Saturday, May 9th, 2020


Wham, Bam, Thank You Fam

I've been hearing about the notion of creating a circle of trust with one other family that you know is practicing safe six (feet of separation). But what if the family you didn't select has hurt feelings? Or worse, what if the family you choose just isn't that into you? Or as Amanda Coletta asks, "What if it says it's not ready for a relationship right now, but wants you to know you'll make another household really happy one day?" (And then there's always the threat of one of the partnered households having a family affair.) WaPo: Canadian provinces allow locked-down households to pair up.


Studying Division

"Jacob's teacher, Dolores Morris, meets with her students each morning for an hour — Jacob's only live video instruction, according to his mother. About 11 of the 26 students in the class attend daily, Ms. Morris said. A close look at these two very different first-grade classes in two of America's largest cities shows how the coronavirus pandemic has done nothing to level the playing field of American education, and instead has widened the gaps that have always existed." NYT: The Class Divide: Remote Learning at 2 Schools, Private and Public. This is exactly what I'm hearing from the team at 826 Valencia which is why I beseeched you to support them on Giving Tuesday. Donors Choose is also doing great work in this area. (The pandemic didn't just expose our great divides. It's expanding them.)


Darkness Visible

"When an injustice pushes the racial contract into the open, it forces people to choose whether to embrace, contest, or deny its existence. Video evidence of unjustified shootings of black people is so jarring in part because it exposes the terms of the racial contract so vividly. But as the process in the Arbery case shows, the racial contract most often operates unnoticed, relying on Americans to have an implicit understanding of who is bound by the rules, and who is exempt from them ... The coronavirus epidemic has rendered the racial contract visible in multiple ways. Once the disproportionate impact of the epidemic was revealed to the American political and financial elite, many began to regard the rising death toll less as a national emergency than as an inconvenience. Temporary measures meant to prevent the spread of the disease by restricting movement, mandating the wearing of masks, or barring large social gatherings have become the foulest tyranny. The lives of workers at the front lines of the pandemic—such as meatpackers, transportation workers, and grocery clerks—have been deemed so worthless that legislators want to immunize their employers from liability even as they force them to work under unsafe conditions. In East New York, police assault black residents for violating social-distancing rules; in Lower Manhattan, they dole out masks and smiles to white pedestrians." Several times in this newsletter I've said, When it comes to calls to re-open, pay attention to who's still dying... In The Atlantic, Adam Serwer lays out the case in much more eloquent terms as he ties together a recent shooting, the meatpacking deaths, and the political battles over when we should re-open America. The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.


I Know What You Did Next Summer

"I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine. It's going to go away, and we're not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time" Trump says coronavirus will disappear without a vaccine. In the spirit of unbiased reporting, let's shed some UV light on what other experts are saying. NYT: This Is the Future of the Pandemic. And from Buzzfeed: As fights over lockdowns reach a fever pitch, public health experts say loosening restrictions will lead to more deaths by summer.

+ Mike Pence's press secretary (and Stephen Miller's wife) is second White House staffer to test positive for Covid-19 this week.

+ Everyone in the administration needs to read this piece: Vanity Fair: If 80% of Americans Wore Masks, COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet, New Study Says.


Ahoy Vey!

"The days go by, one by one: She passes the time reading, playing her Nintendo Switch, and occasionally browsing Reddit, when the internet connection—which costs her $10 a GB—can support it. A few times a day ... she and the other hundreds of crew members on board are allowed to walk around the outside deck, providing they wear masks and keep their distance. 'That is our only opportunity to see each other, beyond leaning over the balcony and yelling at each other.'" Quartz: There are tens of thousands of crew members still stuck on cruise ships. (Land, No! ... Plan Overboard! ...)


R.I.P. It Up

"The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including 'Long Tall Sally,' and Paul McCartney's singing on those tracks – and the Beatles' own 'I'm Down' – paid tribute to Little Richard's shredded-throat style. His songs became part of the rock & roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and the Scorpions. 'Elvis popularized [rock & roll],' Steven Van Zandt tweeted after the news broke. 'Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype.'" Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87.

+ Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy duo dies of coronavirus.


Cap and Frown

InFocus has a collection of photos from a socially distanced graduation. I feel bummed for all the kids who are missing out on high school graduations, and my son who's missing out on his eighth grade commencement. But I do think this moment provides a valuable lesson about citizenry and the occasional need to sacrifice activities and experiences to protect the health of one's elders and the broader community. And I didn't come up with that lesson. My son did.


Glass Tank

"A Dutch restaurant has come up with an idea on how to offer classy outdoor dining in the age of coronavirus: small glass cabins built for two or three people, creating intimate cocoons on a public patio." Dutch restaurant trials glass booths for dining amid coronavirus. (I suppose that beats a dutch oven...)


Feel Good Saturday

"I began to wonder: had anyone ever studied what real children would do if they found themselves alone on a deserted island?" The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months.

+ Banksy just made a surprisingly earnest painting of a superhero nurse and donated it to a British hospital.

+ "More swimmers are embracing the idea of doing laps in freezing-cold water as an actual sport. We went to the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival in Vermont to make sense of the lunacy. And dive in."

+ A Kansas farmer who donated one of his only N95 masks to New York was given a bachelor's degree by the same university he dropped out of in 1971.

+ A Virginia construction worker saved a dying German Shepherd stuck in a traffic jam by giving him mouth-to-mouth. (This makes me feel less weird about the intimacy I share with my Beagles ...)


Melfi in the Age of Selfie

"In my father's day, you got polio, tuberculous, whatever the f-ck, you dealt with it. Whatever happen to Gary Cooper?" David Chase writes a few lines of dialogue for the Sopranos in the age of Covid-19.