Digested week: what Squid Game are you on, my six year old asks me | Emma Brockes
Before even being able to tackle the story, the the numbers are staggering: There are 78,000 teachers in the New York public school system, employed in 1,800 schools and with an annual operating budget of $ 38 billion (£ 28 billion). The pool of substitute teachers is 9,000 people, beyond which there are 5,000 other substitute teaching assistants who this morning, the mayor’s office said, were ready to step in if the Covid vaccine mandate for teachers resulted in gaps in the system.
A week earlier, the city’s nursing homes and hospitals had undergone a similar exercise, with amazing results. Statewide, the week before the vaccination mandate went into effect, 84% of nursing home workers reported having received at least one injection. Almost overnight, that number jumped to 97%. In parts of New York City, nursing homes have reported increases of 20% in just a few days.
As of Friday, school workers in the city were told that if they did not present proof of at least one vaccine by the end of the weekend, they would be put on unpaid leave. Three days later, the number of unvaccinated people was 3,000, which is perhaps higher than expected, given the assumption that the people who teach our children are 100% sane.
But still, as the percentages went, they weren’t bad. “Ninety-five percent of all full-time DoE employees are vaccinated, 96% of all teachers, 99% of all principals,” said Bill de Blasio, the mayor. Similar surges have also occurred in the private sector. At United Airlines, the news broke that the airline had achieved 99% compliance with its own vaccine mandate, with just 600 of the 67,000 employees fired for resisting. There were similar numbers at Delta, which announced last month that it would add $ 200 to the cost of the company’s monthly health care package for unvaccinated workers, a very compelling argument, in the end.
The flaw is the religious exemption laws. For years before Covid, anti-vaxxers claiming to be Orthodox Jews or devout Christians would come downtown to the Education Ministry offices and pose as sober saints. Given the risk to public health of endorsing these claims, there should be a surveillance system in place at least as rigorous as that of suspected green card marriages. Do you want to claim the religious exemption? OK, show me evidence of your baptism, your first Bible camp, your prayer circle, your study group, and answer the following questions: When did you first know Jesus? What did you like the most about him? What’s the most memorable thing he’s ever said? Which side of the bed do you keep your Bible on? Have you ever made a pilgrimage together and do you have photos to prove it?
“You only do it because it looks like England,” says a friend, and she’s not wrong. Every day after school, I drag my kids 50 blocks north of Saint-Jean-le-Dieu Cathedral. It is one of the largest cathedrals in the world, with expansive grounds inside cloisters that look unmistakably English. Most importantly, he runs an excellent and reasonably priced Episcopal-sponsored after-school program.
I am in love with this cathedral and its sweet Anglican atmosphere. The first stone was laid in 1893, which I feel a bit sniffed at: not exactly Chartres, I think, is the kind of remark that makes Americans, rightly so, continue to hate the English. But there is a pure white peacock roaming the park. (His name is Phil, and they feed him cat food.) On the flagpole, stars and stripes hang next to the bishop’s flag, which encompasses St George’s red cross. After the deposit, I walk past the stone steps of the cathedral and consider how deeply soothing even the word “sacristy” is. Uncontrollable nostalgia: maybe it’s time to go home.
In the ledger of pandemic winners and losers here is Warby Parker, the U.S. equivalent of Specsavers, a low-cost eyewear company that publicly filed for its IPO this summer and quickly gained entry into the market. “I can’t believe they said that loud” hall of fame. Speaking to clients and investors, a company spokesperson announced the good news that recent increases in the use of screens in America had done wonders to corrode the country’s sight and improve Warby Parker’s results.
Other companies have made an innovative game of the pandemic. A black truck emblazoned with the words “Wilmore Funeral Home” recently drive around charlotte, North Carolina, with the message “don’t get the vaccine” on the side, to encourage, uh, business. (Obviously there was no Wilmore funeral home, it was a publicity stunt by an advertising agency acting for the public good, or at least acting under the assumption that being seen as good might be good for them. business.)
In New York, meanwhile, the brave outsider Macy’s took amazon last week, in an attempt to prevent him from renting 2,200 square feet of advertising space on a fence outside his store. Like Barnes & Noble before him, Macy’s, a former brick and mortar retail giant, finds himself in the role of mom and pop store valiantly watching Amazon’s T-rex. We’re surely not far from cheering on Walmart, the old megamart and former holder of the title of America’s Worst Place to Work, as a valiant little guy who stands up to his – incredibly – even more evil successor.
It’s the day before the new James Bond film opens in the US, and photos of Daniel Craig looking like an aging idol in the morning abound. It’s all there: the fleeting lips, the waxy sheen, the haughty demeanor, plus a lot of very tedious interviews. (Sample New York Times preview: “Believe me, I’m just a mortal.”). He’s about to play Macbeth on Broadway, God help us.
I’m too engrossed in Squid Game to watch Bond, cover seven hours of the violent South Korean show in three days. No spoilers, but in broad outline – and like so many hit shows, from Mare of Easttown to, sorry, even pieces from The White Lotus – it starts out incredibly strong, wobbles in the middle, and falls from cliff to cliff. the end with a Scooby-Doo Finale.
“What game are you on? One of my six-year-olds asks, and I look at her in horror and amazement. My kids don’t have independent access to Netflix, but – who knew? – the show has already been transformed into multiple worlds on Roblox. “Are there murders? ” I ask. “Yes,” she said. “What happens when someone is killed? “” They explode into a thousand pieces. She looks delighted. (I’m checking, obviously, the graphics suck. When someone is “killed,” their lumpy head drops and their body harmlessly pixelates.) We retreat to different parts of the house and our versions adapted to the age of this horrible spectacle.
There is horror everywhere. We spent a good part of the week talking about man from illinois who – brace yourself – woke up in the middle of the night to find a bat on his neck, a colony having settled in his attic. He contracted rabies – the first person to contract the disease in Illinois since 1954 – refused the rabies vaccine and died a month later, presumably fit and foam in his mouth. There is an effective pro-vax ad campaign in there somewhere.