A Tale of Three Hostage Videos

This is why democracy is in decline and the dictators are winning.

1. Hostage Videos

Americans don’t care about foreign affairs. I get that. But I want to keep hammering this nail, because it’s important: The bad guys are doing great.

On the Belarusian front, first the government released a video of Roman Protasevich “confessing” to his crimes:

Then the government released a companion video of his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, making her own criminal “confession”:

I want you to watch these and then consider a third video which was released yesterday. This one is of John Cena apologizing to China for saying that Taiwan is a “country” which, by the way, is a true thing:

All three of these are hostage videos. Plain and simple.

The difference is that in two of them, the hostages making forced confessions are young dissidents being held against their will by an authoritarian regime for the crime of wanting to live in a democracy .

In the third video, the hostage is a middle-aged millionaire actor making the confession freely because he wants to continue earning money from Chinese markets.

Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega were taken hostage while trying to help others.

John Cena chose to become a hostage in order to help himself.

And people wonder why democracy is decline and the dictators are winning.

Democracy isn’t a magic perpetual motion machine.

Stand Up for Democracy

2. How Internet Ads Work

You should read this entire thread, but I’m going to pull the tweets that are most interesting:


I’ll have more to say about the idea of recapturing the downstream value of your attention on Saturday . . .

3. Strikeout

Tim Kurkjian goes deep on how the obsession with strikeouts is hurting baseball:

The K is a handsome and sturdy letter. More than 12,000 words start with K, but it's not our most popular or coolest letter. It's just a hard consonant in the middle of the alphabet. And yet, in this 2021 baseball season, the K is the most important letter, even when written backward, because K is the symbol for the strikeout, and strikeouts are almost all that we talk about these days.

It is indeed breathtaking to watch the mastery of our pitchers, the preposterous stuff we see from our stars, such as Jacob deGromGerrit Cole and Shane Bieber, and from those relievers who come in firing every night. But the pitching now is too good, and the strikeout craze has become an epidemic that dominates too many games.

This is so fitting of this season: Days after the Phillies became the first team since 1996 to score two runs on a strikeout, the Orioles' John Means became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter without a walk, hit batter or error. The only baserunner came on a strikeout/wild pitch.

"It's unbelievable," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "I've talked to Theo [Epstein, who is a consultant for Major League Baseball regarding on-field issues] about it. I've talked to other managers about it. I watched a game the other night, the first three innings, the ball wasn't put in play by either team. Everyone struck out. I've never seen that."

"It's embarrassing," said Reggie Jackson, who struck out more times than anyone in history.

"It's worrisome," said Nolan Ryan, who struck out more batters than any pitcher in history.

"It's alarming," Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt said. "It's weird."

Read the whole thing.