May 8th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Employment in free fall, the sweatpants revolution, and Weekend Whats.

The most corrupt and inefficient administration in American history, run by the most crazy, heartless, dishonest, paranoid president ever, is simultaneously facing the worst unemployment shock since the Great Depression and the gravest pandemic in more than a century. It’s not good. And neither are the latest unemployment numbers. “The Labor Department delivered a historically bad employment report Friday, showing 20.5 million jobs lost last month as the nation locked down against the coronavirus. The jobless rate soared to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression.” It’s basically The Great Depression plus The Great Infection being managed by The Great Deception. The US economy has been pushed out of a plane at 30K feet, and a Jared Kushner-managed team of volunteers was in charge of packing the parachute.

+ The Chart of Darkness: The state of employment in pandemic America, in 6 charts.

+ The job losses hit almost every sector, including, health. “Stunningly, in the middle of a public health crisis, employment in health care fell by 1.4 million as Americans avoided visits to their doctors and dentists for all but the direst emergencies.” NYT Upshot: The Disastrous Employment Numbers Show Almost Every Job Is at Risk.

+ In 1929, The Great Depression began with a stock market crash. The 2020 economic crisis could be called The Great Bipolar Depression. Jobs are disappearing and main street is getting crushed, but stock market mania is humming right along. NY Mag: The Unemployment Rate Is 15 Percent. Here’s Why the Stock Market Doesn’t Mind.


Your Moment of Den

“The upshot is that Denmark staggered through the pandemic with employees still on the payroll and still paying rent. As the economy sputters back to life, Danish companies are in a position to bounce back quickly without the cost of having to rehire workers.” Nicholas Kristof in the NYT: McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us. (It’s a little easier in a country of fewer than six million people, but they’ve managed the health and economic aspects of this crisis well. So why not learn something…)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Halt and Catch Fire, one of the more underrated dramas I’ve seen, re-creates the dawn of the personal computer era. I’ve been rewatching it with my son. He loves it too.

+ What to Toast: As I was working on this section, my lifelong friend, childhood neighbor (and secret blurb proofer) RD, texted: “I just had the best freaking piece of (artisan bread) toast.” Like me, he’s the proud owner of a Balmuda toaster. They just started selling these Japanese miracles in America. No one is suggesting you score a remarkably expensive toaster in the middle of an economic downturn. But you should definitely watch this video review, which is almost as good as the toast.

+ What to Actually Buy: As I mentioned yesterday, the NextDraft store is open. Designer extraordinaire Bryan Bell killed it on the designs. There are shirts, sweatshirts, and stickers, all priced to move; and if yesterday was any indication, they’re gonna move fast.


Mike Drop

“Cooperation deals are supposed to show criminals that returning to the fold and honoring rule of law has its benefits. But the Flynn case shows that those benefits pale in comparison to honoring loyalty to Trump.” The Atlantic’s David Graham: Why Michael Flynn Is Walking Free.

+ In an interview with CBS News, Bill Barr was asked: “How will history look back on your decision to drop charges against Flynn?” He responded: “Well, history is written by the winners. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.” (I’m still hoping the Constitution is among the winners.)


Family Bail Bonding

“Video of the fatal shooting was released this week, prompting outrage from the public and elected officials that the McMichaels hadn’t been arrested. Authorities announced Tuesday that a grand jury would be reviewing the case.” A Father and Son Have Been Charged With Murder In The Shooting Death Of Ahmaud Arbery. (It took a video and the whole country’s outrage to move just one step towards justice…)


In Through the Out Door

“It is very important that we get people who are being driven into unemployment out of it. We need people earning money so that they can spend money, so that they can feed themselves and they can pay their rent and do all the things that we need to do to be viable as a society. I think it would be absurd not to recognize the pressing need to do that, but if we do that in a way that just causes the virus to rebound, we will effectively not have made any gains.” The New Yorker: When Will It Be Safe to End Coronavirus Lockdowns?

+ Experts weighed in on this Guide to Staying Safe as States Reopen.


Mask Around

“With supply chains gone haywire and limited help forthcoming from the government, ordinary citizens have started volunteer networks around the country, forming what one enlistee referred to as “a last-minute bucket brigade.” Get Us PPE, one of the largest groups, estimates that it facilitated the delivery of some one and a half million masks in April alone. Smaller groups—amorphous, and nimble on their feet—have been built from webs of real-life connections made manifest in Slack channels, WhatsApp groups, and endless 2 a.m. Zoom calls. Often, there’s no formal hierarchy, just a rotating crew of bleary-eyed volunteers: teachers, coders, lawyers, artists, historians, and the recently unemployed.” The New Yorker: The Underground Efforts to Get Masks to Doctors. (These are great efforts. I’ve bought a ton of masks on both coasts and amplified many of these efforts. But it’s unreal that this is necessary in the richest country with the most expensive health care.)

+ Axios: Trump officials’ dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug.

+ WaPo: White House pandemic supply project swathed in secrecy and exaggerations.


Reade All About It

“All of this leaves me where no reporter wants to be: mired in the miasma of uncertainty. I wanted to believe Reade when she first came to me, and I worked hard to find the evidence to make certain others would believe her, too. I couldn’t find it. None of that means Reade is lying, but it leaves us in the limbo of Me Too: a story that may be true but that we can’t prove.” Vox’s Laura McGann with a very detailed look at The agonizing story of Tara Reade and her sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden.


Feel Good Friday

“The comedian had used TikTok only a handful of times before her impersonation of the president garnered 15 million views. Now it’s making her rethink her routine.” Sarah Cooper Has Mastered the Trump Joke. (Way to go, Sarah!)

+ Need to escape into some nostalgia? The Internet Archives has a bunch of videos from the earliest days of MTV.

+ Students at Ridgeview High School in Redmond bring their teachers to tears with heartfelt video. (My kids have been bringing teachers to tears for a long time…)

+ “In other words: Zoom boomed while Züm pruned, and maybe Zume was doomed? Fast-sounding start-ups, it seems, have bloomed. There’s Zoomd, Zoomi, Zumi, Zoomy, Zoomies, Zoomin, Zoomvy, Zoomly and Zoomph. offers virtual assistants, Xoom is a payments service, and Zumobi does mobile content marketing. Tractor Zoom, in Urbandale, Iowa, says it is revolutionizing the acquisition of farm equipment at auction.” NYT: Zoom, Xoom, Züm: Why Does Every Start-Up Sound Fast Now?


Got Pants?

“Comfy pants have become the pandemic uniform—and Gap, Nike, and Champion are battling against indie brands.” The Race to Capture the Exploding Market for Sweatpants. (Oh, that was an exploding market? I just thought you were happy to see me.)

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