----- 4 stars -----

Surviving It All: She’s 92, made it through the Holocaust, and set off for a cruise around the world in February. / The Cut
I'll just steal the summary from Longreads:

“I think every life is like a novel.” Marga Griesbach was born in Germany in 1927. Her life is like multiple novels — horror, romance, magical realism, travelogue. Whatever you’re doing right now, you should stop it and read this story.

----- 3 stars -----

The Evidence Against Her / Medium

When Nikki Addimando shot her abusive partner, she thought she had enough proof it was self-defense. Why did the prosecution only see a cold-blooded killer? [...] In the years before Nicole “Nikki” Addimando stood trial for second-degree murder, she was a stay-at-home mom, her days filled with preschool drop-offs and singalongs. “A crafty, Pinteresty mom,” said one friend. “The proudest mama on the planet,” said another. In the fall of 2017, Nikki and her two small children, Ben and Faye, were living with Christopher Grover, Nikki’s boyfriend of nine years and the kids’ dad. The family rented a three-bedroom basement apartment on the east side of Poughkeepsie in upstate New York. Nikki, then 28, had worked as a preschool teacher, but when she was pregnant with Ben in 2012, the couple decided she would leave her job to raise him — and, two years later, Faye. With money tight, Nikki found free activities for the kids throughout the Hudson Valley, a stretch of intermittently tony and depressed suburbs: apple-picking, corn-maze-walking, roller-skating. Nikki skimmed five feet and 110 pounds and wore her curly black hair ironed long and straight. Chris, 30, was only a few inches taller, notable for his bald head and small but muscular frame; he spent his days at a gymnastics studio, where he was a head coach, bringing in the family’s main income. They often struggled on Chris’ wages. On the worst days, Nikki borrowed cash from the kids’ savings to buy essentials, replacing the money later. At night, she sewed baby booties that she sold online for $28 a pair. Chris was well-liked by the young girls he coached. “An all-around nice guy,” his boss told me. “A diligent father who prioritized his family,” a former gymnast wrote. In his free time, he enjoyed playing video games, watching anime, and practicing tae kwon do. He’d learned to make amateur movies in filmmaking classes at community college. He was close with his parents and his younger brother. On Sundays, he visited them at their rural home north of Poughkeepsie. At first, Nikki went along, but as the years wore on, she took to staying home. She had too many injuries, no more excuses to casually repeat: a tendency to bruise easily, a fall down the stairs, her own relentless clumsiness.

Corporate Rescue / The Intercept

March 23, 2020 was a critical day in U.S. history, though at the time it felt like another 24 hours on the road to pandemic apocalypse. Over 47,000 Americans had contracted the coronavirus by official count, and hundreds of thousands more were walking around with it undiagnosed. Deaths were just starting to spike. Historic job losses had commenced, as lockdowns cascaded across America with no end in sight. The stock market closed more than 35 percent off its peak, continuing an epic slide that had started a month earlier. But two actions on March 23 would swing investors from despair to relief, and reveal who really matters in America. [...] While Americans struggle to file unemployment claims and extract stimulus checks from their banks, while small businesses face extinction amid a meager and under-baked federal grant program, the Fed has, at least temporarily, propped up every equity and credit market in America. And in a testament to its strength, it did so without spending a single cent. The mere announcement of future spending heartened investors, who have relied on Fed support since the last financial crisis. This explains the shocking dissonance between collapsing economic conditions and the relative comfort on Wall Street. Between March 23 and April 30, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rocketed nearly 6,000 points, a jump of nearly 31 percent, creating over $7 trillion in capital wealth. The April gains were the biggest in one month since 1987. The same month, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs. [...] Dozens of companies, from troubled aircraft maker Boeing to airline Delta, from Exxon Mobil to T-Mobile, have been tapping credit markets they might never have been able to access, at lower rates than previously offered. The American Prospect and The Intercept have identified at least 49 large companies that have issued corporate bonds since the Federal Reserve announced that it would purchase them. For some, the benefit of cheaper borrowing was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. “It is meaningfully changing the way investors are evaluating the risks for a swath of companies,” said Kathryn Judge, a law professor at Columbia University and expert in financial markets and regulations. The Fed’s support disproportionately flows to large corporations with access to credit markets, Joyce pointed out. “Small and midsized businesses with much more need are more likely to struggle.”

