1

The Year of Driving Dangerously

It won't come as much of a shock that there were fewer cars on the road during 2020. But it might surprise you that the roads were a lot more dangerous during the year. "The NSC, a nonprofit focused on promoting safety in the United States, said despite a 13% drop in miles driven in 2020, the estimated rate of death on the roads last year spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period." (I saw a lot of people wearing masks under their chins. Maybe some were wearing them over their eyes...)

2

Prime Numbers

"The gains are a direct result of Amazon's corporate decision to increase starting pay to $15 an hour three years ago, which appears to have lifted pay for low-wage workers in other local companies as well, according to new research from economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Brandeis University." NYT: When Amazon Raises Its Minimum Wage, Local Companies Follow Suit.

3

Weekend Whats

What to Book: A lot of what you know about the earliest days of the war on drugs is probably wrong, and a lot less interesting than the real story. Check out Johann Hari's, Chasing the Scream: The Opposite of Addiction Is Connection for an interesting look at drugs, addiction, and how the war on drugs was a complete disaster from day one.

+ What to Pod: Barack Obama famously said he decided to run for president after he realized he couldn't be Bruce Springsteen. (That's actually a pretty healthy response. When I realized I couldn't be Bruce Springsteen, I decided to get high all day and listen to Bruce Springsteen.) Well, Bruce and Barry are now together on a Spotify podcast called Renegades.

+ What to Watch: "So many Americans have died in hospitals without family by their side, but they were not alone. Nurses brush patients' teeth, change their catheters and hold their hands in their final moments. In just a year, we've lost half a million Americans to Covid-19. Vaccinations may be offering some relief, but inside I.C.U.s, nurses continue to contend with the trauma and grief of America's carousel of death." Inside a Covid I.C.U., Through a Nurse's Eyes. (Lost in all the lies, rage, and politics, there's a human story. And it's by far the biggest story of them all.)

4

To the Viktor Go the Spoiled

The excellent Masha Gessen in The New Yorker: Trump's Strategy for Returning to Power Is Already Clear. "Viktor Orbán became the Prime Minister of Hungary in 1998. Four years later, with a record number of Hungarians turning up to the polls, his party lost power. The next day, Orbán's allies claimed voter fraud and demanded recounts, and although these demands were rejected, Orbán continued to claim that the election had been stolen. In 2010, after eight years leading the opposition, Orbán and his party, Fidesz, returned to power with a supermajority—enough to change the constitution and begin rapidly consolidating autocratic power. Orbán has not left office in the decade since." (My mom bawled me out for not including this article in NextDraft. And she's gonna find out whether you read it, too.)

5

Money’s Shot

The Senate will be debating the stimulus package over the weekend. So this would be a good time to find out exactly what's in it. Vox got the 620 page bill down to this handy 600 word explainer. (For $1.9 trillion, I'll read the explainer. If you want me to read the full bill, we'll need to talk real money.)

6

Your Inside Voice

"The data gathered so far includes indications of contact with lawmakers in the days around January 6, as well as communications between alleged rioters discussing their associations with members of Congress." Federal investigators are examining communications between US lawmakers and Capitol rioters. (Would anyone bet against these communications having occurred?)

+ Trump appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot. (In fairness, he was just following orders.)

+ NPR: Trump Appointee At VOA Parent Paid Law Firm Millions To Investigate His Own Staff.

7

Numb Chucked

"The number — more than 9,000 by that point in June — was not public, and the governor's most senior aides wanted to keep it that way. They rewrote the report to take it out." Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll. (We need to somehow turn politics into an industry that doesn't attract so many shitbirds.)

8

Uncle Sam and Anti Trust

"His 2010 book The Master Switch argued that the open Internet as we knew it was barreling toward a closed-off, walled-garden future. In 2018 he published another book, The Curse of Bigness, in which he argued that US regulators' failure to enforce antitrust laws had led to 'a new gilded age' and all its attendant problems." White House signals coming antitrust push with Tim Wu appointment. Every big tech boardroom is talking about this hire, today. Trust me. (Or maybe it would be more appropriate to antitrust me.)

9

Engrave Robbers

"On one side: Runners who've spent years training to qualify to run the real thing, including some who complain that mailing medals to people who run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) in Dallas or Denver will cheapen the iconic Boston experience ... On the other: Pretty much everyone else, including the plodding masses and runners who raise millions for charities, who counter that anything that helps the 125-year-old marathon survive the COVID-19 crisis is worthwhile." This year, the Boston Marathon plans to hand out 70,000 medals to runners who complete the marathon, even if that marathon is not in Boston. (This morning, I pulled a hammie helping my wife put together a piece of exercise equipment.)

10

Feel Good Friday

She came to the U.S. with only $300 and worked housekeeping jobs to pay for school. Now she's a flight director for NASA's Mars Perseverance.

+ The United States is now averaging 2 million vaccine doses administered per day.

+ "The 57-year-old, a small construction business owner in his former life, says his decision to stay as 160,000 other people evacuated the area was spurred in part by the shock of finding dead pets in abandoned houses he helped demolish. The cats also gave him a reason to stay on land that has been owned by his family for three generations." The man who saves forgotten cats in Fukushima's nuclear zone. (I live nowhere near a nuclear zone, and my cats still treat me like I'm radioactive.)

+ This Trained Singer Teaches Metal Bands How To Scream. (I suddenly have hope my kids will find careers.)

+ This L.A. start-up is building tiny injectable robots to attack tumors. (Shoot, Tiny Injectable Robot is my nickname for my private part.)

+ Aged 118, the world's oldest living person will carry the Olympic flame in Japan. (This makes me feel less guilty about letting my mom carry in the groceries.)

+ World's oldest known wild bird has another chick at age of 70.

+ These aren't the balloon animals you're used to.