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This article was published on December 15, 2020


What’s the opposite of pandemic?

What’s the opposite of pandemic?
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. 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,

I was thinking about Superman today. He was designed to be the ultimate hero. He’s strong, fast, smart, and full of empathy. He’s everything a kid could want in the super-est of superheroes.

And that’s why it’s damn near impossible to tell a compelling story about him without invoking one of his two great weaknesses: kryptonite and loving humans.

My favorite superhero stories are the ones where the heroes fight their alternate-dimension doppelgangers.


Ultraman (pictured above) is Superman’s evil alternate from Earth 3. He’s the opposite of Superman. Where Superman is allergic to kryptonite, Ultraman likes to ride the green pony. Seriously, here’s a line from his Fandom Wiki:

Ultraman possesses the standard powers of a Kryptonian, only he is empowered by green Kryptonite (being able to crush it into powder and even snort it like cocaine) and is weakened by yellow sunlight.

Right about now I wouldn’t mind snorting some sunshine. It’s been a tough year. COVID-19 waded in like Ultraman and upended everything.

But our yellow sun still rises everyday. The vaccines are on the way.

It occurred to me that we’re Superman. We’re what’s going to stop COVID-19 because it’s the exact opposite of everything we stand for.

It keeps us apart. It forces us into lonely isolation where our mental health issues turn into mental health crises. It changes who we are as a society.

That’s why we have to be Superman. He always manages to beat all his evil doppelgangers because in the end, he’s willing to sacrifice. Superman’s humanity (despite the fact he’s an alien) is his greatest strength.

We have to be willing to sacrifice. The pandemic’s getting worse. Cases are going up. Deaths are going up. It’s time for the third act, the part of the movie where the heroes dust themselves off and dive back into the fight.

I know you’re tired.

But it’s time to win.

By the numbers

Totals as of 12/15
Source: Worldometers
  • USA: Cases: 16,974,656 Deaths: 308,662
  • India: Cases: 9,925,062 Deaths: 143,985
  • Brazil: Cases: 6,934,539Deaths: 181,978

Tweet of the week:

What to read

Vaccines are risky business for those with allergies, COVID made time slow down, and SAVE OZZY! … 
💉“Two people in the United Kingdom have experienced an allergic reaction to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.” (The Conversation via TNW)
👀Study says the Moderna vaccine is “highly effective” at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. (The New York Times)
🤯Frontline healthcare workers aren’t being tested for COVID-19?!?! (NPR)
😷The US is currently experiencing its highest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (CNN)
🚨The richest countries in the world already bought up all the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines like PS5 preorders. (The New York Times)
⏳You know how it feels like 2020 was the longest spring and summer ever, then suddenly it went from like August 1st to today with no time in-between? Yeah, it’s not just you. (The Verge)
😱Sharon Osbourne has tested positive for COVID. She’s quarantined away from Ozzy. I’m hyperventilating. Someone tell me it’s going to be okay. (People)
💉The vaccine is good, but if you get it you’ll still need to wear a mask to protect others. (The New York Times)

¯_(ツ)_/¯

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

Let’s talk about Cyberpunk 2077. I actually like it?

It’s not a good game. As my colleague Nino pointed out, no amount of patching can save it.

But, it is an important game. I’ve put a total of about 10 hours into it (over two different characters) and I would describe the experience as being similar to trying to watch scrambled pornography. If you’re too young to get that, just imagine a super intense glitch filter applied to fleshy blobs.

My point: Cyberpunk 2077 is a sequel or two away from shutting everyone up about GTA5, Skyrim, and the Witcher 3. It’s a buggy, ugly mess right now. A lot can be fixed with patches but the core issue is that it’s incomplete.

The game has more systems than a NASA command center but the world they exist in sucks. Not only is the world bland (I call it “Neon Fallout”), it’s dead and empty. I recently went back and played Saint’s Row 2 and it was a breath of fresh air after seeing the same exact character model repeated no less than 6 times in one alley while playing Cyberpunk 2077.

But I like Cyberpunk 2077. The writing is stellar and the systems the game uses (gaining experience, modding weapons, etc) are a lot of fun.

The tiny pieces of Cyberpunk 2077 that are good are friggin’ great. If you squint really hard and really try to peer through the scrambled picture, you can see there’s something new and amazing hidden there.

If they patch the graphics and fix the bugs it’ll be a good game. But it could have been something more than great. Maybe next time.

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. 

Adios,
Tristan

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