No. 5: White Boy Summer of George

Getting stuck to get unstuck.

I got my first shot this week, at the end of a six-hour volunteering shift at a vaccination site in North Austin. I knew that the first dose of the vaccine itself would bring with it a sense of long-overdue relief1 but I didn’t anticipate just how fulfilling it would be to play a tiny part in helping others on the path towards immunity.

Like all of you, it has been a year of social isolation and a lack of human contact–where most of my social connection was with woefully inadequate 2D avatar versions of the people that matter most–accompanied by the often deliberate dehumanization brought on by the woeful state of America’s rigidly partisan, divisive sociopolitical climate.

After all of that, spending six hours as the last point of contact for hundreds of people receiving their second dose, ensuring they’d waited their 15 minutes and then saying “Congratulations, you are vaccinated” and sending them back out into the world, was incredibly cathartic. In every car that came through, I saw tears of joy, relieved laughter, and smiles (albeit through masks). I talked with strangers about the possibilities that returned with our impending inoculation, I spoke with people who lost loved ones but maintained optimism for the future. And I realized just how unquantifiably excited I am to see friends and colleagues in the real world and to keep expanding that circle with the added perspective on the value of human connection.

If you’re like me, looking forward to re-entering the world with a fresh start and new outlook as you reconnect with humanity, you may find value revisiting David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech to the graduating class at Kenyon College:

To echo the late DFW’s sentiments, I wish you way more than luck.

A few stories to read and toys to play with heading into the weekend:

We all had a good laugh about the giant Ever Given cargo ship trapped in the Suez Canal. Thanks to CNN, now you can try your hand at navigating the narrow waterway and see if you can do any better.

Spotify bought Betty Labs, makers of Locker Room (aka “the Clubhouse for Sports”) in a move signaling their move into the live audio space. But after all of the Clubhouse hype, was the trend real or just a byproduct of this socially isolated moment in history?

Lil Nas X captured all the headlines and outrage2 (and legal action) for his satanic partnership with “art collective” MSCHF3 this week, but look past the bloody shoes and court-ordered injunctions and you’ll find the true genius: his Twitter game.

Trump spent years shouting “fake news” at any reporter he didn’t like. Putin’s approach is far more elegant:

Volkswagen became an April Fool’s Day cautionary tale. My colleague Tom Morton said it best:

“This is the most pressing challenge of the auto industry: ‘Can you go electric?’ Choosing to joke about it undermines their commitment.”

Finally, looking to add a little culture to your weekend? The Louvre just put all 480,000 of its works online to view and download. You don’t even have to buy an NFT.

1

Admittedly still only partial relief with one shot down, until I get that spicy Moderna chaser.

3

If you’re not familiar with MSCHF, this is a good primer.