In 2013, Vietnamese game developer Dong Nguyen quietly released a mobile game called Flappy Bird.
It was a simple but extremely addictive app that involved navigating a cartoon bird through a series of neverending obstacles. The objective was to keep the bird afloat as long as possible.
According to Rolling Stone, Nguyen built it over the course of a holiday weekend. It wasn’t his first game, but rather another project in a long line of flops. He didn’t expect this one to be any different, and for a long time, it wasn’t.
Then, one day, fortune struck. For months, Flappy Bird’s small collection of players had been rage-posting their high scores on social media. The game was designed so that all the progress you’ve made can be wiped out with just one wrong move, which made making mistakes especially painful. And when players lost, they turned to Facebook and Twitter to vent, or on rare occasions, celebrate.
Eight months into Flappy Bird’s launch, these passionate social media posts reached critical mass, catapulting the game to viral status. Not “viral” in the casual sense, but viral, as in 50 million-plus downloads and worldwide, chart-topping prestige.
Its success earned Nguyen a jaw-dropping payday. Monetized via in-app ads, Flappy Birds brought in a staggering $50,000 in revenue per day. The most amazing part? Aside from a single social media post announcing its launch, he had spent zero effort on marketing.
This is a true underdog story, especially for someone who came from a poor family, like Nguyen. But if you’re tempted to chalk his success up to luck, you’d only be half right.
The truth is, whether it was conscious or not, Nguyen built Flappy Bird on a foundation that stacked the odds of virality in his favor. Let’s take a look at how.
What Made Flappy Bird Special?
Here are four key takeaways.
1. Simplicity is addictive
In his interview with Rolling Stone, Nguyen traced Flappy Bird’s inspiration to the Nintendo games he played growing up — specifically, their simplicity.
Struck by how complicated modern games were, he set out to build a game that could be played with one hand. The result? To play Flappy Bird, you only needed to do one thing: tap the screen.
This is a lesson that appears over and over again in business. Whether it’s a video game, online store, or consulting service, the key to attracting customers is to make their experience frictionless.
The easier your product is to use, the more customers will want to return to use it again.
2. Free is contagious
Free breeds virality.
The easier it is for users to access your product, the more likely they are to share it with their friends and get them on board. This, in turn, raises your chances of going viral.
In simple terms, Flappy Bird’s free-plus-ads model made it easy to acquire users. Who’s going to say no to downloading that app all your friends are talking about when it costs nothing to check it out?
This is the same model email newsletters use to build massive subscriber bases. Most newsletters gladly send out their editions for free. Once they’ve built an audience, they can monetize through multiple streams, including ads, sponsorships, and premium tiers.
3. Nostalgia sells
Nguyen isn’t shy about the fact that Flappy Bird’s visual design was influenced by the early Nintendo era. But take a step back and you’ll realize it’s much more than just the Super Mario pipes and pixelated graphics.
Really, everything about the game is reminiscent of Nintendo, from its ridiculously simple playing style to its catchy sound effects. These were critical components to its success: in an era where games are built on futuristic graphics and complex gameplay, Flappy Bird succeeded because it fulfilled a desire for the good ol’ days.
According to marketing genius Gary Vaynerchuk, this is the same reason throwbacks like sports cards and Pokemon are making a comeback. Nostalgia is a powerful motivator for consumers and must be taken seriously as a brand strategy.
4. Good products market themselves
Finally, the common thread that ties all of these elements together is that quality is the best form of marketing.
Without a good product, all the marketing tricks in the world won’t help you sell. But make your product the best in the industry and your customers will do your marketing for you.
The fact that Nguyen spent $0 on marketing is exhibit A on why this works. He simply created a superior game, then gave it away. Because it was so sensationally addictive, the product marketed itself.
You may have noticed everything in the first section is worded in the past tense. That’s because Nguyen deleted Flappy Bird several months after it went viral, citing concerns about his family’s privacy, as well as ethical concerns that the game had become too addictive.
(Don’t worry, he’s still making money thanks to those who downloaded it before its demise.)
While some view this as tragic, I think it’s a net win for Nguyen, who no doubt made enough money during the game’s apex to be financially set for life.
Regardless, the real value here is the nuggets of marketing wisdom. One man showed everyone the power of simplicity. In a world filled with increasingly complex technology, that might be exactly the marketing angle your business needs to stand out
While we are already more than halfway through the calendar year, 2020 may be remembered for a lot of things.
Face masks becoming a daily accessory, an extensive period of working from home, and to top it all off, a global health pandemic that has shaken life itself to the core.
At a time where our reality is in desperate need of positivity, M-Junction, the providers of experiences such as Dinner In The Sky Malaysia, released the news of the first ever drive-in cinema opening right here in the heart of the nation.
The now operating drive-in cinema would be a relatively new experience for most go-ers as Malaysians aren’t used to watching movies from the “comfort” of their own vehicle.