Why a college football coach hid his bipolar disorder diagnosis for 30 years / ESPN

Brent Guy retired last year after more than three decades as a college football coach. At age 59, he retired because he had had enough. It wasn't that he had had his fill of the long hours and short sleeps or that he didn't enjoy competing or that he no longer enjoyed working with young people. No, Brent Guy retired as FIU defensive coordinator a year ago because he had had enough of keeping a 30-year secret. "This was a very lonely disease," Guy said. "Until now, I have never had a friend that I knew of that had what I had, had some type of mental illness, especially bipolar disorder." Guy has lived with bipolar disorder through 11 coaching jobs, through raising two children, through his long marriage to his wife, Shawn. Guy has lived with bipolar disorder as he developed a reputation as a dependable coach: a solid, foundational thinker as a defensive coordinator; a cool, analytical presence in the meeting room; an even keel in the choppy emotional waters of 100-hour weeks fueled by Red Bull and adrenaline. And no one outside of his home and his medical professionals knew. "You could have given me a thousand guesses, and this would have been the last thing I would have guessed," said FIU assistant coach Jeff Copp, who played for Guy at Boise State in the late '90s and coached with him at three schools. "A voice of reason," Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said of Guy, whom he employed for seven seasons at Boise State and Arizona State. "He never lost his composure," said Butch Davis, who coached Guy at Oklahoma State 40 years ago and hired him at FIU in 2017. He never lost his composure. Well, he did just once.

----- 2 stars -----

What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about the Brain / Scientific American

A close brush can leave a lasting mental legacy—and may tell us about how the mind functions under extreme conditions

Platforms in an Aggregator World / Stratechery

One of the most important companies in making both of the non-Amazon value-chains work is Shopify, which is a platform, not an Aggregator. Google and Facebook may collect the customers, but it is Shopify (and WooCommerce, its open-source competitor) that provides the infrastructure for merchants to actually sell things online; Shopify is also working to help merchants get the things they sell into customers hands with the Shopify Fulfillment Network, which I wrote about in Shopify and the Power of Platforms. At last week’s Reunite Conference the company announced that it now owned-and-operated seven warehouses across the U.S., has built an R&D center to improve warehouse operations, and has incorporated 6 River Systems in the form of “Chuck” robots to help with order fulfillment. One particularly clever component of the Shopify Fulfillment Network is that the same templates a merchant uses to customize their website also translate seamlessly to custom packaging; when you receive a package from a Shopify merchant — the goal is two days, anywhere in the world — it appears as if it came from that merchant, not from Shopify. That’s part and parcel of being a platform: you win when those on your platform win, even if customers never even know you exist. [...] This is the harsh reality for Shopify and anyone else competing in a value chain with an Aggregator: you are not going to beat Facebook at their own game, particularly given the technical limitations increasingly facing infrastructure providers. At the end of the day overcoming Facebook’s skill at acquiring customers must be the responsibility of the merchants themselves: what works — and what will always work, as long as the web exists — is creating something so compelling that people will go to you directly, and yes, fill out a payment form. This, though, is why I remain so excited about the Shopify Fulfillment Network. [...] First, this is a service that no merchant can build on its own; it is a perfect example of how a platform can create something for an ecosystem that would not exist otherwise. Moreover, this is specifically what is needed to fulfill the promise I laid out last year, of Shopify as an Amazon competitor, not because users choose to go to Shopify, but because they have no reason to know that Shopify exists. Second, this is a service that Facebook Shops is going to make more valuable, not less: all of those merchants increasing sales thanks to Facebook Checkout still need to ship their things, and there is zero chance that Facebook ever integrates into the real world. Third, this is a service no one else is going to build. Yes, it is very difficult to build fulfillment centers and develop robots and employ lots of workers, but within that difficulty is an escape from competition, i.e. a far more reliable way to make sustainable profits in the long run.

