The last 18 months have been exhausting
Let's hope we've learned a few things. I know I have.
Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague). “The Bridge,” a cartoon by Clay Bennett (@bennettcartoons), captures American politics today.
Scroll down for Read Something; Watch Something; and a weekly tech tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob).
Recent #NYTReadalong episodes: legendary journalist Hedrick Smith, on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers; and author & former NYT weddings writer Cate Doty. NYTReadalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This really was the year that changed everything. The hard truths of how our political system works have been laid bare, the ways in which large swathes of workers are exploited are now very clear, and, on a somewhat positive note, we’ve seen just how resilient people and communities can be.
Our democracy hung by a thread last year, and the quicker we internalize that and act upon it, the better our country will be for it. This goes well beyond gerrymandering, the broken Senate, and an information landscape rife with toxicity and misinformation. We are nearing the final stretch of a very large outlay of taxpayer money that kept the economy afloat (to a degree), but there could have been so much more. The thing is, the richest Americans simply don’t pay taxes like the rest of us.
This isn’t some “soak the rich” rant, it’s more of an exhausted sigh. I don’t get too caught up in what the optimal rates would be. Just something, anything, would be a great start. Much of the debate about the way the US government finances itself is political theater on the best of days, but the simple fact is that there would be a lot more money to go around—especially in extraordinary circumstances—if just a few of the top .0001% paid even minimal taxes.
This all leads inevitably toward worker exploitation. It comes in many forms, almost all of which were jarringly present over the last year and a half. The strain on frontline healthcare workers was incredible; the pressure on workers in the service industry with little or no flexibility being essentially forced to show up to work every day at great personal risk; and then there’s logistics and fulfillment.
Amazon stock is up 28% over the last year. It’s up 28% because the company just kept delivering no matter what. Jump down to the Read Something section for a great piece of reporting on Amazon in the time of Covid19.
After all the pain and suffering - and 600,000 dead, here we Americans are re-emerging to something of a normal life. Millions of people, so many of them touched directly by the pandemic, made it. Some will change their priorities completely, many will work from home much more than they ever thought they would (and businesses all over the world will be better for it), others will relish in the company of their colleagues. All of them will have made it.
But, now is the time to engage. There will be another pandemic or something similar— another unique chance for people to band together to survive. There is not a lot to be proud of in America’s response to Covid19, but I also think a lot of people understand that now, even if they won’t say it out loud. Being better-prepared means tackling the very fundamental issues facing our system. We’ve seen them now.
We’ve seen the devastating effects of a broken, painfully slow legislative system. We’ve seen how inequality manifests itself when businesses must remain open and place frontline workers at the vanguard of a deadly sickness. We’ve also seen remarkable ingenuity and resourcefulness. We’ve seen people adapt and even thrive. We’ve seen people change everything.
We made it.
Just an incredible piece of journalism here. Covid19 restrictions are all-but-gone across most of the US (never having existed is some places, of course), and now will come the real reflection on the the last 18 months. The toll the early days of the pandemic took on workers in Amazon warehouses—workers already under incredible stress—is truly heartbreaking.
Coming Soon: Microsoft’s New Windows
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Robert S. Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
For almost five years, the number attached to Microsoft’s Windows operating system has been stuck on 10. That will change Thursday, but beyond that everything else is unknown—right down to the actual name of the new OS.
At last month’s Microsoft Build conference, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft would soon reveal “one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade.” While he’s been light on details since, an apparent leak of an early version of the new OS reveals slick high-resolution menus, rounded corners and icons and some new features.
According to the leak reviewed by The Verge and other tech media outlets, the new Windows will include a new boot-up sound, changes in navigation and a task bar that’s centered on the bottom of the screen. A new feature will make it easier to arrange multiple windows on the screen or to “snap” windows to an edge of the screen.
A “widgets” button will allow users to set up interactive windows that can be configured to track the weather, stock prices, news and other data much like smartphone widgets. Many other menus, according to the leaked version, which carried “Windows 11” labeling, will stay much the same, but with cosmetic tweaks.
Of course, a major Windows update raises the question: Can my PC handle it? If your unit is more than three years old, keep a close eye on the requirements of the new Windows once they’re posted. Snappy graphics and other multimedia features could demand more out of your PC’s memory and processor.
Utility software such as Iolo System Mechanic can maximize memory and clean junk files out of your computer while a backup utility like Acronis True Image can back up files to an external hard drive or the cloud—a good idea before an OS update like this one.
So, what’s the rest of the story on the new Windows? Tune in at 11 a.m. ET on June 24 at Microsoft’s event page.
To understand Juneteenth and so much more, I turned to Genetta Adams (@GenettaAdams), managing editor of The Root, for an episode of my weekly, global Covid show. Here the recording - I learned so much:
Odds & Ends
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