Hello, good afternoon, happy Friday. I did not get today’s newsletter out before noon as usual, sorry. It has been another tumultuous week.
Earlier this week my internet randomly died at midnight while I was doing some work, and I spent an hour talking to a Comcast representative who insisted that the outage was my fault. That same representative misunderstood my concern about COVID-19 as an indication that I somehow had the virus (I do not), and threatened to delay repairs for 30 days. It was a nightmare. I then woke up to find out that the outage was in fact not my fault, but was the result of routine maintenance, and I could have just gone to sleep if they had properly reported it both internally and externally. Great.
Then, the next day, my water randomly shut off. I had no water for three hours, and had not yet showered that day, which was a dose of chaos and dissatisfaction that I really did not need! To reward myself for surviving the day I went to go pick up take-out from the Revolution Brewpub, and also some homemade hot sauce from a good friend. It was delicious. But of course on Thursday the entire quart of hot sauce fell out of my fridge and shattered, splattering all over my kitchen. It took half an hour to clean up, and I had to just gaze longingly at the delicious flavor molecules that I could not consume. It was heartbreaking.
So now it’s Friday and I’m hoping for a less eventful weekend. I need to get some more hot sauce from my buddy, and I’m trying to figure out how to restock on groceries, but maybe my luck will turn around and both of those things will be boring and normal.
Oh, I do have some good news. My friends at Cards Against Humanity have launched an incredible new product in free beta - Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition. It’s very funny and you can make your own copy without paying for anything other than whatever you need to print and cut it. Please check it out and share it with your friends who are kid-havers, their kids will love it.
Productivity is for the birds
It’s another week and friend of the newsletter Taylor Lorenz has written yet another fantastic article. This one: “Stop Trying to Be Productive.” For this, she is my personal hero. I mean she already was, but, still.
This urge to overachieve, even in times of global crisis, is reflective of America’s always-on work culture. In a recent article for The New Republic, the journalist Nick Martin writes that “this mind-set is the natural endpoint of America’s hustle culture — the idea that every nanosecond of our lives must be commodified and pointed toward profit and self-improvement.” Drew Millard put it more directly in an essay for The Outline: If you are lucky enough to be employed, the only person who cares what you’re doing right now is your boss.
Anne Helen Petersen, a journalist and the author of the forthcoming book “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,” seconded his assertion. “We’re so used to making every moment of ours productive in some capacity,” she said. “Like, I’m on a walk, I should listen to this information podcast that makes me more informed or a better person.”
Dr. Petersen said that the impulse to optimize every minute is especially common in millennials, many of whom are now balancing work and child care at home. “I think for millennials, our brains are particularly broken in terms of productivity,” she said. “Either you give up or feel bad about it all the time.”
I have been trying hard - especially given the series of nonsense events I have gone through - to give myself a break lately. It’s nice to see these emotions put into text so eloquently; it feels like a relief, a weight off my shoulders.
Talk shit, get hit
“Rodney Howard-Browne has been an outspoken opponent of social distancing requirements, claiming his church has machines that can stop the coronavirus,” writes friend of the newsletter Will Sommer.
This guy is a pastor of a megachurch who has been openly telling people to disregard social distancing principles. Truly a “get coronavirus to own the libs” situation. And that’s dangerous enough on its own, but then lying about having machines that can cure it? Come on. So he got owned:
A controversial Florida pastor who refused to stop holding packed church services, in violation of coronavirus restrictions, was arrested Monday by a local sheriff who said the preacher was putting his followers’ lives at risk.
There is no cure for the virus, it is incredibly dangerous, please stay inside. Do not go to church. Especially do not go to a packed megachurch.
Hey remember last week when I said that gaming is for everyone and the time is now? Shortly after I sent out the newsletter, Gene Park of the Washington Post tweeted out this great piece in their gaming section, Launcher, about how to get started playing video games.
Even though more than 67 percent of Americans play video games, becoming a gamer can seem like a difficult challenge. The range of consoles, peripherals and titles can feel like an insurmountable obstacle to figuring out just where to begin.
But despite how steep the learning curve may appear (and how many buttons are on the newer controllers), gaming is actually easier to get into today more than ever. Developers are keen on expanding their audience, and many deliberately design games to make them more accessible to new players. Moreover, the wide range of titles means there’s pretty much a fun game for everyone. Small developers (indies) have stepped up to fill in voids as multimillion “AAA” studios focus on keeping the mass audience of experienced gamers.
There are so many games for people of all skill levels, and the various genres cover quite near every variety of interest. The article includes helpful links to various tools and other informational sources about what you need to get started, and it even makes hardware recommendations and specific game recommendations.
And, of course, you can comment here, reply to this email, or DM me if you’d like my recommendations, too! Seriously, I love games and I think they’re a great way to channel your energy in a healthy way while staying inside.
Oh, I love a good bracket or: April madness
This header may lead you to believe that this will be a link to a story about basketball, sorry, it is not. It is actually a story about barrel-aged stout. Josh Noel got together a bunch of the best barrel-aged stouts in Chicago and set up a bracket to determine, via head-to-head elimination, which is the best (this year). And it’s a great read! Don’t just skip to the end; the comparisons along the way are delightful and enlightening.
This week The New Yorker published an interview of Richard Epstein, as interviewed by Isaac Chotiner. Probably if you read this newsletter, one or both of those names is enough to convince you to read the entire interview. But in case you are unfamiliar, Professor Epstein recently made claims about the spread of the virus - specifically, he claimed, “the current dire models radically overestimate the ultimate death toll.” As noted in the New Yorker piece:
He questioned the World Health Organization’s decision to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, said that “public officials have gone overboard,” and suggested that about five hundred people would die from covid-19 in the U.S. Epstein later updated his estimate to five thousand, saying that the previous number had been an error.
Oh yeah, leaving off a zero, super small error. No big deal. (It is in fact a big deal.)
If you have not read this piece already I would be doing you a disservice by spoiling it with a quote, you should just go read the whole thing, it is wild. And, while you read, keep this in mind - Professor Epstein is widely regarded as one of the most important legal minds that the conservative movement has to offer. (I even took one of his classes in law school.)
Wash ya damn hands
Friend of the newsletter Dr. Don Schaffner was in FiveThirtyEight this week in a very good piece about hand-washing.
Don Schaffner wants you to understand that your hands are never going to be clean. He should know — over the past 20 years, he has published multiple research papers investigating the minutia of hand-washing. (Work that is extremely relevant to the public interest all of a sudden.) And those decades of work have taught him that there are just too many things living on our hands to wash all of them off. In fact, he says, killing all the microbes on your hands has never even been the point of hand-washing. The point is to get as big a reduction in microbes as possible, while balancing that effort with the demands of real life.
I love Dr. Don and he is very smart, you should read the article (and then maybe enjoy this episode of Do By Friday, which is also about hand-washing).
You deserve some good animal content
This next one is pushing the “animal” line a little bit but oh my god:
Alright, hope you all have a great (or at least uneventful) weekend and next week. See you next week!