To help prepare for the occasion, here are a few tips to help you prepare for an unforgettable experience at Malaysia’s first ever drive-in cinema.
1) Bring your own radio and speaker
Using your car radio as an audio source and leaving your vehicle engine idling for at least an hour and a half may not be a pleasant thing to do as nothing is worse than a dead car battery when you have plans for after the movie with a date or friends; on top of that, it hurts the environment and did we mention that the carbon monoxide produced from engine emission is extremely dangerous? Easily purchase a bluetooth speaker or portable radio (depending on the cinema’s choice of external audio) to ensure not having to stress out your car engine throughout the movie experience.
2) Use mosquito repellent
Bugs are annoying and mosquitoes can be the most annoying out of all of them. Trying to enjoy a movie with a mosquito buzzing around your ear or leaving bite marks around your body can be highly irritating. So, prepare some mosquito repellent or mosquito patches to avoid the unnecessary scratching.
3) Prepare small snacks and water
Bringing your own small snacks and water prior would definitely help with the worry of ripping a hole in your wallet. However, try to be mindful and refrain from bringing in a whole pizza or a three course meal; cinemas and drive-in cinemas get some of their profit through concession sales and you can always purchase some of them at the convenience of the cinema itself if you didn’t prepare any.
4) Wear comfy clothes
Thinking about donning that new hoodie or jacket you bought last week? You might want to think twice before doing so. Having to sit in your car from the start of the movie until the end would not be enjoyable without the comfiest clothes, consider ditching that trousers for a comfortable pair of shorts and that heavy layered jacket for a simple t-shirt, since you’ll be in your vehicle for most of the time anyway.
5) Bring a portable fan
Weather in Malaysia can be highly unpredictable. You’d never know when you would be stuck in the midst of a heatwave or in your car with all the windows up during a heavy rain. A portable fan would help make your time in the car much more bearable as sweating in a stuffy car while trying to enjoy a movie isn’t ideally what one would call the “perfect” drive through cinema experience.
6) Be mindful of others
We get it, you want a great experience, but so do other people. Turn off your engine as sound from the exhaust can be highly distracting, also remember to turn off your vehicle’s daytime running lights as everyone is trying to watch the same screen and a glare of light at the corner of your eyes can be really annoying. All in all, if you’ll be annoyed by it, it’s likely that others would be too; don’t be a pain in the rear and remember that everyone is in it for a good time, just like you are.
Kuala Lumpur’s first drive-in cinema brought to you by TwoSpicy Entertainment Live and MD Events Asia is located at: Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) 109, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
To find out more about their rules and regulations or to book your place, visit the M-junction website before tickets are sold out.
Have any ideas for an ideal first time drive-in cinema experience? Feel free to share in the comment section below!
Ellen Degeneres has recently been caught under the spotlight due to an ongoing internal investigation by Warner Media to review work culture at “The Ellen Degeneres Show”.
The long-time host of her own talk show has built a reputation of being kind, friendly and all in all wholesome. Acts of discrimination and mistreatment isn’t normally what one would associate with the talk show host. However, recent allegations of a reportedly toxic workplace culture has been contradicting what we know about one of America’s richest self-made women.
According to two people with knowledge of the matter, Warner Bros. Television executives sent a memo to employees last week that shows an outline of the internal investigation in the workplace at “The Ellen Degeneres Show”.
The people also said that WarnerMedia’s employee relations department will conduct interviews with current and former staff members to determine whether the experiences in the program’s workplace were in fact toxic.
Earlier, BuzzFeed news released an article this month which described what it referred to as a “toxic work culture”. Racism, fear and intimidation were one of the few words used by former staff members.
Black employees also experienced racism in the form of comments such as “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here”, specifically from one of the show’s writers.
According to the article, former employees were also fired for taking time off for medical leave and marked most of the blame on three of the show’s executive producers, Ed Gavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner.
In a joint statement to BuzzFeed News, Mr. Glavin, Ms. Connelly and Mr. Lassner said: “For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”
“The Ellen Degeneres Show” is a winner of dozens of Emmys and is currently still in its summer hiatus.
Degeneres renewed her contract last year to continue hosting through 2022. She is also due to be creating three shows for WarnerMedia’s streaming platform, HBO Max.
E-wallets are starting to become one of the fastest trending payment methods in Malaysia amid the release of e-wallets such as Boost, GrabPay, Maybank E-wallet (MAE) and Touch ‘n Go eWallet just to name a few. With all these e-wallet platforms to choose from, which one should you use and which is the best? We’ve taken all the e-wallets in Malaysia into comparison so that you don’t have to, here is a verdict of the best e-wallets in Malaysia.
1) Maybank E-wallet (MAE)
– The Maybank payment platform serves both Maybank and non-Maybank customers; once registered on either the MAE or Maybank 2U app, users will have their own virtual Visa debit card along with a Maybank account number.
