Sunday, August 2nd, 2020


Fantasy to Shining Sea

It would be one thing if local leaders dealing with Covid-19 were getting no help from the their government. But what's happening is actually worse. People with tough, stressful, no win decisions to make are being actively hindered from above; a problem that starts at the top. Jeff Gregorich, a superintendent in Arizona, on trying to reopen his schools safely: "The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We're 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there's a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it's going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?" From WaPo, the latest installment of Eli Saslow's, Voices from the Pandemic: I'm sorry, but it's a fantasy.

+ Trump's son Barron won't attend in-person classes at private school due to county-wide mandate.


Texas Dangers

"In Starr County, the only hospital is so overwhelmed by coronavirus patients that County Judge Eloy Vera announced the formation of a 'death panel' that will oversee triage, sending sick patients who have no hope of survival 'home to die.'" Houston Chronicle: Along the U.S-Mexico border, a coronavirus crisis. And a governor who refuses to let the area lock down. (I'm guessing it would be a different story if the outbreak was hitting Dallas...)


Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

"Among the range of urban activities, the experts say, riding the subway is probably riskier than walking outdoors but safer than indoor dining." NYT: Is the Subway Risky? It May Be Safer Than You Think. (But then again, it may not be that safe. And if it is safe, we don't exactly know why it's safe. Welcome to reality in the age of coronavirus.)


You Come at the King, You Best Not Miss

"The boycott, called StopHateForProfit by the civil rights groups that organized it, urged companies to stop paying for ads on Facebook in July to protest the platform's handling of hate speech and misinformation. More than 1,000 advertisers publicly joined, out of a total pool of more than 9 million, while others quietly scaled back their spending." (You'll notice that Stop Hate for Profit is the latest gratis NextDraft sponsor.) So what's the impact? So far, a lot of media exposure, a better informed public, a more riled up employee base at Facebook, a cost of millions in advertising, and very little impact on the company's bottom line or soaring stock price. NYT: More Than 1,000 Companies Boycotted Facebook. Did It Work? (Maybe a better question is Will it work? Empires don't change in a month.)


We Don’t Need Another Hero

"Rezba's exercise in psychological self-protection evolved into a bona fide mission. Soon she was spending a couple of hours a day scouring the internet for the recently dead; it saddened, then enraged her to see how difficult they were to find, how quickly people who gave their lives in service to others seemed to be forgotten. The more she searched, the more convinced she became that this invisibility was not an accident: 'I felt like a lot of these hospitals and nursing homes were trying to hide what was happening.'" ProPublica: Nobody Accurately Tracks Health Care Workers Lost to COVID-19. So She Stays Up At Night Cataloging the Dead.


Hut, Hut, Strike

"The answers were so unsatisfactory that at one point, according to the Post, Texas A&M linebacker Keith Magee II interjected that 'it's just kind of not good enough' and that 'with all this uncertainty, all this stuff that's still circulating in the air, y'all know it kind of leaves some of us still scratching my head.'" College football is a massive business that earns its dough by way of athletes who don't get paid and who have very little power. That's been the status quo forever. But like everything else, Covid-19 changes the equation. Athletes are paying attention, don't like what they hear in push to start college football. (College football is my favorite sport to watch. But I don't have the slightest clue how it could possibly be played safely this season.)

+ "The coronavirus pandemic has been a referendum on societal cleanliness. Not just regarding the time spent washing one's hands or wiping down household surfaces but also going right to the source: bodily fluids. That includes the kinds found all over the sports world -- the spitting, the licking, the spewing, the sweating and, perhaps most disgustingly, the snot rockets, where an athlete takes their hand, closes off one nostril and launches a stream of mucus through the open one." ESPN: How sports, coronavirus and hygiene mix: Spit, snot rockets and licking during return to play. (I hope handshakes with strangers never come back. I have an even stronger hope when it comes to snot rockets.)


Grace Under Fire

"The 15-year-old Black girl who was being kept at a juvenile facility in Oakland County, Michigan, for failing to do her class assignments, has finally been granted her release. A three-judge appellate panel with the Michigan Court of Appeals determined Friday that the teen, who is known only by the pseudonym 'Grace,' will be immediately released into her mother's custody." (She's been in custody since May 14.)


Playing Fortnight

It's hard to remember anything from two weeks ago, let alone an aside from the now infamous Trump interview with Chris Wallace. But it really is worth noting that, in the middle of a pandemic, the POTUS said: "We're signing a health-care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health-care plan." Well, today is the two week mark. And, surprise, the president's favorite lie (it's coming in two weeks) has disappeared into thin air. It's almost impossible to fathom what we've come to accept in this nightmare of an era. Thirteen more two weeks until the election...

+ And here's a nice callback to simpler times: The US ambassador to Brazil reportedly asked Brazilian officials to help Trump's reelection.


Can I Make Your Garden Grow

"Yes, many people simply have more time than ever for these activities. But I suspect another reason people are flocking to them is because they satisfy our basic needs for autonomy and mastery." Brad Stulberg on Why We're All Gardening and Baking So Much. (I have a slightly different theory. I think people feel so little control over issues in the outside world, so they're trying to reassert that control in areas closer to home.)

+ The other activity going gangbusters this summer: Many Americans Are Hitting The Road — In RVs. (Any activity that enables me to take a bathroom with me wherever I go is a winner in my book...)


Bottom of the News

"By day, Bruce Pascal is a successful commercial real estate executive who brokers multimillion-dollar deals in the nation's capital. By night, he buys $5k Hot Wheels cars on eBay." The collectors who spend thousands on rare Hot Wheels.

+ Daddy, what did the internet used to be like? Kid, it was basically like a tomato that resembled Larry Bird. And it was fantastic.