable Chief Wahoo lifted anyone’s respect for Native Americans? Have the countless references to war and weapons and genocide raised people’s consciousness to the Native American’s plight?”

“The idea that Harry Truman was basically Donald Trump without Twitter is pretty funny. And the suggestion that the experts have it all wrong now because they did so in 1948 and 2016 kind of ignores the 16 presidential elections between those two meteoric events; in most, the prognosticators got it right. But just for fun, let’s look at the analogy more closely and see if it holds out any particular hope for Trump fans looking for a big upset. Here are some factors that fed into the 1948 shocker that might distinguish them from today’s circumstances”.

RIP, Nick Coredero, Broadway star, from COVID-19.

RIP, Ennio Morricone, Oscar-winning composer who made dozens of famous movie scores.

RIP, Buck Wood, Austin attorney and longtime expert on election law.

“Experts are calling for a 9/11-style commission on U.S. coronavirus response. Here’s where it could start.”

“Kellogg’s tried to the rig the election in Chekkie’s favor. But it was too late; the damage was done. And like the Easter Rising of 1916, sometimes a conspiratorial defeat only leads to greater victories. Which brings us to today — 16 years later — when Kellogg’s Korea is finally making good on their promise to deliver Green Onion Chex to the mouths of hungry cereal eaters everywhere (or at least, in Korea for a limited time).”

“In all three states we see a pretty similar pattern. Fatalities are following cases on a two or three week delay and the skyrocketing case counts of the last week or so will likely be mirrored later this month. What also seems clear is that limited testing early in the pandemic simply missed the scope of the early outbreak which lead to the earlier rise in deaths. That is not surprising. Testing was very limited, especially in this less hard hit states in April.”

“Negative partisanship only works when demonization of one’s opponent sticks — which means, oddly enough, that the candidate most likely to be hurt by it this time around is none other than Donald Trump himself.”

“What 9 GOP Campaign Consultants Really Think About Republicans’ Chances in November”.

“Why aren’t today’s deaths trending in the same way today’s cases are trending? That’s completely not the way to think about it. Today’s cases represent infections that probably happened a week or two ago. Today’s deaths represent cases that were diagnosed possibly up to a month ago, so infections that were up to six weeks ago or more. Some people do get infected and die quickly, but the majority of people who die, it takes a while. It’s not a matter of a one-week lag between cases and deaths. We expect something more on the order of a four-, five-, six-week lag.”

“A whipping post that had long stood outside the Old Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown, Delaware, was finally removed Wednesday.”

RIP, Mary Kay LeTourneau, about whose life and sins I have spent too much time thinking. I now realize I need to watch the A&E documentary about her life.

Facebook did a civil rights audit, not that they’re going to use it.

“It doesn’t matter what terminology we use for disgrace, the consequences remain the same: disgrace. To be canceled is to be in disgrace, which is to say to have set oneself in opposition to and apart from others by behaving so indecently that your continued presence would seem to make them complicit in your indecency. Disgrace is a kind of social exile.”

“Once Covid-19 shots become available, there will be arguments about who gets them, and an even bigger battle with anti-vaxxers who refuse them.”

“People with passports from poor nations know what it’s like to be denied access to most of the world, or subjected to humiliating and expensive visa procedures just to go on holidays or attend a conference. Americans are now in the same boat.”

Weekend link dump for July 5

“Three and a half years into his presidency we know so much that it raises the question: What do we not yet know about Donald Trump?”

One thing we do know: He’s been a racist for an awfully long time.

“Policing must evolve, and it can do so by developing a Guardian culture. Guardian policing, which has been championed by notable police leaders, has been defined as a service-oriented approach that emphasizes protecting community members from unnecessary indignity and harm, including the potential indignities and harms that can result from policing itself.”

“What To Look For In A Face Mask, According To Science”.

“Mafiosi may impose primitive honor codes, but as Comey observes with no small fascination, these are nevertheless codes that apply to everyone. How long could a mob boss as capricious and untrustworthy as Trump last before his lieutenants revolted and replaced him with someone more competent?”

RIP, Leonard Scarcella, who served as Mayor of Stafford, TX, for fifty years.

