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Greetings! I am Phil Svitek and my aim is to help creatives, like you, master mental fortitude because it takes way more than just talent and luck to succeed in the entertainment industry.

With this lesson, we’ll examine why milestones are the perfect motivators for change, growth or accomplishment.

Before I begin, allow me to invite you to subscribe if you haven’t already done so. Doing so will alert you of new lessons that I post. Thank you if you just subscribed.

Alright, let’s dig in. First off, what is a milestone? In this instance I’m using milestone to mean an event of significance. Milestones can refer to important birthdays like your sweet sixteen, or turning 21, maybe your 30th. Aw, who am I kidding, any birthday is a milestone in a person’s life. Heck, my friend Roxy Striar celebrates her half birthday. I’m not kidding.

PS: I’m not judging her. I actually think that’s amazing that she takes the time to celebrate her life’s progress every six months.

But milestones can also be events such as New Year’s, your graduation, a reunion, a sporting event you’re part-taking in, a wedding, an anniversary, a big festival like Coachella. It could be the 4th of July, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. Perhaps even the deadline for your creative work, such as the date that your publisher needs your rough draft.

Pretty much anything can be a milestone, so long as it holds importance for you. A few months ago, a milestone for me was an Emerson College Men’s Soccer alumni event. It’d been a number of years since I last saw my teammates, certainly all in one place, and so it was a major moment in my life. We were not only meeting up but we were going to get to play against the current roster. Knowing that motivated me to really get in shape, practice my footwork and passing as well as reflect on my successes since my college days while thinking of ways I could inspire the upcoming graduates to achieve the same. That’s when it hit me how a milestone can act as a great catalyst for action. Thinking about that weekend got me in gear.

I encourage you to do the same. When you have something to look forward to it excites you to keep moving forward and make progress. Those milestones set us off an a so-called journey. Sometimes small and other times large.

The reason any upcoming milestones motivate us is because we feel a sense of responsibility, whether to ourselves or others. That’s a good thing. Being accountable is a great way to get things done and something I’ve talked about before in my lesson about scientifically beating procrastination. And because I’ve talked about it before, I won’t get into those notions right now. But you’re free to check out that lesson for yourself. The link is down below.

The point being that when you commit to something, you feel the weight of that obligation. But that only works if you are able to identify upcoming milestones in your life and furthermore, choose goals based on those milestones. What do you want to accomplish before that milestone? If you’re running the Boston Marathon, you should probably be in shape beforehand. How do you do that? Well, start by running at least once every two days. Initially it might be only for 20 minutes but then build.

Another example, this one more geared towards creatives, is a film festival deadline. If you’re a filmmaker, knowing when you need to finish your film so you can submit it for competition in a festival such as Sundance or Cannes is a fantastic motivator.

That’s the key. You can’t forget that milestones are the perfect motivators only when you see them as such AND put in the work. Both parts are important and they don’t work without each other.

Lastly, anytime a milestone you’ve been working towards passes, choose another. Continue the cycle indefinitely. Let each milestone that passes build the momentum you’re seeking in your life.

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Cemeteries Are The Perfect Spot To Track Our Planet’s Demise

Paul Kwiatkowski’s office window offers an unusual view. Where other panoramas provide glimpses of busy city streets or slumbering office parks, Kwiatkowski’s Cambridge, Massachusetts workspace is surrounded by 174 acres of urban greenspace. There are trees of near-infinite variety, structures dating back to 1831, and about 100,000 graves.

Kwiatkowski is the wildlife conservation and sustainability manager for Mount Auburn Cemetery. Situated just west of Boston, the historic graveyard and arboretum neighbors Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Permanent residents include the behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, geodesic dome inventor Buckminster Fuller, and legendary botanist Asa Gray. And newly deceased members join the ranks each day.

Citizen scientists record data on a lakeside tree in Mount Auburn Cemetery. Courtesy Mount Auburn Cemetery

In the 19th century, cemeteries weren’t just eternal resting places. They were also spaces of leisure popular among the living. Long before Central Park in New York was founded, or the Emerald Necklace in Boston complete, “rural cemeteries” like Green-Wood in Brooklyn or “garden cemeteries” such as Mount Auburn in Cambridge provided urbanites with much-needed opportunities for recreation. Archival photographs show just how much fun the cemetery could be: Americans in their best corsets, picnicking atop graves.

