The next ‘scariant’ of the pandemic is upon us.

In April 2020, I could be seen opening my front door each morning donning a fresh pair of chalky rubber gloves (It’s not what you think). I would walk a few steps, pick up the blue New York Times bag lying on my driveway, and bring it inside, arm fully extended. In my kitchen, the bag would be hit with three or four sprays of Method disinfectant and thoroughly wiped. Slowly, I would let the newspaper fall onto the counter for reading. Similarly, when in-person learning resumed, my wife and I required our sons to strip in the mudroom and run directly to the shower each day after school. We treated our world like it was the Axiom just after WALL-E arrived, with M-O stubbornly sweeping up any potential “foreign contaminants.” I own it. I was that guy.

  • Buy and Large: Pixar’s creators use an average of 50,000–75,000 storyboards for each animated film. How many were used in the making of WALL-E? (answer below)

The newness, mixed messaging, and overall lack of knowledge on the pandemic drew our attention to the media for answers and insight. At a certain level, the media provided the valuable public service we all want and expect. When hurricanes or wildfires are barreling down on our cities and towns, we need the media to keep us informed. Yes, the media can and does save lives.

Which leads me to the current Covid-19 “scariant.” Scariant is a term coined by Wired in 2020 to describe the use of headlines, doomsday-speak, and sensationalism to drive clicks and views to news stories related to the pandemic. By every scientific measure, the current delta variant is dangerous and terrifying. But it doesn’t mean that our time with the news needs to increase proportionally with the volume of new hospitalizations. Very few people need to be informed on the pandemic more than once per day. Any more than that, as we’ve all learned, is simply causing us more unnecessary stress.

Wall-E, a cautionary dystopian tale | Pixar​​


Because of Zoom, most people I know didn’t see the back of my head for over a year. Thank goodness — because I was cutting my own hair. But for many others, self-consciousness goes way beyond hair, and is linked to a range of mental health issues. Zoom Dysmorphia Is Following People Into the Real World — Wired — August 30, 2021

“When it comes to ableism, non-disabled people are fairly predictable and uncreative. So, watching as the media repeated over and over that the “healthy” had nothing to fear from the virus, my stomach was pitted with dread. We would never be free of COVID-19.” A powerful and thought-provoking article about media coverage of the disabled during the pandemic. Death by a Thousand Words: COVID-19 and the Pandemic of Ableist Media — Refinery29 — August 30, 2021


You’re telling me we’ve known this all along??? Drink less, exercise more and take in the air — sage advice on pandemic living from a long-forgotten, and very long, 18th-century poem — The Conversation — August 30, 2021

  • Weight just a minute: While indoor athletic equipment, such as dumbbells and medicine balls, have existed since the ancient Greeks, in what year was the first piece of equipment designed solely for indoor cardiovascular training?


  • 125,000 storyboards were used in the making of Disney Pixar’s WALL-E (Boords)
  • In 1871, William B. Curtis introduced the Curtis Rowing Machine, which became the first piece of cardiovascular equipment designed solely for indoor training purposes. (Fitrated)

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Founder/CEO of Turbine Labs. I write about information access, overload, and bias, as well as our AI-powered software. ( / @turbinelabs)