Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga

Structural Patterns

Reflections on Art, Technology and Society

Archive for the ‘covid-19’ tag

The Golden Age of FinTech

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FinTech for the Precariat (working title) is a net art work that speculates on the false promises of income distribution in the Age of Bezos. COVID-19 has compounded existential insecurity; the pandemic of stress has been inseminated by the novel flu virus to birth a new reality – a chasm of uncertainty. As unemployment soars, speculative futures drive a stock market that has largely rebounded from the initial shock, but on what basis? The basis that this moment will soon pass and the age of plutocrats, technocrats and authoritarianism will continue thriving a year from now; the slight disruption soon forgotten. The agenda of economic growth must be embraced at the cost of human health. After all, those who enjoy the economic growth will remain safely at home in their condo or rural cabin or yacht.

It has been projected that the 2020s will be the decade of the FinTech Revolution. This marketing hyperbole is on the heels of many such revolutions – the Green Revolution, the Personal Computing Revolution, the dot.com, web2.0 and Social Network Revolution… These revolutions are sold on the promises of democratization and wealth. And they always leave a toll from cancer and the privatization of agriculture to unparalleled surveillance. Today financial technologies present the promise of democratizing complicated transactions, facilitating personal banking, mass speculation in stocks… Whether budgeting or gambling, these tools are relatively harmless. However, entirely new finance mechanisms or rather schemes are being developed as part of FinTech including autonomous finance, bitcoin and ultimately the financialization of human existence. A sector of FinTech will compound income inequality nationally and globally to insurmountable levels. As made abundantly clear by world leaders, finance no longer serves humanity, humanity serves finance.

The New Normal, for Now

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Bartel-Pritchard Entrance, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Saturday April 11th 2020

It’s the Saturday before Easter Sunday, April 11th 2020 and Prospect Park is active. Not nearly as active as on a pre-pandemic beautiful spring Saturday afternoon, but still people are jogging and cycling, some respectfully wearing masks or bandanas. Families are playing games and exercising or merely enjoying the sun. Everyone is trying to keep at least a six foot distance, however, with so much movement, it’s not always possible.

In Windsor Terrace, neighbors visit and chat from a “safe” distance. Shoppers line up around the corner from the butcher, at least six feet apart, waiting for their opportunity to shop. The liquor store has both its back door and front door open, air streams through as a sign outside instructs that only the paying customer should enter. It appears that a majority of people are wearing masks and gloves. Unfortunately, still there are many who do not, particularly the athletes. Huffing and puffing, mouth breathing runners of all shapes and ages, focus on their exercise with little consideration of those around them or the trails of breath and saliva that they leave behind. I’m no athlete, but my bike is my primary form of transportation and I wear glasses, but I still wear a mask. I recognize that I may unwittingly either catch or pass COVID-19 while getting about in public space, so although I bike in traffic and my glasses get fogged up due to the mask, I recognize that it’s the responsible thing to do.

According to the New York City’s Department of Health there are nearly 100,000 confirmed cases. 24,846 cases in Brooklyn. I assume that we all want to flatten the curve and return to a more normal existence. In a make believe world, we would all freeze in place, cocoon at home for two or three weeks and it would miraculously disappear. Of course, that is not going to happen, so why not wear a mask in public space? Throughout the history of pandemics, masks have been an essential tool to keeping viruses from moving from individual to individual, so why not wear a mask? No one likes them, no one wants to walk or run or cycle with a mask, but it seems like a small effort at this time. And it’s only for a relatively short period of time. With 25,920 people hospitalized in the city, I’m dumbfounded at why people will not wear a mask, handkerchief, or anything to cover their mouths and noses.

Since this virus will not magically disappear, this is our reality for the next several months. In the new normal, we should all exercise and enjoy the sun. We should be able to walk the streets or parks, chat with people and enjoy some sports. If we all do so thoughtfully and take appropriate precautions, including wearing masks, I believe that the new normal will be a bit more bearable. Besides, what thoughtful New Yorker wants to be a sociopath like Trump who declares that he is not wearing a mask as citizens die.

Written by ricardo

April 11th, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Tropicana Face Shield

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As the ease of the spread of COVID-19 becomes increasingly apparent, I decided to try and make a face shield from a commonly available product – a Tropicana bottle of orange juice. I generally do not drink juice, but recently decided to buy oj to have around for my kid. As COVID-19 exploded onto New York City, the Tropicana bottle neared emptiness. Once it all had been drunk it went into the recycling bin. At this time a friend sent me a link to DIY face shields and a call to artists to make them if they had plastic sheets. I did not have any plastic sheets. However, following a particularly alarming walk in my neighborhood, I pulled it out. I thought, who knows, rather than recycling, it may be immediately useful. Turns out that a Tropicana bottle makes for a reasonable face shield, all be it that I have no idea what the appropriate gauge is for a face shield, but hey it is solid plastic and holds liquid in.

Here’s the finished cut up Tropicana bottle as face shield. It works great to cover my entire face, but I have glasses, so it feels better to be worn below my glasses. After the initial wearing, the rubber band broke, so an elastic band works best.

Tropicana face shield over dust mask and below glasses. Works over entire face.


I shared a video on FB making this… https://www.facebook.com/ricardo.miranda1/videos/10102086965865719/

COVID-19 NYC Map

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A couple zip codes in Lower Manhattan

The last 24 hours I have been obsessed about comparing the COVID-19 case map that the NYC Department of Health made available with NYC population and median household income according to zip code (as the DOH map is layed out). So I added to the DOH map.

All the data is old at this point – DOH case map is two days old (March 31st). The population and income data is from the 2010 census. (I can probably find more recent income data.) But I was curious to get a sense of how these numbers compare with cases. Of course the population data presents a direct correlation – density tends to mean more coronavirus cases.

Only select zip codes have data as I was scraping it by hand. The data that is available can be toggled on and off as the map is initially (upon loading) way too crowded: http://rmz.nyc/covid/covidNYC_Map.html

Written by ricardo

April 2nd, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Coronavirus: Trump’s New Reality Show

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Trump was tiring before COVID-19, now he’s constantly taking his audience on a rollercoaster ride. At a March 24th press meeting, a reporter asks Trump – who suggested Easter as the date when the country could go back to work? Trump responds – “I just thought it was a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It’s a great day…”

As late as March 27th, Trump remained hopeful that the country would go back to work on April 12th Easter Sunday. Then two days later on March 29th, Trump states that social distancing is to continue through April 30th. The ignorant but “beautiful” Easter timeline, he now refers to as “aspirational.”

Why does anyone take what this guy says seriously and more importantly, why does the media continue to air him? KUOW of Seattle has taken the correct stance: “KUOW recently made an editorial decision to stop airing White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic live on a daily basis. We will continue to cover these briefings – but believe it is imperative that they are fact-checked, which is a challenge during a live broadcast.”

When not reading a script, Trump says what pops into his head while a country is listening, this is incredibly irresponsible. Later, he is corrected by the numbers and experts, but rather than recognizing his ignorant statements, he reframes them and blames the Media as fake news. Meanwhile, there are still people listening to him. Trump creates false expectations and takes people on a rollercoaster ride unnecessarily at a time when it’s best to take the long view and prepare people for the most factual possibilities, not false realities based on his whims. Of course, as a born millionaire who has never dealt with reality, he’s accustomed to creating his own televised realities, and he’s at it now, he can’t help it. However, now there is a pandemic and people are dying. This man should be held accountable for making shit up and not properly preparing this country in January 2020.

Written by ricardo

March 30th, 2020 at 8:28 am