Weekend Reads: 9/4/2020

Over the past week I have spent a lot of time watching sports – it’s a very weird feeling, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic but at the same time it’s a comfort. I’ve watched my favorite tennis player win on Monday and then lose, two days later (as he is prone to do) and have watched most of the first week of the 2020 Tour de France (I missed the first stage on August 30th).

Sports during a pandemic, as we all know, are strange. In particular because the Tour is in August/September instead of July, there are far fewer fans than normal (and those that are watching the race are almost all masked), and the riders are almost universally masked when not actively riding their bikes on the stage. It is strange because at the US Open there are no fans (aside from fellow tennis players, coaches, and the occasional family member and journalist), they are pumping in crowd sounds when there’s no action on the court, and displaying video screens with videos of fans cheering. It is unnerving, but it is also the world we live in.

I know it’s important to find comfort in familiar things when the world is burning around us, but we must not forget the fact that the world is on fire.

I wrote some original fiction for July’s Camp Nano (an offshoot of NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month) and, because I am always drawn to write post-apocalyptic stories, that’s what I wrote. It’s set about 30 after this pandemic, ten years after flooding (due to climate change) destroys much of the planet. My main character was born this year and she looks back at the pandemic and is appalled at the 200,000 deaths.

When I wrote that story, it was in July and it seemed we were doing better and maybe we wouldn’t reach that dreaded number of 200,000 people needlessly dying from COVID-19. It turns out that should I ever edit that novel and turn it into something that will see the light of day, I’ll have to adjust that section.

Why? Because it is highly likely that we have already passed that 200,000 death mark:

I am luckily, so far I have lost no immediately family members to the virus, but I know people who have. I am not alone, of course, but we need to remember that every one of those 200,000 deaths were deaths of human beings. Individual people. They are both statistics and more than just numbers.

Never forget that responsibility for each and every single one of those people’s deaths from COVID-19 lies squarely on the shoulders of the current administration in the White House. They could have saved lives, they chose to end them instead.

Last weekend, Detroit held a beautiful memorial/funeral for the thousands of Detroit residents who died from COVID-19:

What do 900+ people look like? They look beautiful. They are a reminder of everything we, and this country, have had stolen from us. Artist Eric Millikin created the mural below to represent all that we have lost:

So, as you’re enjoying your three day weekend, watching sports, and enjoying the nice weather – don’t forget what’s going on in the world. Don’t forget that 200,000 people in the United States have died. Don’t forget that you can help stop this virus.

Now, for the rest of your weekend reads:

When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows up at a peaceful protest in battle fatigues, it’s time to pay attention. (The Atlantic – $$)

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed.

The acclaimed novelist lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief.

And, on the occasion of the loss of Chadwick Boseman to cancer:

Rahawa Haile considers how, by sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist.

And, lastly, enjoy this superbly choreographed dance by The Kinjaz.

Sports Links

A collection of sports related links that I’ve come across recently.

Positive Evolution: ESPN’s World Cup coverage has come a long way. (Sports on Earth)

Op-ed: E-sports cannot fight segregation with segregation: The reversal of one “men-only” tourney isn’t enough to save e-sports. (Ars Technica)

Ji Cheng battles away in the Tour de France:  Chinese star is surviving so far in world’s most famous race but it gets more gruelling from now (South China Morning Post)

A Sociological History of Soccer Violence: How social and cultural rifts manifest themselves through sports—especially when fans identify intensely with their team (The Atlantic)

The Plight of Lionel Messi: The Argentinian star is one of soccer’s greats. But he just narrowly missed out on an opportunity to cement his legacy and prove skeptical countrymen wrong. (The Atlantic)

Lionel Messi Is Sad (Slate)

The Older, Wiser LeBron James: His essay announcing his return to Cleveland seems designed to signal that he’s not the same guy who enraged the nation with The Decision. (The Atlantic)

With Germany’s win Microsoft perfectly predicted the World Cup’s knockout round (Quartz)

 “Then one of our glitter terrorists fired his gun”: The World Cup’s wild, naked anti-government protests Artists and LGBT activists are protesting FIFA in a carnival of costumes and graffiti (Salon)

Epic Soccer-Like Battles of History: Here’s our martial World Cup wrap-up — where the beautiful game is just war by other means. (Foreign Policy)

Details of Alberto Contador’s Tour-ending crash: Alberto Contador stood on the wet grass, blood pouring out of a deep cut to his right knee. Photographers swirled around him, the race doctor attended to his injuries. He motioned to his mechanic, a hint of frustration etched across his face. He sat down, dejected, and changed out his left shoe, its buckle smashed to pieces. (Velonews)

‘It’s Like Jail Here’: Watching the World Cup finals in the labor camps of Qatar. (Foreign Policy)