Saturday, April 18th, 2020


Liberate Reality

It is the perfect image to encapsulate Trumpism: A re-open America protester holding a Covid-19 is a Lie placard while wearing a protective mask. The Trump messaging machine isn't about getting people to believe a particular message. It's about flooding the zone with so much information that they don't know what to believe. President Trump's all-caps calls to Liberate certain states while also expressing support for a science-based, cautious re-opening is hardly a new messaging strategy. What's changed, as Washington Governor Jay Inslee explains, are the stakes: "I hope someday we can look at today's meltdown as something to be pitied, rather than condemned. But we don't have that luxury today." Of course, the president and his allies want the condemnation. Turning a complex issue into a partisan rage fest is the only play in their playbook; if some people have to die of exposure, so be it. The Guardian: Thousands of Americans backed by rightwing donors gear up for protests. (One hopes the protesters will note that those donors are watching events roll out on Fox News from the safety of their socially-distanced living rooms.) Will the president's germ warfare strategy incite violence? One hopes not. Will it cause more virus spread? One assumes so. That's what makes this strategy particularly sick and reckless in an era defined by sick recklessness. What we really need is to liberate America from this black hole of imbecilic narcissism. In the meantime, one hopes the president will liberate his head from his ass.

+ One of the truths this strategy is intended to distract people from: Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen.

+ While the re-open protests are getting a lot of attention, it's worth noting that there is a counter-protest made up of people staying at home; supporting each other, their health care workers, the elderly, and reality. And that counter-protest is hundreds of thousands of times bigger than the one in the headlines. This is where all 50 states stand on reopening.

+ "It's the paradox of public health: When you do it right, nothing happens." Vox: We're not overreacting to the coronavirus. (In layperson's terms: If you're alive, that's a good thing.)


But the Levee Was Dry

While tens of millions of people will gather around screens to watch Saturday's One World Together concert, we should hit pause and reflect on just how much damage has been done to the music industry, especially those behind the scenes who make live shows happen. Rolling Stone: The Week The Music Stopped.


Produce Results

The videos of remarkably long food lines (like this one in Rockville, MD) are a reminder of the heavy toll of the shutdown. We've also heard of farmers who have had to destroy unsold goods. Which brings us to a question: Can the USDA buy the surplus food and figure out a way to get it to the people who can't afford to buy it?


Resting Glitch Face

"The technological backbone to much of the relief — including the distribution of relief checks and the unemployment insurance system — requires knowledge of a software programming language not widely used in decades." Stimulus checks and other coronavirus relief hindered by dated technology and rocky government rollout. (The software always seems to work pretty well when they're collecting money...)

+ Buzzfeed: Companies that are absolutely not small businesses are getting millions of dollars in small business loans.


Chancing in the Dark

What do we know? That social distancing seems to be having an impact. What don't we know? "Exactly how many infections there have been out there." The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner talks to an epidemiologist to find out what we've learned about coronavirus.

+ "We reached out to infectious disease experts, aerosol scientists and microbiologists to answer reader questions about the risks of coming into contact with the virus during essential trips outside and from deliveries. While we still need to take precautions, their answers were reassuring." NYT: Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper? (That headline can be read to the tune of Dancing in the Dark, until you get to My Newspaper, but you're not touching a newspaper anyway. You leave the dirty work to me.)


Nursing Home Grown

"Among the facilities with infection-control infractions: the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, Md., where 24 people had died as of Thursday; the Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center near Richmond, with 49 deaths as of Thursday; and the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in southwestern Pennsylvania, where officials have warned that all 750 residents and staff members could be infected." WaPo: Hundreds of nursing homes with cases of coronavirus have violated federal infection-control rules in recent years.


Nope on a Rope

"Clean running water and soap are in such short supply that only 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africans had access to basic hand-washing facilities in 2015, according to the United Nations. In Liberia, it is even worse — 97 percent of homes did not have clean water and soap in 2017, the U.N. says." NYT: 10 African Countries Have No Ventilators. That's Only Part of the Problem.


I Found My Grill

"Foreman arrived on our TV sets as a guy who could still go toe-to-toe with anyone, bringing along the promise that there was an easier way to cook healthy and perhaps stay that way. And that one-two punch would spark a cultural shift in how men—or at least this man, and every guy I went to college with—cook and eat." How the Game-Changing George Foreman Grill Made History.


Feel Good Saturday

An undocumented single mom couldn't buy groceries, but then people started donating their stimulus checks.

+ John Krasinski hosts a virtual quarantine prom with Billie Eilish and the Jonas Brothers.

+ NPR: N95 mask shortage brings inventor out of retirement in search of safe reuse method.

+ Netflix puts free documentaries on YouTube for students and teachers.

+ Austin is rolling out 110 buses equipped with WiFi for neighborhoods with limited online access.

+ I'll never execute this baguette recipe that takes three days to make. But I watched the entire video, and I might watch it again.


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 13 chapters are here.

+ We'll have more chapters next week. In the meantime, enjoy this self-quarantine story that has a Lindelof vibe to it. "Brent Underwood learned a tough lesson: Don't spend millions on a ghost town in which you wouldn't want to self-isolate. The 32-year-old marketer took sheltering in place to the next level when he became trapped in a California ghost town he recently purchased. The problem is: There's no running water and a snowstorm has him trapped. Plus, it may be haunted. (At this point, I doubt there's a parent in America who wouldn't gladly trade places with Brent Underwood right now...)