How’s it Hanging?

This pandemic is the story of our lives and we've reached the cliffhanger. The next installment in this inaction adventure features the plot twist that will reveal an Everest-size foreshadowing of what's to come. Nuances will be cast aside as we learn the answer to a question that can be boiled down to this: What Will Happen In Georgia? As reported in WaPo, many protagonists are confident, including the state's governor: "In this grand gamble, Georgia has gone first, with Gov. Brian Kemp dismissing public health experts who've warned that opening too soon could cause a catastrophic surge of deaths, placing his faith instead in the citizens of Georgia to make up their own minds about what risks and sacrifices they were willing to accept." That attitude was seconded by an extra only identified as Her Husband: "It's a personal choice. If you want to stay home, stay home. If you want to go out, you can go out. I'm not in the older population. If I was to get it now, I've got a 90 percent chance of getting cured. Also, I don't know anybody who's got it." Jeff was even more enthusiastic: "I think you have to live life. I know what people are going to say — 'Those selfish idiots are killing our old people!'" It's true that many of those experiencing this pandemic would respond in precisely that way. But when it comes to the big picture, we're all rooting for the exact same plot twist: Hurrah for the one that gives us hope, and YGTBFKM to the one that means we've got a lot of digging to do before we see even a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel. Left, Right, Center, Rich, Poor ... we all want the Governor to have gambled right, for Her Husband's demeanor and analysis to appear prescient, and for Jeff's antagonists to be left only to shrug their soldiers and admit their mistake: "What can we say? The selfish idiots actually didn't kill any of our old people." We all want the same outcome because if Georgia can safely be free, we'll all soon be free. So what will be the answer? Like all cliffhangers, we won't know for a while. Those who cover and analyze these stories are convinced this plot twist will turn tragic. But the main characters have turned to improv. Culture wars aside, we're gonna need a Hollywood ending.


Moderna Love

The reopening represents a plot twist. The conclusion of this story will depend largely on the global race for a vaccine. In a very small first stage test, healthy volunteers "made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab, and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine." NYT: Coronavirus Vaccine Trial by Moderna Shows Promising Early Results. (And the market likes the news as much as you do...)

+ The news was also welcomed by Trump's Vaccine Czar who has a ton of shares in Moderna.


Xi Loves Me, Xi Loves Me Not

"All along we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility, we have provided information to the WHO and relevant countries in the most timely fashion, we have released the genome sequence at the earliest possible time, we have shared control and treatment experiences with the world without reservation, we have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need." In response to demands from around the globe, China backs coronavirus investigation but says it should wait until pandemic is contained. (It's not too early to be dubious of the results.)

+ And the latest front in the China-US cold war: WHO funding.

+ "This pandemic is about as close to an asteroid hitting the earth as you can imagine in terms of a common threat. But not only has there been no meaningful cooperation, it's become just another vector for competition." Bloomberg: Pandemic Shatters World Order, Sowing Anger and Mistrust in Its Wake.


Trill Seekers

"The people who're getting hurt the worst are the most recently hired, the lowest paid people. It's women to an extraordinary extent. Of the people who were working in February, who were making less than $40,000 per year, almost 40% have lost their jobs in the last month or so." A very interesting (and pretty rare) interview with Fed Chair Jerome Powell on 60 Minutes. Bottom line: Congress has done a lot quickly. But we need more to keep the economy from spiraling into a multiyear spin.

+ Derek Thompson in The Atlantic: We Can Prevent a Great Depression. It'll Take $10 Trillion.


Things Just Got Rial

"Speculation about Khamenei's longevity is rampant in the senior levels of government and the military. 'The struggle to succeed him has already begun,' my host said. But Khamenei has spent decades placing loyalists throughout the country's major institutions, building a system that serves and protects him. 'Khamenei is like the sun, and the solar system orbits around him,' he told me. 'This is my worry: What happens when you take the sun out of the solar system? Chaos.'" The New Yorker's always excellent Dexter Filkins on The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution.


We Don’t Need No Stinking Masks

"All law enforcement officers have a great deal of discretion, but the power of sheriffs in particular stretches deep into American history, to the end of the Civil War and the settling of the frontier. This history can help us make sense of their increasingly central role in partisan battles about public health and economic recovery, as they clash with governors." The Marshall Project on an old American story applied to a new situation: The Rise of the Anti-Lockdown Sheriffs.


Family Portrait Orientation

"When we left the city for the mountains, I had the thought that we were going into the unknown with no horizon of what was going to happen or when it was going to end. I felt I wanted to document this experience, even just for ourselves, so I made a very deliberate decision to bring my 'real' cameras." A photo essay from NYT Mag: I'm Usually a Conflict Photographer. Now, I'm Documenting My Family. (He could document my family and still be a conflict photographer...)


Nic Knack

"The addictive stimulant could interfere with the production of elements that led to inflammation, according to its authors." There's a plan to study nicotine patches as potential coronavirus treatment. (We need a study on using THC to try to wrap one's head around some of these news stories...)


Feel Good Monday

"After six months of practicing one-liners on his parents and two younger siblings, 6-year-old Callaghan McLaughlin was ready for prime time." A first-grader set up a booth to tell passersby all the jokes he knows. He became a mini Internet celebrity. (This news is not quite as good for those who have spent the last three damn decades of their lives trying to become a mini internet celebrity...)

+ Italy's daily coronavirus death toll below 100 for first time since March 9.

+ Humpback Whales Have Made a Remarkable Recovery.

+ LA's first legal liquor store on wheels will be selling booze on the streets starting next week. (Hope your mask has a straw adapter.)

+ A South Korean soccer team has apologized for putting sex dolls in the stands to make things feel less lonely. (Maybe it was their expressions. But they were just yelling, "Gooooooaaal!")


Bidet Dreaming

"The Pandemic Has Made At Least One Thing Clear: It's Time to Get on the Bidet Train, America." (Alternatively, get a garden hose and a trusted friend.)

+ 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.