– The e-wallet is pretty much usable anywhere that supports QR pay and can be topped up using any bank account.
– MAE has a maximum wallet size of RM4,999.99 and a transaction limit of RM2,999.99.
– One of the more notable features is being able to split bills; just split it in the app and notify your friends via the app of how much they owe. It’s as simple as that!
– GrabPay integrates with GrabRewards to ensure points for every Ringgit spent.
– Users go through the usual registration and can pay for cashless rides, food or shopping and also transfer GrabPay credits as part of its ecosystem.
– The Grab app also helps wih topping up mobile phone credits for Celcom, Maxis and U Mobile.
– GrabPay’s partnership with Maybank also allows cross-plaform use between users.
3) Touch ‘n Go eWallet
– The first of it’s kind in Malaysia, the Touch n’ Go eWallet can be used to pay tolls at participating highways, thus reduced traffic congestion in the central region by 48.2% in 2019.
– Other than tolls, users can pay for Apple Store and iTunes purchases, street parking, taxi rides and food delivery services.
– KLIA Express and KLIA Transit Tickets can also be purchased through the platform.
– Users can send up to RM5,000 per month to other Touch ‘n Go wallet holders.
4) Wechat Pay
– Malaysia holds the title of being the first foreign country outside of China to have WeChat enabled in a local currency.
– WeChat Pay allows payment through Quick Pay, QR Code, In-App Web-Based, or Native In-App Payments.
– It deals with the issue of cross-border foreign currencies. Users can pay in Chinese yuan but with the transaction being settled in a foreign currency.
– A fun party trick would be also to be able to send virtual money packets to family and friends during holidays such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya.
– Launched in 2017, it boasts up to 7 million Boosties and is still growing as we speak. – Accepted at over 140,000 physical and online stores, it is recognize as one of the more widely notable competitors as it has partnerships with 17 banks across the country such as CIMB, Hong Leong Bank, RHB Bank and so on.
– Users can pay for petrol at 800 Shell station countrywide and also pay for parking at Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) parking spots.
– On top of that users can also pay bills for Astro, Syabas and Telekom.
6) Razer Pay
– Debuted in 2018, Razer Pay can be used at over 1,000 online stores.
– Participating banks include AmBank, Bank Islam, CIMB, Maybank and Public Bank,
– It benefits gamers and app streaming services through services such as being able to purchase zGold, MOLPoints, Steam Wallet, Garena, Sony PlayStation, Spotify, iFlix and more.
– Verified accounts are entitled to a transaction limit of RM3,000, and RM48,000 for annual transactions.
What is the difference between an e-wallet, credits cards and debit cards?
With the future seemingly more and more cashless, we have a vast number of options to pay for our dinner, ride to work and also online purchases. So, with all these payment methods in hand, we decided to break it down in this section.
With credit cards, you pay for a service via a borrow now and pay later method. Once you reach the end of every month, you’ll be required to pay the bank at least a partial of the money spent. It’s also important to know to not over use a credit card as it’ll show up on your credit score, which in turn affects you in the long run when renting a room or requesting a loan of any kind.
The way debit cards work is with the direct opposite of credit cards. Instead of paying with borrowed money, purchases are made with money that is in already present in your bank account.
If you have a mobile device, you’re already halfway through the steps of owning an e-wallet. In other words, a digital wallet requires you to add money in it first whether with an actual debit or credit card. It may seem that they functions intertwine at times, but the way they operate is completely different.
All in all, the e-wallet industry is a growing industry and one wouldn’t want to get left behind do they? With the world emphasizing social distancing at times like this, why not try your hand at e-wallets today!
With face masks being mandatory from August 1st onwards, one can’t help but to wonder about the already rising number of disposable face masks being used in the country.
Those caught in public places without a face mask will be fined 1000 ringgit as of said date, it is inevitable that many of those who didn’t do so before to start following the guidelines one way or another and those who already do before, continue doing so without hesitation.
Sights of facemasks on the ground have been a usual sight and it’s hard fact to swallow that perhaps more facemasks are being thrown away or dropped when compared to the ones that are actually being used.
In combat to that, the public have shifted to using bandannas, face scarves and masks made of fabric, such as cotton with hopes to reduce the wastage.
According to Hopkins Medicine, you should clean your mask after every wearing. This not only reduces the risk of spreading the coronavirus or other germs but also reduces the waste as we are so succumbed to throwing away facemasks after each use.
Now why should we wash our face masks? The reason is simple.
A face mask whorks by keeping you from breathing out if you happen to be sick and asymptomatic.
Imagine your saliva being contaminated with coronavirus. That’s where the mask fulfil its roll, the mask keeps your spit contained at the cost of itself becoming full of the virus.
You wash your hands to prevent the spreading of viruses to surfaces or other people. So, you wash your mask for the same reason.
How should you do it?
