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Current Events

Nike – Can’t Stop Us

My kids are sick of me showing them Nike’s latest commercial which was just released this morning and already has almost 5 million views on YouTube and over 50k retweets on Twitter.

It’s just so good.

Not only does Nike tap into the deep longing we all have to get back together and enjoy sports, it also cleverly brings together two sides of our divided world into a message of unity. The message is that unity brings strength with the underlying theme being that we need to work together to fight the challenges we face.

The campaign is for a Nike’s membership and is by Wieden + Kennedy, the Portland agency that does all of Nike’s commercials. More details here.

Earlier spots in the series include LeBron narrating Play for the World

Play for the World

and the iconic, For once, Don’t Do It

For once, Don’t Do It
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Current Events

Our New Future

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Current Events

Masked

City council meetings give us a glimpse into the soft underbelly of the American democracy. I remember having to sit through a Pennington, NJ neighbor debate at length with a Verizon representative who wanted to place a cell tower on top of the local firehouse. “Make it a ziggurat,” he said to the perplexed Verizon rep as I walked out the door.

Streaming video technology has opened the proceedings to the rest of the world. What used to be only open to those attending in person is now available for everyone to see. And mock.

Which brings me to Provo, Utah where they recently held a meeting to go over the state’s mandate that everyone at school must wear a mask.

Utah meeting on masks is canceled when residents without masks pack room

“A public meeting in Utah about a mask policy for schoolchildren was abruptly adjourned when people without masks packed the room.” This is how the NBC news report started out. If you watch the video above, the County Commissioner of Provo, Utah opened the meeting with, “This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing,” and was met with a chorus of boos from the packed gallery.

“Science should not stand in the way”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

This the where we are today in America. The rest of the world is on the other side of the curve, they worked together, looked out for their fellow citizens, wore their masks and are now on the road to recovery.

They are winning while we’re still arguing over the rules.

Italy, remember how bad it was there? Just 230 cases yesterday. Here in the US, we are setting new records with over 70,000 new cases today and convoys of refrigerated trailers are making their way to Arizona and Texas hotspots to serve as mobile morgues for the anticipated surge in deaths.

Yet people insist on their freedom of choice.

No one wants free masks in Huntington Beach
Bummed out tourist

Meanwhile, as people try to take their attitudes elsewhere, they are being dealt harshly. Americans are blocked entry into many European countries, and Hawaii has strict rules demanding quarantine for any arrivals from outside the islands. Check out the tourist from Utah who has to spend his Kauai vacation behind bars because he didn’t think the 14-day quarantine applied to him. Boy does he look bummed.

Like Tom Hanks says – it’s simple – “do your part, we’re all in this together.” Wear a mask for the your house, your work, your town, and society as a whole.”

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Current Events

Death as Art

These are the times we live in. Artist James Beckwith plotted each death from January thru June along a timeline, on a map and set it to music, “each country is represented by a tone and an expanding blip on the map when a death from Covid-19 is recorded” says Beckwith on his YouTube page.

This work was emotionally a difficult piece to write and may be upsetting to some people. I created it to highlight the terrifying spread of this virus and to try and understand how frightening its exponential growth has been. There seems to be something much more real and chilling about these numbers when you hear them, as well as seeing them.

James Beckwith

Beckwith took his inspiration from an earlier piece by the Japanese artist (and former foreign exchange dealer) Isao Hashimoto who created 1945-1998 an audio/visual representation of nuclear proliferation which you can see below.

“1945-1998”
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Current Events

Post-Pandemic Wuhan

Japanese documentary film maker Takeuchi Ryo has been living in Nanjing, China for seven years sharing. with his YouTube audience what it is like for a Japanese ex-pats living in China.

Long Time No See, Wuhan

In May, Mr. Takeuchi spent 10-days in the newly opened Wuhan, the Chinese city that was at the epicenter and perhaps source of the Coronavirus pandemic. We get a glimpse of a city flickering to life after a long, hard lockdown.

There’s the harsh economic reality of restaurant owners having to cut their prices to attract back customers who are also hurting from lost wages. We learn how contract tracing works in practice, movements are tracked everywhere, it’s Foursquare check-ins, enforced by law. QR codes have finally found widespread adoption. We experience life in the city through several individuals we meet up close.

There’s a nurse who volunteered on the front lines. She’s normally bubbly and would dance to help lift the spirits of her patients but asks to stop the interview when asked to recall what it was like to see so much death. She almost quit her job before the pandemic hit but now she has found a new purpose in her career.

