Socially distanced test-taking in South Korea. Dont expect scenes like this in the US.
Socially distanced test-taking in South Korea. Don't expect scenes like this in the US. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

What's in store for us? We're self-isolating and trying to figure it out. This week: drinking in public, amateur porn stars, and the two ways people will exit the pandemic.

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Washington state will have one of the slowest economic recoveries. We have the most regressive tax system in the country, which means we'll arguably have one of the slowest economic recoveries in the country. An analysis from the Economic Opportunity Institute released last month showed Washington took "almost two years longer" to recover from the Great Recession than the average state. The tortoise pace was due mostly to our reliance on sales tax, which accounts for nearly 50% of the state's general fund revenue. The projected decline in sales tax revenues will mean shrinking city, county, and state budgets, which means lots of public-sector job losses, which will ultimately mean cuts to supplier jobs and less consumer purchasing power. The only way out of this mess is taxing the rich. —R.S.

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The pandemic will breed porn stars. It seems like everyone I know is either joining a coding bootcamp or OnlyFans. If you aren't familiar with the latter, it is the hole-y grail of amateur porn. The platform, which allows users to upload "content" (their genitals, usually) and set a price for "Only Fans" to view it, has been boomin' and bangin' this pandemic. In April, it saw a 75% uptick in "model sign-ups," with many of the models saying they signed up after losing their jobs. That uptick has just kept coming. (Beyonce even dropped a line about it on the summer anthem "Savage.") There have been complaints about the site's large take rate (20%)—and nevermind the platform is owned by a smug ass banker's son who's only getting richer—but the site has filled a Tumblr-sized hole and provided kinky, creative, authentic, alternative porn that has long been avoided by traditional studios. —C.B.

Jerk it while you can. The Feds will probably screw over OnlyFans in a year or three. Forgive me if I'm pessimistic, but porn paradises usually don't last. —C.B.


Voter turnout is going to be high in Washington. As of last week, the statewide turnout was 7.6 percent higher than it was at that point in 2016. Turnout has steadily ticked up over the weekend in King County. While tonight's initial ballot drop may be more moderate, Millennials and Gen Z—notorious for their late votes—will cast their votes today in droves. Those votes will be counted over the coming days and likely skew progressive. There may be some Egan Orions declaring victory tonight, but hopefully we've all wised up since Kshama Sawant snatched Orion's win from him four days after election night with a landslide lead. Two things will be true: mail-in voting takes time, and this will be a record-setting primary. —N.G.

Culp will pass the primary. Loren Culp, a small-town police chief who promised not to enforce voter-approved gun safety laws and who was “accused in a lawsuit of botching a child sexual-abuse investigation and intimidating the victim with threats of a false-claims charge," will emerge from the muck of nincompoops running against Gov. Jay Inslee in the August primary. I venture he will secure the #2 spot with 10% of the vote share. I offer no fancy political analysis here. Of the group of leading Republican contenders, Culp has raised the most money. And, if his ubiquitous road signs are any indication, his campaign has the most visibility in the state's more populous red zones. —R.S.

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When the coronavirus vaccine finally comes out, what if nobody trusts it? If it's ready, as some are predicting, in early 2021, it’ll be the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed. And even if it’s totally safe and effective, we’ve seen how easy it is for a few nuts to convince large swaths of the population that vaccines are part of some kind of sinister plot. Normally I trust my physician on the topic of vaccines — I go to Seattle’s Country Doctor Clinic, where I get the most compassionate, attentive care I’ve ever received in my life — and if the health care workers there say that a shot is safe, I believe them. But it’s going to be a lot harder to feel confident when that message is coming from Donald Trump’s administration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anti-vaxxer by any means. But I’m scared that another side-effect of the pandemic will be to create a whole new species of vaccine skeptics. —M.B.

Streaming services are permanently the big dogs at award shows. Last week, Netflix scored big at the Emmy nominations, blowing past premium cable network HBO's 107 nominations to their own 160. Not only did that number make Emmy history, but it was only the second time ever that a streaming service received more nominations than a traditional cable network. Streaming services have been making gains for the past several years, but last week's announcement only solidified their growing dominance. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime will become even more entrenched at these film and television award ceremonies, especially as more people spend their free time inside and the options for screening films for massive audiences dwindle. And though we are far from Oscar season, the pandemic will undoubtedly affect the snooty ceremony's extreme bias against streaming services. Say hello to Big Daddy Streamer! They are here to stay. —J.K.

Many more restaurants and bars are going to close permanently. College Inn Pub in the University District. Bamboo Garden in Lower Queen Anne. Bill's Off Broadway on Capitol Hill. Jules Maes Saloon in Georgetown. The list of restaurants and bars that have permanently closed in Seattle is already long—and it's about to get much longer. After the mayor completely bungled the idea to close off streets this summer to allow restaurants to set up shop in the middle of the road, like they're doing in other cities, and after the governor announced new restrictions on bars and indoor dining, industry insiders are bracing for a scary fall and a horrifying winter. Without government assistance, especially in helping businesses that don't have customers right now pay rent, your favorite independent restaurants, bars, and shops are probably going to vanish. —C.F.