Today, we’re more likely to cross our hearts while passing a cemetery on the street than step into its gated confines for a sit-down meal. But the value of this greenspace has only grown as the communities around them have densified and urbanized—leaving cemeteries as unique nature preserves. In the case of Mount Auburn, people have consciously planted diverse trees, shrubs, and flowers from all over the world and cared for them tenderly over decades or even centuries. In other cases, though, plants that might otherwise be replaced by foreign varietals can thrive under a cemetery’s more passive management style, like the prairie cemeteries of Illinois, or even the woodsy outerboroughs of New York City.

“I look at things in different layers,” Kwiatkowski tells me over the phone from his office. “One layer is, I’ll look out and I’ll see this amazing arboretum with more than 5,000 trees from around the world, and I’ll also see this historic landscape—these amazing monuments, fences, and curbing that is so ornamental.” But beneath and between the man-made terrain, a non-human world hums. “When I look deeper,” Kwiatkowski says, he sees an ecological network in crisis.

Drought is more common and severe in recent years. “A lot of the problems that come from drought aren’t what you immediately see,” Kwiatkowski says. “The stress from drought weakens a plant so that a cold snap in winter can do way more damage. They’re much more susceptible to desiccation. They’re much more susceptible to pests.” And that’s not the half of it. When rain does fall, it often floods the cemetery’s ponds and vernal pools. Plants bloom at different times, drawing insects out sooner or later than in the past, potentially threatening the food supply for migratory birds flying north each spring. And summer extends farther into the ever-shrinking fall.

To cope, Mount Auburn has turned a pond into a grand experiment in flood water retention, digging deeper trenches to accommodate regular torrents. It’s reintroduced native species, including the American toad, great tree frog, the spring peeper, and the Eastern red backed salamander. And a climate action plan will guide further efforts to make plants more resilient to weather extremes. “You often hear in the horticultural field, put the right plant in the right place,” Kwiatkowski says. “That is more important than ever now.” But perhaps the cemetry’s most significant effort is its citizen science program in phenology.

The date when Mount Auburn Cemetery’s lilies bloom could be changing. Courtesy Mount Auburn Cemetery

Phenology is the practice of observing and recording the shifts in “nature’s calendar,” according to the USA National Phenology Network. (It has nothing to do with phrenology, the pseudoscience whose practitioners believed bumps and depressions on the human skull spoke to an individual’s character.) People have long practiced phenology for poetic or spiritual purposes, or sometimes just by accident. Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden; or, Life in the Woods, kept meticulous notes about the New England seasons for his work, while Billy Barr has kept a detailed nature journal of the Rocky Mountains for more than 40 years because he “got bored one winter.”.

At Mount Auburn, a team of interdisciplinary scientists now train volunteers in phenological data collection. In the spring, they look for things like bursting buds, insect onset, and the effect of shifting timescales on migratory birds. Later in the year, they monitor the duration of autumn. To ensure accuracy, the specific trees under observation are marked throughout the cemetery; this dogwood, that gingko. And all of this data is shared with the national network. “What we know is that plants are now flowering about two weeks earlier than they did in Thoreau’s time, and trees are also leafing out about two weeks earlier,” Boston University biology professor Richard Primack told local radio station WBUR. “And we know that birds are arriving a couple of days earlier than in Thoreau’s time.” What we learn next will come from the logs Mount Auburn’s team is making now.

Countless other cemeteries have engaged in similar climatic research. In Lowell, Massachusetts, researchers used historical photos of the local cemetery to compare changes in plant behaviors over more than a century. In Ohio, scientists at Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery have been charting the “floral sequence of bloom” on site, from witchhazel’s wintertime eruption in late February through the slumbering chastetree’s transformation in late August. And in Brooklyn, volunteers at Green-Wood are analyzing the impact of light and pollution on plants common to the cemetery and its surrounding city streets.

Nfts Are Crashing (Again). Here’s Why.

The NFT space isn’t what it used to be. This has become painfully obvious to those within Web3 over the past few months. From controversial memecoin escapades to overwhelming regulatory initiatives, the magic of the metaverse has been palpably waning throughout 2023.

