logo
logo
twitter facebook facebook
Frank Wilkerson
twitter facebook facebook
Followers 88 Following 68
Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-25
img

An increasingly confident Britney Spears went topless in new posts on Instagram.

The two images posted Friday and Saturday book-ended a photo of a printed message reading: “Do you know what really turns me on? What I find incredibly sexy? Kindness.” The passage is from “Dirty Pretty Things” by New Zealand poet and novelist Lang Leav. 

collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-06-09
img
"Wet look, dry feel," a company called Wet Pants Denim promises. Yes, the look will cost you.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-03-16
img
The vitamin subscription trend doesn't seem to be fading, so we had experts weigh in on whether it's worth trying.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2020-08-01
img

  • I drove the glorious 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder, a high-performance convertible two-seater that goes for a well-optioned $105,780.
  • The Spyder has a new 414-horsepower flat-six engine that's devoid of turbochargers and, in my car, mated to a crisp six-speed manual transmission.
  • The Spyder traces it lineage to the open-air racers of the 1950s.
  • It isn't a practical car, but it is the best Porsche money can buy — and, for me, a ticket to happiness.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"The colors tremble and vibrate."

That's a line from the title poem in Frederick Seidel's 1998 collection "Going Fast," a work crammed with references to the motorcycles Seidel loves.

Speed is a combination of reality and perception — we understand it as it's happening — and on a motorbike, you'd better be processing what's going on and doing it with all available gray matter and muscle memory.

The colors don't tremble or vibrate quite as much in a car. In many cars, they're positively immobile. But as I'm not riding these days, I take what I can get from four-wheelers.

A few weeks ago, Porsche lent me a 718 Spyder, model year 2020. Over a week's time, I didn't just reacquaint myself with the trembling and the vibrating. I found some new colors.

FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

I'm not going to show you what the Spyder looks like top up. Some folks might think the roadster looks cool with its sleek semi-automatic cloth roof, complete with winglets that evoke the flimsy covering of the roadster's heritage. But I don't.

The Spyder needs to live a largely top-down life, like its legendary antecedent. You know the car I'm talking about: "Little Bastard." James Dean's deathmobile, No. 130, a 1955 Porsche 550 that lost a tragic open-road encounter with 1950 Ford. Dean was 24. He'd barely had the car a week.

You can't not think about the rebel without a cause — his white V-neck T-shirt, the driving gloves, the cigarette, and that '55 Porsche at a California filling station in the iconic photo, Dean's last known living image — when you slip into the snug cockpit of the 2020 Spyder. Sixty-five years have changed nothing. (Well, airbags.) You're in a topless two-seater with a Porsche badge on the hood, engine behind your head, road beneath your 20-inch alloy wheels.



What you don't have is a flat-four engine making just over 100 horsepower. In fact, you have a flat-six, sans turbos of any sort, a 4.0-liter mill producing 414 horsepower with 309 pound-feet of torque and — get this, get it good — a redline at 8,000 rpm. (The 2021 911 Carrera S, by contrast, tops out a 7,500, with its 3.0-liter six.)

Yessir! Beneath my left foot was a crisply responsive clutch pedal. Beneath my right hand, a six-speed stick. But I really didn't need anything past three. I'm not sure what anybody is going to do with the forthcoming dual-clutch transmission and its seven. Perhaps shave a few tenths off the Porsche-claimed zero to 60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. (But why? I got to 60 mph in what I thought was about 3.5 seconds, and I was barely into third gear.)

The open air, the open road, the power and the power and the power, and I haven't even gotten to the exhaust note yet. The ever-present sense that the exquisite neutrality of the Spyder's balance could send one off into new adventures in either over- or understeer. The unsettling dynamics of this ... well, this little bastard.



Heck, I'm a 911 fella through and through. Never have I fallen in line for the Boxsters and Caymans, although I've had my fun with the midmounted turbo fours. I usually like less weight and power, to max out the feathery nature of a proper two-seater.

But the 2020 718 Spyder rearranged my consciousness, like something quick and compelling moving through space and time. This is a car that you dream about after the driving is done, then dream anew when the driving resumes, and before you know it, the driving and dreaming are the same thing.

The 718 Spyder has a stablemate: the GT4, hard-topped and inarguably more the genuine mid-engine race car in the Porsche paddock. For the hardcore competitor, a worthy set of wheels. For me, an extra $3,000, base, on the Spyder and for what? A stiffer architecture? I'd rather channel the late Sir Stirling Moss and have the wind in a grinning swirl around my head.



Let's say I spent the $105,780 to make this Spyder my own. I don't think I'd bother putting the top up once I took it down. The process is borderline maddening. First, you flick a switch in the cabin, between the seats. The windows lower, and three latches disengage from the windshield. The rear hatch pops open. You then exit the car and reconfigure the winglet on either side, raising the hatch before folding, not without some effort, the top in a compartment behind the seats. Thump the hatch closed and the alfresco driving can commence.

Compared to this undertaking, which for me entailed some planning every time, with a Miata's sequence: drop windows, twist latch, throw soft-top back. The whole deal could be accomplished at a stoplight.

I didn't look forward to wrestling with the Spyder's roof, but with rain in the forecast, I had to grapple several times. (Putting it back up is even harder than dropping it.) But I do own a garage, which at the moment is crammed with suburban summertime gear. If it were up to me, I'd remove the top entirely and knock the weight down to 3,500 pounds. A gossamer car cover would be my new protection from the elements, and the Spyder would never even witness winter.



Are Porsches beautiful? Well, no. They're actually sort of, um, ugly. Homely. The bug eyes, the awkward haunches, the endless aesthetic problem of the front end ... and the rear end ... and the sides ...

But Porsche sports cars are so magnificently engineered by the geniuses in Stuttgart that the visual offenses are forgiven as soon as the tires grab the tarmac. This is a tool. Who cares how it looks?

I do, but if I want an object of beauty, there's always the Aston Martin DB9. If I want to drive for my life, I'd take a 911. Or would I? The issue with the 911 is that because the rear-engine design is so profoundly flawed, Porsche designers have been innovating since the mid-1960s to solve the problem. They've succeeded so thoroughly that the 911 has lost some edge. One can push the machine harder than ever without fear of catastrophe, as I did when I recently tested the new Carrera 4S and Turbo S in rapid succession.



The 911 shows you how to drive it. The car plots a course into the future and guides you to it; no vehicle fills me with more confidence. The Spyder, on the other hand, undermines my confidence, oh-so subtly. I could feel the grip ebbing whenever I got frisky. In my heart, I want this and want it badly from a rear-drive sports car, and I got it not too long ago from an Aston V8 Vantage. That was 503 hp with tail-happy slip, however, and it was sort of scary. (This is comparative; the 800 hp in a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody was flatly terrifying.)

The Spyder's 414 was easier to work with, the limit of what I can handle when it comes to throttle versus tire adhesion. In a word, exhilarating. In another, alive. In yet another, I'll admit, beautiful.

I drove the Spyder a lot, both because it's addictive to drive and because during the Northeaster summer you want top-down motoring into the night. New Jersey's legendary Garden State Parkway is a few minutes from my house, and I made for it with a certain native son's song lyrics in my head and a sense of guilt in my gut that I was taking to the thoroughfare in a German roadster, rather than an American muscle car.



Parkway journeys aren't the best use of the Spyder's talents, but they can get you to regions where the roads wind and wend, twist and bend. But we're not there just yet.