Bandanas, face scarves and masks made of fabric and cotton can be washed such in a regular laundry machine using hot water.
However, it is important to know that disposable blue surgical are to be disposed of immediately after use and not to be washed.
After washing your fabric mask, tumble dry them in the dryer on a high setting or hang them out on the clothing line to dry for at least a few hours.
Consider using a non-scented laundry detergent if you are sensitive to the smell as you’ll be wearing it for pretty much all day depending on your schedule.
You can also hand wash your mask under hot, soapy water for 20 seconds while scrubbing.
Remember to store your mask in a clean and dry place when you’re not using them to prevent contamination of other kinds.
Do you know of any other places that make fabric face masks? Feel free to share in the comment section below!
An American diner? A café? A movie theatre? Malaysia’s very own Coca-Cola café now offers all that in their brand-new location in Johor Bahru.
Located inside TGV Cinemas at Toppen Shopping Centre, the Coke-themed café which is also the first of its kind, is all dressed up in the signature red donned by every Coke bottle and is definitely an eye-catching element.
Upon entering the café, you are welcomed into a diner that features reminiscence of the 1950s. One can’t help but be reminded of the diners seen in movies such as “Back to the Future” and “Pulp Fiction”. Other than that, precious Coca-Cola mementos and a Coke-themed jukebox makes the interior that much more aesthetic and vibrant.
Coke beverages, popcorn, chocolate and confectionaries for the movie-goers and also Cold Stone Creamery ice cream for RM6.90 a scoop, it’s all one would need for a movie night out or just a night out in general.
A “powerzone” is also available to use for patrons who need a charging port or power plugs for their mobile devices. Did we mention that the location also offers high-speed Wi-Fi?
The café is open from 10am to 10pm daily and visitors can get there by simply entering the Toppen Shopping Centre and then heading to TGV Cinemas.
At the sight of a bar with a hanging Coca-Cola sign is where you’ll realize that you’re there.
Address: L.301, TGV Cinemas, Toppen Shopping Centre, No. 33, Jalan Harmonium, Taman Desa Tebrau, 81100 Johor Bahru,
Rice is pretty much a norm in every Asian household as it can be seen on the dining tables of various family meals at any time of the day.
Majority of Asians grew up watching their Mums preparing rice in the ever so timeless rice cooker and it plays an important role in a family meal.
However, a recent reaction video from Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng, better known as Uncle Roger, has made us realize that growing up at different parts of the world does bring differences.
Titled “Hersha’s Easiest Ever Egg Fried Rice”, BBC cooking show host, Hersha Patel was attempting to prepare the staple southeast Asian dish.
“Don’t be afraid, this is going to be really simple,” Patel said.
Little did Ng know, he was going to be very afraid as Patel started off by demonstrating her rice cooking method by putting water and unwashed rice into a pan then boiling it, this did not sit well with Ng’s persona – Uncle Roger.
With just two minutes into the eight minute YouTube video, Ng mumbled in his comedic accent, “I am not confident that this video is not going to be good.”
At the moment the rice was put through a strainer, “Uncle Roger” wasn’t ready to hold back.
“You killing me, woman!” he exaggerated with his comedic accent when the rice went through the sift and eventually being washed thoroughly with tap water.
“Who cooks rice like this!”, “Uncle Roger sad now,” he continued exclaiming.
In other news, Ng met with Patel a few days ago and a collaboration between the two is seem to be in the plans.
We at Newswav figured to leave a step-by-step guide on how to cook rice amid this mayhem.
What to prepare?
1) A rice-cooker that could be found easily at stores or a large saucepan if you couldn’t find one.
2) A type of long grain or short grain rice (obviously).
3) Optional aromatics such as garlic, coriander, ginger etc.
Steps (Using a rice-cooker)
1) Measure the amount of rice you are about to prepare.
2) Wash the pre-measured rice by swirling it in cold water at least two times.
3) Measure the amount of water, generally a set amount of rice and slightly more water than rice (example: 2 cups raw rice with 2 1/2 cups water).
Pour the rice into the pan you’re going to cook it in. Level it out and place your index finger so that it is touching the surface of the rice. Add enough water so that it comes up to your first knuckle.
4) Drain the rice and place it in the rice cooker.
5) Use the settings on the rice cooker to cook the rice.
6) Once done, stir the rice with a spoon or chopsticks to fluff it up.
Steps (Using a stove-top and large saucepan)
1) Drain the rice well and put it the saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
2) Reduce the heat to low, put the saucepan on a cooking stove, then let it cook for 20 minutes. Avoid removing the lid during that time. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on.
3) Remove the lid and stir the rice with a spoon or chopsticks to fluff it up.
What are your tips for cooking perfect rice? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section!