“If you live in a state outside of the hot zones, don’t let your governor get puzzled by the fact that things aren’t getting better worse yet.”

RIP, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, Tejano music pioneer.

Expect there to be more R-rated animated movies as a result of COVID-19.

I haven’t used cash or hit an ATM since March. I don’t plan to abandon the greenback permanently, but for now, no one’s taking it, and so we adjust.

MLB player Ian Desmond has something to say.

“As we move forward with 2020 baseball, it’s important to think critically about how sports should be covered this year. The way we talk about 2020 sports will have to be fundamentally different from how we’ve talked about it in the past, because sports are fundamentally different”.

RIP, Carl Reiner, legendary writer, director, actor, author and 12-time Emmy Award winner. Here are many tributes to the man, and of course Mark Evanier has something to add.

Coronavirus has killed the Costco half-sheet cake, and I just don’t know anymore.

RIP, Johnny Mandel, Oscar and Grammy winning composer who wrote the theme song to M*A*S*H.

Brett Kavanaugh truly made a fool out of Sen. Susan Collins.

“Trumpism has been an historic assault on our civic and democratic order. We cannot simply have it become a normal part of our history. A chief part of the President’s corruption has been abusing his powers to hide his wrongdoing. We can’t move forward without undoing those crimes and unwinding the lies.

“Those of us who work in retail are held to far higher standards of conduct than most big city police officers.”

RIP, Hugh Downs, Emmy-winning broadcaster who hosted 20/20 and the Today Show.

“The Washington [NFL team] said Friday they were beginning a thorough review of the team’s controversial nickname, a stunning step that came just one day after a prominent corporate sponsor called for a change and after years of refusing to consider such a move.” (The “prominent corporate sponsor” is FedEx, which has naming rights on the team’s stadium.)

Weekend link dump for June 28

“The Anti-Vax Movement’s Radical Shift From Crunchy Granola Purists to Far-Right Crusaders”.

How to read the polls like a pro.

“It might seem like a small scandal in the context of everything else Trump has done, but it’s actually a very serious crime. We need to learn the full truth about it.”

“By now you’ve probably heard the news that a Terminator has killed another innocent civilian just days after the last innocent civilian was killed by a Terminator. This unfortunate incident has led to renewed calls to divert funding from the Terminator program and reallocate it into other services that would prevent Terminators from being necessary in the first place. But just because a growing number of Terminators have ignored their AI programming and begun slaughtering humans left and right doesn’t mean we should take the dangerous and radical step of defunding the Terminator program.”

“Five Women Veterans Who Deserve to Have Army Bases Named After Them”.

“Okay I want to talk about the TikTok/K-pop stan let’s-troll-Trump operation and specifically about the data gathering aspect of it.”

“The most important COVID story right now is the age shift.”

“Remember that the original announcement was that Berman would be replaced on an acting basis, not by his current deputy, which is the lawful order of succession, but by the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito. This is an entirely irregular, bordering on absurd plan – one US Attorney overseeing two offices at once. There was certainly some corrupt aim behind this whole plan. This is as sure as night follows day. Barr wanted Berman out of the way and was not content to leave key decisions in the hands of his respected deputy, Audrey Strauss. He was confident that he could leave those decisions in the hands of Craig Carpenito. Why?”

RIP, Joel Schumacher, versatile film director.

“And yet, for all the drama, the little matter of why Trump and Barr decided to get rid of Berman in the first place remains a mystery. There are a range of plausible explanations. Some are worse than others, though none represents what one would like to see from the Department of Justice.”

“Otherwise, the focus of the debate was less on the particular words marked for excision than the place of slurs in the game. Many argued that Scrabble would lose nothing by dropping words that obviously cause offense in real life. Such a move, some players said, might also make the game more attractive to sponsors or broadcasters, and could generate positive media and attract new players. More important, they said, it could be a fitting contribution from a cabal of word nerds to the swirling conversation about race and equality.”

That Shake Shack thing involving NYPD cops from a couple weeks ago was utter bullshit from the beginning.

How a freelance photographer got tagged as a lonely Trump supporter at the little Tulsa rally.