At high speed, the Spyder is perplexing. Thanks to that 8,000 rpm redline, which sits there on the tachometer, beckoning one to, you know, test it. Hammer the accelerator and observe the needle climb until the soulful huff of the flat six becomes, if not a scream, then a sort of throaty yowl. I wanted to throw the shifter into fifth, but the engine only needs second and (barely) third. The torque is so cussedly available after three snicks that you rapidly forget about downshifting for more pop and simply hang out around 4,000 or 5,000 rpm and grab speed whenever you want or need it.

The Spyder basically trifles with everything else on the road, save the odd Voodoo V8 Mustang, a flat-crank hellraiser that's actually a fine track-day choice, but that offers none of the Spyder's panache. In a GT350, the redline is 8,250 rpm, which I used to dismember a racetrack in Utah a few years back, without departing from third gear.



The 718, therefore, is a steering-and-braking-at-speed experience. With the wheel light and flicky in the hands, the suspension ready for whatever I could throw at it, and the brakes providing the on-command stopping and four Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's providing the gripping, boredom is vanquished and troubles retreat.

The top speed is said to be 187 mph, at which point you might be able to use the retractable spoiler to add some useful downforce to the rear end, and count on the front aerodynamics to slip the airflow up and over the Spyder's smooth form, in the case of my tester wearing a sharp GT Silver Metallic paint job, the soft top cut from cloth the color of drying blood.



The interior is premium yet purposeful. A "Bordeaux" red-and-black leather and Alcantara package adds almost $3,000 to the final damage, but in general the insides make few compromises. The Alcantara-clad wheel is intended for steering; it lacks the now typical multifunction array of buttons, switches, knobs, and dials.

The seats are snug, and the evidence of discipline around weight — mass is the enemy of speed and handling — is in the webbed pull-handle door releases and lack of storage. The woeful retractable cupholders, flimsy things that no fool would risk with a steaming latte, are pathetic but understandable. They're made of load-lightening plastic. When they inevitably break and you throw them into a rest-stop trash can, subtract another eight ounces from the Spyder's bulk.



The infotainment system, running on a modest touchscreen, is good for listening to music and provides GPS navigation, and it also enables the expected Bluetooth device pairing along with USB connectivity.

But the real joy of the Spyder is taking the opportunity to ignore the tech. Punch up the exhaust note and switch off the cylinder-deactivation features (which probably helps yield the fuel economy figures of 16 mph city/23 highway/19 combined), and with the top down, come on and feel the noise.

Seriously, you don't drop more than $100,000 ($96,300 base) on a ride like this if you want to fiddle with a touchscreen. Kudos to Porsche for installing infotainment. But it's a plus-$2,300 option. And I'd have been happy with a factory AM/FM and a folding roadmap.



Apart from the cupholders, I got my usual kicks from stuff like the "smoking package," a micro-lighter and ashtray that I estimated could hold the butts of exactly three Marlboros. 

A chronograph occupies prime real estate in the middle of the Spyder's dash and would be helpful if clocking lap times. As it stands, for the Spyder's mainly trackless customers, it's like a nice wristwatch, adding some functional style to the cabin.

 



As with the 911, it's impossible to gaze upon the Spyder's motor unless you're a qualified mechanic and are ready to dismantle the cowlings and covers. The 718's powerplant is even more concealed than the 911's, tucked away in the compact zone between seats and rear axle.

Shockingly, combined with the usual front trunk, the Spyder has a moderately ample cargo hold under the rear hatch. I was able to tote, at one point, a folding camp chair and a shipment of outdoor lights from Home Depot.

Versatility!

I'm not kidding. I think the Spyder, with its two seats, could haul more stuff than some smaller three-row SUVs, with the third row deployed. It didn't occur to me to investigate towing capacity.



Why do we even bother with manuals anymore? They're objectively slower than dual-clutch automatics and once you get over the thrills of blipping the throttle on your own downshifts, powering through the gears and launching off the clutch, and all that heel-toe tomfoolery if you get very, very motivated, they're hard to live with.

We bother with them on cars like the Spyder because there's no point of cars like the Spyder without a movable stick between the seats and a third pedal on the floor. Remember, I'm tearing that annoying cover out and going top-down forever. This is not my daily driver, and a pox on the commute. I'm on a hunt for curves and corners when I drive the 718, and I want to be in control of the show.

I could complain about the tricky shift into reverse: over to the left, hard, then up. But I won't.



The 718 Spyder is utterly mesmerizing. It's one of those cars that showed me colors I hadn't seen before, by which I mean ushered into my brainpan some new mixtures of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and psychological realms that had previously been concealed.

Top down and at speed, the car is a high-speed vision quest. The enlightenment it delivers is sadly ephemeral, but that just gives you excuse to strap in again and aim the nose back toward the open asphalt, with a mind freed to explore its corners thanks to stupendous German design and engineering.

The Spyder is the only Porsche I've driven in some time that has added up to far more than its impressive specs. A recent batch of new 911s confirmed for me the genius of that machine and Porsche's commitment to making it ever better. The Cayenne SUV remains as brilliant as it was in the early 2000s, when it stunned the world with its greatness. I've even found some Panameras I could live with.

But happiness, for me, is not now a warm puppy. Nor is it a walk on the wild side, nor a ride on a horse with no name. It's a Porsche Spyder. And I know where to find it.



collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-20
img
Hyper is a $60M early-stage fund co-founded by Josh Buckley, Product Hunt’s CEO along with writer, founder and designer Dustin Curtis. Two ex-Sequoia operators are part of the team at launch as well. Malika Cantor as Partner and GM and Ashton Brown as Head of Program. The fund launches today and is self-described as ‘inspired […]
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-13
img
Liberty Global has announced the completion of the first phase of its UK electric vehicle charging initiative in the London borough of Waltham Forest.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-03-05
img

A vaccination passport scheme to allow Brits who have been inoculated against coronavirus to travel abroad has led to fears over an intergenerational split with younger people feeling “sidelined” and “outraged”.

Plans for a vaccine passport or “immunity passport” have been tentatively welcomed by the travel industry, a sector that has been particularly devastated by the global pandemic. In the UK, the success of the vaccination rollout has led to a surge in “vaccine confidence”.

With more than 20 million people in the UK already been given their first dose, the government expects the first phase of nine priority groups – all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults in at-risk groups and frontline health and social care workers – will have been offered a vaccine by May.  

The UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, has said the roll-out boosted summer bookings from those aged 50 and over, with that age group accounting for 50% of all online bookings since the end of last year. 

Since the government announced its roadmap out of lockdown on February 22, holiday package bookings have seen a “notable surge” from people over the age of 55, EasyJet told HuffPost UK.

Simon Lowe, 60, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire is scheduled to receive his first dose of a vaccine on March 16 and his second dose in the first week of June. “I had been avidly going on the Covid vaccine queue calculator to see when my age group would come up so it’s really terrific,” he says. 

An ardent traveller and mountaineer – he runs a Sheffield-based travel company that organises climbing trips to the Everest summit – Lowe has felt paralysed since the outbreak of coronavirus. “My favourite hobby in life is ski mountaineering and ski touring: the absolute freedom over an entire mountain range, the adventure of discovering what’s around the next corner and the camaraderie of being part of an expedition.”

Simon Lowe, 60, plans to revive his passion for ski touring in the Alps in July, three weeks after he receives his second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

As soon as his vaccination appointments were booked, Lowe began making plans to travel. His first trip will be to the Alps in early July, just three weeks after his second dose. “I adore travelling, I always have done. It’s really important for me to go out to the Alps and further afield and I shall go as soon as I possibly can.”