We've been waiting to write this post in hopes of finding the right words, but in the times we find ourselves in, the...
Posted by College Inn Pub on Thursday, July 23, 2020

We can expect the death of the law that prohibits drinking in public. The municipal code that bans this activity is already outdated and it has always reeked of the worst kind of morality, American conservative Christian morality. But in our pandemic times, this prohibition makes no sense at all. Lots of people feel unsafe inside of a business, and with good reason: the risk of catching the always nasty and sometimes deadly virus is much higher indoors than outdoors. If we expect to keep the bars of our city in business, then they must be allowed to sell cocktails and other alcoholic beverages that people can consume on the city streets or at nearby parks. This will have to happen. The Seattle Municipal Code (12A.24.025) that makes it unlawful to consume liquor or "[open] a container of liquor, or [possess] an open container of liquor" in public will meet its extinction during this long (too long) pandemic. —C.M.

One pandemic is bad enough. How about a two-for-one deal? With everyone avoiding hospitals and pharmacies, and with some people having difficulty obtaining treatment for chronic conditions, I’m worried that the coronavirus pandemic will trigger a second outbreak of some otherwise-containable infection. Donald has already said that he wants to break ties with the World Health Organization, which would fuck up our ability to work with other countries to control viral spread. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that vaccine sites could be a breeding ground for other illnesses like measles, cholera, polio, and diphtheria—which have recently sprung up in multiple countries. So that leaves us with a tough choice: Is it better to reduce access to health care around the world to reduce the spread of one particular virus? Or is it better to pack people into hospitals and inoculation sites to prevent a return of illnesses that had been previously kept under control? —M.B.

There will be an uptick in pet abandonment in the fall: My ears perked up on this issue a few weeks ago when the BBC reported on a potential rising rate of pet abandonment in the coming months. If our friends across the pond are worried, then we should be really worried: our declining unemployment support and rising evictions will inevitably have an impact on our furry family members. Add on the rush of adoptions that happened at the beginning of the pandemic, and you've got a lot of puppers who may be looking for new homes in the coming months. —C.B.

We're going to see a lot more animation. Depending on the state they're located in, most film sets and studios are still shut down. Even as they reopen, sets will be different, distant, and smaller. But we're starting to see a colorful shift: The season 7 finale of The Blacklist, a live-action show I only know about because my parents watch it, had to pivot to animation. Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old music sensation, released a single during quarantine along with a fully animated music video. And remember that period in May when everyone either discovered or re-discovered Avatar: The Last Airbender? While animation is popular in its niches, it may become a mainstream choice as America's entertainment industry leans on animation more in the coming socially-distant months. —N.G.

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The mall is really dead now. Before the pandemic, the waning popularity of anchor department stores and the ever-increasing prevalence of online shopping was a major existential threat to the American mall's existence as a secular suburban church. The only thing it had going for it was its place-ness—gyms, theaters, food courts, the expansive indoor corridors for caretakers to bring their kids. Once COVID hit, our region's biggest malls were shut down for three months, reopening only in June during Phase 2. In the meantime, many of the familiar faces in our malls— J.C. Penney, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, GNC, California Pizza Kitchen (!)—filed for bankruptcy, either closing down completely or reopening on shaky ground. This means the death of the American mall is imminent. Getting dropped off by your mom, buying something at Claire's, then seeing a movie with your friend? A tale my grandchildren will never believe. —J.K

The end might come swiftly for the USPS. Despite all the terrible violence, death, and disease happening in the world right now, I’ve also managed to find space in my doom-brain to worry about the end of the Post Office. I can’t stop thinking about waking up one day, reaching for my phone with dread to see which disasters the East Coast is already wailing about, and reading that henceforth the only way to send a letter is to walk it to a Kinko’s and pay FedEx $11. Sorry to everyone whose house isn’t serviced by private mail carriers; sorry to everyone whose small business ships physical merch and can’t afford the UPS premium; sorry to everyone whose mobility is limited and can’t run a million errands to pick stuff up; you’re out of luck. I know that I’m not being entirely reasonable about this; if the Postal Service was to close down, they would probably (probably?) do it with some advance notice. But then I start thinking about how the money & tech ghouls who run the country tend to handle company-closures with no warning, and I’m like, “Oh God, what if they think shutting down the Postal Service is no different from shutting down Vine?” —M.B.

There are two ways that people will exit the pandemic: either smarter or dumber. In the case of the former, the cause of the increase in smarts can be attributed to an increase in the consumption of good and often difficult books. The combination of the lockdown, telework, and the slow economic recovery have supplied the readers of good works with more time than ever before. The best one could do in the pre-pandemic world was about a book a week; in the pandemic world, the reader can easily finish three or four. There is more time to read in the morning; there is extra time to read in the afternoon; there is nothing to do but read in the evening. The consumption of old and new poems, classical and recent literary novels, the masterpieces of economics, 17th century and early 20th century Western philosophy, and theoretical physics and post-Woesian/Margulisian biology have become such a roar on the other side of silence. —C.M.

• • •
MORE PREDICTIONS ON...

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  • Trump's health, indie bookstores, and Fortnite
  • Smooth-brained TV, Korean baseball, and eye makeup
  • Bidets, Doomers, and pseudoscience
  • Chimerica, strippers, and FOMO

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