“After Nearly Two Bumpy Decades, The Original Segway Will Be Retired In July”.

“A judge has ruled that Rep. Devin Nunes has no right to sue Twitter over statements made by a fake Internet cow, someone parodying his mother and a Republican strategist.”

“What does it mean that the median age of new cases is dropping in some areas? I see three possible explanations, not all good. A thread on how to distinguish between them.”

“But recent data finally does suggest a more complete explanation: the age demographics of the outbreak have changed substantially.”

RIP, Milton Glaser, graphic designer who created the iconic “I ♥ NY” logo.

RIP, Blaine Kern, flamboyant New Orleans float builder known as “Mr. Mardi Gras”.

Weekend link dump for June 21

“The 2024 GOP presidential nominee is highly likely to be an acolyte of the president’s.”

“It’s been five years since Glee left the airwaves and I struggle to think of a television show of its caliber that became so popular and so critically welcomed, only to sour in an absurd fashion and descend into the ranks of self-parody as spectacularly as this one did. Nowadays, we talk more about the behind-the-scenes chaos of the show rather than its on-screen drama, and when we do, it’s seldom in a complimentary manner. No series, at least in my lifetime, rose so high and fell so low. At least Lost gave us a polar bear.”

How newspaper comic strips dealt with coronavirus.

“As tantalizing as the prospect of a flying motorcycle is, this unfortunate incident is exactly why it’s going to be a very long time before personal flying vehicles will be available to the public—if ever.”

If you don’t know who Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump is yet, don’t worry. You will.

“We managed to disrupt our economy [and] skyrocket unemployment, and we didn’t control the damn virus.”

“Airport Surveillance Is About to Reach a Whole New Level of Ridiculousness”.

The Shake Shack Shit Show, and what it means.

“All this is a recipe for 1,000-2,000 deaths per day for the next year or so, and quite possibly many more than that.”

“Diego, a libidinous giant tortoise credited with saving his species, has finally retired to an uninhabited island off the coast of Ecuador after decades of service in a breeding program.” Now there’s a retirement notice.

“How Rich Investors, Not Doctors, Profit From Marking Up ER Bills”.

“The [long-running CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful] is planning to film sex scenes amid the coronavirus pandemic by utilizing lifelike blow up dolls.” And thus we have a new contender for “most 2020 news story”.

The homemade remake of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure you didn’t know you needed.

“Most people never think about Biglaw namesakes (though we’ve been pointing these guys out for years). It’s doubtful if anyone even considers the men behind these names when they glance at the letterhead. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some ugliness lurking there.”

There are still over forty thousand cruise ship workers stuck on ships at sea.

RIP, Ian Holm, versatile British actor.

RIP, Jean Kennedy Smith, diplomat and last surviving sibling of President John F. Kennedy.

“What could cause Trump and Barr to take the rash step of trying to force the sudden resignation of Manhattan attorney involved in investigations of so many Trump associates on a Friday night, a move almost certain to cause an enormous scandal, right at a time when the Trump campaign is desperately trying to regain its footing in an election trending against them?”

Weekend link dump for June 14

When you see a headline that says Spanish penis candle mogul accused of causing death by ritualistic toad venom, you’re going to click the link, right?

Wait, Lady Gaga was a guest star on The Sopranos?

Spencer Tunick keeps on keeping on, now with Zoom.

RIP, Kurt Thomas, first U.S. male gymnast to win a world championship gold medal.

“The messaging that works for the red-MAGA-hat base doesn’t resonate with independents.”

“A detailed timeline of all the ways Trump failed to respond to the coronavirus”.

Daniel Radcliffe is a mensch.

“A question I would pose to the force as we have important discussions about race and inequality is, would Gov. Sam Houston claim Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood as a member of his squad? Both individuals have United States Army installations in Texas named in their honor. Sam Houston was the governor of Texas when the state voted to secede from the Union but refused to take the oath to the Confederacy and resigned in February 1861. John Bell Hood was a West Point graduate who resigned his commission in the United States Army in April 1861 to join the Confederate Army. John Bell Hood does not represent the oath that my squad swore to the support and defend the United States Constitution.”