“I’m 60 years old so I know I’ve only got so many seasons left in my legs before I have to hang up my skis,” he continues. “By the time I go back, I’ll be a year older, the legs are going to creak a bit more.”

The father of three twenty-somethings, he questions whether vaccine passports will create much resentment among the under-50s, most of who will not be able to get hold of one in time for the summer. “Young people just want to get back to work. 

“That’s not to say they wouldn’t want a summer holiday, but they’re pragmatic and realise it’s about opening up the economy which will also open up hospitality here so they can holiday in the UK.”

A vaccine passport makes complete sense to him. “It’s inevitable. There are some countries you can’t travel to unless you can prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination, so this is nothing new.” The scheme would also be a lifesaver to his business, which has been hit hard over the past year. 

“If you ask everyone in my office who are all younger than me, ‘Do you want people to travel or wait until we’re all vaccinated before our business can start again?’ they would be like, are you crazy. People want to know their jobs are guaranteed, which is based on people like me going travelling.”

A vaccine passport would result in a two-tier society, where some people can access freedoms and support while others are shut out.

On Tuesday EU leaders announced plans for a “Digital Green Pass” which would detail proof that the person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as test results for those who haven’t yet been vaccinated.

The scheme would be open to British travellers in time to save the summer holidays, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pledged. “The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”

On Friday, Cyprus also revealed it would allow vaccinated Brits to travel in from May 1 - more than two weeks before travel restrictions end here. 

And despite repeated denials from cabinet ministers saying there were no plans to introduce vaccine passports in the UK, on Monday health secretary Matt Hancock told reporters the government was “working with international partners” on the issue. 

Tourists enjoy a sunny day in Palma de Mallorca in 2019.

Consultant Jo Brianti, 52, from Ealing in west London is eagerly awaiting her vaccine invitation so she can press on with plans to travel to Switzerland for a friend’s wedding in July. Afterwards, she and her husband and two teenage sons intend to spend three weeks in northern Italy. “I’m keeping my fingers and toes and everything else crossed,” she tells HuffPost UK. 

The hard reality is life isn’t fair, as Covid isn’t fair. Where do you draw the line?

Although everything has been provisionally booked, she’s readied herself in case something goes wrong; the family lost hundreds of pounds after a holiday last February was cancelled because of Covid-19. “We would be absolutely gutted if we missed the wedding, so that’s always in the back of our minds.”

Last summer, instead of renting a place in Tenerife, Brianti spent the summer holidays in a cottage in Yorkshire. “It was gorgeous and we had a really lovely time, but it rained. That’s a normal thing in the UK so it doesn’t feel like a real holiday.” 

She has missed being able to go abroad sorely. “It’s a time away from home and from work and school. It’s a chance for us to do something different as a family, whether it’s sitting by the side of a pool or going to a restaurant where somebody else cooks lunch. I don’t need to cook, or clean, or wash.”

To those who argue vaccine passports are unfair and discriminatory, leaving a generation of under-50s unable to leave the country while older people brush the dust off their passports, Brianti’s response is: “You know what? Life isn’t fair.

“The hard reality is life isn’t fair, as Covid isn’t fair. Where do you draw the line? ” She believes vaccine passports should have been introduced in the UK “a long, long time ago”. “They’ll be good not just for the UK but other countries. We’re a global place, people travel for holidays all over.

“It might sound like a very hardened view, but I don’t see the point in saying, ‘it’s not fair’. I might not get my passport by the time I want to travel in July, in which case I’ve got to suck it up. And if I have to suck it up, then so should other people. In the grand scheme of things, life moves on.”

We are starting to see these intergenerational splits – and that is definitely something that could be happening here as well.”

Professor Melinda Mills, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, worries that the idea of a vaccine passport as a “silver bullet” to saving summer holidays means important ethical, scientific and behavioural questions are being neglected. In a report to the Royal Society, she submitted 12 criteria that would need to satisfied in order to make the scheme feasible.

Alongside issues surrounding the extent to which current Covid-19 vaccines stop transmission, length of immunity and effectiveness against emerging variants, Mills points to how a vaccine passport scheme could affect groups who have been shown to be less likely to be vaccinated: people with allergies, pregnant individualspeople from ethnic minority backgrounds and areas of deprivation in the UK.

“Before you introduce a vaccine passport scheme, you really have to think about who you’re going to exclude and who you could inadvertently discriminate against,” she tells HuffPost UK.

A digital vaccine passport would be inaccessible to people who do not have – or cannot afford to own – a smartphone and could exclude people in the homeless community or who are undocumented. Then, of course, there are young people.

“We’re definitely seeing intergenerational issues coming up,” she says. “We’ve already seen riots happening in some countries, for example in the Netherlands in relation to the curfews.″ Dutch officials have claimed teenagers and youths were to blame for the violent scenes that swept the country in January. 

Mills believes the main narrative of the pandemic has left younger generations feeling alienated by their own governments. “I think we’ve forgotten the voice of the younger generation. 

“This is the generation that had their exams messed with, who had to enter university or into a job market where they can’t find jobs. Their jobs, their education, their social contacts, their relationships have all been affected. This is the period when they could be finding a relationship, starting a life or buying a house – and these things will all be severely disrupted for a long period of time.

As in other countries that have seen rioting and protests, Mills believes we could see some fallout from over the focus on protecting older people. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a backlash. We are starting to see these intergenerational splits – and that is definitely something that could be happening here as well.”

Madelaine

Human rights organisation Liberty has also rejected the vaccine passport scheme, which they argue would lead to “exclusion and division”.

Sam Grant, head of policy and campaigns at Liberty, said: “We all want to get out of this pandemic as soon as possible – but any form of vaccine passport or certificate would result in a two-tier society, where some people can access freedoms and support while others are shut out.

“Who can go on holiday isn’t the only way this would change our society. Even the introduction of a voluntary passport to prove if you’ve had a vaccine could result in many being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised hardest hit. This is because once these passports have been created for one purpose – like travel – it would be all too easy for their use to be extended and abused.

“To get through coronavirus, we need to pull together and demand a response that protects us all. That means rejecting strategies like immunity passports which are based on exclusion and division. Instead, we must work to bridge divides with strategies that protect everyone.”

The sneering contempt of the sacrifices we’ve made and childish delight at seeing millennials suffer has become endemic.

PR consultant Madelaine, 25, from Newcastle, is one of the many young people who are fed up with feeling neglected and ignored. “My generation isn’t just upset now, we’re on the brink of revolution over being constantly sidelined and never acknowledged in legislation, policy and restrictions,” she tells HuffPost UK.

She describes the UK as “a nation of angry Edina Monsoons trying to punish their children”. “The sneering contempt of the sacrifices we’ve made and childish delight at seeing millennials suffer has become endemic.

“Many young people have lost everything and borne the pressure to keep older people safe. Those who have lost their jobs are retail workers, hospitality staff: all young employees on a low, vulnerable income. Those who have lost irredeemable years of education are young people too.”

As a person who lives alone, Madelaine has not seen a single friend in more than five months as well as her parents, who live in Europe. “It feels like solitary confinement,” she says. “The truth is younger people are the real victims of global travel bans: we’re the international generation. It’s not just a holiday for us, it’s being able to see our families and partners.

