May 25th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

How Rats are taking the pandemic, Trump's par for the coarse this weekend, and those planes flying by aren't empty.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, it’s the year of the rat. And like their human counterparts, 2020 has turned what began as an ordinary rat tale into a horror show. Life near residences continues to look pretty normal, but the action in business areas has taken a prolonged commercial break; and instead of working together against a common foe, rats—confused, angry, and panicked—have turned their ire and desperation towards one another. Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist who has a PhD in rodent pest management, says that “pest control professionals in the city have sent him photos of rodent cannibalization and slaughter. ‘They are going to war with each other, eating each other’s young in some populations and battling each other for the food they can find.'” (OK, it’s not a perfect metaphor for how humans have behaved, but then again, rats don’t have Twitter as an outlet.) Mostly, this story is a reminder of the far reaching tentacles of the pandemic. It will touch everything before we’re done. NYT: CDC Warns of ‘Aggressive’ Rats Searching for Food During Shutdowns. (It’s nice to know the CDC hasn’t been silenced on all topics…)


Par for the Coarse

We’ve become so accustomed to SAD! presidential tweets that are a TOTAL DISASTER! that we barely bat an eye when they pollute our communal stream. But occasionally we’re awakened from the new normalization. For example, when in the midst of a pandemic that has taken nearly 100K American lives and a weekend when we’re supposed to be paying tribute to hundreds of thousands of fallen soldiers, the POTUS uses Twitter to promote conspiracy theories about a commentator being a murderer and shares messages that describe the former First Lady and Secretary of State as a skank and a potential VP candidate as having “visited every buffet” in her state. WaPo summarizes the moment as kindly as possible: On weekend dedicated to war dead, Trump tweets insults, promotes baseless claims and plays golf. (As many have noted in regards to the president’s golf outing, he’s currently 98,129 over par.)


Freight Accompli

“Most passenger planes today fly virtually empty, but when Virgin Atlantic flight VS251 landed at Heathrow Airport near London on a cloudy afternoon late last month, most of its 258 seats were occupied.” But not by people. NYT: As Passengers Disappeared, Airlines Filled Planes With Cargo. (I’m gonna be pissed if my packages had to fly coach…)


American Health Care Needs a Doctor, Stat

“American officials have repeatedly referred to the country’s doctors and nurses as ‘heroes,’ and President Trump has described them as ‘running into death just like soldiers running into bullets.’ But the United States has approved no national hazard pay, and some health-care workers face reduced hours and pay as hospitals suffer losses.” WaPo: Some American nurses are facing pay cuts. But around the world, many are getting huge raises. (Yeah, but, those countries, well, I mean … forget it, I got nothin’…)

+ “Morganroth’s defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms.” Bloomberg: How Private Equity Is Ruining American Health Care.

+ “So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.” Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers.


Cameo Rolling

Ben Smith in the NYT with a look at how The New Model Media Star Is Famous Only to You. “Cameo is, on its face, a service that allows housebound idiots to blow money on silly shout-outs. Seen another way, however, it’s a new model media company, sitting at the intersection of a set of powerful trends that are accelerating in the present crisis. There’s the rise of simple, digital direct payments, which are replacing advertising as the major source of media revenue. There’s the growing power of talent, trickling down from superstars to half-forgotten former athletes and even working journalists. And there’s the old promise of the earlier internet that you could make a living if you just had ‘1,000 true fans’ — a promise that advertising-based businesses from blogs to YouTube channels failed to deliver. In fact, in this new economy, some people may be able to make a living off just 100 true fans.” (Finally, I can explain to my parents that my revenue model sucks because I’m too famous…) Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last three months as a housebound idiot that I feel the need to defend Cameo. But a few parents I know have ordered messages for their kids stuck celebrating solo bdays, and they’ve been great.


Cummings and Goings

“It says that in some circumstances you won’t be able to follow the rules and it seems to me that I was in such an exceptional circumstance and I was trying to balance all these very complicated things.” A raging controversy about a top Boris Johnson aid breaking stay at home rules has been rocking the UK all week. Today Dominic Cummings made an official statement. The controversy is still raging. (Anyone in the UK want to trade your political controversies for ours?)


Ag Factor

Christopher Ketcham in Outside: The Pandemic Has Turned Us All into Gardeners. “For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth.” (There’s no need to bend down and get dirty. I feel the same sensation every time I’m in the produce aisle.)


Time to Adjust the Rabbit Ears

Here’s a look at what each state is binge watching during quarantine. I wonder if people know that there are some new shows that have come out since Friends


Feel Good Monday

“Yesterday, May 24, for the first time Lombardy, the most hit region in Italy by coronavirus, has registered zero deaths. Hospitals around the region, which since the beginning of the emergency have sent daily reports to the local administration, have not submitted any news of new casualties.”

+ Cuba credits two drugs with slashing coronavirus death toll.

+ “I wrote to them originally to process my fears and anxieties during this time. In the end, the respondents helped me remember the clarifying thing about this pandemic — that we’re all part of one community of humans.” What I Learned From Writing Letters To Strangers Across America. (Hey, I write a letter to strangers every day…)

+ Yesterday, we celebrated Jacinda Ardern. While we were doing that, she was remaining San Francisco chill during an earthquake.

+ Huge owl hatches chicks outside man’s window — now the brood watches TV with him. (They’re gonna love the Tootsie Pop ad when it comes on…)


Old Dog, New Tricks

At least one thing is still normal when it comes to this holiday weekend. Hot Dogs. “While sales fell somewhat as shoppers’ stockpiling slowed, people are still buying far more hot dogs in 2020 than they did last year. Hot dog sales were up 36% in the week ending May 3, according to IRI data. Since the pandemic started in early March, sales have been at least 29% higher every week compared to the same week in 2019.”

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

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