As it stands, the current state of the non-fungible ecosystem is a far cry from the market highs that helped kick off the year. Yet, this round of “NFTs are crashing” feels different than times past. With this bout, the causation behind NFTs slowing down feels more nuanced. Rather than fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) leading the market down, there could be something more at play.

NFTs by the numbers

Although community sentiment is difficult to measure quantitatively, market health can usually be gauged by the charts. These looked good at the beginning of the year, with NFT sales up 43 percent. This was a welcome change from the bear market that enveloped the majority of 2023.

Yet, in recent months it’s become clear that the success we witnessed in Q1 has not continued. Thus far in 2023, the majority of NFT sales volume has been generated on Blur (more on that later). And while volume was up in a big way during the winter, after peaking in February, both volume and trades dropped and dwindled throughout the spring.

It initially didn’t seem all bad, though, because, at the start of the sunny season (June), the NFT market witnessed a slight uptick in activity. But upon further inspection, it became clear that this uptick might not necessarily be indicative of a positive trend but rather a variety of issues currently unfolding across a range of prominent blue-check projects.

Bored Apes and Azuki

Most notably, the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Azuki — which have each respectively become the center of attention at some point in 2023 — have been feeling the heat. Although, over the past few months, the majority of NFT sales volume has come from these two projects, this latest round of trading seems oddly decoupled from the rest of the NFT ecosystem.

That’s because instead of demand fueling trading and resulting in floor prices rising, as we’ve seen time and time again with the launch of secondary collections, current trading seems to be the result of floor prices dropping and traders subsequently looking to cash in on a good deal.

While this isn’t uncommon in Web3, especially as Blur continues to dominate the market, it’s odd for such an event to happen to BAYC. As a silo within the NFT space, BAYC (and CryptoPunks, for that matter) has anecdotally existed in a world of its own, unwavering in the face of speculation and regulation. But recently, this has changed.

In the case of BAYC, floor prices have been steadily dropping. At the time of writing, the collection floor sat around 30 ETH (about $57,000). Notably, this is the lowest we’ve seen Apes fall since 2023. A similar narrative is playing out with Azuki, with the brand’s core collection having hit a floor of just under 7 ETH ($13,000).

Although there are a number of reasons this price action may be happening, many holders and enthusiasts have pointed to dilutions and fragmentation as the root cause. More specifically, BAYC holders have felt disenfranchised by Otherside and HV-MTL, effectively splitting the Yuga NFT ecosystem. Similarly, Azuki enthusiasts were thrown into a tizzy in light of the brand’s recent controversial expansion, Azuki Elementals.

Of course, there are still considerations to be made regarding the effect that BAYC and Azuki are having on the market. For one, holders from blue chip collections such as these have actually remained rather steadfast. Yet, while HODLers be HODLing, price is (and historically has been) determined by incremental buyers and sellers. Long story short, if there are no new buyers, there is often a slow bleed downwards.

Large-Cap index down 23% since June 23 (the day of the Azuki Vegas event), despite the 9% rally since Monday. chúng tôi chúng tôi (@punk9059) July 5, 2023

Furthermore, while Bored Apes and Azuki NFTs waning undoubtedly affects the NFT ecosystem at large, they aren’t the sole catalysts for NFTs going down. Azuki Elementals did serve to remove somewhere around $38 million from the ecosystem, which means even whales are likely being conservative with their purchases currently.

The Blur effect

Another probable candidate partially responsible for this latest crash isn’t collectors but rather the platforms and marketplaces they operate within. When once OpenSea was the dominant force in the greater NFT market, Blur has unequivocally taken over as the major breadwinner of the non-fungible ecosystem. Of course, the path to Blur’s prominence wasn’t devoid of controversy, and even now, the greater NFT community speculates about how the platform’s infrastructure might push NFT collection prices down.

The most major point of contention concerning Blur comes from its native token, $BLUR. Through several airdrops, the token sought to reward platform loyalty and user engagement — a system we’ve seen used many times over with governance and community tokens ($RARI, $LOOKS).

However, the $BLUR token rewards (paired with a royalty-free marketplace) is a major draw for high-profile collectors. While Blur’s aforementioned monopoly on NFT sales volume is undoubtedly impressive, it’s recently come to light that a handful of prominent traders might be using the platform’s incentivization system to wield an influence over NFT prices. 