June 11th, 1963 will for always be remembered as the day that truly changed history forever. This was the day monk Thich Quang Duc burned himself to death as a protest against the Vietnamese corrupt government which was implying very demanding and unfair laws on monks. Throughout history, many people have self-immolated for various causes, but until that moment no one was known to suicide in such a gruesome and painful way in order to protest against something or for the right of a community such as the sacred monks.
The story behind this act
Most if not all events that had taken place throughout history were influenced by a previous event, the same case is in this story too. The influential event took place on May 8th, 1963 when the Buddhist community was celebrating a special day in the city of Hue. This special day is called Phat Dan or better described as the birthday of Buddha. The streets were crowded with people from all over Vietnam who came to celebrate this special day among monks. An imperative aspect that I have to mention is that most people were waving Buddhist flags.
This aspect is very important as at the time, it was illegal in Vietnam to display a religious flag. This law was implemented by President Ngo Dinh Diem which was a Catholic. The law was implemented as he wanted to make Vietnam more prosperous by “westernizing” it. This law was never welcomed by the population of Vietnam as 90% of the nation was in fact Buddhist. As in most countries and nations, religion was a big part of the Vietnamese culture, and trying to change the culture of a nation would not make anyone happy.
On the day of the Buddhist celebration, Diem had sent armed policemen reinforced by the Vietnamese army. This turned the celebration into a full-blown protest and quick enough things got out of hand. Once the Army lost their patience they opened fire into the crowd and even vehicles were driven into the crowd. At the end of the day, over 100 people were injured and 9 had died. From the 9, two of them were children that were run over by police cars and army trucks.
The Buddhist community responding to the massacre
Since the massacre, things have heated up in Vietnam, with many different protests happening around the country. 2 months after the massacre, the news reached Thich Quang Duc. The news reached very late as Duc was living in a totally isolated temple in the mountains of Vietnam, in fact, he spent the last 3 years of his life at this very temple. Once he got word of the massacre he knew that something had to be done in order to keep the Buddhist community safe.
On the 10th of June, 1963 the Saigon bureau chief for the Associated Press by the name of Malcolm Browne got a piece of anonymous information that something important would happen the very next day (11th of June) outside of the Cambodian Embassy. Due to the high tensions around Vietnam, Browne believed this piece of information.
The very next day, Malcolm Browne reached the Cambodian Embassy where he was welcomed by Thich Quang Duc himself as well as all the other 350 monks and nuns who took part in the protest that was about to happen. By this point, Browne was still unaware of what was about to happen.
Thich Quang Duc took a cushion which he placed in the middle of the street and sat on it with his legs crossed as if he was just about to go into a deep meditation. Another monk took out of Duc’s car a five-gallon petroleum canister and poured it all over Duc, making sure he was covered by gasoline. What followed was Duc bending his neck and chanting his last prayer to Buddha.
At that point, Browne realized what was just about to happen, so he prepared his camera to make sure that he would capture every moment of it and that everyone around the world will be hearing about this act.
Once Duc finished his prayer, he struck the match and the whole crowd exploded with panic. As the screams of all the monks at the crowd could be heard for miles, a monk was yelling into a microphone:
“A Buddhist priest burns himself to death! A Buddhist priest becomes a martyr!”
In all of this chaos, the only person which was surprisingly calm was Thich Quang Duc himself. Those who witnessed mentioned that whilst Duc was burning, he never flinched nor moved a muscle. For 10 minutes he sat in a meditating posture burning until he collapsed, conforming to the authorities, and most of the people present that he had passed away.
After the fire went out, the monks took Duc’s corpse to the pagoda to cremate his body. Just minutes after the cremation, the pagoda was swarmed with police which wanted to make sure that word of this incident would not make it out of the city, not of the country. However, it was already too late as Browne had already sent the pictures of the event with a letter explaining the event to the United State via what he called a secret carrier pigeon. By the next day, the image of Thich Quang Duc’s burning body had appeared on the front cover of newspapers all over the world.
This had changed the course of history as Thich Quang Duc’s sacrifice made other nations pressure the Vietnamese government into changing the laws in accordance with the Buddhist community. This ultimate type of protest had proven that the world cannot be changed without dire sacrifices.
Even if the picture does still marks many people around the world, it will never compare to the experience faced by those who were present at the event. The same idea was exclaimed by Malcolm Browne.
his was not a good week for U.S.-China relations. On Tuesday, the White House ordered China to close its consulate in Houston. By Friday, China had retaliated by ordering the closure of the American consulate in Chengdu. The U.S. Justice Department also recently accused Chinese hackers of trying to steal data on a coronavirus vaccine, the latest in a long line of allegations of Chinese espionage.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in the United States passed a grim milestone: 4 million. A bright spot on the horizon is that four of the 165 vaccines currently in development are in Phase 3 trials, according to New York Times data. Two of them are made by Chinese companies, state-owned Sinopharm and the private company Sinovac Biotech. There’s only one vaccine already approved for limited use, and it’s been developed by China’s CanSino Biologics. The Chinese military approved it on June 25 as a “specially needed drug.”
