Image credit: Carvana
What a wonderful world we live in!! Drop a coin in a vending machine and buy a whole automobile just as easily as you would buy a snack from the machine in the hallway on the way to your next class. Perfectly normal. This 30-second ad from Carvana, which debuted in 2015, makes it look just that simple.
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They’re calling it the Great Resignation, and it’s all over the news these days. So many people quitting their jobs! What’s going on?! Pundits and analysts are looking from every angle, trying to get a handle on what may (or may not) be a huge trend here in the US at the end of 2021. In this October 2021 article, Time Magazine’s health correspondent Jamie Ducharme analyzes the situation, focusing on worker burnout, and offers suggestions for workers and their employers.
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Has the pandemic changed you? What a silly question! Of course it has. Ahhh, but how deeply? In what ways? That question can’t be answered yet, and we may not be able to know for a very long time. In this October 2021 report, writer and journalist Greg Rosalsky, who covers a variety of financial topics for NPR’s Planet Money, investigates some of the reasons for the long arc of pandemic consequences, including the current phenomenon known as the Great Resignation.
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We already know all about how the world around us changed in 2020, how we had to modify, adjust, and adapt along with it. We’ve read and discussed all the effects, all the angles; we know all about it. One major aspect of life, though, may have gone unexamined: language habits. Journalist and culture critic Tracy Moore is surprised to notice a change in her own speech, and she relates her experience with it in this March 2021 Washington Post essay.
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In addition to the human dramas that play out daily in our towns and cities, the wildlife that live among us have their own dramas, too. And sometimes those dramas intertwine. A university biologist in Chicago, whose office looks out on the school’s Botany Pond, has watched and looked after a particular migratory duck who has returned to the pond for each of the last five years. Mary Schmich, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, has documented this intertwined drama of the duck and the professor several times; this March 2021 column is the latest chapter of the ongoing tale.
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In summer 2020, communities all around the US were coming out of lockdown and making decisions about how, how much, and when to open up and resume (at least some) normal activities. Months later, the situation hasn’t changed too very much, despite the development and slow rollout of the vaccine, and we expect, sadly, that the pandemic and its conditions will be with us in some ways for a long time to come. Law and psychology professor Tess Wilkinson-Ryan wrote this analysis of risk assessment, shaming, and decision making for the July 2020 The Atlantic. Have things changed much since its publication? (We hope so.)
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It’s by far the #1 topic of conversation this year. You knew immediately (even without the image) what we were referring to, right? The COVID pandemic, of course. Public discourse about the pandemic and the virus that causes the disease relies heavily on war metaphors. Words like battle, combat, defeat, fight, and others are everywhere in media of all kinds and in personal conversations—so much so that it seems like there are no other ways to think about the situation. Writer and columnist Virginia Heffernan argues that there are better ways to think and talk about the pandemic, and she explains her position in this May 2020 essay in Wired.
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Have you celebrated a coronavirus-era birthday yet? How did it feel? Some people we know were very saddened and disappointed to not be able to celebrate in a big way. Some were actually relieved to be able to spend their birthday quietly and without fuss. Others just shrugged their shoulders, bought a cupcake at the store, and set their sights on next year. But sad, relieved, or resigned, nobody blew out the candles while loved ones gathered around closely and sang a silly ditty. Welcome to the New Normal. In this July 2020 report, Washington Post feature writer Caitlin Gibson wonders whether that familiar custom may be gone forever.
Continue reading “Blowing Out Candles Is Basically Spitting on Your Friends’ Cake. Will We Ever Do It Again?” →