57 results found for “theatlantic.com”

How Do You Kneel on a Neck for Nine Minutes? 

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

When George Floyd was already subdued and in police custody, officer Derek Chauvin drove his knee into Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. As a result, Floyd is dead, and the world is searching for answers as to how this could have happened yet again.

The Washington Post compiled multiple sources to create a video timeline of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. I felt myself get physically sick while watching it, but I urge you to see it for yourself as well. It’s a grueling 7 minutes and 44 seconds, and yet that’s still a minute less than the amount of time Chauvin kneeled on Floyd. Small wonder that so many in our country, and around the world, are outraged.

I’ve found myself utterly unable to understand the mindset of Chauvin, and too many others like him. An officer has a suspect utterly subdued, with complete bodily control over them. That suspect pleads, stating “I can’t breathe”. What kind of person doesn’t let up before the suspect winds up dead? How can a human being act this way?

Over at the Atlantic, Graeme Wood put it in simpler terms: How do you kneel on a neck for nine minutes? His conclusion is that at best, to do this, one must be totally indifferent to the person’s survival.

Don’t Be a Pence

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

It’s been several weeks since I wrote about how we should all wear a mask when going out in public. Hopefully by this point, you’re on board. Just in case you still need convincing, this article from the Atlantic lays things out with wonderful clarity. Put simply, your mask helps me, my mask helps you, and when enough people wear masks, the spread of COVID-19 is drastically reduced.

Wearing a mask is a simple and effective action we can all take to help move the world back to something closer to normal. Frankly, if I see someone’s nose and mouth out in public right now, I consider them rude and selfish. Wearing a mask should be viewed as an act of patriotism, as taking part in a collective effort akin to rationing or buying bonds during wartime. Refusing to wear a mask isn’t brave, it’s practically treasonous.

Nevertheless, there are still many people who have yet to see the light. Most egregious among them is Vice President Mike Pence, who toured the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday with his maw on full display. This occurred despite an established policy that all visitors must mask up.

It’s disappointing that the medical experts at the Mayo even allowed Pence to enter the premises. Even more cravenly, their Twitter account first tweeted confirmation that Pence had been informed of the policy before his arrival, then later deleted the tweet. At this point, no one’s coming out of this looking good. But hey, just to be fair, let’s see how Pence defended his actions:

“As vice president of the United States, I’m tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus,” he told reporters, saying he is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“And since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ “

No test is going to be perfect, and even if the results are extremely reliable, they’re also sure to be a lagging indicator. At the very least, despite what he’s saying, it’s impossible for Pence to be certain he doesn’t have the virus. When interacting with frontline medical workers, staff, and sick patients, it’s inexcusable to fail to exercise caution and follow policy, no matter how recently he received an all-clear test.

Even if Pence actually could be certain there was no chance he’d spread the virus, his decision not to wear a mask was also a failure of leadership. Good leaders know how to lead by example. In 1969, Fred Rogers shared a foot bath with a black man to promote racial equality at a time when swimming pools in America were often still segregated. To teach the world that HIV couldn’t be transmitted by touch, Princess Diana shook the hand of an AIDS patient on television. But Mike Pence? He shrank from the opportunity to set a good example.

Hang on, though. Let’s re-read part of that feeble defense:

I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to…look them in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ “

Does Mike Pence not know the difference between a mask and a blindfold?

Learn From Their Mistakes

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

At around 12 PM on Monday, April 13th, shoemaker Rothy’s sent an email to their customers which included this ill-conceived note:

An email noting that Rothy's is donating masks with every purchase of shoes.

You, a tremendously intelligent reader of this site, may already be able to guess what happened next. Just nine hours later, Rothy’s sent an apologetic follow-up:

An email apologizing, and removing the sales-related portion of their mask donations.

In 2020, it seems far too many people view apologizing and taking responsibility as a sign of weakness. President Trump is an egregious offender in this department. He sets a terrible example for the entire country, and indeed, the world. His recent pathetic statement regarding America’s failures at testing for COVID-19 was hardly the stuff of great leadership:

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said defiantly, pointing to an unspecified “set of circumstances” and “rules, regulations and specifications from a different time.”

