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This article was published on August 25, 2020

Zoom’s no good for funerals

Zoom’s no good for funerals
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 BFFs,

I was out last week due to my mother’s passing. No, she didn’t have COVID-19. She was 65 and in poor health. But her passing during a pandemic is something I wasn’t prepared for. 

Until now, modern technology has allowed me to escape the trappings of the modern world. I don’t like offices so I’ve worked from home since 2012. My job requires me to have a smart phone and an internet connection — something I can accomplish almost anywhere in the world in 2020. And that’s why I live on a beach thousands of miles from most of my family and friends.

I’ve used my phone to interview celebrities, participate in virtual parties, write hundreds of articles, and do all of my banking. And since the pandemic began it’s been even easier to live a life of detached convenience. Everyone’s in virtual meetings these days. 

But Zoom’s no good for a funeral. You could Skype a eulogy, I reckon. But I’m pretty sure you’ll just end up looking weird and goonish like Bill Gates on the big screen towering over in-person Steve Jobs at the 1997 MacWorld expo. 

Everyone’s different, and to each their own. For me, however, teleconferencing or webcasting my condolences is a step too far. But so is traveling during a global pandemic. 

Millions of immunocompromised people like myself have to treat quarantine as a matter of life and death. And so I’m staying at home with my kids.

The family made the decision not to hold a funeral service for her and, as long as the pandemic continues, we’re not sure what happens next. 

By the numbers

Last week y’all saw the official US death toll juxtaposed against the estimated US death toll. This week, let’s talk about money. (MarketWatch, Business Insider, Money Wise, Markets Insider, BBC)
  • Estimated eventual cost of COVID-19 worldwide: as high as $82 trillion
  • Estimated one year cost of COVID-19 UK: around £400 billion
  • Estimated five year cost of COVID-19 US: as high as $20 trillion
  • Estimated total cost of WWII US: about $4.1 trillion
  • Estimated total cost of Iraq War US: about $2 trillion
  • Estimated total cost of Apollo program US: about $25.4 billion

Tweet of the week

What to read

Don’t lick your fingers, plasma schmasma, and you can’t outrun the ‘rona…
? KFC decided now was a good time to drop it’s longstanding “finger lickin’ good” campaign. (BBC)
Fitness wearables could help detect COVID-19 symptoms early. (The Conversation)
? Convalescent plasma isn’t the miracle Trump was hoping it would be when he hyped the hell out of it. (NBC)
? In times of trouble science comforts me. Here’s some of my favorite weird, wacky, and cool research papers.
? Quarantine cinema can save us from all of Hollywood and YouTube’s bullshit.
? Cruise ships are back in business. That seems dumb. (CNN)
? The fastest man in the world (Usain Bolt) threw a big birthday bash and didn’t require masks or social distancing. Then he tested positive for COVID-19. Now he’s decided to take quarantine seriously. (ESPN)
? A Biogen conference in Boston last February turned out to be a super spreader event infecting tens of thousands of people. (The Boston Globe)
? ?Reinfected and it don’t feel good…? A Hong-Kong man caught the COVID for a second time. Yikes. (Vox)
? Florida Man says coronavirus is a hoax. Florida Man’s wife dies of COVID-19. Florida Man says he believes in coronavirus now. Don’t be like Florida Man. (BBC)
? This has nothing to do with COVID-19, but NBA2K20 is less than $5 on the PlayStation store right now. (PlayStation)


In this little section, we’d like to talk about the tech that’s getting us through the pandemic. This week, I want to discuss a few things I’m excited about.

1. Adobe Creative Suite. I just purchased my first full month of access to the entire spectrum of programs and apps. This will be my first foray into software such as Audition and After Effects.

I decided to pull the trigger on it because I needed the extra space in my Adobe account, there was a 7-day trial, and I’m working on several projects at once so I need a clean and simple pipeline from conception to post-production.

I’m absolutely loving the modern Premiere Pro (last time I used Premiere was probably 5 years ago) and I can’t wait to dive into some meaty tutorials for it and After Effects. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any tips.

2. I’m reviewing Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition on PS4. I liked the game on PC when it came out in 2018, but it was a bit too… PC-ish for my tastes. It’s been updated a lot since then and, now that it’s debuted on consoles, I thought I’d give it another glance. It’s so good now! I can’t wait to share my thoughts. The short version, however, is: It’s Dungeons & Dragons, but you don’t have to wait until your friends are available to play.

3. Elon Musk and Neuralink may announce human trials on Friday. Anyone who follows my coverage knows I’m not a big fan of Elon Musk. But Neuralink’s proposed BCI could be a game-changer and if it hits human trials I believe we’re going to see something amazing happen in the next decade in the space. I’m talkin’ iPhone moment.

Gigi changed up our outro during her excellent takeover last week and I’m glad. 

She mentioned that Black lives still matter and it’s important that we never stop yelling it until everybody gets it. 

And we also need to remember that people who identify as LGBTQPIA+ are still in mortal peril around the globe. Whether it’s Black trans women being at the highest statistical risk of being murdered or the simple fact that being queer is illegal in many countries, we’ve got a lot of work left to do before any of us can truly call ourselves a civilized species. 

COVID-19 is no longer a temporary setback for us to wait out. The effects of this pandemic will last years beyond the quarantine — which itself may last years. We’re not almost through this. The light at the end of the tunnel can’t be seen yet. It’s important we adjust to the reality and realize that those things that are most important cannot wait until the threat of pandemic passes.

Vote. In the US we have to vote. In other countries, we need to pressure those in power to effect the changes necessary to ensure all people are safe and free from oppression and bigotry. 

Adios amigos,

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