“On May 29, Netflix premiered its comedy series Space Force, from The Office showrunner Greg Daniels and star Steve Carell. The U.S. military has done nothing to stop the streamer’s satirical take, nor could it thanks to the First Amendment. But less noticed is how, around the globe, the streaming giant has outmaneuvered the U.S. government to secure trademark rights to “Space Force” in Europe, Australia, Mexico and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Air Force merely owns a pending application for registration inside the United States based on an intent to use. Meaning that the feds have gotten a place in line but no confirmed trademark rights thus far.”

“It is a constant theme of much of the 20th century literature on colonialism that the tactics and strategies great powers use on their peripheries are often brought back and used at home. The militarization of American policing is unquestionably highly driven by this dynamic. The flow of weapons is only the most concrete and literal manifestation. But even hardware and personnel are only one part of the equation.”

“In other words, his re-election team thinks the president is a fragile child who will see these ads as an indication that his campaign is working hard and punching back rather than as an inexplicable expenditure of precious resources.”

“Disney made a LOT of…uh, problematic…movies, but none quite so indefensible as Song of the South, a Reconstruction movie in which a formerly enslaved man tells a young, wealthy white boy about how nice things were during the slavery era.”

“President Trump sourced this theory from an OAN segment that was—I shit you not—reported by a man in a thick Russian accent who also—by total coincidence—works for the Russian state-owned propaganda network Sputnik.”

“Opinion journalism can be a line of defense against the encroachment of autocracy, but not if we relinquish editorial judgment over which ideas are consistent with an open society and which are not.”

A beautiful picture of a sunset that will break your Android phone.

David Brooks, accomplice to Houston serial killer Dean Corll, has died in custody at age 65 from COVID-19.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”

“That was the light in which I understood Goodell’s statement. Not that the NFL meant any of it, or would do anything meaningful about it, but that the NFL’s insect feelers had detected new cultural vibrations at the level of the NFL audience—that the same audience that opposed Kaepernick out of a jingoistic and delusional patriotism was now ready to hear the commissioner himself call out white supremacy, and that they’d stick around to watch the Bud Light commercial afterward.”

What Scalzi says.

RIP, Macario Ramirez, community activist and Houston Heights icon.

Weekend link dump for June 7

“Workplace temperature checks are becoming more common as the pandemic wears on. They’re also happening at airports, restaurants, and stores. But it’s not clear how effective these screenings are at preventing the spread of the coronavirus—especially when they’re conducted by employees with inadequate training.”

“The United Kingdom’s anti-cybercrime agency is running online ads aimed at young people who search the Web for services that enable computer crimes, specifically trojan horse programs and DDoS-for-hire services. The ad campaign follows a similar initiative launched in late 2017 that academics say measurably dampened demand for such services by explaining that their use to harm others is illegal and can land potential customers in jail.”

“By reading this plaque, you have made a valuable addition to the number of people who have read this plaque.”

“What is up with Uber destroying tens of thousands of perfectly good e-bikes?”

“Trump and some of his advisers calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and had no tangible policy or action to announce yet, according to a senior administration official. Evidently not feeling an urgent motivation Sunday to try to bring people together, he stayed silent.”

“John Ratcliffe is the least-qualified director of national intelligence in history—and a staunch partisan as well.”

Yeah, some of those early renderings of Baby Yoda were kind of rough.

“In other words, Trump could hole himself up in the Oval Office, but the Oval Office would very soon be cut off from all power. He would have no choice but to give up.” I sure hope that’s right.

RIP, Christo, flamboyant visual artist.

“The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect.”

“Researchers have spent 50 years studying the way crowds of protesters and crowds of police behave—and what happens when the two interact. One thing they will tell you is that when the police respond by escalating force—wearing riot gear from the start, or using tear gas on protesters—it doesn’t work. In fact, disproportionate police force is one of the things that can make a peaceful protest not so peaceful. But if we know that (and have known that for decades), why are police still doing it?”

“By the time I got back to my car, around 7, I was getting texts from people saying that Trump was outside of St. John’s, Lafayette Square. I literally COULD NOT believe it. WE WERE DRIVEN OFF OF THE PATIO AT ST. JOHN’S – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – SO THAT MAN COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT HE COULD POSE IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH WITH A BIBLE! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!!”

