Sunday, May 24th, 2020


Jacinda Vinci Code

There will be plenty of books written on, courses taught about, and Frontline episodes covering the leaders who got the pandemic wrong. But it's just as important—both for lessons learned and our sanity—to focus on leaders who got it right. Which brings us, once again, to New Zealand (at this point, many around the world would settle for a slightly used Zealand) and a leader worth Ardern. Yes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has been held out as an example before, but Ja Rules, and it's worth revisiting the topic to get to the bottom of why, for Christchurch's sake, more countries can't have leaders who live up to the ideals of Kiwi the people. Damien Cave in the NYT: Jacinda Ardern Sold a Drastic Lockdown With Straight Talk and Mom Jokes. "Ms. Ardern started doing weekly updates, often from home, mixing comments about nap time with details about poverty or transportation legislation. With each update, she got better at boiling down government into a conversation you might hear over dinner." (And, in my house, we don't allow all-caps at the table.)


Johnny Come Lately

"Almost all the proposals—including another recommendation from the C.D.C., that seats be left empty on school buses—will require money, and so far the funding is not there." That's just one of the challenges that communities face as they work through the complex question of reopening schools. "For many families, it is unthinkable that schools won't open." (For some, it's impossible to figure out how to get through the rest of this three day weekend...)


For Whom The Bell Scrolls

"This highly contagious virus has forced us to suppress our nature as social creatures, for fear that we might infect or be infected. Among the many indignities, it has denied us the grace of being present for a loved one's last moments. Age-old customs that lend meaning to existence have been upended, including the sacred rituals of how we mourn." The NYT with a moving remembrance of those we've lost, nearly 100,000, or about 1,100 a day over a three month period. An Incalculable Loss. (For those still arguing that we're overreacting to the virus, just keep scrolling through this piece until you realize you're wrong.)


Tempting Plate

"Lesson: Self-serve buffets probably create an unmanageable amount of viral spread." As a lifelong Sizzler salad bar devotee who views all you can eat buffets much the way Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay viewed Everest, this one hits me pretty hard. But as we reopen, it's worth thinking clearly about how the coronavirus spreads in those everyday places we visit.


Let Them Eat Crumb Cake

"In other words, a single mom juggling two jobs gets a maximum $1,200 stimulus check — and then pays taxes so that a real estate mogul can receive $1.6 million. This is dog-eat-dog capitalism for struggling workers, and socialism for the rich." The NYT's Nick Kristoff on the fine print mysteriously slipped into the March economic relief package and how "billions are going to zillionaires under the guise of pandemic relief." Crumbs for the Hungry but Windfalls for the Rich.


Abacus and Effect

"The deal was structured so that China's actual purchases would not have been counted until after the November election. COVID-19, however, has brought forward the moment of reckoning: Trump's deal is certifiably dead, because there is no way for China to come anywhere near reaching its commitments." In Foreign Policy, the excellent Jason Bordoff explains the math that proves America's China Trade Deal Is as Dead as Can Be.

+ Meanwhile, the protests are back in Hong Kong. And so is the tear gas.


Free Style

"I'll never forget, for example, the 200 sealed VHS copies of the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers masterwork Fargo, which when I absolutely had no room left to store them in my fetid studio apartment, I humbly returned to the Craigslist free section, specifically to a guy named Jerry, who vowed to make them into a throne. 'I don't care what anyone else says,' he told me at the time. 'I've dreamed of sitting on a throne made out of masked taped copies of Fargo since I was young.'" In the Craigslist Free Section, Humanity Eclipses Any Plague. (Either humanity or just plain nuttiness...)


Garlic Dread

It's not just flour and yeast that are flying off the shelves. Through a combination of our home cooking binge, reduced China imports, and the fact that no one really gives a shit what their breath smells like behind a mask, we've got ourselves a Garlic shortage.


Feel Good Sunday

"After talking to owner Sue in the Hobart suburb of Lauderdale and telling her of his curious ambition, she decided to give it to him free of charge — on the condition it was played in beautiful places." The Piano inspires Tasmanian man to take his music to beautiful places.

+ Brazilian Farmers Hatch A Plan To Send Healthy Food To The Favelas.

+ Coronavirus pandemic claims another victim: Robocalls.

+ How a 13-year-old tech whiz is 3-D printing face masks from home.

+ A new social movement is helping connect those who need help with those who can help.


Soda Jerks

"David took his first sip of warm, flat Pepsi about eight years ago at a Christmas party. As bored 12-years-olds are wont to do, he recalls 'constantly fiddling around' with his Pepsi bottle the entire night, to the point that the soda lost all carbonation and turned into syrup-y sugar water. Still, he swigged away nonetheless. 'I enjoyed the taste so much more, and the carbonation didn't upset my stomach or burn my eyes and throat.'" The absolute masochists who love drinking flat soda.

+ 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.