Stuffing Ourselves | Amazon, the Postal Service, and the Tyranny of Logistics

Jake Bittle

There is a delivery service that employs around half a million people in the United States. It delivers billions of packages per year to tens of millions of addresses. It has hundreds of warehouses and sorting facilities, and its packages travel on thousands of identical trucks and vans. The delivery service has the extraordinary ability to get a box from one side of the country to another in just a...

Truth and Consequences | Documentaries and the Art of Manipulation

Blair McClendon

The best way to begin is with a gun. We don’t need to see it, but we need to know it’s there. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to convince an American that one is nearby. Start with murky fragments of a city skyline, lights piercing the falling night. Then a disembodied voice speaks as if the story has already begun, providing basic exposition: Dallas, October, Thursday night. A blue-eyed man,...

Persistence Pays | A Young Readers' Report

Sophie Haigney

“Harriet Tubman was born a slave, and her story could have ended there. Instead, she persisted, escaping from slavery and becoming the most famous ‘conductor’ on the Underground Railroad,” begins the first section of Chelsea Clinton’s baffling 2017 children’s book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. True to its subtitle, the book marches on through thirteen stories of women persisting. Helen Keller persisted,...

Invested Development | Hacking Ethiopia’s Future

Britt H. Young

A hotel app, but for quarantine! A grocery delivery app, but for people in lockdown! The frenzy of projects proposed by the Ethiopia Covid-19 Response Team (ECRT) to bolster the country’s pandemic response felt appropriate for a group of mostly techies who had never worked in humanitarian or developmental organizations. “We must help the Ministry of Health, give them everything — our best abilities, hearts, and creativity,” one volunteer commanded...

Essay | Poetry

Elisa Gonzalez

Before, no rain fell because I needed none — good in any case, because, Homer writes, Gods are daunting when they appear as they are. A student emails that class is a struggle (in a sense): I need help, he says, understanding the Problems of Mass Incarnation. In the garden, sunflower heads hoist and swing. Rain-shadow jumps through the door. Yesterday my bicycle ran over a yellow snake. Don’t we...

The Sun Sets, Input Not Detected | Poetry

Greg Nissan

The guide exits the square as anyone would, drawn by dusk to the edges of rivers a pulse erupts, parade of intervals we could fill pointing to beer drinkers or the mayflies but either way to sound a space for our recurrence, where the promise of the night and the night coincide tomorrow, if you’ll join us. I won’t deny I wrote alone I am a cold metal feather. I...

“Determined to Wait” | Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Around the World

Carey Baraka, Meher Ahmad, Nicole Froio, Pamela Maddock, Peter Vale, Tryggvi Brynjarsson, Zoey Poll

As the Delta variant spreads, much has been made of the American anti-vax movement — its political character, its expressions, its impact. Elsewhere, the question of who has access to vaccines has frequently been more urgent than who is choosing to get one. And yet, across the globe, we’re seeing instances of vaccine hesitancy and refusal, for a wide variety of reasons.  We asked writers around the world: Who’s vaccine-skeptical,...

Like a Colossus | Ben Rhodes Goes Looking for Democracy

Parvin Khan

In both his first and second books, published three years apart, Ben Rhodes recalls a turn of phrase from the end of the last millennium that left a deep impression on him: “America bestrides the world like a colossus.” The neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote those words in a 1999 column for Time called “A Second American Century?” about the unipolar system that seemed to have emerged after the Cold...

Editors’ Note | Eighteen Months

The Editors

The first print issue of The Drift is almost exactly eighteen months overdue. At the beginning of March 2020, we were gearing up to launch our magazine. We had edited twelve pieces, picked out our fonts, run our fingers over paper stock and made final selections. The idea, then seemingly foolproof, was to order a shipment of magazines to one of our apartments and recruit friends to help us carry them...

“Left in the Dark” | Covid Behind Bars

April Harris, Christopher Blackwell, Corey Devon Arthur, Darla Jones, Felix Sitthivong, Joel Castón, Olethus Hill Jr., Patrick Stephens, Wesley Williams

Almost as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, writers rushed to narrativize the social experiment that was “lockdown.” Some of the reports, including those on the risks undertaken by workers newly deemed “essential,” have felt necessary and urgent. Others less so, like the slew of navel-gazing “quarantine diaries” produced last spring. (One prominent novelist compared her experience sheltering in place in her Los Angeles mansion to “doing time.”) Less visible...

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