But It's a Dry Heat
Waiting for the fires out West. Plus, Feel Good Friday
I love to watch the cool fog roll across the San Francisco Bay Area. Will tumbleweed be next? The seas are rising, but across the Western United States, the reservoir levels are dropping, the ground water is drying up, and communities are wondering if this is just a really bad drought period or the beginning of a new, parched future. And then there's the ominous threat that recent history suggests will certainly materialize: fire. How Severe Is the Western Drought? See For Yourself. "'Not everything is predictable,' said Dr. Swain of U.C.L.A., referring to events like the dry lightning strikes that ignited many major fires in 2020. 'But of the predictable elements — how dry is the soil? And will it get better in the next months? — those are as bad as it can be ... Most of the west is at increased risk of large severe fires this year. That may sound like a broken record, but maybe that’s the point." (A broken record, or maybe one left in the backseat of a car on the hottest day of summer.)
+ The West is the driest it's been in 1,200 years.
+ InFocus photos: California’s Growing Drought Disaster.
2. Justice Just Ain't
"The demands came after Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were notified that the Justice Department under former President Donald Trump had seized their metadata from Apple three years ago as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters." Senate Democratic leaders are demanding that Trump-era Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify about the secret seizure of data from House Democrats in 2018, calling it 'shocking' and a 'gross abuse of power.'" (Gross, yes. Shocking? Hell no.)
3. Weekend Whats
What to Watch: Not quite ready to bust out into the post-pandemic world but increasingly eager to bust a move? In the Heights is getting rave reviews and it's on HBOMax. But damnit, I think I'm going to double mask and hit a theater. I miss the popcorn more than the people.
+ What to Book: I'll let my virtual friend Daniel Pink summarize Psychologist Ron Friedman's new book, Decoding Greatness. "This book is your secret decoder ring for understanding how athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, and even criminal masterminds create breakthroughs. Clear, concise, and backed by science." (I missed those three attributes almost as much as movie popcorn.)
4. Papering Over History
"So Ellsberg and I made this agreement: If I could get The Times to agree to publish the whole thing, they’d do their best to protect him. He’d give us the whole thing. He wouldn’t be publicly announced as a source." Fifty years later, An Oral History of the Pentagon Papers from the NYT. ‘We’re Going to Publish.’ (The Pentagon Papers story is so interesting because if they were leaked today, it would make no difference. Half the country would call it fake news and go back to Covid denial.)
5. A Tarred Act to Follow
"The fact that Biden, and not Trump, is President virtually guarantees him a successful international début; all Biden has to do, in some sense, is show up." The New Yorker's Susan Glasser: For Biden, Trump Is an Easy Act to Follow in Europe. This is how I imagine the first meeting went. Biden: "Thanks for putting up with Trump." Boris Johnson: "Sure, thanks for sending over Ted Lasso.")
6. The Mile High Pub
"Southwest was branded 'the love airline.' Tickets were issued from 'love machines.' In-flight snacks were 'love bites.' The drinks were 'love potions.'" Joseph Guinto in Texas Monthly: Hot Pants, Love Potions, and the Go-go Genesis of Southwest Airlines. (These days, you'd be loving it if the guy in front of would stop reclining his seat into your lap.)
7. This Moment is Not Ordinary, Joe
"In places such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, the most restrictive laws approved this year have passed on total or near-complete party-line votes, with almost all state legislative Republicans voting for the bills and nearly all Democrats uniting against them." Joe Manchin only wants to back a voting rights bill that has bipartisanship support. No one has such qualms at the state level. Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic: Democracy Is Already Dying in the States.
8. The Lava Story is Occupied
"Bitcoin mining has taken a lot of heat for being harmful to the environment, since it requires massive amounts of electricity to power the computers that generate the invisible currency." But there's a solution. Make it even weirder. El Salvador Plans To Use Electricity Generated From Volcanoes To Mine Bitcoin.
9. And There's the Rub
Jeff Toobin made his return to CNN. The exchange was so cringeworthy, he probably wishes he hadn't. How this guy got more punishment for an erection than many American officials got for an insurrection is the story of our time.
10. Feel Good Friday
"Bhatia’s road to success has been filled with what he calls 'speed bumps.' In his TEDx talk, he recalls how a white man once mistook him for a cab driver based on his turban and beard, even though he was dressed in a suit. 'In those days, people would often ridicule my appearance and make fun of my turban,' he says. But today, as he sees it displayed in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he’s glad he has kept his promise to his mother that he’d never take it off." He’s Heckled Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Now He’s the First Fan in the NBA Hall of Fame.
+ The SF Giants were the first MLB team to hire a female on-field coach. Their manager was the first to kneel to support Black Lives Matter. And last week, they were the first team to wear pride colors on their uniforms during a game. They also have the best record in baseball.
+ A Texas Bakery Got Hate Mail Over Pride Cookies. Then The Community Rallied Behind It.
+ Burger King trolls Chick-fil-A with LGBTQ donations.
+ Don't believe the propaganda. Black Lives Matter Protesters Were Overwhelmingly Peaceful.
+ GoFundMe donations pour in after a Virginia boy sells his Pokémon card collection to help pay for his dog’s vet bills.
+ Israel Becomes First Country in the World to Completely Ban the Sale of Fur.
+ A Woman Who Got Stuck In A Chair While Making Fetish Content Had To Be Freed With The Jaws Of Life. (Now she's making jaws of life fetish content.)