A bit over 20 years ago, some priceless notebooks from the famous biologist Charles Darwin were stolen from the main library at Cambridge University. After the staff of the library initially thought they were put back on the wrong shelf, they soon realized that they were in fact missing.
It was back in 2001 that the notebooks, which represent some of Darwin’s first inklings of his radical theory of evolution by natural selection, were originally found to be missing. They had been removed from storage to be photographed, and work was recorded as completed in November 2000. But during a subsequent routine check made in January 2001, it was found they had not been returned to their proper place. At the time staff believed they may have been mis-shelved.
Fast forward 20+ years, and whoever clipped them, had a change of heart and dropped them off in a bright pink bag with a little note wishing them a Happy Easter.
Surprisingly, there was no closed circuit camera footage in the area where the bag was dropped. The university is scouring other footage from the day they were returned in hopes of identifying the person who returned them.
Over the course of the past two years, as we have all been home because of the pandemic, I’ve been consuming a lot of movies and TV. I have been diligent about checking out reviews and listening to critics before diving into new TV shows because I already am ‘in deep’ on too many TV shows. Whenever I engaged in any of the many ‘prestige’ television shows that are out there, a key criteria is the legitimacy and believability of the storyline relative to the premise of the show. And what I mean by this is the following: if, for example, a show is based on a fantasy premise, then it needs to effectively create the world-view that you are entering and set the proper context and boundaries in which the fantasy can operate within before it becomes truly unbelievable to the viewer. Similarly with ‘real world’ stories, the same thing applies. The story needs to be rooted in reality and clearly be cognizant of the timeframe and context in which it is set.
One show I have recently been watching is “Yellowjackets” on Showtime. The show’s storyline centers on what happens in the 25 years since a plane crash stranded a fictitious 1996 NJ high school girls soccer team in the wilderness after they won the state championship and were heading to Seattle to participate in a national high school soccer tournament (i.e. a tournament that presumably includes each state’s high school champion). The show is really good and does a great job of balancing the storylines of what has become of the survivors in present day 2021 and the closely held secrets of what really happened to the survivors in the wilderness back in 1996.
As good as the show and the acting is, there are a few glaring gaps with the 1996 portion of the storyline that I just can not get past. I’m going to do my best not to spoil anything about the show.
The show says that the survivors of the crash are stranded in the wilderness for 19 months. There is no part of me that would believe that a plane full of upper-middle class (mostly) white girls from a seemingly well-off suburban NJ town would be left out in the wilderness for almost two years. I went to a soccer crazy high school in a town very similar to the one portrayed in the 1996 storyline of “Yellowjackets” and there is no way on earth that parents in the town would have let this go without a full-on 24/7 search and rescue effort until the crash site was discovered.
Also depicted in the 1996 storyline are several pretty severe injuries from those that survived the crash – both as a direct result of the crash and from attacks from wildlife in the area where they were stranded. I honestly don’t buy that those that suffered these injuries would have recovered the way they did in the show. The injuries were just too bad, and it would have been too easy for things to go sideways.
As is well documented, the show says that the plane crashed ‘in the wilderness of Ontario’ as a result of the pilots having to fly further north than the normal route to Seattle in order to avoid a severe storm. The storm that they were avoiding must have been some sort of super storm because after looking at typical flight paths from Newark to Seattle, they would have really had to go far out of their way to be routed over that area of Canada. Further, the wilderness depicted in the show at the crash site seemed much more in keeping with the terrain of the Canadian Rockies compared to Ontario.
I really wish the show did more to bring in the storyline of what was happening in NJ in the weeks or months after the accident. It would have been much more realistic to engage with the families back in NJ and to understand what they were doing to try to determine what happened to the team and their plane. It is such a major gap in the show. Maybe the show-runners did not feel that they could effectively juggle three major story arch’s (1996 crash site, the 1996 families trying to find their kids, and the survivors living ‘today’ in 2021) and while I can appreciate that, you don’t need to look too much further than ‘Game of Thrones’ to see how a show has deftly threaded a similar needle. They could have, for example, dedicated one ‘stand alone’ episode within the season to the families at home in NJ and how they were coping and trying to solve finding the plane. They could have extended the season from 10 to 12 episodes to accommodate the same. There were several options available it would seem to me.
