Camp ToB 2020
Week Five: The Night Watchman
It’s a new month and a new book matchup at Camp ToB. This week we’re discussing the first half of Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman.
Trump is merely the first stage of our (potential/likely/frightening) descent into autocracy.
A podcast episode for your commute or non-commute, in which Ezra Klein interviews Masha Gessen—who is just so good—about her new book on Trump, Putin, and the language of liberal democracy, among other things.
What I write about in the book is that I think there is a difference of political audiences in autocracy and a democracy. In a democracy, a politician’s audience is their voters. They are accountable to their voters. Their voters decide whether they stay in office or lose their jobs. They address their voters whenever they’re speaking publicly, even if it’s ostensibly to someone else. In an autocracy, a politician’s audience is always the autocrat because it is the autocrat who distributes power and often money. It is the autocrat who decides whether the politician keeps their job or not. And I think somehow, in a matter literally of months, an entire half of our political life changed to the audience of an autocracy. Because it’s Donald Trump who can commit murder by tweet and causes any elected representative probably to lose his or her job.
Arguments for not going back to restaurants as they reopen.
A few things to read if you're watching people eat outside in groups and wondering what the hell they think they're doing.
"I'm Too Anxious to Eat at Restaurants Right Now," by Kat Kinsman (Food & Wine)
Now they're back—with a thousand precautions and protocols and outdoor-only seating and oh blessed day, a window for takeout cocktails—and I just can't make myself sit down at a table to join them. I'm too afraid, not of them but for them, and I don't know what the right thing is to keep them safe.
"I’m Not Ready to Go Back to Restaurants. Is Anyone?" by Tejal Rao (New York Times)
Restaurateurs, despite being pushed into the role, are not our public-health officials. Understandably, many want customers to fill up their dining rooms, to eat and drink well, and to spend money again. But after collecting data from 30 million credit and debit card holders, JPMorgan Chase found a close correlation between the level of spending in restaurants and new cases of Covid-19: Restaurants can easily turn into hot spots.
And from late March, "In China, a Glimpse at the Future of Restaurants," by Aaron Fox-Lerner (Eater)
Getting any customers to confidently eat restaurant food again remains one of the industry’s biggest obstacles. Diners are spooked. In response, many delivery orders now often include cards listing the names and temperatures of all the staff involved in preparing your food. Others, like the dim sum chain Jin Ding Xuan, send notes detailing the restaurant’s disinfection procedures.