Thursday, February 27th, 2020


Peter Pandemic

NextDraft will be off on Friday. Have a good weekend.

And just like that, science is back in vogue... Imagine being told ‘the doctor will see you now' and having a heavily sniffing guy with thick orange and white makeup walk in with a weird expression and a bunch of conflicting data to tell you you're gonna be fine. Would you feel better? Well, the pandemic of lies may have finally caught up with the administration because Americans and leaders around the world don't feel better. And the stock market sure as hell doesn't. You may be able to fool half the country, but you can't fool a virus. Luckily, people know by now that presidential press conferences don't pass the 'adult in the room' sniff test, and the rest of the world is getting ready for what looks like a potential bigly problem. Here's the latest on Coronavirus from WaPo.

+ California is the home of the first US case of unknown origin. The patient wasn't tested for days. NYMag: Why Hasn't the U.S. Done More Coronavirus Tests?

+ Here are some photos from Brazil's Carnival. One imagines this could be one of the last mass gatherings for awhile as schools are closing in Japan, some Europeans companies are telling employees to stay home, and there's a growing list of canceled events around the globe.

+ "You don't expect that your luxury cruise from Japan will harbor a killer virus resulting in your being returned to the U.S. in a cargo plane that lands at a remote Air Force base where you are ordered into federal quarantine for a minimum of two weeks, leaving you without rights, without agency, and on the wrong side of a heavily guarded fence. At least, I didn't expect any of this, even though I wrote a thriller set on a cruise ship." The Atlantic: I Prepared for Everything, but Not Coronavirus on a Cruise Ship.


Florida, Man…

"This is Florida's new reality. The stats confirm it: Every day, 1,000 new people move to the state, and each hour, 12 acres of land is developed ... The treasures of wild Florida — landscapes, waterways, flora, and fauna — will soon disappear without drastic efforts to save them." Will Wellman: A Corridor Runs Through It. "This is a story about what happens when the South's creatures no longer have room to move — and about a project aimed at preserving the few corridors that connect what remains of the wild land."


Antilynch Mob

NPR: "With supporters calling it more than 100 years in the making, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation on Wednesday that makes lynching a federal hate crime for the first time in U.S. history. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act was approved in a vote of 410-4." (Those four outliers, I mean???)


Stalk Exchange

"A camera over each station captured workers' movements as they assembled parts for auto heat-management systems. The video was piped into machine-learning software made by a startup called Drishti, which watched workers' movements and calculated how long each person took to complete their work." Wired: When AI Can't Replace a Worker, It Watches Them Instead. (For the AI assigned to watch me, it will be a war of attrition. I've barely moved since the day Marc Andreessen launched the web browser.)

+ "While we've been watching the horizon for the self-driving trucks, perpetually five years away, the robots arrived in the form of the supervisor, the foreman, the middle manager." The Verge: How Hard Will the Robots Make Us Work?

+ And another side of the story, that may or may not have been written by someone under the supervision of a robot. Don't fear a ‘robot apocalypse' – tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid.


The Edge of Glory

"We used to obsess about celebrities and then started obsessing about one another. Maybe a decade ago I would have subscribed to US Weekly. Today there's no need: I have the parade of people in my phone. I mix 'real' celebrities with people I know and I can curate it all however I want. Then I scrolled through Instagram and saw a post from Lady Gaga: she was sitting in her new boyfriend's lap." Lindsay Crouse in the NYT: My Ex-Boyfriend's New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga. (Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah, Roma Roma-ma Gaga, Oh la-la... This would be like my wife leaving me for the Skimm...)


Cartridge in a Pear Tree

"It's tough to overstate how strange it would have seemed a half-century ago to watch Xerox and HP fighting over who can pinch pennies the best. These were temples of engineering." Now they're praying at the altar of ink cartridges. Bloomberg: Printing's Not Dead: The $35 Billion Fight Over Ink Cartridges.


Manila Ice

"Senator Manny Pacquiao is sitting in the second row of a black government Escalade, his left foot on the center console, a 9 mm handgun in the seatback in front of him. A security van hugging the back bumper is filled with Pacquiao's assistants and several members of the National Police, their fingers on the triggers of the M16s that lie across their laps. There are two police motorcycles in front, weaving around Manila traffic, their cartoonish horns burping out pleas for space that doesn't exist. Outside the windows, the alleys and side streets clog with people and motorbikes and bicycles. The city closes around us like a fist." Tim Keown in ESPN: A week in Manila with Manny Pacquiao: senator, boxer ... and future president? (A celebrity president? Sure, what could possibly go wrong...)

+ And from the archives, the most excellent Andrew Corsello: "What do you get when you cross Muhammad Ali, Sly Stallone, Vaclav Havel, Michael Vick, Che Guevara, & Clay Aiken?" The Biggest Little Man in the World. "He is in the car. I am in the car. Physically we are, both of us, in the car. Still, I wonder."


Sending in a Bunch of Quacks

"Pakistan declared an emergency earlier this month saying locust numbers were the worst in more than two decades. An agricultural expert behind the scheme says a single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day and can be more effective than pesticides." A headline that sums up the week in news: China may send ducks to battle Pakistan's locust swarms.


15 Seconds of Fame

"Six months later, when I meet him at a coffee shop near his home in Los Angeles and ask if he still wants to work in entertainment, he laughs. 'I feel like when I said that I might have been high on TikTok. Like, ‘Everybody finds me so funny!' Now I'm reconsidering that.'" Vox: What happens when TikTok fame fades? "A social media app has never turned kids into celebrities — or has-beens — faster."


Bottom of the News

"On Thursday, the company is unveiling a subscription plan for its most popular caffeinated drinks. For a flat rate of $8.99 a month, customers can get unlimited coffee (hot or iced) and tea at all of its stores nationwide." A Netflix for coffee? Panera offers an $8.99 a month coffee subscription. (I consumed more than $8.99 worth of coffee just to come up with the Peter Pandemic headline...)

+ Vice: A Candy Bar Ended a Five-Hour Prison Standoff. (This gives new meaning to Snickers' old tagline: Not going anywhere for a while?)

+ Mic: What makes a face punchable?

+ Mayor Pete Compels Americans to Go Ahead and Mix Ranch With Salsa. (Endorse!)