The acting in this show is really good, and there has been a lot of speculation as to where the story will go in its second season. There are some serious “Lost” vibes being bantered about in online forums – mainly due to several ‘cult’ like and super-natural themes that are presented early on and via one key character. Definitely check the show out! Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am and you can get past the concerns I have noted!
A few days after we rang in 2022, most everyone in the US heard about the massive traffic jam that happened in the northern part of Virginia as a result of some severe snow that hit that region of the country. There were horror stories of people being stuck in sub-zero weather for over 24 hours and cars running out of gas. There were also pundits arguing that if all the cars in this traffic jam were electric, the situation would have been far worse. The reality of that ‘hot take’ is far from the truth, as evidenced by Tesla owner Dan Kanninen, who was unfortunately stuck in that huge backup but came out of it with a really positive story of how his Model 3 Tesla managed the situation:
I watched countless vehicles slide across the road, but my EV expertly navigated the ice. While fellow drivers burned gasoline running their engines to stay warm, my EV intelligently directed power solely to temperature regulation—I did not have to inefficiently burn fuel to power my entire engine in order to keep us safe. As other drivers then fretted about their dwindling gas reserves, my EV intuitively monitored my power supply, giving me the peace of mind that other drivers did not have. Throughout my entire experience in the I-95 quagmire, I knew exactly how much power my EV was using, how much power remained in its battery, and how far I could drive. Additionally, because EV drivers regularly charge our batteries at home, at work, and in our communities, we are less likely to have just a partial charge, so I was well prepared—unlike most gas-powered vehicle drivers, who rarely drive on a full tank of gas.
When the backup finally subsided, all the gas-powered cars had to scramble to find a gas station to fill up, while his Tesla was able to tell him exactly how much of a charge he had left and how far he would be able to go, and most importantly, the car informed him of where the closest charging station was located.
What I find most impressive about this story is the way that the Tesla had the ‘intelligence’ to understand that the car was not moving and thus, it redistributed its power source towards the things that were needed there – keeping the cabin warm, and ensuring that the driver had entertainment in the way of Netflix on the big console. :)
A wonderful window into the dynamics of typical family photography over the course of a century, from the late 1800’s through the 1990s. The Family Museum is a photo archive of amateur photography from typical families in the UK. The curators have had several exhibits across the UK showing off samples of the more than 25,000 photos that they have accumulated as part of the project
Co-founded in 2017 by filmmaker Nigel Shephard and editor Rachael Moloney, The Family Museum is an archival photography project that evolved from research for a book, A History of Family Photography. This research was rooted in Nigel’s collection of around 25,000 original British amateur family photographs and 300 photo albums, dating from the 1850s to the noughties, put together by Nigel over a period of 30 years.
Through sharing more than a century and a half of found images and visual stories about everyday life and experiences, we believe The Family Museum is a unique resource that can inspire the imagination and connect people. Using our archive as a starting point, we want to explore our understanding of ‘family’ as expressed through vernacular photography, and take the opportunity this collection offers for further research into the history and practice of amateur photography.
The Family Museum – www.familymuseum.co.uk
As someone who has direct roots in the UK, some of the photos from the 1960s through the 1980s in this archive feel extremely familiar to me (similar to the color one above). The modest style of the homes and decor look exactly like the houses of my relatives when I went to the UK to visit them as a kid. Projects like this are so fascinating to me and really open up a window into typical family life from the past century. The site has numerous posts that go deep into the context of several sets within the vast collection including one about a typical British wedding and one detailing the courtship of a Spanish woman and a British man right after World War II. Love stuff like this!
