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- Don’t Give Hong Kong’s Government the CreditIt was January when I first heard about the mysterious viral pneumonia circulating in Wuhan, China. I had some major worries—was this SARS redux, or something else?—but also a small, selfish lament. I was eager to go back to Hong Kong, where I had been conducting research on its protest movement. A new epidemic there would likely mean that visiting the city anytime soon would be unsafe. I worried about my many friends there. I told them that I hoped to see them as soon as the outbreak was over.It’s been five months, and I doubt Hong Kong will let someone like me in anytime soon. The city of more than 7 million people had no local cases for weeks until today; meanwhile, I live in the country with the worst outbreak in the world, the United States, with more than 80,000 known deaths from COVID and without encouraging developments… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- How to resist self-driving car hypeThe invention of driving At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the middle of an exhibition on car culture, sits a grid of sepia photographs from the early Twentieth Century. The pictures, taken by travelling salesmen from Michelin, show places from Cape Town to Clermont-Ferrand (the company’s home town). Some are of smooth highways. Others show tracks dotted with potholes and boulders. In 1921 André Michelin and his brother Édouard had turned their expertise in bicycle tires towards the motor car, a technology that was exploding in popularity. The Michelin Roulement Universale was a tire designed to be sold around the world, but the world’s roads were of varying quality. Their road photography project was an exercise in market research, but it was also an act of lobbying. Michelin wanted improvements to the world’s highways, and they wanted them fast. The Michelin brothers were never just rubbersmiths. While… ..... Read More.3 weeks ago
- It’s Boom Times for Augmented RealityI am alone in my apartment, as always, and I’ve just replaced my left eyeball with an orange springing out of its peel.A mile away, a friend, also home alone, is taking her seat—every seat, actually—at the table in The Last Supper, yelling as the camera pans down the row of disciples and her face replaces that of one man after another. Another friend is watching a mouse dressed as the Pope dance across her kitchen floor. A third is smiling while a strange man wraps his arms around his throat.Many of us have nowhere to go, no one to see, no communal experience to be a part of, no shared feelings other than dread. But the platforms of the pandemic—Zoom, Instagram, Snapchat, FaceTime—all let us pretend that our life is more than just four walls. With augmented-reality filters, users can mess with their appearances in elaborate ways. Before the… ..... Read More.4 weeks ago
- How ‘Karen’ Became a Coronavirus VillainIn the ongoing, tense conversation over how long America has to remain locked down during the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more absurd moments came two weeks ago: Carolyn Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, called for the immediate reopening of her city’s casinos, offering her constituents up as a “control group” to test whether stay-at-home measures are actually effective. The notion baffled public-health experts, who maintain that a rigorous adherence to social distancing is essential to overcoming the outbreak. It drew swift condemnation from other Las Vegas officials, who referred to Goodman as “reckless” and “an embarrassment.” And, as is so often the case in public blunders, it received its harshest criticism online. Goodman was called “an idiot,” “an actual monster,” and, maybe most damning, “a real Karen’s Karen.”On the internet, a Karen is not always named Karen. The title has been used to decry a woman named Diane… ..... Read More.1 month ago