There’s the construction worker who didn’t sleep for three nights while building that famous insta-hospital that went up in just 10-days. His future is uncertain as goods manufactured in Wuhan factories are shunned across China due to fears of contamination. Yet he’s just happy to be alive to raise his family after seeing complete civic panic and the potential collapse of society, up close.

There is also a newlywed couple that re-unite after quarantine forced their separation. Their joy to be together is infectious and through them you feel a giddiness that comes only when happiness has been denied for a long time.

The exuberant optimism of the city’s residents today in Long Time No See, Wuhan hint at what must have been a horrible period of sadness and despair. Only someone who has suppressed happiness for a long time could be this joyful and optimistic.

I am happy for the future of Wuhan but it’s those hints of what they went through that has me worried. I don’t feel like Americans are prepared to give up their freedoms in the same way that those in Wuhan did and still do so today. Americans cannot even agree to wear a mask in public. How will we ever enforce mandatory temperature checks, location tracking, and regular testing to reduce the spread of this disease? I hope we can pull together and do what needs to be done to turn things around.

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Current Events

Bolero Juilliard

Students from Juilliard quarantined at home like the rest of us, are unable to be with their colleagues or classmates, and isolated from the collective space where they practice their art.

But distance and isolation cannot dampen their spirit. As with others, they put a Zoom video together but, this being Juilliard, they took it to the next level and the gravitational momentum of the project brought in a several famous alumni to join the project.

The result is, as the Juilliard website describes, “a collective endeavor that captures a snapshot of a specific global moment and the possibilities of creative connection in an uncertain world.”

Bolero Juilliard

More from The Daily Beast on the making of:

Keigwin told The Daily Beast that getting Bolero Juilliard right “turned into an obsession that was comforting on so many levels. And we just hit it full speed for days and days. Not every project do you wake up at 3am for and have lots of ideas, or start editing at 6am. It was so inspiring and passion-filled. And it really wasn’t just me, this was a hugely collaborative effort.”

He laughed as he described shouting at the multiple performers on the screen in front of him: “Follow my lead…faster…grab something…stop…MELT.” People would be moving furniture, breaking things, an animal would enter the shot, leading Keigwin to exclaim: “No, keep the cat! I love the cat!

‘Bolero Juilliard’: Inside the Making of a Lockdown Musical Miracle
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Current Events

Ads in the time of Covid

In times of uncertainty, it’s best to stick to the pack.

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Office

Coronavirus Data

When you work for a news app and there’s lots of news, you’re busy.

At SmartNews we’ve been busy trying to get a handle on the numbers behind the Coronavirus pandemic and present it in a way that is meaningful to SmartNews users.

We started with a simple widget with totals for confirmed cases along with those that had recovered. We designed a way to put US and Global numbers in once widget that updated daily. Tapping on the More data link to you to a full page with interactive graphs showing the cumulative totals of these numbers over time along with the death count.

As casualties grew and recovery data started to look inconsistent (it’s not clear when you recover and many states do not require hospitals to record recovery rates), we made the difficult decision to post the death count on the widget, replacing the recovered figure. We re-built the data pipeline to pull in data more frequently so we added a counter to show the current daily totals compared to yesterday’s total.

Then we added county-level data to satisfy the growing interest in local information.

The most recent iteration, in the app today, adds back in the global number to give context to the US figures. We’ll continue to iterate on this widget to bring the most useful information to our users.

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Current Events

Can’t keep us down

The human spirit is irrepressibly creative.

https://twitter.com/RexChapman/status/1243935674895605761

Three mates stuck in their apartment Barcelona hit a chord with their bit, Stay Homas and have now become an internet sensation with their own YouTube channel and a profile in the New Yorker.

When British sportscasters get bored.
Daniel is a Flyers fan when he’s not parodying Broadway
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Current Events

Exponential Growth

I found this video and accompanying visualization of exponential growth on a logarithmic scale helpful, if not terrifying.

Animated plot of selected nations does not bode well for the United States. When looking at the growth along a logarithmic scale you see the United States and Italy shoot up and to the right like fireworks – racing past South Korea and China.

Singapore took quick action because of their experience with SARS but you can see the number of cases creeps back up but they are still below the trajectory of other nations. Japan and Finland have also managed to keep slightly below the trajectory of most nations but I think it’s too early to tell why.