Saturday, May 23rd, 2020


Strip Tease

Maybe it's no surprise that, even today, when it comes to matters regarding Las Vegas, Elvis still provides valuable insight. As casinos on the strip get ready to the roll the reopening dice, the lyrics sung by Presley's character Lucky Jackson ring more true, and more ominously, than ever. Oh, there's blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel / A fortune won and lost on every deal / All you need's a strong heart and a nerve of steel. UNLV's Robert Lang updates the lyrics (with decidedly less flair) to meet the moment: "Las Vegas can never be known as the place where people go and get sick." (Think Viva Las Vegas with an emphasis on the Viva part.) The new Vegas will reemerge with sanitized dice, disinfected chips, hand sanitizer, touchless check-in, and at The Venetian, "Gondoliers stationed along the canal will serenade passengers from an appropriate distance." What won't visitors find? Buffets, poker, and a mask requirement for guests. Willing to take that bet? Las Vegas sure hopes so, because the city's economy has been one of the hardest hit in the country. Yet, the risk of opening too early and taunting a virus that never bluffs is not theirs alone, because what happens in Vegas gets on a plane and goes home to communities around the world. So for now, I'm pausing Elvis, and playing Kenny Rogers instead: You've got to know when to hold 'em / Know when to fold 'em / Know when to walk away / And know when to run."


Everybody’s Shirking for the Weekend

Plans for the Weekend will depend on where you are in the country or the world. "Trump visited one of his private golf clubs for the first time during pandemic — the Trump National Golf Club in northern Virginia ... Overseas, there was mixed news. New coronavirus cases in China fell to zero on Saturday for the first time since the start of the outbreak but surged in India and overwhelmed hospitals across Latin America."

+ The big decision for many will be whether or not to attend religious services. Trump is pushing states to allow churches to open. But with close quarters, singing, and hours indoors with the same group of people, it's no wonder that churches have already been superspreader hotspots. (If someone had told me a decade ago that Donald Trump would be the loudest voice calling for people to attend Church on Sundays, I would have tried to walk across a swimming pool.)

+ For a variety of reasons, I can't wait until this isolation period is over. I'm guessing almost everyone feels the same. But almost everyone also favors social distancing until things are safe. Which brings us to David Graham's question: Why Are the States Reopening? Especially the 24 states where they still have uncontrolled coronavirus spread?


Got You on Speed Trial

"Usually, vaccine development takes a decade or longer, and the statistical chance of failure, historically, is more than ninety per cent. But Moderna, which was founded a decade ago, has invested billions to create vaccines (and also therapeutic drugs) using messenger RNA, which is, essentially, the code—like the zeroes and ones that drive computing—that tells cells how to build new proteins (i.e., how to grow life)." The New Yorker: The Coronavirus Vaccine Is on Track to Be the Fastest Ever Developed.

+ Reuters: "The United States plans a massive testing effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates in an effort to deliver a safe and effective one by the end of 2020." (I still remember when we got excited about a new iPhone being released.)


From Bad to Hearse

I hope he doesn't see this as a challenge to overcome, but President Trump has not been the worst leader in the world when it comes to the pandemic. His "misconduct pales in comparison with the comportment of Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro, who is behaving with absolute and deterministic irresponsibility." Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker: The Coronavirus Hits Brazil Hard, but Jair Bolsonaro Is Unrepentant. (That said, he's unrepentant in a mask...)

+ Speaking of masks, demand was crazy for the new NextDraft masks I introduced yesterday. They really are pretty cool. And even my mom asked about the model. Get yours today.


African Do Attitude

"No one knows the course the pandemic may take next – the continent, like the rest of the world, isn't out of the woods yet. But what has also happened is that many African nations, realizing early on that large-scale, expensive testing and hospitalisation was not an option for the populations, had no choice but to take a more creative approach." The Guardian: Why are Africa's coronavirus successes being overlooked?


That Hertz

No one is traveling. No one needs a rental car. So this headline from the NYT may not come as a surprise: Hertz, Car Rental Pioneer, Files for Bankruptcy Protection. But consider that Hertz entered the pandemic with $17 billion in debt. Even internet unicorns are like, "Wait, what?"


Less Miserables

"We've been taught that if we want more — money, achievement, vitality, joy, peace of mind — we need to do more, to add more to our ever-growing to-do list. But what if we've been taught wrong? What if the answer to getting more of what we want isn't addition at all, but subtraction?" Harvard Business Review: Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less. (I've been trying that. It's not working and I'm too lazy to try harder...)


Ranking My Chain

Just because you have to be socially distanced from people this Mem Day Weekend doesn't mean you have to be socially distanced from overeating. This might help you decide where to shop. Eater: Which Grocery Chain Has the Best Health and Safety Policies for Its Workers?


Feel Good Saturday

"The strongest move Tani could have made at that point was to sacrifice his bishop. It was aggressive, bold and brave. It was a move most chess players wouldn't even consider. But Tani is no ordinary chess player. And his journey isn't ordinary, either. Fifteen months earlier, his family had settled into a New York City homeless shelter after fleeing Nigeria. Thirteen months earlier, he couldn't tell a rook from a pawn." ESPN: From homeless refugee to chess prodigy, 9-year-old dreams of becoming youngest grandmaster.

+ Mimicking Brooklyn, four SF parks adopt social distancing circles.

+ From near disaster to success story: how Japan has tackled coronavirus. (Psst... Masks.)

+ Cher sheds tears of joy as Pakistan's loneliest elephant wins freedom. (That headline alone feels good...)


Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

"Here is the check," she said before holding up what appeared to be a real Capital One check bearing not just the president's name and signature, but also his bank information. Clearly visible was an address for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and other personal details, like accounting and routing numbers." Trump's press secretary shows off president's check, bank info and all. (To be fair, this is less risky when the account is overdrawn.)

+ 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.