It all started with “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles. This may not seem like much, but back in the early 1980s, MTV was an earth shattering shift in the music and pop culture landscape. We had never, ever seen anything like this before. And over the years from its debut through to the mid-late 1990s, MTV set the trends and made or broke music/pop culture stars. For me, the show 120 Minutes was a must watch. For others, Yo! MTV Raps was the vanguard. And all of that started with these few hours. What an amazing time!
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission contacted McDonald’s franchise owners over the summer looking for information about the broken ice-cream machines.
McDonald’s franchisees have long griped about the machines, the newspaper reported, which require a nightly cleaning cycle that can fail and require a technician to fix.
The Biden administration is looking more closely at manufacturers
The move comes as the Biden administration looks broadly at whether manufacturers have been blocking owners from fixing broken products themselves, the newspaper said. Advocates of the “right to repair” movement say companies should not make it nearly impossible for users and independent technicians to repair modern products, particularly consumer electronics.
I commend the administration for prioritizing this. ;)
Really interesting story directly from a guy who defected from North Korea to South Korea. The amazing part of this story is that the defector, Chul-Eun Lee, was a high ranking North Korean government official, working in the North Korean equivalent of the US’s National Security Agency (NSA). He explains how his family is a well off family in North Korea, describing how his parents and uncles also worked in the same high levels of NK government. And because his family was in the ‘upper 10%’ of NK society, he was able to ease right into the high ranking job he had. From there, he explained how he planned and executed his escape by traveling to the southwest part of NK to the Yellow Sea, where the geography is such that the distance to South Korea was not that far. He ended up planning his escape route with a friend of his, and then in the dark of night, found his way to the shore by crawling through mud and using his intelligence background to avoid getting electrocuted by an electric fence (Pro tip: If you ever find yourself face to face with what you think is an electric fence, touch it with the back/top of your hand instead of grabbing it in the palm of your hand. The hand’s natural instinct after it touches something with a live charge is to create a fist. If you did that with a live fence, you are literally toast.) After he got past the fence, he found his way to the sea and swam the 6 miles past the South Korean border where he was picked up by a South Korean military boat. All the folks here in the US bitching about being oppressed because they have been asked to wear a mask for the past 18 months is nothing compared to what the folks in North Korea have to deal with.
Less than a month away. It is a nice bridge between the EPL seasons, even if AFC Richmond does not even exist. It would be great if somehow a real AFC Richmond could be established and find its way up to the EPL. Since that likely won’t happen any time soon, you can always download the Ted Lasso AFC Richmond desktop wallpapers I created last year after season 1 dropped.
Nearly every day in our digital lives, we see a multitude of apps on our phones or laptops get updated – innocuous maintenance updates that invariably include words to the effect of “This release addresses maintenance updates, stability improvements, and bug fixes.” It was during one of these routine releases late last year that triggered one of the more immensely damaging and wide ranging hacks the US has ever seen, commonly known as the Solar Winds hack. It is named after the company of the same name, and was triggered by an update of their widely used Orion software that helps companies and major technology operations in the US Government monitor network activity. Like a tiger laying in wait, the seemingly boring update triggered what many believe is one of the largest and most damaging hacks the US has ever seen. For many who analyze this sort of thing, the true impact of this will not be able to be calculated for months if not years.
Network monitoring software is a key part of the backroom operations we never see. Programs like Orion allow information technology departments to look on one screen and check their whole network: servers or firewalls, or that printer on the fifth floor that keeps going offline. By its very nature, it touches everything — which is why hacking it was genius…
The SolarWinds attackers ran a master class in novel hacking techniques. They modified sealed software code, created a system that used domain names to select targets and mimicked the Orion software communication protocols so they could hide in plain sight. And then, they did what any good operative would do: They cleaned the crime scene so thoroughly investigators can’t prove definitively who was behind it. The White House has said unequivocally that Russian intelligence was behind the hack. Russia, for its part, has denied any involvement.
