Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020



Since it's the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, let's take a break from leading with the often tragic, frustrating, and sad pandemic news, and instead lead with a tragic, frustrating, and sad update on the lack of progress we've made since people first took to the streets to save Earth, the place where—regardless of plans to inhabit Mars—most of us still receive our Amazon packages. It's too bad the Jewish people beat environmentalists to the punch (by about 3400 years) and labeled Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, because that wouldn't be a bad tagline for Earth Day. But don't blame me for the bad news, blame GQ's Rosecrans Baldwin: The Climate Crisis Isn't Coming, It's Already Here. "Before COVID-19, daily life ... already provided all manner of full-size upsetting things to feel hopeless and helpless about. Of course, there's nothing like the shock and terror of plague to recalibrate attention—to make one wonder what comes next." (Don't worry, it's not all bad!)

+ Elizabeth Kolbert: "What the original Earth Day showed is that, when Americans are mobilized, remarkable things are possible. What the past few years have shown is that Americans can be mobilized by the most remarkable falsehoods. To say that the future of the world depends on which of these tendencies prevails is at this point, unfortunately, no exaggeration."

+ "It's the worst possible way to experience environment improvement and it has also shown us the size of the task." The Guardian: Pandemic side-effects offer glimpse of alternative future. (The view from my house in Marin makes San Francisco look so close I could almost touch it. And I would if I could leave the damn house.)

+ Wired with a special issue that has a lot of techniques we've already learned to save this joint: How We Will All Solve the Climate Crisis: We only have one Earth. And we have the technology to save it. (I'd be more optimistic if we had the technology to make my Zoom backgrounds less glitchy...)

+ Here's a photo journey back to the first Earth Day (when wearing masks was still only done to emphasize a point).


The Space Between

"'There were two words between ‘shut' and ‘up' initially, said Dr. Howard Markel, who directs the University of Michigan's Center for the History of Medicine and who played a role in shaping the policy as a member of the Pentagon research team. 'It was really ugly.'" The NYT with an interesting look at The Untold Story of the Birth of Social Distancing. "It took a high school science fair, George W. Bush, history lessons and some determined researchers to overcome skepticism and make it federal policy."


Hunger Strikes

"World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. Security Council that even before COVID-19 became an issue, he was telling world leaders that '2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.' That's because of wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia." AP: UN food agency chief: World on brink of a hunger pandemic.

+ Of course, by way of miles-long lines at food banks, we've already seen a shocking amount of hunger in the US. Here's an interesting angle on that topic from Andrew Fisher: The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex. "Charity has become the governing metaphor of the pandemic response, replacing justice, which itself has been placed on a ventilator."


No Quarter for Close Quarters

Tyson Foods has idled its largest pork plant after an Iowa outbreak, in another reminder that, as USA Today reports, Coronavirus at meat packing plants worse than first thought.

+ Rikers Island Guards are Dying in One of the Worst Coronavirus Outbreaks.

+ The clear connection between these two stories is that Covid-19 shows no mercy when people gather in close quarters. And that leads us to this wise idea from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman: Re-open casinos, let the ones with the most infections then close. (Terrance Watanabe lost $127 million in Vegas in a single year. Even he thinks this is a stupid bet.)


Frontline on Front Lines

Last night, I made my kids (who, oddly, aren't regular readers of this remarkable publication) watch the latest episode of Frontline, so they'd better understand how the pandemic hit America, and how some Americans stepped up to the challenge, while others dropped the ball (and the PPE, and the truth, etc). Miles O'Brien does a great job reporting from Seattle on Washington v Washington. Coronavirus Pandemic. (Tonight, to make up for this, my kids are making me watch 54:22 worth of TikTok videos.)


Words Can Hurt More Than Sticks and Stones

My new tagline is: Real News Saves Lives. On the other hand... "Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, media critics have warned that the decision from leading Fox News hosts to downplay the outbreak could cost lives. A new study provides statistical evidence that, in the case of Sean Hannity, that's exactly what happened."


And the (Dead)Beat Goes On

The NYT with the headline of the day: Trump (the Company) Asks Trump (the Administration) for Hotel Relief. (Well, at least Trump will finally know what it feels like to lend money to Trump...)

+ The Trump org has largely been written out of relief bills, but its still tapping Europe for aid.


Orange Crush

I still remember the day, eleven years ago, when I walked into my local supermarket and saw the new Tropicana Orange Juice packaging. The guy who worked the refrigerated aisle and I started joking about what a terrible mistake it was. Forget the new design. The original one (which is of course back) with the straw sticking out of the orange was pure genius. Niklas Goke: The Worst Rebrand in the History of Orange Juice: They paid $35 million to then lose $20m in sales.


Feel Good Wednesday

"It's a godsend ... He came out of nowhere to save us." NYT: The Mortuary Science Professor Who Came ‘Out of Nowhere' to Help NYC.

+ WaPo: A volunteer ambulance crew in NYC answers the call during covid-19 crisis.

+ The Jersey 4 Jersey benefit airs today. Bruce. Enough said.

+ Good news for those who loved hating the Patriots. You can now hate the Bucs. Patriots trade Rob Gronkowski to Buccaneers for fourth-round pick.

+ "Only somewhat recently did this magical combination of noodles and cheese acquire such widespread renown. In fact, if we travel back a few hundred years, when mac and cheese first appeared in the lengthy annals of humanity, it was a dish reserved strictly for royalty." The history of Mac and Cheese.

+ Wired: Can an Arrow Fired Straight Up Fall Fast Enough to Kill You? (I swear, this isn't another look at the Trump's performance during the pandemic...)


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 14 chapters are here.

+ Reminder: There are a few remaining NextDraft shirts and stickers remaining at stupid low prices.