“I have seen close friends lose their jobs, their homes, their mental health and their relationships in the wake of lockdowns and seeing older people crow about ‘millennials having their turn’ to suffer from restrictions in the pandemic riles me.”

“I don’t mind the odd avocado-on-toast joke, but it is an outrage to treat the generation that really did give up everything for others with utter indifference. I’m all for being safe, but we must be fair. It’s not a big ask for the UK government to wait until everyone has had the chance to be vaccinated before rolling out freedoms to a few. 

“Don’t offer freedoms to people that others can’t have out of bureaucracy: this is a democracy, we are equals.”

collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2020-07-22
img
That’s the largest single-day increase in the history of the news agency’s eight-year-old Billionaires Index.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-15
img

Normally, my day job involves a healthy dose of dread. There are time pressures, a story’s wider impact, and if I’m actually, well, right. But this piece has none of that — because it’s about a dumb meme of people involved with The French Dispatch. Let’s take a step back. The French Dispatch is the latest work from first year film students’ favorite director Wes Anderson. Oringally scheduled for release in 2020, the movie premiered at Cannes film festival this week. Many of the movie’s star studded cast were in attendance at the event, including Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Benecio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Adrien…

This story continues at The Next Web
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-09
img
The committee also opened a separate investigation into Rep. Tom Reed over allegations of sexual misconduct.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2020-10-02
img
The "worst thing I've ever seen" tweets were the perfect kind of celebrity self-deprecation.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2019-11-12

Vodafone's latest internet offer may have just ended your fibre broadband search - you don't have to wait until Black Friday to snatch up one of the best fibre broadband deals in the UK.

This broadband deal is bringing you Superfast 2 plan for the price of regular Superfast 1 - meaning that you'll get average speeds of 63Mb, so almost double of the usual 35Mb.

This is the cheapest widely available mega fast fibre package (i.e.

50Mb+) around at the moment, so if you live in a busy household or you're looking to game or stream seamlessly - especially in 4K - then this is looking like the deal to go for.

It costs £23 a month to most people or a frankly incredible £21 a month if you also have your phone contract with Vodafone.

Of course, when the deal is this good, we'd expect it to only be available for a limited amount of time.

collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-06-19
img
The pink iPhone 13 rumor is more of a wish, but it could technically still happen.
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-08
img
We’re expecting the 2022 Hyundai Kona N to rattle the cage of performance crossovers with its bold styling and high-performance merits. And most recently, Hyundai spilled the beans on what to expect from its newest Kona N high-performance crossover. First, let’s talk about the engine. We previously reported the Kona N would inherit the feisty 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine … Continue reading
collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2020-08-24
img

Listen to our weekly podcast Am I Making You Uncomfortable? about women’s health, bodies and private lives. Available on SpotifyAppleAudioboom and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Covid-19 pandemic has caused anxiety to sky-rocket, if internet searches are anything to go by. Panic attacks are an exaggeration of the body entering “fight or flight” mode – as a person tries to take in more oxygen, their breathing quickens and their body releases hormones like adrenaline which can cause the heart to beat faster and muscles to tense.

A new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, finds evidence of a record high in potential anxiety or panic attacks based on Google searches. Researchers analysed search queries that mentioned “panic attack” or “anxiety attack” emerging from the US between January 2004 and May 2020.

These included queries like “am I having a panic attack?,” “signs of anxiety attack” or “anxiety attack symptoms”. After President Donald Trump first declared a national emergency in the US on March 13 this year, the team discovered anxiety related searches reached record highs.

Dr Benjamin Althouse, a principal scientist at the Institute for Disease Modelling, which was involved in the study, says “searches for anxiety and panic attacks were the highest they’ve ever been in over 16 years of historical search data”. 

Searches tended to peak when national guidelines were rolled out in the US, the team found. The largest increase in queries occurred between March 16 and April 14, coinciding with the roll out of national social distancing guidelines.

Google search insights for the UK suggest a similar trend, with searches for “panic attacks” and “anxiety attack symptoms” peaking in March and April respectively, HuffPost UK found.

Panic attack searches peaked in the UK in March, 2020.

Psychotherapist and author Joshua Fletcher, who runs The Panic Room counselling service in Manchester, tells HuffPost UK he saw a spike in anxiety-related queries from clients as a result of Covid-19.

Referrals tended to increase when lockdown measures were lifted, rather than enforced, he says. This, he believes, is because during the initial lockdown our lives were quite simple, but as the rules became blurred and a bit more confusing, people became more anxious as “they didn’t have the rigid guidelines to fall back on”.

In a typical week pre-lockdown he would get around five to 10 enquiries, but in April and May this rose to between 30 and 40 a week. The queries aren’t necessarily linked to the virus itself, says Fletcher, but as a result of the changes people are having to make in their personal lives to accommodate it.

He uses the metaphor of a stress jug: “Every time we experience stress it goes into the jug – so that’s money, work, deadlines, relationship issues, past experiences, grief, debt, lack of sleep, not eating properly.” People experience panic attacks when that stress jug overflows, he says, because the brain misinterprets all the stress and thinks you’re in danger.  Your body goes into fight or flight – and the adrenaline kicks in. With the virus and subsequent lockdown, “so many people’s jugs have been filled up”, he says.

How to tell if you’ve had a panic attack

There are various physical and mental symptoms of a panic attack, which you can find on the NHS website. 

Fletcher talks through three key parts to a panic attack. First of all, there’s the feeling of “terror from nowhere”, he says. All of a sudden you are scared for no real reason and can feel an overwhelming sense of dread that something awful is about to happen.

Secondly, there’s the sensation – you can’t catch your breath, there’s a sense of unreality and feeling detached from yourself. You might also have chest pains, your vision shuts down, you sweat and have an overwhelming urge to run away. 

A panic attack is also identifiable by the thoughts that accompany it. “You have a flood of ‘what ifs’,” says Fletcher. These might be: What if I’m about to die? What if I’m about to collapse? What if I’m about to have a heart attack?

According to the NHS, most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes, but some have been reported to last up to an hour.

If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it helps to identify the things that are currently causing you stress so that you can try to alleviate at least some of them. If you’re having repeated attacks, talking therapies (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) and medicine are the main NHS-advised treatments.

Fletcher urges people who have had more than occasional panic to seek help as it could be a sign of panic disorder – your first port of call should be your GP, but mental health charities can also offer support. You might also find it helpful to seek out a specialised private therapist.

People who are prone to panic attacks have previously shared with HuffPost how breathing techniques have helped them, particularly those prone to hyper-ventilating. Fletcher, who has experienced panic disorder himself, doesn’t use techniques like breathing exercises because “when you use a technique, you’re telling the anxious brain it’s not ok to be anxious,” he says.

The important thing to do, Fletcher says, is to remember “this feeling will always pass”. “Compassionately remind yourself it’s ok to be anxious,” he advises.

Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected]

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2019-09-18
img

If we could stop teaching AI insults, that would be great

Netizens are merrily slinging selfies and other photos at an online neural network to classify them... and the results aren’t pretty.

The diversion emerged online this month.

The idea is that you show the site a face, and it will try to predict the label that would be assigned to the fizog, were it in the ImageNet collection.

The software was specifically taught using pictures of people from the database, so it should basically classify folks with labels such as tennis player, or chef, or swimmer, depending on the scene.

Sometimes the captions emitted by the code are harmless.

collect
0
Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-25
img

An increasingly confident Britney Spears went topless in new posts on Instagram.