But the deteriorating relationship between the two superpowers doesn’t bode well for the potential of the U.S. to do so. And it generally doesn’t look good for vaccine development, or for either country’s response to Covid-19. “People’s health on both sides could become collateral damage,” Yanzhong Huang, PhD, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells the Medium Coronavirus Blog. Trump says he will work with China, he notes, “but there’s no plan, or I don’t think there’s any conversation happening with the Chinese.”
Acknowledging that relations between the two superpowers were already straining in recent months, Huang says that “Covid-19 only accelerated that process” on multiple fronts. Including, he notes, “this issue of vaccine development and distribution.” China not only has vaccines in development but plays a critical role in the global pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s not just the way vaccines become available,” he says. “You need to consider the parallel support, including bottles, not to mention those ingredients used to make those vaccines. China traditionally has played an important role in supplying those things.”
Between China and the U.S., he says, “there’s no state-level cooperation, information sharing — there is no talking between the two.”
This isn’t, of course, the first time this relationship has soured. What happened in the past can inform what to expect as the current situation plays out, says Zuoyue Wang, PhD, professor of history at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Historically, he says, “bilateral scientific exchanges would often be negatively affected, especially in terms of the movements of scientists and technological transfers.” This happened, for example, during the Korean War. Chinese scientists working or studying in the U.S. weren’t allowed to return home, and the U.S. led a broad Western technological embargo against China. Exchanges started up again during the Cold War for a number of reasons; the U.S. wanted to counter the Soviet Union and capitalize on the huge Chinese market, for example, and China wanted to catch up to “American-led world standards in science and technology.” Now, as the prioritization and urgency of those motivations has faded away, the U.S. has tightened the scope of bilateral scientific exchange and collaboration: Chinese scientists are being denied visas; Huawei phones won’t run Google apps.
The present-day tension has already shaped public health exchanges during the pandemic. In March and April, the U.S. struggled to get personal protective equipment from China. Wang says this demonstrates how a “usually mundane technology,” like mask-making, “could suddenly become essential in certain circumstances and play a prominent part in geopolitical dynamics.”
Though there doesn’t seem to be much conversation at the state level between President Trump and President Xi at the moment, there’s still hope for cooperation at the industry or individual level, says Huang. He points to the moment, in the 1990s, when the American pharmaceutical company Merck supplied China with the technology for making a hepatitis B vaccine shortly after the Tiananmen crackdown. This, he says, is an example of how public health collaboration between the two countries can “sustain its own dynamic.”
“I think this actually highlights the importance of nonstate level collaboration and cooperation,” he says. This could happen between firms, like U.S. and Chinese pharmaceutical companies or the researchers themselves, or between U.S. NGOs and Chinese individuals. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, he notes, sent a million masks to the U.S., and Bill Gates donated millions to the international effort against Covid-19.
None of the vaccines being produced around the world are likely to be a “magic bullet” that single-handedly solves Covid-19, says Wang. That’s why it’s important not to forget that “global problems such as pandemics and climate change require international collaboration.” When political tensions limit that collaboration, “the U.S. along with the rest of the world suffers from the consequences.”
“No one is truly safe until the world community can work together in dealing with these threats,” says Wang.
What the American Idiot has done to America is to make it an impoverished country. Not just any kind of poverty — what you might call deep poverty. Let me explain.
New Zealand has zero new cases of Corona. In America, they’re spinning out of control. One way to think about it is to say that your chances of dying of this lethal pandemic are now…infinitely higher in America than in New Zealand. Compared to Europe and Canada, they’re about a hundred times higher.
That’s a kind of poverty, too. A poverty of public health. Americans have spent decades being impoverished of public health by the American Idiot — the kind of person who votes against better healthcare for everyone, including themselves, their kids, their parents. What the? What kind of idiot does that? A very, very large number of Americans.
The result of that attitude was a society poor in a gruesome and strange way — poor in public health itself. What I mean by that is that American life expectancy is the lowest in the rich world, and plummeting, that Americans have the highest rates of all kinds of preventable chronic diseases, from diabetes to obesity to heart disease. You can see it on American faces, in fact: a society poor in health is a society of unhealthy people.
We expect much, much poorer societies to be impoverished in public health. It’s a strange concept to have to think about precisely because we don’t expect it of a rich country. Perhaps one of a poor one, that’s never really developed at all. This is a syndrome unique to America — a form of poverty that Europeans and Canadians struggle to understand, because, well, they’ve mostly eliminated it. But in America, health poverty is endemic.
So endemic that you can see America’s gotten shockingly poorer and poorer in health — right down to the resurgence of old, conquered diseases, from measles to mumps. Again, that’s the work of the American Idiot — the kind of person who won’t vaccinate their kids, which is an idea that in the end takes society right back to the medieval days of endemic smallpox and polio.
