Pandemic Time: A Distributed Doomsday Clock

Even within a single apartment building, neighbors experience different temporalities. In one unit, we have a single extrovert experiencing the acute trauma of being forced to work alone from home. Next door, we have parents suddenly juggling childcare and work. At the end of the hall is an immigrant using WhatsApp to track the fate of family members on the other side of the globe who are suddenly physically unreachable due to travel bans. Even members of a single household experience pandemic time differently.

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Rao on the Longform Podcast

Numbering the Dead

A hundred and fifty years ago, slightly more, a strange notion: the dead could be counted. In the Civil War, in the lush fields of the South, Americans first, as a culture, began to imagine death in numbers. Rosters of soldiers, as well as lists of war casualties, were not common practice in the mid-nineteenth century. Many officials feared responsibility for the dead by numbering or naming them, and military leaders felt an accurate count might embolden their enemies.