UK suffers second-highest death rate from coronavirus / Financial Times [no paywall]

The UK has suffered the second-highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic after Spain, according to excess mortality figures. The UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20, indicating that the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million. Until Thursday, the UK had a higher rate of death than in any country for which high-quality data exist. However, Spain made a revision to its mortality estimates, adding 12,000 to its toll of excess deaths from coronavirus in a one-off adjustment to 43,000. This increased its death rate to 921 per million. The absolute number of excess deaths in the UK is the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms, according to data collected by the Financial Times. The country fares no better on another measure: the percentage increase in deaths compared with normal levels, where the UK is the worst hit in Europe and behind only Peru internationally. The data were compiled from national statistical agencies for 19 countries for which sufficient information exists to make robust comparisons.

Bush Did North Dakota / Slate Star Codex

Guess et al says that 46% percent of Trump voters endorsed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Does this mean fake news is very powerful? We can compare this to belief in various other conspiracy theories, as measured by the 2016 Chapman University Survey Of American Fears. About 24% believe there’s a government conspiracy to cover up the truth about the moon landing, 30% about Obama’s birth certificate, and 33% about the North Dakota crash. This last one is especially interesting because there was no unusual crash in North Dakota when the survey was written. The researchers included it as a placebo option to see if people would endorse a conspiracy theory that didn’t exist. 33% of them did.

After Minneapolis, Can Trump’s Law-And-Order Strategy Work? / FiveThirtyEight

When President Trump delivered his inaugural address in 2017, it was in an unfamiliar style. Gone was the jokey off-handedness of Trump-on-the-trail. In a stilted, elegiac tone the freshly-minted president spoke of “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones” and “young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.” The content of the speech was familiar, though: Trump would bring America back from the brink. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” President George W. Bush called it “some weird shit.” Trump ran on law and order — “I am the law and order candidate” he helpfully explained — even if empirical evidence suggested nothing was wrong with the law and order Americans were already living under. The country’s rates of violent crime were trending downward when he ran — falling 51 percent between 1993 and 2018 — and the economy was churning along, but Trump tapped into some Americans’ dissatisfaction with the status quo. Law and order was about the restoration of a certain social configuration favorable to white Americans as much as it was a concern with crime. As the strange election year that is 2020 marches on, Trump has returned to his 2016 rhetoric, but it may register differently.

----- 1 star -----

How to Draw the Coronavirus / The Paris Review

With the use of modeling software, scientists and illustrators have begun to visualize coronavirus, turning it into something that can be seen, understood, and, hopefully, eventually vanquished by science. Many of us imagine the virus as a sphere radiating red spikes—but why? Certain elements of these visualizations are based on the way coronavirus appears under a microscope, and others are choices that were made, an exercise of artistic license.

45 Photos Which Are Hard To Believe Aren’t Photoshopped / Bored Panda
Definitely clickbait...but I was impressed.

The Swish Machine: 70 Step Basketball Trickshot (Rube Goldberg Machine) / YouTube (Creezy)
This guy's channel is full of really impressive videos.

This outdoor Rube Goldberg Machine goes around my entire yard, and swishes a basketball shot after 70 steps. This video was filmed in one take, meaning there are absolutely no hidden cuts or edits. The machine took a month to build and another month to successfully work, so please share this with anyone who needs some entertainment during these strange times!

In developing countries the coronavirus deaths are younger / Marginal Revolution

In Brazil, 15 percent of deaths have been people under 50 — a rate more than 10 times greater than in Italy or Spain. In Mexico, the trend is even more stark: Nearly one-fourth of the dead have been between 25 and 49. In India, officials reported this month that nearly half of the dead were younger than 60. In Rio de Janeiro state, more than two-thirds of hospitalizations are for people younger than 49.

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