Now, Web3 observers are wondering if the marketplace’s successes didn’t come without a potentially larger cost to the broader NFT ecosystem. In response, some have even taken the stance that Blur’s popularity as an opportunity for token farming might have the power to tank the NFT market altogether.

A holistic view of the blockchain

Specific cases like BAYC, Azuki, and Blur aside, though, there’s more to be said about the NFT macroclimate as a contributing factor to the current downward trend we’re seeing within the NFT market itself. And surely top of mind for most within the blockchain industry is that ETH is pumping, and the government is watching.

At this current stage of maturation in Web3, the unpredictable price action of crypto paired with mounting regulation of the crypto and NFT space have added a palpable layer of uncertainty to the future of the blockchain industry. These factors, above many others, are surely influencing buyer behavior and contributing to market fluctuations.

Specifically, in the case of ETH, significant price action often poses a threat to the price of NFTs. As ETH rises, many traders opt to take profits or, at the very least, reconfigure their portfolios to use ETH as a safe haven for market volatility. In other cases, collectors might attempt to offload some NFTs at floor prices or seek out major sale opportunities (like a sub-30 ETH Ape), further influencing the market.

Of course, it truly is anyone’s guess where the NFT space will be even a year from now. But with market factors in mind, creators, collectors, and builders alike would do well to be mindful of the changing NFT landscape and remember why the creators of culture began flocking to the blockchain in the first place.

Why Are Sports Nfts So Important?

Recently, NFTs have been gaining traction in the sports world. Sports teams, leagues, and athletes are using NFTs to create unique digital collectibles that fans can purchase and own. These digital collectibles can be used to represent ownership of a specific item, such as a signed jersey, a limited-edition trading card, or a virtual ticket to a game. NFTs are also being used to create digital experiences for fans. For example, the NBA has launched a series of NFTs allowing fans to purchase virtual courtside game seats. These NFTs can be used to access exclusive content, such as behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with players, and other experiences.

NFTs are also being used to create digital memorabilia. For example, the NFL has launched a series of NFTs representing the league’s history. These NFTs feature iconic moments from the NFL’s past, such as the first Super Bowl, the first touchdown pass, and the first touchdown run. NFTs are also being used to create digital trading cards. These cards can be used to represent ownership of a specific player or team and can be traded on the blockchain.

Sports NFTs have proven to be a thriving sub-section of the NFT industry, as some sports NFTs have sold for millions. For example, a tokenized, unprocessed photo of LeBron James sold for $35 million, which grants its owner exclusive rights. Another sports NFT that sold for millions is the MLB Champions Brett Gardner NFT, an NFT commemorating the New York Yankees player, sold for $21.2 million.

Overall, NFTs are revolutionizing the sports world. They are used to create unique digital experiences for fans, digital memorabilia, and digital trading cards. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more sports teams, leagues, and athletes using NFTs to create unique experiences for their fans.

Where Can You Buy Sports NFTs?

While there are many NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea or Rarible, few NFT marketplaces are niche-specific to sports. Instead of spending hours looking through endless collections trying to find sports NFTs on a general NFT marketplace, you could save yourself time by finding an NFT marketplace that specializes in sports NFTs, a sports NFT marketplace. It makes sense, as you wouldn’t go to a pet store to find gardening supplies.

Locker Token Sports NFT Marketplace

Regarding niche-specific NFT marketplaces, the Locker Token Sports NFT Marketplace is a new and innovative way to buy and sell digital assets. It is a decentralized platform that allows users to securely store, trade, and manage digital assets. The platform is powered by blockchain technology, which provides users with a secure and transparent way to transact and ensures that all transactions are immutable.

The platform also provides users with various tools to help them manage their digital assets. These tools include a wallet, which allows users to store their digital assets, and a trading platform, enabling users to buy and sell digital assets.

Within the Locker Token NFT Marketplace, you can find:

Sports NFT Trading Cards

Tokenized in-game moments and highlights

Athlete, Team, and League generated content

User-generated NFTs

Sport-specific NFTs, such as Hockey NFTs

Why Should You Collect Sports NFTs?

