In this edition: Disinfectant, Soviet Russia, pseudoscience, hygge, Zoom fatigue, webcams in lockdown, architecture, strokes, email greetings, flu season, and March 11.
Your daily look at links I’ve saved to my Link Log (RSS) over the course of each day but didn’t necessarily address or highlight here on the blog. These are the links I logged yesterday, and not necessarily links to things published yesterday.
Trump is fighting back against news stories that detail the administration’s botched response to the crisis. Administration officials speaking to NBC News say that Trump’s disinfectant suggestion showed his irritation at his health advisers’ continuing warnings that the disease is not going away anytime soon, and that we must be prepared for a second wave in the fall. (In a sign that we are in this for the long haul, the editors of the New York Times announced today that, for the duration of the pandemic, they are replacing the “Travel” section of the Sunday newspaper with one entitled “At Home.”)
Our social media reflects the shift from a culture that celebrates capitalistic excess to one where victories come in securing the basics. People who once made you feel bad by posting lavish vacations, courtside seats at Warriors games, and well-plated delicacies at the French Laundry now boast of their sourdough starters. Meanwhile, every day we get a politburo-style government briefing in which our leader routinely tells us that we are enjoying abundance in categories of items that are, in fact, in desperate need of replenishment.
The Markup reporter Aaron Sankin first spotted the ad category when he was shown an ad on Facebook (for a cellphone-radiation-blocking hat) because, according to a Facebook tool, he was “interested in Pseudoscience.” He wondered: Could that really be an ad category?
Of course, the parallels between the winter blues and psychological toll of Covid-19 aren’t perfect. Uncertainty over the pandemic, the anxiety of its economic ramifications, and the strain of pandemic-time burdens like caring for vulnerable relatives and children all add extra layers of stress. But people who’ve embraced staying indoors for long periods of time can offer the rest of the world some guidance on how to cope with social isolation and endure the long days inside.
Multi-person screens magnify this exhausting problem. Gallery view—where all meeting participants appear Brady Bunch-style—challenges the brain’s central vision, forcing it to decode so many people at once that no one comes through meaningfully, not even the speaker.
Photographer Lucien Lung had been trying to unique find a way to cover the coronavirus pandemic despite being unable to leave his Paris flat. Using webcams, he captured the planet in lockdown at a specific time on a symbolic date: 4 April, the day Covid-19 cases exceeded 1m across the globe.
But before all of this, infectious disease had already molded the places we live—through architecture, design, and urban planning—in enduring ways. Right now, the lockdowns on movement and social interaction are critical to keeping the coronavirus at bay. These spatial interventions have a longer lineage, however, enshrined in the buildings that emerged from 20th century modernism. In the deadly wakes of cholera, tuberculosis, and flu pandemics, early 20th century architects saw design as a panacea to the sickness of overcrowded cities. Just as those scourges scarred and then reshaped cities, so will ours.
The man was among several recent stroke patients in their 30s to 40s who were all infected with the coronavirus. The median age for that type of severe stroke is 74.
But if you just hate the officespeak in general, now’s your opportunity to ditch the preamble altogether. Phatic language, McCulloch notes, changes all the time. (When’s the last time you saw someone sign a letter “Your obedient servant” outside of a Hamilton performance?)
In addition to mitigating coronavirus transmission, these types of mild social-distancing measures might help reduce the spread of the flu. “Some of these things will hopefully work their way into our more normal, day-to-day lives, and we’ll be able to do ‘social distancing light’ in a way that will help us reduce the transmission,” Stephen Kissler, an infectious-disease modeler at Harvard, told me.
To capture the moment that everything in American life changed—launching us into an uncertain future of unknown duration—WIRED collected the stories and memories of more than 30 people who lived March 11’s drama first-hand, from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange to a basketball arena in Dallas to Capitol Hill to the airports of Europe.