“The tradecraft was phenomenal,” said Adam Meyers, who led the cyber forensics team that pawed through that tainted update on behalf of SolarWinds, providing details for the first time about what they found. The code was elegant and innovative, he said, and then added, “This was the craziest f***ing thing I’d ever seen.”
Dina Temple-Raston, NPR
The first foundation blocks of the hack started in late 2019 when the hackers inserted a seemingly simple line of code into the software that would indicate to them if the server used a 32-bit or 64-bit processor. Once the hackers were able to see a response to that simple query, they knew they could wreak some havoc. And five months later, they set down further foundational blocks by inserting code that would inform them whenever there was an impending software update.
Under normal circumstances, developers take the code out of the repository, make changes and then check it back in. Once they finish tinkering, they initiate something called the build process, which essentially translates the code a human can read to the code a computer does. At that point, the code is clean and tested. What the hackers did after that was the trick.
They would create a temporary update file with the malicious code inside while the SolarWinds code was compiling. The hackers’ malicious code told the machine to swap in their temporary file instead of the SolarWinds version. “I think a lot of people probably assume that it is the source code that’s been modified,” Meyers said, but instead the hackers used a kind of bait-and-switch.
But this, Meyers said, was interesting, too. The hackers understood that companies such as SolarWinds typically audit code before they start building an update, just to make sure everything is as it should be. So they made sure that the switch to the temporary file happened at the last possible second, when the updates went from source code (readable by people) to executable code (which the computer reads) to the software that goes out to customers.
Dina Temple-Raston, NPR
Similar to the situation that happened in the days and weeks leading up to the 9|11 attacks, there were small signals and flags that were picked up by random people in random places, however none of those pieces were put together to demonstrate that something nefarious was going on. It was only after a network administrator at FireEye discovered that there was a listing for two phones for a single employee that they realized that there was a hacker within their network.
Another reason why this hack was such a ‘work of art’ was that all the normal trackers look for ‘normal techniques’ which usually account for 90 to 95% of all attacks. This one was so unique and so stealth that it completely bypassed all normal checks.
Like other catastrophic failures of all shapes and sizes, this hack had its warning signs. There was just no one there looking at the big picture that could have put these pieces together to see what may be happening just beneath the surface. The NPR article is a really great read, and probably worth a second read, just to really grasp the level of sophistication some of these nefarious hacking organizations have.
Last week, Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots retired from pro football after an amazing 13 year career with the only team he knew. Edelman started his football career at a Quarterback at a Southern California Junior college and then transferred to Kent State University in Ohio to play the same position. He was making headlines at Kent State at QB, however the prospect of a 5’9″ QB from a Missouri Valley Conference school breaking through in the pros was slim to none. Yet, the scouts on the Patriots staff saw something, and the story of how they developed relationships with the coaches at the school, and evaluated how Edelman could possibly play other positions in the pros is a story I absolutely love. From Mike Reiss at ESPN:
But Julian was a heck of a football player, and you don’t want to discard really good football players. So you think outside the box and try to get creative, try to find a role for him. There were reasons you thought it could work. He had incredible short-area quickness. He had really good reactive cutting ability. He had great football instincts in terms of feeling people — spatial awareness, things of that nature. Extremely tough with the ball in this hands.
“Digging into the background part of it, he was extremely competitive. The fact he was a California [Junior College] kid and assimilated at a school in the Rust Belt, that’s not easy to do. He’d come out to practice and B.S. with the wideouts, so you could tell he was comfortable with that position group, and that made you feel good — that he was one of the guys.”
Nagy recalled that Edelman just wanted to play football, and bought into the idea of a position switch in the pros — which doesn’t always happen with prospects. The Patriots had December scouting meetings, and then their standard cross-check process in February, with Pioli assigning Nagy wide receivers as his cross-check position. Through that process, Edelman landed on the team’s draft board.
