The Brock Bulletin
October 6, 2020
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Over here in the U.K., we’re back in a state of quasi-lockdown after 2,000 schools were infected in less than a month. Last week we hit a million deaths globally, and there’s no end in sight. While Britain may have managed this pandemic worse than many countries, we’ll likely be the first to recover because we’ve pre-purchased more vaccines than any nation on earth. (In fact, the overall inequality is shocking: 13% of the world’s population have already cornered more than half of the promised doses of leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates.)
Several of you sided with Michelle in wanting to call this newsletter The Brockly. Another cheeky reader suggested I shorten The Brock Bulletin to Brock Bull. 🙂 Other ideas included The Brocksology and The Brock Obama. Tina from Canada writes: “How about The Brocktarian? Tagline: Eat the meat of it, leave the bones.”
Another reader wrote in something very interesting: “Thanks for the recommendation for the Chicago 7 film. I was one of those teenage hippie kids protesting the trial outside the US courthouse in Chicago.” Glad to have you, friend.
This day in history
The Reno brothers carry out the first train robbery in U.S. history (1866), Kennedy urges Americans to build bomb shelters (1961), the first Mennonites arrive in America (1683), Thomas Edison shows his first motion picture (1889), and Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap opens in London (1952- and it’s still running to this day.)
Interestingly, I’m not the first person in my family to be quarantined: My ancestor, Marjory Windsor, was eighteen when she and the rest of her Christian school were locked in Weixian, a Japanese-run internment camp in China during World War II.
The conditions were horrid- unrefrigerated meat, clogged cesspools, no privacy, only five square feet per person, and just 23 toilets for 1,800 people. According to a book on the camp, “In order to survive, the internees knew that they all had to work together. They created kitchens and a hospital, started a library, and educated their children without desks, chairs, or a classroom and with few books.”
One of those teachers was the missionary and Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell, from Chariots of Fire. According to one source, “Liddell became a leader and organizer at the camp; but food, medicine, and other supplies were scarce. When some rich businessmen managed to smuggle in some eggs, Liddell shamed them into sharing them. While fellow missionaries formed cliques, moralized, and acted selfishly, Liddell busied himself by helping the elderly, teaching Bible classes at the camp school, arranging games, and teaching science to the children, who referred to him as Uncle Eric.”
When Marjory Windsor was quarantined with typhoid fever and nearly died, Uncle Eric risked his life to visit and comfort her in lockdown. According to Marjory’s sister (who’s still alive and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting), Uncle Eric was “extremely kind and caring to all.”
Liddell, who suffered from an inoperable brain tumor and malnourishment, wrote a letter to his wife, explaining he’d suffered a nervous breakdown due to overwork. He died later that day. A fellow prisoner wrote of the loss, “The entire camp, especially its youth, was stunned for days, so great was the vacuum that Eric’s death had left.”
We may guess that Marjory Windsor was among that number. Liddell’s last words were “Complete surrender.”
- The Irish Supreme Court ruled that Subway bread is not, in fact, bread, but rather a “confectionary or fancy baked good” because sugar accounts for 10% of the flour’s weight. No wonder it’s so deliciously addictive.
- As it prepares for an inevitable anti-monopoly lawsuit, Facebook just started rolling out “Accounts Center” to tie all of its apps (Facebook.com, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram) together so it’s harder for the government to break them up. Sneaky.
- Interesting read: How Uber and Airbnb Created a Parasite Economy (Pro tip: paste it in Outline.com and double-refresh to bypass the paywall.)
This Week in Black-Mirror-in-Real-Life
- Amazon wants you to let its new drone camera fly around inside your house. “For security.”
- Can’t beat the Apple Watch? Google is close to winning EU approval for its $2+ billion acquisition of Fitbit. (Pro-tip: don’t let companies spy on your body. Or your internet usage. I use the non-tracking DuckDuckGo as my default search engine.)
- Forget chips-in-the-wrist, Amazon’s starting to install direct palm recognition in stores and sees “broad uses” for the technology. I’m sure they do… and I’m sure I’ll continue to look for ways to end my reliance on companies that harvest biometric data for private profit.
- 2020 threw an especially sharp curveball for parents. The good folks at Axis are hosting a FREE two-week Parenting Pivot e-conference from October 8–24th. Sign up here.
- Sleeping. This Joe Rogan interview with global sleep expert Matthew Walker gets better and better every minute.
- Thing I used this week to save twenty bucks: Transferwise. Way cheaper than PayPal. (Use that link to transfer for your first $500 USD for free.)
- I read a wonderful book over the weekend called The Way Home: Tales From A Life Without Technology. Recommendation level: must-read. His book The Moneyless Man is also excellent.
Quote of the week
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
Until next week,
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