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What a fool of a year? 2020 didn't start with a bang. It started with a pop. It is only April and we are all desperate for a lever, hoping to flush these two as quickly as possible and pray that our toilet paper supply will last and the stench will not subside.
Maybe we should have seen everything coming. Finally, the year started with Gwyneth Paltrow's ridiculous lifestyle brand Goop, which released a Netflix series with six episodes. Yes, Gwyneth Paltrow. The college dropout who couldn't identify a vagina on a diagram while claiming to empower women with a pseudoscience smorgasbord. The same self-proclaimed wellness guru who advocated splashing coffee on your keister, shoving a stone into your Hooha, and letting bees sting you.
The insanity continued in her Netflix series. Among other things, she praised a magician-chiropractor who manipulates people's energy fields by pretending to do taiichi near them – like a weird guy in your neighborhood park who wears parachute pants and always smells of sandalwood. (At least it's a method that conforms to social distance, I think.)
It was unsettling enough that Goop is a multi-million dollar business. With the production of a Netflix series, humanity seemed to have hit rock bottom. But, boy, was that wrong? Instead, it was just a skid mark on our collective underpants – a sharp prelude to what slipped out next.
When our attention quickly shifted to COVID-19 and its heartbreaking chaos, so did my reporting here at Ars. In early January, I began to report the mysterious outbreak associated with a live animal market in Wuhan. Since then, I've been immersed in pandemic news and rummaging through the flood of data and events to try to provide thoughtful, measured, evidence-based reports to keep you as informed as possible.
Thanks to Ars
It is an honor to do this work, and I hope you found it helpful in these extremely challenging, troubling times – and perhaps a little reassuring. That is my greatest hope for my work.
Regardless of how successful I have been in providing useful reporting, it is all thanks to Ars. I couldn't do what I do anywhere else – and I know I've worked in many places.
At Ars I have the freedom to deal with topics in my rhythm whenever and how I want. Not only can I write lighthearted articles about the technology behind fart tracking pills, I can also uncover abuses in the pharmaceutical industry and deal with bizarre medical cases – all in addition to dealing with devastating pandemics with all the weight they demand.
And this extraordinary freedom brings with it a truly amazing amount of trust and support. I can't say enough good things about our senior editor Eric Bangeman and senior science editor John Timmer. They guide me, make sure I am fine after weeks of a grim pandemic, offer help when I need it, and are always thoughtful and compassionate.
That said, this is also not a walk in the park with a strange Taiichi type. They challenge me as much as the editors and the rest of the staff. They are all creative, incredibly ingenious, funny, curious and ambitious. You ask questions – many questions – and urge me. They get me to drive additional miles.
In short, at Ars I will be the best version of myself.
In normal times – with this mix of ingenuity – we can keep Ars going pretty well. But in these stinking times our future is under threat. We need your help. If you can, please consider subscribing to maintain this wonderful community.
And when all of this is over – when all the curves are flattened and all the storms are weathered – I promise that I will return to my terrible toilet humor.