Monday, March 9th, 2020


Gov in the Time of Corona

In between hand washing and getting fitted for a straight jacket (my last attempt to come up with a way to stop touching my face), I've been reading, studying, and obsessing over news stories, tweets, and expert commentary on Covid-19, and here's my key takeaway: The key to all of this is hospitals. We need to delay the virus transmission to ease an overwhelming burden on health resources. Wash hands, avoid crowds, skip the high fives. It's not about you. It's about us. We made sure that social media apps and streaming video services could scale. We forgot to make sure the health system could. The more we can delay the spread, the better. I had a couple more takes. Well, 29. So, let's start there. Gov in the Time of Corona: 30 thoughts on living with bad leadership in bad times.

+ At a Harvard forum, three who know warn of most daunting virus in half a century.

+ Wired: Kids Can Get Covid-19. They Just Don't Get That Sick. (Or why your kids' school is probably going to close soon...)

+ Seattle Times: "Testing for the novel coronavirus in the Seattle area will get a huge boost in the coming weeks as a project funded by Bill Gates and his foundation begins offering home-testing kits that will allow people who fear they may be infected to swab their noses and send the samples back for analysis." (And with that, everything associated with IE6 is forgiven...)

+ Seattle provides a glimpse into the future for many cities. For a look a little further into the future, let's check in on Italy. Meanwhile, an Italy prison was in flames, and more than 50 prisoners were on the loose, after visitation restrictions ignited a riot.

+ Here's a very interesting thread on how South Korea seems to be getting ahead of the virus.

+ The earliest it would be deployable, Fauci added, is 'in a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.'" The New Yorker: How Long Will It Take to Develop a Coronavirus Vaccine?

+ Thousands prepare to get off cruise ship hit by virus in California.

+ "Couriers are ants. Nothing can stop them." Photos from NPR: Wuhan Delivery Workers. (Related: Driverless Delivery Van Startup Sees Demand Surge Amid Outbreak.)

+ CityLab: "With travelers scarce, some carriers are turning to a troubling practice: flying planes with no passengers, in order to hang on to take-off and landing slots." (Who would have guessed you'd ever be able to achieve social distancing in coach...)

+ "Why exactly is soap so good? To explain that, I will take you through a bit of a journey through supramolecular chemistry, nanoscience and virology." An interesting thread on the power of soap.

+ The Guardian: Nine reasons to be reassured.


I Don’t Think You’re Ready for This Machiavelli

"If Americans conclude that life will continue mostly as normal, they may be wrong. The United States is far less prepared than other democratic nations experiencing outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Low case counts so far may reflect not an absence of the pathogen but a woeful lack of testing." Juliette Kayyem in The Atlantic: The U.S. Isn't Ready for What's About to Happen.

+ Politico: "For six weeks behind the scenes, and now increasingly in public, Trump has undermined his administration's own efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak — resisting attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios, overturning a public-health plan upon request from political allies and repeating only the warnings that he chose to hear."

+ AP: "The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines."

+ The president is not worried about your health. But that doesn't mean he's not worried about his. Vanity Fair: "Last week Trump told aides he's afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me. The source also said Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds."

+ Julia Lindau in Vice: "When I arrived at New York's JFK Airport on Thursday after spending a few days outside a coronavirus hot zone in Italy, I was expecting a shakedown: a temperature check at customs and some questions about where exactly in the region I'd been and if I had come into contact with any sick people during my stay. Instead, I breezed right through security."


Who Coughed on My Portfolio?

Big box retailers, where consumers are stocking up for self-quarantining, are one of the few bright spots in a market nosedive that has been breathtaking at times. Banks and energy companies are taking the worst of it so far. Here's the latest from CNN: A 2,000-point plunge. A 15-minute trading halt. And the biggest oil crash in 30 years.

+ It's not just the virus. "A clash of two oil titans - Saudi Arabia and Russia - is sending shock waves through energy markets, with wide-ranging implications for consumers and oil companies." AP: The oil market meltdown and its global impact.


Erik Rolled

OK, enough with the virus and the market slide. Let's return to the news we've become accustomed to over the past three years. The criming. NYT: Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups. "The effort is a glimpse of a vigorous private campaign to try to undermine political groups or individuals perceived to be in opposition to Mr. Trump's agenda."


Cul-De-Sac Race

"It is perhaps fitting that the decades-long search for Nazi collaborators living on United States soil may have reached its conclusion — or something close to it — in a small city, in an unremarkable ranch house on an equally unremarkable cul-de-sac. By many accounts, the man living inside that house was also seemingly unremarkable — not unlike the dozens of other under-the-radar Nazi collaborators who have been found and prosecuted over the last half-century." The Mission to Hunt Nazis Has Become a Race Against Time. (Once we're done with the old ones, we can get started on the new ones...)


Not So Little Women

"In 1999, Man of the Year gave way to Person of the Year. While the name rightly changed, too often the choice was the same. With this 100 Women of the Year project, we're spotlighting influential women who were often overshadowed. This includes women who occupied positions from which the men were often chosen, like world leaders Golda Meir and Corazon Aquino, but far more who found their influence through activism or culture." A very cool Time feature looks to the past to find 100 Women of the Year.


Putin To Perspective

"Putin, sadly, has got all of our political class, every single one of us, including the media, exactly where he wants us. He's got us feeling vulnerable, he's got us feeling on edge, and he's got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems." In her first interview since testifying, Fiona Hill talked to 60 Minutes about what worries her most these days. (If the apocalypse is coming, let's at least let Fiona Hill narrate it.)


The Real Election Story

WaPo's Margaret Sullivan: "If comparable disaster in November robs well-intentioned voters of their chance to be heard — or worse, gives bad-faith partisans an excuse to undermine the credibility of the vote — then the news media will bear a share of the blame." The media is blowing its chance to head off an Election Day debacle. (It's all about people being able to vote and have their votes counted. Neither looks like a sure thing right now.)


Cloak and Dapper

"The invisibility cloak, while not as runway-ready as some surveillance-wear, did have one great advantage over other fashion items that aim to confuse the algorithms that control surveillance systems: the cloak's designer was an algorithm." The New Yorker: Dressing for the Surveillance Age.


Bottom of the News

"For a few hours Wednesday, residents of the northern Italian town of Castelvetro realized they could have their Lambrusco not just from bottles -- but also from their faucets and shower heads. A malfunction at a local winery caused 1,000 liters of ready-to-be-bottled wine to leak into the water pipes." A malfunction causes red wine to flow from faucets in an Italian town.

+ Again, I urge you not to panic, and not to blame the messenger. Baby Yoda toys could be delayed by coronavirus.