The temptation of coronavirus surveillance

There is no shortage of things to worry about these days. Alas, you can add another to the list: so-called “covidiots”: a trending tag on Twitter about people, say, gathering on beaches or in bars, ignoring all the warnings, or simply just not practicing social distancing. It can be infuriating to see people act that way. It’s enough to make one wonder: Can’t we do more than simply shame them? Shouldn’t government start to use the enormous technology apparatus at our disposal to enforce these vital public health policies? As Sidney Fussel writes in Wired, “the rapid spread of the disease has prompted even some traditional defenders of personal privacy… Read More

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We need to send people money. We need to fix how they get it, too.

To battle the economic crash from the coronavirus pandemic, Congress is sending Americans cash. The deal just hammered out will send $1,200 to every adult making under a certain income threshold, and $500 for every child. But will the money actually get to everyone? In many cases, it turns out, it could take weeks or months. And many of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans will face further difficulties once the check arrives. “The Treasury Department is expected to begin directly depositing checks within a few weeks of the bill’s passing,” The New York Times reported. “But mailed payments will take one or two weeks longer, Republican Senate aides said… Read More

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Yes, the coronavirus crisis is real

This story was originally published in The New York Times. Used with permission. The only thing that should have been different about the first Friday in March was the apple crisp. Heaven Frilot didn’t usually cook at the end of the workweek, instead letting her family snack on leftovers — a roast or pork chops she’d made earlier, maybe — or order pizza. But her 10-year-old son, Ethan, was having a friend over that night, and her husband, Mark, a lawyer, was coming off a crushing week of arbitration. She would bake an apple crisp. Then Mark Frilot — 45 years old, “never, ever sick,” came home with a fever.… Read More

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Social distancing is about to get a whole lot harder

It’s another Friday in America, but we are not living in the same country we were even a week ago. Since last Sunday, versions of shelter-in-place orders have gone into effect in more than half the states; California, uniquely, will be spending its second weekend under government-mandated quarantine, while the rest of us are going into our first. Viruses don’t take weekends off, though, and neither should our social distancing precautions. Still, it can be extremely tempting to ignore the orders to stay primarily indoors, particularly as spring continues to warm up the northern hemisphere. As people lose their patience with being cooped up inside — and as the thermometer… Read More

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How parents can use coronavirus to teach kids about compassion

The global coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of families to cancel plans, stay home from work and school, and self-quarantine together. This can be frustrating and boring for lots of us, and especially for children. But it presents a good opportunity to teach kids about social responsibility, and how their own seemingly small acts of sacrifice and kindness — from washing hands and staying home, to volunteering for those in need — can improve the lives of many, many others. “This is perhaps the greatest opportunity in decades to teach children about life’s delicate balance between looking out for ourselves and doing what we want, and looking out for others… Read More

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Coronavirus is a fast-forward version of what will happen with climate change

The United States will shortly become the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, if it isn’t already. At time of writing some 60,653 American cases have been confirmed, and 784 people have died. It’s going to get much, much worse before it gets better — especially if President Trump goes ahead with his evident plan to open the country back up before the virus is controlled. It’s very hard to get one’s mind around the scale of the developing calamity. But it also provides an important window into a potential future of unchecked climate change. The coronavirus pandemic is a warp-speed tutorial in what will happen if we don’t get… Read More

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