Flu season continues, with intense flu activity reported throughout the U.S. There are indications the season has peaked, which is of course not the same thing as saying that it has ended.
If you have any questions about the flu, these posts at Kicker and Mother Jones are two good places to begin. (They are particularly helpful if you aren’t sure about how to differentiate between a regular old cold and the flu.)
In case you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, remember that the season will continue and that just because it’s January doesn’t mean you should just shrug it off. “The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it’s what we have,” Michael Specter writes for the New Yorker in a post urging people to get vaccinated. Even if you don’t think you need it, getting the shot could help others around you, including the elderly or the young, he writes. This map should also help show you just how prevalent the flu is this year.
Wondering how a thriving city can go bankrupt? Reuters has a report on San Bernardino’s “decades-long journey from prosperous, middle-class community to bankrupt, crime-ridden, foreclosure-blighted basket case.” Read it and learn all about the incremental steps that inexorably pulled San Bernardino into the financial and experiential depths.
Before rank-and-file conservatives ask, “What went wrong?”, they should ask themselves a question every bit as important: “Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?”
If you’re interested in reading any day-after stories examining at how so many people were caught so off-guard by electoral results that were pretty clearly forecast to anyone paying attention (also), Conor Friedersdorf’s smart take is a pretty good place to start.
Well, that about does it. Billions of dollars, millions of voters, thousands of workers and hundreds of small, dumb, inexplicably high-profile issues. But at some point, we were bound to get to the actual election. Candidates campaigned, voters voted. And then, almost as quickly as it began, it was over.
(Just kidding, nothing about this felt like it happened quickly; it’s easy to forget now that it’s in our rearview mirror, but this election was a nightmarish hellscape that began years ago and felt like it lasted for decades. And you have approximately five minutes to digest this one before we begin the long, slow slog toward 2016.)
President Obama was reelected (you already know this, obviously, but I still had to mention it early).
As expected, the Democrats held onto the Senate, while the Republicans retained control of the House. (Republicans also snagged another governorship, giving them 30 at the moment.)
To watch, in case you were asleep: President Obama’s victory speech. Governor Romney’s concession speech.
To read, in case you don’t feel like sitting through two speeches because you have already heard enough speeches for a lifetime: The transcript of President Obama’s speech. The transcript of Governor Romney’s speech.
Holed up in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Osama bin Laden sat at a computer and set down his thoughts in a long letter dated April 26, 2011, to Atiyah Abdul al-Rahman, his third-in-command and the link to his far-flung and beleaguered followers—the man he addressed as Sheikh Mahmud. It was the al-Qaeda leader’s sixth spring of confinement in Abbottabad. His hair and beard had grown white. Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden’s life had shrunk to the cramped and crowded space of the upper two floors of a house behind high walls.
— Mark Bowden’s “The Finish,” an account of the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden, hits bookstores on Tuesday. Vanity Fair has a very Mark Bowden-y excerpt online, if you are interested in giving that a read.
Jodi Kantor’s story about the President’s competitiveness has gotten a lot of attention, primarily because it fits into (a) a narrative of the President as someone who is good at lots of things (as his supporters see it) or (b) a narrative of the President as a huge egotist (as his detractors would say).
For me, it brings something else to mind: Can you imagine being the kind of person who would run for President? And not just “run for President” in the quixotic sense. I mean being the kind of person for whom the presidency is an achievable goal, and being the kind of person who would then devote countless years toward achieving that goal, and being the kind of person who would see all of the obstacles and drawbacks and downsides and still want that job. Continue reading
I’m sure you are really looking forward to your next jury duty stint, if only because it will give you loads of time to play around on Facebook and Twitter. Right? Right. Well, a Judicial Conference Committee wants to put the kibosh on that, because this particular Judicial Conference Committee is no fun, I guess. The committee proposed new instructions for jurors earlier this summer and they rolled out these new rules last week.
The guidelines ask jurors not to discuss the case on any social media. No Twitter, no Facebook and no MySpace. (NOT MYSPACE!?) You also can’t discuss the case on Google+, which is weird, because I thought the rules were about making sure jurors don’t discuss cases with anyone, and obviously if you post something to Google+ nobody will ever see it again.
The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about the impossible balance required of President Obama, who is the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief yet is not allowed to actually address racism or racial issues. You should read his entire essay, “Fear of a Black President.”
White supremacists, neo-Nazis and skinhead groups encourage followers to enlist in the Army and Marine Corps to acquire the skills to overthrow what some call the ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government. Get in, get trained and get out to brace for the coming race war.
— Well, this Reuters story about neo-Nazis who want to enlist so they can acquire U.S. military training is disturbing.
The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare in a ruling announced this morning. Maybe you heard about it? (Unless you were watching CNN or Fox News, of course. In that case, I have some news for you!) The decision was announced amidst a frenzy of noise and speculation, which promptly gave way to a frenzy of reaction and commentary, which you can find basically anywhere you want right now.
But you know and I know that this site is not the kind of place you visit to get cogent analysis of Supreme Court decisions. So, I present to you the decision explained via GIFs from “The Simpsons” and “The O.C.” My work here is done.