So what was going to happen when a society impoverished in terms of health met a pandemic? Utter catastrophe. America’s mortality rate and infection rate are so high precisely because America was a time bomb of failing public health waiting to go off.
What then are the results of creating a society impoverished in public health? Well, Americans face a gruesome choice that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the rich world, even in much of the poor one: your money or your life. “Medical bankruptcy” is the result — I put in quotes because it’s a notion that scarcely exists elsewhere.
How did all that happen?
Americans are culturally impoverished, too. The American Idiot has turned American culture into the one of the world’s regressive, short-sighted, narrow-minded, and, well…idiotic. Literally the tiniest shreds of decency and sanity come under a murderous, withering barrage of denial and false “debate” — from things as simple as wearing masks to ones as large as educating Americans about how the rest of the rich world and even the poor one now has vastly better functioning societies.
Huge chunks of American culture are so hateful, foolish, or bizarre that they’d be either illegal, laughable, or bewildering in much of the rest of the world, from Canada, Europe, or Asia. “Debating” whether the answer to school shootings — which happen nowhere else — is to arm teachers? The idea that billionaires are somehow good for society, or that things like healthcare, retirement, pensions, income, and safety aren’t human rights? That money is all that should matter? Nearly everyone else in the world finds such notions jaw-droppingly foolish by now, which is how the American Idiot made his country a laughingstock the world over.
The point of a Culture of Idiocy, of course, is to create idiots, and American Culture is the cradle and mothers’ milk of the American Idiot. From Tucker Carlson to Bill O’Reilly to Ancient Aliens, an impoverished culture keeps Americans ignorant, pliable, submissive, and frightened.
Tucker will fill your head with misinformation, and the reality TV will make it seem normal to be an idiot. The result of cultural impoverishment, though, is that Americans they stay poor in more visible, visceral ways — like poor in healthcare, in equality, in power, in money.
But also poor in time. That’s my next dimension of poverty. Americans can’t do much to change their society — not nearly enough — because they’re time poor.They work harder than anyone else in the rich world, by a very, very long way. Taking a vacation in America is something that mostly, you’ll get fired for. Commuting three hours a day? That’s your problem. Americans have no time — and they don’t quite understand yet that that’s a deep form of poverty. Because when you’re always running out of time, when do you save, invest, educate, reflect, or just have a decent life? You don’t. You’re always weary, tired, panicked, on a hair trigger, and eventually, you go numb.
That brings me to the next kind of poverty — emotional poverty. Americans live severely impoverished emotional lives. America consistently ranks as a much, much unhappier country than Scandinavia, and falling. It’s among the angriest place and most stressed out place in the world.
Backing all that up, rates of depression have soared way, way past global norms, suicides are skyrocketing, and hopelessness and despair are endemic, too.
Imagine that you live a life of financial poverty, time poverty, and public health poverty, like most Americans do. What kind of life is that, emotionally? A poor one. It’s full of nights where you can’t sleep, wondering how to pay the bills. It’s riddled with anxiety and panic. Uncontrollable thoughts race through the mind. Pretty soon, you’re like, well, most Americans: angry, stressed out, depressed. No matter how hard you work, you never seem to able to make ends meet. You never have enough time to spend with your loved ones — or just relaxing, or learning something new. But those are the greatest sources of happiness of all. Is it any wonder Americans are miserable and furious, mostly, then?
The American Idiot made all that happen, too. Who votes, again and again, for no real mental healthcare? In America, you can get medicated— the lowest cost answer, or you can get “therapy.” But getting proper mental healthcare, the way you can in Europe or Canada — careful, long-term psychotherapy? That doesn’t exist at all in America, outside maybe a handful of major cities.
The American Idiot responded, instead, to life becoming a nightmare of dystopian stress, misery, and anger, with something else. With rage. With hate. With the cruelty and brutality that have made America a laughingstock the world over. Why does the American Idiot deny everyone — including themselves — better incomes, healthcare, retirement, pension, more time to have a decent life? Because they’ve internalized the notion that nobody has any intrinsic worth. And therefore, everybody must be a vicious competitor, fighting everyone else off, for a morsel of basics, whether jobs, healthcare, pensions, and so on.
But these are things that when people cooperate — as they do in Canada and Europe — they can simply give each other.
Never mind. The American Idiot — led off a cliff by greater fools, like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump — believes that the only way out of an abusive society is to be a bigger, hungrier, more vicious predator.
But all that happens that way is that society implodes into a spectacular orgy of self-destruction, and becomes an unlivable place, because unbelievable cruelty to the rest of the world becomes the norm — like letting kids be shot at school, in indifference to life which culminates, ultimately, in the mass death of a virus.