The two images posted Friday and Saturday book-ended a photo of a printed message reading: “Do you know what really turns me on? What I find incredibly sexy? Kindness.” The passage is from “Dirty Pretty Things” by New Zealand poet and novelist Lang Leav. 

Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-15
img

Normally, my day job involves a healthy dose of dread. There are time pressures, a story’s wider impact, and if I’m actually, well, right. But this piece has none of that — because it’s about a dumb meme of people involved with The French Dispatch. Let’s take a step back. The French Dispatch is the latest work from first year film students’ favorite director Wes Anderson. Oringally scheduled for release in 2020, the movie premiered at Cannes film festival this week. Many of the movie’s star studded cast were in attendance at the event, including Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Benecio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Adrien…

This story continues at The Next Web
Frank Wilkerson 2021-06-09
img
"Wet look, dry feel," a company called Wet Pants Denim promises. Yes, the look will cost you.
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-09
img
The committee also opened a separate investigation into Rep. Tom Reed over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Frank Wilkerson 2021-03-16
img
The vitamin subscription trend doesn't seem to be fading, so we had experts weigh in on whether it's worth trying.
Frank Wilkerson 2020-10-02
img
The "worst thing I've ever seen" tweets were the perfect kind of celebrity self-deprecation.
Frank Wilkerson 2020-08-01
img

  • I drove the glorious 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder, a high-performance convertible two-seater that goes for a well-optioned $105,780.
  • The Spyder has a new 414-horsepower flat-six engine that's devoid of turbochargers and, in my car, mated to a crisp six-speed manual transmission.
  • The Spyder traces it lineage to the open-air racers of the 1950s.
  • It isn't a practical car, but it is the best Porsche money can buy — and, for me, a ticket to happiness.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"The colors tremble and vibrate."

That's a line from the title poem in Frederick Seidel's 1998 collection "Going Fast," a work crammed with references to the motorcycles Seidel loves.

Speed is a combination of reality and perception — we understand it as it's happening — and on a motorbike, you'd better be processing what's going on and doing it with all available gray matter and muscle memory.

The colors don't tremble or vibrate quite as much in a car. In many cars, they're positively immobile. But as I'm not riding these days, I take what I can get from four-wheelers.

A few weeks ago, Porsche lent me a 718 Spyder, model year 2020. Over a week's time, I didn't just reacquaint myself with the trembling and the vibrating. I found some new colors.

FOLLOW US: On Facebook for more car and transportation content!

I'm not going to show you what the Spyder looks like top up. Some folks might think the roadster looks cool with its sleek semi-automatic cloth roof, complete with winglets that evoke the flimsy covering of the roadster's heritage. But I don't.

The Spyder needs to live a largely top-down life, like its legendary antecedent. You know the car I'm talking about: "Little Bastard." James Dean's deathmobile, No. 130, a 1955 Porsche 550 that lost a tragic open-road encounter with 1950 Ford. Dean was 24. He'd barely had the car a week.

You can't not think about the rebel without a cause — his white V-neck T-shirt, the driving gloves, the cigarette, and that '55 Porsche at a California filling station in the iconic photo, Dean's last known living image — when you slip into the snug cockpit of the 2020 Spyder. Sixty-five years have changed nothing. (Well, airbags.) You're in a topless two-seater with a Porsche badge on the hood, engine behind your head, road beneath your 20-inch alloy wheels.



What you don't have is a flat-four engine making just over 100 horsepower. In fact, you have a flat-six, sans turbos of any sort, a 4.0-liter mill producing 414 horsepower with 309 pound-feet of torque and — get this, get it good — a redline at 8,000 rpm. (The 2021 911 Carrera S, by contrast, tops out a 7,500, with its 3.0-liter six.)

Yessir! Beneath my left foot was a crisply responsive clutch pedal. Beneath my right hand, a six-speed stick. But I really didn't need anything past three. I'm not sure what anybody is going to do with the forthcoming dual-clutch transmission and its seven. Perhaps shave a few tenths off the Porsche-claimed zero to 60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. (But why? I got to 60 mph in what I thought was about 3.5 seconds, and I was barely into third gear.)

The open air, the open road, the power and the power and the power, and I haven't even gotten to the exhaust note yet. The ever-present sense that the exquisite neutrality of the Spyder's balance could send one off into new adventures in either over- or understeer. The unsettling dynamics of this ... well, this little bastard.



Heck, I'm a 911 fella through and through. Never have I fallen in line for the Boxsters and Caymans, although I've had my fun with the midmounted turbo fours. I usually like less weight and power, to max out the feathery nature of a proper two-seater.

But the 2020 718 Spyder rearranged my consciousness, like something quick and compelling moving through space and time. This is a car that you dream about after the driving is done, then dream anew when the driving resumes, and before you know it, the driving and dreaming are the same thing.

The 718 Spyder has a stablemate: the GT4, hard-topped and inarguably more the genuine mid-engine race car in the Porsche paddock. For the hardcore competitor, a worthy set of wheels. For me, an extra $3,000, base, on the Spyder and for what? A stiffer architecture? I'd rather channel the late Sir Stirling Moss and have the wind in a grinning swirl around my head.



Let's say I spent the $105,780 to make this Spyder my own. I don't think I'd bother putting the top up once I took it down. The process is borderline maddening. First, you flick a switch in the cabin, between the seats. The windows lower, and three latches disengage from the windshield. The rear hatch pops open. You then exit the car and reconfigure the winglet on either side, raising the hatch before folding, not without some effort, the top in a compartment behind the seats. Thump the hatch closed and the alfresco driving can commence.

Compared to this undertaking, which for me entailed some planning every time, with a Miata's sequence: drop windows, twist latch, throw soft-top back. The whole deal could be accomplished at a stoplight.

I didn't look forward to wrestling with the Spyder's roof, but with rain in the forecast, I had to grapple several times. (Putting it back up is even harder than dropping it.) But I do own a garage, which at the moment is crammed with suburban summertime gear. If it were up to me, I'd remove the top entirely and knock the weight down to 3,500 pounds. A gossamer car cover would be my new protection from the elements, and the Spyder would never even witness winter.



Are Porsches beautiful? Well, no. They're actually sort of, um, ugly. Homely. The bug eyes, the awkward haunches, the endless aesthetic problem of the front end ... and the rear end ... and the sides ...

But Porsche sports cars are so magnificently engineered by the geniuses in Stuttgart that the visual offenses are forgiven as soon as the tires grab the tarmac. This is a tool. Who cares how it looks?

I do, but if I want an object of beauty, there's always the Aston Martin DB9. If I want to drive for my life, I'd take a 911. Or would I? The issue with the 911 is that because the rear-engine design is so profoundly flawed, Porsche designers have been innovating since the mid-1960s to solve the problem. They've succeeded so thoroughly that the 911 has lost some edge. One can push the machine harder than ever without fear of catastrophe, as I did when I recently tested the new Carrera 4S and Turbo S in rapid succession.



The 911 shows you how to drive it. The car plots a course into the future and guides you to it; no vehicle fills me with more confidence. The Spyder, on the other hand, undermines my confidence, oh-so subtly. I could feel the grip ebbing whenever I got frisky. In my heart, I want this and want it badly from a rear-drive sports car, and I got it not too long ago from an Aston V8 Vantage. That was 503 hp with tail-happy slip, however, and it was sort of scary. (This is comparative; the 800 hp in a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody was flatly terrifying.)

