Thoughts & Essays

Vacation Week

I’m on vacation this week so I probably won’t bother blogging much. Nowhere to go, of course, but I do have all these video games that need playing, plus there’s a new season of The Umbrella Academy to watch.

At any rate, here’s a couple of things to keep an eye on, plus a long list of links I saved up last week.


There was a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, today. And I mean, fucking massive, like, holy shit huge. There’s footage of the explosion all over Twitter, like this guy who caught the explosion from his balcony and got knocked ass over tea kettle by the shock wave, and these guys who caught it from their boat in the port.

No one seems to know what caused the explosion, yet. According to CNN, “There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA. The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated ‘high explosive materials,’ but did not provide further details.”

No word on casualties that I’ve seen yet, but the CNN article above says they’re calling the amount of injured “uncountable,” and folks are describing it like an apocalypse, “like Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” etc.

Meanwhile, Trump did an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan on HBO last night. What you need to know about that is, 1. That Swan is an excellent interviewer, apparently, and 2. That Trump comes off as a broken, sociopathic idiot. Neither of which are big surprises. You can watch the whole interview on YouTube.

And finally, Ed Yong wrote a massive, deeply researched “autopsy” on the US response to COVID-19 that is worth reading: “How the Pandemic Defeated America.” Yong’s been knocking it out of the park with his coronavirus reporting for the Atlantic. From the article:

I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood.

And now, the linkdump.