Wednesday, March 18th, 2020


A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Reminder: Damon Lindelof is writing a serialized story for NextDraft to help us through the quarantine! It's in the 10-spot daily.

None of us has ever seen a story move this fast as our communities cycle through new realities at exponential speed. But what if you somehow missed it? What if you were merrily row, row, rowing your boat, gently down the stream, while the rest of humanity was being propelled up shit creek without a paddle (or ample supplies of toilet paper)? That's just what happened to a group of friends who embarked on a twenty-five day trip through the Grand Canyon. By the time the trip was over, the whole world had changed. (Of course, they'll quickly catch up. At the current pace, the world will change a few more times by the weekend.) Charlie Warzel in the NYT: They Went Off the Grid. They Came Back to the Coronavirus. "As we've prepared for the outbreak, one of the hardest parts has been figuring out how to process what will be our new normal. It's an endless series of hard choices. How much to pay attention to the news, how much to ignore it. How much to be hopeful. How much to fear. For weeks, the rafters didn't have to make those choices. And they appear grateful." (They were rolling on the river. Now that they're home, it's time to ride the rapids.)

+ What's the news people paddling ashore are getting today? The president has invoked the Defense Production Act to use private companies to help bolster supplies of vital equipment, US and Canada closed the border, Wall Street plunged again, global cases pass 200,000. Here's the latest from NYT, WaPo, and BBC.


A Long Time Coming

You've undoubtedly noticed a change of tone in the Oval office. Here's WaPo on the chilling scientific paper that upended U.S. and U.K. coronavirus strategies. If nothing was done, "510,000 would die in Britain and 2.2 million in the United States over the course of the outbreak."

+ NYT: US virus plan anticipates 18-month pandemic and widespread shortages.

+ Some schools closed for coronavirus in US are not going back for the rest of the academic year. (The rest of the year? Within 48 hours, my kids will have me chained to a metal pipe in the basement and NextDraft will cover the top 10 TikToks of the day.)

+ WaPo: Hello from Italy. Your future is grimmer than you think. (I'm a neurotic, Jewish hypochondriac who just kicked a weed habit. You have no idea how grim I think my future is.)


Throw Money Around

"Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals ... the plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion to for small businesses." AP: Treasury proposal: Deliver $500B to Americans starting April. (Shoot, when I first read this headline I though they meant each...)


Reporting From the Front

"The possibility that this pandemic might max out the hospitals—that there is a hard limit to the number of patients that they can treat at once, and that the number of covid-19 patients will exceed it—is the preoccupation of everyone working in medicine in the United States." For now, this is the everything story. The New Yorker: The Coming Coronavirus Critical-Care Emergency.

+ Bloomberg: Hospital Workers Make Masks From Office Supplies Amid U.S. Shortages.

+ The Navy's hospital ship is coming to New York City. (How ironic would it be if we repurposed cruise ships as hospitals.)

+ Reminder. I got Medium and Andy Slavitt together to turn his tweets into articles. They are must reads. Find and follow the latest here.


Let’s Broadband Together

Today, my daughter and her friends threw a classmate a surprise birthday party on Zoom. It made me think that, little step by little step, we're gonna adapt and get through this. It also made me realize that We Live in Zoom Now.

+ Caveat: Millions of American birthday boys and girls don't have decent broadband. It will make socializing harder, schooling difficult, and it's not fair. The great FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has been sounding this warning bell for a long time. Listen to her.


The Deadly Lies

It's not our main focus anymore, but it damn well shouldn't be forgotten, because it will end up costing lives. Look at this sick video of how Fox News has shifted its coronavirus rhetoric. And please view and share this calendared audio timeline of Trump downplaying the risk.

+ As for the virus in the Oval Office? There's no cure. "I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning ... The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!"

+ The "China" virus rhetoric, which is heating up tensions with that country at a moment when we don't need more tension, is also a classic misdirection play. Forget the tweets. Focus on the years of government dismantling and the months of ignoring this crisis. Graeme Wood: The 'Chinese Virus' is a test. Don't fail the test. Focus on the Incompetence.

+ Meanwhile, people voted. Biden's lead is in surmountable. Bernie assessing. 4 takeaways from the Arizona, Florida and Illinois primaries.


Cameo Rolling

"Famous people record video shout-outs that run for a couple of minutes, and then are delivered via text or email. Most Cameo videos are booked as private birthday or anniversary gifts, but a few have gone viral on social media." How Cameo Turned D-List Celebs Into a Monetization Machine. (These days, I might hire one of the celebs just to call and say hello...)



"The truth is that Brady always knew this day would come, the day when Belichick nudged him out the Fort Foxborough door like so many of his former teammates." With Tom Brady, Bill Belichick's actions spoke louder than his words.


Feel Good Wednesday

Do not go gentle into that good night ... without first Purelling. In the spirit of spreading a little laughter during the quarantine, here's a piece I wrote for McSweeney's: Famous Lines of Poetry Revised for the Age of Coronavirus. (Check it out, share a bit...)

+ Pixar's computer graphics pioneers have won the $1 million Turing Award.

+ How Chinese people came together when separated by quarantine, creating hope, humor and art.

+ Here's a good trick for parents to use around day 24.

+ San Francisco cannabis dispensaries win reprieve from coronavirus shutdown order.


Something, Something, Something Murder (2)

The most excellent Damon Lindelof has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. To be continued, daily...

Chapter Two: Today I Got a Humidifier at Bed, Bath & Beyond and also Six Bags of Gummi Bears But At Least I Was Wearing Dish Gloves

Abby was a Gryffindor, a Gryffindor for sure. Leo was Hufflepuff. Emma also claimed to be Gryffindor, but Abby cried foul and demoted her to Ravenclaw. And Alden?

Alden was a Slytherin.

The real world, of course, had no magic. The Rosenberg children had gone to Universal Studios, Orlando a couple summers ago where a Grad Student in an ill-fitting robe told Alden The Sorting Hat had most certainly put him in Gryffindor, but Alden scowled and said, "This is America. We choose our own House." The Grad Student (his name was Charlie) grinned gamely. So what if the instructors at the Upright Citizens Brigade told him his choices were a bit "obvious?" He lived for shit like this. For kids like Alden Rosenberg.

"Ahhhh…. So a Slytherin, then?" Charlie said ominously in an accent he loosely based on Kevin Costner's Robin Hood.

"You're goddamn right." said Alden.

Two years later, Charlie was on a ventilator and Alden, alongside his brothers and sisters, was planning a murder.

But there had been a creak. And it was quite clear it was a mom creak and not a dad creak. Mom was sure-footed and sly… an undetected approach to the doorway would not have been possible for dad, who, let's just say it, was an oaf.

"What's an oaf?" asked Leo.

"Google it." said Alden, who was hurriedly stuffing the composition notebook that contained his plan underneath the mattress.

Mom had hustled away quickly once Alden had heard her, so they were free to talk. "Do you think she heard us?" Abby asked. She was his twin, just as bright as Alden but unfortunately not nearly as evil. In her dreams, the two would team up and solve mysteries, like who stole the money from the cashbox at the Beverly Hills Elementary Brownie Bonanza? (Alden did)

"She definitely heard us." Said Leo, who idolized Alden, even though he was two years older and a head taller. Like dad, Leo was also an oaf.

"We can just tell her we were playing Clue," said Emma, "Clue has lots of murder." Alden nodded at his younger sister. She showed promise.


"They won't believe we played a board game on our own. They know it's something we'd only do in exchange for screen time." The others nodded. Of course Alden was right. He was always right.

"So now what?" asked Leo, who was always the one who said "So now what?" and also "What did he/she mean by that?" and also "Can you explain that again?"

Alden tried not to sigh aloud. "Now we go downstairs and watch the briefing like everything's cool."

And that's what they did. All four children, as cool as could be, taking their usual positions as dad clumsily toggled between the AppleTV and DISH and XboxLive on the remote. Emma snuggled into mom's lap on the couch as Abby scrunched into the matching beanbag beside Alden. Leo sat criss-cross apple sauce on the floor, way too close to the TV as Dad finally navigated to CNN.

As the last few members of the press settled into their seats before the empty podium, The Chryron at the bottom of the screen read "PRESIDENT ABOUT TO SPEAK ANY MOMENT".

"I hope they have some sense of how long this is gonna last." said dad.

"It's only been two days, honey…" mom responded.

She looked over at Alden and smiled, but he knew she knew. If anyone in this family was smarter than Alden, it was mom. She was widely considered to be one of the world's greatest particle physicists, but she was also just a little bit evil, which opened her eyes to the world in ways the others were blind. On a rainy day a few months earlier, in those bygone days PH&W, Alden and mom watched SILENCE OF THE LAMBS together, just the two of them, eating grilled cheeses. When the movie was over, Alden told mom that he had been rooting for Lecter the whole time, even when he brutally killed the policemen who were guarding him and wore one of their dismembered faces like a mask so he could escape. "Of course you were rooting for him," mom had said, "He's the hero."

Alden wished he could tell her what he was up to, but he knew she'd destroy her invention immediately. Mom understood probabilities. The only reasonable response to learning his true plan would be to make sure he could never implement it., so for now Alden would have to play dumb while vector by vector, closet by closet, he conducted his search.

"Here we go!" dad exclaimed, and sure enough, on the TV the experts were walking out from that little blue door and filing onto the stage behind the podium. Once they hit their marks, the President appeared.

"She looks sick." said dad.

Mom frowned. "She's not sick, she's tired. I'll bet she hasn't slept since this all started." Dad nodded in agreement, retreating, "You're right. Sorry."

And with that, Hillary Rodham Clinton, 45th President of The United States, began her briefing.

To be continued...


- Chapter 1