The Spyder's 414 was easier to work with, the limit of what I can handle when it comes to throttle versus tire adhesion. In a word, exhilarating. In another, alive. In yet another, I'll admit, beautiful.

I drove the Spyder a lot, both because it's addictive to drive and because during the Northeaster summer you want top-down motoring into the night. New Jersey's legendary Garden State Parkway is a few minutes from my house, and I made for it with a certain native son's song lyrics in my head and a sense of guilt in my gut that I was taking to the thoroughfare in a German roadster, rather than an American muscle car.



Parkway journeys aren't the best use of the Spyder's talents, but they can get you to regions where the roads wind and wend, twist and bend. But we're not there just yet.

At high speed, the Spyder is perplexing. Thanks to that 8,000 rpm redline, which sits there on the tachometer, beckoning one to, you know, test it. Hammer the accelerator and observe the needle climb until the soulful huff of the flat six becomes, if not a scream, then a sort of throaty yowl. I wanted to throw the shifter into fifth, but the engine only needs second and (barely) third. The torque is so cussedly available after three snicks that you rapidly forget about downshifting for more pop and simply hang out around 4,000 or 5,000 rpm and grab speed whenever you want or need it.

The Spyder basically trifles with everything else on the road, save the odd Voodoo V8 Mustang, a flat-crank hellraiser that's actually a fine track-day choice, but that offers none of the Spyder's panache. In a GT350, the redline is 8,250 rpm, which I used to dismember a racetrack in Utah a few years back, without departing from third gear.



The 718, therefore, is a steering-and-braking-at-speed experience. With the wheel light and flicky in the hands, the suspension ready for whatever I could throw at it, and the brakes providing the on-command stopping and four Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's providing the gripping, boredom is vanquished and troubles retreat.

The top speed is said to be 187 mph, at which point you might be able to use the retractable spoiler to add some useful downforce to the rear end, and count on the front aerodynamics to slip the airflow up and over the Spyder's smooth form, in the case of my tester wearing a sharp GT Silver Metallic paint job, the soft top cut from cloth the color of drying blood.



The interior is premium yet purposeful. A "Bordeaux" red-and-black leather and Alcantara package adds almost $3,000 to the final damage, but in general the insides make few compromises. The Alcantara-clad wheel is intended for steering; it lacks the now typical multifunction array of buttons, switches, knobs, and dials.

The seats are snug, and the evidence of discipline around weight — mass is the enemy of speed and handling — is in the webbed pull-handle door releases and lack of storage. The woeful retractable cupholders, flimsy things that no fool would risk with a steaming latte, are pathetic but understandable. They're made of load-lightening plastic. When they inevitably break and you throw them into a rest-stop trash can, subtract another eight ounces from the Spyder's bulk.



The infotainment system, running on a modest touchscreen, is good for listening to music and provides GPS navigation, and it also enables the expected Bluetooth device pairing along with USB connectivity.

But the real joy of the Spyder is taking the opportunity to ignore the tech. Punch up the exhaust note and switch off the cylinder-deactivation features (which probably helps yield the fuel economy figures of 16 mph city/23 highway/19 combined), and with the top down, come on and feel the noise.

Seriously, you don't drop more than $100,000 ($96,300 base) on a ride like this if you want to fiddle with a touchscreen. Kudos to Porsche for installing infotainment. But it's a plus-$2,300 option. And I'd have been happy with a factory AM/FM and a folding roadmap.



Apart from the cupholders, I got my usual kicks from stuff like the "smoking package," a micro-lighter and ashtray that I estimated could hold the butts of exactly three Marlboros. 

A chronograph occupies prime real estate in the middle of the Spyder's dash and would be helpful if clocking lap times. As it stands, for the Spyder's mainly trackless customers, it's like a nice wristwatch, adding some functional style to the cabin.

 



As with the 911, it's impossible to gaze upon the Spyder's motor unless you're a qualified mechanic and are ready to dismantle the cowlings and covers. The 718's powerplant is even more concealed than the 911's, tucked away in the compact zone between seats and rear axle.

Shockingly, combined with the usual front trunk, the Spyder has a moderately ample cargo hold under the rear hatch. I was able to tote, at one point, a folding camp chair and a shipment of outdoor lights from Home Depot.

Versatility!

I'm not kidding. I think the Spyder, with its two seats, could haul more stuff than some smaller three-row SUVs, with the third row deployed. It didn't occur to me to investigate towing capacity.



Why do we even bother with manuals anymore? They're objectively slower than dual-clutch automatics and once you get over the thrills of blipping the throttle on your own downshifts, powering through the gears and launching off the clutch, and all that heel-toe tomfoolery if you get very, very motivated, they're hard to live with.

We bother with them on cars like the Spyder because there's no point of cars like the Spyder without a movable stick between the seats and a third pedal on the floor. Remember, I'm tearing that annoying cover out and going top-down forever. This is not my daily driver, and a pox on the commute. I'm on a hunt for curves and corners when I drive the 718, and I want to be in control of the show.

I could complain about the tricky shift into reverse: over to the left, hard, then up. But I won't.



The 718 Spyder is utterly mesmerizing. It's one of those cars that showed me colors I hadn't seen before, by which I mean ushered into my brainpan some new mixtures of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and psychological realms that had previously been concealed.

Top down and at speed, the car is a high-speed vision quest. The enlightenment it delivers is sadly ephemeral, but that just gives you excuse to strap in again and aim the nose back toward the open asphalt, with a mind freed to explore its corners thanks to stupendous German design and engineering.

The Spyder is the only Porsche I've driven in some time that has added up to far more than its impressive specs. A recent batch of new 911s confirmed for me the genius of that machine and Porsche's commitment to making it ever better. The Cayenne SUV remains as brilliant as it was in the early 2000s, when it stunned the world with its greatness. I've even found some Panameras I could live with.

But happiness, for me, is not now a warm puppy. Nor is it a walk on the wild side, nor a ride on a horse with no name. It's a Porsche Spyder. And I know where to find it.



Frank Wilkerson 2019-11-12

Vodafone's latest internet offer may have just ended your fibre broadband search - you don't have to wait until Black Friday to snatch up one of the best fibre broadband deals in the UK.

This broadband deal is bringing you Superfast 2 plan for the price of regular Superfast 1 - meaning that you'll get average speeds of 63Mb, so almost double of the usual 35Mb.

This is the cheapest widely available mega fast fibre package (i.e.

50Mb+) around at the moment, so if you live in a busy household or you're looking to game or stream seamlessly - especially in 4K - then this is looking like the deal to go for.

It costs £23 a month to most people or a frankly incredible £21 a month if you also have your phone contract with Vodafone.

Of course, when the deal is this good, we'd expect it to only be available for a limited amount of time.

Frank Wilkerson 2021-07-20
img
Hyper is a $60M early-stage fund co-founded by Josh Buckley, Product Hunt’s CEO along with writer, founder and designer Dustin Curtis. Two ex-Sequoia operators are part of the team at launch as well. Malika Cantor as Partner and GM and Ashton Brown as Head of Program. The fund launches today and is self-described as ‘inspired […]
Frank Wilkerson 2021-06-19
img
The pink iPhone 13 rumor is more of a wish, but it could technically still happen.
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-13
img
Liberty Global has announced the completion of the first phase of its UK electric vehicle charging initiative in the London borough of Waltham Forest.
Frank Wilkerson 2021-04-08
img
We’re expecting the 2022 Hyundai Kona N to rattle the cage of performance crossovers with its bold styling and high-performance merits. And most recently, Hyundai spilled the beans on what to expect from its newest Kona N high-performance crossover. First, let’s talk about the engine. We previously reported the Kona N would inherit the feisty 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine … Continue reading
Frank Wilkerson 2021-03-05
img

A vaccination passport scheme to allow Brits who have been inoculated against coronavirus to travel abroad has led to fears over an intergenerational split with younger people feeling “sidelined” and “outraged”.

