Happy on the Outside

You've probably noticed that when you go out for a walk there are a lot more people around. I've noticed. And my beagles have definitely noticed. The question we all have is whether that behavior is safe. "A stir-crazy nation wonders: Is it safe to stroll on the beach in a deadly pandemic? How about a picnic in the park? Or coffee with a friend at an outdoor table? The risk is in the details." NYT: What We Know About Your Chances of Catching the Virus Outdoors.

+ WaPo: Wondering what's safe as states start to reopen? Here's what some public health experts say. Long story short: Outdoors is better. Distance is important. Less time is better than more time. And wear a mask. You wear a mask to protect others. Not wearing a mask doesn't make you tough, macho, or brave. It makes you an asshole. (That last part is from me, not the experts, but I feel confident they'd agree.)


Liner Notes

"I tried my best to avoid this. It's not that I'm ashamed of it — not really. I've been on the giving end plenty in my life. I'm not stealing, and my family needs to eat. But I've lived 57 years without asking for a handout, and it doesn't feel natural to start doing it now. I waited and waited. I prayed. I looked up directions to come here the last two weeks and then told myself we didn't need it. I'm stubborn, and I keep giving myself these little pep talks. 'You've lost jobs before. You can always find another.' 'We don't need a house phone.' 'We'll pay that bill later.' 'Turn off the AC and put on a fan.' I've lived in some off-the-grid-type places, and I'm used to managing without savings, but there's no faking it when you don't have enough food to eat. That's basic need. That's survival." From WaPo, the latest in Eli Saslow's Voices from the Pandemic series: Johnny Rivero, on his first time standing in a food line.


It’s Here

"The confirmation of the first case in the camps at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh late Thursday, was 'the realization of a nightmare scenario.'" Vice: Coronavirus Has Reached the World's Biggest Refugee Settlement. "In the camps, refugees are packed into flimsy shelters at an average density of about 103,000 people per square mile."


A Total Disaster

"Again and again, the story that emerged is of a president who ignored increasingly urgent intelligence warnings from January, dismisses anyone who claims to know more than him and trusts no one outside a tiny coterie, led by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner – the property developer who Trump has empowered to sideline the best-funded disaster response bureaucracy in the world. People often observed during Trump's first three years that he had yet to be tested in a true crisis. Covid-19 is way bigger than that. 'Trump's handling of the pandemic at home and abroad has exposed more painfully than anything since he took office the meaning of America First,' says William Burns, who was the most senior US diplomat, and is now head of the Carnegie Endowment. 'America is first in the world in deaths, first in the world in infections and we stand out as an emblem of global incompetence. The damage to America's influence and reputation will be very hard to undo.'" Financial Times (outside the paywall) with a clear overview of the disastrous performance by Trump, and what that means for America.

+ The visible failures at the top will mean that an election already expected to go low has already passed the Mariana Trench on the way down. The latest examples: Beavis suggesting that Joe Biden is a pedophile, and Butthole claiming that the coronavirus concern is all made up to take "away Donald Trump's greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time. You watch, they'll milk it every single day between now and Nov. 3. And guess what, after Nov. 3 coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen." (Eric is underestimating himself. He is the Trump family's greatest tool.)


Bake News!

"I think about the hubris that comes with believing you are in control of your health, your career, your family, and your words, until you see that pretty much all you can control is your words, and perhaps the broiler and what it does to the mozzarella. So many of my friends are trying to get through the juggle of daily life and the growing worry that this may not end in a few weeks, or even months, and what has rushed into the space where that hubris once lounged is sadness and speechlessness and a simply staggering amount of food photography." Dahlia Lithwick: The Stream of Death and Bread.


Shaking Bad Habits

In the blink of an eye, traditions like shaking hands with strangers, kissing on the cheek, and occasionally forgetting to wash one's hands have been abandoned. In many cases, these changes might have impacts far beyond the pandemic. Global Press Journal: Mongolia sees a 55.5% drop in common intestinal infections among children. Respiratory illnesses are down, too. Officials and parents credit the increase in hand-washing, and hope habits instilled during crisis remain for life.


Mourning Meshugas

"But first, a note on the Rabbi: The day of the funeral, our actual Rabbi got sick and my Bubby's Rabbi backed out because of virus concerns. So, at the very last second, we had to get a random 'Rent-a-Rabbi' to cover the service. (Nobody laughed when I asked if we got him off TaskRabbi — I bombed at my own grandmother's funeral.)" Eitan Levine in the NYT: Burying My Bubby During the Pandemic.


Gambling on Ice

"Alaska is one of five American states without a lottery ... The state also doesn't allow slot machines or betting on most things, ranging from scratch-off tickets to horses. But one thing Alaskans can bet on is when the breakup will happen. Not the breakup of favorite celebrity couples or local politicians, mind you. Rather, the breakup of the ice on the Tanana River." With casinos closed and sports gone, are you desperate for some action? All You Need to Play the Alaskan Lottery Is an Ice Guess.


Feel Good Sunday

"Graduating senior Nick Pickett can't recall exactly what the post said, but it was something along the lines of, 'Someone should build the Memorial Stadium in Minecraft, so we could graduate there.'" With graduation postponed, UC Berkeley students create own campus and ceremony on Minecraft.

+ Her college canceled graduation. So her dad held an elaborate ceremony in the front yard.

+ New Hampshire postal worker leaves gift cards for 2020 grads on his route.

+ Balconies: The new performance space for musicians in lockdown.


The Obamagateway Drug

"And as much as I'm sure you love your parents, I'll bet that being stuck at home with them and playing board games or watching Tiger King on TV is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year." President Obama, and a cast of thousands, sent off the Class of 2020 in a virtual graduation. It really was a nice and moving broadcast, with some green screen mastery that put my Zoom game to shame. Nearly every headline focused on the fact that Obama "attacked" the current administration. That was hardly the focus of his speech or the special. The fact is that, at this point, having a sane, honest, soft-spoken, normal leader address anyone about anything that doesn't include gargling Lysol or shining a UV light on your loins implicates the current president. And seeing such a speaker is like an Obamagateway drug. You get a little, and need more.

+ Reminder: The NextDraft Store is open and awesome.

+ Damon Lindelof's Something Something Something Murder story's final chapters will be here at the end of the month. In the meantime, the first 15 chapters are here.