Sports fans have long been passionate about collecting memorabilia from their favorite teams and athletes. Sports memorabilia has been a popular way to show support for a team or player, from autographed jerseys to trading cards. With the emergence of NFTs, sports fans have a new way to collect and show their support. NFTs are digital assets that are stored on a blockchain. Because they are unique and cannot be replicated, making them a great way to collect and show off your favorite sports teams and players. NFTs are also easily transferable, so you can trade them with other collectors or sell them for a profit. NFTs are also a great way to show your support for a team or player.

What Are “Loot Boxes” In Games, And Why Are They Controversial?

Recently, there’s been a big spike in people talking about “loot boxes” in video games. Several countries are calling for their removal, and Belgium is currently on the road to banning them altogether.

With people throwing around words such as “gambling” and “addiction,” it can be worrying if you have younger members of the family that enjoy video games.

So what are loot boxes in games, how did they start, and why are they causing a ruckus?

What Is a Loot Box?

Before we talk about why they’re causing so much trouble, we must first understand what they are. Loot boxes follow their namesake: boxes or crates that are full of items. These items have a range of rarities, from basic common items to rare, highly sought-after items. The key is you can’t tell what’s inside the box until it’s opened. Part of the appeal of loot boxes is the mystery behind opening them. Will they contain bog-standard items, or will something extremely rare be inside?

Of course, loot boxes aren’t without their costs. Some games will offer loot boxes in their store, and you can buy them with money. Some games will give you loot boxes for free as you play, but you need to purchase a key to open them. There are some that will give free unlocked boxes as a “taster,” with the ability to buy more in the shop. Some games will be free to play, with their operating costs covered via loot box purchases. Other games will cost full price but still make additional income through loot boxes.

The types of items available also changes between games. Overwatch, for instance, offers items that change the visual look of your character, known as “cosmetic items,” which don’t affect gameplay at all. Team Fortress 2 has cosmetic items but also offers alternative weapons for each character. Some games are quite nefarious and offer strictly improved items in their boxes, forcing players to open them if they want better items.

Where Did Loot Boxes in Games Come From?

Loot boxes originated in China, in a game called ZT Online that was released in 2007. People weren’t willing to pay full price for a video game, so the company behind ZT Online, Zhengtu Network, made the game free and added loot boxes as a way to pay for in-game items. Within the first year, Zhengtu Network reported a monthly revenue of $15 million, which caused a lot of developers to take note.

Three years after the ZT Online success story, loot boxes made their way into the west. The early adopters of this model were EA with their FIFA series, and Valve with their hit game Team Fortress 2. In the case of Team Fortress 2, Valve made the game free to play for everyone, choosing to maximise profits with loot boxes instead. Since then, loot boxes have made their way into games such as Overwatch, Middle-earth: Shadow of War. and even the Twitch streaming website.

Do They Count as Gambling?

This is the million dollar question, and it’s what’s causing so much debate. As loot boxes make their way more and more into video games, people are growing concerned over their prevalence. The main topic at the moment is whether or not purchasing a box full of random items is considered “gambling,” taking into account multiple aspects of the loot box. If they are considered gambling, then they’ll come under the full laws and regulations associated with them. So, what are the arguments?

Guaranteed Items

For one, does the fact that you’re guaranteed items with a loot box stop it from being gambling? Some methods of gambling (such as slot machines) have an outcome where you’re left with nothing. Loot boxes, however, always guarantee items with every opening. These items may be duplicates of ones that you already own, but it still technically counts as a gain. Some games also have ways to exchange or craft the duplicates for more in-game items.

No Real-World Value

Secondly, most games don’t allow loot box openings to transfer into a real world gain. For instance, if you get a very rare skin from a loot box in Overwatch, you cannot officially sell the skin for real money. This element of loot boxes caused the UK Gambling Commission to announce that loot boxes aren’t gambling.

Randomised Products

However, at the end of the day, it’s still paying real money for a random percentage chance of a specific item. In some people’s eyes this element alone is enough to class loot boxes as gambling. Add to that the fact that they can be highly addictive and aggressively pushed by the developers, and you can see why people are calling for regulations.

These topics are being debated, with different regulators coming to different conclusions. As such, the future of loot boxes looks somewhat shaky as the debates move forward.

Staying Safe from Loot Boxes

When you’re worried about your children becoming addicted to loot boxes, remember that buying them requires an online purchase. If they’re quite young, they’ll have no means of buying loot boxes without your aid, allowing you to investigate when they ask for a purchase and take control of their spending.

