E.R. 404

There are few TV genres with a more embedded tradition than medical shows. But someone needs to get this TV doctor off the air, stat, before Doogie Howitzer gets anyone else killed. As a country, we've been strapped to a gurney and wheeled, sans PPE, into an alternate universe, where Grey's Anatomy became Daze Anatomy, Dr. Who became Dr. WTF, Trapper John is Crapper John, Nurse Jackie is Nurse Wacky, Nip/Tuck is Nip/F-ck, Dr. Leonard McCoy keeps his name—but his nickname is expanded to Bones(pur); and where the one show title that still makes sense is Scrubs (but only when applied to this administration's pandemic team). Yes, by now you surely know that the Commander in Chief of Medicine suggested UV light or disinfectants as a possible pandemic solution: "The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning." Even by this show's standards, the plot twist was so extreme that it led to this headline for the ages. Lysol maker: Please don't drink our cleaning products. It would all be almost funny if this make-believe doctor weren't the president of a country that has redefined American carnage with a world-leading 50,000 deaths, during the most confounding medical crisis in over a century. These daily press conferences are a bad show. They are a dangerous show. So one has to wonder why cable news networks and other outlets continue to endanger lives by playing them live. It's an unforgivable case of malpractice. And one also has to wonder why, after all the madness and all the misinformation from the man who puts the Lie in Lysol, that even our finest media organizations continue to couch his discombobulated twaddle in strained ledes that hint any of this is somehow normal and worthy of critical analysis. Just take a look at this New York Times notification that followed the president's suggestion that we put disinfectant inside of ourselves: "At a White House briefing, President Trump theorized — dangerously, in the view of some experts — about the powers of sunlight, ultraviolet light and household disinfectants to kill the coronavirus." If theorizing about chugging disinfectants is only viewed dangerously by some experts, that implies there are also some experts who don't view these theories as dangerous. False equivalency and altering reality to appear unbiased is a dangerous cocktail — according to every expert. Stop live-broadcasting these batshit political rallies masquerading as press conferences. Stop the crazy coverage. If it would erase the memory of these White House press briefings, I'd chug a gallon of disinfectant under a UV light right now.

+ On Friday, Trump lied that he was being 'sarcastic' when he talked about injecting disinfectant. In addition to being an overt falsehood, it's also a helpful reminder that there's really only one time it's inappropriate to be sarcastic. When more than 50,000 people you've been tasked to protect have filled funeral homes, refrigerated trucks, and body bags.


Unchecks and Balances

Have enough testing. Get new cases on a downward trend. Make sure your health system can handle the potential surge. The steps required to re-open states are fairly well established. Georgia unchecks all the boxes. NYT: Why Georgia Isn't Ready to Reopen, in Charts. (Here's an angle to consider as Georgia and other states begin to re-open: During the Vietnam war, the outrage really surged when college couldn't get you out of the draft. Our interest in shutting down pill mills and fighting the opioid crisis piqued when the crisis extended beyond poor folks living along I-95. And let's be honest, we've still never cared about the thousands killed every year by the drug war. When it comes to calls to re-open, pay attention to who's still dying.)


Weekend Whats

What to Read: "I checked all the pilot lights and took out the garbage; I stopped swimming so hard against the mighty current and let it carry me out. I had spent 20 years in this place, beginning when I was a grad student fresh out of school, through marriage and children and divorce and remarriage, with funerals and first dates in between; I knew its walls and light switches and faucets as well I knew my own body ... It would be nigh impossible for me, in the context of a pandemic, to argue for the necessity of my existence. Do my sweetbreads and my Parmesan omelet count as essential at this time?" There is some mystical relationship between great cooking and great writing. Gabrielle Hamilton taps into that magic in this piece about her pandemic experiences, and everything else. NYT Mag: My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? (My compliments to the chef.)

+ What to Watch: Fauda has always been good. Season three could be the best so far.

+ What to Playlist: My wife Gina put together a great playlist of covers that I've been taking on my dog walks and enjoying greatly. (Now if I could just leave the dogs home). Check out Cloud Cover on Spotify.


The Cold Truth of Empty Fridges

"Their incongruent experiences underscore how America's highly specialized and inflexible retail and foodservice supply chains are contributing to food shortages and waste." Reuters: Here's why you can't find frozen fries, while U.S. farmers are sitting on tons of potatoes. (That sounds a little uncomfortable.)

+ Bloomberg: "A wave of shutdowns at some of North America's largest meat plants is starting to force hog producers to dispose of their animals in the latest cruel blow to food supplies." ("Dispose" of their animals in a cruel blow to ... humans' supply chain. Is it any wonder animals gave us a virus?)

+ WaPo on the big story. How does the government get the extra food to the people who are, at this very moment, lined up waiting for something to eat? Full fields, empty fridges.


Irish Sett(l)er

"It's not just that one of the world's biggest stars and his family must stay within two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) of home, like the rest of them. It's that an actor who played a father trying to protect his family amid a sprawling pandemic in the movie 'Contagion' is now living through an eerily similar reality alongside them. The scenario also has Dalkey residents rallying against a new common enemy: outsiders who ask too many questions about their Matt O'Damon, as some now call him." NYT: A Seaside Irish Village Adopts Matt Damon.

+ Meanwhile, here's Ben Affleck Smoking WHILE Wearing His Mask.


Swallow the Money

"It's as opaque as ever as to how you actually get your hands on that money. Let's run through why exactly that is, what opportunities are out there, and then most critically, what you and your small business can do today to be as prepared as possible — before the money runs out again." Forbes: New Small Business Relief Is Coming. Get Ready.

+ Vox: How small businesses can get money from the stimulus package.


Day Trip

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,465 points and officially entered bear territory; Capitol Hill faced its first confirmed Covid-19 case; the NCAA announced it would play its basketball tournament without fans; and then, in rapid-fire succession that evening, President Trump gave an Oval Office address, announcing a travel ban from Europe, the NBA suspended its season after player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita, posted on Instagram that they too had been diagnosed while in Australia and were recuperating." Wired: An Oral History of the Day Everything Changed. (This all took place six weeks ago, or six years in pandemic time.)


Draft Lodger

"At the end of the day, the NFL draft is a reality show, and this was the first time we got to see the characters in their natural habitats." Axios: The NFL's virtual draft experiment goes smoothly. (I actually preferred seeing the players react in their homes, surrounded by family and friends...)


Feel Good Friday

"The power in the images he's making of 500 Yorktown students isn't what the subjects are doing in them. It's the vivid reminder of what they're not doing." An inspired photographer, a disrupted senior class, and 500 portraits that capture what they lost. (Damn.)

+ The Navy recommends reinstating captain of coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier.

+ Why your pet is acting like a weirdo during quarantine, explained by animal behaviorists. (My cats are acting weird because they're pissed I haven't given them what they want for lunch: an animal behaviorist.)

+ Here's what a man found after opening a 25-year-old can of Spider-Man Pasta. (Spider Man Pasta? My kids were impressed when I made pasta shaped like tennis rackets...)

+ Sarah Cooper TikToks Trump's medical advice to perfection.


Shiny, Happy, People in Quarantine

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.

+ And if you missed it yesterday, I got a ton of reaction to my faux Facebook family's wonderful pandemic experiences: "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!" One reader reacted thusly: "A gift for you to be quarantined??! WTF is wrong with you?! I asked to be removed from your biased publication two weeks ago! Namaste!" (Just to give you and idea of what we're dealing with out there...)