All that brings me to another kind of poverty: one we don’t yet have a good name for. A poverty of trust, of goodness, of decency. Americans are impoverished in this deep way, which I can put most simply and accurately by saying that they seem to genuinely hate each other. It’s not nice living in a society of people who hate each other. A society of hateful people can’t ever cooperate to accomplish anything, whether beating a deadly pandemic, or creating a better future by investing together in schools, hospitals, ideas, research, accomplishments.
Now, I don’t mean that you hate anyone. I mean it in a more technical way, one that’s almost invisible in America, because like air, it’s just the atmosphere that surrounds everyone. What else, though, can it really be called, when some large number of Americans deny, over and over, everyone else the right to have healthcare? An education? A job with decent standards? Free time? A rising income? A democracy?
You only do those things if you hate people. Yes, really hate them. I would never deny you healthcare, goes the sentiment in Europe and Canada, where even the hard right wing isn’t against basic public goods. American Idiots will deny their own kids and parents decent lives, though.
The only accurate word to describe such a sentiment is hate — because when you deny someone the basics, like medicine or retirement, you are also hurting them badly, and in very real ways. They are going to suffer much, much worse lives — whether measured in longevity, happiness, income, or relationships — as a result of that denial.
The American Idiot is an abuser. He abuses everyone he can, right down to his own loved ones — and think that’s sanity, compassion, goodness. It’s not: it’s only a recipe for self-destruction. Because a society of people — enough of them — hell-bent on abusing everyone else, right down to their loved ones — can only implode into ruin, bitterness, hardship, and suffering.
That brings me to my final form of poverty. If I deny you the basics — healthcare, education, and so on — what am I really doing? I am destroying your human potential. And that is America’s truest and deepest form of poverty.
Americans now live lives of sharply limited and circumscribed possibilities. Go-nowhere, dead-end lives. You can see that, too, in basic statistics, like the death of upwards mobility, the loss of hope in the future, the fact that young people can’t afford to move out and start families, that half of all jobs are now “low-wage service work.”
In America, your life is going to be much, much poorer than in any other rich country. Elsewhere? You can probably get an education — a much better one — and not be crippled by debt for life. There are more better jobs, with better standards. There’s more free time, to have a family, to form bonds, to love. There are better social protections, which mean you spend less time anxious and stressed out. All of that doesn’t just add up to less depression and suicide and more happiness — happiness is facet of an even greater thing, human potential.
There you are, a young person in America. What are your options? Most industries have now imploded, from news to media to education. That’s why half of jobs are now “low-wage service work,” which is polite pundit’s way of saying: being a servant.
You end up driving an Uber, delivering an Instacart. Doing gig work. Pursuing your side hustle when and where you can. What the hell? You’re educated. You have a long collection of degrees and diplomas.
And yet you never become the thing you could have. The one that would have benefited everyone. That scientist, researcher, novelist, journalist, professor, musician. Who can? Nobody can make ends meet. Nobody has time for anything but to be exploited and abused, in the name of trying to make ends meet. So what is there left over in time or money to invest in one’s self?
One dimension of human potential is what you make of yourself professionally — and you realize, one day, terrified, that you will never amount to what you wanted to, but be a glorified neo-servant for much of your life. But another is relational — what you make of yourself socially. And as an American, now, you can’t even afford to start a family, have a home, develop a lifelong relationship.
That’s how badly your human potential has been destroyed. That’s how poor you are in human possibility. You won’t not just be that scientist, researcher, journalist, novelist — you also won’t be that dad, mom, grandparent, husband, wife, loved one.
You will work, for a pittance, and then die. You’ll make billionaires trillionaires — and demagogue dictators — along the way. But you?
You’re expandable, disposable, nobody.
That’s thanks to the American Idiot. He’s a person so breathtakingly foolish to the rest of the world he’s made America a laughingstock. Precisely because he believes nobody’s life has any intrinsic value — beginning with his own, extending to his loved ones…all the way to you, to everyone. If he’s happy to abuse himself — having internalized the lesson he’s been taught all his life, that only brutality matters and cruelty counts — why wouldn’t he abuse everyone else, too?
America’s become unlivable. Sure, you can live there, and you’ll be OK. But you’ll be poor. Poor in ways that are strange and hard to comprehend because they’re both old and new. You’ll be poor financially, of course, like someone living in a collapsing society — but that’s just the beginning.
You’ll be poor in terms of public health, like someone from medieval times. You’ll be poor in terms of time and power, like a peasant from pre-war times. You’ll be poor emotionally, like someone living in a country with no hope. And you’ll be poor socially, politically, and culturally, like in a country turning fascist-authoritarian. All that adds up to the coup de grace — you’ll be poor in terms of human potential. You’ll never become what you’re capable of being — not to the same degree as elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. Humanity has lived through a lot. Plagues, wars, collapses, implosions. Life doesn’t come to an end. It goes on. But you know what the point of all those things was? Not to repeat them.
That is the most minimal definition of what progress is. And so far, America has yet to meet even that. Maybe, then, that’s what the truest kind of poverty is, too.