Wether he makes the NFL Hall of Fame is up for vigorous debate and that decision and evaluation is way beyond my influence. However, this life long Patriots fan has nothing but respect and happy memories of all that he did to help the team win several Super Bowl championships. He was dependable, tough as nails, and made some phenomenal plays during his career, none more important that the catch in the photo above that he made against the Falcons in SB LII.
In case this was overlooked with all the other news that is out there these days, a press release from the US Treasury department confirmed what most thought was true but had not been confirmed by the Mueller Report or the bi-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee – what actually happened after Paul Manafort provided Konstantin Kilimnik with the polling data and campaign strategy back in 2016? Yup, Kilimnik passed it on to the Russian Intelligence Agency (aka the “new” KGB) and it likely made its way to Putin himself. From the always excellent Letters From An American Substack:
We also knew from the Senate Intelligence Report that Manafort had provided Kilimnik with secret polling data from the Trump campaign in 2016—his business partner and campaign deputy Rick Gates testified to that—but the committee did not have evidence about what Kilimnik had done with that data.
Today’s Treasury document provides that information. It says: “During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.”
It is hard to overestimate the significance of this statement. It says that Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort, provided secret polling data and information about campaign strategy to a Russian intelligence officer, who shared it with Russian intelligence. Russian intelligence, as we also know from both the Mueller Report and the Senate Intelligence Committee report, both hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, and targeted U.S. social media to swing the 2016 election against Democrat Hillary Clinton and to Donald Trump.
By itself, the statement that the Trump campaign worked with Russian intelligence is earthshaking. But aside from the information about the exchange of this particular kind of intelligence in 2016, this statement also indicates that the Trump campaign itself was not simply operating in happy if unintentional tandem with Russian intelligence– which was as far as the Muller Report was willing to go– but in fact had an open channel with Russian operatives. That’s a game-changer in terms of how we understand 2016 and, perhaps, the years that have followed it.
Heather Cox Richardson
Just so we’re clear, 70 million US citizens voted to re-elect a US President who worked directly with the Russians to ‘win’ the 2016 election, got impeached twice, incited an insurrection on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and botched the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the tune of 500,000+ dead US American citizens. Amongst other things.
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, with the US and Russia locked in the depths of the “Cold War”, the US took a major step ahead of Russia in the ‘space race’ by launching the inaugural Space Shuttle mission. Russia felt the need to compete with the US and develop their own version of the Space Shuttle, which they did with great similarity.
It was the Soviet response to the space shuttle, designed to take the Cold War into space. But after just one flight, it was mothballed. Now, the ruins of what was called the Buran program are left to rust in the steppe of Kazakhstan.
Two shuttles and a rocket lie in disused hangars, not far from the launchpad of that first flight, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It’s an active spaceport about 1,500 miles southeast of Moscow, still used today to send and retrieve astronauts from the International Space Station.
The site is not open to the public, but a few adventurers have mustered the courage to sneak in and take a look.Among them is French photographer David de Rueda, who visited the site three times between 2015 and 2017: “The space shuttles are only a few hundred meters from active facilities. Getting there was an epic adventure, we didn’t know if we would make it because the Kazakh steppe is a hostile environment. But it was entirely worth it. This place is unreal,” he said in an email interview.
These shuttle, called Buran (Russian for ‘blizzard’), only went on one flight in 1988, a year before Communism and the Cold War fell along with the Berlin Wall. As the world changed, the Russian money used to fund this experiment dried up and they never did any further flights.
The photos in this article are spectacular and you have to think that the sheer thrill that the photographers had in sneaking into these hangars must have been off the charts.
A ‘supercut’ of all the iconic scenes that Matthew McConaughey was in from the movie “Dazed & Confused”. I re-watched this movie a few months ago and just loved every scene that Wooderson was in. I wanted to be there. I wanted to hang out with him. He jumped off the screen.
