Desperate Times Call For No Measures
March 24, 2021
The Good News
- An amazing act of selflessness: Chinese Grandma Who Fought Off Attacker to Donate Over $900K from GoFundMe to AAPI Community (Yahoo)
- Meet the 18-year-old who created clothing charity, collected thousands of coats (Today)
“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.” ― George Washington, on how political parties might abuse US government systems for their own advantage.
The Best Laid-Plans Of Mice And Men Are Often Blocked By Republicans
(Alex Wong via Getty Images)
The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package President Biden signed into law this month will do a whole lot to help vulnerable people and businesses make it through the pandemic downturn. Now the focus is on advancing the president’s longer-term economic agenda: building out the nation’s infrastructure, including transitioning to renewable energy and shifting to a low-carbon future to fight climate change.
President Trump announced so many meaningless infrastructure weeks that the term became a running joke during his administration. Before him, President Obama envisioned rebuilding America’s bridges, roads, pipes and broadband, but left office having made little progress on that front. A dire reminder of the urgent need to upgrade the nation’s aging structural underpinnings was February’s power crisis in Texas that left millions in need of water and electricity.
Biden doesn’t intend to repeat history. He is forging ahead to make good on his ambitious campaign promises while Democrats have majorities, albeit thin ones, in both houses of Congress. The idea is to harness the power of the federal government to make the economy more equitable, address climate change, and improve American manufacturing and high-technology industries in an escalating battle with China.
To that end the president’s advisers have been putting together a sweeping $3 trillion package that will begin with a giant infrastructure program. A fellow at the Center for American Progress notes: “President Biden’s plan represents a stunning shift in priorities, addressing many of the nation’s most pressing challenges. [It is] very wide-ranging, reflecting the fact that we’ve underinvested in so many areas.”
The speed bump, as always, will be how to pay for it. Conservative lawmakers and powerful business groups in Washington have made clear there will be no bipartisan support for an infrastructure program that includes tax increases on corporations or the rich.
Nevertheless, after months of internal debate advisers are preparing to present the spending proposal to the president and congressional leaders this week, as well as begin outreach to industry and labor groups. The proposal will likely include financing, in part, through those wicked tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. It will definitely be a fight. Ultimately there may be no alternative but to duplicate the approach employed for the stimulus package: use reconciliation — the parliamentary process that shields against a Senate filibuster — to pass Biden’s infrastructure bill, with Democratic votes alone. Stay tuned.
Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo First Born Sons – We Have A Rat Plague
- Warning: this is gross. Thanks to a bumper crop of grains and produce, residents in rural towns across eastern Australia have been living for several months with a mouse plague of biblical proportions. Aussies in northwest New South Wales and southern Queensland tell of waking up to mouse droppings on their pillows, or watching the ground move at night as hundreds of thousands of rodents flee from flashlight beams.
- “You can’t escape the smell,” locals say. Rats and mice are in their houses, stores, cars. One woman stripped the fabric off her armchair when it started smelling, only to find a nest of baby mice in the stuffing. Another woman walked out of her shower and saw a mouse staring at her from the ceiling vent. She said there was nothing she could do because stores are sold out of traps. A grocer at a family-run business had to drastically reduce stock, put whatever he could in thick containers, use empty fridges to store the rest. Nothing in the store is safe, with mice even chewing their way into plastic soft drink bottles.
