What's Good: Mar. 27, 2020

Alex Jones losing, more virus bullshit, video games, and video chat bombs.

Hello, good morning, happy Friday. I have had a splitting stress migraine all week. It has been not great, but hey, we made it to today, and we will make it further still.

Work is going well. We are all working from home now, everyone feels very good about that decision, and there is no pressure to get back to the office any time soon - as it should be. I’m very glad to be working at this firm, I enjoy the work and the people, it’s all very good.

The world, though, the world is continuing to fall apart. But we’ll get to that. Some of this week’s batch of content will make you angry, but I also hope some of it makes you smile.

Share Matt’s Newsletter


Appellate decision machine go brrrr

Let’s start off with a banger. “How is Alex Jones doing” is a question nobody ever actually asks, but I for one do enjoy finding out about news like this:

Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist and repeated loser of court battles, was ordered Wednesday to pay more than $20,000 in attorney fees after losing another appeal in a defamation case related to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He now owes nearly $150,000 in legal fees before he even faces a jury.

The Texas Court of Appeals sided with Sandy Hook father Neil Heslin, who for years has been attacked by conspiracy theorists who falsely claim the school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed never happened.

“Sided with” is an extremely tame description.

Attorney Mark Bankston, who is representing Heslin and other families suing Jones, told HuffPost in a statement that the latest victory for his client spells the end for Jones.

“It is rare to see a legal defense so incompetent and disrespectful to the rule of law that it causes a defendant to rack up $150,000 in fines during preliminary motions before even reaching trial,” Bankston said. “These fines are only the beginning. A far greater reckoning awaits Mr. Jones.”

Yeah baby, that’s the good shit, inject that directly into my veins. Will Jones be ham-headed enough to appeal this to the Texas Supreme Court? I almost hope so.


Death is coming for you and everyone you care about and the only thing you can do to stop it is to STAY THE FUCK HOME

The virus is very bad. This week I have some stories you can share with people that will hopefully convince them that it is bad and that they should stay the fuck inside.

This one in the New York Times is “What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick With Coronavirus”:

My husband, a tall, robust 56-year-old who regularly goes — who regularly went — on five-hour bike rides from our Brooklyn neighborhood to Jamaica Bay in Queens and back, has been lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, or curled on his side, wearing the same pajama bottoms for days because it is too hard to change out of them, too hard to stay that long on his feet, too cold outside the sheets and blankets he huddles beneath. It has been 12 days since T woke up in the middle of the night on March 12 with chills. The next day, just as reports were growing more urgent about the coronavirus spreading in the United States, he thought he felt better, but then the chills came back, along with aches and a fever of 100.4.

Since then, T has been confined alone in our bedroom at the front of the apartment, where he complains of hearing trucks idling at the curb just outside and long blasts from the ships in New York Harbor a few blocks west. He creeps out only to go to the bathroom. The bedroom door stays firmly shut to keep out the cat, who is determined to get in and who howls outside it at night. “What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)” reads the sheet T is handed at the clinic two days after his symptoms begin. “Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.” By then he has a fever of 101.5. He tests negative for the flu. Then, because he is considered high risk with what his medical chart calls “severe” asthma that sent him to the emergency room with an acute attack a few months ago, he is tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus — just days before a national shortage of testing supplies emerged and the restrictions were tightened further.

New York Magazine has “How the Coronavirus Could Take Over Your Body (Before You Ever Feel It)”:

You call a friend and arrange to meet for lunch. It’s unseasonably springlike, so you choose a place with outdoor seating, which seems like it should be safer. As usual, you take all reasonable precautions: You use hand sanitizer, sit a good distance from other customers, and try to avoid touching your face, though that last part is hard. A part of you suspects that this whole thing might be overblown.

What you don’t know is that ten days ago, your friend’s father was a guest of his business partner at the University Club, where he caught the novel coronavirus from the wife of a cryptocurrency speculator. Three days after that, he coughed into his hand before opening the door of his apartment to welcome his son home. The saliva of COVID-19 patients can harbor half a trillion virus particles per teaspoon, and a cough aerosolizes it into a diffuse mist. As your friend walked through the door he took a breath and 32,456 virus particles settled onto the lining of his mouth and throat.

