April 23rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

My perfect Facebook family, the safety net snaps, and the Labradoodle breeder on whom your life depends.

“Like so many of the other happy, well-adjusted, quarantining families you’ve been seeing on Facebook, mine has been busy learning new skills, in between hyper-productive Zoom school sessions, socially distanced dog walks (timed to hit just the perfect sunset for a family selfie), and of course, taking advantage of this extra time to bond. What a gift!” From me, a look at the Facebook version of my family during the pandemic. Shiny, Happy, People in Quarantine.


What’s Your Net Worth?

“The jobless numbers surged again this week, bringing “the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That’s more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession.” Given the shutdown, these numbers, and the food lines that follow, feel almost inevitable. But are they? NPR: Europe’s Economy Was Hit Hard Too, But Jobs Didn’t Disappear Like In The US. “What it means is that people remain on the books … They keep receiving their salaries. And when social distancing ends, they will just return to work, as if they had been on a long, government-paid leave.”

+ Well, the safety net still appears to be working for some people. In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the American billionaire class’s total wealth increased about 10%.”


Lab Rats

“The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.” Katrin Bennhold on a story that has been accelerated by the pandemic: Sadness and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership.

+ The economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has worked with governments around the world, shared some thoughts with The New Yorker on what he’s seen from the administration’s leadership during the pandemic. “Trump is the worst political leader I have experienced in all of my professional life, which is forty years of working with governments at a high level. I’ve never seen anything like the narcissism of this man, and here we are, a country so rich in expertise, in resources, in capacities, and yet we’re watching a complete failure of a political response—with a massive loss of life—in real time. It’s quite shocking, because Trump not only does not know how to approach this issue but he blocks those who do.”

+ If anything, these dire and depressing analyses understate the brutal truth. Think I’m exaggerating? Reuters: Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force. “Before joining the Trump Administration in January 2018, Harrison’s official HHS biography says, he ‘ran a small business in Texas.’ The biography does not disclose the name or nature of that business, but his personal financial disclosure forms show that from 2012 until 2018 he ran a company called Dallas Labradoodles.”


Better Understanding

“Why did my lungs make it through this? Why did I go home? Why am I okay now?” Those are the kinds of questions being ruminated on by those who have recovered from Covid-19. They’re also the questions being urgently studied by researchers. James Hamblin in The Atlantic: Understanding exactly how and why some people get so sick while others feel almost nothing will be the key to treatment.



“I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.” NPR: Federal Scientist Says He Was Removed For Resisting Unproven Coronavirus Treatments.

+ The government’s own VA has found that the use of hydroxychloroquine caused more deaths and no benefit. So why the hell was the president, known for knowing nothing about science, pimping this drug nonstop? Just look at how extreme his sales effort was (with an assist, of course, from Fox News).

+ There is something terrible at the root of this story. Someone needs to follow the money. Not only was it reckless for a science-hating, non-doctor to hawk a drug that ended up having deleterious, and even deadly, results. It also made the drug much harder to find for the people who actually needed it.


Butter Emails!

“Surprisingly, the supply chain for food bears a striking similarity to that of another product that has experienced shortages: toilet paper. Like the toilet paper market, the food industry has two separate supply chains for consumer and commercial use.” An interesting look at why, in a time of growing food lines, farmers are dumping milk down the drain and letting produce rot in fields.


Natural Born Fillers

“Before Irv Teibel, listening to nature meant leaving the house. Here’s the story of the man who brought the rain, thunder, and crickets to your stereo, one satisfied, relaxed customer at a time.” Pitchfork: How a New Age Hustler Sold the Sound of the World.

+ At this point, you can record nature by sticking your arm out the window. Nature is reclaiming public spaces during lockdown. You can just imagine one wild animal saying to the other: “Man, I thought those assholes would never leave…”


Joy Sticktoitiveness

“You’d be surprised how many clients come to me saying, ‘I want to go pro, I want to start streaming, I want to achieve the success you have.” Looking for a growth market? $1 Billion Video-Game Coaching Business Ramps Up During Lockdown.


Feel Good Thursday

I never lived in New Jersey. I’ve barely spent any time in New Jersey. But I’ve listened to so much Springsteen, I still consider myself a resident. So I donated during the Jersey 4 Jersey COVID-19 Relief Benefit Concert, which unsurprisingly, was excellent. Bruce, Bon Jovi, Halsey, and Sza were among the highlights.

+ Nuro is using delivery robots to help health care workers. (It’s interesting how quickly things that seemed sort of goofy and even irritating have become essential.)

+ Americans drinking while working at home in pandemic, surveys say.

+ Kansas City Is Now Home to a BBQ Vending Machine.

+ NYPD officers applaud doctors, nurses who battled coronavirus as they leave NYC.


Something Something Something Murder

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

+ While he’s working on the next chapter, Damon, like the rest of us, is busy celebrating Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. (No, seriously.)

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