Tuesday, April 21st, 2020


Red Meathead

At a moment when underlying health conditions are most hazardous, President Trump is throwing his base another helping of red meat. "Trump decreed via tweet late Monday that he intends to sign an executive order suspending immigration to the United States." As usual, the order is ahead of the plan. From WaPo: "The president appears to have again publicly declared a U.S. policy that was not yet ready for implementation, leaving his aides rushing to deliver on his pronouncement." Of course, this policy is less about implementation than the politics of turning a health and economic disaster into a culture war. The virus is already here. Euthanizing American values won't help. In his proclamation, Trump again referred to Covid-19 as the "invisible enemy." You know what would make the invisible enemy visible? Tests.

+ As his leadership career flounders, at least the president has his physician gig to fall back on. Or maybe not. AP: More deaths, no benefit from hydroxychloroquine in VA virus study. (Someone needs to follow the money on this story...)


O2 Do List

"A vast majority of Covid pneumonia patients I met had remarkably low oxygen saturations at triage — seemingly incompatible with life — but they were using their cellphones as we put them on monitors. Although breathing fast, they had relatively minimal apparent distress." A remarkably interesting article from Dr. Richard Levitan in the NYT: The Infection That's Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients. "There is a way we could identify more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively ... through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter."


Altered States

"By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we have all made in the battle against COVID-19." Buzzfeed: These 4 States Are Reopening Businesses Over The Next Two Weeks.

+ NPR: What Happens If U.S. Reopens Too Fast? Documents Show Federal Coronavirus Projections. (But who believes the deep state anyway...)

+ When businesses open, they need to open in the right way. There are good models. This Charmin Factory Keeps Humming Even As Much Of America Is Hunkered Down. "I get a lot of ribbing locally in my neighborhood ... At least a third or half of my neighbors stop me and jokingly ask, 'Can I get them some?'"

+ And there are bad models. Smithfield Foods Is Blaming 'Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures' For One Of America's Largest COVID-19 Clusters.


Mo Money, Mo Problems?

The Senate is putting the final touches on a new stimulus bill that will again infuse hundreds of billions into the small business Paycheck Protection Program (as well as testing, etc). Hopefully, this time, there will be closer controls on who qualifies for the dough. AP: Publicly traded firms get $300M in small-business loans.



"The language of 'heroism' is further used to distract attention from the fact that some of our newfound heroes do not have any choice in the matter. The appalling infection rates among transportation workers and drivers and food workers is a result of an economic arrangement in which they may well be a paycheck away from losing their homes, or cars, or—ironically enough—their health care. Yes, they are all heroes, but they are also stuck, and if calling them 'angels' deflects from how broken their compensation and job protection arrangement really is, then we need to find a new way to talk about it." When Dahlia Lithwick says we need to talk about something, pull up a chair: America's Heroism Trap.


Test Rockets

We can learn a lot by testing everyone in certain local populations. At Ohio's Marion Correctional Institution, they tested all prisoners and staff. 73% of inmates tested positive, along with 109 state members.

+ In a much less stressed environment, UCSF is working with some friends of mine to test every resident in the town of Bolinas. It's pretty amazing what they've set up. UCSF's Bryan Greenhouse: "This is filling a gap that should be done at a much more coordinated and systematic level everywhere."


Your Ship Has Come In

Motherboard's Jordan Pearson: "Oil is incredibly cheap as demand plummets and speculators panic sell and even pay others to store it in a desperate bid to never actually possess the barrels they bought on paper. This situation reveals both the absurdity and fragility of how the world is currently organized, but, given that during previous oil gluts traders stored oil in old tankers, it also made me wonder: Would it be worth it for a random guy like me to buy a used oil tanker and fill it with cheap oil to make a profit later?" (This reminds me of the old Steve Martin joke where he brags about investing in 6 tons of cardboard — and only having to keep three tons of it at his house.) I would buy an oil tanker, but I invested all my money in a cruise ship.


Embed, Bathless, and Beyond

"I'll lug my own, much lighter rucksack alongside the students, over mountains and through swamps, as I experience what I believe is the first opportunity for a journalist to embed with a class all the way, observing every aspect of their training." Will Bardenwerper embeds at an Army Ranger School That's a Laboratory of Human Endurance. (The journalist who got to embed at a tater tot factory is probably laughing his ass off...)

