Saturday, April 4th, 2020


The Tissue Issue

Why toilet paper? The hoarding of food or sanitizer makes sense, but why have we wiped the shelves of this suddenly legendary thin sanitary absorbent paper? How did this become our commodus operandi? Our latrine age wasteland? What caused the great Charmin squeeze? How did number two turn into issue number one? Why is there nothing but a stripped cardboard tube at the end of this lavatory story? You've got the brains, I've got the brawn, so why is this necessity gone from our john? How did the White House become the only place in America with an abundance of ass-wipes? Pull up a stool as we pinch every inch to make known what was blown to leave us so alone as we groan on the throne; weepy about TP; rolling in the deep; as everything you thought you knew about this loo SKU has been flushed from your view. Let's get the hole truth from Vox: The toilet paper shortage is more complicated than you think.

+ It's not that you're going more. It's just that your going more in the same place. "In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion's share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they're making more trips to the bathroom, but because they're making more of them at home." Will Oremus: What Everyone's Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage. "It isn't really about hoarding. And there isn't an easy fix." (This crisis gives new meaning to Roll Your Own...)


The Air of Our Ways

"The Chinese government facilitated a 1,000-ventilator donation from billionaires Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, the co-founders of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Cuomo said. He said those ventilators were due to arrive Saturday, and the state of Oregon had volunteered to send 140 more breathing machines." In the absence of a federal program to redeploy ventilators where they're needed, we get a headline like this: NY to get 1,100 ventilators with help from China, Oregon. (Jack Ma is the new super power.)

+ Meanwhile, and stop me if you've heard this story before, we're fighting with an ally. Trudeau warns U.S. against denying exports of medical supplies to Canada.

+ "There were 1,300 direct flights to 17 cities before President Trump's travel restrictions. Since then, nearly 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have made the trip, some this past week and many with spotty screening." NYT: 430,000 People Have Traveled From China to U.S. Since Coronavirus Surfaced.

+ WaPo: Ford and GM are undertaking a warlike effort to produce ventilators. It may fall short and come too late.

+ This section has a lot of stories. But they're all the same story. "From the Oval Office to the CDC, political and institutional failures cascaded through the system and opportunities to mitigate the pandemic were lost." WaPo: The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged.


Mask Crimes, Not Faces

The above stories should not be taken to suggest the White House isn't doing anything. On the contrary, they've been busy as hell during this pandemic. In addition to not wearing a mask, the president has been simultaneously covering up past crimes (Trump to Fire Intelligence Watchdog Who Had Key Role in Ukraine Complaint) and preemptively covering up future crimes. ("President Trump intends to nominate White House lawyer Brian D. Miller to serve as the inspector general overseeing the Treasury Department's implementation of the newly enacted $2 trillion coronavirus law.")


Militia Mensch

"Outside, New York—America's largest and densest city—is a ghost town. Manhattan's streets are deserted ... Inside, the hospital pulses with an energy I've never experienced before. The destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus is on full display, but so is the singular purpose with which clinicians of all ranks and backgrounds are responding. I have never seen new protocols adopted so quickly. Medical students are graduating early to help in the fight. Pathology residents are volunteering on the medical floors. There is a complete subjugation of ego; senior physicians are performing tasks that they haven't done since medical school. Medicine—normally governed by rigid hierarchies and siloed fiefdoms—is free. Arrive and security greets you with a mask on and a mask, for you, in hand. The message is unmistakable. A medical militia is at work." The New Yorker: Inside a New York Hospital Taking on the Coronavirus.

+ "The company has rented all its trailers and there's an 18-week wait for new materials to build more." What does the company make? Refrigerator trucks.


In Through the Bout Door

"The world that emerges from this cannot resemble the old. If this plague that cares not a whit for the class or status of its victims cannot teach solidarity over individualistic excess, nothing will. If this continent-hopping pathogen cannot demonstrate the precarious interconnectedness of the planet, nothing will. Unlike 9/11, the assault is universal." Another excellent essay by the NYT's Roger Cohen: There Is No Way Out but Through.


Oh Captain, My Captain

The firing of the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has sparked an outcry of criticism, including from the great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt himself: Captain Crozier Is a Hero. And a day later, the Navy is now saying the captain, while relieved of his role, won't be expelled. This is one of the more interesting, and less straightforward, stories from the pandemic. The captain should not have had to send the letter. The letter should not have been made public. The captain should not have been fired. The captain probably should not have departed his vessel to the cheers of his sailors. This shouldn't being playing out like a reality show. The epic PR disaster that has ensued should not have happened. It's a sad story all around, and one that must further depress those in the military. This is what happens when the chain of command chain begins with a weak link.


The Silver Bullet Train

"A critical step in that process involves clinical trials, one of which will conclude at the end of June. And while there is not yet any detailed data supporting Avigan's effectiveness as a Covid-19 treatment, there are some reasons for optimism." Wired: Japan Is Racing to Test a Drug to Treat Covid-19.


Group Shot

"As the coronavirus pandemic escalates across the globe, images of despair and anxiety are rivaled only by scenes of perseverance, hope, and the human spirit." 24 Of The Most Powerful Photos Of This Week.

+ The World's Great Photographers, Many Stuck Inside, Have Snapped. (When the NYT is attempting NextDraftian puns, you know times are tough...)


Feel Good Saturday

Bill Gates is funding new factories for 7 potential coronavirus vaccines, even though it will waste billions of dollars.

+ "The coronavirus pandemic has turned back the clock to a kinder time on the web, before the novelty of virtual connection wore off." Why does it suddenly feel like 1999 on the internet? (Inner voice: "But wasn't that period directly followed by the internet bust?" Outer voice: "Shut the hell up, this is the feel good section."

+ Michigan man uses $900 savings to buy gas for nurses.

+ A fried chicken chain is stepping in to make sure people can access journalism.

+ Some property managers are freeing up security deposits to help renters.

The SF Giants opening day didn't go as planned. But it went. And then it went again. (So awesome.)


Something, Something, Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. The first 10 chapters are here. Read it and spread the word.

+ Once you're all caught up, you should probably know that Damon has the coolest facemask.

+ This would be a good time to Draft Some New Readers.