Thursday, March 12th, 2020


Attention Surplus Disorder

I've been following, covering, and sharing the news for most of my adult life. I've never seen a story develop more momentum than the virus story did in the course of one hour on Wednesday night. During a brief, misleading, error filled, market-chilling, 'presidential' address, we learned that NBA was suspending its season after a player tested positive (at least one of his teammates also has the virus, and the NHL has followed suit) and that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have coronavirus. In short, the virus story has gone viral. And today's headline aside, that's entirely appropriate, and sadly, too late for some containment efforts.

+ You thought that was cancel culture? I'll show you friggin' cancel culture. The idea of hunkering down, sheltering in place, and dousing yourself with sanitizer seemed extreme a day ago. Now it seems long overdue. We'll all have important choices to make in the coming days. Here's how I made one of mine: Why I'm Pulling My Kids From School.

+ We've got to stop covering this the way we always cover political stories. The pace of the story is breathtaking. What seems critical now will seem laughable in 48 hours (see headlines from 48 hours ago for evidence). Let's just take one example. Here's a headline that may have seemed dramatic a day ago, and today seems ridiculously obvious. Princess Cruises Suspending Global Operations for 60 Days Due to Coronavirus Pandemic.

+ One way the media needs to change is to stop amplifying the lies, only to correct them three paragraphs into the story. Here's a list of 28 ways Trump and his team have been dishonest about the coronavirus. Each lie can and will cost lives.

+ Here's a little something for those self-diagnosing at home who want to ensure their jaws can still drop properly. NBC News: Pence says there's been 'irresponsible rhetoric' from people downplaying coronavirus. (The Onion should sue over this headline.)

+ Again, this isn't about electoral politics or culture wars or political preferences. It's a health story now. The misinformed are a danger to society and themselves. The excellent McCay Coppins in The Atlantic: Trump's Dangerously Effective Coronavirus Propaganda. (Advisory: Seniors should avoid traveling, large crowds, and Fox News.)

+ Europe condemns Trump's travel ban, a senior Brazilian government official who was rubbing elbows with team Trump at Mar-a-Lago has tested positive, California bans large gatherings, and more of the latest from NYT, WaPo, CNN (Note: Many paywalls have been removed.)


Take The Road Less Traveled

While the president's speech was about a "foreign" virus, the truth is that this is a story about testing, prevention, and slowing down Covid19. And when it comes to that, we can learn a lot of lessons (good and bad) from countries around the globe. Slate: How Taiwan and Singapore Have Contained the Coronavirus. And from Wired: Singapore Was Ready for Covid-19—Other Countries, Take Note.

+ Bloomberg: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered all shops in the country to close except for grocery stores, pharmacies and few others until March 25. Also, in Italy, "funeral homes reportedly refused to collect the bodies of those infected with the virus."

+ In Iran, there are signs of Coronavirus burial pits so vast they're visible from space.

+ Unfortunately, America is leaning towards the wrong direction when it comes to learning lessons. America's shamefully slow coronavirus testing threatens all of us.

+ 9 charts that explain the coronavirus pandemic.


Bed Bugs in the System

"It's estimated that we have about 45,000 intensive care unit beds in the United States. In a moderate outbreak, about 200,000 Americans would need one." NYT Upshot: Here's the Biggest Thing to Worry About With Coronavirus.

+ "Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody. They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air." Yascha Mounk in The Atlantic: The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors.

+ "Unlike at any other hospital in the United States, the staff members at the hospital in Kirkland, Wash., have faced the brunt of the rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak." NYT: A ‘New Normal' for Hospitals on the Front Lines Fighting Coronavirus.


Upper Cases

Before I get labeled David Downer, let's focus on a few upbeat elements about this story (in addition to the fact that everyone is taking it seriously, which is a huge positive in itself). The Cleveland Clinic is quickly developing new testing capabilities, which "will deliver results within eight hours, instead of the two to seven days it currently takes." Plus, Colorado's first drive-up COVID-19 testing facility opens in Denver, and is free of charge. And, Scientists at the Biological Research Institute in Israel are making significant breakthroughs in understanding the virus. (You had me at Shalom.) A vaccine is a ways off, but progress sounds good.

+ And one benefit from the fact that everyone is staying home: Emissions are currently plummeting worldwide.


Hands Off Across America

"Every other time that we face a natural disaster, we come together: that's the natural, almost inevitable human response to a crisis." A very interesting, and oddly hopeful, piece by Bill McKibben in The New Yorker: With the Coronavirus, Hell Is No Other People.


In OMG We Trust

"More broadly, the survey finds that U.S. adults prize a president who lives a moral and ethical life more than they care about having one who is religious." Pew with the latest on how people view religion and the presidency.


Flood Watch

"With the Saudis now declaring their intention to flood the markets with 2.6 million barrels more per day than they sold in February, and the UAE and Russia following suit, the global markets could soon be oversupplied by 4 million barrels per day." Deathwatch Begins For The Subprime Of Shale Oil Drilling.


Since We’re Working From Home Anyway

"Bolade is one of the tens of thousands of young people who participate in Cash App Fridays, a social phenomenon-slash-corporate giveaway with a financial twist. Each week, Twitter and Instagram users log on en masse to fight for their share of a virtual jackpot, no entry fee or legwork needed. All they have to do is post their Cash App username and get lucky." Inside Cash App Friday, the Weekly Phenomenon Where People Ask for Money on Twitter (and Get it).


Stupid is as Stupid Duh

"Drugs and stupidity are longtime friends. Over the past century, as more drugs have been made, sold, consumed, and outlawed across the globe, stupidity has never been far behind." Vice: These Are the Dumbest Drug Moments of the Last 100 Years.


Feel Good Thursday

Yes, you are reading this section header correctly. While we're under this current state of stress, Feel Good Friday will become Feel Good Everyday. Wish me luck finding enough stories...Let's start out strong. Ladies and Gentlemen: Puppies in a bucket.

+ Bloomberg: Housebound Italian Kids Strain Network With Fortnite Marathon.

+ McSweeney's: A Smoothie Recipe Written by a Cop in a Small Town That Just Had Its First Murder in 50 Years.