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Will Leitch
Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021. https://williamfleitch.substack.com

Darnella Frazier is the model for all of us

I watched the Derek Chauvin trial in my office rather obsessively throughout the last month, and while the case for his guilt seemed to grow more overwhelming by the day — and it was pretty overwhelming in the first place — I, like a lot of Americans, was skeptical that there would be a conviction, based on, you know, American history. So Tuesday’s conviction was a relief, albeit several clicks short of equaling the scales. Justice was done. But as so many have pointed out, the conviction was a rarity. There is another trial next month, in the death of…

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Internet Nostalgia

Online infamy wasn’t something you hid from in 2004; it was something you desperately wanted

Welcome to part eight of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the imagination and attention of the internet for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times, and what they told us about the internet, and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. Last week, we looked at Keyboard Cat. This week: The Numa Numa Guy.

Date: 2004.

The story: In 2004, Gary Brolsma was an 18-year-old kid playing around on a video-sharing website called Newgrounds.com. He used…


How’s that for messaging?

Up until about one month ago, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, my two sons, a third grader and a first grader, were not in school. While I understood that a once-every-100-years pandemic requires some drastic measures and therefore supported turning school virtual last spring, overwhelming evidence showed that opening schools in the fall was not only safe but in fact essential, considering the emotional, physical and mental toll children suffered from being out of school, particularly small children like mine. (And particularly underprivileged children.) My local school system took longer to come around on these basic scientific facts than I…


The ratings are down for political programming. Good.

It has been a difficult few years for the media industry, with newspapers being raided by vulture capitalists, once-great websites being gutted by private equity firms and the President of the United States referring to journalists as “enemies of the people,” rhetoric that inevitably led to disturbed people trying to kill them. The news media is the least trusted institution in the United States (other than Congress, of course), which is a bad sign when your entire reason for being is to inform, and to be trusted by, the public. It’s a rough time all around.

But one thing that…


Internet Nostalgia

Remember when people felt enough shame to be walked off by a cat?

Welcome to part seven of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the imagination and attention of the internet for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times, and what they told us about the internet and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. Last week, we looked at Peanut Butter Jelly Time. This week: Keyboard Cat.

Date: 2009

The story: The cat in the original Keyboard Cat video was captured by a camcorder in 1984. The cat’s owner…


It’s still better, much better, than the alternative

On Tuesday night, I went to a baseball game. I am a professional sportswriter, so I’ve sat in the press box for a couple of games during the pandemic, but that’s no way to enjoy a baseball game, even one with no other fans allowed. No, Tuesday, I sat in the stands, in seats I had paid for, with my nine-year-old son, drinking a beer and watching my St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 4–2. It was a gorgeous night in south Florida, the retractable roof was open, we even almost got a foul ball. It was wonderful. …


So when challenged, you’ll know what to say

Monday morning, I wrote a piece for New York magazine explaining Major League Baseball’s decision-making process in pulling the All-Star Game from Georgia in the wake of that state’s legislature passing its massive overhaul of its voting process. The point of the piece was to point out that MLB’s decision was not made because it had become “woke,” but was instead because it made a bottom-line, even dispassionate decision. One point I did not feel needed repeating was that the bill itself was bad.

It does appear it needed repeating. It has become an article of faith among defenders of…


We now can see who Donald Trump really is without the power of the presidency behind him

Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan. Photo: James Devaney/Getty Images

I understand — I strongly endorse, in fact! — not wanting to look at or think about Donald Trump anymore. The man took up every available ounce of oxygen in American life for more than a half-decade, which was of course the point of his whole self-aggrandizing bull rush of an experiment in the first place. (The world exists for Donald Trump only in how much it’s currently talking about him.) It’s quite reasonable if you have decided that you have had enough. Lord knows I get it. I’ve tried to do the same.

But. I cannot stop watching the…


To decide, you need to understand ‘micromorts’

Photo: Graiki/Getty Images

My favorite word I learned during the pandemic was “micromort.” I discovered the micromort from a piece in the New York Times by David C. Roberts, which explained that a micromort is measurement used by scientists (and insurance companies) to calculate risk. A micromort, Roberts writes, is equivalent to a one-in-a-million chance of dying. Every behavior, whether it’s jumping out of a plane (seven micromorts) or giving birth (210 micromorts), has a value that can be attached to it. (Much of Roberts’ research can be found in the entertaining book, The Norm Chronicles.)

Life itself comes with inherent risk. Your…


Internet Nostalgia

Way back, way back, there you go, there you go

Welcome to part six of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the imagination and attention of the internet for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times, and what they told us about the internet, and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. Last week, we looked at The Dancing Baby. This week: Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

Date: 2000–02.

The story: This is going to sound insane to you, but when I first came across Peanut Butter Jelly…

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