Compare that against the words of past presidents:

“I’m the responsible officer of the government,” John F. Kennedy said of the Bay of Pigs. “This happened on my watch,” Ronald Reagan said of Iran-Contra. “I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response,” George W. Bush said of Hurricane Katrina.

Rothy’s screwed up, a fact they were undoubtedly informed of by many customers. Within hours, they set about apologizing and making things right. That’s an example many companies, and many people, could learn to emulate.

Perhaps this incident might also serve as a more general warning to other marketers. Our already overfull inboxes are now absolutely bursting with COVID-19 related nonsense. Every day, innumerable emails assure us that so-and-so company is “there for us” in these “uncertain times”. If you’re a marketer, stop and think if your company actually needs to email your customers right now. You probably don’t, and ideally, you’d just stay quiet for a bit. If you do insist on emailing, at least take some time to think about your message. Maybe that way, you won’t need to send a follow-up apology email as well.

Please Enjoy More Than Two Dozen Owl Photos 

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

The Super Bowl may be over, but the superb owls remain.


An amusing pygmy owl

Enjoy a Beautiful Day

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

For more than seven years, I’ve been urging readers to read Tom Junod’s tremendous profile of Mister Rogers, entitled “Can You Say…Hero?”. 21 years after it was first published, Junod’s work remains a wonderfully written piece worthy of your time. I still find myself re-reading every year or two.

This past weekend, I had occasion to do so once again, prior to seeing the new movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. You’ve probably seen that Tom Hanks is portraying Rogers in this film, as natural a fit as there’s ever been, particularly in light of the rather amazing coincidence that the two are actually distant relatives. You may not realize, however, that the movie is not actually a bio-pic. In fact, Hanks’s Rogers is a supporting character, rather than the lead.

The movie is actually a semi-fictionalized re-telling of the story behind that original Esquire profile. Real-life writer Tom Junod has been fictionalized into Lloyd Vogel (at Junod’s request, as he notes in another tremendous piece published just this month):

“Well, basically everything in the script that’s about the relationship between you and Fred is very accurate!”

“That’s good!”

“But everything else—the relationship between you and your father and you and your wife—is made up!”

I read a copy of the script over the weekend, with an open mind. On Monday morning, I wrote Micah and Noah back, along with Peter Saraf, the producer at Big Beach, the company that had optioned my Esquire story, and asked them to change my name and the names of my family members. And that’s how I became Lloyd Vogel.

The change does nothing to take away from the movie. It’s a well-written, and fabulously well-directed, film. It’s also very true to the spirit of “Can You Say……Hero?”, and like that piece, it’s well worth your time.

Therapy Dogs at Work 

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Speaking of animals at work, why not enjoy a delightful collection of therapy dogs helping people.


Oh hi!

Mark It Zero! 

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Over at The Atlantic’s photo blog In Focus, Alan Taylor recently shared a random collection of interesting photos from the past that visitors might enjoy. In addition to flying nuns and a corgi from decades past, this photograph of Richard Nixon bowling caught my eye.

Richard M. Nixon bowling, and committing a foul by stepping over the boundary line.

I’m sorry Nixon, you were over the line. That’s a foul. You’re going to have to mark that a zero.

Some Like It Hot 

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

In the past several decades, the percentage of women found in most any type of workplace has increased. As a result, a battle has raged over the thermostat, where men seem to prefer the AC blasting while women wish someone would turn up the damned heat. A recent experiment indicates office temperature may actually have an impact on cognitive skills and productivity.

A Demand for Insecure Insulin Pumps 

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Because of a useful security flaw, old insulin pumps are in fascinating high demand. It’s very clear that “looping” is the future of diabetes management, and for a group of users willing to hack their own system, it’s already here.

My Kind of Holiday 

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Last Saturday was some sort of “National Puppy Day”, so The Atlantic created a collection of very good dogs.


High Ten!