Monday, May 4th, 2020


A Tale of One City

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. As we consider when and how to re-open, it's informative to reflect on when and how we shut down. We've seen stark differences in outcomes between neighboring countries. We've also seen remarkable contrasts among neighboring communities, even when they share many similarities. Consider the case of Corona and Flushing, two neighborhoods in Queens. "Both are high-density areas with similar socioeconomic profiles. They're linked by the usually crowded No. 7 train. Nearly half of workers in both neighborhoods are employed in food service, construction, cleaning and transportation ... Residents of both places typically have household income below the Queens ... And almost half of apartments and houses in both areas have more than one occupant per room." And yet, the similar neighborhoods have had very different experiences with Covid-19. The key: Timing. And for the neighborhood that paid a Queen's ransom for closing too late (like the cities and states that will decide to open too soon), there's no turning back time. The City: Early Precautions Draw a Life-And-Death Divide Between Flushing and Corona. We need consistent guidelines, and we need a cogent plan. Meanwhile, time keeps on slipping into the future.

+ Andy Slavitt: Relaxing All Social Distancing Behaviors Now Is a Huge Mistake. "Welcome to 30 days of bliss. The type of bliss that often comes from ignorance ... The 30 days will be blissful because people won't pay the price for May's experiment until June. But if people believe we are opening during a time when the curve is flat, they are wrong."


Do as I Say, Not as I Say

"Well, you know how we're stretching out the cases over a longer period of time? Flattening the curve? We're also flattening the truth. So just stay inside, and you'll be fine. Order stuff online. Support your local restaurant." ... Whew. OK. We can do that ... "But do so knowing that you are putting the lives of everyone at risk — the cooks, the clerks, the delivery people. I'm actually a bit shocked by your selfishness and the cavalier way you're sacrificing the lives of people who have no choice but to expose themselves to grave danger during a pandemic." ... It sounds like you're saying we shouldn't order stuff to be delivered. ... "You shouldn't. Unless you want local businesses to die." The most excellent Dave Eggers brings clarity to the confusion. NYT: Flattening the Truth on Coronavirus. All your questions about the pandemic, answered. Sort of.


He Said, Xi Said

The Trump administration is going all in on the Covid China blame game: Trump stepped up criticism of China, part of an international backlash over the outbreak. China is a reasonable target for one's ire. And its leaders know the world is not pleased. Reuters: Internal Chinese report warns Beijing faces Tiananmen-like global backlash over virus.

+ For an interesting look back at what caused most of the anger, here's Shawn Yuan in Wired: Inside the Early Days of China's Coronavirus Coverup.

+ Editor's Note: It's important to note that there's a big difference between pointing out the reasons to be justifiably angry with China and re-inventing reality to deflect all the criticism away from oneself. After calling it a hoax and a Democratic plot, team Trump is now pushing the China angle. As a thought exercise, let's cede all the arguments: real and invented. China can't be trusted. They hid the outbreak. They punished those who spoke out. They created the virus in a lab. They secretly delivered it between the folds of a love letter from Kim Jung Un to his biggest fan, Donald. None of that changes the fact that Trump ignored science, called the virus a hoax, bungled every response, never had plan, left health workers defenseless, lied to the point of being an international laughing stock, and has only gotten worse as the body count has gone up.


Crew Necked

CNN J.Crew declared bankruptcy. Three other famous stores may follow it. Big stores are getting hurt. But small businesses are in even more dire straits. The Atlantic: The Bridge to the Post-pandemic World Is Collapsing. "We know how to support the financial system ... There's a playbook to follow. What we don't know how to do, or had no idea how to do, is provide direct support to your local coffee shop at scale."


Unnatural Predators

"On this morning, she wears a black baseball cap backwards, a black V-neck T-shirt, and bell-bottom jeans. She carries a pack of American Spirit cigarettes. She could be anyone. Most of these guys, she says, are "wimps." Cowards. Sick men who want to take advantage of a girl. She remembers one sting in which she played a trafficker who sets up child sex parties. The target was 38, looked like a real estate agent or something, probably in a fraternity in college. 'Looking the guy in the face,' she says, got her in her gut. 'These guys look like normal people. And you're pretending that you just happily and eagerly set up children for them to have sex with.' Nichols kept her cool throughout the interaction, but she adds: 'To watch his eyes'—the way they lit up at the mention of an underage kid—'you want to kick him in the balls and beat the hell out of him.'" Far from the Riverdale set, actress Marisol Nichols performs the role of her lifetime, one that requires a certain kind of courage and crazy: hunting child predators.


Unboxing Emotions

"At the end of the day, it's all about power balances. The warehouse workers are weak and getting weaker, what with mass unemployment and (in the US) job-linked health insurance. So they're gonna get treated like crap, because capitalism. Any plausible solution has to start with increasing their collective strength." Amazon VP quits over whistleblower firings in scathing blog post.


Greenwich CT Scan

"The story of Trump's rise is often told as a hostile takeover. In truth, it is something closer to a joint venture, in which members of America's élite accepted the terms of Trumpism as the price of power. Long before anyone imagined that Trump might become President, a generation of unwitting patrons paved the way for him." The New Yorker's always great Evan Osnos goes home to understand How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump. "A corporate insurance broker who has been involved with Republican politics for fifty years, told me that many of his friends are 'below the radar screen.' He went on, 'In a sense, I'm one of them. I'm out there in the public domain, so people know where I stand, but in 2016, for the first election ever, I did not put a bumper sticker on my car.' He worries how strangers will react. He said, 'I still have two ‘Make America Great Again' hats at home, wrapped in plastic.'" (I have a few NextDraft hats in the same condition, but only because I know they'll be worth millions one day.)


A Perfect Ending

"People think we're a bunch of angry old guys who can't wait for that last undefeated team to get beat. We're very proud of our record, and if somebody breaks it, I'm going to call that coach and congratulate them. Until they do, it's our record, and we're proud of it." Don Shula died as the winningest coach in pro football history, and the only person to coach an NFL team to a perfect season.


Feel Good Monday

"More than 400,000 people are killed by malaria each year, most of them children under the age of five. While huge progress has been made through the use of bed nets and spraying homes with insecticide, this has stalled in recent years. It is widely agreed new tools are needed to tackle malaria." In a new study, Malaria 'completely stopped' by microbe.

+ The man feeding a remote Alaska town with a Costco card and a ship. (My kids are half Samoan and half Jewish. I've been feeding them this way for years.)

+ Israeli engineers created an open-source hack for making Covid-19 ventilators.

+ This man posts a daily ‘bad dad joke' in his front yard. People groan, but they love it. (I know that reaction well...)

+ A Fingerstyle Guitar Cover Of Eminem's Real Slim Shady.

+ A 42-year-old Alabama man was arrested on Thursday at Disney World's Discovery Island, telling deputies he was unaware he was trespassing. He called the island a "tropical paradise," according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. (A testimonial is a testimonial...)


Hear Hear

Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost, Watchmen, and The Leftovers) is writing a serialized story for NextDraft readers. The first 15 chapters are here.

+ In the meantime, here are 15 Old Computer Sounds That Will Take You Back to the '90s. (The sound of the dial-up modem connecting is the sound of my potential going down the drain...)