RIP, Wes Unseld, basketball Hall of Famer.

Good riddance, and more good riddance.

RIP, Irene Triplett, the last person receiving a pension from the U.S. Civil War.

Rapid, low-cost, at-home COVID-19 tests are a key to getting back to “normal”.

K-pop fans are doing their best to save us.”

“As summer nears, 2020 has another trick up its sleeve. This time, it’s cicadas. A lot of cicadas.”

“When a paper publishes an editorial, it lends its authority & above all RESOURCES to the author. Not only does Tom Cotton get the IQ boost of Times typeface, he gets editors, copy eds, & fact-checkers who are charged with burnishing his argument to give it the best possible shot.”

RIP, Bruce Jay Friedman, novelist and screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for Splash.

RIP, Thomas Freeman, renowned professor and debate coach at Texas Southern University.

Weekend link dump for May 31

“Prince Andrew has not had a good six months. But can it get worse? In Andrew’s case, the answer is: Always.”

“There have also been hints, inferences from different countries’ mitigation strategies and some initial studies suggesting that mask wearing is not only effective but possibly more effective than even some advocates of their use anticipated.”

“Contact tracing is a technique public health researchers use to gain a deeper understanding of the way a virus infects people so they can help slow its spread. There are now more than 66,000 contact tracers in 44 states, according to a survey by NPR. Their goal: to identify all of the people an infected person came into contact with during the 48 hours before they started showing symptoms of COVID-19, and help them quarantine for two weeks.”

Eels have a more complex backstory than you might expect.

“Here’s a short list of things we do and don’t yet know about #COVID19.”

“There is no such thing as safe. All we can do is mitigate or reduce risk.”

“There certainly isn’t a rugged, death-defying, God-fearing working class straining against the complacency of prissy white-collar overlords. Imagining that’s the case, however, is less challenging than talking about what actually will help workers: hazard pay, paycheck protections, paid medical leave, proper safety equipment, and robust testing. It’s grievance-mongering all the way down.”

“Since Mount St. Helens’s collapse, life in the vicinity has bounced back. Though not yet visible from space, flowering plants like the prairie lupine have been seen on the Pumice Plain, a distinctive stretch of hostile volcanic sediment on the northern slope, the area that saw the worst devastation.” My family and I had the opportunity to visit Mount St. Helens a few years ago. Definitely worth the time.

“Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk and singer Grimes have tweaked their baby’s famed name after California officials noted it didn’t comply with state health codes.”

So maybe the Libertarian Party Presidential ticket won’t do quite as well this year as they did in 2016.

“In the public imagination, vaccines are often seen effectively as cure-alls, like inoculations against measles. Rather than those vaccines, however, the Covid-19 vaccines in development may be more like those that protect against influenza — reducing the risk of contracting the disease, and of experiencing severe symptoms should infection occur.”

Murder hornets, meet cannibal rats. 2020 is lit, y’all.

This guy has succeeded at making us all look like slackers.

“If you want to understand how the religious right rose as a backlash reaction to the Civil Rights Movement, read Randall Balmer. If you want to see what that looks like, in practice, read that David French column.”

“My Wealthiest Clients Are Begging for Plastic Surgery in Quarantine”.

“Amazon is developing a series centered on Lisbeth Salander, the character created by Stieg Larsson for the so-called Millenium books. The project […] will not be a sequel or continuation of the story from the books or the films into which they were adapted. It will instead take Salander and place her in today’s world with a wholly new setting, new characters, and a new story.”

“Over half of the 221 organizations identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as hate groups have a continuing and active presence on Facebook, with even previously banned outfits managing to worm their way back onto the platform.”

Just another story about Bolivian musicians stranded for more than two months at a 600-year-old German castle, surrounded by multiple wolf packs, because of COVID-19. Did I mention that the castle is haunted?

Go read these Twitter threads about collective bargaining and the current MLB standoff.

RIP, Cleverley Stone, media personality and founder of the Houston Restaurant Week fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank.