Thursday, March 26th, 2020


Yes Way, José

We need to report on the depth of the crisis and we justifiably critique the villains in this story. But we also need to amplify the heroes. And when we do, we need to remember that these are just the ones we've heard of. There are health workers, volunteers, people sewing masks, neighbors dropping off meals, teachers zooming with their classes while managing their own family pandemic schedules; a community of activists, doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. When we celebrate the names we've heard of, we also celebrate those whose names we'll never know. Time: Without Empathy, Nothing Works.' Chef José Andrés Wants to Feed the World Through the Pandemic. "Andrés is a lesson of leadership in crisis. In a catastrophe in which the response of the U.S. government has been slow, muddled and unsure, his kitchen models the behavior—nimble, confident, proactive—the general public needs in a crisis (and, so far, has provided it more reliably than the federal government)."

+ "If I go broke, I go broke. But if I'm uncomfortable in my own spaces, how can I ask my employees to come in here, too?" NYT: The People Leading When Leaders Do Not. (Speaking of people who led with clarity, let's not forgot the moment when much of America finally took this pandemic seriously. As the president delivered a muddled, fact-challenged Oval Office address, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shut down his entire league. The world has changed so much since then, it's hard to remember what a bold, shocking, and ultimately life-saving, moment that was.)


Take This Job and Gov It

A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy, and that's likely just a warmup. They and millions of others are anxiously waiting for the stimulus package to kick in. The New Yorker: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in the Two-Trillion-Dollar Stimulus.

+ Recode: Not everyone is laying off workers because of coronavirus. These are the most in-demand jobs right now. (Grocery stores, 7-Eleven, the National Guard ... you'll sense the theme.)


There’s No Masking This

One of the symbolic patients currently on a metaphoric ventilator is America and role its the world. WaPo: The U.S. traditionally leads in times of crisis. Now it's practicing self-isolation. "As America's rivals make gestures of support for other nations stricken by the coronavirus, the United States is losing the geopolitical contest prompted by the epidemic ... To the extent that the United States has engaged with the rest of the world on the coronavirus issue, it has mostly been to trade barbs with rivals over what name should be used to describe the virus — Trump insists on calling it the 'Chinese virus' — and who is to blame for its spread."

+ "It's more glaring than Pearl Harbor and 9/11." FP: The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History. (In this case, both definitions of "intelligence" work equally well.)

+ Tim Cook says Apple has sourced 10 million masks. (What's sadder, that we need 10 million masks in a super power with the world's most costly health care system, or that a tech company is kicking the shit out of our federal government?)

Michael Lewis: "The nation that led the data revolution, that invented the job title of "data scientist," that has held up better data analysis as the key to smartening up everything from political campaigns to baseball teams is now, at its moment of greatest peril, without data."

+ Protesters in Mexico block lanes at Arizona border crossing to demand stricter coronavirus screenings. (Mexico may pay for a wall after all...)


The Big Queasy

"New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the United States, dimming hopes that less densely populated and warmer-climate cities would escape the worst of the pandemic, and that summer months could see it wane ... [it] also raises fears that the city may become a powerful catalyst in spreading the virus across the south of the country." How serious are things in NOLA? Serious enough that in the city that suffered Katrina, the director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness described this as "the disaster that's going to define our generation."

+ "Hospitals are beginning to confront the kind of harrowing surge in cases that has overwhelmed health care systems in China, Italy and other countries." 13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic' Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital.

+ "The conversations are driven by the realization that the risk to staff amid dwindling stores of protective equipment — such as masks, gowns and gloves — may be too great to justify the conventional response when a patient 'codes,' and their heart or breathing stops." Hospitals consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients.


Mississipping in Action

If you've got a Cuomo or a Newsom or a DeWine making decisions to save lives in your state, be happy. In Mississippi they've got a Reeves doing just the opposite. Governor Orders Limited Gatherings, Declares Most Businesses 'Essential,' Supersedes Local Safety Efforts. Luckily, Reeves has "spent many sleepless nights praying for wisdom." (His prayers had already been answered by local leaders in the state.)

+ Leaders all over the world are modeling social distancing. In DC? It's like Easter came early.