If they’re old enough for a credit/debit card or PayPal account, it’s tricky to know if they’re buying loot boxes without demanding their bank account information. Keep tabs on the games they play and check if they have loot boxes. If they do, be sure to warn them of the effects and symptoms of addiction.

Loot Box Lows

With loot boxes becoming an integral part of video gaming, people are debating whether or not they’re gambling. Now you know what they are, how they work, and some arguments for and against them being classed as gambling.

What do you think? Are loot boxes in games considered gambling, or should they be treated like regular products? Let us know below!

Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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Why Covid Cases Are Falling Around The World

This week, despite numerous setbacks across the US, COVID-19 case counts continue to retreat, both across the nation and around the world. It’s a reprieve that may very well not last, but as more shots go in arms—surpassing 200 million worldwide—there’s a greater chance this downward trajectory will last. It’s also a sign that a post-pandemic world is in sight.

Here’s some COVID-19 news from the past week that you might have missed.

Bad weather blasted vaccine rollout in some parts of the US

The severe winter weather that roiled North America last week, causing power cuts for millions and creating a horrific infrastructure crisis in Texas, has also hurt vaccine distribution. Not only have the snow and ice disrupted vaccine supplies, but the power cuts have also affected the refrigerators needed to keep the vaccines cold. For the Biden administration, it’s a drastic test of its goal of delivering an average of 1.5 million shots per day.

Fortunately, if the weather has disrupted your second shot, the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) says that the second dose of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can be delivered up to six weeks after the first dose, meaning that there’s still plenty of time.

If you’re in the US and confused how to sign up for a shot in your state, you can find out here.

There’s also some good vaccine news

More promising news is coming out of Israel, which has had the fastest vaccine rollout of any country in the world and aims to vaccine everyone over 16 by March. Data from that country shows that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is still 85 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms. That’s not the only good news for vaccine distribution: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can also be stored in a normal freezer.

Additionally, other data shows that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is actually more effective when its two doses are given three months apart. It’s a boost for countries like the UK, which have chosen to push their current vaccine resources into delivering first doses. It also means that other countries using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can worry somewhat less about supply limits.

We may have a better idea of when we’ll reach herd immunity

How soon will we actually reach herd immunity? There’s a chance we may have some answers that will help inform that murky question soon. In an ongoing novel experiment, scientists in Brazil are giving the Sinovac shot to all 30,000-odd adults who live in Serrana, a sugarcane town about a four hours’ drive from São Paulo. The researchers want to observe the town to learn if, and how rapidly, vaccinated people can still transmit the virus.

Brazil has been hard-hit by the pandemic, and Serrana has fared particularly badly, with nearly 1 in 20 of its residents having been infected, but it could now help lead the world out of COVID-19. The researchers hope the data can turn the town into a microcosm of a world where more and more people are gaining immunity. The researchers also hope it helps counter a growing problem of anti-vax sentiment in Brazil.

Scientists are trying to figure out how to open schools safely

As some schools are finally reopening and as pressure continues to build for others to follow suit, scientists are zeroing in on an often-unspoken contributor to COVID-19: airborne transmission. We’ve known since early last year how well the virus can spread through aerosols, but public health agencies haven’t been quick in responding. Now, scientists are reinforcing that preventing spread relies on blocking infectious airborne particles.

With pressure growing to reopen those schools that remain closed, public health experts are especially emphatic that keeping children safe relies not just on masking and distancing, but also keeping buildings properly ventilated. This poses a problem for many schools, especially older buildings. And it’s not just schools: Workplaces and other public spaces must take it into account as well.

Returning to good news: Cases are falling, worldwide

Again, it’s clear that the coronavirus is now in full retreat across the world. Many models predicted that the pandemic would continue to escalate or at least plateau after a particularly rough winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but that hasn’t happened. Especially with more contagious variants spreading, there’s every chance we may see more surges soon, but for now, the drop in new cases is welcome news indeed.

Scientists aren’t sure why, but it’s likely a combination of several factors: social distancing and mask-wearing having their effect, the changing of the seasons, and—potentially—enough people having immunity to slow the spread. Of course vaccines too are helping, although in many countries it’s likely too soon for them to have made a big splash.

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