There’s always plenty of bad news to go around — can you believe that tanker in the Suez Canal that’s disrupted the global supply chain? — so today let’s do a quick roundup of some good news to get your weekend off on the bright side.
Open Season For Vaccines. More than 30 states will be vaccinating anyone over the age of 16 by mid-April. In fact, the U.S. is experiencing a glut of vaccine supply at the moment. And jobless claims have dropped to the lowest level of the pandemic as the U.S. economic revival continues to accelerate. Can you spell boom?
The “Gen Epi” Revolution. That’s short for genomic epidemiology and it may be the key to minimizing all the pandemics we are sure to face in the future. For example, one of the reasons the Covid-19 vaccine was developed in record time is because a scientist sequenced the viral genome practically overnight and then posted the data online, so companies like Moderna could essentially crowd-source a solution. It’s hard to overestimate the impact of this technology. Let’s have Jon Gertner at the New York Times put it in context:
“Historians of science sometimes talk about new paradigms, or new modes of thought, that change our collective thinking about what is true or possible. But paradigms often evolve not just when new ideas displace existing ones, but when new tools allow us to do things — or to see things — that would have been impossible to consider earlier. The advent of commercial genome sequencing has recently, and credibly, been compared to the invention of the microscope, a claim that led me to wonder whether this new, still relatively obscure technology, humming away in well-equipped labs around the world, would prove to be the most important innovation of the 21st century.”
The American Judicial System. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa massacred 10 people at a Colorado grocery store, there is no doubt about that. Randomly and in cold blood. He had his first court hearing this week. “The suspected gunman, bearded and slightly disheveled, sat slumped in a wheelchair during the hearing,” noted a news report. Regardless of the suspect’s presumed guilt, let’s appreciate the nobility and sanctity of a judicial system that dispassionately honors everyone’s right to a fair hearing. That’s America.
Biden Ain’t Hidin’ Anymore. Joe Biden got in the middle of the ring with the media yesterday on his first presser since he became president and the old man did OK. He was lucid and energetic and sometimes showed Trumpian disdain for the very media that is allegedly in the bag for him. “Look, I don’t know where you guys come from man,” he said to a reporter who kept pressing on his plans to run in 2024. He wasn’t afraid to say “I don’t know” when he didn’t know. And he came up with a strong tag line when he talked about “the art of the possible.”
Big Oil Goes Green. The American Petroleum Institute is the oldest, biggest lobbying arm of the U.S. oil and gas industry. If oil was a religion (which it might be in Texas), API would be the Vatican. The official cocktail of the API is Texas crude mixed with Tito’s vodka, shaken with a few cubes of coal and served on the stem. On Thursday, the API board approved a “climate action framework” to lower carbon emissions and endorsed a universal carbon tax as a mechanism to help reach that goal. Bravo.
Better Late Than Never. Thomas Edison made the world’s first recording in Menlo Park, NJ in 1877 when he recited “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and captured it on sheets of tin foil. That recording, which was resurrected only a few years ago, earned a permanent spot in the National Registry this week, along with Janet Jackson and the Muppets. If you listen to any kind of recording this weekend, tip your hat to the wizard from Menlo Park, who made it all possible.
Grace Under Pressure. Alabama weatherman James Spann was reporting on the tornadoes that ravaged the state this week, while he was texting his wife on air to make sure she was OK at home. She was fine, but he learned that their home had been destroyed. He stepped off air briefly to gain some composure and then came back on without missing a beat. That’s professionalism.
Hidden Track. Here’s one more entry just for fun. Some old geezer doing a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” Just kidding about the geezer reference. He’s Frank Watkinson, he’s got a whole series of fabulous, understated covers on YouTube, and he’s the man. Enjoy your weekend.