Wooderson was 22 years old but still hanging out around the high school. That line opened up an entire world into who he was, an encyclopedia into his psyche and spirit. I thought about my brother Pat when he was a senior, and I was 11. He was my big brother, my hero. One day, Pat’s Z28 was in the shop so Mom and I were picking him up from high school.
We were slowly pulling through campus in our ’77 wood-paneled station wagon, Mom driving, me peering out the window in the back seat. Pat was not where we had planned to meet him.
“Where is he?” asked Mom.
Turning my head to look left and right and then out the back window, I saw him about a hundred yards behind us, leaning against the brick wall in the shade of the school’s smoking section, one knee bent, boot sole against the side of the building, pulling on a Marlboro, cooler than James Dean and two feet taller.
“Ther — !!” I started to shriek, then caught my tongue because I realized he’d get in trouble for smoking.
“What’s that?” Mom asked.
“Nothin, Mom, nothin.”
That image of my big brother, leaning against that wall, casually smoking that cigarette in his low-elbow, loose-wristed, lazy-fingered way, through my romantic 11-year-old little brother eyes, was the epitome of cool. He was literally 10 feet tall. It left an engraved impression in my heart and mind.
And 11 years later, Wooderson was born from that impression.
Twenty eight years later, Mr. McConaughey is still super cool and still riding the wave of that iconic performance.
To me, the album that is most interesting is the National Museums Recovery, which highlights stolen or hidden artwork from World War II that has been recovered by the museum.
After World War II, 61,000 works of art were retrieved in Germany and brought back to France. Many had been stolen from Jewish families. To date, more than 45,000 have been returned to their rightful owners. Unclaimed works were sold by the French State, with the exception of 2,143 objects placed under the legal responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and entrusted to French national museums for safekeeping. These works are not the property of the State. The Musée du Louvre, is committed to carrying out research to find their rightful owners or beneficiaries.
The piece above, The Roman Forum (Vue du Forum à Rome) by Giovanni Panini is one piece from this album/collection and I found it really striking. It is really neat to see the other works that have been recovered in this collection. It also serves as a reminder of what was stolen from broader society during the time of World War II.
The inventor of the cassette tape, Lou Ottens, died earlier this week. From the NY Times:
In these digital days, it may be hard to appreciate how radically Lou Ottens changed the audio world when, in 1963, he and his team at Philips, the Dutch electronics company, introduced the cassette tape.
“As the story goes, Lou was home one night trying to listen to a reel-to-reel recording when the loose tape began to unravel from its reel,” Zack Taylor, who directed the 2017 film “Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape,” said by email.
Mr. Ottens was in charge of product development at the Philips plant in Hasselt, Belgium, at the time.
“The next morning,” Mr. Taylor continued, “a frustrated Lou Ottens gathered the engineers and designers from the Philips audio division and insisted that they create something foolproof: The tape had to be enclosed, and the player had to fit in his jacket pocket.”
The cassette was a way to play music in a portable fashion, something not easily done with vinyl, and to record it conveniently as well. Artists started using cassettes to record passing ideas. Bootleggers used them to record live concerts for the underground market. Young lovers used them to swap mix tapes of songs that expressed their feelings.
Soon record labels began releasing entire albums on cassettes and automakers were installing cassette players on dashboards.
Another portable technology, the bulkier 8-track cartridge, was introduced in the same period, but cassettes, smaller and recordable, quickly doomed those devices, and also cut into the vinyl market.
To me, the juxtaposition of Mr. Ottens, an engineer from the Netherlands, and the up and coming urban rappers from NYC (and other cities) who used and embraced his invention to distribute their music, for the exact reasons that Mr. Ottens was frustrated with other formats of the time, can not be understated.
The importance of Mr. Ottens’ creation across the globe is staggering, if you really think about it, especially in the context of the birth of rap music in the 1970s and the ability of the kids of a certain generation to make mix tapes as a method of expression.
