Friday, March 6th, 2020


Netflix and Chills

Sure, avoiding handshakes and self-quarantining with WiFi, food delivery, and all-day movie binges doesn't sound all that terrifying. But what if things take a more dramatic turn? What if there's a total breakdown of modern society and we all have to take to the wild and find a way to survive. The NYT's Nellie Bowles found some folks who have a plan for that. While you're watching Survivor, they're living it. How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World. "When the end comes, some will not be waiting in a bunker for a savior. They will stride out into the wilderness with confidence, ready to hunt and kill a deer, tan its hide and sleep easily in a hand-built shelter, close by a fire they made from the force of their two palms on a stick." (My family has a multigenerational distribution of skill sets: My dad can hunt and gather, start fires from scratch, build safe living quarters using rudimentary tools, and fend off attackers. I can restart the router.)


Class Dismissed

(We'll get back to the story of the moment. But first, the story of the era.) "'Many people used to associate the meaning of their life with what their corporation or institution was doing.' Miners and factory workers identified themselves as such. Warehouse workers, especially those whose paycheck is signed by a staffing company, rarely feel the same connection. The result of these trends has been a 'coming apart,' as Case and Deaton put it, of day-to-day life for whites without a college degree versus those with a college degree." NYT: How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts.

+ "Those most vulnerable are distinguished not by where they live but by their race and level of education. Virtually the entire increase in mortality has been among white adults without bachelor's degrees—some 70 percent of all whites." The New York Review of Books: Left Behind.


Weekend Whats

What to Book: "In that late summer of 1854, as the toshers and the mud-larks and the bone collectors made their rounds, London was headed toward another, even more terrifying, battle between microbe and man. By the time it was over, it would prove as deadly as any in the city's history." In addition to providing a little perspective on what we're currently dealing with, Steven Johnson's book on an epidemic in London is remarkably informative and entertaining. The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World.

+ What to Pod: Hello Monday with Jessi Hempel is a podcast that's definitely worth adding to your playlist. And there's no better place to start than with Jessi's recent interview with Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson. "Robbi and Matthew ditched the corporate grind and moved into a barn where they made art. They didn't chase success, but it found them. Now, they're planning to travel the country with their four kids – in a school bus." Robbi and Matthew are two of the most interesting and inspiring people I know (even though their youngest kid sometimes gives me the business). Enjoy.

+ What to Watch: Netflix's much-discussed series Love is Blind takes many of the most ridiculous features of past dating shows and rolls them all into one particularly ridiculous feat of matchmaking nonsense. In other words, I highly recommend it.


Execution in Alabama

"Woods was put to death amid a storm of appeals and protests from supporters, who noted that Woods did not actually kill the officers; that Woods' attorneys missed key deadlines in his appeals, and that Spencer — who remains on death row — said Woods was not involved." Montgomery Advertiser: Nathaniel Woods executed as accomplice in 2004 police murders. (In addition to the concerning factors above, there's the fact that the crime in question took place in Birmingham. For more on that city's history with death row, check out the movie Just Mercy.)


Covid, Ego, and Superego

"There were not enough COVID-19 testing kits, hotlines were overwhelmed, and hospitals and public health departments were hobbled by a lack of reliable statistics on the spread of the disease. Experts say the U.S. response is now likely weeks—if not months—behind schedule." Time: Experts Say the Trump Administration's Coronavirus Response Was Never Going to Work.

+ Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal made a lot of calls and found The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing.

+ If you're like me, (and every other middle to old aged Jewish male in America), you probably feel a little warm right now, though it's probably nothing, but it could be something. How to Tell If You Have the Flu, Coronavirus, or Something Else? Plus, these cleaners kill coronavirus.

+ Univ of Washington tells students to stay home and prepare for classes, and maybe finals, online.

+ "The abrupt decline in global air travel suggests that the economic impacts of the outbreak may be entering a more disruptive phase. (My whole stock portfolio has entered a new phase. It's gone from screaming, to crying, to a resigned moaning.)

+ "Three hours later, he went to a mixer for fellow doctors and Dartmouth students at a bar over the river in Vermont. Monday, he returned to the hospital and tested positive for coronavirus." A Man Might Have Infected an Entire College Party. I mean...

+ A man has reportedly been tasered after a violent confrontation over toilet paper as Australian consumers' mass panic about coronavirus shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile, an Australian newspaper prints blank pages to help tackle the toilet paper shortage. (Even in dark times, new business models can be found.)

+ Here's the latest on the virus from BBC and CNN.


Keep On Keepin On

Ah, yes. The criming. With all the concerns about the lies related to the virus, we almost forgot about the lies related to the criming. A Federal Judge Slammed The Attorney General For Being Misleading About What Was Actually In The Mueller Report. "That has led the court 'to question whether Attorney General Barr's intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report—a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report."

+ WaPo: "When added to dozens of charges already reported by The Washington Post, the new documents show that Trump's company has charged the Secret Service more than $628,000 since he took office in 2017." (The Secret Service gets a special rate, though... They pay more.)

+ What else are you paying for? Don Jr's Mongolian sheep hunts.


Anti Heroes

"What is less obvious is that they may also share a fan base — a quirky subgroup of consumers who are systemically drawn to flops and whose reliably contrarian tastes can be used to forecast bad bets in retail sales, real estate and even politics. These people are known as 'harbingers of failure.'" Alex Stone in the NYT: Are You an Anti-Influencer?


Mule Makes Jackass Out of Himself

"However, after an escalating cocaine habit and meeting a gang of Gambian smugglers in Italy, he ended up smuggling cannabis and MDMA across the borders of eight different European countries, from a safe-house in Spain, via plane and ferry into France, Italy, Switzerland, eastern Europe and Scandinavia, before being caught with 12 kilos of weed and spending nearly six months inside a Polish prison. Harry's now back in the UK, having checked out of the drug world, he says, for good." Vice: I Was A Middle-Class Drug Mule.


Cold Sweat Equity

"Amazon is working on a cure for the common cold in a years-long, top secret effort called 'Project Gesundheit,' according to three people familiar with the effort." (So far, it only works on prime members.)


Feel Good Friday

"U.S. coal use plunged more than 13% in 2019, the most in 65 years, as power plants shut down across the country. That's poised to happen again this year."

+ 11-year-old Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza qualifies for Olympics.

+ My friend Jeff O'Keefe made this great ad for Liverpool's soccer club. Warning, you may need to touch your face.

+ Founder of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods transfers business to employees.

+ Kindergartner dresses as school security officer for 'Dress As Your Favorite Person Day.'

+ Reddit lets users support one another with Crisis Text Line partnership. (Crisis Text Line is awesome, and a reminder that there are good things about the internet and connectivity.)

+ Family restaurant in Clarkesville launches a 'giving board' to help customers in need.

+ An 11-year-old Star Wars fan got an R2-D2 bionic arm. Mark Hamill called her a hero.

+ Best friends in Philadelphia learn they are sisters after 17 years. (My kids would be thrilled to learn they're actually just acquaintances...)

+ Boy bullied for love of reading gets 100,000 followers on book review account.

+ Why this Delaware principal opened a barbershop inside his school.

+ Scientists Found a Caterpillar That Eats Plastic. (They should let him try Covid 19...)