+ This swimmer training sans pool is demonstrating some pretty decent core strength.


Feel Good Tuesday

Ahead of opening a new store with some new shirt designs, I'm selling off some classic NextDraft shirts at ridiculous prices. Stickers too. Get em while they last.

+ A dinner table chat between husband and wife may help solve the coronavirus mask shortage. (On the same night, my wife and I had a chat during which we failed to agree on a family movie...)

+ Texas emergency room doctor self-quarantines in his kids' backyard treehouse. (Either that, or Fed Up Parent Pretends to be ER Doctor to Get Some Space.)

+ Fort Myers Police create special tribute to healthcare workers.

+ Robert Plant supports Kidderminster company making scrubs for NHS. Ramble on.


Something Something Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost and Watchmen) 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.

Chapter 14: Only a Hack Writes Himself Into The Story

The Rosenbergs, like all of us, were trapped.

Elizabeth Rosenberg was bouncing around timespace, making summer love with John Travolta and harassing Kenny Loggins mid-woodchuck. Neither of these visitations seemed to have anything whatsoever to do with installing Hillary Rodham as President of the United States, but they were the subjects of entire interludes nonetheless. Elizabeth was thusly trapped.

Greg Rosenberg was getting into fistfights under the auspices of carrying out charitable acts in his neighborhood and arriving home to find a bearded man in his bedroom. This cliffhanger has been dangling for so long that you probably forgot his name is not Greg, but George. And George was trapped.

Abby, Emma and Leo Rosenberg were all trapped too, but they hadn't done or said anything interesting and with only six chapters to go, it was becoming more and more apparent they were insignificant.

Alden Rosenberg, however, was incredibly significant. Unaware that his mother had already rewritten history , Alden was attempting to rewrite it himself with the help of the aforementioned bearded man, whose name was Brad. Only in America could the architect of our ultimate ruin be named "Brad." And Brad, who was simultaneously fictional and non-fictional, was also trapped.

And Hillary, who was two-eyed in one timeline and patched, in the other was trapped in both.

They were all trapped. Brad and Hillary and Elizabeth and Greg (George!) and Abby and Emma and Leo and Alden were confined within the walls of a story that was simply not moving forwards. Time both extended and compressed around them. Their lives were a ping pong ball, bouncing off a series of carefully angled pots and pans and juuuust missing a red solo cup, over and over and over and over again.

"Can we just get on with it?" said Alden.

I'm trying.

"Not very hard, apparently." said Abby.

"Why don't you tell them how I got this eyepatch?" said Hillary.

Because that's just more exposition. I want to move things forward.

"Do you even know how I got the eyepatch?" said Hillary.

… Yeah.

"Jesus, you don't know."

I do… I just… I don't want to give it away yet because…

"Oh fuck," said Elizabeth, "He's breaking the fourth wall."

No… I'm not – I'm just having a hard time focusing right n—

"It's not like you're busy." said Emma.

"Yeah, it's not like you're busy!" said Abby, who was more or less interchangeable with Emma.

"I am NOT interchangeable!" said Emma, "'I'm just underwritten!"

"Can I leave?" said Brad.

"Can I do something important? Like, something that would really matter?" said George.

Sometimes not doing anything is doing something important, George.

"Ooh boy" said Elizabeth, "It's getting meta in here."

"Leave him alone," said Leo, who was an oaf. "I don't even care that you think I'm an oaf. Everyone loves a good oaf because the oaf is always the one who says something simple and important and sweet, so here goes…"

"Cue the violins." said Elizabeth.

"I believe in you." said Leo.

"Jesus fuck, Leo." said Alden.

"I know you're worried that you're just doing the same time travel stuff again and you don't even know what's gonna happen in the real world so how're you supposed to know what's gonna happen in here? And you're worried about the ending, but you have to get over that, that was like, ten years ago and you're stronger now so even if you don't get it just right, that's okay because the best endings are a little messy and that's kinda the point right now because this thing isn't really gonna end end… it's just gonna kinda go on for awhile and that sucks, but I believe in you. I really do. So just, y'know, put your head down and write, okay?"

… Okay.

"And cut the fourth wall shit." said Elizabeth.

I will.

"Wonderful. Can we get on with it now?" said Alden.

Yes, Alden.

We can.

To be continued...