Separation Anxiety

"Countries as varied as China, Jordan, El Salvador and Italy have sent service members into the streets. Guatemala has detained more than 1,000 people. In Peru, those who flout government restrictions can be jailed for up to three years. In Saudi Arabia, it's five." WaPo: Soldiers around the world get a new mission: Enforcing coronavirus lockdowns.

+ Anne Applebaum: The People in Charge See an Opportunity.


Essential (Snake) Oils

"Employees who have asked to work from home were told that it was too costly and difficult to set up. After an employee was stopped on the way to the center by law enforcement and told to go home, the company gave employees a letter to show the police in the future, the person said." What's this essential business? A Restoration Hardware call center. NYT: Essential? Retailers Like Guitar Center and Michaels Think They Are.


A Country Gone Maduro

Speaking of businesses that never stop ... "The US has charged the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and 14 members of his inner circle with drug trafficking, "narco-terrorism", corruption and money laundering, and offered a $15m reward for information leading to Maduro's capture and prosecution."


Feel Good Thursday

Elton John will host televised benefit concert to support medical workers amid coronavirus pandemic. (We need full-on Live Aid featuring artists broadcasting from home.)

+ We suddenly know exactly where Waldo is.

+ Diner leaves $10K tip at Florida restaurant.

+ Video: Grocery shopping and take-out safety tips.

+ Remember the dad whose kid interrupted him on BBC? The whole family is in on it now!

+ Man assembles handwashing stations for homeless.

+ Berklee College of Music Students: Love Sweet Love.

+ "As people around the world hunker down with their partners, children, and friends, there are many who are facing the exceptional weirdness of getting a brand-new roommate right before the coronavirus pandemic hit."


Something, Something, Something Murder (7)

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

Chapter 7: The Curve That Was My Optimism Is Getting Flattened

Seven Things About Time Travel That Are Like, Really Important To Know

1. Time travel is a biological process like sweating or taking a dump and thus can only be triggered pharmaceutically.

2. One can only travel back in time for as long as it takes the ingested pharmaceutical to pass through the human body. In other words, the average journey lasts as long as one can go without taking a dump.

3. For epigenetic reasons, one can only travel within the range of one's own lifespan, like on the show Quantum Leap. With chronopharmacology's first successful trials not occurring until 2020, even the oldest person alive could not travel back earlier than 1918. If this were not the case, everyone would be trying to kill baby Hitler.

4. Hitler was actually a great baby. He slept through the night, wasn't a picky eater and produced small, solid, efficient German dumps.

5. Because the drug cocktail used for time travel is genetically engineered for the individual who ingests it, the chronopharmaceutical will only work for that individual. Furthermore, if that individual creates an aberration in timespace, only that individual will be aware of the previous timeline prior to their departure. For example, if one traveled into the past and prevented Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina from ever meeting, effectively putting Loggins on path that would result in him writing jingles for cat food instead of the most bitchin' soundtracks of the eighties, when that individual returned to their date of their departure, they would be the only living person who would know the lyrics to What a Fool Believes, and what a sad world that would be.

6. The unintended consequences of aberrations can be altered on subsequent journeys by the individual who catalyzed those consequences, but often it is difficult to identify where things went amiss. The primary source of an aberration can be determined by meticulous contact tracing, but this can be difficult and (ahem) time-consuming. For example, let's say the individual who prevented Loggins and Messina from meeting arrives back in the present and realizes that in addition to the soundtrack for Footloose being shitty, the entire country of Iceland has been destroyed by a volcano. Clearly, the two events are somehow related, but determining the causal relationship between a Loggins-free musical landscape and a megadeath event in Scandinavia requires a fair amount of investigative legwork.

7. Time travel is very confusing and prone to paradox. When it stops making sense or frustrates one, remind oneself that this is all pretend and we're here to have fun. If you are not here to have fun, feel free to return to real life, which is absolutely fucking terrifying right now.

8. Rules are meant to be broken, especially by Alden Rosenberg, who had never been a big fan of rules. This is a trait he inherited from his mother, Elizabeth, whose disdain for the tight constraints of Relativity earned her a reputation at M.I.T. as the "Patti Smith of Physics." Interestingly enough, Elizabeth hated punk rock. She was a Loggins fan… always had been. As such, it was time, at long last, to fly…

Into The Danger Zone.

To be continued...