- The plague has affected people’s daily life so much the usual conversation starter has changed from a comment on the weather to comparing how many mice they caught the previous night. The grocer wins. He says there are so many dead mice in the store each morning “it’s impossible to find all the bodies … Some nights we are catching over 400 or 500.” (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Businesses just can’t wait for a post-COVID bubble: ‘The Market Seems Crazy’: Start-Ups Wrestle With Flood of Offers (NYT, $)
- Lula judge was biased, Brazil supreme court rules, paving way to challenge Bolsonaro (Guardian)
- Why Biden’s China Policy Faces an Obstacle in Germany (NYT, $)
- Myanmar Protesters Answer Military’s Bullets With an Economic Shutdown (NYT, $)
- Europe is starting to freak out about the launch dominance of SpaceX (Ars Technica)
- How Volkswagen’s Sins Fueled Its Redemption (NYT, $)
- The planet cannot survive our remorseless pursuit of profit (Guardian)
- Climate change: Edwin Poots pushes on with own NI climate bill (BBC)
- For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony (NYT, $)
- Who Can and Can’t Get Vaccinated Right Now (NYT, $)
- Covid Has Traumatized America. A Doctor Explains What We Need to Heal. (NYT, $)
- The scientists who say the lab-leak hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 shouldn’t be ruled out (MIT Technology Review)
- Germany’s Merkel Extends COVID-19 Lockdown, Citing Threat Of ‘Third Wave’ : Coronavirus Updates (NPR)
- Some 90s fashion trends were nuts. However, we’re glad that these 90s cheeky denim jeans from Everlane are a trend!
- Everlane’s best-selling 90s cheeky denim jeans are made of 100% cotton and have a cool, rigid, and vintage look to them. Plus, they have an extra-high rise, an easy straight leg, and a butt-boosting rear fit.
- These jeans are available in four classic hues and two new ones, each inspired by the OG ‘90s jeans. Try them for yourself and see why these jeans are Everlane best sellers. Daily Pnut readers can shop the 90s Cheeky denim now for $78.
And You Get A Vaccine, And You Get A Vaccine, And You Get A…
(Amy Osborne via Getty Images)
- A growing list of states plan to broaden coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all adults ahead of a May 1 deadline set by President Biden. Currently only adults in West Virginia, Alaska and Mississippi are eligible for shots. Utah will open eligibility to all adults on Wednesday and Texas will join the list next Monday. Tennessee announced last week that starting April 5 all residents aged 16 and older will be vaccination eligible.
- Some states are expanding more slowly. New Yorkers aged 50 and older became eligible on Tuesday. About 25% of the total US population has received at least one shot, and 14% are fully vaccinated.
- Since President Biden took office the pace of vaccinations has steadily increased, to an average of about 2.5 million shots daily, and he says there will be enough vaccines for everyone by the end of May. Federal health officials have warned of a possible fourth wave of the virus as new variants spread; they are urging all Americans to continue taking precautions, and to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. (NYT)
Desperate Times Call For No Measures
- Monday’s horrific mass shooting at a Boulder Colorado supermarket, where 10 people died, was at least the 7th mass shooting in the US in one week.
- Eight people were killed in Atlanta Georgia on Tuesday March 16; five people were shot in Stockton California on Wednesday; four shot in Gresham, Oregon on Thursday. On Saturday five people were shot in Houston Texas and eight shot in Dallas, one of whom died. And in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania one person was shot and killed and another five injured.
- It’s unclear how this number of mass shootings compares to an average week in the US because the federal government doesn’t have a centralized system or database to track firearm incidents and mass shootings nationwide.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks some gun violence data, has reported that almost 40,000 people were killed in incidents involving firearms in 2019. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- He Redefined ‘Racist.’ Now He’s Trying to Build a Newsroom (NYT, $)
- My Great-Grandfather Knew How to Fix America’s Food System (NYT, $)
- ‘An all-hands moment’: GOP rallies behind voting limits (NYT, $)
- In Restricting Early Voting, the Right Sees a New ‘Center of Gravity’ (NYT, $)
- Plan to expand Texas highway stalled over environmental racism concerns (Guardian)
- Why Are We Worrying About Women’s Work? (NYT, $)
- Women are harmed every day by invisible men (Guardian)
- How Many Women Have to Die to End ‘Temptation’? (NYT, $)
- Class and the History of Korean-Americans in Georgia (NYT, $)
- What Would My White Family Think About Anti-Asian Racism? (Time)
- Talking to Children About Anti-Asian Bias (NYT, $)
- All gilded up with nowhere to go: Glory days of Trump’s gold-plated 757 seem far away as plane sits idle at a sleepy airport (CNN)
UFO: Unidentified (Yet) Familiar Object
- Zoologist and animal communications researcher Arik Kershenbaum believes that because some evolutionary challenges are truly universal, life throughout the cosmos may share certain features. Kershenbaum’s Aliens Are Us argument revolves around the axiom that evolution, like gravity, is a universal law of nature, and the evolutionary forces that shape life on Earth will produce many similar features in extraterrestrial life.