It goes on from there. You should read and share both of these articles; maybe space them out by a day or so when you post them so that people are more likely to read either or both. And don’t forget to include a message asking people to read them, because explicitly saying so raises the odds that they click the link significantly.


Gaming is for everyone and the time is now

It is no secret that I love video games and that I think more people should play them. But it’s less common to see articles about how wonderful they are published in the New York Times. We are in luck though, here is one such article:

The last time I was unemployed was in the depths of the Great Recession. I had recently moved in with my girlfriend, who suddenly found herself with an out-of-work partner who rarely left the house. But she gave me some surprising advice: Play video games.

I would have a lot of time on my hands, she said, and while I could and should certainly do other things — housework, exercise, searching for a job — I would mostly be stuck at home with limited resources. Without something to occupy my mind, I’d go crazy.

She was right. Playing video games helped ease my mind, elevate my mood and possibly saved our relationship. This year we’ll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

So now I’m going to give the same advice to anyone who is now out of work, or otherwise kept at home: Play video games. And don’t feel bad about it.

Yes. Good advice.

There are plenty of free games out there right now - I enjoy Destiny 2 and League of Legends - and you can even play them without owning a fancy computer, because we live in the future. You will probably need a decent internet connection and a mouse, but that is about it. This is possible through the magic of GeForce Now, which has a great free plan, but the premium plan is a screaming deal and I recommend it.

Games are great and it’s easier now than ever to get into them. Leave a comment if you need any help or recommendations.


There are no ethical billionaires

How the Ricketts family values made the Chicago Cubs into unlovable losers,” an incredibly depressing subheader, tops the latest piece by David Roth. It features this fantastic paragraph:

All of this is easy to ridicule but somehow too broad to work as satire. The family’s initial foray into conservative politics, in 2010, was something called the Ending Spending Action Fund. Joe Ricketts’s preposterously smug 2019 autobiography was entitled The Harder You Work, The Luckier You Get: An Entrepreneur’s Memoir. When he abruptly and peevishly shut down two local news websites that he somewhat implausibly owned, DNAinfo and Gothamist, after they voted to unionize against his wishes, he initially removed years of articles from the websites, replacing them with a smarmy note about the business of media bearing his signature. The conservative media apparatus has become infinitely more goonish and servile around the Ricketts family, which serves to disguise their more obvious blunders. The mysteriously funded and reliably psychedelic news organ The Federalist, for example, deemed Ricketts’s book “as inspiring as it is instructive.”

I hate The Federalist. I love David Roth. I love the Cubs and all they do in spite of the Ricketts undermining them at every turn. This is a good piece.


Don’t you just feel awful all the time?

The Disorienting Thing Is You Can't Compare This To Anything.”

One of the more surreal aspects of this is that everything defies comparison.

There's no one-to-one in living memory in American life: a self-imposed stop to the economy and a soft, country-wide quarantine. There's no fixed point toward which we're supposed to be enduring, except to stay away to reduce the systemic strain of COVID-19 on people and hospitals. What compares?

Yeah, that sums it up exactly. This is a novel and terrifying experience and it is doing awful things to my psyche.

Can you have a true, collective experience when the central vividness and intensity of the experience (the people, the place) will vary so much between any two homes?

I don’t know! It terrifies me!

See also: “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.


All your video chats are belong to us

Hey it’s friend of the newsletter Taylor Lorenz back with another great piece to finish us off this week:

Zoom has become the default social platform for millions of people looking to connect with friends, family, students and colleagues while practicing social distancing during the new coronavirus pandemic.

But the trolls of the internet are under quarantine, too, and they’re looking for Zooms to disrupt.

They are jumping into public Zoom calls and using the platform’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to unwitting conference participants, forcing hosts to shut down their events.

There is a “fun” anecdotal example in the next paragraph but you have to click through to see it.


You deserve some good animal content


Okay, see you next week. Stay healthy.

Share Matt’s Newsletter