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This article was published on November 17, 2020

Ooh Ah Ah Ah

Ooh Ah Ah Ah
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.

Hola pandemic pals,
Anyone else spend almost all their time in public glaring at people over your mask? No matter where I go there’s always people walking around without masks, shaking hands, hugging, talking in tight circles, and, worst of all, generally insisting on entering my personal space whenever I stop moving.

And my neighbors. They’re the worst. The more I chuckle politely and say “Sorry, we’re still isolating and social-distancing,” the more they act like we’re doing so just to spite them.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I have sentry fatigue. Because both my fiancée and I have underlying conditions that place us in high risk groups for COVID-19 complications, we have to be hyper vigilant.

It’s exhausting and it makes me want to start a mass-marketing campaign backed by Godsmack’s popular songs “Go Away” and “Keep Away.”

We can print T-shirts that read: If you can read this then you’re close enough to give me COVID-19 you stupid jerk 

Alternatively, I may just start barking the “Oooh Ah Ah Ah” part from the intro to Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness” at anyone who comes within one meter of me.

Come for the COVID-19 news, stay for the 1990s-era rage-nostalgia.

By the numbers

Last week I crapped all over the vaccine excitement (recap: vaccines = good, but only enough doses for 9% of population = meh). This week, I just want to see if my boss is paying attention. 
  • 50: Approximate number of times I’ve started a new Fallout 4 save.
  • 0: Number of times I’ve finished Fallout 4.
  • 43: The age I told my boss I was turning last week, she responded “Does it hurt?”?
  • 1: Number of Pulitzer Total Landscaping Prizes I’ve been nominated for

Tweet of the week:

What to read

My heart isn’t broken, yours is, North Dakota is in huge trouble, and Space Karen…
? Donald Trump is too busy throwing the deadliest temper tantrum in history to give the slightest of *coughs* about COVID. (The Guardian)
? Don’t watch this report, it’s freaking gut-wrenching. As COVID cases rage in Texas, this kid lost both his parents days before his 5th birthday. (KABB FOX San Antonio)
? North Dakota has been so utterly devastated by COVID-19 the governor is calling on infected healthcare workers to keep working. (The Guardian)
? Who gets the first COVID vaccinations? Nobody could POSSIBLY know that, at this point, considering we haven’t even seen any peer reviews. Duh. (AP)
? Two thumbs up to Nicole Wetsman for this excellent, comprehensive COVID-19 explainer. (The Verge)
? Now Moderna has a super-effective vaccine too? (The New York Times)
? So (and follow me on this one), Mouthwash kills COVID-19? Interesting. So could we make a gum that does this too? ‘Cause I’m not gargling mouthwash all day. (New York Post)
? Here’s why people are calling Elon Musk “Space Karen.” (The Complex)
? Researchers using AI discovered an arthritis drug that could help the elderly survive COVID-19. (Neural)
? Those vaccine announcements have sent the stock market into a big old boom (HardFork)


In this little section, we’d like to discuss the tech that’s getting us through the pandemic.

My internet went down for about 20 hours between Sunday and yesterday. Miraculously, I think it’s only the second outage I’ve had since March (and this one was caused by a cut fiber cable).

For the first time since the pandemic started, my family spent an evening and a day without internet access. It was… revelatory.

First off, we still had full internet connectivity with our phones so we weren’t exactly off the grid. But we couldn’t use any of our big screens.

When the internet went down we were in the middle of a Civilization VI local hotseat game. Unrelated to the internet outage, the power flashed and we were unable to reconnect to our offline game.

You see, I hadn’t previously set my Steam or Epic gaming accounts to work offline on that specific device. And that meant that all of my PC games were, in effect, useless until I reconnected to the internet.

And so were the Echo Dots, Google Minis, and about a dozen other always-connected gadgets in my house. My robot vacuum gets incredibly confused without WiFi and all my connected lights and speakers are difficult and unintuitive to operate offline.

Yet, none of this bothered me in the slightest. We just watched Hulu on one of our phones. I was able to accomplish a full work day’s worth of writing, editing, and research using my phone and the Google Docs and Chrome apps.

In fact, the only thing I couldn’t figure out how to do with my phone was call the local 800 number to get my internet fixed — I live in Mexico and my US phone just wouldn’t connect for some weird reason.

There was a time, just a decade ago, when the internet going out was almost as bad as the power getting cut off. It was not only a work-stopper (for those of us who worked from home back in the day) but a total entertainment stopper. I can assure, nobody sitting on the beach in Mexico in 2010 was publishing articles for a tech site or watching Netflix uninterrupted in 1080p HD using a cell phone with a data plan from another country.

Well, bye

The pandemic isn’t over and we’re all in this together.

The good news is that doing your part is easy peasy lemon squeezy:

1. Wear a mask.
2. Stay 2-3 meters away from others in public spaces.
3. Support government officials who take the pandemic seriously. 


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