May 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

What will we find when we go back into the world? Plus, Feel Good Friday, Weekend Whats, and NextDraft Masks!

“On Thursday, the CDC updated its summary of COVID-19 transmission to clarify that the virus ‘does not spread easily’ from touching surfaces or objects—like, say, elevator buttons. Instead, they wrote, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person … through respiratory droplets.'” The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson takes the latest data we have on Covid and applies it to the biggest question we have right now. How do we Covid-proof our offices, restaurants, and other public venues, and ultimately reduce the sort of interactions that can lead to more infections? But first, “a brief word of humility … Think of these studies not as gospels, but as clues in a gradually unraveling mystery.” (I think that’s the first time my lead has included a word of humility. The pandemic is forcing us all to change our behaviors in unexpected ways…)

+ The office you return to won’t be quite the same as the one you left. James Temple in MIT Tech Review: “Many reopening businesses will be asking workers to take coronavirus tests, report symptoms, don masks, wear dongles, and work under the gaze of new sensors and cameras. In other words, prepare to be tracked.” (After having my beagles follow me around the house for a few months, to dangle a dongle seems doable.)

+ One part of office life will be remarkably normal. The biggest fights will be over the temperature. NY Mag: That Office AC System Is Great — at Recirculating Viruses.

+ And the most treacherous part of working at an office will hold onto its perch. How safe is it to use public bathrooms right now? (I held it from Kindergarten to 7th grade. I can do it again.)

+ One thing is for sure. Wherever you go, you should be wearing a mask. So you might as well look good and make a statement. By popular demand: The NextDraft Masks Have Arrived.



“Of the thousands of students I’ve taught in my 10-year career, Natalie is the brightest, sweetest and purest. She shines in my Advanced Placement English class, pushing the thinking of her peers while deftly articulating her own ideas. A relentless hard worker, she juggles two other AP classes, honors math and extracurriculars. Outside of school, she finds time to help her mom, an immigrant from Ecuador, sell Icees from a cart in downtown Brooklyn, while at home she translates bills and documents for her…” When I taught high school, I had a student like Natalie. Today, she’s the dean of a law school. But the pandemic has saddled these kids with yet another disadvantage. Like Natalie, they don’t have WiFi. This is an urban issue, it’s a rural issue, and it’s an issue that is going to supersize the educational divide during the pandemic. Taking an AP test outside McD’s: The low-income student’s predicament.


Weekend Whats

What to Pocket: A great complement to NextDraft’s daily news is Pocket Hits: handpicked feature stories including a range of unique perspectives, intriguing deep-dives, and stories that make you think. Sign up here. Pocket also resurfaces old stories that have new significance, like this one: The Icy Village Where You Must Remove Your Appendix.

+ What to Watch: My wife and I have been loving Normal People on Hulu. It’s really well done and provides a nice escape from pandemic news. Though, as some have noted, it could also be titled, We Have More Sex Than Normal People.

+ What to Read: “Many of the girls had developed both a fear and an attraction to the fact that Maria flouted the rules and practiced the dark arts. And Maria was herself incensed by the decision. Why should she have to go if other girls had played with the Ouija, too? Sister Cheong stood her ground. The nascent witch was to be expelled, sent home as soon as arrangements could be made. But the girl refused to depart without leaving a lasting impression … Maybe it was an accident. Maybe not. Either way, the door sliced off a piece of Maria’s finger, spraying blood in the stairway and in the hall as Maria was taken away.” Daniel Hernandez is entertaining and informative in the always awesome Epic Mag: The Haunting of Girlstown.


Once Over

“First responders had to keep a safe distance when going door-to-door ordering 11,000 people to evacuate. Flooded nursing homes sent residents into shelters, where Covid-19 could spread. The Midland hospital sent its ventilated Covid-19 patients to nearby hospitals in case the flood was worse than predicted.” A once in a lifetime flood is always complicated. More so when it comes during a once in a lifetime pandemic. That’s all the more notable with hurricane season looming. The Guardian: When the ‘500-year flood’ hit Michigan, residents had to weigh risk of escape in a pandemic.


Vaccine The Light of Day

“The British drugmaker has already signed up Britain and the United States as partners to mass produce the vaccine, to be ready for delivery if and when there is conclusive evidence that it both works and is safe to use.” Human trials of British coronavirus vaccine to reach 10,000.

+ We still won’t know much for a couple months, but the global effort by scientists is epic. So everyone is doing everything they can to support them. Well, almost everyone: Trump lashes out at scientists whose findings contradict him.

+ Drug touted by Trump as Covid-19 treatment linked to a greater risk of death.


God Complex

“President Donald Trump on Friday demanded that governors reopen churches, synagogues and mosques ‘right now,’ and threatened to ‘override’ state leaders’ restrictions if they do not do so by the weekend.”

+ “After receiving a formal warning from the United States Justice Department over church closures, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state is ‘weeks away’ from allowing in-person religious services to resume.”

+ Mississippi church fighting coronavirus restrictions burned to the ground. (This is all so crazy. Even in this divided, hateful era, we can’t see that, when it comes to fighting the pandemic, we’re all on the exact same side.)

+ In other news at the intersection of politics and God, Joe Biden told interviewer Charlamagne Tha God, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” (This is a pretty bad gaffe. Biden meant to say, “then you ain’t American.”)


Sachs Players

“To make amends for its part in the collapse of the housing market during the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs promised $1.8 billion in consumer relief to struggling homeowners. That penance was also a business opportunity.” NYT: Goldman Sachs Forecloses on 10,000 Homes for ‘Consumer Relief‘. (You need a joint-PhD in Economics and Bullshit to even understand this stuff.)


Collab Rats

“This is the golden opportunity for whatever I want to do with my life,” Mr. Conte said. “I could continue to make videos at home from Charlotte and do brand deals, but I want to take this to the highest level I can. I feel like I’m already making progress since the second I landed here.” Taylor Lorenz in the NYT: Delayed Moves, Poolside Videos and Postmates Spon: The State of TikTok Collab Houses. (I live in a TikTok Collab House, and only one of my family members does Tik Tok. That’s too much.)


Feel Good Friday

“Microsoft Solitaire was originally included as part of Windows 3.0 back in 1990, designed specifically to teach users how to use a mouse. Grabbing virtual cards and dropping them in place taught the basics of drag-and-drop in Windows, which we still use today in many parts of the operating system.” Now, the game is 30. And 35 million people still play it monthly.

+ The game that ate the world: 40 facts on Pac-Man’s 40th birthday.

+ “With most bars still takeout only, indoor gatherings discouraged and the weather warmer, Americans are sipping and strolling.” Need a Mem Day Weekend activity? The NYT recommends taking a Walktail. (This is nothing new. I’ve been taking a daily preroll stroll for weeks.)

+ Teen raises over $30,000 for frontline workers through his radio station.


Short Sighted

“Scientists are hard at work recalibrating where and how the nation physically sits on the planet. It’s not shrinkage — it’s ‘height modernization.'” NYT:
The U.S. Is Getting Shorter, as Mapmakers Race to Keep Up. (This is the least of America’s stature problems…)

+ Reminder: The NextDraft Shirt Store is Open. And now there are remarkably cool masks as well.

+ 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.

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