Plans for a vaccine passport or “immunity passport” have been tentatively welcomed by the travel industry, a sector that has been particularly devastated by the global pandemic. In the UK, the success of the vaccination rollout has led to a surge in “vaccine confidence”.

With more than 20 million people in the UK already been given their first dose, the government expects the first phase of nine priority groups – all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults in at-risk groups and frontline health and social care workers – will have been offered a vaccine by May.  

The UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, has said the roll-out boosted summer bookings from those aged 50 and over, with that age group accounting for 50% of all online bookings since the end of last year. 

Since the government announced its roadmap out of lockdown on February 22, holiday package bookings have seen a “notable surge” from people over the age of 55, EasyJet told HuffPost UK.

Simon Lowe, 60, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire is scheduled to receive his first dose of a vaccine on March 16 and his second dose in the first week of June. “I had been avidly going on the Covid vaccine queue calculator to see when my age group would come up so it’s really terrific,” he says. 

An ardent traveller and mountaineer – he runs a Sheffield-based travel company that organises climbing trips to the Everest summit – Lowe has felt paralysed since the outbreak of coronavirus. “My favourite hobby in life is ski mountaineering and ski touring: the absolute freedom over an entire mountain range, the adventure of discovering what’s around the next corner and the camaraderie of being part of an expedition.”

Simon Lowe, 60, plans to revive his passion for ski touring in the Alps in July, three weeks after he receives his second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

As soon as his vaccination appointments were booked, Lowe began making plans to travel. His first trip will be to the Alps in early July, just three weeks after his second dose. “I adore travelling, I always have done. It’s really important for me to go out to the Alps and further afield and I shall go as soon as I possibly can.”

“I’m 60 years old so I know I’ve only got so many seasons left in my legs before I have to hang up my skis,” he continues. “By the time I go back, I’ll be a year older, the legs are going to creak a bit more.”

The father of three twenty-somethings, he questions whether vaccine passports will create much resentment among the under-50s, most of who will not be able to get hold of one in time for the summer. “Young people just want to get back to work. 

“That’s not to say they wouldn’t want a summer holiday, but they’re pragmatic and realise it’s about opening up the economy which will also open up hospitality here so they can holiday in the UK.”

A vaccine passport makes complete sense to him. “It’s inevitable. There are some countries you can’t travel to unless you can prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination, so this is nothing new.” The scheme would also be a lifesaver to his business, which has been hit hard over the past year. 

“If you ask everyone in my office who are all younger than me, ‘Do you want people to travel or wait until we’re all vaccinated before our business can start again?’ they would be like, are you crazy. People want to know their jobs are guaranteed, which is based on people like me going travelling.”

A vaccine passport would result in a two-tier society, where some people can access freedoms and support while others are shut out.

On Tuesday EU leaders announced plans for a “Digital Green Pass” which would detail proof that the person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as test results for those who haven’t yet been vaccinated.

The scheme would be open to British travellers in time to save the summer holidays, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pledged. “The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”

On Friday, Cyprus also revealed it would allow vaccinated Brits to travel in from May 1 - more than two weeks before travel restrictions end here. 

And despite repeated denials from cabinet ministers saying there were no plans to introduce vaccine passports in the UK, on Monday health secretary Matt Hancock told reporters the government was “working with international partners” on the issue. 

Tourists enjoy a sunny day in Palma de Mallorca in 2019.

Consultant Jo Brianti, 52, from Ealing in west London is eagerly awaiting her vaccine invitation so she can press on with plans to travel to Switzerland for a friend’s wedding in July. Afterwards, she and her husband and two teenage sons intend to spend three weeks in northern Italy. “I’m keeping my fingers and toes and everything else crossed,” she tells HuffPost UK. 

The hard reality is life isn’t fair, as Covid isn’t fair. Where do you draw the line?

Although everything has been provisionally booked, she’s readied herself in case something goes wrong; the family lost hundreds of pounds after a holiday last February was cancelled because of Covid-19. “We would be absolutely gutted if we missed the wedding, so that’s always in the back of our minds.”

Last summer, instead of renting a place in Tenerife, Brianti spent the summer holidays in a cottage in Yorkshire. “It was gorgeous and we had a really lovely time, but it rained. That’s a normal thing in the UK so it doesn’t feel like a real holiday.” 

She has missed being able to go abroad sorely. “It’s a time away from home and from work and school. It’s a chance for us to do something different as a family, whether it’s sitting by the side of a pool or going to a restaurant where somebody else cooks lunch. I don’t need to cook, or clean, or wash.”

To those who argue vaccine passports are unfair and discriminatory, leaving a generation of under-50s unable to leave the country while older people brush the dust off their passports, Brianti’s response is: “You know what? Life isn’t fair.

“The hard reality is life isn’t fair, as Covid isn’t fair. Where do you draw the line? ” She believes vaccine passports should have been introduced in the UK “a long, long time ago”. “They’ll be good not just for the UK but other countries. We’re a global place, people travel for holidays all over.

“It might sound like a very hardened view, but I don’t see the point in saying, ‘it’s not fair’. I might not get my passport by the time I want to travel in July, in which case I’ve got to suck it up. And if I have to suck it up, then so should other people. In the grand scheme of things, life moves on.”

We are starting to see these intergenerational splits – and that is definitely something that could be happening here as well.”

Professor Melinda Mills, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, worries that the idea of a vaccine passport as a “silver bullet” to saving summer holidays means important ethical, scientific and behavioural questions are being neglected. In a report to the Royal Society, she submitted 12 criteria that would need to satisfied in order to make the scheme feasible.

Alongside issues surrounding the extent to which current Covid-19 vaccines stop transmission, length of immunity and effectiveness against emerging variants, Mills points to how a vaccine passport scheme could affect groups who have been shown to be less likely to be vaccinated: people with allergies, pregnant individualspeople from ethnic minority backgrounds and areas of deprivation in the UK.

“Before you introduce a vaccine passport scheme, you really have to think about who you’re going to exclude and who you could inadvertently discriminate against,” she tells HuffPost UK.

A digital vaccine passport would be inaccessible to people who do not have – or cannot afford to own – a smartphone and could exclude people in the homeless community or who are undocumented. Then, of course, there are young people.

“We’re definitely seeing intergenerational issues coming up,” she says. “We’ve already seen riots happening in some countries, for example in the Netherlands in relation to the curfews.″ Dutch officials have claimed teenagers and youths were to blame for the violent scenes that swept the country in January. 

Mills believes the main narrative of the pandemic has left younger generations feeling alienated by their own governments. “I think we’ve forgotten the voice of the younger generation. 

“This is the generation that had their exams messed with, who had to enter university or into a job market where they can’t find jobs. Their jobs, their education, their social contacts, their relationships have all been affected. This is the period when they could be finding a relationship, starting a life or buying a house – and these things will all be severely disrupted for a long period of time.

As in other countries that have seen rioting and protests, Mills believes we could see some fallout from over the focus on protecting older people. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a backlash. We are starting to see these intergenerational splits – and that is definitely something that could be happening here as well.”