- Studies of plants and animals here can therefore tell us something useful about potential inhabitants of worlds far beyond Earth. As evidence Kershenbaum points to the process of evolutionary convergence, in which unrelated lineages of organisms evolve similar features as adaptations to similar environmental challenges. He details the argument in his new book The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens — and Ourselves, which draws on comparisons of animals’ physical adaptations as well as his own research (and that of others) into animal communications.
- When zoologists study life on Earth, Kershenbaum says, they’re studying mechanisms — studying how life became the way it is. And because evolution is the explanatory mechanism for life everywhere, then the principles that are uncovered on Earth should be applicable in the rest of the universe.
- Evolutionary convergence might be explained best by differentiating it from ordinary evolution where, for example, children have similarities because they inherit characteristics of their parents. So if you observe two animals with similar features, like feathers, you might presume they inherited them from a common ancestor: the feathered dinosaur that was the ancestor of all modern birds.
- But sometimes you see animals with traits they couldn’t possibly have inherited from a common ancestor. The wings of birds work in pretty much the same way as the wings of bats. But the common ancestor of birds and bats was a small lizardlike creature that lived over 300 million years ago, long before dinosaurs. It certainly didn’t have wings, and the large majority of its descendants, including elephants and crocodiles, don’t have wings. So those wings must have evolved separately in different lines of descendants.
- Sometimes this “convergence” of traits is for something useful, like wings. But sometimes convergence produces bizarrely similar creatures that share so many characteristics, it’s hard to believe they’re not closely related. The recently extinct thylacine [a large predatory marsupial native to Tasmania and mainland Australia], could easily be mistaken for a peculiar breed of dog, but it’s much more closely related to a kangaroo. Yet living a life similar to that of modern coyotes or jackals meant that it evolved many similar characteristics convergently.
- Kershenbaum says coincidences of evolutionary (and even cosmic) history will always affect the details of animal shape and appearance. Humans have four limbs only because it was a four-finned fish that crawled out of the sea almost 400 million years ago. Humans could easily have had six limbs, or even eight, if evolutionary history had played out differently. So there will never really be close similarity between humans and our equivalent species on an alien planet. But some things are just so tightly constrained that there aren’t really many alternative ways to do things. (Quanta Magazine)
- North Carolina sends 6-year-olds to court. Why some say it’s time for change. (Winston-Salem Journal)
- How Politics Tested Ravelry and the Crafting Community (New Yorker, $)
- Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast · Collaborative Fund (Collaborative Fund)
- How the World’s Oldest Wooden Sculpture Is Reshaping Prehistory (NYT, $)
- Decolonizing the Hunt for Dinosaurs and Other Fossils (NYT, $)
- I’m ‘A World Without Email’ Author Cal Newport, And This Is How I Work (LifeHacker)
- David Dobrik Steps Down From Dispo App (NYT, $)
- Current and former investment bankers react to claims of workplace abuse by junior analysts at Goldman Sachs. (NYT, $)
- How Beeple Crashed the Art World (New Yorker, $)
- NFTs Are a Pyramid Scheme and People Are Already Losing Money (Fstoppers)
- The Secrets Philip Roth Didn’t Keep (New Yorker, $)
- A Day in the Life of Abed Salama (New York Review of Books)
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