Over the past several years, there has been a renewed interest in cassette tapes. Modern artists today regularly offer up their albums in the cassette format (vinyl too!). While cassettes clearly are not as popular today as they were ‘back in the day’, it seems obvious that the format will never really go away.
GameStop has rallied more than 680% in January alone as an army of retail investors marshaled against short sellers in online chat rooms, encouraging each other to pile on and keep pushing the stock higher. Short sellers have amassed a mark-to-market loss of more than $5 billion year to date in the stock, including a loss of $917 million on Monday and $1.6 billion on Friday, according to data from S3 Partners.
This activity was then sent into overdrive when Elon Musk tweeted about it.
Those are some big numbers pointing in the wrong direction. As noted when chatting with a friend today about this, someone is going to be holding the bag on this and it will not be pretty.
Over the past 5+ years, one of the most vocal and astute observers of the 45th President has been Seth Abramson. Through his Twitter feed, his “Proof” trilogy of books, and now his Substack, he has done a masterful job of aggregating all the reported news on everything having to do with 45, his family of grifters, and the corrupt politicians and lackeys that have enabled him over the past 5+ years, and then stitched it all together into a compelling and damning narrative of the lies, deceit and corruption that has taken place over this timeframe. The damage that has been done to the United States over this short time frame can not be understated. So on the last day of the “Agent Orange” presidency, take a few minutes to read his reminder to never forget what has actually happened over the past 5 years and the utter chaos and damage that has been sowed on our country, to people’s lives, and to the rule of law. Seth’s essay closed with the following:
All I can ask is that we remember the reason for our forgetting: that this president staged his presidency in such a way as to generate so many needless crises per week it was impossible to focus on any one of them for very long. And when finally caught out in illicit conduct he couldn’t distract us from, he used a pliant right-wing media and equally pliant political partners to shame mainstream journalists into a risible “bothsidesism” we still haven’t moved beyond. Had media not permitted itself to be falsely chastened by this historically hypocritical president, it would have given more than a passing mention to the genuinely jaw-dropping revelations about Donald Trump and his aides, allies, advisers, associates, agents, and attorneys that were contained in the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report.
Just so, there would have been follow-ups on stories that were instead permitted to fall through the cracks for the sake of newer and shinier scandals. So it was that the policy atrocities of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos largely escaped sustained attention, or the president’s handling of our immigration system through nothing more than a vanity wall and xenophobic contempt, or the way he orchestrated the brutalization of social justice protesters in the nation’s capital and elsewhere in the summer of 2020.
A man as monstrous as Donald Trump can only continue to move in polite society if he leaves in his wake a swell of forgetfulness so dazzlingly mercurial we can’t help but watch the foam and spray glisten in the sun. Those of us who never bought into this inveterate con man’s schtick might think ourselves immune to his supposed charms, but we are not immune to the way he controlled and manipulated and artificially foreshortened over a thousand news cycles full of disgrace, horror, and vile conduct.
In other words, we don’t remember what we don’t remember, and Trump counts on it.
So for all that this despicable brigand from New York City really should have attended Joe Biden’s inauguration, and really should have written a nice note for his successor to leave in a drawer in the Resolute Desk, and for all that he really shouldn’t be seeking to upstage the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States via a schlocky pseudo-military sendoff at Joint Base Andrews, can we also remember—not just in broad strokes, but the rank particulars—that Donald Trump is a career criminal, a seditious insurrectionist, a serial sexual assailant, and a grave national security threat?
I was on a family vacation in London in November, 2016 when the news came that he had won the Presidency. And at that time, I said that we as a nation were completely screwed (using much more colorful language). Four years later, THAT may have been the understatement of the century.
The work needed to extricate our country from the damage of the past 4+ years only now begins, and it will not be easy to get us back on the right path. That said, let’s celebrate the incoming administration and the fact that we elected a woman of color to the post of Vice President of the United States, and that the residents of Georgia elected a black pastor and a Jewish man to their two Senate seats.
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