Madelaine

Human rights organisation Liberty has also rejected the vaccine passport scheme, which they argue would lead to “exclusion and division”.

Sam Grant, head of policy and campaigns at Liberty, said: “We all want to get out of this pandemic as soon as possible – but any form of vaccine passport or certificate would result in a two-tier society, where some people can access freedoms and support while others are shut out.

“Who can go on holiday isn’t the only way this would change our society. Even the introduction of a voluntary passport to prove if you’ve had a vaccine could result in many being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised hardest hit. This is because once these passports have been created for one purpose – like travel – it would be all too easy for their use to be extended and abused.

“To get through coronavirus, we need to pull together and demand a response that protects us all. That means rejecting strategies like immunity passports which are based on exclusion and division. Instead, we must work to bridge divides with strategies that protect everyone.”

The sneering contempt of the sacrifices we’ve made and childish delight at seeing millennials suffer has become endemic.

PR consultant Madelaine, 25, from Newcastle, is one of the many young people who are fed up with feeling neglected and ignored. “My generation isn’t just upset now, we’re on the brink of revolution over being constantly sidelined and never acknowledged in legislation, policy and restrictions,” she tells HuffPost UK.

She describes the UK as “a nation of angry Edina Monsoons trying to punish their children”. “The sneering contempt of the sacrifices we’ve made and childish delight at seeing millennials suffer has become endemic.

“Many young people have lost everything and borne the pressure to keep older people safe. Those who have lost their jobs are retail workers, hospitality staff: all young employees on a low, vulnerable income. Those who have lost irredeemable years of education are young people too.”

As a person who lives alone, Madelaine has not seen a single friend in more than five months as well as her parents, who live in Europe. “It feels like solitary confinement,” she says. “The truth is younger people are the real victims of global travel bans: we’re the international generation. It’s not just a holiday for us, it’s being able to see our families and partners.

“I have seen close friends lose their jobs, their homes, their mental health and their relationships in the wake of lockdowns and seeing older people crow about ‘millennials having their turn’ to suffer from restrictions in the pandemic riles me.”

“I don’t mind the odd avocado-on-toast joke, but it is an outrage to treat the generation that really did give up everything for others with utter indifference. I’m all for being safe, but we must be fair. It’s not a big ask for the UK government to wait until everyone has had the chance to be vaccinated before rolling out freedoms to a few. 

“Don’t offer freedoms to people that others can’t have out of bureaucracy: this is a democracy, we are equals.”

Frank Wilkerson 2020-08-24
img

Listen to our weekly podcast Am I Making You Uncomfortable? about women’s health, bodies and private lives. Available on SpotifyAppleAudioboom and wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Covid-19 pandemic has caused anxiety to sky-rocket, if internet searches are anything to go by. Panic attacks are an exaggeration of the body entering “fight or flight” mode – as a person tries to take in more oxygen, their breathing quickens and their body releases hormones like adrenaline which can cause the heart to beat faster and muscles to tense.

A new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, finds evidence of a record high in potential anxiety or panic attacks based on Google searches. Researchers analysed search queries that mentioned “panic attack” or “anxiety attack” emerging from the US between January 2004 and May 2020.

These included queries like “am I having a panic attack?,” “signs of anxiety attack” or “anxiety attack symptoms”. After President Donald Trump first declared a national emergency in the US on March 13 this year, the team discovered anxiety related searches reached record highs.

Dr Benjamin Althouse, a principal scientist at the Institute for Disease Modelling, which was involved in the study, says “searches for anxiety and panic attacks were the highest they’ve ever been in over 16 years of historical search data”. 

Searches tended to peak when national guidelines were rolled out in the US, the team found. The largest increase in queries occurred between March 16 and April 14, coinciding with the roll out of national social distancing guidelines.

Google search insights for the UK suggest a similar trend, with searches for “panic attacks” and “anxiety attack symptoms” peaking in March and April respectively, HuffPost UK found.

Panic attack searches peaked in the UK in March, 2020.

Psychotherapist and author Joshua Fletcher, who runs The Panic Room counselling service in Manchester, tells HuffPost UK he saw a spike in anxiety-related queries from clients as a result of Covid-19.

Referrals tended to increase when lockdown measures were lifted, rather than enforced, he says. This, he believes, is because during the initial lockdown our lives were quite simple, but as the rules became blurred and a bit more confusing, people became more anxious as “they didn’t have the rigid guidelines to fall back on”.

In a typical week pre-lockdown he would get around five to 10 enquiries, but in April and May this rose to between 30 and 40 a week. The queries aren’t necessarily linked to the virus itself, says Fletcher, but as a result of the changes people are having to make in their personal lives to accommodate it.

He uses the metaphor of a stress jug: “Every time we experience stress it goes into the jug – so that’s money, work, deadlines, relationship issues, past experiences, grief, debt, lack of sleep, not eating properly.” People experience panic attacks when that stress jug overflows, he says, because the brain misinterprets all the stress and thinks you’re in danger.  Your body goes into fight or flight – and the adrenaline kicks in. With the virus and subsequent lockdown, “so many people’s jugs have been filled up”, he says.

How to tell if you’ve had a panic attack

There are various physical and mental symptoms of a panic attack, which you can find on the NHS website. 

Fletcher talks through three key parts to a panic attack. First of all, there’s the feeling of “terror from nowhere”, he says. All of a sudden you are scared for no real reason and can feel an overwhelming sense of dread that something awful is about to happen.

Secondly, there’s the sensation – you can’t catch your breath, there’s a sense of unreality and feeling detached from yourself. You might also have chest pains, your vision shuts down, you sweat and have an overwhelming urge to run away. 

A panic attack is also identifiable by the thoughts that accompany it. “You have a flood of ‘what ifs’,” says Fletcher. These might be: What if I’m about to die? What if I’m about to collapse? What if I’m about to have a heart attack?

According to the NHS, most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes, but some have been reported to last up to an hour.

If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it helps to identify the things that are currently causing you stress so that you can try to alleviate at least some of them. If you’re having repeated attacks, talking therapies (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) and medicine are the main NHS-advised treatments.

Fletcher urges people who have had more than occasional panic to seek help as it could be a sign of panic disorder – your first port of call should be your GP, but mental health charities can also offer support. You might also find it helpful to seek out a specialised private therapist.

People who are prone to panic attacks have previously shared with HuffPost how breathing techniques have helped them, particularly those prone to hyper-ventilating. Fletcher, who has experienced panic disorder himself, doesn’t use techniques like breathing exercises because “when you use a technique, you’re telling the anxious brain it’s not ok to be anxious,” he says.

The important thing to do, Fletcher says, is to remember “this feeling will always pass”. “Compassionately remind yourself it’s ok to be anxious,” he advises.

Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected]

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.

Frank Wilkerson 2020-07-22
img
That’s the largest single-day increase in the history of the news agency’s eight-year-old Billionaires Index.
Frank Wilkerson 2019-09-18
img

If we could stop teaching AI insults, that would be great

Netizens are merrily slinging selfies and other photos at an online neural network to classify them... and the results aren’t pretty.

The diversion emerged online this month.

The idea is that you show the site a face, and it will try to predict the label that would be assigned to the fizog, were it in the ImageNet collection.

The software was specifically taught using pictures of people from the database, so it should basically classify folks with labels such as tennis player, or chef, or swimmer, depending on the scene.

Sometimes the captions emitted by the code are harmless.