The Download: long covid inequality, and connecting Native communities

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

We’ve only just begun to examine the racial disparities of long covid

Liza Fisher is preparing for a busy day. In about an hour, her mother will drive her to a clinic, where she will receive IV fluids and iron treatments for her anemia. When the IV bag is empty, she’ll head to an adaptive gym, where she’ll don compression pants and take a class for people with disabilities. She’ll also consult with a therapist familiar with postural tachycardia syndrome, a condition that causes her heart to race when she stands up.

Fisher, who lives in Houston, was once an athletic flight attendant. Now her life is consumed with daily therapies and exercise as well as care offered by her mother, a nurse who moved from Ohio to take care of her. This is how it’s been for more than a year, after she contracted covid-19 and developed chronic symptoms of long covid.

Fisher’s case is sadly far from unique. She’s one of many people of color who are grappling with long covid—and we’re only just beginning to understand how big a problem it is. Read the full story.

—Elaine Shelly

Broadband funding for Native communities could finally connect some of America’s most isolated places

Rural and Native communities in the US have long had lower rates of cellular and broadband connectivity than urban areas, where four out of every five Americans live. Outside the cities and suburbs, which occupy barely 3% of US land, reliable internet service can still be hard to come by. 

For decades, people who live in places like the Blackfeet Indian Reservation have made do with low bandwidth delivered through obsolete copper wires, or simply gone without.

The covid-19 pandemic underscored the problem as Native communities locked down and moved school and other essential daily activities online. But it also kicked off an unprecedented surge of relief funding to solve it. Read the full story.

—Robert Chaney

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 China is resigned to slower growth
The country’s workforce and property market are feeling the effects of its zero-covid regime. (Economist $)
+ A Taiwanese chip mogul is bringing the fight to China. (FT $)
+ China is facing a health emergency of preventable diseases. (The Guardian)

2 US State regulators are rising up to rein in crypto
Their pragmatic approach is way ahead of the feds. (WP $)
+ Twitch is banning crypto gambling livestreams from October. (Bloomberg $)
3 Inside the US-Russia tussle over international internet policy 
The fight to lead the International Telecommunication Union echoes the Cold War. (Economist $)
4 Our existing heat index is flawed 🌡
Increasingly extreme temperatures are to blame. (Wired $)
+ The US climate envoy is pushing financial bodies to do more for the climate. (FT $)
+ How hot is too hot for the human body? (MIT Technology Review)
5 AI researchers are worried it could cause a nuclear-scale disaster
They’re concerned about how potentially lethal technology will be handled in the future. (New Scientist $)
+ Why business is booming for military AI startups. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Latino voters are wading through misinformation ahead of the midterms
Democrats are hoping to win back support from Spanish-speaking spaces. (Vox)
+ Donald Trump is wholeheartedly embracing QAnon these days. (New Yorker $)
7 How alleged evidence of the Nanjing Massacre went viral on TikTok
An old photo album sparked intense debate—and raised more questions than it answered. (New Yorker $)

8 Germany is using AI to stop eagles flying into wind turbines 🦅
The endangered birds aren’t used to contending with the blades. (The Guardian)
9 Swapping your car for an e-bike is easier said than done
But evangelists can’t get enough of them. (WSJ $)
+ A lithium mine in Quebec could help to make electric cars more available. (NYT $)

10 How to negotiate with ransomware hijackers 💰
Stalling for time is a useful tactic. (FT $)
+ Why the ransomware crisis suddenly feels so relentless. (MIT Technology Review)

Quote of the day

“We simply cannot imagine 20 quadrillion ants in one pile, for example. It just doesn’t work.”

—Patrick Schultheiss, a researcher at the University of Würzburg in Germany who helped to calculate the total number of ants on Earth, explains why the figure is just so astronomical to the Washington Post.

The big story

How the truth was murdered

October 2020

Many Americans, especially white Americans, have experienced the rise of online hate and disinformation as if they’re on a high bridge over that flooding river, staring only at the horizon. As the water rises, it sweeps away anything that wasn’t able to get such a safe and sturdy perch. Now that bridge isn’t high enough, and even the people on it can feel the deadly currents.

A lot of people believe that this rising tide of disinformation and hate did not exist until it was lapping at their ankles. Before that, the water just wasn’t there—or if it was, perhaps it was a trickle or a stream. 

But if you want to know just how the problem got so big and so bad, you have to understand how many people tried to tell us about it. Read the full story.

—Abby Ohlheiser

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet ’em at me.)

+ iOS 16’s photo cutout feature is seriously cool. 
+ Spare a thought for the less glamorous side of archaeology—uncovering dinosaur vomit.
+ Well, this was inevitable: a video game about wild swimming.
+ I’ve got nothing but respect for this arty-minded lady.
+ Here’s 50 reasons to love the legendary Liam Gallagher, who turns 50 today.

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